US ending aid to El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras over migrants

Sunday, 2019-03-31 11:07:52
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(Illustrative Image). Pedestrians walk towards the US-Mexico border at the San Ysidro Port of Entry on March 29, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo: AFP)
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The United States is cutting off aid to the Central American countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, known collectively as the "Northern Triangle", the State Department said on March 30, the day after President Donald Trump blasted the countries for sending migrants to the United States.

"We are carrying out the President's direction and ending FY (fiscal year) 2017 and FY 2018 foreign assistance programs for the Northern Triangle," a State Department spokesperson said in a statement. The State Department declined to provide further details or clarify the time periods involved.

The State Department said that it would "engage Congress in the process," an apparent acknowledgement that it will need lawmakers' approval to end the funding.

Trump claimed on March 29 during a trip to Florida that the countries had "set up" caravans of migrants in order to export them into the United States. A surge of asylum seekers from the three countries have sought to enter the United States across its southern border in recent days.

“We were giving them US$500 million. We were paying them tremendous amounts of money, and we’re not paying them anymore because they haven’t done a thing for us," Trump said.

Trump also threatened on March 29 to close the US border with Mexico next week if Mexico does not stop immigrants from reaching the United States, a move that could disrupt millions of legal border crossings and billions of dollars in trade.

In October, Trump threatened to cut off or reduce US aid to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador as the three countries failed to stop people from the exodus.

At least 1,200 Central American migrants, mainly from the three countries, left the Mexican city of Tapachula in Chiapas in a caravan last weekend and headed to the US border, according to local authorities.

A fiscal year in the United States begins on October 1 and ends on September 30 in the following year.

Reuters, Xinhua