Contrary to the gospel of Joy Reid, you really don’t have to be a right-wing dick to acknowledge that there is a crisis at the border anymore than you need to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. Wave after wave of desperate people are braving the unforgiving desert sun just for the opportunity to be policed and warehoused like cattle by the brave men and women of America’s border gestapo. Thousands every day. Over a million since October alone. I don’t give a fuck how woke you are, this shit isn’t normal.
While I remain a diehard open borders purist through and through, that is not what motivated me to write this piece. The borders and the dueling cartels that militarize them may be the source of much of the immediate misery of your average migrant but that still doesn’t address why they come and why, in spite of our nation’s casual bipartisan cruelty, they continue to come. What makes people so desperate that they’re willing to send their own children into the arms of heavily armed thugs just to get them away from their homeland?
On a superficial level this is the product of two presidents; the openly xenophobic Donald Trump and the quietly xenophobic Joe Biden. When Trump lost to a progressive talking Joe Biden, whispering sweet nothings into the Hispanic vote’s ears, the quasi-biennial immigrant caravans swelled to unprecedented numbers with people desperate to take a new kinder president at his word. Big mistake. President Biden may read cue cards like a squishy progressive but he runs his borders like Trump. The result is hungry people being beckoned by strangers with candy only to be kidnapped and Shanghaied to some floral decorated concentration camp up river. In practice, the Biden policy is far crueler than Trump’s. But this still doesn’t tell us why they come and why they keep coming.
The root causes, that cackling cop Kamala Harris calls them. Our Vice President has gone on record fingering everything from food insecurity to climate change as the true culprit but she’s still yet to point her boney little finger at the bloody elephant in the mirror. The root cause of nearly all mass migration worldwide is and always has been imperialism. These people are running for their lives from the hellholes that our conquistador foreign policy has turned their countries into, and in few places on the map is this more true than the infamous Northern Triangle of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, whose open veins bleed refugees like busted pipes. America has been tormenting these desperate places going back to the 19th Century, but it was during the Cold War, under the mania of anti-communism, that we truly kicked the cruelty into second gear.
For Guatemala, the beginning of the end began with an unexpected gasp of hope in the form of a democratically elected reformist president named Jacobo Arbenz. Before Arbenz, Guatemala had essentially been one great big plantation for centuries, with the indigenous Mayan majority toiling like slaves beneath the tutelage of a handful of European blooded dynasties and their corporate masters back on Wall Street. Then Jacobo came along with the wacky idea that at least some of that land should belong to the glorified slaves who worked it. United Fruit couldn’t bear such milquetoast communism from a reasonable reformer like Arbenz, so in 1954, they called in the CIA to overthrow his democracy and replace it with a revolving door of fascist juntas. Some of the peasants took to the gun to resist and what resulted was over four decades of brutal civil war, all financed by the US of A.
It didn’t take long for this civil war to boil over into one of the worst genocides seen in the Western Hemisphere or anywhere else for that matter during the last century. Those who weren’t burned alive by napalm or gassed with DDT were rounded up by death squads armed, trained, and all too often led by American Green Berets, and slaughtered like dogs. Whole villages, whole tribes; obliterated, raped, tortured, dismembered, wiped from this earth by bulldozers and armored vehicles. Body parts lined the country roads, heads were basted on stakes, torsos clogged the waterways. When it was all said and done, over 200,000 people were dead while the rest were left in misery to work themselves to the bone under the same master class the dead dared to demand humanity from.
The bloodbath spilled over into tiny El Salvador during the late seventies. Nearby Nicaragua had shocked the world by overthrowing the heavily US-funded Samoza Dynasty and America and its local fascist quislings were terrified that the momentum would spread. In a nation named for Christ, the greatest threat came in the form of rebellious Catholic clergy who took the Bible at its word about feeding the poor. The biggest target by far was the liberation theologist Archbishop and now saint, Oscar Romero, who was assassinated under the orders of American trained Major Roberto D’Aubuisson in 1980. Another civil war erupted not long after with more American lead death squads slaughtering whole villages of the poor, like the 1000 men, women, and children who died at El Mozote in 1981. By the end of the decade, some 80,000 people lay dead, including scores of priests and nuns, more often than not raped, tortured and hacked to death by machetes.
Honduras got off relatively easy but only by comparison. The nation was largely used as a giant training camp for America’s Contra mercenaries, who spent the 80’s killing over 50,000 Nicaraguans in another savage civil war made possible by American aid. Meanwhile, Honduras was tormented by their own Yanqui doodle death squad in the form of Battalion 316, which did it’s best to keep the rabble in line while America busied itself exporting carnage to the nation’s neighbors.
Not much changed for the poor in the Northern Triangle after the civil wars. Corrupt governments continued to serve American corporations and silence anyone who spoke out. Only in Honduras, another moderate populist in the cut of Jacabo Arbenz threatened to buck the trend. Democratically elected president Manuel Zelaya attempted to bring about some relatively tame reforms to compensate the poor but the Obama/Biden Administration would have none of it. They backed a Cold War-style coup in 2009 and summarily funded the resulting junta with millions of dollars in US Aid while they went on the warpath murdering hundreds of environmentalists and indigenous activists who dared to take a stand.
And this, dearest motherfuckers, is Kamala’s elusive root cause; US Aid. American dollars go into propping up the most bloodthirsty and corrupt nations on earth. But Kamala won’t touch those purse strings. Even Trump, who made a big show of cutting aid to the Northern Triangle, kept the cash flowing to those banana republics through the Pentagon in the name of fighting the war on drugs. Not only is the Biden Administration refusing to acknowledge this root cause of mass migration, but they’re also suggesting they solve the problem by financing it. Of Kamala Harris’ proposed $310 million aid package to Guatemala, only about $55 million will go to addressing food insecurity, the rest of that “humanitarian” aid goes to enforcing that nation’s corrupt police state with operations like a joint border protection force. Long story short, Joe and Kamala didn’t end the border wall, they’re just moving it to Mexico’s other border while they sell more guns to the monsters who send their own people running for their lives.
The solution here is almost absurdly simple. Cut the motherfucking aid. Send nothing but food and medicine to those gangster states and allow their own people to finish the job they started in the ’80s and overthrow the goddamn juntas and their phony neoliberal plutocracies. Even American progressives like to feed into the jingoistic lie that people flock to America from across the globe to eat McDonald’s and bask in our Disneyfied benevolence. Bullshit. They came here to hide in the shadows of the conquistadors because they know that it’s the only place their bombs won’t drop. I’m all for open borders and freedom of movement but lets not fool ourselves into believing that these people wouldn’t much rather be overthrowing our puppet regimes back home.