NPR: Trump Froze Aid To Guatemala. Now Programs Are Shutting Down


For Carlos Marroquín, the chickens are all that's left.

For the past several years, Marroquín has struggled to feed his wife and five children with the proceeds from their 10-acre corn farm. They live in a mud-brick house with a sloped terra cotta roof, nestled among pines, acacias and prickly pear cactus in Guatemala's mountainous northern Quiché region, part of the country's Dry Corridor that has been gripped by a multiyear drought.

Last November, his family was one of the 6,000 poorest families here to be selected for a U.S. government-backed humanitarian relief program. The family began receiving a monthly cash transfer of around $60, which it was encouraged to spend on fresh fruit, cereal, dairy products and other grocery staples to supplement a diet that rarely varied beyond black beans and homemade corn tortillas.

"The first time we got the money, we thought it was a dream," he recalls. "How was it possible to get money we hadn't earned? It was only when we had it that we believed it was real."

But this summer, as Marroquín watched his corn wither once again, he noticed that the cash was also starting to dry up. The $60 became $40, which became $18. Then he learned that in the last week of August, the program would come to an end, at least a year earlier than its organizers had hoped.

The reason: a decision in April by President Trump to freeze $450 million in U.S. foreign aid to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — what's known as the Northern Triangle — over what he described as their failure to stem the outflow of northbound migrants.

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