Mexico's new president has agreed with Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador to reduce large-scale emigration. Pressure on the region has intensified after a 6,000-strong migrant caravan made a beeline for the US border.
Minutes after Mexico's new president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was sworn in on Saturday, he and the leaders of three Central American states signed a declaration to cut the number of people fleeing their countries for a better life abroad.
Lopez Obrador, who is the country's first leftist president in 70 years, agreed with the leaders of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador to tackle deep poverty and other emigration push factors from their respective nations.
The Integral Development Plan, with the support of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, aims to create a fund to boost jobs and welfare.
Lopez Obrador won a landslide victory in July on a promise to put Mexico's poor at the top of his agenda.
Mexico's foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard tweeted images of the signing of the development plan.
The poverty declaration follows a threat by Washington to cut off aid to countries that fail to stop illegal immigration as the migrant caravan saga continues to dominate headlines in the US.
The US is stepping up pressure on Central American countries as 6,000 migrants have made their way to the border. They are currently camped out at the Mexican-US border and trying to claim asylum.
Their journey of several thousand kilometers, through Mexico, has reignited a debate in the US over immigration and border control.
Trump defiant over migrant influx
US President Donald Trump has vowed not to allow them to cross into the country, especially after hundreds of them attempted to rush the border last weekend.
Trump is pressuring Mexico to accept a deal to keep the migrants on the Mexican side of the border while their asylum claims are processed.
Ebrard was due in Washington on Sunday for talks on the issue with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Dozens of the migrants have told news agencies they are fleeing violence and poverty in their home countries.
The so-called Northern Triangle of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador is one of the most dangerous regions in the world, home to criminal gangs that terrorize the local populations.
The lucrative trade in drugs — many of which are smuggled into the US — has also led to violent confrontations between rival gangs. The local police forces are often powerless to deal with them, and sometimes have links to gangsters themselves.
mm/jm (AP, AFP, dpa)