President Trump’s “Great Wall” ignores a key reason why desperate Mexicans and Central Americans flee north – the history of U.S. military and economic intervention that has created poverty and repression, notes William Blum.
By William Blum
Instead of building a “Great Wall” on the Mexican border, President Trump might find it so much cheaper, so much easier, so much more humane, so much more popular — if the U.S. government would just stop overthrowing or destabilizing governments south of the border.
And the United States certainly has a moral obligation to do this because so many of the immigrants are escaping a situation in their homeland made hopeless by American intervention and policy. The particularly severe increase in Honduran migration to the U.S. in recent years is 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. 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 refused to even 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 continued to exist 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  in what constituted an illegal and unconstitutional coup against the Executive Branch.” Washington’s support of the far-right Honduran government has continued ever since.
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, 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 in 1994, 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) brought the same joys to the people of that area.
These “free trade” agreements – as they do all over the world – also resulted 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.
President Trump, if one can read him correctly – not always an easy task – insists that he’s opposed to the hallmark of American foreign policy: regime change. If he would keep his Yankee hands off political and social change in Mexico and Central America and donate as compensation a good part of the billions to be spent on his Great Wall to those societies, there could be a remarkable reduction in the never-ending line of desperate people clawing their way northward.
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/ .]
Concerning the prolongation of the Wall at the Mexican border, there is nothing xenophobic about it – the Secure Fence Act was signed by President George W. Bush, who began its construction. The work was continued by President Barack Obama with the support of the Mexican government of the time. Beyond the fashionable rhetoric about «walls» and «bridges», reinforced border systems only work when the authorities of both sides agree to make them operational. They always fail when one of the parties opposes them.
The interest of the United States is to control the entry of migrants, while the interest of Mexico is to prevent the import of weapons. None of that has changed. However, with the application of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), transnational companies have delocalised, from the United States to Mexico, not only non-qualified jobs (in conformity with the Marxist rule of «the tendency of the rate of profit to fall (TRPF)», but also qualified jobs which are performed by under-paid workers («social dumping»). The appearance of these jobs has provoked a strong rural exodus, destructuring Mexican society, on the model of what happened in 19th century Europe.
The transnational companies then lowered wages, plunging part of the Mexican population into poverty – which now only dreams of being correctly paid in the United States itself. Since Donald Trump has announced that he intends to remove the US signature from the NAFTA agreement, things should return to normal in the years to come, and satisfy both Mexico and the United States .
Thierry Massan – http://www.voltairenet.org/article195196.html
One of the key things that Trump could do is to gut NAFTA and the other stupid “free trade” deals so highly reminiscent of the last period of Republican hegemony (the 1800s.) NAFTA destroyed Mexico’s internal manufacturing by substituting American multinationals with Mexican native companies. Additionally, NAFTA promised to provide profits for American companies that opened maquiladoras. When they left for China’s greener pastures, the Mexicans that had worked in them left for the USA. PLAYING MUSICAL CHAIRS WITH PEOPLE’S LIVES TO FURTHER ENRICH ALREADY OVERPAID C-SUITES IS DESTROYING THE WORLD’S STABILITY AND VACUUMING UP WAGES INTO THE POCKETS OF THESE PARASITES AT THE TOP.
I am sick of all of this mess and long for a return to decent lives with domestic manufacturing. The Germans were smart and kept theirs. We were stupid and let ours be controlled by the myopic nitwits running corporations who cannot see any farther than their own wallets.
“President Trump’s “Great Wall” ignores a key reason why desperate Mexicans and Central Americans flee north – the history of U.S. military and economic intervention that has created poverty and repression, notes William Blum.”
Nah. He’s not ignoring anything, he just doesn’t give a shit.
Precisely. What we have needed for a long time now is a Marshall Plan for the Americas, money for progress and improvments rather than suppression and violence. The USA helped rebuild war-torn Europe after 1945 but treats the Americas as its neglected personal corporate-industrial fiefdom, fit only for exploitation and obedience. What rotten neighbors we are.
I sincerely do not want to patronise anyone here, where truly smart people come to debate. But what Mr Blum writes may be a revelation only to those Westerners who live on the diet of MSM news or in Washington groupthink. In other words, Mr Blum states something which would be blatantly obvious to anyone not “under the influence”.
A friend of mine once made a comment how so many people stand in line in front of US embassies all around the World to get a visa or green card (to emigrate legally into US), why are there no lines in front of embassies of the non-Westen nations? Is this not the best proof of the Western model of living and everything? I only asked him to imagine that Iraqi jets have been bombing water supply facilities in hot weather Texas or New Mexico with impunity, would this not create a long line/queue in front of Iraqi Consulate in those states?
