The U.S. Embassy has remained aloof from any endorsement of the truce. But, according to one government official, it has not been an obstacle, despite the recent State Department-issued warning about the dangers of travel to El Salvador. Ambassador Mari Carmen Aponte reiterated on February 7th that the United States “is not collaborating in economic terms with the so-called security zones.” She added that the State Department Travel Warning issued in January does not affect the strong bilateral relationship between the United States and El Salvador.
Just days later, USAID announced a donation of $20 million toward a $42 million program called “SolucionEs.” Described as a public-private partnership between USAID and four non-governmental organizations, the program will focus on youth with no criminal history. The program has no links to the truce. Michelle Parker, project manager for USAID, said the 5-year project will include violence-prevention training, after-school programs, leadership and job training, and psychological counseling for 10-15 year-old youth in five municipalities. Four nongovernmental partnership organizations – FUSADES, FUNDE, FEDAPE and Glasswing are expected to raise an additional $22 million. No mention was made of potential sources for that funding.
Ambassador Aponte again emphasized that SolucionEs will not be in support of “sanctuary cities,” adding that the program is connected to the Partnership for Growth initiative. For his part, Alex Segovia, the president’s chief of staff, described SolucionEs as complementary to the truce: “They have a common objective, violence prevention,” he said, the project is “part of the good relationship with the U.S.” Another sign of the “good relationship” was the February 14th approval by the Millennium Challenge Corporation of a first disbursement of funds for further studies and analysis of the proposed second development compact known as Fomilenio II.