U.S. Politics and the Economy

Central American Child Refugees

What corporate media and corporate Latino politicians won’t tell you

By Bruce A. Dixon

Five-and-a-half years into the Obama era, some of his African American supporters finally admit Black voters didn’t get much of substance for their nearly unanimous support of the First Black President. Of course the Black political class does its level best to blame everything on evil racist Republicans who don’t even like what the president had for breakfast. In a shameful flip on the notion that Black faces in high places should represent us in the halls of power, our Black political cognoscenti relentlessly belittle any expectation that the lives of real people down here on the ground ought to improve behind the election of the first Black president as unsophisticated and unrealistic. Meanwhile Black family wealth continues to fall, Black unemployment and mass incarceration remain about the same, and our Black political class continues their glittering careers.  It could be worse. At least the First Black President hasn’t deported two million of us.

Latino voters and the Latino political class supported the career of Barack Obama almost as solidly as Blacks. They were promised much more than African Americans, but in the end got much less.  They were promised that the unjust immigration system would be fixed and a road to citizenship created for the millions of undocumented living among us. What Latino voters and the Latino political class got in return for their support of Obama was two million deportations, hundreds-of-thousands of families brutally separated and scattered by law, not entirely unlike Black families in this country once were.

Just like the Black faces in high places, the Latino political class doesn’t represent its people to or within the system, they are actually one of the faces the capitalist system presents to the Latino community. So it has fallen to the Latino political class to defend the president, who by now has deported more people than any president before him, and to defend the U.S. Empire by obfuscating the reasons those child refugees are here in the first place.

Establishment Latino politicians like Chicago congressman Luis Gutierrez blame the Republicans as usual, for not allowing a vote on an immigration bill, and for being heartless, evil racists in general, and ask that the president do something generous and humane. But he won’t. It is true that racist Republicans are clamoring for the children to be instantly deported, despite U.S. law which says children from countries not bordering the U.S. are entitled to individual hearings before immigration judges. Even though speedy deportation is illegal, and Republicans don’t have the power to make the president do it, Obama has already begun deporting children without the hearings the law prescribes. How they’ll manage to blame this on Republicans is a mystery.

What neither corporate media nor U.S. Latino politicians will point out is that none of the current wave of refugees are coming from Nicaragua, although it has a similar history to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, and its just as poor. Why? According to NicaNet.Org, a project of the Nicaragua Solidary Committee:

“...Nicaragua’s homicide rate dropped to 8.7 per 100,000 inhabitants. Honduras, with 92 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, has the highest murder rate in the world. El Salvador has 69, Guatemala 39, Panama 14.9 and Costa Rica 10.3 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants...

“The problem of the children migrants is blowback from U.S. policy in the 1980s when our government trained and funded Salvadoran and Guatemalan military and police to prevent popular revolutions and more recently when the U.S. supported the coup against President Manuel Zelaya in Honduras. Those countries were left with brutal, corrupt armies and police forces whereas Nicaragua, with its successful 1979 revolution, got rid of Somoza’s brutal National Guard and formed a new army and a new police made up of upstanding citizens.

“Who consumes all those drugs that are causing all that violence and corruption in Latin America? Who has militarized the Drug War and is funding and training repressive militaries and police in the countries from which the children are fleeing? In both cases it is the United States.”

The ferocious Central American gangs we hear so much about are integral to the U.S.-oriented drug traffic. Nicaragua isn’t part of the U.S.-oriented drug trade because it threw off U.S. rule with a revolution in 1979. In the Reagan era the U.S. fought a bloody contra war to overthrow the Nicaraguan government and bring the country under control of its puppets, but despite tens-of-thousands dead, the Nicaraguan people prevailed. Having done so, they can implement real community policing, reduce crime and provide real security to their people in ways neighboring countries can only dream of. Nicaragua’s homicide rate is a third that of Mexico, and its socialist government is free to provide low-cost healthcare, education, food security, democracy and hope to its people. Hence Nicaraguans are not interested in smuggling themselves north. You’d think Latino politicians would be eager to acquaint a larger U.S. public with these facts, backed up as they are by irrefutable UN statistics.

But like the Black political class, they owe allegiance to the system, the empire that gave them their careers, not the Latino communities they ostensibly represent. So U.S. Latino politicians, aspirants and most affiliated nonprofits don’t dare explain this to their own communities, some of whom know it already, or to the larger American public, which mostly does not.

As long as a Black Democrat is in the White House, neither corporate media nor U.S. Latino politicians will even call these refugees “refugees” even though that’s what they plainly are, refugees from North America’s drug wars, military coups, neoliberal economics and death squads. Refugees however, have certain rights under treaties and international law. They wouldn’t want the president’s hands, especially their president’s hands tied by actually having to follow the law. And no matter who is president, meaningfully questioning the empire is rarely a good career move.

It’s often observed that African Americans and Latinos in this country have a lot in common. Sometimes that is not good news, not at all.

Black Agenda Report, July 16, 2014