Lic. Hugo W. Merida
Los Angeles, California, USA
With the serious increase of thousands of migrants to the U.S. from the countries of the Central America northern triangle, The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), continues its mission of promoting democracy for that region. Presently, that focuses on the economic development of the poorest and most unprotected communities. At present, the results in Central America are evident.
From 2004 to date, the Agency has been trying to become from duck to cat, i.e., an entity that promotes democracy to an entity that promotes economic development in the areas most impoverished on the planet. And his failure is most clearly reflected in the countries of said Triangle, where the flight of their nationals will increase from hundreds to thousands, and they can do nothing, despite the fact that the regional headquarters for all USAID in Latin America is located in El Salvador for many years.
Its failure is sadly reflected in Guatemala, which is the example of the region. In this country, USAID hires multinationals (The Palladium Group), local consortiums (FUNDESA, ANACAFE, Etc.) and is associated with local government agencies (Ministry of economy, etc.).
The mentioned local groups are widely recognized by its corporate elitism, monopolistic excessive control and its poor opening to small farmers in the areas most marginalized in Guatemala, especially the areas of production.
Additionally, to carry out its mission of development abroad in rural and indigenous areas, USAID hired multinational companies, which are unaware and in need to learn the reality, the customs and of locals ways of living.
This is not new, USAID business failure is clearly reflected in the recent passed Guatemalan Business Encounter ( Encuentro del Migrante), a business event has been organized for more than 15 years by Guatemala Ministries which seeks to partner small Guatemalan businesses in Guatemala and those in the United States. This activity in the past was partially financed by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and with minor problems, they were always very responsible to the activities and the participants. This year, USAID – Guatemala sponsored with the airfare to entrepreneur that would travel from the United States to participate in the event.
The high requirements to participate and the intransigence of the USAID workers created discomfort to participants and organizers. Many of the entrepreneurs in the United States, did not traveled or ended up paying his own airfare due to the restrictions, lack of understanding, knowledge, or just the pride of USAID – Guatemala. Although. As a U.S. Business Association President, I attended as a businessman, I ended up paying my plane ticket, due to little support for making changes of dates to the ticket to be paid by USAID.
On the other hand, at a meeting with coffee growers, was important to hear allegations and complaints that exposed many small coffee farmers to little or no support of ANACAFE, the coffee industry governing entity in Guatemala. However, USAID Guatemala prides itself of the “good job” that such group, carried out on behalf of said farmers.
It is interesting to mention, that for a program carried out by ANACAFE, oriented to support small coffee farmers in the Northern of Guatemala, with resources provided by USAID ($20 million), a local group of auditors issued an audit report without qualification. Is like asking to my barber employee to make an opinion on of how I look with my new haircut.
With the enormous amount of undocumented immigrants coming to the United States border, on several occasions already President Trump threatened to use the US army, to suspend the budget assigned to the northern triangle countries, to cancel visas to the Triangle corrupt officials and entrepreneurs, however, the sole concern of the economic monopolies controlling these countries are the loss of revenue, especially those who receive foreign investment since memorial times.
Many explanations, arguments and justifications will be given, the reality is that the thousands of Central Americans that USAID supposed to help, continue and will continue to leave their countries in search for survival, under the inability of AID and other US agencies and its officers who comfortably relaxing at the Agency “bunker” in Zona 15 of Guatemala or in Santa Elena of San Salvador. They should feel shame to see those thousands coming out in caravans in search of the already non-existent American dream or at least to seek programs that work, as the case in Peru where the Coca expansion is been reduced with the agriculture programs such as DEVIDA of USAID-Peru.
Soon, we, the citizen American Latinos are to march to Washington DC to request Congress to make structural changes in the way of spending our resources abroad, otherwise, USAID will continue to work with governments and businesses that very day continue to enrich themselves, while their people sink into corruption, hunger, unemployment and misery.