U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris in Guatemala. (Image: @VP on Twitter)

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris in Guatemala. (Image: @VP on Twitter)

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After Harris' Central American Trip, U.S. Should Think Bigger and Bolder to Halt Migration

By Eric Farnsworth

"Making a lasting difference will require sustainable regional growth," writes AS/COA Vice President Eric Farnsworth for the Miami Herald.  

Central America is once again trending. Economies are struggling, COVID is raging, and democracy is failing the people. Hope for a better life, and the hopelessness of current conditions, is a powerful motivator, and migration has spiked. A bit more aid for the region and a bit less corruption won’t change that. What might make a difference: increased trade and greater investment.

Vice President Harris has now waded into these intractable issues with a visit to Guatemala and Mexico. Her stern “do not come” directive to potential migrants across Central America drove the news cycle, and there was additional fanfare about vaccine donations, corruption and increased development aid. Yet there was curiously little discussion about things that might be achieved to improve the attractiveness of regional economies for investment and job creation. Nor was there much apparent appreciation among commentators of the direct linkage between sluggish economic growth and weak or venal governance, including the increasingly autocratic rule of Nayib Bukele in El Salvador, Juan Orlando Hernandez’ chaotic leadership in Honduras and the Ortega administration’s democratic dismantling next door in Nicaragua.

These topics are fraught. Politically, the United States requires partners on the ground in Central America willing to implement a common agenda that will ultimately reduce migratory urges, at some political risk to regional leaders themselves. That’s tough to do with the current crop of regional leaders…

Read the full op-ed.