MEXICO CITY – The presidents of Mexico and Honduras signed on Saturday an agreement through which the Mexican government is set to help establish an employment program in Honduras in an attempt to check forced migration.
In a meeting held at a plant nursery of the Secretariat of National Defense in the city of Minatitlan, in Mexico’s eastern Veracruz state, Mexico’s Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Honduras would participate in the “Sembrando Vidas” (“Sowing Lives”) program, after signing a letter of intent with his Honduran counterpart Juan Orlando Hernandez.
According to the Mexican government, the program aims to “strengthen agroforestry production systems and combine the production of traditional crops with fruit and timber-producing trees, which would help generate employment, boost food self-sufficiency and improve incomes.”
Mexico will provide $30 million in aid to Honduras to create an estimated 200,000 jobs in the Central American country.
Lopez Obrador said that a similar program was already being implemented in 500,000 hectares of land in the south and southeast of Mexico.
He said the objective of the program was to make migration “optional, not forced,” by boosting productive activities and creating jobs.
“What we want is for the Central American or Mexican citizen to be able to work and be happy where he/she was born, where his family and culture is,” the Mexican president said.
He also proposed that Tegucigalpa should also adopt the “Jovenes construyendo el futuro” (“Youth Building the Future”) program, which involves offering a small monthly stipend to each young person while they are studying.
Lopez Obrador explained that in Mexico, each youth was given 3,600 pesos ($185.5) per month in this program and had tutors to guide them, helping them choose a good path and ensuring they do not use it on “anti-social activities.”
He said that no young person should remain without study and work, and such a guarantee would help in tackling the problems of insecurity, violence and delinquency among the youth.
The Honduran president urged all countries, friendly nations, development banks and international organizations to “understand and support the initiative, which carried legitimate goals of development and prosperity.”
“I suggest that in the near future we call for the formation of a large-scale international coalition for massive employment generation in the Northern Triangle of Central America (Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala),” Hernandez said.
He said that around 5 percent of the Honduran economy was based on coffee cultivation, but 90 percent of the people employed were small producers who received less than two cents for each cup of coffee, which could cost up to $5 in New York.
“If we manage to take genetic high-productivity material, use cutting-edge technology to add more value to the coffee producer’s wok, we would be doing an act of tremendous social justice,” he said.
Lopez Obrador responded by promising to help Honduras in improving coffee production in any way possible.
Mexico has been promoting its Integral Development Plan for Central America, which aims to boost development and check migration.
On June 20, Lopez Obrador and the president of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, had announced the establishment of the Sembrando Vidas program in the latter’s country.
The influx of Central American immigrants who pass through Mexico in the hopes of entering the United States has intensified since October 2018.
On June 7, Mexico and the US reached an agreement which has led to the deployment of thousands of troops of Mexico’s newly*formed National Guard on the southern and northern borders in a bid to control the migratory surge.
In exchange, Washington has suspended acting on its threat of imposing tariffs on Mexican products.