Pages

The Discovery of Central American Suffering

Do CounterPunch, 10 de Julho, 2018


Photo by Jonathan McIntosh | CC BY 2.0

U.S. pundits and politicians just discovered, it seems, that Washington’s decisions harm Central American families. For the New York Times, “separating families…is something new and malicious,” reflecting Trump’s “heartlessness” and violating “fundamental American values.” “This, apparently, is how you turn off the idea of America,” Alex Wagner (The Atlantic) added. The Los Angeles Timesthinks “the administration’s cold-hearted approach to enforcement has crossed the line into abject inhumanity,” departing– so we’re to believe– from past practice.

These are half-accurate charges: Trump’s policy is malicious, heartless, cold-hearted. But it isn’t new. Both in Central America and along its Mexican border, Washington has helped rip apart families for decades, forcing children to endure a world without their parents, mothers to cope with their children’s sickening ends. Abject inhumanity, in other words, is a U.S. foreign policy hallmark.

Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras– review their histories. You’ll be crushed by evidence revealing which values shape Washington’s conduct, which norms govern its behavior in a region where it enjoys immense influence. And you’ll begin to understand why many had to flee these countries. Start with Guatemala. Ríos Montt, the dictator the U.S. funded, armed, and encouraged, oversaw the Mayan genocide there. In one episode, on April 3, 1982, the Guatemalan army overran the village of Chel, slaughtering its residents and orphaning Pedro Pacheco Bop, whose great-grandfather, parents, and five siblings (aged two to 14) were all murdered, their blood draining into the Chel River where the troops hurled the dead. Tomas Chávez Brito was two years old when the army fell upon his village, Sajsibán, seven months later, torching his home with his mother, sisters, and other family members inside. In the mountains, where Tomas hid for the following year eating plants to survive, one can only imagine how the idea of orphanhood, his new reality, settled in his mind. Margarita Rivera Ceto de Guzmán’s family separation was quicker. Soldiers knifed her in the stomach, killing her unborn child.

Egla Martínez Salazar, addressing this genocide, explains that assaults on Maya households conveyed “the message that Mayas did not live in ‘real’ families, but rather in ‘living arrangements’ that constituted breeding spaces for ‘international communist indoctrination.’” Erasing these spaces required “the mass murder of children,” plus “the forced transfer of surviving Maya children to military and paramilitary families,” tactics Salvadoran forces also adopted in the 1980s. Apart from killing most of the 75,000 slain there from 1980-1992– the stretch when Carter, Reagan, and Bush I funneled $6 billion into the country– “soldiers [also] abducted children in what an international court says was a ‘systematic pattern of forced disappearances.’”

Similar violence-patterns afflicted Nicaragua and Honduras. The Contras flaunted their family-destroying talents in the former, as when some 1,000 of them, on April 3, 1984, assaulted the village of Waslala. A father there, desperate to save his wife and children, sheltered with them in a ditch. The Contras found him, hauled him out. He was “tortured by having his fingertips and then his right hand cut off, and then killed with bayonets,” and then decapitated, Reed Brody recounts. As a final gesture to their mission’s purity, the Contras, into the dead man’s back, cut intersecting gashes– the shape of the cross. Brody tells another story: in “El Achote a band of contras dragged an agrarian reform worker from his home, and in front of his wife, 11 month old son, and three year old son, cut him into pieces with their bayonets. The man’s wife was then shot, but she lived to watch them behead her 11 month old baby.”

It was Battalion 316 that targeted Honduran families. The Baltimore Sun reported that the unit, “trained and supported by the Central Intelligence Agency,” “kidnapped, tortured and killed” hundreds in the 1980s. One example: Nelson Mackay Chavarría “was 37 years old and the father of five” when the Battalion found him. When searchers later discovered his corpse, “his hands and feet were tied with rope” and “black liquid spilled from his mouth”– criolina, “rubbed on cattle to kill ticks and mites.”

In more recent decades, the U.S. government has forged the Mexican border into a family-wrecking zone. President Clinton’s Operation Gatekeeper, for instance, “only made it harder for people to cross the border at relatively safe places and forced them to cross in more dangerous places, such as the Arizona desert,” writes Carolina Bank Muñoz. She stresses that “the policy broke up families, as few families were willing to take such risks by crossing a dangerous border together.” Maggie Morgan and Deborah Anker, citing ACLU work, note that “the risk of dying while crossing in Arizona was 17 times greater in 2009 than only a decade earlier”– and that “the mortality rate almost doubled” from 2009-2012, on Obama’s watch, “with children constituting roughly 10 per cent of fatalities each year.” Todd Miller estimates these “Southwest ‘killing fields’” have taken some 21,000 lives since the early 1990s.

