Kamala Harris has been criticized for her message to the people of Guatemala to avoid immigration to the United States. “Do not come,” she said. “I believe if you come to our border, you will be turned back.” Of course, the statement is callous, but it will do nothing to deter immigration. What matters is the policy of the Biden administration that is behind that statement. And this policy is unsurprisingly similar to that of the Trump and Obama Administrations: they will send Homeland Security officers to Guatemala to train local officials, so they can police the Guatemalan population and stop people from fleeing their home country.
Kamala Harris understands why so many people are immigrating into the United States. She said: “Most people don’t want to leave the place they grew up… And when they do leave it usually has to do with two reasons: Either they are fleeing some harm or they simply cannot satisfy their basic needs.” At least she acknowledges that the poverty in Latin America is the root cause of immigration. However, the proposed solution to that poverty is the standard capitalist one: The Biden administration plans to “invest $48 million in entrepreneurship programs, affordable housing and agricultural businesses in Guatemala, part of a four-year, $4 billion plan to invest in the region. Ms. Harris last month touted commitments from a dozen private companies, including Mastercard and Microsoft, to develop the economy in Central America.”
Opening the doors for huge corporations to further exploit the people of Guatemala is just an extension of the same policy that caused all this poverty in the first place. Since the U.S. annexed Texas from Mexico in 1845, the U.S. capitalists have been the real rulers of Latin America. Between 1898 and 1934, the U.S. has used its military power to ensure that companies like United Fruit are the effective government of Guatemala, El Salvador, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Jamaica and Costa Rica (hence the racist term “banana republic”). Today, U.S. capitalists dominate all of Latin America.
In Guatemala, after decades of slaving for United Fruit, the workers and farmers made a revolution (1944-1954) to shake off the super-exploitation of U.S. corporations. Fearing the loss of profits for the capitalists he represented, President Eisenhower ordered the CIA and U.S. military to intervene. After a naval blockade and bombing of the capital, the democratically elected government was overthrown, causing a civil war that lasted until 1996. The rule of U.S. corporations was restored at the cost of over 100,000 lives. The same story was repeated with some variations in the other countries of Central and South America, causing millions of deaths, torture and terror to this day.
As Harris admitted, the immigration from Latin America is a result of poverty. What she forgot to mention is that this poverty was imposed in the most violent way by the capitalists who rule the United States. The Biden administration’s “solution” is to tighten border control and extend the tentacles of U.S. corporations further into the countries they have been preying on for over a century. We know what the result will be, because we have seen this solution play out for generations.