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Mexico, U.S. announce plan for aid to Central America in effort to stem migration

A group of migrants poses for a photo
Nicaraguan and Guatemalan migrants pose for a photo before traveling to Mexicali from Monterrey, Mexico, on Monday, after obtaining visitors’ cards that allow them to legally stay in Mexico for one year.
(Felix Marquez / Associated Press)

Mexico announced a joint plan with the United States on Wednesday to send development and agricultural aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, to stem the wave of migration from those Central American countries.

Mexico had long sought a U.S. commitment to fund President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s commercial tree-planting program, known as “Sembrando Vida.”

While the joint plan announced Wednesday adopted a similar nameplate, “Sembrando Oportunidades,” or “Planting Opportunities,” it did not contain any specific funding commitments nor any U.S. support for the Mexican forestry program.

The U.S. Agency for International Development called the plan “a new framework for development cooperation to address the root causes of irregular migration from northern Central America.”

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Under the plan announced Wednesday, both countries will work through their own development aid agencies.

The most ambitious targets were set for Honduras, where the joint plan aims to reach as many as 500,000 young people, mainly through training programs and scholarships.

The two governments “plan to bring abilities and experiences to young people with the aim of guiding them into long-term employment, reducing the risk of irregular migration,” according to a statement released by Mexico’s Foreign Relations Department.

Programs in Guatemala and El Salvador will seek to foment good business and governance practices, as well as provide aid.

Migrants from Central America have been showing up in increasing numbers at the U.S. border in recent years.

There has been criticism in Mexico of the “Sembrando Vida” forestry program, which pays farmers a monthly wage to plant and care for fruit or lumber trees.

Critics say the program has encouraged some farmers to cut down existing, natural forest to qualify for the payments.


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