GAO Reviews of U.S. Programs and Activities in Central America

T-NSIAD-89-14: Published: Mar 9, 1989. Publicly Released: Mar 9, 1989.

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GAO reviewed U.S. activities in Central America to determine their impact on U.S. policy objectives of regional security, promotion of democracy, economic stabilization, and development. GAO found that: (1) U.S. programs have made progress toward each objective, but they have not accomplished as much as expected, and some have had unintended negative effects; (2) U.S. aid prevented the collapse of the Salvadoran government, but Salvadoran insurgency has not ended; (3) despite U.S. pressure, the Nicaraguan government and certain individuals in the Panamanian government remain in power, and both countries' ties with Cuba and Warsaw Pact nations have increased; (4) U.S. economic support and development assistance helped maintain the democracies in Costa Rica and Belize and facilitated democratic trends in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, but democratization efforts failed in Nicaragua and Panama; (5) large levels of U.S. assistance improved economic situations in Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, but economic sanctions harmed the economies of Panama and Nicaragua; and (6) several factors hindered development progress, including continued armed conflicts, limited host government capabilities, trade and investment barriers, and administrative requirements of U.S. foreign aid programs. GAO believes that the United States should emphasize support for Central American peace efforts, while maintaining support for democracy, human rights, and political and economic reforms, rather than supporting military solutions to the region's conflicts.

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