Can the U.S. Address Migration’s “Root Causes” in Central America?
Can the U.S. Address Migration’s “Root Causes” in Central America?
Podcast / Latin America & Caribbean 1 minutes

Can the U.S. Address Migration’s “Root Causes” in Central America?

This week on Hold your Fire! Richard Atwood and Naz Modirzadeh talk to Crisis Group experts Tiziano Breda and Ivan Briscoe about politics in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras and why Central Americans are leaving for the United States.

Over recent years, an estimated million and a half Central Americans have made the journey up to the U.S. seeking a better life. Many are fleeing political instability, corruption, poverty or gang violence and predation. In Nicaragua, President Daniel Ortega has veered toward dictatorship, locking up his rivals and dismantling civil society organisations after winning a fourth term in an election widely condemned as rigged. Ortega’s counterpart in El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, a social media-savvy millennial leader, has had some success in reducing phenomenal levels of violence, seemingly through deals with gangs. But he too, shows worrying authoritarian traits, dismissing Supreme Court justices in an apparent bid to stay in power. There have been bright spots. In Honduras, opposition candidate Xiomara Castro won a peaceful election only a few weeks ago. The ruling party accepted defeat, allaying fears of a political crisis. 

This week on Hold Your Fire! Richard Atwood and Naz Modirzadeh are joined by Crisis Group’s Analyst for Central America, Tiziano Breda, and its Latin America Program Director, Ivan Briscoe. They talk about Nicaragua’s troubling direction under Ortega and how the outside world should respond. They also talk about Bukele’s record, what explains his popularity and his government’s controversial approach to gang violence. They discuss U.S. policy toward Central America under former President Donald Trump and what has changed under President Joe Biden and ask how much outside actors can realistically help mend the deep-rooted trends that drive migration. 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more information, explore Crisis Group’s analysis on our Central America regional page.


Executive Vice President
Naz Modirzadeh
Board Member and Harvard Professor of International Law and Armed Conflicts
Former Analyst, Central America
Senior Director for Policy

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