White House announces $1 billion in funding to promote equality and democracy in Central America

by Vinnie Rotondaro

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On Thursday, the White House announced it would be requesting a “historic” $1 billion to promote equality and democracy in Central America.

The money, which would come as part of the country’s 2016 budget,  would, “contribute to the evolution of an economically-integrated Central America that is fully democratic, [provide] greater economic opportunities to its people, [promote] more accountable, transparent, and effective public institutions, and [ensure] the safety of its citizens,” according to a statement released by the Office of the Vice President.

“U.S. funding will support a whole-of-government approach to address three overarching lines of action: 1) Promoting prosperity and regional economic integration; 2) Enhancing security; and 3) Promoting improved governance,” the statement reads.

The statement suggests the funding will focus on the “Northern Triangle” countries of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras — nations racked by poverty and violence so extreme that thousands of residents, oftentimes women and children, have chosen to migrate to America

“The President’s request aligns the resources necessary to help the leaders of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras implement systemic reforms that address the lack of economic opportunity, the absence of strong institutions, and the extreme levels of violence that have held the region back at a time of prosperity for the rest of the Western Hemisphere,” the statement reads.

In January, an AFL-CIO report on Honduras, one of the poorest and most violent Central American countries, blamed much of the nation’s troubles on the trade and migration policies of the U.S. 

"Failed trade and migration policies continue to exacerbate Honduras' problems,” the report read. “The U.S. government criminalizes migrant children and their families, while pursuing trade deals that simultaneously displace subsistence farmers and lower wages and standards across other sectors, and eliminate good jobs, intensifying the economic conditions that drive migration.”

“In order for the working families of Honduras to stand a chance in today's global economy, both the U.S. and Honduran governments must reorient their migration, trade, foreign and labor policies to better protect and empower workers," the report stated.

[Vinnie Rotondaro is NCR national correspondent. His email address is vrotondaro@ncronline.org.]

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