Achieving Growth and Security in the Northern Triangle of Central America

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The Northern Triangle of Latin America, consisting of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, has experienced overwhelming challenges to economic growth and development. Gang violence is the root of many of these challenges, and the cost of hiring security forces for individuals and businesses creates a significant tax on the economy of these three countries. Beyond this drain on the region’s finances, the Northern Triangle is considered one of the most dangerous places on the planet, excluding active war zones. The interrelated issues of violence, poverty, and slow economic growth have led to high rates of emigration from the region, such as during the summer of 2014 when thousands of unaccompanied minors entered the United States. This study examines these issues and goes on to explore connections to the successes of Plan Colombia. Specifically, it considers the opportunity for a “Plan Colombia for the Northern Triangle” to generate long-term economic growth, personal safety, and political stability and accountability in the region.

Photo credit: Jose Cabezas/AFP/Getty Images

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Christina Perkins

Former Associate Director, Project on Prosperity and Development

Erin Nealer

Research Assistant, Project on Prosperity and Development