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November 30, 2023

U.S. Policy in Central America

Event Series: Spotlight on the Americas

Showing the U.S. Policy in Central America Video

The Biden-Harris Administration’s engagement with Central America has prioritized addressing the root causes of irregular migration. The strategy addresses the acute factors that drive irregular migration from northern Central America, including: natural disasters, water, and food insecurity, all exacerbated by climate change; as well as long-term, chronic structural challenges, including extreme poverty, gender-based violence, citizen insecurity, poor governance, and endemic corruption.

How effective has the Root Causes Strategy been in fostering a sense of hope and opportunity for Central Americans, and what are the program's strengths, challenges, and areas for growth? What other areas is the United States focused on in its relationship with Central America? The Georgetown Americas Institute welcomed Eric Jacobstein, Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs at the U.S. Department of State for a conversation on current U.S.-Central America engagement and priorities for the Biden administration in the region.

This event was sponsored by the Georgetown Americas Institute and the Center for Latin American Studies. 


Eric Jacobstein (CLAS’04) currently serves as a deputy assistant secretary in the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs covering Central America, Cuba and regional migration. He previously served at the White House as the special advisor to the vice president for the Western Hemisphere and as National Security Council director for Central America and Cuba. In 2021, Jacobstein joined the Biden-Harris administration as a senior advisor in the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean and as staff director of the Northern Triangle Task Force. Before that, Jacobstein worked in the United States Congress for 15 years, including as a senior policy advisor on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs managing the Western Hemisphere portfolio for Chairman Eliot Engel and Committee Democrats. In this role, he was the lead Democratic advisor handling issues related to Latin America and the Caribbean in the House of Representatives. Jacobstein also served as the staff director of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control while working for Senator Dianne Feinstein. In addition, he has worked for the House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Representative Jim Kolbe and the Inter-American Dialogue. He holds a M.A. in Latin American studies from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and a B.A. in political science from Haverford College.

Alejandro Werner is the founding director of the Georgetown Americas Institute and a non-resident senior fellow at the Peterson Institute. He recently completed almost nine years as director of the Western Hemisphere Department at the International Monetary Fund. Prior to that appointment, he was undersecretary of finance and public credit in Mexico’s Finance Ministry and held several positions in that ministry and the Central Bank. He also taught at leading universities in Mexico, Spain, and the United States. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a B.A. in economics from Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM).