At Trump’s rallies to build support for Republican candidates, he used images of men, women and children fleeing life-and-death situations to build fear and hatred. He refers to the people in the “March of the Migrant” as “criminals.” Trump claims they threaten the U.S. with an “invasion”! He has called for 5,200 active-duty troops to be sent to the U.S.–Mexico border to assist the Border Patrol. That is the same number of U.S. troops in Iraq.
The caravan of several thousand Central American refugees is a desperate journey for survival. People are walking and sometimes riding on trucks to the U.S.-Mexico border, more than 1000 miles away, to apply for asylum. They are fleeing their home countries where they face brutal governments, crippling poverty and threats from gangs. Farmers are driven from their lands by years of drought that makes farming impossible. Traveling in caravans is a way to provide some security against the gangs that attack people making this journey, often robbing, raping, kidnapping or killing them.
This caravan began in Honduras where more than 66% of the population lives in poverty; 20% of the people live in extreme poverty on less than $1.90 per day. In the poorest areas, 49% of the people suffer from malnutrition and 34% of the children have stunted development. Over 15% of the population is unemployed. Honduras has one of the highest murder rates in the world, with the violence of criminal gangs and corrupt governments, police and military forces.
This caravan started in Honduras with about 150 people. As news of the caravan spread it attracted people from the nearby countries of Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala. More than half of those in the March of the Migrant are women and young girls.
Trump calls these people criminals. They are not! The real criminals are those who are responsible for the horrific conditions of violence and poverty that people are fleeing. And it is the U.S. government along with U.S. corporations that are largely responsible with a long history of backing brutal regimes throughout Central America. The U.S. funds these dictatorships and trains their military forces. In 2009, the Obama administration supported a military coup that overthrew the democratically elected government of Manuel Zelaya in Honduras. The coup put in place the corrupt military dictatorship that governs today. These policies give U.S. manufacturing and agricultural corporations control over resources and provide them with low-paid workers, sucking the wealth out of Central America.
Trump’s attack on immigrants is nothing new. Under Obama, record numbers of people were deported. The last thing those who run this society want is for us to recognize that immigrants and native-born workers face a common enemy. Immigrants are fighting the poverty imposed on their countries by the big banks and corporations, backed by the U.S. government. Workers born in the U.S. face the same banks, corporations and politicians that are responsible for the destruction of our environment, the loss of our jobs, our rip-off healthcare, unaffordable housing, inadequate schools, our endless debt, and the violence that plagues our whole society.
Every human being deserves the right to a fulfilling life. What stands in our way are not other workers. What stands in our way is a system that operates at our expense to benefit the rich – a system of capitalism. All over the world a minority of people benefit from this arrangement. To keep their control they encourage divisions based on nationalism, racism, and other prejudices their system creates to make us regard each other with fear or envy. We can’t allow ourselves to be trapped by their lies. We have every reason to stand together. Collectively we make their system work for them, and together we have the ability to replace it with one that works for us.