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Why did Central American leaders meet with President Obama?

From an American viewpoint, the Central American Presidents were called on the carpet for permitting their citizens to suffer so badly that they sought to escape to the U.S. as refugees. From the Central American presidents’ viewpoint, according to a report by Chirs McGreal, The Guardian, they came to give President Obama a dose of criticism. Most Americans wouldn’t appreciate the latter.

Child refugee from Central America
Spencer Platt/Getty

Read the report.

First, the Presidents advise not spending billions on deterrent, but invest directly in foreign aid to help combat poverty and root causes. That is a dependent welfare recipient point of view that won’t go over well with a conservative American Congress, or with an American public that doesn’t believe that it is getting a good return on the cost of foreign aid.

Second, the Presidents advise increasing combatting the armed gangs and drug cartels responsible for the violence. Americans would say, that’s your job as governments. Perhaps we can help more, but let’s assess the level of your corruption and transparency.

There is a broad lesson to convey here, even though it will fall on deaf ears, and that is this:

Governments are responsible for producing sustainable economies and keeping their citizens safe under the rule of law. These Central American governments have sufficient resources to manage to accomplish this. U.S. foreign policy and U.S. Aid can help, but the process and understanding must be greatly improved. If the Central American presidents are correct about anything, it is that President Obama and the U.S. Congress need to get their foreign policy act together. It appears that there is a substantial absence of skill, knowledge, and experience to do this job properly.

“Central American leaders meet Barack Obama to criticise US border policy

Presidents of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador say combination of US policies is seriously harming their countries

Chris McGreal

theguardian.com, Friday 25 July 2014 20.17 EDT

Three Central American leaders met President Obama on Friday to tell him that billions of dollars poured into attempting to prevent migrant children crossing the US border would be better spent addressing the root causes of the crisis in their countries.

The presidents of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador urged the US administration to do more to combat the armed gangs and drug cartels responsible for the violence driving emigration that has seen more than 57,000 unaccompanied children from their countries arrive at the Texas border in recent months. The three leaders – Juan Orlando Hernández of Honduras, Otto Pérez Molina of Guatemala and Salvador Sánchez Cerén of El Salvador – urged the Obama administration to do more to address the destabilisation caused by cartels shipping narcotics to the American market, and to invest in more rapid economic development to relieve widespread poverty.

But in comments after the meeting, Obama stuck to Washington's emphasis on a campaign to discourage what the White House called "irregular migration" with publicity campaigns and the pursuit of people smugglers.

"I emphasised that the American people and my administration have great compassion for these children," he said. "But I also emphasised to my friends that we have to deter a continuing influx of children putting themselves at risk."

The White House put the emphasis of the meeting on how the US and Central American "governments are cooperating to disrupt smuggling organisations and promote safe, legal, and orderly migration".”

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/26/central-american-leaders-obama-border-policy