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A Marshall Plan For Central America

A Marshall Plan For Central America

Mexico's newly-inaugurated president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO), may have just scored a big political victory after a rocky start to his tenure.


The US State Department announced yesterday its intention to deliver $5.8 billion in aid and investment to Central America to stem the tide of migrants flocking toward the US border. While much of the support falls under existing commitments, Mexico's foreign minister welcomed it as "good news for Mexico."

AMLO has worked energetically since taking office to sell the White House on a "Marshall Plan" of support to address the region's growing migrant crisis. The US commitment is a preliminary sign that he's at least being heard.

The big picture: Upon taking office, the Mexican president was caught between an irresistible force and an immovable object. To his south, people fleeing poverty and violence in Central America have been crossing Mexico's porous southern border on their way to the United States. To his north, President Trump has made tightening border security his number one domestic political issue. AMLO didn't want to antagonize Mexico's main trading partner by letting more migrants pass through.

The domestic picture: AMLO, who is grappling with a high crime rate and strained resources at home, also recognizes that taking in migrants creates its own set of political headaches. Asylum requests in Mexico have skyrocketed over the past five years, reaching 14,544 in 2018. Those numbers were expected to rise after AMLO's administration committed to take in asylum seekers with cases currently pending in the US. While he campaigned as a compassionate voice on immigration, Mexico's new left-wing leader spied the need for a grand solution. The US funding will contribute to a $30 billion of aid package envisioned by AMLO.

The global picture: AMLO even dangled the prospect of Chinese investment to bring Trump to the table, according to the NY Times – reasoning that the US might be more willing to pay up if it feared that China might try to expand its influence in the region by opening its wallet. For context, Beijing is already a big investor and trading partner in the more prosperous parts of Latin America. While a quixotic idea to build a canal through Nicaragua hasn't really gone anywhere, China has been investing in infrastructure in some smaller Central American markets. It's also offered carrots to regional governments to get them to drop diplomatic recognition of Taiwan in favor of Beijing.

Whatever the motivation for the US decision, the support for Mexico's investment and aid program is an important political reprieve for Lopez Obrador just a few weeks into his term.

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Learn more about how carbon created life on Earth in the second episode of Eni's Story of CO2 series.

As we enter the homestretch of the US presidential election — which is set to be the most contentious, and possibly contested, in generations — Americans are also voting on 35 seats up for grabs in a battle for the control of the Senate. The 100-member body is currently held 53-47 by the Republican Party, but many individual races are wide open, and the Democrats are confident they can flip the upper chamber of Congress.

Either way, the result will have a profound impact not only on domestic policy, but also on US foreign relations and other issues with global reach. Here are a few areas where what US senators decide reverberates well beyond American shores.

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On September 23, GZERO Media — in partnership with Microsoft and Eurasia Group — gathered global experts to discuss global recovery from the coronavirus pandemic in a livestream panel. Our panel for the discussion Crisis Response & Recovery: Reimagining while Rebuilding, included:

  • Brad Smith, President, Microsoft
  • Ian Bremmer, President and Founder, Eurasia Group & GZERO Media
  • Jeh Johnson, Partner, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP and former Secretary of Homeland Security.
  • John Frank, Vice President, UN Affairs at Microsoft
  • Susan Glasser, staff writer and Washington columnist, The New Yorker (moderator)

Special appearances by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde, and comedian/host Trevor Noah.

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Jon Lieber, who leads Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, offers insights on the Supreme Court vacancy:

Will Senate Republicans, who stopped a Supreme Court nomination in 2016, because it was too close to an election, pay a political price for the change in tactics this time around?

Not only do I think they won't pay a political price, I think in many cases, they're going to benefit. Changing the balance of power on the Supreme Court has been a career-long quest for many conservatives and many Republicans. And that's why you've seen so many of them fall in line behind the President's nomination before we even know who it is.

At this point, do Senate Democrats have any hope of stopping President Trump from filling the ninth seat on the Supreme Court?

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In a special GZERO Media livestream on global response and recovery amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Eurasia Group & GZERO Media president Ian Bremmer discussed the difference between Europe's unified approach to economic stimulus and the deeply divided and political nature of the current conversation in the US. While initial stimulus support was bipartisan, there is little chance of Democrats and Republicans coming together again ahead of the November 3 presidential election. "It's red state versus blue state. President Trump's saying that coronavirus isn't so bad if you take the blue states out. He's president of the blue states, you can't take the blue states out," Bremmer told moderator Susan Glasser of The New Yorker.

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Panel: How will the world recover from COVID-19?

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