U.S. Assistance to Central America Promotes Security, Economic Development, and Rule of Law
Across Central America, dangerous levels of violence, corruption, poverty, and extreme weather driven by climate change have been among the root causes driving a broader regional challenge that has led families and unaccompanied children to leave their homes in Central America.
In 2014, the United States launched the “Alliance for Prosperity” – a regional initiative grounded in tough U.S. diplomatic engagement and sustained, targeted development investments. An initial U.S. commitment of $750 million catalyzed more than $5.4 billion in funding from the Northern Triangle countries – more than seven times the initial American commitment– to help their own people. By 2017, American assistance helped improve conditions throughout the region, and border-crossing apprehensions fell to their lowest point since 1971.
Yet this commitment was not sustained, and U.S. foreign assistance to Central America was suspended and decreased by nearly 30% from 2016 to 2019, when assistance to the Northern Triangle was just 0.035% of the current federal budget. When U.S. foreign assistance is integrated into a comprehensive approach to the challenge, these investments improve safety and stability across the region.
- Declining Homicide Rates: Homicide rates dropped by 42% in El Salvador, 13% in Guatemala, and 23% in Honduras from 2015 to 2017 with even higher declines of up to 66% in El Salvador and 78% in Honduras in at risk neighborhoods where USAID and the State Department targeted their programs.
- Fighting Corruption: The United States supports the Mission to Support the Fight Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (MACCIH), an independent, international anti-corruption body that has enabled the work of judges, prosecutors, and investigators. The United States also supported a United Nations anti- corruption body set up in Guatemala 2007 to fight corruption, the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), which was terminated by the country in 2019.
- Promoting Economic Development: In the Western Highlands region of Guatemala, an area especially prone to migration based on data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, USAID agricultural programming helped increase rural farmers’ sales by 51% and created 20,000 jobs in agriculture.
- Rebuilding After Natural Disasters: Following back-to-back hurricanes in Central America in 2020 that caused severe flooding, landslides, and extensive damages to infrastructure, USAID deployed a Disaster-Assistance Response Team and allocated millions of dollars in life-saving aid to provide food, shelter, protection, and additional relief supplies to those affected.