US Helps Improve Guatemalans’ Lives

US Helps Improve Guatemalans’ Lives

By Julieta Pelcastre/Diálogo
November 04, 2020

The United States government, through the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), announced the donation of $7 million to the Trifinio Plan, to be used in four new and existing projects in Guatemalan municipalities that share borders with El Salvador and Honduras. The plan intends to carry out security, justice, and cross-border crime prevention projects.

Then U.S. ambassador to Guatemala, Luis Arreaga, made the announcement on September 29, 2020, together with Guatemalan Vice President Guillermo Castillo Reyes. The Trifinio Plan, a regional body that is part of the Central American Integration System, seeks to improve living conditions in border communities. The Trifinio region consists of 45 municipalities: 15 in Guatemala, eight in El Salvador, and 22 in Honduras, the Salvadoran newspaper Diario CoLatino reported on June 2.

Ambassador Arreaga, who ended his diplomatic tenure in September, reaffirmed his commitment to support the Trifinio Plan mission to “reduce violence and migration levels, especially among young people who are agents of social change and transformation.” During his presentation, he thanked Vice President Castillo “for his dedication to improving the lives of all Guatemalan citizens.”

The U.S. government will fund two offices of the State Secretariat against Sexual Violence, Exploitation, and Trafficking in Persons (SVET, in Spanish). Human trafficking continues to be a significant problem for Guatemala. In 2019, authorities detected 596 cases of victims of human trafficking, the Guatemalan website Efeminista reported on July 6.

The U.S. effort will also finance the opening of a regional office in Chiquimula, aimed at providing alternatives for young people in conflict with the law, the U.S. Embassy said in a statement on September 29. “About 200 young people per year will receive rehabilitation, so that they can reintegrate successfully into their community and contribute to prosperity,” the Embassy said.

Furthermore, the statement indicated, the U.S. will continue to support border security projects in collaboration with the Guatemalan Ministry of the Interior through technology, infrastructure, and training at ports of entry, to curb narcotrafficking and smuggling into the country, while facilitating legitimate trade and strengthening overall border security.

“It has been proven that organized criminal groups take advantage of those countries and geographic areas with weak institutions and leadership,” Sandy Recinos, SVET director, said. “Transnational organized crime is one of the […] greatest threats to world stability, since it is a problem that has been increasing in recent years.”

U.S. financial support will favor the socioeconomic empowerment of women, youth, and indigenous communities, with feasible and substantive opportunities for these populations to prosper in their own communities, the Embassy statement highlighted.