In mid-March, Reuters reported that Mexico would “restrict movement at its southern border with Guatemala to help contain the spread of COVID-19.” The same article noted that the Joe Biden administration in the United States would simultaneously sort out the details of a coronavirus vaccine loan plan in Mexico.
According to White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki, simultaneity had nothing to do with a quid pro quo for blocking so-called “illegal immigration” and was rather the result of “multiple layers” of conversations between states. United and Mexico.
But there is no time like a pandemic to step up the crackdown on poor migrants to the United States. I have been in Mexico since the onset of the health crisis last year, and no effort has been made to “restrict the movement” of inbound tourists and other higher-value humans who have arrived by air – many. between them from coronavirus hotspots such as the United States itself.
Quid pro quo or not, the strengthening of Mexico’s southern border apparently did not provide the gringos with sufficient immunity against the threat of migrants. On April 12, The Associated Press noted that March saw a “record number of unaccompanied children” attempting to enter the United States, as well as the highest number of border patrol “encounters” with migrants at the US-Mexico border. since March 2001.
At a press briefing the same day, Psaki revealed additional measures the United States had pushed to “increase border security” in the region. Mexico would maintain 10,000 troops along its border with Guatemala, while Guatemala had “sent 1,500 police and military personnel” to its own border with Honduras, which had in turn “caused 7,000 police and military personnel to leap up to disperse a large contingent of migrants ”.
Of course, military jargon is no accident. After all, what we have here is a war on migrants – a war that Biden dutifully continued to wage despite his ostensibly more humanitarian approach to human suffering than that of his enthusiastic and sadistic predecessor, Donald Trump.
And as with arguments in the name of other forms of imperial warfare – such as when we were led to believe in 2003 that the actual annihilation of Iraq was somehow in the best interests of the Iraqis – US officials have led a wave of criminal illogicality.
For example, Tyler Moran, special assistant to the president on immigration policy, assured MSNBC that troop deployment agreements with Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras “would not only prevent traffickers, smugglers and cartels who take advantage of the children on their way here ”, but also“ protect these children ”.
Of course, anyone can guess how “protection” might be factored into the arrangement, given the established record of anti-migrant violence by security forces in all three countries.
Furthermore, it is common knowledge that placing obstacles in the path of migration does not prevent desperate people from moving towards perceived physical and / or economic security. It just increases the risk to their life.
Recently, in the city of Oaxaca, southern Mexico, I spoke with a young man who had previously crossed “illegally” from Mexico to the United States, and who described the frightening sensation of crossing human bones in the desert. These rampant deaths are a direct result of the United States’ own frenzied border militarization plans, which turn migrants into enemy invaders and force them to take more perilous routes resulting in greater exposure to the elements.
Talk about the battlefields.
Meanwhile, no discussion of the current “surges” at the border is complete without emphasizing that the US-backed militarization in Mexico and Central America is largely to be thanked for the models. migration in the first place.
In Mexico, to begin with, the United States spent years – under the guise of the “war on drugs” – throwing money at notoriously corrupt and abusive security forces and officials, who were often at the core. reads with the cartels themselves.
The resulting bloodbath of violence pushed countless Mexicans to migrate north, as did the economic devastation caused by the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) – a war in its own right. , whose ramifications persist to this day.
In Guatemala, the CIA-orchestrated coup in 1954 in favor of American corporate interests paved the way for a 36-year civil war in which more than 200,000 Guatemalans were killed or disappeared. The United States has been complicit to its ears in the crimes of Guatemalan government forces, which were responsible for the overwhelming majority of wartime human rights violations.
Efrain Rios Montt, the late Guatemalan dictator backed by the United States, oversaw a scorched earth campaign that wiped out hundreds of indigenous villages – not to mention the people there. The civil war ended in 1996, but the land did not come loose overnight.
In Honduras, too, US-backed militarization has helped generate a steady flow of migrants and refugees. The right-wing coup of 2009 – the ultimate success of which owes much to American machinations in the name of the illegitimate regime – ushered in an era of apocalyptic violence and impunity.
In the aftermath of the coup, the Barack Obama administration – with Biden as vice president – increased aid to Honduran security forces who diligently murdered, raped and terrorized the national population.
Now, almost 12 years later, the same security forces are “pushed” to the border to disband migrant groups fleeing the landscape of brutality these forces have helped to create.
And as the United States continues to push for military solutions to regional problems caused, in large measure, by the military, there are fervent dreams of a push to dissolve an empire.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Al Jazeera.