Honduran President Juan Hernandez said Washington should help
Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras fight gangs with a plan similar
to U.S. anti-drug programs in Colombia and Mexico, as well as funds
to lift growth in the impoverished region.
"One has to recognize that our countries can't do it alone," he said
at a conference about the unaccompanied minors fleeing for the
United States. "We need help from the United States, from Mexico,
because this is everyone's problem."
Honduran Foreign Minister Mireya Aguero told the conference efforts
to step up security at the U.S. border were not working and that
U.S. aid would be better spent in Central America.
"It's much more practical for the United States to launch a
mini-Marshall plan, as they did after World War Two, to create
opportunities and really get to the root of the problem in Central
American countries that is fueling migration," she said.
Named after top U.S. General George Marshall, the Marshall plan was
a U.S. aid program to help rebuild shattered European economies
after the destruction wrought by World War Two.
Simon Henshaw, the U.S. principal deputy assistant secretary of
state for population, refugees and migration, said that the economic
situation in Central America should be addressed with the help of
international and regional development banks.
"It's clear, however, that it requires the best efforts by all
stakeholders," said Henshaw, speaking alongside Aguero and the
foreign ministers of Guatemala and El Salvador. "That means better
political will from all countries."
Hernandez, who took office in January after pledging to crack down
on crime, said U.S.-backed battles against cartels in Colombia and
Mexico have pushed drug traffickers into Central America, increasing
violence, which is causing the exodus.
Yet he underlined the success of U.S. efforts in Colombia.
"Today, for example, Plan Colombia is showing major success. It was
worked on together, those generating demand for drugs in the north
and those producing drugs in the south assumed joint responsibility
and it was effective," he said.
[to top of second column]
Honduras now has the highest murder rate in the world.
Gang-related killings have increased in recent years since Mexico's
drug cartels expanded into Honduras, enlisting local street gangs
and using the country's Caribbean coast to transport South American
cocaine to the United States.
Thousands of Central American migrants have been streaming into the
United States through Mexico, and those caught are being held in
overcrowded detention facilities.
The United States deported a planeload of women and children to
Honduras on Monday. The country's first lady, Ana Garcia de
Hernandez, said another U.S. charter flight containing 80 families
would arrive in San Pedro Sula on Friday.
President Barack Obama has asked lawmakers for $3.7 billion to pay
for more border security, temporary detention centers and additional
immigration court judges to process asylum cases and speed up
A local U.N. official who also spoke at the conference in Honduras
said that U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is "deeply concerned"
about the child migrants. He urged the governments involved "to
urgently protect the human rights of migrant children."
(Additonal reporting by Gabriel Stargardter and Christine Murray;
Editing by Leslie Adler and Lisa Shumaker)
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