Mexico gives USD$30 million grant to El Salvador as part of Central America plan

The program was announced on Thursday in Tapachula, a Mexican town that borders Guatemala

Mexico gives USD$30 million grant to El Salvador as part of Central America plan
Their partnership comes as Mexico is under intense pressure to stem the flow of U.S.-bound migrants by President Donald Trump - Photo: Taken from Andrés Manuel López Obrador's official Twitter page
English 22/06/2019 13:05 Newsroom & Agencies Mexico City Roberto Ramírez/Reuters, Misael Zavala/EL UNIVERSAL Actualizada 13:05
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Millions of new trees will soon begin sprouting in El Salvador thanks to a program funded by the Mexican government that aims to help impoverished communities that often create fertile ground for fleeing migrants.

Part of a larger push to plant more fruit and wood trees championed by Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the USD$30 million grant will be spread across nearly 125,000 acres (50,000 hectares), an area the size of more than 90,000 American football fields.

The program was announced on Thursday in Tapachula, a Mexican town that borders Guatemala, during an event headlined by López Obrador, Mexico’s leftist leader who has long focused on the poor, and El Salvador’s new president, Nayib Bukele.

The new development plan Mexico will sign with the governments of Honduras and Guatemala will entail a USD$100 million grant and employ 40 thousand people in their home localities, with aims to plant 494,210 hectares in all three countries.

Their partnership comes as Mexico is under intense pressure to stem the flow of U.S.-bound migrants by President Donald Trump, who has dangled repeated tariff threats on all Mexican exports if López Obrador fails.

“I’m sure that better times are coming for all of us,” said Bukele, a 37-year-old entrepreneur of Palestinian descent who took office this month.

The grant will eventually exceed $100 million, officials said. They also announced the construction of what they called the biggest plant nursery in Mexico, expected to produce some 40 million plants and offer temporary jobs to some 2,500 migrants.

López Obrador claimed that he had talked with U.S. President Donald Trump and convinced him to partake in Mexico’s Integral Development Plan for Central America, aimed at tackling migration at its roots.

“We have made him [Donald Trump] understand our proposal. Maybe he didn’t see it as a feasible option at first. It hasn’t been easy to try to convince him and persuade him to take part on this, but he eventually joined in the agreement,” he added.

Two new shelters for migrant families with a capacity to hold 5,000 people are also part of the plans, according to a statement from Mexico’s ministry of well-being.

Migration loomed large over the announcements, especially the deal Mexico struck a couple weeks ago with the United States that commits it to reduce the flow of mostly Central American migrants within 45 days.

If Trump determines that Mexico’s efforts are insufficient, he has said he would consider reviving the tariff threat.

“We have the commitment, and we are going to meet it, to better control our border, on our southern border, to ask that those who enter (Mexico) register,” said López Obrador.

But he also appeared to support those fleeing violence and bleak economic prospects back home.

“We have to see the migrant as a human being who is seeking a better life, better conditions to work and risking everything,” said López Obrador, adding that those passing though Mexico will not be mistreated.

The Mexican president stressed that coercive measures such as the closure of borders and persecution were not viable solutions to reduce the flow of migrants traveling to the U.S., insisting that his government would work to protect migrants.

“And we will never encourage this rejection of foreigners,” he said to a smattering of applause.
 

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