Northern Triangle: The Origins of America’s Migrant Crisis

Northern Triangle: The Origins of America's Migrant Crisis Great Decisions / Foreign Policy Association / Youtube
Great Decisions examines in the documentary "Northern Triangle: The Origins of America's Migrant Crisis" the Western Hemisphere's migration crisis and the fractured societies at the heart of it: Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue, is one of the featured guests in this documentary. 

Comments by Michael Shifter: 

"The Salvadoreans came to Los Angeles and they formed gangs and many of them have now gone back to El Salvador. They really don't find economic opportunities, and the gangs give them a kind of identity."

"Many of these societies are controlled by traditional elite groups, sometimes referred as the oligarchs, and they have amassed enormous amounts of wealth, they concentrate the wealth, they run the main economic activities in these countries and their commitment is much less to open up these societies and give opportunities to others than it is to perpetuate and increase their wealth." 

"A lot of their economies are heavily reliant on crops like coffee. Coffee prices go up and coffee prices go down, and so they are very vulnerable." 

"Wealthy people don't want to pay taxes, because they don't believe that the government provides good services."

"The Alliance for Prosperity was born because of the unaccompanied children crisis, that really got out of hand in the summer of 2013."

Watch the full documentary here:  


  • Paul Angelo, Fellow for Latin America Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
  • Otaviano Canuto, Former Vice President, World Bank
  • Michael Doyle, Professor, Columbia University
  • Amb. John Feeley, U.S. Ambassador to Panama (2015–2018)
  • Amb. Mary Flores Flake, Honduran Ambassador to the United Nations
  • Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA)
  • Amb. Deborah McCarthy, Dep. Asst. Sec. of State for Narcotics and Law Enforcement (2002–2004)
  • Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
  • David Miliband, President, International Rescue Committee
  • Amb. John Negroponte, U.S. Ambassador to Honduras (1981–1985)
  • Christopher Preble, Vice President, Cato Institute
  • Ben Rhodes, Dep. U.S. National Security Advisor (2009–2017)
  • Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL)
  • Michael Shifter, President, Inter-American Dialogue


Executive Producer: MacDara King
Narrator: David Strathairn
Producer/Supervising Editor: David Heidelberger
Producer: Andrew Court
Editor: Christina Choriatis

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