In El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, an area known as the Northern Triangle of Central America, social and economic development have been advancing slowly for years. Much of the stagnation is caused by corruption and the region’s “increased gang violence and international crime, as well as deep-seated issues of social and economic inequity, and lack of economic opportunity for vast segments of society,” said USAID Acting Assistant Administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean Elizabeth Hogan.
Through USAID and the State Department, the United States is working with the Northern Triangle governments to eliminate obstacles to growth and create an environment in which these countries are able to thrive.
There are positive signs that the governments are serious about reform. In Guatemala, authorities arrested high-ranking government officials, including a former President, for corruption. Honduras began serious reforms of its National Police, and El Salvador has developed a national security plan focusing on community-based crime and violence prevention.
In support of these reforms, USAID is working to help these countries improve their economies and eliminate violence.
USAID’s economic growth programs are designed to expand business, employment, and educational opportunities for the poor and at-risk youth.
For example, in Honduras, President Barack Obama’s Feed the Future program has helped to increase the incomes of about 188,000 people by more than 50 percent.
USAID’s security programs focus on at-risk youth and seek to create safe community spaces, provide job and life skills training, and build trust between police and residents.
In fact, each year, USAID’s 200 youth outreach centers serve about 85,000 at-risk youth who are susceptible to gang recruitment and potential migration.
USAID’s governance programs help to promote strong, transparent, and effective governance throughout the Northern Triangle.
For example, in El Salvador, USAID supports self-service tax kiosks, which allow taxpayers to perform transactions, reducing administrative burden and improving transparency.
The governments of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras are taking steps to improve the security and prosperity of their people. “Political will, in combination with improved local capacity, leveraged resources and new partnerships,” said Acting Assistant Administrator Hogan, “will allow us to help Central American governments create a more peaceful, prosperous, and integrated region.”