In other words, for all sane and practical purposes it is much better living in the country of thieves and murderers then in the country of their victims. I can’t comprehend that the logic as simple as this needs special explanation. Would you personally want to be a life’s loser by being with other losers?
Drop bombs on a country and see both those who want to live without bombs and those who want to take revenge for the killed family members and friends join you in your country, legally or illegally.
Finally, maybe I have been naive but my understanding of Trump’s anti-immigration measures has been to both:
1) stop immigration from already devastated countries and
2) stop foreign military interventions and color revolutions.
Only these two policies together could bring a long term solution, whilst any other policy leads to present disaster. How could you imagine that you could distinguish those whose families you have decimated and the economic migrants?
The world terrorism will stop/reduce when the West stops/reduces terrorising the world. The same with the flood of immigration.
Trump is a compromised FRAUD whose selfish motivations go far beyond the stretch of his supporters’ imaginations. Many have actually traveled outside of the country and are well aware of the devastation these people have caused. Some don’t have to leave home to know what its like to live near a war zone. Others live in golf course communities behind gates and can walk 2 miles to a border state and see Trump signs, yellow flags and other symbols of hate…I mean pride…
I agree, the bully billionaires/millionaires, banksters, corporate cons and political lackeys need to stop terrorizing people at home and abroad.
KIza, from what news I can gather concerning America’s acceptance of Middle East refugees, is how poorly the Trump Administration rolled out the new extended vetting process. Trump’s ban is more of a halt, until America can scrutinize to just what in the hell is going on with this process, and to who we are allowing entry to.
There was no to little coverage of Obama’s putting in place a more strenuous vetting process back in 2015, when the Obama White House extended the entry process to an almost two year wait, and with his directive America lengthened the vetting procedure substantially. Likewise when in 2016 Obama placed two more Middle East countries on notice to the ‘concern nation’ paranoia list due to a possibly big risk for blow back, which had the result that we Americans would only open up our open door policy to these Middle East refuges only to within a crack, and a darn small crack opening at that. The then ‘concern country list’ got no MSM coverage.
What I’m finding to be confusing, and hard to figure out, is between Trump the President, and his independent speaking Cabinet, is which one between the two should we poor curious citizens put our trust in. Secretary of State Mad Dog’ Mathias talks cautious and tough sounding when bringing up Russia. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley lays down the law over Russia and Crimea, but then she goes to visit the Russian UN Ambassador at his house the next day, and reporters say the two UN members make ‘nice’. All that is left here, is great material for us all to debate over, so where’s that leave us watchers? One thing is for certain is that the Trump White House is leaving a lot for us to contemplate, and that’s where the media comes in with a vengeance.
In a fantasy world America will pull up its Miltary stacks, and stop instigating, and fighting, in order to finally come to its hegemonic senses. Whereas the U.S. would simply join the rest of the world, and allow freedom of governance and the inalienable right of all nations to legislate a sovereign government along with the natural evolution of culture to grow, and to help make this all survive for the betterment of all people who inhabit this earth. In all fairness there are world leaders, much like Putin, who do call for this. Instead the U.S, stays the course, and deems itself exceptional and indispensable, while funding and instigating regime change where, and when we decide our American services are thought to be needed. America should quit being so nice, because the world can’t stand anymore, or any longer the American kind of kindness it is so generous with to oblige.
KIZA’S BLANK SPOT
Why aren’t Israel and its followers mentioned? They do not
seem to be on anyone’s map or worldview?
I am now re-reading Thomas Suarez’ THE TERROR STATE but
with great difficulty. As to solutions…there is no room
for even a few here. No, Zionism has not the slightest “right to
Even those Zionists who declare that they go in God’s “path of
righteousness”, cannot explain the horrors, the violence,
the cruelty of which they have become prime purveyors.
Theirs is most certainly the way of “humankind” (mankind)
even according to the Bible.
It feels like the US (and West) is supporting the world’s premier
fascist state and threat to its neighbors and to world peace.
(With US complicity.)
I urge everyone to read THE STATE OF TERROR that Ilan Pappe has
called a “tour de force”.
