WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
25 Feb 2015 | Commentary

Letter to The New York Times Editor: Aid to Central America

This letter was originally published in the New York Times on February 25, 2015.

To the Editor:

The Case for Aid to Central America” (editorial, Feb. 9) identifies the importance of increasing aid to the region. But tackling the rampant levels of violence and inequality is not just a question of funding but also one of smart investments.

After years of neglect, the threefold increase in United States assistance to Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras could address the violence and poverty that drive migration. In a welcome step, this aid package represents an important shift away from focusing predominantly on security assistance.

It recognizes the need to invest in economic opportunity—especially for young people—and strengthening democratic institutions.

But success will require partnering with those governments and organizations firmly committed to rooting out the deep-seated corruption, widespread impunity and lack of accountability that impede progress. Rather than providing a blank check, we should ensure that the aid package includes clearly defined metrics to evaluate whether our assistance is achieving the desired results.

We need to ensure that aid is directed toward those committed to violence prevention, economic opportunity and genuine, long-term reform.


Senior Associate, Washington Office on Latin America

Washington, DC