Monday April 22, 2019
Home Lead Story “Countr...

“Countries Had “Set Up” Migrant Caravans That Make Their Way To The U.S.,” President Donald Trump Calls for Ending Aid

The U.S. has had an inconstant history of involvement in Central America, with some arguing that it is American foreign policy in the region has caused the instability and inequality at the root of the current crisis.

0
//
Migrants
People belonging to a caravan of migrants from Honduras en route to the United States cross the Suchiate River to Mexico from Tecun Uman, Guatemala, Jan. 18, 2019. VOA

The Trump administration wants to halt funding to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, the State Department confirmed Saturday.

“We are carrying out the president’s direction and ending [fiscal year] 2017 and [fiscal year] 2018 foreign assistance programs for the Northern Triangle,” a State Department spokesperson said in a statement. “We will be engaging Congress as part of this process.”

The Northern Triangle refers to the three northern Central American countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. The three countries were set to receive about $500 million in aid in the 2018 fiscal year plus millions more that were left over from 2017, according to The Washington Post.

Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador
Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. VOA

The move comes a day after U.S. President Donald Trump said the countries had “set up” migrant caravans that make their way to the United States.

“We were giving them $500 million. We were paying them tremendous amounts of money, and we’re not paying them anymore because they haven’t done a thing for us,” Trump said Friday. Trump also warned he was ready to close the southern border if Mexico doesn’t do more to push back migrants.

Congressional action would be needed to cut off aid to the three countries.

FILE - Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., speaks to members of the media after leaving a closed door meeting about Saudi Arabia with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Nov. 28, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., speaks to members of the media after leaving a closed door meeting about Saudi Arabia with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Nov. 28, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington. VOA

New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called Trump’s order a “reckless announcement” and urged Democrats and Republicans alike to reject it.

Rep. Joaquin Castro, a Texas Democrat and chairman of the Hispanic Caucus, warned in a statement released Saturday that cutting off aid will further destabilize these countries.

“By cutting off desperately needed aid, the administration will deprive El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras of critical funds that help stabilize these countries by curbing migration push factors such as violence, gangs, poverty and insecurity. Ultimately, this short-sighted and flawed decision lays the groundwork for the humanitarian crisis at our border to escalate further,” he said.

Foreign aid and stability

The U.S. has viewed foreign aid programs to Central American countries as a vital component in stabilizing these countries, potentially reducing the flow of immigrants seeking to migrate to the United States. Under the Trump administration, aid to those countries began falling.

Donald Trump
The Trump administration wants to halt funding to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, the State Department confirmed Saturday. VOA

The U.S. provided about $131 million in aid to Guatemala, $98 million to Honduras, and $68 million to El Salvador in 2016, according to Reuters. The following year the funding fell to about $69 million for Guatemala, $66 million for Honduras and $46 million for El Salvador.

Michael Clemens, a senior fellow at The Center for Global Development, says the administration’s strategy to shape migration through aid needs to be done right.

“If what the United States wants to do is prevent irregular child migration in a way that works and is cost-effective, it should not do what it has traditionally done — spend 10 times as much on border enforcement trying to keep child migrants out as it spends on security assistance to the region. In fact, smartly packaged security assistance is the only things that have been shown to reduce violence effectively and cost effectively,” he said.

Also Read: Do You Know? Sun’s Magnetic Field Is 10 Times Stronger Than Actually Believed

The U.S. has had an inconstant history of involvement in Central America, with some arguing that it is American foreign policy in the region has caused the instability and inequality at the root of the current crisis.

Jeff Faux, at the left-leaning think tank the Economic Policy Institute, argues that U.S. policy created the immigration crisis.

“For at least 150 years, the United States has intervened in these countries with arms, political pressure and money in order to support alliances between our business and military elites and theirs — who prosper by impoverishing their people,” Faux wrote in an article for The American Prospect magazine last year. (VOA)

Next Story

Student Project into Space, NASA Comes Up With Chicago Planetarium

As the NASA-owned, Northrop Grumann-developed Antares rocket successfully blasted off from the coast of Virginia on April 17, it wasn’t just making a resupply mission to the International Space Station.

