18° GUATEMALA
21/05/2022
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Longing for Reagan

Ronald Flores
21 de junio, 2021

On June 19th, 1983, President Ronald Reagan, following the suggestion of a group of Senators, established the National Bipartisan Commission on Central America to provide an in-depth study of the region and advise the president to propose long term policies to address the social, economic and political challenges to the region. Central America was facing a crisis and the United States needed to find solutions. President Reagan designated Henry Kissinger, the former powerful National Security Advisor and Secretary of State for President Richard Nixon, as coordinator to bring in an expert in public policy and international relations. 

The Commission, composed of 12 members, conducted several visits to the countries of the region, where it met with experts, politicians, academics and personalities. The visits and conversations did a lot to revitalize the relationship between Central America and the United States. It helped find new common ground, reestablish old allies and set up new alliances. 

Finally, the Commission presented a comprehensive Report. It was controversial, ambitious yet appropriate. Perhaps it served as the basis for the peace processes, the return of democracy and the economic modernization of the region. It is known now as the Kissinger Report, named after the leader of the Commission, but I think it should have been called the Reagan Report on Central America. It continues to be one of the most, if not the most, interesting document about Central America ever written. 

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Almost four decades later, Central America is still a puzzle unsolved by the United States policy makers. Thousands of Central Americans continue to migrate to the US in search of the opportunity for a better life. Currently, there is an ongoing search of the root causes of migration, that is simply an open ended question.

On February 2nd, 2021, President Joe Biden issued an Executive Order to create an regional framework to address the causes of migration from Central America to the United States. It establishes a collaborative strategy to attempt to solve many of the historical problems of the region, such as combat corruption, strengthen democratic governance and the Rule of Law. It is a basic proposal that no one can argue against. The question is how to achieve it. 

An item of the said Executive Order, recommends the US government to carry out a consultation process with civil society, the private sector, international organizations and the governments of the region, which seems like a great idea. However, it narrows a wide Latin American issue to three countries in particular: El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. The situation these three countries are facing is similar to Mexico, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, to say the least.  

President Biden seems to be concerned for these three countries in particular. I am hopeful that before making their mind up about the region the Biden administration has the deference to engage in a profound conversation with the key players in Central America about what they think are the root causes of migration and how we might solve them together. At least President Reagan had the wisdom to ask us. 

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