—-Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA
“………Instead of building a “Great Wall” on the Mexican border, President Trump might find it so much cheaper, so much easier, so much more humane, so much more popular — if the U.S. government would just stop overthrowing or destabilizing governments south of the border………”
Of course much of the destabilization, coups and support for right wing dictators occurred during the cold war – in the US “sphere of influence” which included Central America and South America. As a result of these poorly thought out American policies, left wing revolutionaries led a populist movement (rightly) denouncing US cold war policies. Chavez was the most famous of the left wing revolutionaries. The result was certainly predictable. No country wants to be dominated by a superpower interfering in their internal affairs. Recently some of the economies of the leftist’s governments have collapsed and they face a popular rebellion of their own – like in Brazil and Venezuela. Their economies are not in dire straits because of the US, but because of incompetent leftists government policies. None the less, the same lessons extend to the countries formerly under the control of the Soviet Union.
This should be a stark reminder exactly why after the collapse of the USSR many countries opted to join the EU and NATO. Countries in Eastern Europe faced decades of authoritarian rule under Soviet (Russian) domination. NATO advanced to the doorstep of Russia exactly because the elected governments of the freed Eastern European countries chose to join as a safeguard against the threat of Russia “reawakening” after the collapse. No one forced these countries to join the EU and NATO. The war in Eastern Ukraine (and Georgia) has only served to reinforce the decision of many eastern European countries to join NATO and the EU.
The Ukrainian revolution began as a massive protest against Yanukovych who opted to reject the EU economic package. Yanukovych instead chose to honor an economic offer with Russia which included a $2 billion bailout. This instigated massive protests from ethnic Ukrainians who preferred a closer alignment with the EU. The bailout by Russia included an order from Russia to shut down the protests by Ukrainians. Ultimately, the protests became violent which resulted in the ousting of the Russian-backed President, Yanukovych. Putin blamed the “coup” on the US government because a leaked phone conversation by the US Ambassador to Ukraine, Victoria Nuland, was published in which she discussed a preference for the head of the new government in Ukraine (after Yanukovych fled to Russia).
The idea that Victoria Nuland and the CIA engineered a coup is absurd. The coup was engineered in Kiev by protesters defying to Russian domination – for decades. The GRU and the FSB had a large presence in Ukraine – and failed to stop the overthrow of Yanukovych. Simply put, this was a massive failure of the Russian intelligence community in Putin’s so called “sphere of influence”. The US and the EU supported the new government in Kiev. In the same way as the US lost much of South America to unfriendly governments, Russia has lost much of Eastern Europe – and for essentially the same reasons. In addition, Putin has supported and supplied manpower and weapons to emboldened secessionists in Eastern Ukraine to destabilize the new Ukrainian government. Ten thousand people have died as a result of the Putin Policy. Additionally, Putin illegally annexed Crimea. Russia has no sphere of influence. There is no such thing.
US domination in Central and South America and the Russian domination of Eastern Europe (in their spheres of influence during the cold war) resulted in the election of governments hostile to the superpowers, respectively. The rebellion of ethnic Ukrainians against the Yanukovych government didn’t happen overnight – and certainly not because Nuland suggested a preference for the head of the new government. Ignoring history doesn’t change it.
Just a helpful hint…your writing would improve if you wouldn’t just spill assertion after assertion in such a disjointed stream of consciousness fashion. Staying on topic at least within a paragraph and fleshing out an idea with perhaps some illustrative examples would also help…providing you actually know some history. Your talking points about Putin & and Ukraine are threadbare, you’ve worn them so thin.
Read Natylie Baldwin and Nataly Kermit Heartsong’s well researched book, Ukraine. You seem to be awash in the MSN, or more accurately, Propaganda Inc.
Hmm…This sounds very familiar. And I live in the US.
Develop schemes to create more wealth for the wealthy. Stagnate wages. Issue more credit. Create more debt. Crash the economy. Fire the workers. Close small businesses. Diminish middle incomes. Take away personal assets – including health, safety and welfare. Create more poverty. Deploy more austerity. Decrease revenue. Uproot massive populations. Diminish standards of living. Blame the victims. Criminalize poverty. Develop a police state. Embolden right wing agents provocateur. Use those agents to deploy false advertising campaigns. Diminish rights. Privatize public assets. Deploy Private-Public partners to capitalize off of the pain and suffering they created. Install a right wing dictator. Continue to abuse power.
According to Oxfam, “Eight men own the same wealth as the 3.6 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity.” Six of the eight live in the United States.
Where are the torches and pitchforks? Do not blame the rich & powerful & rotten for what they do, they will always do rotten things when unopposed. Where has the opposing force gone?
Of course I blame them for what they do and some of them know those pitchforks are coming too.
That really gives the leadership of Mexico a pass. Why is Mexico poor? Because a few people have all the money, most people have nothing. And those with the money, intend to keep it that way. Lopez Portillo once lectured Jimmy Carter on morality, not long before it was revealed that he had stolen a billion dollars.
