Even as the United States implements its new Strategy for Engagement in Central America, the Guatemalan, Salvadoran, and Honduran governments face economic and social challenges fueled by violence, corruption, and lack of economic opportunity.
Last November the presidents of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras launched the "Plan of the Alliance for Prosperity in the Northern Triangle," an initiative to comprehensively improve their countries’ economic opportunity, governance, and public safety.
While conditions in Central America remain challenging, the region could be close to transformative change. Last summer’s spike in migration of unaccompanied children signaled that reform is required. With strong political will among the region’s leaders, the U.S. is aligning our strategy and directing foreign assistance to support Central American partners as we all address the underlying causes of regional outbound migration.
In implementing our new approach in Central America, the State Department, USAID, and other agencies, will work to reduce levels of crime and violence. In order to sustain gains made on security issues, we will intensify joint efforts to expand education and job creation initiatives. Stronger, more accountable democratic institutions and thriving civil society organizations are key to improving security and providing opportunity. Working in this way shows the people of the region that we share responsibility to improve conditions.
Community-based initiatives will be center stage.
The Model Police Precincts program helps prevent crime by connecting police and the judicial system to the community. The Gang Resistance Education and Training program places police officers in schools to teach youth life skills and how to resist joining gangs. Youth Outreach Centers provide a safe space for at-risk youth to study and obtain job training linked to jobs that the private sector needs filled. These programs will create sustainable change. So too will reforms to strengthen judicial systems, which will help deliver accountable, transparent justice.
Our mutual prosperity agenda for Central America, which will be reinforced at the Summit of the Americas, fosters the regional market integration of 43 million people and the reduction of legal impediments to equitable and sustainable growth.
Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Roberta Jacobson, recently told Congress: “Now is the time for a new U.S. approach to Central America that prioritizes security, prosperity, and governance. We have a vision, we have a plan, and we want to work with Congress to help Central America and protect U.S. national security.”