For the past few years- Guatemalan farmer Rigoberto Leon has been growing crops using a greenhouse equipped with a sprinkler watering system-- both donated by the United States Agency for International Development or the USAID programme.
The American assistance has helped him support his family - in the drought -prone western highlands of Guatemala-- where farming is tough and droves of villagers have already migrated for the U.S. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) LOCAL FARMER, RIGOBERTO MARCOS LEON, SAYING: There will be migration if agriculture is not prioritized.
If there is no one to support us here with agriculture then there is no agriculture." Now the future of hundreds of US aid programs--that have assisted farmers like Leon, educated teens and improved policing - are in jeopardy...after U.S. President Donald Trump said he will end Washington's aid to Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras- the area known as the Northern Triangle.
(SOUNDBITE) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP SAYING: "And what do they do do?
They don't do anything for us.
It's supposed to be moey well spent, I understand the reason for it but that money doesn't get there." U.S. assistance expanded under former President Barack Obama to $754 million in his last full fiscal year in office.
The aid, however, has steadily decreased under Trump to $627 million in 2018.
And last month the State Department announced it will stop all foreign aid to the Northern Triangle--- punishing the countries for failing to halt an influx of migrants to the U.S. But proponents of international aid say that's a bad move-- as these programs have worked to slow the steady outflow of entire families..
(SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) LOCAL FARMER, RIGOBERTO MARCOS LEON, SAYING: "With what we are doing, we have hope that there will be a good future for our children.
But if aid is cut, then this (hope) dies." Leon, who grows hundreds of pine tree seedlings using funds from USAID told Reuters that the number of families he knew living off the dry hillside more than doubled to 40 as a result of the USAID program.
He is concerned that if U.S. aid is cut, many will have to consider migrating once again.