Extremes in wealth and poverty are rampant in Central and South America while the plutocrats and political oligarchs in the U.S. see that as a model to follow. Look out for the next phase with Republican control in Washington plundering government agencies to rob Main Street to give to Wall Street.
30 years ago I told a friend we were on the path to becoming Mexico. It’s a long path and with the US stage of development and technology the bottom will never live like the bottom in Mexico. For that reason … there will be no revolution.
It’s easy for all of us to get caught up in particular “US” vs. “them” frameworks – especially “US” vs. “other countries”, “liberals” vs. “conservatives”, “Democrats vs. Republicans”, “English vs. Spanish”, etc. To the extent we focus only on a fixed set of those & close our minds & ears to truth, then we become easy to manipulate & exploit. The long history of U.S. state-sponsored coups & terrorism in Latin America, including “School of the Americas/WHSEC” & “Operation Condor” is an issue that liberals & libertarians focus on, & charge that conspiracy is obvious & true. Disinterest is U.S. govt. disinterest in border crime is an issue that conservatives focus on as an underreported conspiracy – c.f. http://www.judicialwatch.org/?s=border+crime I’ve started putting together a list of sources people can look to (on web, RSS, and Twitter) for a broader sweep of independent news. This file is a standalone web/page with a list, including Consortium News and Mr. Blum: http://www.mediafire.com/file/15vubeeh3fxamcc/IndyNewsRSS.html Some of the sites listed sometimes carry flakey nonsense, & nobody’s politics agrees with them all, but I find it helpful to open my ears to what is being said and often merits greater attention.
Another great article by William Blum – blunt, direct and accurate. I hope there will be many more.
The impossible task to overcome, is that no one in America will hear a word of what Historian William Blum will have heard of what he wrote here. Sorry, everyone in America should hear what William Blum has to say, but how will they? I do not mean to be a ‘debbie downer’, but how does this override the 24/7 news cycle of an SNL skit really putting it to Sean Spicer. Yes, America is not hearing this, or are they? Am I wrong to wonder about the power of the internet, and could our next Mezziah (sorry for the spelling, Jesus) be one day coming to us to unite, or is this science fiction? I don’t know, and I could make up endings, but it’s to late in the day, and I just don’t feel up to it.
America needs to get a grip on itself. I do believe the people could be united by something, and who knows maybe even on a world level…watch out for the anti-Christ, but to do this and as now would be a terrific time for the whole lot of us need to somehow come together, and come together right now, and prosecute for war crimes where something can be done about while working out a new plan with a whole new mindset and a humanity and nature goals a priority, replace the new over the old war first policy. A new plan for the common good, and welfare of mankind, is what we need….but first get a new news media, or something!
Excellent point. One thing we can do, and I hope all Consortium News readers do, is post comments with links to especially trenchant Consortium News articles on other news websites, especially MSM sites. Step by step, more and more of the public can become informed about what they’re missing in the oligarchy’s MSM, and start turning to sites like Consortium News to find out what’s really going on.
JWaltters, linking to consortiumnews is an excellent idea, good one.
This particular article by William Blum is a fantastic one to have others read. Blum sheds a ton of light on an existing problem, ‘the borders’, but reveals an important part of that problem by his mentioning something which our government could have a fix on. If only our CIA/State/MIC quit doing the underhanded things they do so well, and allow these southern nations to establish true democracies for themselves. Our corporatocracy is strangling the natural evolution of societies. There was a time when, how GM does America goes, but in this new century America has replaced the export of cars, to now becoming the biggest exporter of chaos.
Good idea ….linking to consortiumnews articles.
@JWalters Linking Consortium News to MSM is important as the following link from Canadian Broadcasting Network shows. Doing this type of linking is exactly how the right wing has dominated the echo chamber and fake news.
Maybe the best way for Mr. Blum to present his message is to run one of the new immigrants for the office of President. This would allow door to door canvassing etc. An immigrants third party would be needed, because neither Republican nor the Democratic party would allow one of Mr. Blum”s victims to be an official candidate.
Your idea is excellent, and in a representative democracy this would make perfect sense. Although the biggest hurtle would be that Natural Born in America rule. Remember Trump getting all over Obama’s birth certificate, and Kenya being Obama’s place of birth? To this day there are many who believe that, and question the legitimacy of Obama’s presidency over his origin of birth.
An immigrant second generation to America, who was born in the U.S., and who wouldn’t forget where they came from could work out well for America’s diverse population.
The success of a well qualified person of any background, would also depend on them being able to overcome America’s deep state apparatus who work their nasty schemes out into real life from behind the curtain. This problem seems to plaque all our presidents, maybe farther back than one might like to admit.
