Mr Trump is not wrong when he blames the Democrats for the Honduran “migrant caravan” currently schlepping through Mexico in dire need of aid. But not surprisingly his reasons for condemning the democrats are erroneous and ignorant. The anti-socialist, pro-military decisions made by Hilary Clinton during her violent reign as Secretary of State reverberate harder than ever in Honduras. The Obama Administration and Mrs Clinton turned a blind eye in the wake of the 2009 military coup when democratically-elected president Mel Zelaya was removed from office in his pajamas. The Democrats could not resist the convenient opportunity to let a conservative regime slide into power, ramp up the “War on Drugs,” and militarize this crucial geopolitical outpost of the drug trade. If the Obama Administration had accepted the fact that the coup was a coup, military aid would have had to be suspended and the plethora of US military bases in Honduras would have been jeopardized. Brimming with cocaine and M-16’s, makeshift submarines and speedboats make their first pitstop in Honduras. Light-aircraft land on secret airstrips in the Mosquitia jungle, the biggest biosphere of Central America. Clinton writes in her memoir “Hard Choices” that she opted to “render the question of [President] Zelaya moot.” Ignoring the coup unleashed the chain of events that has left Honduras in utter shambles, and the migrant caravan is the direct result of this. Sorry, there is no video of Clinton laughing wickedly about this foreign policy blooper, like she snickered about killing Gaddafi in an interview, but the facts show the blood on the hands of the Obama Administration as Honduras toted the title of murder capital of the world in 2012. The exorbitant amount of US tax dollars pumped into the “security” sector of Honduras’ far-right government has lead to tragedy and misery so severe it can hardly be fathomed from the safety net of the United States.
But, of course the Republicans and Democrats are longstanding partners in crime when it comes to Latin American regime change and interventionism. Another huge factor that has snowballed into this caravan headed north with no direction home, is the 1980’s deportation of made-in-the-USA gangs like mara salvatrucha (MS-13) and la mara 18 (the 18 Gang). We have the Reagan Administration to thank for deporting thousands of organized criminals to the overcrowded and insecure prisons of El Salvador (MS-13) and Honduras (mara 18). Seems crazy, but these gangs went from 18th street training grounds of crime and violence in the heart of Los Angeles to extorting shop owners who do not even own the red and white paint on the cinderblock house from which they sell Coca-Cola (free paint for free publicity). These gangs were shoo-ins for the smuggling business that supplies the nostrils of the #1 cocaine consumer of the world – the USA. Thus, these transnational gangs that cause nothing but grief are another factor at the core of this migration crisis.
Perhaps a brief anecdote will help explain one of the reasons these people are headed north. While riding on a minibus to the Caribbean port city of La Ceiba, Honduras in 2014, I experienced the nefarious aftermath of extortion. I overheard some chatter in the bus from the other passengers that someone was murdered, which no longer phased me given the number times I had gone through the same situation. I thought of the neighbors that had been shot down, some acquaintances, my homie Licho, and the other slain victims of the Honduran citizenry that adorned the front page of local and national news every day. I had become more or less desensitized to the weekly murders in Trujillo – accustomed to the violence, just like one is accustomed to waking up to a cup of coffee. As the packed mini-bus rolled closer to the Uno gas station at the first junction in La Ceiba, we could see commotion up ahead. A bus driver was splayed across the street, next to the mini-bus he presumably drove for years to support his family. His reason for death? The owner of the low-rate bus company didn’t pay extortion taxes, so motorcycle assassins made good on the mafia’s promise.
Along with a few other passengers, I got out of the bus to catch a taxi to the port called el Muelle de Cabotaje. The taxi driver recounted what he saw…the motorcyclists pulled up with covered faces, shot him in the head right through the window of the bus, and sped away. There’s no way to know for sure, but this homicide was just one more crime that would never see a judicial process and the culprits would never be brought to trial. Well, to be honest, the low-level henchmen that act as hitmen for gangs do not have a very long lifespan so maybe those particular motoratones (motorcycle rats) have already met their inevitable demise. In Honduras, killers act with impunity at all levels – from freelance assassins to jealous husbands, from the state police and military to the 18 Gang, from narcotics traffickers to the USA’s Drug Enforcement Administration. Yet, this cornucopia of violence that has developed in Honduras passes largely unnoticed and unaccounted for by the judicial system.
