"Do no harm" is a maxim attributed to the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates (c. 460 – c. 370 BC), and which many wrongly believe to be part of the Hippocratic Oath.
Even though this famous phrase is mostly applied within the medical sciences, this principle should be also applied to diplomacy and foreign policy, at least when it comes to the dealings between allied countries. Unfortunately, it seems like the current U.S. administration, is hellbent on causing serious problems in the Americas under the guise of humanitarian intentions.
Paving the road to hell, with 'good humanitarian intentions'
On September 21, 2002, the State Department announced its intention to provide nearly $200 million in humanitarian assistance through international organizations and non-government partners in Mexico and Central America to “support the humanitarian and protection needs of refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced persons, stateless persons, and vulnerable migrants in Mexico and Central America. However, none of these countries has an internal refugee or illegal immigration problem.
According to local reports, 100% of illegal foreigners transiting through Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala will not stay in these countries for more than a couple of days. Whereas in Mexico, they will only stay the time needed to cross the U.S. southern border.
This plan to finance NGOs and international organizations to purportedly protect refugees in Central America and Mexico seems to have a hidden agenda, and that is to force these sovereign nations to stop and detain illegal immigrants while transiting through their territories. This foolish strategy will turn those countries into uncontainable refugee camps or concentration camps, and it will cause them and other nations in the Americas to further distance themselves from the current U.S. administration.
Financing NGOs that could create security, and stability problems for allied nations could be considered passive-aggressive subversion, especially, when it has been proved that U.S.-funded, liberal NGOs operating in Central America were directly involved in the financing and coordination of the massive migrant caravans that started in 2017, that rolled over the region all the way to the U.S. southern border.
Considering that NGOs have directly participated in acts of destabilization, violence and destruction in the region even as early as 2019, 2020 and 2021 in Chile, Perú, and Colombia, the current U.S. administration cannot unilaterally decide to fund NGOs without proper and open discussions with host nations, especially when these sovereign republics do not have an internal refugee problem.
Migrants and Drugs: US-induced problems
I make this comparison, not pejoratively toward migrants trying to get a shot at the American Dream, but to exemplify that both illegal immigration and transnational narcotics trafficking are both problems caused by the United States.
One, because the current U.S. administration has a perceived “open door policy” that invites potential illegal immigrants, and the other because the U.S. is the largest receptor and consumer of cocaine in the world (over 85% of the cocaine produced in the Western Hemisphere is consumed in the U.S.)
There seems to be very little effort in the U.S. to tackle drug consumption or secure the border, and no effort to stop the production of cocaine in South America, but seems rather to be enabling them. And yet the U.S. is expecting the transit countries to contain the flow of both, at the expense of their own security and budgets.
For example, the new leftist government of Colombia, is poised to legalize the cultivation, production, and trade of coca plants and hence of cocaine. Furthermore, it has moved to secure impunity for members of the narco-guerrilla cartels and are working to prevent any cartel members from being extradited to the U.S.
Similarly, intelligence reports from U.S. agencies exposed Venezuela’s plans to send violent criminals to the U.S. Surprisingly, the current administration has yet to voice a single complaint about both these issues.
At the same time, through pseudo-diplomatic intimidations, the U.S. is demanding that Central American countries make counternarcotics operations, and migrant interdiction an operational priority.
Do good, or do no harm
It behooves the State Department, Congress, and the national security community to consciously analyze how these “feel good humanitarian” strategies will be used and implemented.
Sending $200million to opaque and unaccountable NGOs and international organizations, will provoke catastrophic national security problems for Mexico and Central America. Furthermore, any such plan to address a problem that does not exist or directly affect any of the host nations, must be openly and transparently discussed with their governments.
Finally, any plan to finance NGOs and international organizations that will operate autonomously in the region, must include transparency and accountability mechanisms to ensure that they do not aid and abet or directly orchestrate the perpetration of crimes against sovereign nations, that for now are still allies.
As of today, USAID and the State Department have a very poor record to account for the billions of dollars they have used in Central America to “support counter narcotics efforts, law enforcement, and the rule of law.
Mario Duarte is cofounder and CEO of DH Global Strategy, an international consulting and lobbying firm. Mario Duarte is the youngest and longest serving Secretary of Strategic Intelligence to hold office in Guatemala. His professional credentials include more than 18 years of experience in the fields of intelligence, national security, consulting, and strategy development in several countries. Mr. Duarte earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of Houston, MBA from Rice University, postgraduate degree from Ortega Gasset Institute-Spain, and completed his PhD studies in National Security at San Carlos University Guatemala. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram: @marioduartegar. Read Mario Duarte's Reports — More Here.
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