Summit Daily letters: Will cutting U.S. aid to Central America stop the caravan?
October 25, 2018
Will cutting U.S. aid to Central America stop the caravan?
In an Oct. 23 interview on Democracy Now, a teacher from Honduras, traveling in the caravan through Mexico hoping to reach the U.S. border, gave a definitive answer of "no" to this question. In the process of answering, he gave two clear and concise explanations that have sadly been missing from most discussions and debates on the caravan issue here in the U.S.
The first observation from this young man addressed the basic question of why people are desperate enough to leave their families and countries, depart on such a journey and risk being denied entry even if they make it to the border of the U.S. He said that what we are seeing is the logical result of U.S. policies in Honduras since the 2009 coup. Here is a brief reminder of events:
On June 28, 2009, the democratically elected president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, was ousted in a coup. President Obama, after initial condemnation of the coup, followed the advice of his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and recognized the November 2009 disputed election of Porfirio Lobo Sosa as president of Honduras. This ushered in an era of violence, repression and poverty that continues to the present day, with the United States' continued support for right wing, autocratic and corrupt leaders, including the current president Juan Orlando Hernandez.
The second observation from the Honduran teacher came in the form of a question to the American people, following President Trump's threat to cut off aid to the countries of Central America represented in the caravan. His question was: "What support does Trump give to Honduras?" On paper, U.S. foreign aid to Honduras is earmarked for security and economic assistance. In reality though, often invoking the failed war on drugs, most of the aid has been used for purchasing weapons, to militarize the country and for people in the government to build their own power. The teacher ends with the statement: "Trump doesn't know how we have suffered."
The history of U.S. policies in El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua, and the foreign aid the U.S. has given these countries, follow similar threads to the above observations of the Honduran teacher, and we should not be surprised that there are people from all these countries in the march of hope for better lives.
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