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  • El Salvador's President Nayib Bukele and Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador plant trees in Puerto de Chiapas, Chiapas, Mexico, June 20, 2019.

    El Salvador's President Nayib Bukele and Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador plant trees in Puerto de Chiapas, Chiapas, Mexico, June 20, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 21 June 2019

The "Sewing Life" reforestation project is expected to create 20,000 temporary jobs and reduce Central American migration.

Millions of new trees will soon be growing in El Salvador thanks to a program funded by the Mexican government aimed to help communities and prevent migration from the Central American country.

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The reforestation initiative, part of a larger economic development plan by Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) for southern Mexico and the Northern Trianle of Central America, will grant US$30 million to plant some 50,000 hectares of El Salvador with saplings.

The program was announced Thursday by AMLO and his newly-elected Salvadoran counterpart, Nayib Bukele, in Tapachula, a Mexican town that borders Guatemala.

Their partnership comes as the United States administration under President Donald Trump is increasingly pressuring the Mexican government to essentially prevent the flow of U.S.-bound Central Americans refugees. Lopez Obrador and his adminstration have largely buckled to Trump's demands, pushing up the timeline to send 6,000 National Guard members to the nation's borders and some 825 immigrant agents. Mexican officials also recently made at least two illegal massive roundups of migrating Central Americans, likely to avoid Trump's threat of progressive tariffs.

"I'm sure that better times are coming for all of us," said Bukele at the tree-planting ceremony for the "Sewing Life" (SV) reforestation project. The initiative is eexpected to create 20,000 temporary jobs.

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"It is the broadest cooperation program with El Salvador that we have ever had and starts with a direct transfer that is worth more than US$30 million within a larger projected funded by US$100 million," Mexico's Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard told reporters. 

"This international cooperation isn't political, economic, or financial because we are brotherly people," Ebrard said. The project will soon extend to Honduras and Guatemala. 

"We are confident that Mexico will move forward and we want to do it together with our Central American brothers," said President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) in Tapachula.

The Mexican president stated his country is already planting 200,000 hectares of trees in Chiapas State, and another 200,000 in the states of Campeche and Tabasco.

"The region will be a world-class example of how we should put universal brotherhood into practice. Justice and brotherhood of peoples are beyond borders," said AMLO.

"We have to see migrants as human beings who seek better lives, better work conditions and who are risking everything (to get this)."

The Salvadorian president thanked AMLO for the project and regional cooperation.

"We can be separated [by borders] but we are the same people, we speak the same language and it is time to work hand in hand," Bukele said.

Mexican authorities also announced the construction of a plant nursery in their territory, which is aimed at producing some 40 million plants and offering temporary jobs to some 2,500 people.

AMLO's Integral Development Plan for the Mesoamerican region is part of the deal his administration struck earlier this month with the U.S. that commits Mexico to contain migrant flows. AMLO's efforts will be evaluated around the end of July by the Trump administration.

"We have the commitment and we are going to meet it, to better control our border, on our southern border, to ask that those who enter (Mexico) register," said Lopez Obrador, referring to a new government initiative whereby all people passing through Mexico will need to register.

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