© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A car damaged by the floods due to the rains brought by Hurricanes Eta and Iota, is pictured in Villanueva
By Gustavo Palencia
TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) – Honduran Foreign Minister Lisandro Rosales will lead a delegation to Washington on Friday to seek economic help following two devastating hurricanes that have contributed to increased immigration, Honduran government officials said.
Hurricanes Eta and Iota, which struck Honduras two weeks apart around November, flooded vast areas, destroyed homes and caused about $1.8 billion in damages, affecting some 4 million people, Honduran officials said.
Rosales’ trip to Washington will focus on aid to address the root causes of immigration, such as the coronavirus pandemic and the hurricanes that have exacerbated poverty, a Honduran presidency source said.
“Honduras has raised with U.S. officials the need for help for national reconstruction, especially in areas severely affected by hurricanes Eta and Iota,” the source added.
Carlos Madero, the Honduran government’s cabinet coordinator and a member of the delegation, confirmed the trip was due to take place this week, saying “we will have meetings with high-ranking members of the State Department.”
The presidency and foreign ministry did not respond to requests for comment. The White House and the U.S. State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador are known as the Northern Triangle of Central America. Surging immigration from the region is a major challenge for U.S. President Joe Biden’s new administration.
Rosales’ trip to Washington follows a visit this week by U.S. special envoy for the Northern Triangle, Ricardo Zuñiga, to Guatemala and El Salvador – but not Honduras.
Zuñiga’s trip has not yielded any major new aid pledges, though he said on Wednesday that the United States would provide $2 million to support anti-corruption efforts in El Salvador.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced it will deploy a disaster response team to the Northern Triangle to address urgent needs of disaster victims, but did not mention funding beyond the $112 million previously announced since the storms.
Relations between Washington and Honduras have been strained after a U.S. court handed down a life sentence for drug trafficking to the brother of President Juan Orlando Hernandez, whose government has also been accused of embezzling public funds. The government has denied wrongdoing.
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