Central America Needs a Marshall Plan, and a Region-wide Anti-Drug Fight
July 20, 2014 • 3:45PM

The Honduran government put two, related proposals on the table this week for resolving the immigration crisis, at an "International Conference on Migration, Youth, and Family" which it organized in Tegucigalpa on July 16-17. One was that the United States, Mexico, and the nations of Central America draw up a plan to join forces in crushing organized crime and the drug trade, similar to how the U.S. and Colombia fought together in "Plan Colombia"; the other that a Marshall Plan approach be taken to radically change the economic conditions of the region which leave people without hope or jobs.

President Juan Orlando Hernandez opened the conference, attended by high-level officials from El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and the United States, plus members of civil society. He was emphatic that no nation, individually, can address conditions which led to a 1,670% increase in the number of unaccompanied Central American minors attempting to enter the U.S.—in one year! President Hernandez stated: "It must be done jointly, all the countries united, because it requires confronting and defeating organized crime, reducing State corruption levels, developing the level of production, and lessening inequality. "For every nine children who make the dangerous trip to the United States, seven leave from the Honduran zones of greatest violence.... They are children who live where the greatest transit of drugs in the country occurs. The coyotes (human traffickers) feed off the tragedy and desperation of families, and treat the migrants inhumanly, as slaves. "To solve this problem we have to go the root of the problem; we are not going to solve anything with patches."

A short- and medium-term regional approach is needed, he said, citing the successes achieved in reducing violence through Plan Colombia.

Addressing the same conference, Honduran Foreign Minister Mireya Aguero proposed that the United States "launch a mini-Marshall Plan, as they did after World War II, to create opportunities and really get to the root of the problem in Central American countries that is fueling migration."

Pope Francis also called for "measures ... promoting development in the countries of origin" of the migrants, in a personal message calling for urgent measures to deal with this "humanitarian emergency" which he sent to the "Mexican-Vatican Colloquim on Human Mobility and Development," held in Mexico City just two days before, on July 14. The conference, attended by top officials of the same countries which then met in Honduras, emphasized the urgency of establishing cultures and policies which recognize the essential humanity of all persons, including migrants, and most especially of children. Signalling the importance given the matter by the Pope, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, personally attended the conference, which was jointly organized with the Mexican Foreign Relations Ministry.

BRICS and Russia To Join Hands In Eradication of Afghan Drugs

BRICS will participate in the elimination of Afghani drug production together with the Russian Federal Drug Control Service (FSKN), Russia's anti-narcotics chief Viktor Ivanov told RIA Novosti on July 18. Ivanov said: "I'm satisfied with the decision taken by the heads of the BRICS countries, to establish a working group ... to fight against drugs. I think this is a milestone event that will allow to utilize the enormous political and economic potential of the BRICS countries."

Earlier in March, Itar-Tass reported Ivanov telling a meeting of the analysts in the run-up to a ministerial meeting of heads of anti-drug agencies: "We can resolve this global problem only through joint efforts of a bigger number of industrialized countries"

Ivanov added that Russia is going to have to increasingly depend on the BRICS countries and neighbors of drug-producing regions, instead of NATO, to combat drug trafficking.

Ivanov had earlier tried get G8 to put the Afghan drug eradication in its agenda, but the G8 had eliminated drug eradication from its format. Liquidation of the G8 format by Western member nations occurred at the same moment when Russia, within the framework of its G8 presidency, named the issue of fighting drug trafficking as the main priority.

Ivanov regards the liquidation of the G8 format as NATO's unwillingness to bear responsibility for the growth of drug production in Afghanistan. He said preparations were on to work out a joint G8 strategy to combat the global narcotic-smuggling menace. According to the March 27, 2014 report by Itar-Tass, Ivanov added: "However, upon the G8 partners' initiative this format has been unilaterally destroyed, and, as you already know, yesterday at a reduced G7 session in The Hague, U.S. and NATO focus on Russia's isolation has been confirmed."