Op-Ed

Mexico, U.S. united for Central America’s prosperity

Two young girls watch television from their holding area where hundreds of mostly Central American immigrant children are being processed and held at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Nogales Placement Center. The Central America summit in Miami hopes to find ways to let people remain in that native countries.
Two young girls watch television from their holding area where hundreds of mostly Central American immigrant children are being processed and held at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Nogales Placement Center. The Central America summit in Miami hopes to find ways to let people remain in that native countries. AP

The Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America, which begins on Thursday in Miami, is the result of the close work done by Mexico and the United States in recent months.

In January, President Enrique Peña Nieto announced the foreign policy objectives that Mexico would follow over the next two years. Regarding the Central American countries, and particularly those that make up the Northern Triangle — El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, Peña Nieto said that we had to make progress with addressing shared challenges such as development, peace, and secure and orderly migration that respects human rights.

He also stated that one of the goals of his administration in its negotiations with the United States would be to make development in the hemisphere a shared responsibility. In that regard, President Peña Nieto said, “The governments of Mexico and the United States must make a clear commitment to work together to advance the development of the Central American countries.”

The Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America is evidence of this clear and joint commitment of both governments — along with the presidents of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras and high-level government officials from the rest of the countries in the region, as well as Canada, Colombia, Chile, Spain and the European Union — to give impetus to the region’s development.

The entire narrative of international migration comes together in Mexico: We are a country of origin, transit, destination, and return for migrants. This has given us a broad understanding of the experience.

Migration is inherent to human nature. Each year, millions of people cross borders and settle in countries other than their own. The causes are many. The challenge faced by the international community is how to ensure that this migration takes place in a regular, safe, and orderly manner, through the use of policies aimed at respecting the human rights of all people. We cannot ignore those who leave their countries in search of better opportunities or those who flee armed conflict, violence, and humanitarian crises.

The number of undocumented Mexicans entering the United States has fallen. However, in the past three years, the number of irregular migrants who cross Mexico to get to the United States surged by more than 100 percent.

Irregular migration is not an issue that will be resolved by border controls. Only comprehensive policies and suitable conditions that give impetus to sustainable development and ensure respect for people’s human rights will make it possible for us to gradually bring order to migration, through the lens of co-responsibility between the countries of origin, transit, destination and return of migrants. That is the approach with which Mexico relates to the Central American nations.

The Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America will also be an opportunity to make the private sector a partner in the effort to catalyze sustainable development in the region. The participation of leading Mexican companies with a presence in Central America will contribute significantly to the discussions held in Miami.

We are confident that our combined efforts will also strengthen an initiative of the Northern Triangle countries themselves: the Alliance for Prosperity. This regional plan promotes coordinated actions and seeks to help people remain in their countries, through a structural change that provides economic opportunities by following four strategies: building human capital, improving public safety and enhancing access to the legal system, stimulating the productive sector and strengthening institutions.

The conference will be an opportunity to identify and find areas of convergence between this and other development and investment agendas, which should strive to create inclusive economies that improve people’s quality of life with clear strategies for reducing violence and improving justice administration systems and the protection of human rights in Central America.

The Mexican government is convinced that the development and prosperity of the Central American countries has a direct effect on our own. Mexico accepts its shared responsibility.

Luis Videgaray Caso is Mexico’s minister of foreign affairs.

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