“U.S. can’t solve Central America’s problems” Paul Mulshine


“Imagine you were taking a drive the length of Florida, from the Georgia state line down  to Key West. 

Now imagine Florida had borders spaced apart at roughly the same intervals as Central America does. 

As you headed south past Jacksonville, you’d face a border checkpoint. There, you would go through exit customs. That can take an hour. 

You would then go through entry customs for the next country. That can take another hour, more if you’re not willing to hire a local guide to get you through the process.  

Now imagine doing that again in Daytona Beach. Then again at Cocoa Beach. Then again at Miami. And once more as you entered the Keys. 

What sort of an economy do you think Florida would have?  

That in a nutshell is the main cause of the economic problems in Central America. 

I’ve driven through those borders numerous times. I would recommend the trip for anyone who harbors the illusion that the U.S government is somehow going to address the root cause of the economic problems in the countries of Central America. 

Vice President Kamala Harris is just the latest in a long string of officials tasked with that challenge. I don’t envy her. 

The U.S. has been going after the root causes of poverty in that part of the world since the Kennedy Administration, when the Alliance for Progress was set up with the goal of turning Central America into a sort of Iowa with warm weather and nice beaches. 

Former Green Beret and blogger Pat Lang served in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala from 1964 to 1967. He recalls the program originated because of “Too many college professors in conference rooms at the White House at the same time.” 

The U.S. blew through $20 billion without making any substantial progress toward eliminating poverty and corruption, he recalls. 

 “Should the U.S. seize power in these countries and try to impose our concept of reform?” Lang wrote. “Ah! We tried that in Iraq!” 

We did indeed. And we just made things worse. 

The same is true in Central America. Typical was a piece I read last week in The Hill by a former Obama administration official offering a list of five actions Harris should take to address those pesky root causes. 

The first four tips from Dan Restrepo of the Center for American Progress,  were boilerplate advice. But then we learn that “the level of depravity in northern Central America provides an opportunity” for former prosecutor Harris.   

“Honduras’ President Juan Orlando Hernandez has been repeatedly identified by U.S. federal prosecutors as an unindicted co-conspirator in the successful drug prosecutions of his brother,” Restrepo writes. “It seems past time to publicly indict Hernandez or at a bare minimum publicly sanction him under existing authorities.” 

Maybe I spent so much time in Central America that I started to think like a Central American. But it seems to me that we have no more business imposing our drug laws on them then they have in imposing theirs on us.  

Perhaps some president down there opposes the way so many states have legalized marijuana. Could he have his country indict governor? 

Much of the delay and the corruption on the borders stems from pressure by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to choke off drug trafficking to the U.S. But why should we expect the Central Americans to cure our drug problem? 

The same applies to our immigration problem. As long as the United States offers Central Americans economic opportunity far greater than they can expect in their own countries, they will keep heading north. 

As with our drug problem, it’s a lot easier to pretend to address our immigration problem in Central America than to actually address it in Washington. 

That’s up to the Biden administration. If the administration wants immigration reform, a fair number of Republicans might be induced to cooperate by the addition of guest-worker visas. Those are very popular with the chamber-of-commerce types. 

But as for economic development in Central America, there have been many attempts over the years to unite the seven Central American countries – or at least to set up a common market that would eliminate borders, as in Europe. 

But all these attempts failed due to squabbling between the countries. The worst such tiff was the 1969 “Soccer War” between Salvador and Honduras, a land dispute that turned into a shooting war after rioting broke out at a soccer game between the two countries. 

I wish the vice president luck in sorting out Central America’s problems. I hope she succeeds. Maybe some day I’ll be able to drive from Mexico to Colombia without stopping for any borders. 

But in the meantime, America’s immigration problems have to be sorted out in America. “

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16 Responses to “U.S. can’t solve Central America’s problems” Paul Mulshine

  1. Dave Schuler says:

    To some degree our illegal immigration problem will take care of itself. Mexico’s and Honduras’s birth rate/woman is around 2.5, El Salvador’s is around 2.0, and Guatemala’s 2.9. In all four of those the birth rate is declining. Ours is actually rising slightly largely due to immigration. As the birth rate in Mexico and the countries of the Northern Triangle reach or fall below the replacement rate, the rate at which people from those countries come here is likely to fall sharply.

