Central America deal: troops at borders

May 8, 2021

From the May-June 2021 issue of News & Letters

Immigrants facing troops—Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico have signed an agreement with the Biden administration to put more military at their borders to stop immigrants from attempting to reach the U.S. Mexico will maintain 10,000 troops along its southern border; Guatemala will send 1,500 military and police personnel to its border with Honduras, while setting up 12 checkpoints along migration routes.

The White House claims these actions will stop smugglers from trafficking immigrants and will reduce the dangers to unaccompanied minors attempting to migrate. The U.S. has also arranged for radio messages in Spanish, Portuguese and several Indigenous languages to be broadcast in a number of Latin American countries urging people not to come.

Vice-President Harris has been assigned responsibility for working with Central American countries to coordinate humanitarian and economic aid—a supposed carrot and stick approach.

However, the life-and-death conditions in much of Central America—with widespread drought driving people off the land, threatening gang activities, extreme poverty, plus two recent devastating hurricanes, and now the COVID-19 pandemic—make the situation desperate for hundreds of thousands, many of whom feel they have little choice but to flee.

—Eugene Walker

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