Washington – China could fill the gap left in Central America if the government withdraws economic aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, as President Donald Trump ordered last week, experts from the Atlantic Council study center said today.
“If we go backwards, China is ready to go in. We have seen this all over the world and in Latin America,” Atlantic Council Latin American director Jason Marczak said in a conference call.
Marczak said that the country currently has an “incredible influence” in the so-called Northern Triangle of Central America, but that it risks losing it if it ends aid programs for the region.
“There is a lot of concern with China,” he warned.
The influence of China in Latin America has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years, a stage in which several countries have decided to break diplomatic relations with Taiwan and establish them with the Asian giant.
In fact, El Salvador, Panama and the Dominican Republic have been the last nations that have taken that direction in the region.
The experts analyzed the possible impact that the withdrawal of all types of assistance from the US government to the countries of the Northern Triangle of Central America, as Trump ordered last week.
The decision was made last Friday night after Trump criticized the three countries of the Northern Triangle for “doing nothing” for the Americans and allowing the formation of caravans of migrants who aim to reach the United States.
In this regard, Marczak considered that the “long-term investment” of the US in those countries it translates into “more security and more jobs, that is, less need to emigrate here”.
“Local governments can not stop people who want to leave, the US must help build more security and strengthen the economy so that people do not have to leave,” he added.
According to the latest data from the Department of State, USA
In 2018, a total of 120 million dollars was approved for Guatemala, 80 million for Honduras and 58 million for El Salvador.
Meanwhile, in 2017, USA it allocated 140 million to Guatemala, 95 million to Honduras and 73 million to El Salvador.
The former Foreign Minister of El Salvador María Eugenia Brizuela, who also participated in the call, said that this is a “crucial” moment for the future of the Central American nations.
“It is very important that the US continue to support our institutions, in case of retreat (aid), not only would it be tragic now, but in the long term,” argued Brizuela, who heads an Atlantic Council task force on the Northern Triangle.
On the other hand, analysts warned Trump that ending financial aid is a decision that “will be expensive.”
“It’s a substantial amount of money, but if you focus on what it will cost to withdraw it … It will increase insecurity, drug trafficking in the region, and in the end, it will be more expensive than maintaining assistance,” said Marczak. .
“It is money that is aimed at important policies for long-term prosperity in those countries,” he added.
The expert in Latin America argued that the aid is not only aimed at the development of these countries, but also aims to help the local security forces in their struggles against crime and drugs and strengthen their judicial systems.
Despite having ordered the withdrawal of assistance to these countries, Trump’s ability to decide on foreign aid is limited because Congress has the competence over the budget (EFEUSA).