Human Blowback from US Interventions

The flight of Central American children north to the U.S. border is another form of blowback from decades of U.S. refusal to permit reformist governments in the region, including the State Department’s support for a 2009 coup ousting Honduran President Zelaya, writes William Blum at Anti-Empire Report.

By William Blum

The number of children attempting to cross the Mexican border into the United States has risen dramatically in the last five years: In fiscal year 2009 (Oct. 1, 2009 – Sept. 30, 2010) about 6,000 unaccompanied minors were detained near the border. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security estimates for the fiscal year 2014 the detention of as many as 74,000 unaccompanied minors.

Approximately 28 percent of the children detained this year are from Honduras, 24 percent from Guatemala, and 21 percent from El Salvador. The particularly severe increases in Honduran migration are a direct result of the June 28, 2009 military coup that overthrew the democratically-elected president, Manuel Zelaya, after he did things like raising the minimum wage, giving subsidies to small farmers, and instituting free education.

Former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya.

Former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya.

The coup – like so many others in Latin America – was led by a graduate of Washington’s infamous School of the Americas.

As per the standard Western Hemisphere script, the Honduran coup was followed by the abusive policies of the new regime, loyally supported by the United States. The State Department was virtually alone in the Western Hemisphere in not unequivocally condemning the Honduran coup.

Indeed, the Obama administration has refused to call it a coup, which, under American law, would tie Washington’s hands as to the amount of support it could give the coup government. This denial of reality still persists even though a U.S. embassy cable released by Wikileaks in 2010 declared: “There is no doubt that the military, Supreme Court and National Congress conspired on June 28 [2009] in what constituted an illegal and unconstitutional coup against the Executive Branch.”

Washington’s support of the far-right Honduran government has been unwavering ever since.

The questions concerning immigration into the United States from south of the border go on year after year, with the same issues argued back and forth: What’s the best way to block the flow into the country? How shall we punish those caught here illegally? Should we separate families, which happens when parents are deported but their American-born children remain?

Should the police and various other institutions have the right to ask for proof of legal residence from anyone they suspect of being here illegally? Should we punish employers who hire illegal immigrants? Should we grant amnesty to at least some of the immigrants already here for years? … on and on, round and round it goes, decade after decade.

Those in the U.S. generally opposed to immigration make it a point to declare that the United States does not have any moral obligation to take in these Latino immigrants. But the counter-argument to this last point is almost never mentioned: Yes, the United States does indeed have a moral obligation because so many of the immigrants are escaping a situation in their homeland made hopeless by American intervention and policy.

In addition to Honduras, Washington overthrew progressive governments which were sincerely committed to fighting poverty in Guatemala and Nicaragua; while in El Salvador the U.S. played a major role in suppressing a movement striving to install such a government.

And in Mexico, though Washington has not intervened militarily since 1919, over the years the U.S. has been providing training, arms and surveillance technology to Mexico’s police and armed forces to better their ability to suppress their own people’s aspirations, as in Chiapas, and this has added to the influx of the oppressed to the United States, irony notwithstanding.

Moreover, Washington’s North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), has brought a flood of cheap, subsidized U.S. agricultural products into Mexico, ravaging campesino communities and driving many Mexican farmers off the land when they couldn’t compete with the giant from the north. The subsequent Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) has brought the same joys to the people of that area.

These “free trade” agreements – as they do all over the world – also result in government enterprises being privatized, the regulation of corporations being reduced, and cuts to the social budget. Add to this the displacement of communities by foreign mining projects and the drastic U.S.-led militarization of the War on Drugs with accompanying violence and you have the perfect storm of suffering followed by the attempt to escape from suffering.

It’s not that all these people prefer to live in the United States. They’d much rather remain with their families and friends, be able to speak their native language at all times, and avoid the hardships imposed on them by American police and other right-wingers.

William Blum is an author, historian, and renowned critic of U.S. foreign policy. He is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II and Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, among others. [This article originally appeared at the Anti-Empire Report,  http://williamblum.org/ .]

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3 comments on “Human Blowback from US Interventions

  1. Jacob on said:

    Not mentioned in the article is that the U.S. sides with the ruling oligarchies in those countries that want to keep the peasants uneducated and in poverty as a supply of compliant, cheap labor. In many cases, today’s Latin American “comprador bourgeoisie” oligarchs are descendants of the Spanish/Catholic conquistadors who own the land that the conquistadors obtained via land grants from the Spanish crown. Displaced from their ancestral lands, the natives became landless peasant workers in the semi-feudal encomienda plantation system. Economically and politically, these are extractive systems that exploit the workers to enrich the elite and foreign corporations.

    • jrusso45@gmail.com on said:

      All that intellectual bullshit goes over the top. The people don’t have an education system that could support these “peasants” as you call them from any other tech jobs. like in China, Taiwan, and there is no investment by corporations that build electronic devices. So what can the people do other then what they do. I was there on the ground when Zelaya was put on a plane. The people did not support him ,because there afraid to be picked up as subversives. You can blame the U.S. or anyone else. They were afraid Zelaya was to close to Chavez and Ortega. Also I just left Grandad Nicaragua Its worse then Honduras. There are abslolutely no jobs available. no investments. no nothing just people begging all day

  2. jrusso45@gmail.com on said:

    I was there when Zelaya was overthrown illegally. I support Zelaya. but I had just arrived a couple of months before. and was waiting at the airport. for my wife to arrive when the military told me they were closing the airport in couple of hours. I was in San Pedro Sula airport. my wife arrived with her daughter and we stayed overnight at a hotel. The next morning all hell broke out polictically. we returned to La Ceiba and were under Toca de Queda. like marshall law. everyday we had to return to our house when the military declared this Toca de Queda. The guy that orchestrated the overtrhow. I can’t remember his name right now. but he was afraid of Zelaya. I liked Zelaya ,because he asked their congress for an amendment to run for another 4 years. They got scared that he was going to far left with Ortega .and Chavez. but look at what happend after he left they “voted in ” Pepe who did absolulety nothing for investment ,tourism. reral money they need. OMG. my friend in the real Estate businesss told me he was dead in the water. forget about it,I loved Honduras and I still do. I lasted one year. never had a problem with the people. who were very lovely and caring people. I did see a drive by murder . OMG two guys got hit in an SUV right in front of the real estate office my frend worked in I won;t mention the name but it has a Big colored Ballon has its logo. anyway, after that ,it a sobering reminder that something is going on that we don’t know or don;t want to know about. but it exist.s well in Miami it happens also. where I live now. but I want to go back to Honduras. back to the Zelaya story. one day we hear Zelaya is circling the airport in a Venezula jet trying to land. of course they refused landings rights. He stated later he was going to parachute down to the ground. He has what it takes. He is not afraid of any of them that overthrew him. I have to laugh .He got back into the country in the trunk of an SUV I think from the Nicaragua border. anyway. he got into the Brazilian Embassy and stayed there. he has a lot of b***** He is my favorite person in Honduras. my other country of residence Dominican Repbulic took him in there under asylum or whatever they call it. it was an exciting time in Honduras. seeing how they can remove a sitting . voted in by the people President. Thats my story and i am sticking by it ,