The plan of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) whose main goal is to develop the economy and to control migration from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador came out without the presence of the United States.
During the presentation of the Integral Development Plan for the four Central American countries at the National Palace of Mexico, President Andrés López Obrador admitted to representatives of the Central American countries that the U.S. government must be “convinced” to collaborate in its implementation.
“Progress has already been made, it must be acknowledged that U.S. officials of President Donald Trump´s government have shown interest in hearing this approach,” he said.
This comprehensive ECLAC program, which introduces tax, investment and infrastructure proposals for the region, was López Obrador’s idea. The Mexican leftist leader seeks to reduce the flow of caravans of Central American migrants passing through Mexico to U.S. territory, which has generated diplomatic tensions with Washington.
“People migrate out of necessity, due to lack of job opportunities or violence, and we must address those causes, we must go to the origin of what is causing this migratory phenomenon,” said the Mexican president.
Maximiliano Reyes, Mexico’s Undersecretary for Latin America and the Caribbean has previously explained that the country has been working with the United States on this plan since July 2018 when López Obrador won the elections.
“There have already been several meetings with different U.S. government agencies which have shown considerations and concerns about these plans,” the Undersecretary said.
Reyes thanked ECLAC, the United Nations agency that has outlined the action lines of this program, for having created a “fertile ground” for the implementation of public policies that may contribute to regional development.
Executive Secretary of the U.N. regional commission, Alicia Bárcena said during the program presentation that “it is an innovative proposal, because it establishes Central America development as a solution, so that migration becomes an option and not an obligation.” The United Nations official defined the plan as “the most comprehensive initiative ever presented at global level”.
ECLAC proposes a substantial increase in public and private investment in the region, to the point of representing 25% of the gross domestic product (GDP) of each of the four countries.
This proportion is currently 14% in Guatemala, 18% in El Salvador, 21% in Mexico and 22% in Honduras.
Infrastructure construction would play a key role in this increased investment, with special emphasis on the energy sector, in order to achieve a substantial reduction in energy costs and to increase production and consumption.
In addition to the United States, the Mexican government reported that it has contacted Canada, Japan, Germany and Norway to participate in some of these projects. ECLAC is proposing to integrate the Mexican electricity system with the Central American system through a connection between Mexico and Guatemala that would cost some 300 million dollars. It includes also the construction of a 600-kilometer pipeline between southern Mexico and Central America to transport natural gas from North America to the region.
Translated by: José Espinoza