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Enact a Marshall Plan for El Salvador | READER COMMENTARY

Iris Franco, right, is joined by her mother, Elsa Victorina Franco, in El Ranchador, Santa Ana, El Salvador, Friday, March 5, 2021. Franco runs a bakery at home and delivers the bread on a bike. The Salvadoran family lives humbly but is in a better place thanks to financial support from a family member in the United States who is part of the Temporary Protected Status program. (AP Photo/Salvador Melendez)
Iris Franco, right, is joined by her mother, Elsa Victorina Franco, in El Ranchador, Santa Ana, El Salvador, Friday, March 5, 2021. Franco runs a bakery at home and delivers the bread on a bike. The Salvadoran family lives humbly but is in a better place thanks to financial support from a family member in the United States who is part of the Temporary Protected Status program. (AP Photo/Salvador Melendez) (Salvador Melendez/AP)

I spent parts of two summers in El Salvador through my Quaker meeting in 1992 and 1994. The country had just experienced a brutal civil war. But everywhere I visited from women’s workshops to agricultural cooperatives, the people seemed anxious to forget the bitterness and suffering of the war and move on. There was hope and optimism and they looked forward to a brighter future.

Crime, corruption and environmental degradation due to climate change have severely impacted the Salvadoran economy since those early days after the war and the extreme poverty has driven many to desperation and to make that long perilous journey north. As long as these conditions exist, no walls or bureaucratic barriers will stop them from coming (”Republicans are fabricating the border crisis,” April 1).

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The only solution is to focus on the source of the problem, the Salvadoran economy. With the proper targeted investment, I believe we could make great progress. The money should go where it is needed to seed industries that create jobs for the people in need of them. My impression from my visit is that the Salvadoran people are hard working, industrious and goal oriented. A little money could go a long way in this country.

The return on our investment will be in reducing the number of immigrants at our border and most important, alleviating human suffering. The Marshall Plan was a wonderful solution for Europe and a source of pride for Americans. Let’s have another one for El Salvador.

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James W. Apgar, Catonsville

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