SAN SALVADOR, Jan. 29 (Xinhua) -- Policies to create jobs and curb crimes could stem the rising flow of undocumented migrants from El Salvador to the United States, presidential hopeful Hugo Martinez has said.
"While immigration is driven by several causes, it is true that in most cases people migrate in search of job opportunities," Martinez, the former foreign minister and presidential candidate from the ruling Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), told Xinhua recently.
Since October 2018, the Central American migrant caravans have made their way north through Mexico to the U.S. border, with migrants hoping to be given asylum.
The best way to reverse the exodus, said Martinez, is to invest in the regions the migrants are abandoning.
"If we guarantee them opportunities in their hometowns, the migration flows will decrease."
In fact, he said, fewer undocumented Salvadorans are migrating abroad since the implementation of the Plan of the Alliance for Prosperity in the Northern Triangle, which encompasses three Central American countries.
The plan calls for investment in education, security and job creation in communities with high rates of immigration.
Martinez proposes the creation of "development poles" throughout El Salvador to spur local economies and improve the future outlook for youths.
Many migrants are also escaping from rampant crimes, said Martinez.
An ongoing anti-crime campaign has cut the homicide rates by 50 percent, according to the presidential candidate, but criminal gangs continue to hold sway over certain communities.
Regional cooperation has been effective in fighting crimes, but more remains to be done, he said.
The government will maintain the existing foreign policy, which aims to look after the interests of El Salvador while fomenting ties and cooperation with other countries.
"I coined a historic term for our country, which is a 'foreign policy open to the world and with no ideological trappings.' That is going to be the orientation of my foreign policy," said Martinez.
El Salvador is the first of the six Latin American countries to hold elections in 2019, which also includes Guatemala, Panama, Argentina, Bolivia and Uruguay.
Some 5.2 million Salvadorans will be eligible to vote on Feb. 3 for a successor to President Salvador Sanchez Ceren, whose five-year term ends.
Martinez, 51, is a trained agricultural engineer. He has been a member of the FMLN since his youth.