Writing for The Hill, Dan Runde of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington explains that a rapid increase in development funds is needed to address the widespread violence, poverty and corruption driving so many to migrate from Southern Mexico and Central America’s Northern Triangle.
The United States should put the North American Development Bank (NADB) on steroids and broaden its mission to focus on Southern Mexico and the Northern Triangle of Central America. With a relatively small sum of money (perhaps a few hundred million dollars which could be paid out over a couple of years) and a new authorization from the U.S. Congress, the United States could create a new instrument to meet the challenges of the Northern Triangle.
Such a newly repurposed and super-sized development bank would also send a strong signal to the soon to be installed Mexican government led by president-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (known as AMLO), who has made confronting the push factors of migration such as regional insecurity, poor governance and a lack of economic growth the focus of Mexico’s future efforts in the region.
President-elect Obrador is correct: people are fleeing the Northern Triangle as a result of limited job opportunities, a deep sense of physical insecurity driven by drug-financed criminal gangs, and an overall weakness in governance and institutions. In 2014, the United States responded to a similar wave with the Alliance for Prosperity (A4P) Initiative. The initiative helped outline a plan that sought to achieve four key objectives:
- stimulate the productive sector to create economic opportunities;
- develop economic opportunities for communities in the region;
- improve public safety and enhance access to the legal system, and;
- strengthen institutions to increase people’s trust in the state.
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), where the United States is the largest shareholder, is one instrument that has been used to organize country plans. The United States has also made significant bilateral direct commitments to the three countries, by leveraging its various government agencies like the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Additionally, with the passage of the BUILD Act, the new U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (USDFC) should also be seen as a vital instrument that can respond to the challenges of the Northern Triangle.”