Sunday, 18 August, 2019

US offers $4.5 bln investment in Central America, Mexico

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Patty Aguilar | 21 December, 2018, 08:56

The United States is committing billions of dollars toward development in Central America and Mexico as part of a plan to strengthen economies in the region and curb illegal immigration, the USA and Mexican governments said on Tuesday.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Wednesday he hopes to negotiate more US work visas for Central American migrants as well as those from his own country, and his administration promised to protect migrants, even as police reported two Hondurans were killed in the border city of Tijuana.

His comments came one day after the administration of President Donald Trump pledged $4.8 billion in development projects for southern Mexico and $5.8 for the Central American nations of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Much of that amount, however, was previously committed or contingent on the identification of "commercially viable projects".

Fuel stealers include not only organized crime groups, but also corrupt employees of the state-owned oil company, Petroleos Mexicanos (Penex), said Lopez Obrador.

Roberto Velasco, a spokesman for Ebrard, said in the coming days Mexico aimed to announce a change in immigration policy incorporating the existing plans for work visas for migrants.

Mexico and the United States have been in talks over what to do about Central American migrants moving through Mexico.

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The new Mexican administration has said it is also interested in agricultural, forestry and tourism projects in southern Mexico, and the US said it will contribute to those efforts.

"The combination of public and private investment for the stay-at-home effort doesn't require congressional approval, unlike Trump's signature project to stem illegal immigration - a border wall", AP reported. Washington has pushed for Mexico to keep the migrants while their asylum claims are processed, but no deal has been struck.

OPIC is also looking to mobilize $2 billion more for southern Mexico, the country's poorest region, a statement said.

Ebrard said: "The commitments established here signify more than doubling foreign investment in southern Mexico starting in 2019".

The plan was announced in a joint statement with Mexico. The State Department also announced a "Cabinet-level Meeting and High-Level Taskforce" involving Mexico and the U.S.in January 2019 to "agree on a strategic framework for our cooperation in Central America to address root causes of migration". The sums also incorporate OPIC's current projects and potential pipeline, and the US government's current Millennium Challenge commitments.

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