US, Mexico seek to stem migration from Central America by funding development in region

MEXICO CITY — The United States and Mexico will be cooperating closely to convince thousands of potential Central American migrants to not risk the perilous journey to the U.S. border by investing money into some of the region’s poorest areas.

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said up to $10.6 billion in existing U.S. funding would fund “institutional reform” and “good government” initiatives in Central America, along with regional development in southern Mexico — where new Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has promised to pull the region out of poverty through projects ranging from railways to refineries to planting thousands of hectares of trees.

Cross-border cabinet meetings would be convened, Ebrard said, and private sector participation would be included in the plan.

“Both countries recognize the strong links between economic growth in southern Mexico and successfully promoting prosperity, good government and security in Central America,” Ebrard told reporters Tuesday.

“We’re committed to promoting strong regional economic growth, better-paying jobs and better opportunities for all our citizens.”

Said the State Department in a statement on Tuesday: “The United States will also continue to work closely with Mexico, international partners, international financial institutions…the private sector, and civil society to maximize the impact of U.S. taxpayer investment in the region.”

The United States and Mexico “agree on a strategic framework for our cooperation in Central America to address root causes of migration.”

The joint announcement on Central America comes as migrants spill out of the region — most prominently in caravans — in attempts to escape violence, poverty and drought. More than 6,000 migrants have converged on Tijuana, where many await the opportunity to apply for asylum in the United States.

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