President Donald Trump has escalated his persecution of immigrants and refugees, ordering the cutoff of all US aid to the Central American countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador because the right-wing US-backed regimes in all three countries (which comprise the so-called Northern Triangle of Central America) have been unable to halt the flow of desperate refugees moving north toward the United States.
“I’ve ended payments to Guatemala, to Honduras and El Salvador. No more money is going there anymore,” Trump told reporters at his estate in Mar-a-Lago, Florida.
The US president declared, “We were giving them $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 has also threatened to close the US-Mexico border this week if Mexico does not use force to stop immigrants from Central America passing through the country to reach American soil, where they seek to file claims for asylum status.
Such an action would have incalculable consequences, not just for Mexico, but for the United States, Canada and the entire world economy, since US-Mexico cross-border trade now tops $550 billion.
Major US industries such as auto would shut down within days if the supply of components produced in Mexican supplier plants was cut off.
Late Friday, the State Department issued a statement declaring: “At the secretary’s instruction, we are carrying out the president’s direction and ending FY 2017 and FY 2018 foreign assistance programs for the Northern Triangle.
We will be engaging Congress as part of this process.” Officials at the State Department and the US Agency for International Development were ordered to “redirect” assistance “away from these countries” and “cease and desist” all current spending.
It is estimated that $500 million of the $620 million currently being expended in the three countries would be affected. The money pays for development and humanitarian assistance, as well as anti-gang efforts by the police of the three countries.
Trump made his decision only one day after his secretary of homeland security, Kirstjen Nielsen, signed a border security agreement with the governments of the three countries aimed at boosting the coordination of efforts against narcotics trafficking and undocumented immigration.
The timing only underscores that Trump’s action was largely driven by domestic political considerations and the need to continuously incite his ultra-right supporters with new acts of aggression against vulnerable and persecuted people.
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