Faced with a burgeoning crisis at the southern border, President Joe Biden has pledged to increase economic assistance to countries in Central America’s Northern Triangle. He’s right to do so. But money alone won’t be enough.
The three Northern Triangle countries – Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras – are some of the least developed nations in the Western Hemisphere, with poverty rates twice as high as in the rest of Latin America. The impact of the pandemic and two hurricanes in 2020 compounded the region’s misery, displacing hundreds of thousands and causing Central America’s economies to shrink by 6 percent. All three countries rank among the most violent and corrupt places on earth. Surveys show that more than 1 in 5 citizens say they’ve had to pay bribes to receive government services.