Posts tagged with "Guatemala"

Southern comfort: Biden Administration taps private sector to invest in Central America

May 28, 2021

On May 27, Vice President Kamala Harris was scheduled to unveil the agreements of 12 companies and organizations–among them, MasterCard and Microsoft—to invest in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador as part of the Administration’s efforts to deal with a surge of migrants from Central America at the U.S. southern border, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The Administration believes that aid to Central America will bolster economies south of the border—and that better conditions in that area will discourage surges in immigration to the USA.

Among the companies involved:

  • Microsoft  has agreed to expand Internet access to as many as three million people in the region by July 2022, as well as to establish community centers to provide digital skills to women and youths;
  • Mastercard will seek to bring five million people in the region who currently lack banking services into the financial system, and to give one million micro and small businesses access to electronic banking.
  • Chobani has agreed to bring its incubator program for local entrepreneurs to Guatemala; and
  • Nespresso, a unit of Nestlé SA, plans to begin buying some of its coffee from El Salvador and Honduras with a minimum regional investment of $150 million by 2025.

Democratic and Republican administrations have struggled to find long-term solutions to handling surges in migrants from Central America, many of whom say they are driven by poverty and violence in their home countries. The region was hit hard last year by two disastrous hurricanes.

According to the Journal, Biden Administration officials have said the aim in part is for greater private-sector involvement to outlast shifts in policy and government aid between administrations— reducing over time the motivations for migrants to make the often dangerous journey to the U.S. border.

The total number of illegal border crossings this year is on pace to hit a two-decade high; and a record number of unaccompanied minors crossed the border illegally in March, followed by a slight decline in April.

President Joe. Biden has delegated to Vice President Harris diplomatic efforts with Mexico and the three countries known as the Northern Triangle: El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. She is scheduled to make her first foreign trip to Mexico and Guatemala next month.

Republicans have criticized Harris over the Administration’s overall handling of immigration and have chided her for not yet visiting the border. White House officials have said her role is limited to diplomatic efforts, with departments such as Homeland Security and Health and Human Services in charge of dealing with migrants crossing into the United States.

While leading a recent GOP delegation to visit the border, Representative James Comer (R-Kentucky) said more government investments in the region wouldn’t deter migrants from making the journey to the U.S. “We’ve been giving foreign aid to a lot of those countries for decades, and it’s only gotten worse,” he said.

However, Harris has said that private-sector investment along with help from nonprofits and the United Nations could speed up progress in the Northern Triangle. “We must think beyond government,” she said in a speech earlier this month to the Council of the Americas, a business group that focuses on economic and social development in the Western Hemisphere.

She was expected to call on other companies and organizations on Thursday to invest in public health access, food security, financial inclusion, clean energy, education, and workforce development in the region, working through the State Department.

Research contact: @WSJ

Mick Mulvaney: American public may never see Trump’s ‘secret deal’ with Mexico

June 13, 2019

On June 12, President Donald Trump showed a group of reporters gathered outside the White House a mysterious sheet of paper—claiming it was his new border deal with Mexico. However, he did not disclose its contents, saying he would defer to America’s southern ally to state the terms of the accord.

Now it seems that the big reveal may never happen, according to the White House Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, who declined to discuss details of the arrangement in an interview with CNBC’s Eamon Javers on the same date.

“If I told you, it wouldn’t be the secret part of the deal, right?” Mulvaney told CNBC at the Peter G. Peterson Foundation’s 2019 Fiscal Summit.

Asked when the public would see the secret deal, Mulvaney responded: “Maybe never,” noting, “Because if it works, it doesn’t make any difference.”

Mulvaney added: “The purpose here is not to satisfy your journalistic sort of, you know, inquiries as to what the deal is. The goal is to reduce the number of people crossing the border.”

Javers pressed Mulvaney on whether the United States had agreed to “whatever the terms are in this secret deal? We’ve signed up for something as a country?”

“Yeah,” Mulvaney said. “Again, it’s something that will kick in if the other things don’t work.”

In that case, Mulvaney said, the public would find out about the deal.

On June 7, the United States  and Mexico issued a joint declaration that resolved Trump’s threats to impose tariffs on Mexican imports if the country did not take action to reduce the flow of migrants across its northern border. As part of the deal, Mexico agreed to deploy its national guard to its southern border with Guatemala.

That declaration made no mention of other agreements. Mexico has flatly denied any secret deal.

But Trump has said that a secret element of the deal will soon be public.

“We have fully signed and documented another very important part of the immigration and security deal with Mexico, one that the U.S. has been asking about getting for many years,” the president wrote in a post on Twitter on June 11 . “It will be revealed in the not too distant future and will need a vote by Mexico’s Legislative body!”

Parts of the text on the piece of paper were readable in a photograph taken by the New York Post, and raised the possibility that Mexico had agreed to a “safe third country” arrangement, which would require Central American migrants to request asylum in Mexico, rather than the U.S. The issue has been a sticking point in U.S.-Mexico negotiations.

According to CNBC, Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard. said Tuesday that the country may consider such an arrangement if it cannot reduce unlawful immigration into the United States within 45 days.

Research contact: @CNBC