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Judi Lynn

(161,324 posts)
Fri Oct 28, 2022, 08:46 PM Oct 2022

Central Americans Are Fleeing Bad Governments


To Stanch Migration, Washington Must Address a Deeper Crisis
By Dan Restrepo
March 5, 2021

In January, thousands of people gathered in the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula to form a migrant caravan to travel north. “¡Fuera, Juan Orlando, fuera!” they chanted, referring to Honduras’s notoriously corrupt president. “Get out, Juan Orlando, get out!”

Honduras is one of the world’s poorest countries. It is also one of the most violent, especially for women. And along with its neighbors in northern Central America, it had just been devastated by two supposedly once-in-a-century storms that made landfall within 15 miles and two weeks of each other in November 2020.

All these factors help explain why tens of thousands of Hondurans flee their country every year. But the cry from those risking everything on a perilous journey through Guatemala and Mexico to the U.S. border pointed to a more fundamental driver of irregular migration from the region—the pervasive governance failures that have long plagued Honduras and its neighbors. To stem migration from Central America, previous U.S. administrations emphasized economic prosperity and security initiatives and failed to prioritize governance. The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden will have to try something new if it hopes to keep migration from the region at manageable levels. It will have to put governance first.

THE GOVERNANCE DEFICIT
Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador are not just poor and violent; they are beset by corruption and ineffectual, often predatory governance. On nearly all of the World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators, including the effectiveness of government, rule of law, and control of corruption, countries in northern Central America lag well behind even their Latin American and Caribbean peers. And their citizens know it. Around the time the January caravan formed in San Pedro Sula, a public opinion survey revealed that even in a pandemic, an economic collapse, and the disastrous wake of Hurricanes Eta and Iota, more Hondurans—40 percent—identified corruption as the biggest problem facing the country than any other issue. Just 23 percent said unemployment and 12 percent said COVID-19.

Hondurans are not alone in decrying corruption. According to Transparency International’s 2020 Corruption Perceptions Index, which ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived corruption levels, El Salvador and Guatemala rank 104 and 149, respectively. In Latin America’s benchmark public opinion survey, Latinobarómetro, Hondurans, Salvadorans, and Guatemalans routinely identify governance failures as among the most significant challenges facing their countries. In 2018, for example, no civilian governmental institution in any of these three countries enjoyed the confidence of more than 35 percent of the population, and most topped out in the teens and 20s. Satisfaction with democracy was even lower, at 11 percent in El Salvador, 18 percent in Guatemala, and 26 percent in Honduras.

More:
https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/central-america-caribbean/2021-03-05/central-americans-are-fleeing-bad-governments
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