Development aid

Expert Voices

Cutting U.S. aid to the Northern Triangle could drive more migration

Central American migrants standing in front of a U.S.–Mexico border wall
A group of migrants from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador await processing in El Paso, Texas. Photo: Christ Chavez/Getty Images

President Trump announced Friday that the U.S. government would be cutting off foreign assistance to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, blaming them (without evidence) for "setting up" migrant caravans. The State Department confirmed the freeze over the weekend and noted that it could affect up to $700 million in funding.

Why it matters: The purpose of the U.S. foreign assistance targeted by Trump is to address the "root causes" of migration through governance reforms, security assistance and economic development. Cutting that funding would constitute an unforced error that could exacerbate conditions throughout the Northern Triangle and lead even more people to migrate north.

Expert Voices

Despite U.S. concerns, Djibouti may see gains from Chinese finance

Djibouti's President Ismail Omar Guelleh shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation on September 3, 2018 in Beijing, China.
Djibouti's President Ismail Omar Guelleh with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, in Beijing, on Sept. 3, 2018. Photo: Andy Wong / Pool via Getty Images

In unveiling the Trump administration’s new Africa strategy last month, national security adviser John Bolton cast Chinese financial and military activity in Djibouti as a threat to U.S. interests in the Horn of Africa. He cited concerns about Djibouti's mounting debt burden to China and China's potential to take over a strategically located port, along with its establishment of a military base near U.S. base Camp Lemonnier.

The big picture: Djibouti has enjoyed a four-decade relationship with China, and in the past few years, this relationship has become more instrumental in Djibouti's development. China holds 77% of Djibouti’s debt, largely because of Vision Djibouti 2035, the country's agenda to become a logistics and commercial hub for continental trade and spur medium-term growth of 10% per year.