I’m with fudmier your comment is worth pursuing.
The MSM will just label everything he says as ” Fake News”. The Government will back that position and he will die a slow unheard and unread death. Be labeled a traitor, a Putin Bum Boy, a Commie, and that really dirty word in the USA a SOCIALIST and every other epithet they can lay their tongues to. America does not have to kill freedom of speech the MSM just buries it in bluster, created doubts and attacking the messenger. If the messenger should really step on a few really important toes he will just be eliminated Like Gary Webb. the columnist that exposed the CIA drug trade, who committed suicide by shooting hmself in the head TWICE. First they killed his career. Then they killed his marriage. Then they killed him economically, then they suicided him with two shots to the head. Mr. Blum had better watch his step.
While I kneel down with you Dan Kuhn and pray for Mr Blum’s safety I will also pray that all this noise about Russian interference in our American government dies down, and we side step a war with the mighty Bear.
After watching a little bit of Rachel Maddow last night, and her other wrongly identified liberal friends spill their venom of lies, I suspect by Friday MSNBC will be at the gates of Moscow ready to tear Vladimir Putin out from behind his presidential desk and take him down for crimes against humanity. Yes, MSNBC’s broadcast chumps who churn, and I mean oh boy how they churn their propaganda up to the point to where it isn’t even funny for how badly these news creeps are buttering up us Americans for something big, and awful yet to come.
Sadly all that is worth learning about isn’t happening on the big scale of getting the important information out. Instead we must all independently gather our news from the Internet, and take the risk that what we are reading isn’t for real fake news. Fact checking, author qualifications, cross referencing articles, and all of that is pretty tough on a student of the news when there is no teacher there to guide them. This is where our MSM fails us, and with this dilemma is where the mighty MSM gets off calling good news sites ‘the fake news’.
Somewhere in another dimension I picture Thomas Paine is crying by his seeing how the Tree of Liberty has now been replaced with an artificial plastic schrub who’s stems only secrete a poisonous propaganda, and as John Lennon had said, ‘and nothing is real’. In the meantime keep the faith, do what you must, and hopefully this comment board will be crowded with many new ‘news junkies’ who will have finally found the truth. Let’s all hope that these newly well informed readers of the news will deal with their fresh discovery of the truth in such a way as to bring about a well needed change to the world.
European Colonialism (which continues to this day) is the reason why many Africans, Middle Easterners, and Asians are risking their lives trying to reach Europe!! You cannot devastate peoples countries stealing their natural resources to enrich yourself and not expect those same people to try to go where riches are!! This is a very plain, simple, and straight forward commonsense……Same with America in the Americas………If America wants to become isolationist, may be the rest of the world should help it achieve that by boycotting it economically and culturally…… no need for Hollywood movies and jeans are actually made in Bangladesh anyway….
Many thanks to William Blum and Consortium News for this essay on American responsibility for the refugee problem. This is an aspect that is seldom mentioned in all the commentaries about immigration despite it being a primary factor. The author focuses on Central America in the recent past, but American intrusion has been a problem for generations south of the border and has spread, particularly since the coup in Iran in 1953. to the Middle East.
Excellent essay! I was about to remark that the US needs to do more than just stopping encouraging/provoking the chaos when I saw Mr. Blum had done so at the end of his piece.
It’s a pleasure to read a post by an author who doesn’t make excuses for Obama. The man was a smooth-talking POS, and pretending otherwise is an exercise in futility.
It’s a pleasure to read a post by an author who doesn’t make excuses for Obama. The man was a smooth-talking POS, and pretending otherwise is an exercise in futility.
Contrary to conventional wisdom that we would look back favorably on the Obama presidency after some experience under Trump, I find very little reason for such a view despite Trump giving us many reasons to do so. He was such a phony continuing the decline of the United States boosted by Reagan, Poppy Bush, Clinton, and Bush the Dumber.
I recall a statement by Dick Cheney after Obama’s first term. Not quoted exactly but close: Obama has continued the Bush policies. He most certainly did.
“…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) brought the same joys to the
people of that area…”
William Blum, above
Economist Dean Baker has clarified the bare bones of NAFTA (and similar trade
agreements) in his book PLUNDER AND BLUNDER, 2009, pp. 15-16
“Trade agreements…also contributed to the upward redistribution
of income. NAFTA… and other pacts were explicitly designed to put
US manufacturing workers in direct competition with low-paid workers
in the developing world. In effect, NAFTA helped transfer US
manufacturing to Mexico…put a downward pressure on the earnings
of American workers…”
—-Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA