Insight: A Persistent Crisis in Central America

Violence and corruption in Central America is causing a wave of outward migration. The Trump administration's restrictive measures and pressure on regional governments did nothing to address the root causes of the problem, which the Biden administration has now pledged to tackle. Meanwhile, efforts at reform across the region face opposition from entrenched interests that benefit from the status quo.

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    • Latin America
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    • El Salvador
    • U.S.-Mexico border
Insight: A Persistent Crisis in Central America
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    El Salvador’s Bitcoin Gamble Just Went Bust

    El Salvador’s Bitcoin Gamble Just Went Bust

    El Salvador's President seems to have gotten caught up in cryptocurrency’s potential for high returns—except that he made a gamble not with his own money, but with El Salvador’s.


    A few years ago, the region seemed to be at a political crossroads, driven by citizens’ frustration with the seemingly perpetual corruption and violence. But entrenched elites in Guatemala and Honduras succeeded in dismantling independent commissions that had proven effective at uprooting corruption, while elsewhere, leaders promising reform have failed to deliver.


    Persistent citizen protests and the airing of scandals seem to have little impact on systems that perpetuate graft. And in countries where anti-corruption campaigns scored major victories, like Guatemala and Honduras, the entrenched interests have fought back.

    Migrant Crisis and the Northern Triangle

    The massive migration from the three Northern Triangle countries is driven by a lack of economic opportunities and the absence of rule of law. By setting increasingly difficult hurdles for Central Americans to enter the United States, though, Washington is increasing the pressure on regional governments—and its Mexican ally, which is currently grappling with the influx of migrants and refugees.

    Security and Drugs

    Government attempts to clamp down on crime through strict militarized policies have largely failed, while global efforts to reduce drug trafficking through aid programs are undermined by the demand for narcotics from the United States and Europe.

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