US cuts aid for some Central American countries over migrants


Washington (AFP)

The United States cut off aid to several Central American countries President Donald Trump accuses of doing nothing to stop the outflow of US-bound migrants, the State Department announced Saturday.

At the instruction of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, "we are carrying out the president's direction and ending FY 2017 and FY 2018 foreign assistance programs for the Northern Triangle (of Central America)," a State Department spokesperson said.

"We will be engaging Congress as part of this process," the spokesperson said.

The 2018 budget year ended months ago, and the State Department did not say how much unspent money was involved in the step, which could be largely symbolic.

The "Northern Triangle" includes El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, where tens of thousands of migrants have fled poverty and violence in recent years to try to enter the United States.

Over the last two years, $1.3 billion was earmarked for Central America for US official development aid, most of it to these three countries.

Trump blames their governments for looking the other way as "caravans" of migrants head through Mexico to reach the United States.

Trump has also accused Mexico of failing to curb the flow of migrants illegally entering the US, and threatened to close the US-Mexican border "next week" unless something changes.

In December, the United States and Mexico agreed to make significant investments in the "Northern Triangle" and southern Mexico, in the hope of stemming the influx of migrants.