Central American Exodus: U.S. Imperialism Is Responsible for the Forced Migration!
Joint Declaration by Socialist Organizer (United States) and CORCI México
Since October 13, a caravan of approximately 7,000 people, mostly from Honduras, has been heading to the United States, fleeing poverty and violence. On their journey to seek asylum in the U.S., they must cross through Mexican territory. Trump has threatened to militarize the U.S.-Mexico border and shut it down if the Mexican government does not stop the caravan.
The Mexican government of Enrique Peña Nieto — a faithful U.S. lackey — has offered Trump its assistance in the repression of hundreds of people on the border with Guatemala. The images that have traveled around the world show police firing tear gas on a crowd trapped on a bridge over the Suchiate River. Women and men carrying babies are seen fleeing from the blows of police batons. The eyes of young girls are inflamed from the effects of the tear gas. Men are seen jumping desperately into the river. According to Honduran sources, a 7-month-old baby died in his mother’s arms from tear-gas suffocation.
This was a planned and pre-meditated operation, not a desperate response, as the Mexican government and media have insisted, to acts of aggression by the migrants. Residents of Ciudad Hidalgo (on Mexico’s southern border) reported that days earlier the military and immigration authorities had ordered them not to cross people by boat from Guatemala, a place where thousands cross daily, without any formalities, to buy goods in Mexico.
Displaying total contempt for human life, the Mexican government orchestrated this bloody repression on behalf of Trump to generate fear and discourage the Migrant Caravan from moving forward toward the United States. Peña Nieto’s actions were true to form; in the past he committed similar crimes in Atenco, Ayotzinapa, and Nochixtlan — crimes for which he must be tried and convicted.
For his part, Trump is manipulating this Migrant Caravan for his own domestic purposes, sowing fears of an “invasion from the South” that includes “Middle Eastern terrorists” — a claim that is totally unsubstantiated. And nor is this the first Migrant Caravan; for some years now, migrants have chosen to travel together, en masse, to reduce the risk of being robbed, harassed, kidnapped, murdered or enslaved by the Mexican police and drug cartels. Mid-term elections are approaching in the U.S., and Trump faces the possibility of losing a majority in the House of Representatives. Promoting fear of this Migrant Caravan is part of Trump’s election strategy, as he seeks to shore up his conservative, racist, and reactionary base.
What Is Behind this Mass Migration?
The social and political decomposition that we are witnessing the world over is sharper in the case of Central America as a result of the continued interventionist policies of U.S. imperialism, which considers this region to be its “backyard.” The forms of U.S. intervention are many: U.S.-funded wars and military interventions, coups d’état, “free trade” agreements (which are another form of warfare against workers and oppressed peoples), plundering of resources, dismantling of national economies, violations of the sovereignty of the peoples. This is what has caused hundreds of thousands of people to leave their places of origin to seek a better future in the United States, putting their lives at risk in the process. Among those fleeing and seeking asylum in the U.S. are hundreds of LGBTQ+ activists who have been targets of particularly brutal repression by the cartels and the reactionary regimes in their countries.
These are the main causes of the forced migration.
The Honduras Migrant Caravan also reminds us that in Mexico hundreds of thousands of people face a similar situation in their communities. All that remains in states like Zacatecas, Oaxaca, Michoacán, and Puebla are ghost towns; the massive migration of men and young women has left behind only the elderly and the children.
Mexicans and Central Americans living in the U.S. are part of the working class of that country. They are among the most exploited and oppressed sectors, given that millions of them are vulnerable because of their undocumented status. Without them and without the money they send back home in remittances, the economies of their countries of origin would collapse. In the case of Mexico, remittances from the United States are second only to oil imports in terms of foreign-exchange earnings.
Much of this massive exodus is due to the destructive policy of the countryside implemented under the “free trade” agreements for more than 20 years. This has now been aggravated by the lack of access to basic public services, the lack of opportunities for education and employment, and the violence caused by organized crime, all producing a situation that is rendered even worse by the hardening of U.S. immigration policy and the attempt to extend the Wall of Shame over the entire U.S-Mexican border.
The Crisis in Honduras: The Responsibility of the U.S. Government
The humanitarian and social crisis from which the thousands of Migrant Caravan participants are fleeing is also rooted in the coup d’état sponsored by the U.S. Embassy against democratically elected Honduran President Manuel Zelaya in 2009. Zelaya was deposed after he raised the call to convene a Constituent Assembly that would modify the Honduran Constitution and reverse the privatization policies of previous governments. Since that date, all governments in Honduras are illegitimate; all defend the interests of foreign corporations and are plunging the population into abject poverty.
