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From Root Causes to Causes to Root For…

Ronald Flores
17 de noviembre, 2021

In Late July, the Biden administration published its Strategy for Addressing the Root Causes of Migration in Central America. It provides a very comprehensive approach from a US public policy point of view. It is probably one of those standard products elaborated by experienced technocrats for their bureau, although it claims to be more than that. Notwithstanding, this policy affects the nations of Central America and seems to ignore their own national development agendas. Since these national agendas are never mentioned, referred to or even acknowledged, one can only speculate that perhaps they were never even consulted.

In its opening section, the said Strategy reassures the reader that a wide variety of stakeholders were consulted for its elaboration. However, throughout these countries, different stakeholders have publicly requested to engage in a more productive dialogue with the current US administration. In one of those countries, the US Ambassador seldomly met with the leadership of Congress, and his staff has only sporadically reached out to preeminent elected representatives. 

I have some theoretical questions about the Strategy. To begin with, why does it say Central America in the title but the content refers almost exclusively to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras? What about Nicaragua, Costa Rica or Belize? What is the differential factor of these three countries, when the entire region seems to be experiencing a rather similar situation? In which official document can I find the reasoning behind the creation of a micro-region within a subregion? 

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It is a good document to begin the discussion. I think it could have used a more participatory method in its elaboration, something more a result of the Kissinger Report style committee meetings or even a design thinking forum. Instead, it seems that those that it intends to include in the implementation, were taken for granted in the elaboration. 

The historical background and context is also taken for granted. More importantly, any lessons learned by the US policy makers from recent events in the complex history of the relationship between the United States and Central America. I mention this because there is a world beyond public policy. In it, there are many people struggling to make ends meet, working hard to stay afloat. There are entrepreneurs, workers, people that are self employed, people who migrate to the United States trying to make their own version of the AmericanC Dream. 

Addressing root causes sounds important. However, I would rather have causes to root for in Central America. In the meantime, Guatemala is on pace this year to break the annual record for remittances. Family remittances support many worthwhile causes, like education, health and the improvement of living conditions for those still here. Those are some real causes to root for. 

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