By: María Inés Valle Balsells—Trade Center Coordinator AMCHAM Guatemala
The year 2014 will be remembered, with no doubt, as the year that strongly marked Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, due to the migration of almost 10% of its population (mainly, 60 thousand unaccompanied minors) towards the U.S. This migration has been pushed by the high percentage of delinquency, violence and lack of opportunities to improve life conditions of the citizens of these three countries of Central America. Nevertheless, the flow of Central American population heading for the U.S. is not a new issue. Annually, some 200 thousand people try to leave the region, among these, 120 thousand achieved to cross the border. Meanwhile, the remaining 10 thousand are deported to their countries.
In order to show the impact generated by this problem, some comparative indicators of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras are shown in the following chart:
|Country||Increase of the labor force in country of origin (2014)||Apprehensions in the U.S., FY 2015||Unauthorized border crossings into United States||Deportations from United States, FY 2015||Unaccompanied minors, FY 2015|
For the purpose of reducing this exodus, Washington, at the request of the three Central American countries aforementioned, assumed the responsibility and commitment to create effective, conscious and clear actions to minimize the migration to North America, creating the necessary opportunities for those citizens within their countries. Therefore, as an answer to this problem, the A4P emerged. It is important to mention that these type of plans are not new in the Latin America region; a clear example of this issue is the Plan Colombia, that was created to suppress drug trafficking, organized crime and the combat to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia; as well as the Initiative Mérida, with the purpose to stop the rise of crimes in Mexico, through cooperation and security. Furthermore, Mexico and Colombia have already mentioned their interest in cooperating and supporting the A4P, by transferring their knowledge and experience, based on the experience in which they performed their plans.
The U.S. Congress approved US$750 millions as an investment to the Program, where these funds will be available in October 2016. In order to receive these funds, the Region has to do better some indicators related to 16 conditions: national security, border security, fiscal and political reforms, social development and fight against corruption. Meanwhile, the remaining 25% will be applied in programs with similar goals.
For the purpose of learning more about the AP4, it is important to mention that it is a five-year plan with four strategic lines of action:
- Stimulate the productive sector to create economic opportunities
- Growing and development opportunities for the human capital
- Improve public safety and the legal system
- Strengthening of public institutions to increase people’s trust in the State
With these four strategic lines, the Plan tries to revitalize the economy of the Central American Northern Triangle countries, generating optimum conditions for businesses that will attract private investment, development of large-scale infrastructure projects and logistic corridors, that will ease the international trade, together with the labor offer linked to the demand of the companies, programs of violence prevention, the transparency of the State, cost reduction in electricity, as well as the promotion of strategically sectors such as textile “maquila”, light manufacturing, tourism, and agricultural industry.
In Guatemala, such Plan will be managed by the public sector as well as the private sector, which is comprised of chambers and entrepreneurial organizations and associations. AMCHAM plays a very important role in this Plan. As the American Chamber of Commerce we will strengthen and provide business and investment opportunities to entrepreneurs in the country as well as U.S. entrepreneurs who are interested in Guatemala. Our commitment has been and will continue being to create a positive impact for our Chamber members in the long-term as well as for the community, through the promotion of commercial relations between Guatemala and the U.S., reinforcing the economic activity and the free enterprise.