In an interview with ABC, a top daily Spanish newspaper, President Juan Orlando Hernández Alvarado of Honduras said “The United States does not support us in reducing the emigration of children.” This statement followed a three-day visit by Hernández to the Spanish capital during which he met with King Felipe VI and Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. During his visit, Hernández was also able to sign a deal to convert $85 million in debt to Spain as part of developing the military airbase at Palmerola into an international airport. Other projects in Honduras include the building of a highway, with US assistance, that will connect Puerto Cortés on the Caribbean shore of Honduras to El Salvador’s port of Acajutla on the Pacific.
When asked about the persistent violence in Honduras, which according to the United Nations amounts to 90.4 murders per 100,000 people, Hernández said, “For us, this is shocking and uncomfortable for us. Fortunately, this has improved since 2011 when the statistics for violence were higher. But we want to achieve the sustainability of these advances. That’s why we are demanding that the effort not be for Honduras alone, but also Central America as a region and of the drug-producing and consuming countries. Colombia and Mexico have been helping us.”
Hernández said that confronting the violent narco-terrorists known as ‘maras’, such as MS-13, is one of his top priorities, along with economic development. He said that his government realizes that there is a co-dependency among the countries producing and consuming narcotics, thus it has “demanded co-participation” in addressing the narcotraffickers. Honduras, he said, is using its air force to deflect drug traffickers’ flights, while the U.S. blocks sea traffic.
With regard to measures by his government to stem the tide of minors going north to enter the US illegally, Hernández said “A group of various agencies to work on this issue, both inside and outside the country, has been created. The number of children emigrating has been significantly reduced, but we have not gotten the support we would like from the United States, in the sense that that country is also responsible since much of this emigration coincides with drug routes. We have framed a plan that has been presented to the US, UN and Spain. It is called ‘Alliance for Prosperity’ that we: Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras have worked on with technical support from the Interamerican Development Bank. The plan addresses the root of the problem of violence, which has also generated emigration. It is now in the hands of the United States, which we hope will address it appropriately.”
As for President Barack Obama’s decision to delay action on immigration until after the mid-term elections in November, Hernández said “Migration is an intrinsic human right. Indeed, the United States is a country of immigrants. I’ve told leaders in Washington that if Central America continues to have such indices of drug-related violence, and if it is not a place for opportunity and economic growth, it will continue to be an enormous risk to the US. To the contrary, if it is an area of peace and prosperity, it would be a great investment for the American people and the rest of the world. We hope that the United States, through its leadership, will address this problem that, to a great extent, it has created.”
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