US, CentAm officials meet as Trump signals shift

Elias Hubbard
June 26, 2017

Vice President Mike Pence is stopping into Miami Thursday to talk about Central America's future.

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez said improving security and economic opportunity in Central America is in the US interest.

Tillerson tells officials from the three countries of the Northern Triangle and Mexico that stronger economies in their homelands will improve security in the US and throughout the hemisphere.

Pence noted that the Trump administration has proposed $460 million in assistance, which will be used to strengthen law enforcement and develop their economies.

President Donald Trump is to unveil a revised policy on Cuba in the coming days that would roll back parts of former President Barack Obama's efforts to normalize relations.

The goal is to build "a broader partnership" while seeking "stronger and better integration of security, economic and social development issues", said William Brownfield, assistant secretary of state for worldwide narcotics and law enforcement affairs.

Central American leaders echoed the call for strengthening the economies of the region and their ability to fight drug trafficking and the gangs that have overwhelmed the countries. Some indirectly warned of the consequences of such a move. We affirm our strong partnership with Central America and the region in supporting our mutual priorities.

His remarks came at the start of the two-day Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America, which also includes senior officials from Mexico. And he told Central American leaders the committed to helping the region's northern triangle.

American and development bank officials are laying out their strategy for dealing with problems in Central America.

State Department officials say the two-day conference in Miami - which will also be attended by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly and Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin - shows the USA commitment to the region.

Along with co-host Mexico and the Northern Triangle - Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador - envoys from Belize, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the European Union, Nicaragua, Panama and Spain are taking part.

"Beyond whatever the budget glitch is", said Moreno, "I have never seen this kind of engagement at this kind of level of the USA government for this region in a very, very long time". "We think it's very hard to signal support effectively when you are proposing such draconian cuts", said Geoff Thale, a program director with the Washington Office on Latin America.

"We are still contributing and we are still hoping to have strong relationships despite the budget cuts that we are seeing throughout the federal government", he said.

"A convulsing Central America, faced with a lack of opportunities and with violence, is a tremendous risk for the United States, Mexico and the region", he said.

"As part of the president's agenda, we seek to bolster USA national security, secure our borders and advance United States economic interest", Tillerson told the opening session at Florida International University.

The Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America opens two days of debates in the USA city of Miami, Florida, to outline strategies for development in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.

"For every dollar provided by the United States, Honduras will provide four", Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez told the conference.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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