    We are presently reaching the largest percentage of immigrants in the U. S. in our history and a very large proportion are from Mexico and the Northern Triangle. My concerns are two-fold:

    1. The risk that we will lose the qualities that have made the U. S. unique and become just another Latin American country with problems similar to those of other Latin American countries.
    2. Before that happens we’ll tear ourselves apart.

  2. jerseycityjoan says:

    Dave Schuler,

    I am afraid I cannot share your optimism about illegal immigration. If the people in Mexico and Central America think they can get a much better deal for themselves in the US, I don’t think a lower birthrate at home will stop them from leaving. In fact the fewer people there are there, won’t the elites and the gangs rob and exploit the remaining people even more?

    Even if illegal immigrants stopped from these countries, they would come from others if they thought we would let them in and allow them to stay. There’s billions of poor and frustrated people from around the world, the supply of people wanting a First World life is endless.

    You are certainly right to be concerned about the negative impact of mass immigration on our country.

  3. TV says:

    America doesn’t have an “immigration” problem.
    America has a border security problem because of government malfeasance.
    The so-called immigration problem is exclusive to the Republicrat swamp.
    One side wants cheap labor in return for political donations, the other side wants replacement voters who will vote reliably Democrat.
    As usual, neither side gives a damn about the country and the American people are left with no choice – the swamp way or…..the swamp way.

    • Deap says:

      Democrat teachers unions need “replacement” cohorts every single year to fill their failing classrooms.

      Now that California schools are 70-90% “english learners”, this mean every year almost the entire kindergarten class needs to be filled with new illegals. Follow the money – the teachers unions drive open border as their private, renewable cash chow.

  4. Terence Reeves-Smyth says:

    The statement that ‘U.S. has been going after the root causes of poverty in that part of the world since the Kennedy Administration’ is really rather difficult to believe. The US has regarded Latin America as being in its ‘sphere of influence’ since the Monoe Doctrine of 1823 if not before, and has embarked on ‘regime changes’ in every single country in Latin America at some stage over the past century, often on numerous occasions. Military juntas and other forms of authoritarian regimes have been installed, principally to benefit US companies, as classically demonstrated in El Salvadore where the United Fruit Company was the principal beneficiary of US installed regime. This imperialist attitude regrettably still exists; one only has to look at the US attempts to remove the government in Venezuela. What kind of government Venezuela chooses to have is none of the business of the US, but of course Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves and US corporations would like to control this resource again, so. the US finds reasons to sanction the country. It is also none of the business of the US if Latin American countries wish to trade with Russia or China, but the US does its best to keep them out; for example Brazil recently cancelled its order for the Sputnik Vaccine because of US pressure. There is little doubt in my mind that the continued and seemingly unrelenting US interference in the internal affairs of Latin America has been the principal cause of the failure of Latin America to develop stable governments and successful economies, so when large numbers of migrants turn up on the US Mexico border, the US only has itself to blame.

    • Pat Lang says:

      Terence Reeves-Smith

      Oh, bullshit. typical anti-American nonsense. You don’t think these people should be held responsible for themselves. You don’t understand that the Kennedy Administration adopted a very different policy toward the region? Sad, doctrinaire nonsense.

  5. mathias alexander says:

    All those people in Central America would rather stay at home and get a crap job than walk to the USA, cross the border and get a crap job so they can send money home. So what is the USA doing to reverse that? They may spend $20 billion on this or that initiative but where does the money go? People somewhere in US gov. are in cahoots and that’s where you need to start, or just withdraw and leave them to it, then at least you’ll stop making it worse and so improve your immigration problem. Of course the real thing is who gets what out of it all in the USA.

  6. Jose says:

    The problem is difficult for Americans to understand but, you SIMPLY CAN NOT FIX STUPID.

    If we held these countries responsible for their actions, perhaps the Central Americans could fix themselves.

    Compare Central America (and the rest of Latin America) to the Asian Tigers and you will see that democracy is not necessary to countries getting their act together.

    It is not necessary for Americans to impose our system on other and expect they same results (Afghanistan will never be Switzerland and Iraq will never be Belgium).

    We Americans think that our freedoms come from God but, Confucius says to be rich is glorious, the mindset is different in some parts of the world.

