Dangerous levels of violence, political instability, and poverty are key factors driving families to make the risky journey from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador without any guarantee of safety.
In response to the 2014 crisis of unaccompanied children arriving at America’s southern border, the United States helped launch the “Alliance for Prosperity” – a regional initiative grounded in tough U.S. diplomatic engagement and sustained, effective development investments.
America committed an initial $750 million and the Northern Triangle countries brought more than seven times that amount to bear – $5.4 billion of their own resources – to help their own people. By 2017, American assistance helped improve conditions throughout the region and border-crossing apprehensions had fallen to their lowest point since 1971.
Unfortunately – prior to the most recent announced cuts – U.S. assistance to Central America has decreased by nearly 30% from 2016 to 2019, and assistance to the Northern Triangle is just 0.035% of the current federal budget.
A bipartisan initiative launched in 1999, Plan Colombia was a major success in helping transform the once narco-terrorist state into key U.S. ally and economic partner. combating violence and insecurity by helping to train Colombian law enforcement and rebuild the economy. The United States made a $10 billion investment over the course of a decade, and Colombia now exports $15 billion each year to the United States, up 400% since 2000. Colombia has also become a key security partner, using lessons from its own experience to help Central American countries tackle similar challenges.
U.S. assistance programs in the Northern Triangle promote security and economic development by combating violence, strengthening community programs for youth, promoting economic and agricultural development, and fighting corruption.
The vast majority of U.S. assistance goes directly to non-profit and civil society organizations that run programs that promote economic development and capacity building. Programs that support the efforts of Central American governments largely focus on strengthening law enforcement and security.