NEW YORK – A Central American superhighway project that recently broke ground in Guatemala could worsen the invasion of unaccompanied minors from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras by providing a direct, high-speed route through Mexico to the U.S. border.
Mexico is taking some steps that could stem the flow of illegal aliens, such as speeding up trains to reduce the number who stowaway on the freight train known as “the Beast.” But as WND reported, Mexico and Guatemala have signed an agreement that “fast-tracks” the delivery of Central American illegal immigrants to the United States through the Mexican government’s issuance of a regional visitor card that will allow Central Americans to remain in Mexico for as long as it takes for them to travel to the U.S.
Last weekend, while visiting the border with Mexico in McAllen, Texas, with Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, WND reported the Central American illegal immigrants who do not have the $6,000 to $9,000 required to hire the services of a criminal “coyote” guide are forced to walk to the Rio Grande, ride “the Beast” or take commercial buses to journey north.
With a regional visitor card in hand, the remaining barrier will be traversing the largely rural network of roads to get to the border.
But that problem will be mitigated with the construction of a modern, four-lane, limited-access Mesoamerican Superhighway linking El Salvador with Mexico through Guatemala, making all transportation in the region much more efficient, including for Central Americans seeking to enter the U.S. illegally.
Guatemala begins construction
The expansion of a limited-access, high-speed road into a four-lane, international superhighway has begun in Guatemala, according to news reports widely published in Guatemala, El Salvador and Mexico.
Guatemala’s president, Otto Pérez Molina, has championed the superhighway project, with approximately $400 million from the Banco Centroamericano de Integración Económica (Central American Bank of Economic Integration, BICE) and the Banco de Desarrollo de Brazil (Development Bank of Brazi) for the first phase of the project.
The first phase aims at transforming Guatemala CA-2, connecting Tecún Umán, San Marcos, on Guatemala’s southwest border with Mexico to Cocales, Escuintla, in the southwestern interior of the country. The ultimate goal is to establish a four-lane superhighway that stretches from the Guatemalan border with Mexico in the northwest of Guatemala to the Guatemalan border with El Salvador in the southeast.
GeoCon, a Guatemalan subsidiary of the Latin American construction company PreCon, a leader in Latin America in the industrial manufacture of pre-fabricated concrete, is conducting detailed geotechnical and soil samples preliminary to the construction of the bridges and road surfaces required in the ultimate construction of the superhighway. The work has been contracted to the Brazil-based construction company La Constructora Norberto Oderbrecht, commonly known in Central America by the acronym CNO.
GeoCon and CNO expect the preliminary studies will be completed in 2015, with construction to follow.
The Mesoamerica Superhighway
The construction of a superhighway network connecting Mexico to the countries south, all the way to the Panama Canal, has long been a Central American dream, first formalized by what was known as the Plan Puebla-Panama, or PPP, proposed by President Vicente Fox in 2001.
Mexico’s aim was to create modern road and rail infrastructure that would connect Central America from Puebla, a Mexican state south of Mexico City, to the Panama Canal, opening modern hydroelectric plants to generate electricity and a modern communications infrastructure to facilitate the development of multinational corporations induced to establish manufacturing, mining and oil industry operations in the region.
Fox’s PPP plan received wide criticism for creating within Mexico and Central America the modern infrastructure required to induce multinational corporations to exploit the region’s natural resources and labor for foreign interests.
In 2008, Proyecto Mesoamérica, the Central America Project, ultimately supplanted the PPP, with a plan to promote the regional development of Mexico’s nine southern states with countries such as Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Columbia and the Dominican Republic.
Amid the construction of the Guatemalan superhighway linking Mexico and El Salvador, Proyecto Mesoamérica has been implementing its International Network of Mesoamerican Highways, RICAM, plan to develop a “Five-Star” superhighway “Pacific Corridor” between Mexico and Panama. It will run a little more than 2,000 miles, crossing six borders, to provide “a main logistical corridor for trade and transport in Mesoamerica.”
RICAM envisions four major routes through Central America from the Panama Canal to just south of Mexico City. The main route is along the Pacific coast, which has the second most extensive network extending to the Atlantic coast.
The XII Summit of Heads of States and Government of the Tuxtla Mechanism for Dialogue and Coordination held at Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, Oct. 25-26, 2010, officially endorsed the RICAM superhighway plan.
International transportation plan
The Mesoamerican Integration and Development Project, MIDP, under the auspices of Proyecto Mesoamérica, currently includes Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia and the Dominican Republic.
The United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America, ECLAC, describes the objective as promoting “integration between south-southeast Mexico and Central America by undertaking infrastructure-related and social prospects aimed at fostering development, making the region more competitive,” with the goal of having a positive impact on the population of the region.
The U.N. ECLAC describes the RICAM challenge as follows:
From the transport perspective, the major challenge has been, and continues to be, to create a road and multimodal transport infrastructure capable of providing efficient connectivity and first-class logistic services between the states of south-southeast Mexico, Central America and Colombia, benefiting the population in terms of mobility, trade, economic impact and generation of opportunities and employment, among others. By promoting road system integration, the objective is to facilitate the region’s trade and competitiveness, ensuring that Mesoamerica is not left behind in international trade and bringing social development to the people.
Of the five road corridors planned for construction under RICAM, the Pacific Corridor starting in Puebla, Mexico, and following the Pacific coast from Mexico to Panama is considered the most important, with estimates the Pacific Corridor will be capable of transporting 95 percent of the products produced in the region.