Harris pushes companies to invest in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador

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Vice President Harris announced a new initiative to bring business and economic investment to countries in the North Triangle of Central America, which are behind much of the wave of migrants on the southern border of the United States. United States that it was responsible for addressing.

At the White House on Thursday, Harris – who is due to visit Mexico and Guatemala next month – met face-to-face and virtually with representatives from a dozen businesses and non-governmental organizations. Attendees included the CEOs of Nespresso, Chobani and Duolingo as well as the President of Mastercard and the President of Microsoft.

Harris said the Biden administration has issued a “call to action” for businesses, banks and social enterprises to invest in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

the initiative is part of an effort to tackle the root causes of migration. And focusing on business reflects the desire to make economic development last beyond any administration or congressional funding cycle.

“When we work together, when we combine resources – however limited they may be to each of us – we can maximize the potential to give the people of this region hope and thus show what it means to be a good one. neighbor, ”Harris said in a brief opening remarks at the event.

During its first months in office, the Biden administration was criticized for its handling of the increase in the number of migrants seeking asylum or entering the United States illegally. Apprehensions along the southern border are setting records, and Republicans blamed the outbreak on the administration’s decision to distance itself from the Trump administration’s strict border enforcement policies.

In March, President Biden asked Harris to lead the administration’s efforts to tackle the root causes of migration. Its portfolio does not include the border itself, but rather presents relations with the countries of the Northern Triangle. It’s a role Biden played during the Obama administration.

Harris last month ad the United States would invest an additional $ 310 million to help meet the humanitarian needs of the people of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. The region has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout as well as by natural disasters, and much of the funds are expected to be allocated for emergency food aid.

The 12 organizations that were part of Thursday’s event in Harris’ ceremonial office announced “commitments to support inclusive development in the Northern Triangle,” an administration official said. The objective is “the long-term development of the region, including efforts for economic opportunities, strengthening governance, fighting corruption and improving security,” the official said.

Harris said she assumes that people don’t want to leave their home countries and that when they do, it’s because they are fleeing harm, such as violence or a natural disaster, or because staying at home prevents them from meeting their basic needs. .

For many migrants, the lack of economic opportunities in their country of origin is a factor in their decision to leave. And that’s where this initiative comes in.

“We have the ability to give people hope – and especially hope in this case that if they stay, help is on the way,” Harris said.

Among the commitments, Harris announced that Microsoft will expand broadband access to up to 3 million people next year, Nespresso will expand coffee supply in Guatemala and start doing so in El Salvador and Honduras, and Mastercard plans to support 1 million small businesses in the region.

“The benefit of this effort probably won’t show overnight, but it will be worth it,” said Harris. “We understand that our work takes place against the backdrop of long-standing and deeply rooted factors.”

The press was escorted after Harris’ opening remarks.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To learn more, visit https://www.npr.org.



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