The stark violence that is now the norm throughout Central America — with the widespread trafficking of arms, drugs, and humans — has its origin in the U.S. interventions against the popular revolutions in Nicaragua and El Salvador during the 1970s and ’80s. Right-wing forces, known as the contras, carried out counter-insurgency tactics against the civilian population, all learned at the School of the Americas in the United States, that included physical and psychological torture. All were funded by the U.S. government, with supplemental funding from gun- and drug-running. This is what gave rise to the current armed groups that generate violence throughout the continent, such as the mara salvatrucha or the zetas in Mexico.
The main cause of the crisis, however, is the economic dependence of the Central American peoples. Their economies are structurally tied to single crops, and their lands are controlled by large transnational corporations such as United Brands Corp. (formerly known as United Fruit Corp.), which puts governments in power and removes them at whim, impeding any kind of national development and preventing any agrarian reform programs.
The Haitian people are a concrete example of this, as Berthony Dupont, editor of Haiti-Liberté points out in a message to Jeunesse Révolution (Revolution Youth) in France:
“Haiti’s wealth has been looted, and when necessary, coups d’état are carried out by country-selling agents of imperialism.
“Haiti was a self-sufficient country in rice. Its rice production was sabotaged, reduced to nothing as a result of an economic war orchestrated by former U.S. President Bill Clinton. The Haitian market has been flooded with U.S. rice, destroying the domestic production and the social existence of hundreds of thousands of farmers. The situation facing thousands of Haitians in the Mexican border city of Tijuana, where they are trapped, is alarming. They live in sub-human conditions, without rights and without jobs, or with only poorly paid jobs.
“It is the same fate that awaits the Venezuelan people, who have been starved by imperialist embargos and economic sabotage as a means to overthrow the legitimate, popular and progressive government of Nicolas Maduro. And what can you say about the Cuban Revolution, which has been under U.S. imperialist siege since Day One, strangled by an economic embargo organized solely for the purpose of regime change?”
We Call for International Solidarity
It should be pointed out that all this looting and privatizing is being carried out under the aegis of CAFTA-DR — that is, the “free trade” agreement of Central America and the Dominican Republic — which was signed in 2006. U.S. imperialism and its puppet governments are responsible for the devastation wrought by this agreement, as was exposed during the 1st Session of the Binational Conference Against NAFTA and the Wall of Shame, held in Carson, California, in December 2017.
This is why the unity of the working class throughout the Americas — in particular of Central America, Mexico and the United States — is needed urgently to push back and defeat these policies of destruction of our peoples.
The U.S. working class shares the same oppressors as the migrants and refugees fleeing their homelands. The same capitalists that de-industrialized the United States, sucking the life out of the U.S. working class, are the same capitalists that installed sweatshops south of the border, destroyed the national economies, and massacred indigenous communities for their resources.
We reject all attempts to further divisions sowed through racism, Islamophobia, homophobia, or transphobia that would break our solidarity. Labor unions today are already standing in solidarity with the tepesianos — that is, the Temporary Protective Status (TPS) holders — some of whom are also fighting for their right to unionize. The Working Families United is a labor-coalition working on saving TPS and on immigrant justice. The coalition includes the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, UNITE HERE, the Ironworkers, and the International Union of Bricklayers, and Allied Craftworks. The coalition represents 2 million U.S. workers.
Workers the world over have the same problems. We suffer the same exploitation and injustice. The borders are artificial; no human being is illegal. Those responsible for violence and poverty are not the workers, but their exploiters. It is necessary to respect the sovereignty and democracy of the peoples. We call on workers, women and youth to show concrete solidarity with the Migrant Caravan and to demand that the U.S. government open its doors to them. We call for active opposition to any attempt by the Mexican government to again repress the Migrant Caravan.
– Solidarity of the Mexican and U.S. workers and people with the Migrant Caravan!
– No militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border!
– Down with the Mexican government’s collaboration with Trump’s inhumane and humiliating immigration policy!
– Tear down the Wall of Shame along the U.S.-Mexico border!
– Open the U.S. borders to the Migrant Caravan!
– Repeal CAFTA and defeat the USMCA!