    Cut off the escape valve of remittance and foreign aid.

    Force the people of the triangle to hold their governments accountable for whatever results they the “Centrales” want, not the results a bunch of White Liberals want (Remember they think Black and Hispanic people are to Stupid to get an ID in America bur, forget you need an ID to get government services.)

    P.L. probably learned this the hard way but stupid is on both sides.

  7. Deap says:

    We want a better life for our own children right here in America, which will only happen by sealing the border.

  8. Deap says:

    IRS claims we are losing one trillion dollars in uncollected US income taxes. Tax all remittences leaving the US at 99%.

  9. sbin says:

    American federal government is not capable of fixing American’s numerous problem.
    Let alone south America’s or the worlds.

  10. Deap says:

    Central American growth industries:
    1. Long term elderly care – warm climate
    2. Low cost retirement centers
    3. Export water
    4. Tourism

  11. mathias alexander says:

    All this assumes that the US is trying to solve any problems in Central America, rather than being the cause of them.

    • English Outsider says:

      Does one not need to differentiate between “geostrategic” objectives and humanitarian?

      Brzezinski’s triumphant reaction to getting the Soviets involved in Afghanistan shows that his interest, and presumably that of the Carter administration, was confined solely to the geostrategic. If it’s true that proto-Jihadists were set up to commit bomb atrocities in Kabul to destabilise the regime and thus draw in the Soviets, then that was obviously not in the country’s interest. As we see from Macmillan’s meddling in the Yemen just before that, humanitarian considerations are nowhere to be seen in such ventures. His brazen admission to Kennedy that it was in Britain’s interest to keep the area destabilised was concealed by no pretence of R2P or concern for the locals. We’re a long way from the “White man’s burden” which was in itself often mere cover for “The Great Game”, as today R2P is often merely cover for moves on the Grand Chessboard. In both cases the locals are little more considered than are lab rats and their fate a matter of no concern.

      I believe it’s erroneous, though, to consider that all Western intervention derives from such motives. There is a genuine element of humanitarian concern as well, not only when aid projects are being sold to the Western electorates but also on the part of the politicians and administrators promoting them. They genuinely mean to do good.

      They don’t in the main. Humanitarian projects can be fully as disruptive to the target countries as geostrategic adventure. We believe we can give them dams and water pumps, roads and other infrastructure, add a dash of Western democracy and western values, and miraculously these derelict societies will become like us.

      It leads to near uniform failure. Great sums of money are involved and thus “aid” becomes no more than pork barrel, both for the local elites and for the contractors in the donor countries. The grand projects are seldom thought out. The water pumps can stand unused because no provision has been made for spares and maintenance and the roads stop short in the middle of nowhere awaiting yet another tranche of aid to be fed through corrupt local administrations.

      And the mechanism for the provision of aid becomes yet another interest group, great numbers of NGO’s and charities and UN bodies forming a powerful mass devoted more to its own continuance rather than to the locals they were set up to help. It is no wonder that some African economists, looking at this immoveable and sometimes corrupt mass, say only “The best thing you can do for Africa is to leave us alone. For you are doing more harm than good here.”

      So it is of little use to ask whether Biden’s noble plans for combatting poverty and dysfunction in neighbouring countries derive from evil intent or from good. They will, for a certainty, for his electorate and in electorates further afield, allow us all to bask in self-satisfied “do goodery” and believe we are once again helping our poorer brethren. But on past form the intent won’t matter since the result will inevitably be failure.

      • Deap says:

        Biden can try out his plans to combat “poverty and dysfunction” right on the streets of LA, SF and every other Democrat run sh*t-hole city we have within out own borders.

        Then after he meets success and sustainability, he can export this to “neighboring countries”. He must start first getting drugs out of those same US Democrat run inner cities.

        Son Hunter Biden could act as his Inner City Drug Tzar. However, G-S pay schedules will not allow his typical $60,000 a month compensation demands.

  12. Deap says:

    Kamala Harris identifies the “root cause” of the illegal invasion of America from Central America and Mexico: Climate Change. Of course.


    Time to move beyond covid porn, beyond racism porn, and now on to climate change porn. It’s official. Mark your calendar.

    SMH – SMOD

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