ECLAC Reaffirms its Commitment to Working with Central American Countries, Mexico

The regional commission’s Executive Secretary, Alicia Bárcena, participated today in a solidarity event for forcibly displaced persons and the communities that host them, organized by the governments of Spain, Guatemala and Costa Rica, with the support of UNHCR and the OAS.

The Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Alicia Bárcena, reaffirmed today the commitment of the organization and of the United Nations to work together with the governments of Central America and Mexico, but also with the cooperating community, with Spain, Europe, the United States and Canada, to implement the Comprehensive Development Plan and address its four pillars: economic development, social well-being, environmental sustainability and comprehensive management of the migration cycle.

“This is not a technical conversation, it is an eminently political conversation, because at its center there are men and women, boys and girls, whose already harsh reality is compounded by the devastating arrival of the pandemic,” Alicia Bárcena underscored.

She added that “ECLAC has contributed to addressing the structural causes of migration: the problem of unemployment, inequality, the effects of natural disasters, violence, and family reunification. Migrants, entities and societies face innumerable adversities throughout the migration cycle, from origin, transit and destination to return.”

ECLAC’s highest authority participated in the Solidarity Event for forcibly displaced persons and the communities that host them in Central America and Mexico, which was organized by the governments of Spain, Guatemala and Costa Rica, with support from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Organization of American States (OAS), which she thanked for inviting her to participate in the meeting.

The event was inaugurated by Carlos Alvarado, President of Costa Rica; Pedro Sánchez, President of the Government of Spain; and Alejandro Giammattei, President of the Republic of Guatemala. Also participating were Filippo Grandi, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the OAS; Vinicio Cerezo, Secretary General of the Central American Integration System (SICA); and presidents and vice presidents from other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, ministers, as well as representatives from international organizations and the UN.

In her remarks, Alicia Bárcena recalled that, at the request of the governments of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico, ECLAC – in close collaboration with 19 agencies of the United Nations System – has coordinated the Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) for northern Central American countries and Mexico, which she described as “a very innovative proposal because it addresses the structural causes of migration using a development approach.”

She specified that around 114 projects have been identified for implementation over the next 5 years, the costs of which have already been calculated.

“What this entire plan does is shift the narrative from the perspective of militarized national security, to a perspective of human security throughout the migration cycle,” she stated.

The senior official added that the CDP is focused on creating decent jobs and economic opportunities in the territories that tend to “eject” migrants, above all in the countries of northern Central America and in 9 states in south-southeastern Mexico.

She underlined that the Comprehensive Regional Protection and Solutions Framework (MIRPS) is an important central platform that promotes decent work, the certification of skills in transit and destination countries, and the protection of migrant and refugee children. She also said that synergies have been created between that framework and the Comprehensive Development Plan.

She recognized the notable work carried out by the Comprehensive Regional Protection and Solutions Framework, along with the leadership of Costa Rica and Spain, the latter of which holds the pro tempore presidency of the MIRPS Support Platform. She also made special mention of Guatemala, which holds the pro tempore presidency of the MIRPS, and Canada, which forms part of the initiative’s Support Platform.

ECLAC’s Executive Secretary expressed that the recent visit by the United States’ Vice President, Kamala Harris, to Guatemala and Mexico “affirms the importance of addressing the causes of migration and not just the process itself. Because we are not going to be able to resolve this without adequately responding to the problems at their root,” she sustained.

She noted that the United States and Canada are making a big effort to support Latin America and the Caribbean in addressing the underlying causes of migration, and she stressed the importance of doing so based on the creation of employment and economic opportunities, both in rural and urban areas, as well as social and educational inclusion.

“We want to invite you to support the MIRPS and the CPD along with us to achieve these goals, as an example of inter-agency action with governments and societies, and with companies as well,” Alicia Bárcena concluded.

At the event’s opening session, the President of Costa Rica, Carlos Alvarado, underscored that there are no other phenomena as multidimensional and multi-causal as migrations and the seeking of refuge.

He added that people’s dignity and human rights are not an issue of current importance, but rather an issue that should always be present in the implementation of public policy and in the implementation of regional and global solidarity.

Meanwhile, Pedro Sánchez, the President of Spain, emphasized that countries should take urgent action to address the migration crisis and its underlying causes.

In that context, he announced that Spain will contribute $7.6 million dollars in the 2021-2022 period as direct support for the MIRPS countries’ plans of action. He specified that this contribution, which represents 14% of the estimated financing gap of $55 million dollars, will be channeled through UNHCR. He added that his country will also make a pioneering contribution to the OAS’s MIRPS fund, to serve as a catalyst for other contributions.

Finally, the President of Guatemala, Alejandro Giammattei, stressed that migration flows are basically centered around the lack of opportunities, “because as States we have been unable to generate solutions to our people’s problems.”

“I am convinced that changes can be made, it is a matter of starting to work with shared medium and long-term goals that will enable us to succeed someday,” he affirmed.

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