Trump Turns U.S. Policy in Central America on Its Head
“There are long-term challenges that are going to need a long-term sustainable solution,” Ms. Beltrán said. “You can have a discussion as to how we can ensure that the aid is effective, that assistance is not going to supporting corrupt governments.”
Much of the humanitarian aid is distributed through local governments and non-governmental organizations. Cutting off that help is “illogical and vindictive,” said Tim Rieser, a senior foreign policy aide to Sen. Patrick Leahy, the vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
But cutting off direct aid to the national governments of the Northern Triangle countries may be long overdue, he added, because they are part of the problem.
“Senator Leahy does not believe we should support governments that care more about enriching themselves and staying in power than addressing the needs of their own people,” he added, pointing to efforts by the governments of Honduras and Guatemala to control the courts and thwart anti-corruption efforts.
The Trump administration has lifted some of the pressure as the governments of Guatemala and Honduras cultivated conservative allies in Washington and presented themselves as allies in drug interdiction.
To win favor with Washington, Guatemala followed the Trump administration in moving its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem last year. Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández said last week that his government was opening a trade office in Jerusalem, which he called “a first step” toward moving his country’s embassy.
There was no official response from Central American governments on Saturday. Ebal Díaz, the minister of the presidency, told Radio América, a Honduran broadcaster, that American aid was largely directed to nongovernmental humanitarian and aid groups.