Economic Collapse, Poverty, Extreme Violence Are Driving Central Americans from Their Homes
June 20, 2019 (EIRNS)—A study published by the Mexican daily El Economista provides a stunning picture of the dire conditions of poverty, violence and “no future,” in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala which have forced tens of thousands of those nations’ citizens to emigrate north, with the United States as their ultimate goal. As many told El Economista, they would rather not leave their native lands, but reality forces them out.
That reality underscores the urgent necessity, not only of the economic development program proposed for the region by Mexico, but a broader one in which the U.S. and China would be major players as part of the Belt and Road Initiative.
Otherwise, look at unemployment, in which large numbers of people only find jobs in the “informal,” or underground economy; low wages, no access to healthcare, education, pensions, etc., and finally, a horrific rate of murders and violence.
In Guatemala, 3.5% of the economically active population is unemployed; in El Salvador, it’s 6.8%, and Honduras, 8.2%—vastly understated official figures, EIR observes. In Guatemala, in 2018, some 71% of workers were employed in the informal economy; in El Salvador, it was 66%, and Honduras 72%. These “employed” don’t pay taxes, nor do they qualify for benefits.
Compared to the U.S., where the average monthly wage is $3,330, in Guatemala it’s $354; Honduras, $111, and El Salvador, $319. Even with a lower cost of living, these wages make it impossible to make ends meet.
In Honduras, a whopping 51% of the population lives in extreme poverty; 46% in Guatemala and 13% in El Salvador.
Violence, as a result of drug cartel and gang-related activity, is another key factor. Honduras’ murder rate stands at 44 per 100,000 inhabitants; El Salvador, 51 per 100,000. Guatemala’s rate is lower at 22 per 100,000.
Almost all those interviewed said that regardless of the dangers of the trek north, and uncertainty of getting into the U.S., or risks involved if they do succeed, there is at least a chance of getting some kind of job, and living in relative safety.