Photo: Central American migrants
Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina said in Washington Thursday that to deal with the border crisis spurred by the arrival of more than 50,000 unaccompanied underage migrants from Central America it will be necessary for the United States to implement a plan similar to Washington’s multi-billion-dollar initiative in Colombia.
“We have to see how we can deal with the crisis together, but really to get to the problem and attack it at the root, we would have to see ... a ‘Plan Colombia’ or a ‘Plan Merida’ (centered on Mexico) that would be a ‘Plan Central America.’ That ‘Plan Central America’ would have to have the resources necessary to be able to attack the causes at their base,” he said during a visit to Washington.
The plan would provide the Central American countries with funds to fight against organized crime and violence, one of the reasons why thousands of undocumented Central American children travel unaccompanied to the United States.
The Guatemalan leader made his remarks at the end of the meeting he held, along with Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez and Salvadoran Foreign Minister Hugo Martinez, with members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Perez Molina also announced that on Friday, during the meeting the Central American leaders will have with President Barack Obama, he will propose that Guatemala also be given Temporary Protected Status, a benefit enjoyed by Hondurans and Salvadorans and which the United States grants to people who cannot return to their home countries because of civil conflicts and natural disasters.
“We’re going to ask for it because El Salvador and Honduras have TPS and we believe that it would be a very important step for Guatemala,” he said.
The United States authorized TPS for Nicaragua and Honduras in 1999 as a result of Hurricane Mitch and it was granted to El Salvador after two earthquakes caused serious damage in that country in 2001.