SEATTLE, Washington — The Northern Triangle is a region in Central America that encompasses three countries: Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. It has been subject to corruption, gang violence and trafficking for several years. On May 9, 2019, New York Representative Eliot Engel and Texas Representative Michael McCaul proposed a new bill to the U.S. House of Representatives that addresses the need for aid to these Central American countries and the new programs that would be implemented if the bill is passed. These new programs include anti-corruption and economic growth initiatives. Here is the breakdown of the Northern Triangle Enhanced Engagement Act.
The Northern Triangle Enhancement Engagement Act
The Northern Triangle Enhancement Engagement Act addresses the need to prioritize economic growth in the Northern Triangle through increasing their connectivity to the internet and digital technologies. This will help produce jobs and encourage economic prosperity. The bill also proposes a reintegration program for individuals returning to their respective country. The program will partner with private sector companies who will hire and train the returnees.
Government agencies and departments such as the United States International Development Financial Corporation, U.S. Agency for International Development, U.S. private sector and Millennium Challenge Corporation are all being called upon to help strengthen the economy and invest as well. Nongovernmental organizations will be a part of this strategy as well as private sector corporations. This cooperation will be important for the success of the bill.
Anti-Corruption and Human Rights
The bill also introduces anti-corruption strategies and efforts through technical assistance to financial institutions that will help detect money laundering. It is also stated that bilateral assistance will be in place as well as multilateral anti-corruption initiatives. Strengthening democratic institutions, human rights and transparency are all priority in helping reduce corruption in this region. New technology will also allow for independent media and investigative journalism, which are also encouraged by this bill. It will also be implementing the U.S. Department of State’s Central America Regional Security Initiative to combat illicit trafficking and gang violence.
Rep. Engel and Rep. McCaul’s proposed bill also mentions the need for a rapid timely response to humanitarian assistance to those in the Northern Triangle. The bill text addresses the need for an increase in assistance for access to clean water, sanitation, hygiene and shelter. Providing health resources and improving food security for individuals living in the Northern Triangle is a part of the bill text as well.
Funds of approximately $577 million will be allocated to the sections of the bill regarding economic growth, combating corruption and strengthening democratic institutions. The Inter-American Foundation will receive $10 million to address key issues and causes of migration from Central America. The Northern Triangle will also receive $49 million for programming in the Northern Triangle countries.
Each country’s government in the Northern Triangle will receive funds under conditions and must demonstrate progress such as combating human smuggling and trafficking as well as in implementing reforms, policies and programs. The governments must work to ensure human rights and support programs with initiatives in reducing poverty, expanding education and vocational training as well as the creation of jobs and economic growth.
Each section of the Northern Triangle Enhanced Engagement Act is a part of a five-year strategy that partners with nongovernmental organizations in the United States and Central America. The strategy will also include a public diplomacy initiative that educates individuals that live in the Northern Triangle about the dangers of illegal migration and the journey to the United States. The Northern Triangle Enhanced Engagement Act is determined to find the root causes of extreme migration from Central America with this bill.