During his visits to Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador demanded greater U.S. participation in joint solutions to the problem of irregular migration from Central America, which is based on poverty.
In a meeting on Friday with his colleague Xiomara Castro in Honduras, AMLO assured that “oligarchic economic policies” have caused “the rupture of the social fabric and the forced emigration of millions”, depopulating the countryside, separating families and exposing migrants to danger on their journey.
“The exercise of freedom of transit is sacred, but it is intolerable that many are forced to leave their place of origin because of hunger, insecurity or a total lack of life horizons,” said the leftist López Obrador in his last stop in the so-called Northern Triangle of Central America. He will then continue on to Belize and Cuba.
He assured that Mexico and Central America, in addition to being a point of departure, are transit territory for thousands of migrants, and urged the creation of social programs to offer employment opportunities.
“For this, the will of Latin Americans is not enough; we also need the United States to become clearly involved in the solution of a problem that also affects it and to contribute to finance these programs,” he added.
Castro, who with barely 100 days in power is working to lift his country from the consequences of corruption and drug trafficking, assured that “migration is the result of the difficult conditions that our countries are experiencing, from the Rio Grande to the south”.
“Together we will fight against the violence that stalks us, defending the rights of migrants” and to “build the conditions” so that their citizens can remain in their countries, he added.
Castro announced that Honduras will host in the second half of 2022 an International Conference in Central America to promote plans “that address the structural causes of migration and include concrete actions of investment for development.
Thousands of undocumented Central American, Cuban and Haitian migrants are often detained at the border between Mexico and the United States in search of work in North America, overwhelmed by the violence and poverty that afflict their countries. Many die on the way.
“The United States, the protagonist of the migratory phenomenon, must be co-responsible for providing a solution, modifying its migratory policy,” declared the Mexican president at the end of a meeting with his Salvadoran counterpart, Nayib Bukele, this same Friday.
Washington must also help “combat the conditions that force millions to abandon their places of residence,” said AMLO -acronym of the president-, and asked “that no one be shot at when crossing the border.
The current challenges, according to López Obrador, have to do with the fight against poverty, inequality, unemployment and marginalization, among “other misfortunes”.
For his part, President Bukele expressed his support for the Mexican proposal for a joint plan.
“We support Mexico’s proposal to the United States to make a joint plan where we all contribute according to our economies (…)”, Bukele emphasized.
The Salvadoran governor considered it necessary that “successful experiences” that are promoted to deter migration be expanded and cover the area where there is more migration to the United States.
Mexico already finances since 2019 in El Salvador its “Sembrando Vida” program, in order to contribute to reduce irregular migration, mainly among young people, and announced an expansion of the same. Similar programs benefit Honduras and plan to extend to Guatemala.
Petition to Capitol Hill
On Thursday, from Guatemala, López Obrador asked for speedy financial support from Washington for programs that generate employment, reduce poverty and prevent thousands of Central Americans from migrating irregularly to the United States in search of work.
“It seems inexplicable to me that the approval of the 4,000 million dollars that they offered to invest in the generation of welfare in Central American countries has been so delayed on Capitol Hill,” he said.
The Mexican Foreign Ministry ratified the President’s visit on Sunday to Havana, where on Friday an explosion, presumably caused by a gas leak, destroyed a hotel under repair and caused at least 22 deaths.
On Wednesday, AMLO announced that his country will reinforce the border with Guatemala in the face of a possible massive arrival of migrants attempting to cross into the United States.
This could occur after the announced elimination of a U.S. measure (Title 42), scheduled for May 23, which allowed the expulsion of migrants to prevent the spread of the covid-19 pandemic.
In 2021, Mexican authorities found more than 300,000 irregular migrants; while, in the last three weeks, the United States detained some 7,800 undocumented migrants daily in the border zone, almost five times the 2014-2019 average.