Advertise
Free Compliments of our Advertisers
Sonoma County Gazette
Deadlines
Subscribe
Menu
Migrant at the border wall
© Tomas Castelazo, www.tomascastelazo.com / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

OPINION: A Historical Perspective
on The Border Mess

Aug 3, 2018

Share:

By Steve Fowler

It’s the last weekend in June and women in the U.S.A. are protesting with all their might against the separation of children from families seeking asylum at our southern border. Compassionate men, including myself, are joining in the protest. Congress seems completely unable to agree on any immigration policy, but one judge has stepped up to order the practice of separation to stop and for re-unification of families to be accomplished swiftly. Let’s look in the rearview mirror and see what ghosts are haunting this brutal spectacle.

Have we all conveniently forgotten that U.S. corporations, working through the U.S. government and the C.I.A., have been mucking about in Latin America for a very long time, usually with the aim of dispossessing the native farm communities and seizing their land for monocropping of bananas, coffee, sugar cane and so on? This was accomplished through proxy armies, raised by local strongmen and trained in the U.S. at The School of the Americas. The surge of imperialism came to a fever pitch during the Reagan years with the U.S. sanctioned ‘dirty wars’ in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. Much was hidden from the American people by such clumsy devices as selling arms to Iran to finance the Contra army. These Central American countries have been so destabilized as a result that they are no longer safe for tourism, much less for the poor, forced off of their land to scuffle for work somehow. Criminal enterprises have sprung up to fill the gaps left in the social fabric, using weapons no doubt left over from the ‘dirty wars’. Now these chickens have come home to roost at our southern border.

I met my first Central American refugee in 1991 when I picked him up hitch-hiking. Carlos was an educated teacher whose father had been in the coffee business in El Salvador. His mother, wife and children were stranded in a Mexican convent while he tried to bring them across the border legally. He had traveled all the way to Canada seeking asylum because his father and brother had both been killed for ‘resisting the army’. Carlos described life at the university in San Salvador: soldiers came and ordered the entire student body to lie face down in a courtyard, then fired their rifles to see who would soil their pants. Carlos lived with me for a year before mysteriously disappearing.

Looking further back in the rearview mirror, I see Fascist Spain in the 1940’s and 50’s. I have been reading “The Spanish Civil War, A Very Short Introduction” written by Helen Graham, a professor of Spanish history (University of London). Professor Graham points out that the Spanish civil war grew out of a clash of cultures: .. “rural against urban, tradition against modernity, fixed social hierarchy against more fluid, egalitarian modes of politics”. The Catholic church also felt threatened and backed Francisco Franco’s attack on a legitimately elected socialist government. Sounds like our present internal conflict, if you substitute evangelical Christianity for the Catholic church. Because of military support from German and Italian fascist governments- and a conspicuous lack of support for the Republican Army by France, England and the U.S.- Franco prevailed.

“Like the Nazi new order of which it aspired to be a part, Francoist Spain too was to be constructed as a monolithic community by means of the brutal exclusion of specific categories of people” ..(pg. 129) The insane dream of racial purity was at play here, as well as retribution against those who had fought in or supported the Republican resistance. Professor Graham goes on to say: “Among the other victims of the Francoist worldview were the ‘lost children’. These were the babies and young children who, after being removed from their imprisoned mothers, had their names changed so they could be adopted by regime families. Many thousands of working-class children were also sent to state institutions.” (pg. 130)

Now let us wonder out loud: who today are the families being selected to foster parent these separated children harvested at our border? Who is profiting from the warehousing of the children not sent into foster care? (Bethany Christian Services at $700 a day per child, for one). Is this a trial balloon to see what the American people will tolerate? Is it related to the private prisons filled with young black men convicted of minor crimes while still of school age? Why are border officials destroying documents so that they cannot match separated children to deported parents? Is something more sinister going on?

Ignorant corporate huckster Ronald Reagan is being idolized by conservatives, while the victims of our proxy wars in Central America are being called “animals, rapists and criminals”.

I think these terrorized people need more than asylum. They deserve reparations.


Steve Fowler has volunteered at Ragle Park Peace Site since 1987

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I met my first Central American refugee in 1991 when I picked him up hitch-hiking. Carlos was an educated teacher whose father had been in the coffee business in El Salvador. His mother, wife and children were stranded in a Mexican convent while he tried to bring them across the border legally. He had traveled all the way to Canada seeking asylum because his father and brother had both been killed for ‘resisting the army’. Carlos described life at the university in San Salvador: soldiers came and ordered the entire student body to lie face down in a courtyard, then fired their rifles to see who would soil their pants. Carlos lived with me for a year before mysteriously disappearing.

Looking further back in the rear view mirror, I see Fascist Spain in the 1940’s and 50’s. I have been reading “The Spanish Civil War, A Very Short Introduction” written by Helen Graham, a professor of Spanish history (University of London). Professor Graham points out that the Spanish civil war grew out of a clash of cultures: .. “rural against urban, tradition against modernity, fixed social hierarchy against more fluid, egalitarian modes of politics”. The Catholic church also felt threatened and backed Francisco Franco’s attack on a legitimately elected socialist government. Sounds like our present internal conflict, if you substitute evangelical Christianity for the Catholic church. Because of military support from German and Italian fascist governments- and a conspicuous lack of support for the Republican Army by France, England and the U.S.- Franco prevailed.

“Like the Nazi new order of which it aspired to be a part, Francoist Spain too was to be constructed as a monolithic community by means of the brutal exclusion of specific categories of people” ..(pg. 129) The insane dream of racial purity was at play here, as well as retribution against those who had fought in or supported the Republican resistance. Professor Graham goes on to say: “Among the other victims of the Francoist world view were the ‘lost children’. These were the babies and young children who, after being removed from their imprisoned mothers, had their names changed so they could be adopted by regime families. Many thousands of working class children were also sent to state institutions.” (pg. 130)

Now let us wonder out loud: who today are the families being selected to foster parent these separated children harvested at our border? Who is profiting from the ware-housing of the children not sent into foster care? (Bethany Christian Services at $700 a day per child, for one). Is this a trial balloon to see what the American people will tolerate? Is it related to the private prisons filled with young black men convicted of minor crimes while still of school age? Why are border officials destroying documents so that they cannot match separated children to deported parents? Is something more sinister going on?

Ignorant corporate huckster Ronald Reagan is being idolized by conservatives, while the victims of our proxy wars in Central America are being called “animals, rapists and criminals”. I think these terrorized people need more than asylum. They deserve reparations.

Steve Fowler has volunteered at Ragle Park Peace Site since 1987

Comments:


Login to Make a Comment

Please support our sponsors:

Your Pets Market in Sebastopol and Cotati, Sonoma County, CA
Order Bees Now from BeeKind
http://online.flipbuilder.com/opcf/gqtx/#p=1

Your GUIDE to support locally-owned garden businesses and natural landscaping practices.

Fine Tree Care - Sonoma County Tree Services

Visit Fine Tree Care WEBSITE for a List of our SERVICES - Testimonials and to request a FREE Estimate

Locally-Owned Jewelry Businesses in Sonoma County

Find Goldsmiths and Jewelers who create custom designs, offer jewelry repair, estate appraisals, and gems.

Flower Shops and Florists of Sonoma County

Please support locally-owned businesses and tell them the Gazette sent you - THANK YOU!