Central America plans infrastructure boom to boost economy and cut migration

Three Central American governments have announced a programme of public works to boost their economies and cut the number of illegal immigrants seeking to enter the US. 

The "Plan of the Alliance for Prosperity in the Northern Triangle" has been devised by Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.  

It foresees the upgrading of the three countries’ highway networks, the construction of by-passes around cities, a doubling of the capacity of the regional electricity grid and the laying of a $1.2bn, 400km gas pipeline between Salina Cruz in southern Mexico and Escuintla in southern Guatemala. Altogether, the work is expected to cost several billion dollars. 

The question of illegal immigration – particularly that of unaccompanied children – has become a divisive issue in US politics. As most migrants are trying to find work, it is believed the problem can be tackled by creating jobs in their home countries. So John Kerry, the secretary of state, has made $50m available immediately, with more to come following Congressional approval. It is not immediately clear where the remainder of the investment would come from. 

A Honduran government official has said that investment in his country alone would be worth "hundreds of millions of dollars". 

The plan for the region, which suffers from widespread poverty and the highest murder rates in the world, was developed with the help of the Inter-American Development Bank. It also includes proposals to improve several airports, including in Belize and Nicaragua. 

Details of the plan will be finalised at an intergovernmental meeting early next year. 


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