Look Deeper: Child Detention and the US’s Paramilitary Politics Abroad

Source: Informed Comment

Attorney General Sessions didn’t lose any sleep over those children forcibly separated from their parents. He maintained most of the asylum seekers will be denied because “many of them . . . like to make more money . . .” Unfortunately, however, when children are used as bargaining chips we may never know the conditions these families have experienced. As Daily Kos argues, “sign here and get your baby back” is hardly a way to elicit accurate information.

Trump’s hard right base imagines hordes of greedy, poorly educated workers eager to steal our well- deserved prosperity. Unfortunately, amidst the justifiable horror evoked by US authorities’ criminal treatment of these children there is too little examination of the conditions that spur many of these mass migrations. Nor is this an accident. US policy has played a major role in fostering or sustaining the violence that impels many to flee. Admitting that role by implication challenges the legitimacy of those policies.

From the days of the Monroe Doctrine on the US has treated Central and South America as wholly owned subsidiaries. That has included support for even the most vicious authoritarians as long as they were hospitable to US multinationals. FDR is purported to have called Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza “an SOB, but he’s our SOB.” Take the recent example of Honduras, one home of those seeking asylum. In a late May conversation on Democracy Now between Amy Goodman and Dana Frank, University of California Santa Cruz scholar, Goodman reminded listeners that: this June marks “the fifth anniversary of the military coup that deposed the democratically elected Honduran president, Manuel Zelaya, which the U.S did not oppose. It was the coup, more than drug trafficking and gangs, that opened the doors to the violence in Honduras and unleashed an ongoing wave of state-sponsored repression.”

Frank added, “when we talk about the fleeing gangs and violence, it’s also this tremendous poverty. And poverty doesn’t just happen. It, itself, is a direct result of policies of both the Honduran government and the U.S. government, including privatizations, mass layoffs of government workers, and a new law that breaks up full-time jobs and makes them part-time and ineligible for unionization, living wage and the national health service. “ These policies have been supported by Democrats as well as Republicans. Frank reminds us “A lot of these economic policies are driven by U.S.-funded lending organizations like the International Monetary Fund,… The Central American Free Trade Agreement is the other piece of this. Like NAFTA … it opens the door to this open competition between small producers in agriculture in Honduras, small manufacturers, and jobs are disappearing as a result of that.”

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