The Silent South American Crisis


It is no secret that in the last decade the number of migrants from South and Central America have steadily increased. One thing to understand about this trend is that the much publicized “caravan” that is heading for the US border right now(and many that came before it) is not the problem, but is rather just a  symptom. The real problem lies with the silent political breakdown that the entirety of South and Central America is facing.

To properly introduce the South and Central American Crisis we must first look at the country at the center of the migrant problem for the US, Honduras. Many people may not remember this but there was a coup d’etat in Honduras back in 2009. The country has failed to recover and stabilize ever since. Honduras has never been the safest country in the world but just one year after the coup Honduras overtook El Salvador as the murder capital of the world. It has kept this title since and leading to countless people fleeing the country. Most have fled to neighbouring countries none of which are particularly wealth or safe. El Salvador trails Honduras in murder rate while Nicaragua is at the edge of civil war with hundreds killed during protests against the government. The further south you go the more problems you uncover. Venezuela, which had previously been one of the wealthier countries in the region, has become a failed state with many millions starving and thousand dying daily from what the people have been calling “The Maduro Diet”. In Brazil the government was taken down amid corruption scandals, replaced by a hard right extremist that has said the following about elections and his political ambitions: 

“Elections won’t change anything in this country. Unfortunately, it will only change on the day that we break out in civil war here and do the job that the military regime didn’t do: killing 30,000. If some innocent people die, that’s fine. In every war, innocent people die. I will even be happy if I die as long as 30,000 others go with me.”

  • Jair Bolsonaro 

Ironically he would be elected to the presidency 19 years after he said these words. If you go back up to North America the first country you would encounter coming from the South isn’t faring much better either. Mexico’s recent elections has seen hundreds of political figures killed out in the open leading up to the election. Many Americans do not yet know that the Mexican Government is on the edge of completely losing control outside of major settlements. With all these countries simultaneously going through different crisis it is no wonder that there is a migrant crisis. In fact I would argue that it is a minor miracle that more aren’t headed to the US from all across the Southern part of this continent.

So the question then becomes what can be done about all of this? It seems like the South is on fire and is fast running out of firefighters. Here is where I’ll make the argument that the US should play a greater role, in cooperation with local governments, and make serious investments both towards improving security and stability. While it might be tempting to make this investment in military might, either through arms exports or direct intervention, the investment must strictly be for economic development. The only way these countries can rid themselves of the corruption and the cartels as well as the authoritarian regimes that keep them company is to develop into consumer economies and provide hope for the future. While it may be a controversial idea to increase US aid to foreign countries, long term benefits of having stable and developing economies in its immediate neighbourhood will not only help the US curb and then completely eliminate the migrant issue but also grow its own economic prospects for the future through increased trade with these neighbours.