Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Central American refugee children: Victims of U.S. intervention in Central America | Fight Back!

Jacksonville, FL - In the past year, over 50,000 refugee children have fled from Central American countries and crossed the U.S. border. While many have been released to their families and other caregivers, thousands remain locked up in mass detention centers. Much of the media coverage carries the familiar anti-immigrant slant, blaming the parents and even the children for imagining the U.S. to have pro-immigration policies. This tendency to blame immigrants parallels the longstanding trend of blaming formerly colonized countries for internal violence, and it omits the role of U.S. and European colonialism and imperialism in originating it. It erases the history of Central America and it distorts the nature of mass migration.

For over a century, the U.S. has exerted dominance over the region, both military and economic. The land for growing raw goods is often owned by U.S. transnational corporations, which ship the goods out of the country and keep the profits for themselves. In Honduras in the early 1900s, the private army owned by the United Fruit Company (UFC), today known as the U.S.-owned Chiquita banana company, led a coup and established General Manuel Bonilla as president. The U.S. also supported a right-wing dictatorship in Guatemala, one that secured land for the UFC rather than Guatemalan farmers. When Guatemalan Presidents Juan Jose Arévalo and Jacobo Árbenz began challenging the UFC’s control of the nation’s land, the CIA led a coup in 1954 to reassert U.S. control over the country’s resources. In 2001, El Salvador, which has a coffee export-based economy, and its then-right-wing government changed their national currency to the U.S. dollar, leading skyrocketing costs for basic goods and greatly aiding U.S. businesses, while leaving Salvadorans impoverished.

After decades under these violent U.S.-backed dictatorships, and then the successful example of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, Central American struggles for liberation gained unprecedented momentum. However, so did U.S. repression. One example is El Salvador, where new mass movements and revolutionary organizations such as the FMLN sprouted up in the 1970s and 80s. To repress such groups, the U.S. funded and trained a vicious right-wing junta in El Salvador, which forced boys the age of 12 and above into the army. Death squads were formed at the U.S. School of the Americas. They massacred and even extinguished small towns like El Mozote. The U.S.-backed right-wing government of Guatemala also repressed their people, with a brutal emphasis on mass killings of the Mayan people. Even today, Guatemalan military officials are being charged with war crimes and genocide of indigenous peoples. There were over 200,000 known deaths in Guatemala and over 70,000 known deaths in El Salvador in the late 20th century, the vast majority killed by U.S.-backed forces, with countless more listed as “disappeared.”

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