Trump halts Central American aid

2 Apr 19

The United States has cut its aid to three Central American countries that President Donald Trump has accused of sending migrants north.

The State Department confirmed that Washington is ending foreign assistance to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras – the so-called ‘Northern Triangle’ of states blamed by Trump.

Officials have also indicated that the US aims to quadruple the number of asylum seekers it deports every day to neighbouring Mexico.

In recent weeks there has been a rapid rise in the number of asylum seekers from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras who are seeking to enter the US.

In his comments last week, Trump claimed that authorities in the three countries had wilfully brought together caravans of migrants in an effort to move them on to the US.

“We were giving them $500m,” Trump said. “We were paying them tremendous amounts of money, and we’re not paying them any more because they haven’t done a thing for us.”

A state department spokesperson confirmed the decision in a statement: “We are carrying out the president’s direction and ending FY [fiscal year] 2017 and FY 2018 foreign assistance programs for the Northern Triangle.”

At the weekend Trump repeated a threat to close the border with Mexico if the country does not halt migrants heading north.

An effort to increase the numbers of asylum seekers that the US sends to Mexico has been stepped up after the policy was announced on 29 January.

About 60 a day are currently sent into Mexico but officials are now aiming to deport as many as 300 on a daily basis.

Congressional Democrats have been critical of Trump’s policy and latest outburst.

New Jersey senator Bob Menendez, a senior Democrat on the Senate foreign relations committee, lamented the “reckless announcement”.

“US foreign assistance is not charity; it advances our strategic interests and funds initiatives that protect American citizens,” Menendez said.

  • Gavin O'Toole

    A freelance journalist. He has written six books about Latin America and taught the politics of the region at Queen Mary, University of London.

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