To many Americans, the difficult issues facing Central America’s Northern Triangle—El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras—may seem distant. But the future of the United States is tied to these countries as some of our closest neighbors. Geography alone demonstrates that their stability and prosperity is critical to our national interest.
The Northern Triangle is at a crossroads. Lack of economic opportunity, weak governance, and criminality has led to nearly 10% of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras’s 30 million residents leaving in recent years. Some progress has been made, but more needs to be done to ensure that the citizens of those countries feel they have options other than making the perilous trek north to the United States.
The United States has ready and willing partners in the region to help tackle these issues. Democrats and Republicans must come together to reinforce and build on the desire for progress. This is the moment for the United States to double-down on its role in shaping the region’s future. Deep-rooted challenges will not disappear overnight. Only long-term investment and partnership in sustainable economic development, rule of law, and security will set the region on the right course.
To highlight the importance of the region and propose innovative, out-of-the-box development alternatives to the Northern Triangle, the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center in 2015 created a special task force. Featuring private sector leaders, former policymakers, and civil society experts from the three countries plus the United States, our Northern Triangle Task Force’s yearlong effort culminated with the release of a comprehensive set of recommendations targeting the US Congress, the Trump administration, and the governments of the three countries.