and Ted Hesson
LOS ANGELES/WASHINGTON, June 7 (Reuters) – U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris has marshaled $3.2 billion in corporate pledges to tackle the factors that drive some Central Americans to migrate to the United States, according to her office, an effort she will tout on Tuesday at the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles.
The new commitments from companies – including Visa and the apparel company Gap Inc – total $1.9 billion and are more than double the $1.2 billion promised by the private sector in December. read more
The pledges form a major part of President Joe Biden’s plan to address the “root causes” of migration from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, a region known as the Northern Triangle.
The latest round of corporate investments aim to create jobs, expand access to the internet and bring more people into the formal banking system, according to Harris’s office.
However, U.S. efforts to stem migration from the Northern Triangle have been frustrated at times by corruption, with projects likely worth millions shelved and some private sector engagement stalled. read more
Further complicating matters, the presidents of Guatemala and Honduras have signaled they will not attend this week’s summit meeting and will instead send other officials. Whether El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele will attend remains unclear.
The latest round of corporate pledges includes $270 million from Visa (V.N) aimed at bringing 6.5 million people into the formal banking system, and a $150 million pledge from Gap Inc (GPS.N) to increase materials sourced from the region.
The other companies span a variety of sectors, including auto-parts, agriculture, telecommunications and digital services.
Harris is also scheduled to promote a women-focused initiative with the private sector that aims to connect 1.4 million women to the financial system and train more than 500,000 women and girls in job skills.
Additionally, Harris will launch a $50 million initiative called the Central American Service Corps designed to give young people in the Northern Triangle paid community service opportunities in areas such as education and violence prevention. The program will be administered by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
Several thousand migrants, many from Venezuela, set off from southern Mexico early Monday aiming to reach the United States, with their journey timed to coincide with the summit.
At least 6,000 people, according to Reuters witnesses, left the city of Tapachula, near Mexico’s border with Guatemala.