There’s no question Trump’s migrant policies warrant outrage. But his are only the latest from Washington rattling– if not terminating– Central American lives. If we delude ourselves, if we choose to believe his actions depart from some moral norm, we risk satisfaction with superficial policy shifts. A deeper overhaul is needed to ensure Central American suffering ceases.
Join the debate on Facebook

More articles by:NICK ALEXANDROV


Nick Alexandrov lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He can be reached at: nicholas.alexandrov@gmail.com


July 10, 2018
NICK ALEXANDROV

The Discovery of Central American Suffering
JONATHAN COOK

By Razing Khan al-Ahmar, Israel will Bulldoze Illusions of Peace Process
SHELDON RICHMAN

The Trump-Kushner Delusion on Palestine
JOYCE MCCRACKEN

Barricades, Businesses and Storylines in Nicaragua
PATRICK COCKBURN

When ISIS is Gone, Iraq Will Remain a Deeply Corrupt Country
TED RALL

“Thin Grey Line” — How the Media Stifles Coverage of Libel Cases
CJ HOPKINS

Hardcore Hitler on Hitler in Helsinki
MANUEL E. YEPE

Mexico Returns to Its Place in the Vanguard
MANUEL GARCÍA, JR.

How Will the Inequality Balloon Bust?
DAN CORJESCU

Axiom of Uncertainty
LAWRENCE WITTNER

Has Democratic Socialism a Future in American Politics?
STEVE EARLY

A Call Center Coup: Ex-Teamster Boots Riley Tackles Telemarketing and Its Discontents
COLIN TODHUNTER

Agrarian Crisis and Climate Catastrophe: Forged in India, Made in Washington
BINOY KAMPMARK

Keeping Your Refugees: Macron, Francafrique and Euro-African Relations
July 09, 2018
JOHN PILGER

The Hidden History of the Women Who Rose Up
DAVID CORREIA

Abolish ICE, But Don’t Stop There
RS AHTHION

The Sordid History of Infant Formula and Trump’s Attempt To Bully, Blackmail & Threaten Third World Countries
RICHARD E. RUBENSTEIN

How to Pack the Supreme Court
DAVID KRIEGER

The Prospects for De-Nuclearization
ROBERT FISK

With Serbia and Kosovo Both Vying for EU Membership, the Question Remains: Who Won the War?
TOM CROFTON

Scott Pruitt Resigns, So What?
JOE EMERSBERGER

The Persecution of Rafael Correa
JOHN DAVIS

Remembrance of Past Fourths
LAURA FLANDERS

Jeff Sessions Sets Back the Clock
ROBERT KOEHLER

Womp, Womp, Racism in a Cage
LAURA FINLEY

Victim Status and the Political Right
GARY LEUPP

The Millstone around Trump’s Neck?
MEL GURTOV

At Home and Abroad, Trump Abandons Human Rights
THOMAS KNAPP

President Trump, Please Free Ross Ulbricht
DEAN BAKER

Does the US Have Any Leverage on China?
Weekend Edition
July 06, 2018
Friday - Sunday
NICK PEMBERTON

America on Thin ICE
SUSAN BABBITT

90 Years After the Birth of Che Guevara
ANDREW LEVINE

Incivility Now!
JEFFREY ST. CLAIR

Roaming Charges: America, Unchecked and Unbalanced
PETE DOLACK

World Bank Solution for Lack of Jobs: Cut Worker Protections
BRIAN CLOUGHLEY

The Trump-Putin, Peace, Trade and Friendship Meeting
JOHN W. WHITEHEAD

The Constitution is Not Neutral
JEREMY KUZMAROV

Congo’s Imposter President and the Moral Depravity of the West
CELINA STIEN-DELLA CROCE

Understanding the Conflict in Nicaragua: the Long Battle Against US Imperialism
GLENN SACKS

A Teacher Explains Why the Janus Ruling is Bad News for Schools, Students

Nenhum comentário:

Postar um comentário