In informal collaboration with the United States, the Alliance for Prosperity was launched by the presidents of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador in 2014, it was purposed to address the region’s security deficits and other societal ills that pushed so many residents to emigrate — and four years later it’s been largely forgotten.
This week the President of Honduras Juan Orlando Hernández expressed his disappointment and frustration with the yet-to-materialize Alliance for Prosperity during an interview with Reuters. The way he sees it, if the United States isn’t willing to put its money where its mouth is, then perhaps Northern Triangle leaders like Hernández ought to look to China.
“Since Trump became president, Hernandez said the United States had shown great willingness to work on combating street gangs known as maras that have menaced Central America. But it was less ready to support the region financially, he noted.
Under a scheme to strengthen Central America launched in 2014 known as the Plan of the Alliance for Prosperity in the Northern Triangle, the United States pledged to put forward a dollar for every four invested by Honduras, Hernandez said.
But that commitment has not materialized, he added.
“That will obviously have repercussions,” he told Reuters. “Because the whole idea of the Alliance for Prosperity … was to attack the migration problem at the root.”
Between 2016 and 2018, combined U.S. foreign aid for Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador declined by more than one third to $195 million, according to official U.S. data.
Adding to the challenges facing the region, the Trump administration announced earlier this year it would end temporary immigration protection for tens of thousands of Hondurans and Salvadorans living in the United States.
Meanwhile, China is strengthening ties with Central America.
Last month, El Salvador broke off diplomatic relations with Taiwan in favor of China, citing economic reasons and following on the heels of Panama in 2017.
Honduras is one of a dwindling number of countries that still has formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan.
Hernandez said China’s growing diplomatic presence posed a “quandary” for the region, but also “an opportunity for all,” provided there are “clear rules.” Other countries would likely follow the lead of El Salvador and Panama soon, he added.
“We see that things are changing in Central America. I think the United States has been a bit late to see it,” he said.“