WILMINGTON, Del. — Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, traveled Thursday with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of the Department of Homeland (DHS) Security Jeh Johnson to attend the inauguration of Jimmy Morales as President of Guatemala. Sen. Carper continued on to El Salvador Friday to meet with President Salvador Sanchez Ceren and see firsthand regional efforts to address the underlying factors, including record violence, driving migration from El Salvador to the United States.
“There is a moment of opportunity for the governments of the Northern Triangle to make their nations a better place to live, work, and raise a family,” said Sen. Carper. “By supporting their effort to do so, we will not only strengthen America, we will help create a stable, safe, and economically resilient region to our south, and help end the preventable humanitarian crisis at our border.”
In Guatemala, Sen. Carper joined Vice President Biden to meet with the leaders of the Northern Triangle nations, President Morales, President Sanchez Ceren and President Juan Orlando Hernandez of Honduras. He also met with Guatemalan Attorney General Thelma Aldana and Interior Minister Rivas Lara to discuss efforts to combat violence and corruption in the country, and was briefed by U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala Todd Robinson and USAID officials on development strategies for the country, including the progress Guatemala is making in implementing the Plan of the Alliance for Prosperity in the Northern Triangle. Representative Norma Torres (D-Calif.), DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, Thomas A. Shannon, Counselor of the Department of State, and Mark Feierstein, Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs for the National Security Council, joined the Delegation for the inauguration. Rep. Torres also joined Senator Carper for additional meetings in Guatemala and in El Salvador the next day.
In El Salvador, which now suffers the highest homicide rate of any nation not at war, Sen. Carper met separately with President Sanchez Ceren. Sen. Carper visited a repatriation facility and toured a USAID-sponsored education and development center for young adults. He toured a new police facility supported by U.S. funding. He was also briefed by government officials on national and local strategies, “Plan Seguro” and “Consejo de Seguridad” to improve the security situation in the country. Sen. Carper also joined a discussion with business representatives and civil society leaders to discuss security issues and economic opportunity initiatives in El Salvador.
“Our travel to Central America gave the delegation a chance to sit down with the leaders of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras and hear from them, first-hand, their progress in upholding their commitment to the Alliance for Prosperity and their work to promote economic opportunity, reestablish rule of law, tackle violence, and inspire hope in the Northern Triangle,” Sen. Carper said. “It also showed us what our nation must do to complement and support their effort.
“The leaders of the Northern Triangle have a tough job ahead of them but with leadership, courage and hard work, and help from their neighbors, the Northern Triangle can forge a better, safer, more hopeful future. They can do it. And the United States and others stand ready to help. As part of
that effort, Congress recently appropriated $750 million in Fiscal Year 2016 to support initiatives in the Northern Triangle to increase economic prosperity, rule of law and citizen security. These include technical assistance and other support to develop the police force and justice system, community-level violence prevention programs, job and life-skills programs for at-risk youth, providing services at domestic violence assistance centers, and literacy and vocational education programs. This investment underscores our nation’s own commitment to helping these nations address the root causes of poverty, violence, and hopelessness driving so many people north. But again, change can only happen as part of a team effort. Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, their neighbors in the region, the United States, and the international community must all commit to realizing the goal of moving these nations forward.”
“I’d like thank Vice President Biden, Rep. Torres, and the rest of our delegation for a historic and productive trip. I look forward to following the progress of President Morales as he forms his government, and the efforts of Presidents Sanchez Ceren and Hernandez as they push forward with their efforts to improve their citizens’ lives.”
In December 2015, Sen. Carper released the report, Stronger Neighbors – Stronger Borders: Addressing the Root Causes of the Migration Surge from Central America. The report found that the ongoing migration surge from the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador reflects troubled conditions in those countries. The United States has contributed to these conditions with its insatiable appetite for illegal drugs and should help combat them.
In November 2014, the presidents of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala – joined by Vice President Joe Biden – announced their commitment to the “Plan of the Alliance for Prosperity in the Northern Triangle.” The Alliance for Prosperity directs action in four key areas: fostering economic growth by strengthening trade and building critical infrastructure such as roads, energy pipelines and the electric grid; investing in education and workforce development; promoting the rule of law by tackling corruption, improving public safety and strengthening the judicial system; and rebuilding citizens’ trust in the government by increasing transparency and improving the delivery of basic services.