The private sector increases its investments in Central America to reduce immigration to the United States | international

Honduran migrants walk on a highway toward the border with Mexico in San Pedro Cadenas, Guatemala, in October 2020.Luis Ekefria (Reuters)

Washington changes its speed at a summit weighed down by absences. On Tuesday, the host nation will unveil $1,900 million in new investment from US companies in the northern triangle of Central America. The amount was added to other commitments made by Vice President Kamala Harris a few months ago as a way to demonstrate the democratic government’s commitment to combating the root causes of immigration problems. Since President Joe Biden came to the White House, the United States has invested in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador for $3.9 billion. None of the leaders of these countries, which is vital to the passage of immigration into North America, will be in Los Angeles this week.

On Tuesday, the vice president will announce ten new companies that will commit to investing in the three countries in the coming years. The companies represent different industries: food, telecommunications, textiles, finance, energy, and automobiles. Each of them has promised to increase the number of employees and investments in the coming years.

On Monday, a senior administration official said the goal of these investments goes beyond job creation. “Individuals will be supported in various aspects. Not only in getting a job, but also in connectivity, access to financial services and women’s empowerment,” said one of the vice president’s advisors.

Visa will invest $270 million over the next five years to expand financial services in the region. The goal is to add about 6.5 million people and one million small businesses to the formal sector of the economy by joining the digital payment network. Telecommunications company Millicom will also join the same goal. Headquartered in Luxembourg, the company will invest $700 million over the next two years to increase broadband access in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

Gap, which already has 8,200 people working in garment factories in the region, has committed to creating another 5,000 jobs, and increasing its investment by an average of $50 million annually through 2025. SanMar, another giant textile manufacturer with more than 60,000 customers, will increase purchases from the region to 500 million dollars. This will, invariably according to the US government, create about 4,000 jobs at its main plant, in the Honduran province of Cortez.

A mirror reflects the Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris, during her participation in the Summit of the Americas, in Los Angeles, on June 6, 2022.
A mirror reflects the Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris, during her participation in the Summit of the Americas, in Los Angeles, on June 6, 2022.Jae Si Hong (AP)

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Vice President Harris was responsible for addressing the illegal immigration crisis that erupted in the Biden government after he took office. Management started to falter. On her first international tour, specifically to Central America, in June 2021, the veteran politician sent a clear message to migrants preparing for the journey north: “Don’t come.” The words caused a stinging in the most progressive sectors of the party and the administration.

Despite the controversy the phrase generated, Harris has already been knocking on the doors of major US corporations for a month, adding support (and resources) to slow the mass exodus of a region’s population affected by misery, violence and climate change. and corrupt governments. Companies such as Microsoft or MasterCard were among the first to respond to the call. Others followed in December: the agricultural giant Kargil. Pepsi-Cola. Peet’s coffee and Barkdale fabric, among others. In all, there are 40 who lent their support to the White House call.

The Vice President’s efforts have focused on women’s development. Harris will present the program in the afternoon in your hands Which aims to train 1.4 million women from Latin America for jobs in the sectors of agribusiness, computer programming and small and micro business development. “When a woman succeeds, the whole of society advances,” said one member of the government. The government is also preparing to launch a scholarship program, with resources of $50 million, for young people from the three countries in the region.

lack of leadership

The government has minimized the absence of heads of state that are supposed to benefit from these investments. All these countries have sent delegations, so we consider that they will participate in the summit. “His absence does not undermine the rapprochement with the region,” a White House official said. Harris’ advisor asserts that the vice president continues to maintain a “very good relationship” with the president of Honduras, Xeomara Castro. The two had a phone call at the end of May in which they talked about “expanding economic opportunities in the region.” The Honduran president, who has been in office since last January, confirmed that she would not attend Los Angeles if Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua were not invited.

Not all absences are in response to a lack of invitation from the region’s most controversial governments. Others, like the case of Guatemala, preferred to avoid the summit for other reasons. We should not be ashamed of our anti-corruption principles. That’s why some didn’t show up,” said an official close to Harris, referring to Alejandro Giamatti’s cancellation.

In May, the Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, reported the imposition of sanctions on the Guatemalan Attorney General, Maria Porras, for “involvement in significant acts of corruption”. The punishment imposed by Washington prevents the state attorney general from entering US soil. Shortly after the announcement, the Central American government extended the state of Porás for another four-year period. Porras is accused of obstructing a series of investigations launched by the office against impunity against President Giamatti and his inner circle of businessmen.

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