FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Where We Stand on the Caravan: Five Things You Should Know  

Photo Source Jeanne Menjoulet | CC BY 2.0

We are anthropologists who work with migrants and refugees, most of whom are fleeing for their lives.  We want to set the record straight.  We conduct our research with migrants in Central America, Mexico, the US, and around the world. Some of us have walked with migrant caravans, with families and with individuals. We know them well. They are our confidants, partners in research, and friends, some for several decades.

Migrants from Central America and Mexico have suffered systematic racism and discrimination at the hands of U.S. administrations, from Theodore Roosevelt to Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama.  However, the Trump administration’s openly racist rhetoric and threats about the current migrant caravan is based on a cascade of false statements.

We want to correct five lies the Trump administration has promoted about people fleeing violence and persecution in their home countries.

1) There are no terrorists” on the caravan.

Both Donald Trump and Mike Pence have publicly stated that there are “Middle Easterners” and “terrorists” in the migrant caravan.  These claims are not merely false—which would imply some amount of good faith—but are, rather, patently absurd and racist.

There is no evidence of Middle Eastern refugees joining the caravan. There may be people in the caravan whose forebears left Syria or other countries in the Middle East decades ago to come to Central America and Mexico looking for work, prosperity and freedom.

These lies obscure actual solidarity happening on the ground, including the many Mexican and Guatemalan people who have fed and sheltered migrants along their route.  We encourage the U.S. public and politicians to respond to the people fleeing persecution and violence with compassion and care.

2) Migrant caravans are not new and they are not organized by Democrats to hurt Republicans.”

The word “caravan” has been used as a boogieman by the Trump administration and some US media outlets. In Latin America the word “caravan”refers to a group of people (merchants, pilgrims, friends etc.) who come together to travel in the same direction, on foot or in a vehicle. The word also connotes  a group of pilgrims walking together for spiritual well-being.

Migrant caravans have been part of the migrant scene in Mexico for at least two decades—during the Bush, Obama, and Trump administrations. There are fewer caravans today. But none of these caravans were ever involved in political, criminal or gang violence. Caravans are not partisan and the Democrats do not fund them. The current caravan was organized by a small group of Hondurans by social media and word of mouth with no outside institutional or professional support. In fact, caravans only gained recognition in the United States after the Trump administration began vilifying them.

For years, the Mexican government has deported migrants, especially children, without due process, and has willfully ignored the murder and disappearance of thousands of Central American migrants. Caravans allow people to make their suffering and humanity visible. It is by joining together that they gain the safety and recognition necessary to expose human rights abuses.

3) The government of Honduras is not funding” the migrant caravan.

The Trump administration’s conspiratorial claims that the caravan is organized by shadowy government actors are patently false. To the contrary, Honduras attempted to close its borders to prevent its citizens from leaving, in direct violation of international law.

Migrant caravans have been organized by priests, churches, and by migrants themselves. There has never been a caravan organized by Honduras, Mexico, or any other government.  And George Soros has never funded a caravan.

What is driving the migrant caravans today is the residue of a violent military coup in 2009 that overthrew Honduras’ democratically-elected President Manuel Zelaya. The coup was financially  supported by the U.S. Department of State. The country’s public sector—including education and healthcare—has since been decimated by the regimes that followed.  Political dissent is extremely dangerous in Honduras. Prominent activists like Berta Caceres were murdered for speaking out against the current dictatorship. Honduras has become increasingly unstable with gangs and paramilitary organizations violently wrestling for control. The net result is that thousands of people and families and frightened teenagers have been displaced, and running for their lives.

4) The US does not already spend money on humanitarian aid in Central America.

Almost all aid money sent to Central America is through a multinational program, Alliance for Prosperity, which the Obama administration  joined in 2015.  The goal was to stimulate the local economies, to promote educational activities, to target criminal networks and  to deter Central Americans from fleeing their homes. Many of us have joined Central American people in speaking out against the Alliance because most of the money has funded privatization programs and military contractors, often from the United States. Predictably, instead of building prosperity, the militarization of what was described as “humanitarian aid” has only resulted in greater violence for Central American people. Forces trained and armed to fight gangs and government corruption splintered into well-organized militias. Rather than helping poor and frightened people in Central America, U.S. aid has helped to make their countries unlivable.

5) It is not possible for the migrant caravan to “go back to their countries and apply for citizenship.”

On October 30 Trump tweeted to  people in the  caravan: “Go back to your Country and if you want, apply for citizenship like millions of others are doing!”  No one can apply for U.S. citizenship outside the United States. Only those already granted asylum in the US can apply for U.S. citizenship, a process that  takes years and often subjects asylum seekers  and applicants to detention and intense surveillance. All of this is wholly ignored by the Trump administration.

