On Friday, March 29th, President Trump cut all aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, the three countries that make up the Northern Triangle. According to Mr. Trump, these cuts were made because of the influx of migrants heading toward the United States. This plan will only lead to worsening circumstances for the people who make up these countries and cause a greater number of people to flee to the U.S.
According to Politico, Trump stated, “I’ve ended payments to Guatemala, to Honduras, and to El Salvador, we were paying them tremendous amounts of money, and we’re not paying them anymore because they haven’t done a thing for us.” Although President Trump’s called for foreign aid to stop, Congress must also approve the action. A spokesman from the Department of State said, “at the Secretary’s instruction, we are carrying out the President’s direction and ending FY 2017 and FY 2018 foreign assistance programs for the Northern Triangle”. Many Democrats are upset over President Trump’s decision to cut funding to these countries. One of the Democrats angered by this decision is Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, who is advocating for members of Congress to reject Trump’s decision. Senator Menendez called the decision “irresponsible” and “reckless” (NBC). As stated in Politico, Adriana Beltrán, Director of citizen security at the Washington Office on Latin America human rights research group, said: “It’s a shooting-yourself-in-the-foot policy.” Beltrán went on to say, “You can have a discussion as to how we can ensure that the aid is effective, that assistance is not going to supporting corrupt governments” (BBC). Many, like Beltrán, seem open to discussing ways to ensure foreign aid is more effective, in place of simply stopping the aid meant to help citizens of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.
We applaud many Democrats like Senator Menendez and humanitarians like Adriana Beltrán who understand the need for foreign aid in these regions. Without this aid, life in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador will become harsher and more dangerous. This will only lead to more migration into the U.S.. This tactic will not encourage leaders of the Northern Triangle to stop its citizens from leaving the country despite what President Trump hopes. We support finding more effective ways to give aid, bypassing corruption which dwindles its effectiveness.
The funding President Trump wants to stop was apart of an initiative started by President Obama. According to Politico, the aid “aims to strengthen security and foster development in the three countries, and does not go to the governments directly. The State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development manage the bulk of the funds, and other agencies, including the departments of Justice and Homeland Security, also receive funding.” The aid is worth more than $500 Million, and if passed by Congress will be redirected elsewhere. President Trump’s actions were spurred on by the recent migrant caravans that reached the United States Border.
We support leaders who want to improve the U.S. system of foreign aid, not those who want to break it. Americans must take their nation’s role in the world seriously. The United States of America has the potential to help people around the world. Foreign aid is not a useless expense but an investment in the nation’s future. In the words of Condoleezza Rice: “for the United States, supporting international development is more than just an expression of our compassion. It is a vital investment in the free, prosperous, and peaceful international order that fundamentally serves our national interest.”