0
Earth
“Our main goal was to see if the ozone layer is getting thinner and by how much, and if there is different parts of the Earth’s atmosphere getting thinner because of the pollution and greenhouse gases, Pixabay

 

College student Fatima Guerra, 19, will be the first to admit, she’s into some really nerdy stuff.

“Like, up there nerdy.”

“Way up there nerdy,” she says. “All the way up into space.”

Guerra is an astronomer in training, involved since a high school internship with a small project at the Adler Planetarium, with big goals.

“Our main goal was to see if the ozone layer is getting thinner and by how much, and if there is different parts of the Earth’s atmosphere getting thinner because of the pollution and greenhouse gases,” she told VOA from the laboratory at the Adler where she often works.

FILE - Apollo 13 crew members Commander Captain James A. Lovell, Jr., right, and Lunar Module Pilot Fred W. Haise pose for a photo during a 40th Anniversary reunion of the moon mission at the Adler Planetarium, April 12, 2010, in Chicago.
Apollo 13 crew members Commander Captain James A. Lovell, Jr., right, and Lunar Module Pilot Fred W. Haise pose for a photo during a 40th Anniversary reunion of the moon mission at the Adler Planetarium, April 12, 2010, in Chicago. VOA

Coding ThinSat

Data that sheds light on those circumstances is gathered by a small electronic device called “ThinSat” designed to orbit the Earth. It is developed not by high-paid engineers and software programmers, but by Chicago-area students like Guerra.

“We focused on coding the different parts of the sensors that the ThinSat is composed of. So, we coded so that it can measure light intensity, pressure.”

“This stuff is very nerdy,” Jesus Garcia admits with a chuckle.

“What we hope to accomplish is look at Earth from space as if it was the very first exoplanet that we have. So, imagine that we are looking at the very first images from a very distant planet.”

As a systems engineer, Garcia oversees the work of the students developing ThinSat for the Adler’s Far Horizon’s Project, which he outlines “bring all types of students, volunteers and our staff to develop projects, engineering projects, that allow us to answer scientific questions.”

Garcia says the students he works with on the project cross national, racial and cultural divides to work toward a common goal.

“Here at the Adler, we have students who are minorities who have been faced with challenges of not having opportunities presented to them,” he said. “And here we are presenting a mission where they are collaborating with us scientists and engineers on our first mission that is going into space.”

Rocket carries project into space

As the NASA-owned, Northrop Grumann-developed Antares rocket successfully blasted off from the coast of Virginia on April 17, it wasn’t just making a resupply mission to the International Space Station.

On board was ThinSat, the culmination of work by many at the Adler, including Guerra, who joined the Far Horizons team as a high school requirement that ended up becoming much more.

“A requirement can become a life-changing opportunity, and you don’t even know it,” she told VOA. “It’s really exciting to see, or to know, especially, that my work is going to go up into space and help in the scientific world.”

Daughter of immigrants

It is also exciting for her parents, immigrants from Guatemala, who can boast that their daughter is one of the few who can claim to have built a satellite orbiting the Earth.

“I told them it might become a worldwide type of news, and I’m going to be a part of it. And they were really proud. And they were calling my family over there and saying, ‘She might be on TV.’ And it’s something they really feel a part of me about,” Guerra said.

Also Read: ‘Big Steps To Reduce Carbon Emission’ Apple Expects Cooperation With China on Clean Energy

Long after the data compiled by ThinSat is complete, Guerro will still have a place in history as a member of a team that put the first satellite developed by a private planetarium into space.

She says her friends don’t think that’s nerdy at all.

“It’s cool, because it’s interesting to see that something so nerdy is actually going to work, and is going to go up into something so important,” she said. (VOA)