Meanwhile, the U.S. spends over $100 million a year on the Southern Border Plan, which pays Mexico to catch and deport Central Americans. This fund is blood money. Bribing another country to criminalize migrants headed to our borders seeking asylum is a disturbing and dangerous precedent.

The fact that Donald Trump has declared that he will not allow the migrant caravan to even  apply for asylum and that he will send US troops to prevent them from attempting to do so violates our constitution and immigration laws. Trump is also at war with international law, which demands that migrants at risk in their home countries have the right to seek protection in another country.

The Trump Administration has turned upside down our American history and has ripped to shreds our American values. It feels like a desecration of our red, white and blue flag, a flag burning if you will.

The people walking in the migrant caravan are seeking  protection from violence and persecution, like so many of our founding fathers and mothers and ancestors. The caravan is a van of peace and hope, not a weapon of war.  Those riding and walking with the van are not our enemies. They are people like us. They are our neighbors who deserve our protection and welcome.

Philippe Bourgois

Jennifer Burrell

Elizabeth Cartwright

Heide Castañeda

RoseMarie Chierici

Maria Cruz-Torres

Brad Erickson

Fabian Fernandez

Jennie Gamlin

Seth M. Holmes

Sarah Horton

Jennifer Hughes

Roger Lancaster

James Loucky

Nolan Kline

Miriam Magaña Lopez

Teresa Mares

Carlos Martinez

Siobhan McGuirk

Lisa Meierotto

Adrienne Pine

Lina Berrio Palomo

James Quesada

Nancy Scheper-Hughes

Paola Sesia

Lynn Stephen

Wendy Vogt

Levi Vonk

 

January 15, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
Refugees Are in the English Channel Because of Western Interventions in the Middle East
Howard Lisnoff
The Faux Political System by the Numbers
Lawrence Davidson
Amos Oz and the Real Israel
John W. Whitehead
Beware the Emergency State
John Laforge
Loudmouths against Nuclear Lawlessness
Myles Hoenig
Labor in the Age of Trump
Jeff Cohen
Mainstream Media Bias on 2020 Democratic Race Already in High Gear
Dean Baker
Will Paying for Kidneys Reduce the Transplant Wait List?
George Ochenski
Trump’s Wall and the Montana Senate’s Theater of the Absurd
Binoy Kampmark
Dances of Disinformation: the Partisan Politics of the Integrity Initiative
Glenn Sacks
On the Picket Lines: Los Angeles Teachers Go On Strike for First Time in 30 Years
Jonah Raskin
Love in a Cold War Climate
Andrew Stewart
The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party
January 14, 2019
Kenn Orphan
The Tears of Justin Trudeau
Julia Stein
California Needs a 10-Year Green New Deal
Dean Baker
Declining Birth Rates: Is the US in Danger of Running Out of People?
Robert Fisk
The US Media has Lost One of Its Sanest Voices on Military Matters
Vijay Prashad
5.5 Million Women Build Their Wall
Nicky Reid
Lessons From Rojava
Ted Rall
Here is the Progressive Agenda
Robert Koehler
A Green Future is One Without War
Gary Leupp
The Chickens Come Home to Roost….in Northern Syria
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: “The Country Is Watching”
Sam Gordon
Who Are Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionists?
Weekend Edition
January 11, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Richard Moser
Neoliberalism: Free Market Fundamentalism or Corporate Power?
Paul Street
Bordering on Fascism: Scholars Reflect on Dangerous Times
Joseph Majerle III – Matthew Stevenson
Who or What Brought Down Dag Hammarskjöld?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Joshua Frank
How Tre Arrow Became America’s Most Wanted Environmental “Terrorist”
Andrew Levine
Dealbreakers: The Democrats, Trump and His Wall
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Que Syria, Syria
Dave Lindorff
A Potentially Tectonic Event Shakes up the Mumia Abu-Jamal Case
Nick Pemberton
There Are More Important Things Than The Truth
Brian Cloughley
How Trump’s Insults and Lies are Harming America
David Rosen
Sexual Predators in the Era of Trump
Tamara Pearson
Everything the Western Mainstream Media Outlets Get Wrong When Covering Poor Countries
Richard E. Rubenstein
Trump vs. the Anti-Trumps: It’s the System That Needs Changing Not Just the Personnel
Christopher Ketcham
A Walk in the Woods, Away from the Screens
Basav Sen
Democrats Failed Their First Big Test on Climate
Lauren Smith
Nicaragua – The Irony of the NICA Act Being Signed into Law by Trump
Joseph Natoli
Will Trumpism Outlive Trump?
Olivia Alperstein
The EPA Rule Change That Could Kill Thousands
Medea Benjamin – Alice Slater
The New Congress Needs to Create a Green Planet at Peace
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
Cuba: Trump Turns the Vise
Ramzy Baroud
When Bolsonaro and Netanyahu Are ‘Brothers’: Why Brazil Should Shun the Israeli Model
Mitchell Zimmerman
Government by Extortion
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail