The Caravan that Defies Borders
by Elena Zeledon
San Jose, Costa Rica – The 8,000 poor people marching together through the states of Central America towards the United States, are another sign that the pillars of imperialist domination, already weakened by the blows of the global recession in 2008, are now shaken by the exploding social contradictions of this organic crisis.
The caravan participants, marching together as a precaution against attacks from both human traffickers (coyotes) and the drug gangs linked to the forces of state repression, are primarily from Honduras, the geographic keystone in the military and intelligence networks of US imperialism in Central America.
It was there that the mildly reformist liberal Mel Zelaya, the elected president, was expelled in a coup sponsored by the US intelligence community, and carried out by its surrogates in the Honduran military and Congress under the direction of Hillary Clinton. But it is not the first caravan from Central America which has fought its way northward.
In March of this year, a smaller caravan of 4,000 people from El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala made its way to the US-Mexican border, despite threats from the racist and xenophobic regime of Donald Trump to send troops to the border to confront the refugees.
Why This Caravan, Why Now
It is hard to comprehend the hardships that these poor people are enduring in their flight to what they believe will be a better life. What drives them forward? The overarching reason is to try to escape a life of grinding poverty which afflicts the whole region, a condition of existence directly linked to the domination of the economic life of these countries by foreign, primarily US-based multi-national corporations (MNCs).
Those firms, working in conjunction with the ruling capitalist oligarchies and their repressive state apparatuses, act as a giant vacuum cleaner, sucking up massive amounts of surplus value created by the super-exploited working masses of the region. This leaves a portion for the oligarchs, who in general act as service and financial facilitators for this exploitation. The sums are not insignificant, given the population of these semi-colonial countries which, if Mexico is included, exceeds that of France and Germany combined.
It has also resulted in a permanent fiscal crisis of the state, both because of outright looting of the treasuries (the wife of the former president of Honduras has been charged with stealing $40,000,000 USD from the social security fund, for example). Indeed, the lack of a permanent tax regime upon which a robust social security program can be based, has worsened conditions over the past 10 years in the countries of the region.
Despite the states of Central America receiving above average rates of Foreign Direct Investment flows in the years immediately preceding the 2008 Great Recession, that rate was cut by 30 per cent after 2008. Now, with the US central bank raising interest rates, we witness direct capital outflows from the region (and likewise from many of the weaker developed capitalist economies, like Turkey and Argentina).
This has meant a rising unemployment and underemployment rate for the young people of Central America, and an attendant rise in the proliferation of gangs and illegal activities, especially working in the trans-national drug trade, where money is easy and life is short. These mass migration caravans are primarily made up of young people, many fleeing the threats of violence and death from gang members, and whose sole wish is to escape this poverty.
In addition, the increase in the present number of highly politicized migration incidents, despite a longer-term decrease in the trend of refugee applications, there is an increasingly tighter labour market in the United States itself. Tighter market conditions mean more jobs are available in the poorest paid sectors of the service industry, like migrant farm labour and household workers, not subject to minimum wage and working conditions laws. Undocumented immigrant workers make up almost 80% of these workers, a labour pool which is routinely doubly exploited.
Finally, in the specific instance of this caravan from Honduras, the increasing repression of the Honduran state against young people and a wide-open neo-liberal program of investments freed from any regulations and restraint, is a result of the December 2017 election.
The election, which even the normally docile lap dog of US imperialism, the Organization of American States (OAS) deemed to be fraudulent, was stolen by the oligarchy headed by Juan Orlando Hernandez (JOH) in broad daylight. The Popular Front candidate had a seemingly insurmountable lead when the Election Tribunal called a halt to the counting, claiming a computer glitch. When the counting resumed, the lead slowly disappeared and JOH was declared re-elected (itself a violation of the Honduran constitution).
The reaction of the Honduran working class was a massive show of force repudiating the election result. In many of the poorer barrios of the country, and especially in the north part of the country. The uprising took on a semi-insurrectional character. Barricades were erected and the National Police were chased from the neighborhoods. In several cases involving los Tigres, a special anti-insurrectional police unit formed for that specific purpose, it refused to repress the mass movement and publicly declared its neutrality, saying it was a political, not a police problem.
However, since the ebb of this wave of protest, largely due to the tail-ist position of much of the left to the electoralist orientation of the bourgeois leadership of the Popular Front known as LIBRE, the government has increased its repression, taking the form of assassination of social movement leaders, particularly indigenous and trade union activists, beatings, threats and jailing of suspected neighborhood militants, and the firing of those with steady employment. This government is being advised by Alvaro Uribe, the death squad former president of Colombia.
Trump and the Politics of Immigration
As across Europe, immigration has become a rallying point for the right and the neo-Nazis in the United States. Trump, who now declares he is a nationalist, not unlike Victor Orban, Marie Le Pen, and Nigel Farage, and has been busy pumping his political base with a series of rallies prior to the mid-term US elections on November 6.
Trump’s political repertoire portrays immigrants with the most vile, racist and xenophobic images: Mexicans are rapists and criminals; Central Americans are all members of MS 13, the Mara Salvatruchas, heavily tattooed young gang members active in El Salvador and Honduras. Ironically, the name derives from a Salvadoran general whose exploits in 1858, as part of the United Army of Central America, helped in the defeat of William Walker and the Filibusters, a US mercenary force that tried to conquer Central America.
According to Trump and the Republicans, members of the caravans are being funded by billionaire Democratic Party contributor George Soros and criminals, many from the Middle East. For Trump and his ilk, no epithet is too demeaning or too filthy. Soros, of course, is the primary initiator behind the university in Hungary, which anti-Semite Viktor Orban is trying to close. This International of Scum knows no limits.
The Democrats, fearing anything which might upset their perceived best chances in the election, have remained mute in the face of this onslaught. They know that any highlighting the plight of these poor people from Honduras will immediately raise the question of their complicity in creating the conditions causing this movement.
The racist, imperialist social culture of the United States is being used as a hammer against the poor working classes of its own “back yard”. Faced with this situation, what should the left do?
The first response from the militant Left should be to raise the demand “Open the Borders”, and “No One is Illegal”. This slogan cuts across the entire ideological construct of “US exceptionalism” — a constant smokescreen for the activities of North American imperialism.
The second is to find ways of mobilizing the populations of the border states of California, Texas, and Arizona. This area of the United States is heavily Latino. In fact, the majority of working class Californians have Latino roots. (The GDP of California is the 6th largest in the world, which underlines its importance). Already efforts are being made to organize actions to raise the need for cross-border solidarity in places like Los Angeles. How wonderful it would be if the North American Left united in common actions to help mobilize those with the power to open the borders to desperate Mexican and Central American workers.
AN INJURY TO ONE IS AN INJURY TO ALL!
OPEN THE BORDER! TEAR DOWN THE WALLS!
Open the Border for the Migrant Caravan
About 10,000 people are in transit from the south of Mexico. They are fleeing poverty and violence in their countries of origin to try to reach the United States. While President Trump continues to spout xenophobic threats we must reach out in solidarity to our migrant brothers and sisters.
October 26, 2018
Trump plans to cut “aid” from United States to the governments of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. But the actual purpose of this “aid” is to fund the forces of repression, increase the fortunes of ruling politicians and businessmen and ensure “homeland security” in the United States.
It has been reported that 7,233 people registered for migrant services from the government of Mexico as of October 20. It has also been estimated that 2,000 to 3,000 people have crossed the Suchiate River at the Mexican-Guatemalan border.
This new wave of migration is made up of women, children, young people, adults and elderly people who are driven by despair. They can no longer live in their countries, without job opportunities and subject to the violence spread by organized crime and the forces of repression, which often work together. They have resisted the brutal repression by the Mexican federal police at the border and are continuing their march. Along the way, they have been supported by the solidarity of the Mexican people, who have given them words of encouragement and donated clothing, shoes and food.
We are witnessing a humanitarian crisis caused by the criminalization and repression of the migrants by the servile governments of Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico. They are doing the dirty work for Trump, a xenophobic racist who built his fortune on the backs of migrant workers in the construction and hotel industries in the United States.
The Trump administration continues a long history of imperialist aggression against the Central American region, to the point that for all intents and purposes Central America is viewed as “imperialism’s backyard.” As a result, the region suffers the worst ills of U.S. capitalism.
The economic crisis of 2008 had a profound impact on the region, resulting in unemployment, repressive governments, increased capitalist barbarity as well as migration. The government of Juan Orlando Hernández in Honduras is a good example of what happened to the region after the 2008 crisis. The main causes of this migration wave are, therefore, both U.S. imperialism under the Trump administration and the Mexican and Central American governments, who are servile and submissive to imperialism but brutally repressive against their respective working classes and poor.
The repression unleashed by Mexican authorities is raising awareness among a sector of the migrants that is denouncing Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s subordination to the imperialist Trump.
Mexico: One of the Most Dangerous Countries for Migrants
Year after year, migrants have embarked on one of the most dangerous journeys in the world to cross Mexico and reach U.S. soil with the hope of a better life. They take this risk to escape organized crime in their countries of origin, linked to parties representing corporate interests, and the extreme poverty in which these parties have submerged the countries of Central American.
On Mexican soil, the migrants are confronted with the brutality of immigration agents, the police, the army and navy, in addition to bad weather conditions. We will not forget cases such as the massacres of San Fernando, Tamaulipas, when the police handed over hundreds of migrants to the cartels, who executed them. Their hopes and dreams faded into the dismal mist of militarization and the spread of organized crime.
This caravan has brought together thousands who are trying to enter Mexico to cross the Rio Bravo, a perilous venture undertaken by thousands of Mexicans every day. They make this journey with no resources, with no money, with almost no luggage.
They are workers, poor peasants and their children, displaced by capitalist plunder, survivors of militarization. They are the brothers and sisters of the working class, communities, indigenous peoples, women and young people of Mexico, facing displacement in rural areas, drug trafficking and transnational projects for the extraction of natural resources. They also suffer extreme exploitation at the hands of multinationals operating in Mexico and have experienced firsthand the dire consequences of the “drug war” and militarization.
In 2017, other Central American migrants who were passing through stopped their march to support the rescue efforts after the earthquakes in September. The government and reactionary sectors of Mexico have forgotten this. We must fight against Peña Nieto’s wall and the xenophobia promoted by the government in mass media and social media.
Workers’ and People’s Solidarity With our Central American Brothers and Sisters
Today, they need the support of the workers and people of Mexico. We must take to the streets by the thousands to support full social and political rights for all migrants, for the free movement of people in the countries of the region. No human being is illegal!
We must spread effective solidarity with our migrant brothers. The trade unions and popular and left organizations must take the lead. We must collect food, clothing and first aid materials in every workplace, school and neighborhood. Proper accommodations must be provided in unions, schools and housing areas under the control of popular urban movement organizations. These places must offer migrants protection from deportation.
The working class is one and has no boundaries!
A national conference of solidarity with migrant caravan must be organized during its passage through Mexico City, to create a national network to organize the reception of the caravan in the different states.
We must confront the xenophobia spewed by Trump, who separated thousands of migrant children from their families and is keeping them incarcerated. We are have had enough of his insults and threats, his wall and his private prisons. We must take to the streets, chanting “Down with the wall and all of Trump’s anti-immigrant policies!”
Against the servile subordination of the Mexican government, operating as an agent of the anti-immigrant offensive launched by U.S. imperialism, against the Central American governments that also follow its orders, we must build a continental movement against imperialist interference in the region, for full social and political for all migrants’ rights and for their free transit through the countries of the region.