It has now been two and a half years since Berta Cáceres was assassinated in her own home in La Esperanza. This heinous crime was a heavy blow for indigenous land defenders and environmental activists everywhere, as Berta won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in 2015 for her work fighting the Agua Zarca dam. Her murder has still not been brought to justice, though one look at president Juan Orlando Hérnandez’s shit-eating grin explains why. For the very same reasons that Mel Zelaya was deposed in 2009, President Hernández (known as JOH) used his connections in Congress to amend the Honduran Constitution to extend the presidential term limit. Then one day after the election on 26 November 2017, JOH was losing to leftist candidate Salvador Nasralla by five points with 71% of the votes counted. JOH stalled the release of the results in order to buy time to blatantly rig the election, enforcing a curfew and escalating militarization which led to the death of dozens of protestors. Going against the will of Honduran voters who chose Nasralla, JOH magically recuperated six points and claimed victory on 16 December 2017. The United States continues to tune out vicious dictators as long as they conform with their interests, as JOH snips the last threads holding their democracy intact. The illegal amendment of the Honduran Constitution and the shameless rigging of the December 2017 election is yet another reason for the mass exodus from Honduras.
Mr Trump’s Halloween tweet outrageously juxtaposes cop-killer Luis Bracamonte with the 7,000+ people in various caravans, directly echoing previous polemic about immigrants. The bombastic threats to send up to 15,000 troops to the Mexican border put the caravan directly in Mr Trump’s psychotropic Twitter feed, posing them as invaders to be squashed by US troops. Even if Mr Trump has backed down from his comments that US soldiers would respond to rock throwing with gunfire, the fact that he said this remains. The Trump Administration’s habit of fictitiously rephrasing abhorrent comments does not veil the truth behind the consistent discourse of provocation and hatred. Don’t be fooled, this kind of rhetoric is nothing less than a “call to arms” for self-regulated militia groups like The Texas Minutemen. Polishing their AR-15’s in anticipation of the caravan, even military officials are worried about the prospect of vigilante groups organizing “in alleged support.” It is very, very unfortunate to have to point out that not only does Mr Trump put the caravan in the limelight to bolster fear of immigration, but he literally has them in the crosshairs of ICE, Border Patrol, and now the US Military.
Historical amnesia is one of the greatest flaws of the United States government and the broken two-party system. Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats seem to remember that actions, especially violent ones, have causal repercussions. Both parties actively refuse to learn from their military blunders and refuse to accept responsibility for their actions. These migrants are not leaving home because they want to, but because they have to. Abject poverty, the pangs of hunger, the threat of extortion, and losing a child to gang recruitment all hang heavy on the shoulders of these asylum seekers. They are not even really migrants, but refugees of a proxy war born and bred by the caustic ideology of United-Statesian imperialism. The US Army School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia shows a concerted, institutionalized effort to shape Latin America by training and equipping militaries, anti-communist insurgents, or death squads only to benefit US interests. There is no denying it – US interventionism in Latin America has had serious consequences. From Eisenhower’s coup of Guatemala in 1954 to Nixon’s CIA-led coup of Chile in 1973, from Reagan’s backing of terrorist groups like the Contras in Nicaragua in the 80’s to Obama’s negligence in the wake of the 2009 Honduran coup. The following map highlights US intervention in Latin America since 1950:
What Honduras needs is aid. You know, like the real kind of aid – food, water, medicine, shelter. Not the millions of dollars in military aid that the US government injects into JOH’s boiling blood every year, cementing in a stolen election and a military dictatorship. Guns, helicopters, and military training are not helping the status quo and very little of the “aid” that Mr Trump is threatening to cut off will ever trickle down to those that really need it. Of course, Mr Trump isn’t blaming the liberal wingnuts for the right reasons – “Democrats let (cop-killer Bracamonte) into our country.” While the US mass media has had the caravan in its spotlight for weeks now, Mr Trump pounces on the chance to disseminate more toxicity, like the napalm he dyes his hair with. Yes, the Honduran government is responsible for stoking the fire of this crisis – but it is bipartisan America that adds slow-burning logs and then douses a little gasoline on top. This is not really a migrant caravan – it is a refugee caravan.
Caminante no hay camino, se hace camino al andar.
Wayfarer there is no path, the path is made by walking.
– Antonio Machado
“Proverbios y cantares XXIX” Campos de Castilla (1912)