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Governments of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico Welcome the Comprehensive Development Plan, Prepared by the UN and Presented by ECLAC, and Commit to Efforts to Move Forward on its Implementation

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17 September 2021|Press Release

The Commission’s Executive Secretary, Alicia Bárcena, officially submitted the proposal addressing the structural causes of migration to high-level authorities from these countries.

Senior authorities from the governments of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico officially received today the Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) prepared by the United Nations and coordinated by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) at the countries’ request to address the structural causes of irregular migration with a development and integration perspective, welcoming its initiatives and committing themselves to continue working to foster greater regional integration based on dialogue and cooperation.

The Comprehensive Development Plan for El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and south-southeast Mexico was presented by ECLAC’s Executive Secretary, Alicia Bárcena, at a ceremony held at Mexico’s Secretariat of Foreign Affairs (SRE) in Mexico City, attended by the Vice President of El Salvador, Félix Ulloa; the First Lady of Honduras, Ana García de Hernández; the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, Carlos Ramiro Martínez; the Undersecretary of Planning at the Secretariat of Welfare of Mexico, Hugo Raúl Paulín; the Undersecretary of Employment at the Secretariat of Labor of Mexico, Marath Baruch Bolaños; the Undersecretary for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights of the SRE, Martha Delgado; and the Undersecretary for Latin America and the Caribbean of the SRE, Maximiliano Reyes Zúñiga.

Also participating in the event were the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Amina Mohammed (via a recorded message); the Executive Director of the Mexican Agency for International Development Cooperation (AMEXCID), Laura Elena Carrillo Cubillas; the UN resident coordinators in the four participating countries; and senior officials from the governments, the United Nations and ECLAC.

In her presentation, Alicia Bárcena indicated that the CDP involves 20 UN agencies, funds and programs that operate in Latin America and the Caribbean and seeks to change the migration narrative, linking it to the issues of sustainable development and peace, putting migrants’ dignity and human rights at the center with a human security approach, and taking a comprehensive view of the migratory cycle (origin, transit, destination and return) to foster safe, orderly and regular human mobility. In addition, it explores regional synergies and approaches based on integration, it surveys and expands on what States are already doing well with their resources, and it strengthens public capacities.

She added that the proposal is centered around four pillars, chosen in conjunction with the countries: economic development, social well-being, the response to climate change, and comprehensive management of the migratory cycle. These areas are organized into 15 thematic programs and 114 projects that are ready to be implemented, 50.1% of which correspond to infrastructure works, with the overall plan entailing an approximately $45 billion dollar investment over a five-year period.

“Among the CDP’s distinguishing objectives is to create a space for sustainable development and a new economic region between El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and south-southeast Mexico that would increase the well-being of their populations and allow for migration to be an option, rather than an obligation imposed by deprivations and deficiencies. Also, to promote initiatives to improve economic performance, attract investment, boost trade and increase the generation of income and decent work, based on what States and the UN system are doing on the ground,” Alicia Bárcena explained.

She added that the Plan also seeks to foster sustainability and resilience to climate change as well as comprehensive risk management to mitigate its impact as a motive for migrating.

ECLAC’s Executive Secretary indicated that this Plan provides a detailed assessment of the structural causes of migration with a short- and medium-term territorial vision that integrates countries’ priorities with the actions being developed by the UN. It also contains a short-term implementation strategy that identifies the projects for 2021-2022; presents a georeferenced website with the actions underway and the proposals; and proposes a funding mechanism for the four countries with a regional point of contact.

In her presentation, Bárcena also specified the structural causes of migration in the Central American subregion: insufficient growth with low productivity without creating jobs; poverty and inequality (the 10% of people with the most income obtains up to 70 times more than the poorest 10%); high population growth in cities and rural areas that lag far behind; vulnerability to and growing risks amid climate change (hurricanes, drought, flooding); family reunification; and violence.

“The CDP changes the dominant paradigm on migration, addressing the causes of irregular human mobility from a development and integration perspective. It proposes forging a space for sustainable development between Mexico (nine states in the south-southeast), El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, it has the political commitment of the four governments, and it articulates proposals by the United Nations system in the region,” she stated.

“This Plan presents us to the world with our own vision and voice, arising from our countries. It proposes a new logic of international cooperation (south-south, triangular and north-south) based on dialogue, horizontality, consensus, regional integration, under the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities,” Alicia Bárcena emphasized.

Upon welcoming the participants to the gathering, the Executive Director of AMEXCID, Laura Elena Carrillo Cubillas, recognized the importance that is being given, through ECLAC, to the well-being of those who most need it. “The Comprehensive Development Plan for El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico is the most exhaustive effort at a global level for the development of a region. With this Plan (our countries) commit to promoting the development of the region, in order to promote a decent life for all,” she declared.

In her message sent to the meeting, the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Amina Mohammed, emphasized that the Comprehensive Development Plan being launched today is a direct response to the 2030 Agenda and the 2019 Global Compact for Migration, and it responds to this subregion’s specific needs and opportunities while addressing human mobility from a developmental and human security perspective.

“Over time, this Plan will boost inclusive economic performance through an increase in investments. It will generate decent employment. It will create an integrated trade and production ecosystem, including regional value chains. And it will enhance regional integration. I commend ECLAC under the leadership of Alicia Bárcena for its coordination of the Comprehensive Development Plan. And I congratulate everyone here today on your clarity of vision and purpose. The entire United Nations family stands with you in support of your efforts to implement this Plan, based on your countries’ priorities,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Vice President of El Salvador, Félix Ulloa, said that on behalf of his government he was honored to receive this document that distills a systematic work of great depth and in direct consultation with the stakeholders. “The Comprehensive Development Plan includes viable, concrete solutions to structural problems. We can only thank ECLAC, the dynamism of Alicia Bárcena’s team, and the efforts of our governments, which have contributed modestly to being able to move forward on this Plan,” he said.

The Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, Carlos Ramiro Martínez, indicated that the pandemic has made us reformulate our priorities and the solutions to the problems afflicting us, since we are now living in a reality that is very different from before, which gives us the opportunity to transform and move towards greater integration with neighboring countries. “In this context, the space that the CDP offers is more timely than ever today, since it allows for strengthening the ties of unity between our nations and reaffirming our commitment based on shared values, principles and aspirations,” he stated.

Meanwhile, the First Lady of Honduras, Ana García de Hernández, stressed that we should never forget that when we talk about migration, we are talking about human beings, about families with longings, dreams and aspirations. “And therefore, we should never condemn migrants or blame them, but instead we should show solidarity with them, both on their decision to leave our countries as well as on the routes of transit and destination. Migration is a changing, living phenomenon that has different facets each day. This must be a shared responsibility among States. That is why I am pleased that countries are taking a step forward. The best day to present this Plan is today, when we see overflowing numbers of migrants crossing the borders. I am sure it will have a successful outcome,” she declared.

As the ceremony came to a close, the Undersecretary for Latin America and the Caribbean of the SRE, Maximiliano Reyes Zúñiga, underscored that the CDP should position itself as a real alternative, as a global example, to spark socioeconomic development schemes in our region that would give the population opportunities to improve their quality of life. “Only through unity will we find the best responses for addressing migration. Neglecting this responsibility, or taking decisive action on the challenges we face, will determine how we will go down in history,” he concluded.