(Q24N) For years, the set of countries known as the Northern Triangle –Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras– has suffered a serious economic, political, and security crisis. While insecurity keeps being one, if not the main, obstacle for these three countries to have prosperity, there are other systemic problems, like unemployment, corruption, inequality, poor infrastructure, and emigration.

Even though most of the causes of this crisis come from within the Northern Triangle, the consequences affect countries all around the region, including United States to South America.

The most known and clear effect is the migration problem into the U.S. It’s evident that insecurity and low quality of life increases the desire of citizens in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras to pursue a more prosperous lifestyle. While the number of migrants has reduced –after a worrying spike in 2015–, the Trump administration has the clear goal of implementing policies to change the current situation. Some of those policies will focus on security –some may call it militarization–, while others will address the lack of economic development through search and funding for higher investment. Over the next couple of years, the U.S. Government expects that these policies will reduce poverty and increase the economic opportunities of citizens.

The Atlantic Council is the organization behind the U.S. efforts to strengthen the Northern Triangle’s economy. The Council’s plan is called the “Northern Triangle Security and Economic Opportunity Task Force” and it focuses on three key elements: sustainable economic development, rule of law, and security. According to its director, Jason Marczak, the Task Force is not an isolated program run by the U.S. Government, but a joint effort with the three countries. In fact, their military efforts may involve even more countries such as Colombia and Mexico.

Through reports from the last decade, it’s been made clear that the Northern Triangle crisis conduces to human and drug trafficking and, therefore, functions as a road to increase crime all across the continent.

Since last year, officials and policy makers seem optimistic about the future of these three countries. Even though the economic, political, and social context remains worrying, there’s the feeling that there’s a more straightforward rejection of corruption.

Also, there’s a deep interest on the role of young people. As Rubén Morales Monroy, Guatemala’s Minister of Economy, said last year, “young people in our country are our greatest potential or our biggest risk.” While they may be subject to a crime life, they also have the potential to promote a better economic future.

It’s uncertain how the Northern Triangle will gain economic and social stability. On the one hand, their future seems to be highly dependent on foreign policy. On the other, there’s a more important need of rebuilding their institutions. Where should they begin?

| Juan Sebastían Torres

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