Bill Fletcher, Jr. | 12/5/2018, 1:50 p.m.
The hysterics in connection with the Central American refugees seeking asylum in the USA would, under other circumstances, be comical. A few thousand people seeking to enter a country of 350 million people and Trump tell us to panic and prepare for armed action.
International human rights law provides for the right of refugees to apply for asylum in other countries. There is no caveat that such refugees need to be from Europe or that they cannot apply to the USA.
Thousands of Central American refugees have been displaced by war, terror, economic deprivation and environmental catastrophe. The United States has been directly complicit in at least war, terror and economic deprivation through its indirect control over the economies and politics of much of the Western Hemisphere. This has been through extreme forms, such as direct military interventions, e.g., Dominican Republic in 1965, or through active support for brutal regimes, including military coups, e.g., Chile in 1973; El Salvador in the 1980s; Honduras in 2009.
In a nutshell, the USA has helped to wreck most of the political systems and economies south of the Rio Grande River since it commenced a blockade of Haiti in 1803 (following the Haitian Revolution against France). The rubble left in the wake of these disasters has been a spawning ground for multiple criminal gangs, cartels, etc., and a situation of desperation. When mass movements have emerged in these countries to challenge this wreckage they are regularly repressed and/or have their democratically elected governments ousted by the forces of evil.
Much as in the aftermath of World War II, entire populations have shifted and mobilized in order to seek safer conditions. In most cases the refugees hope to eventually return to their homes, but they find their present circumstances toxic. Governments around the world are supposed to consider such circumstances when refugees appeal for asylum.
Trump, however, wishes to scare some people through leading them to believe that barbarians from the global South will soon overwhelm them. This proved to be a useful political strategy in both the 2016 and 2018 elections. As the American Dream evaporates in the face of changing economy that rewards the rich and infamous, the life of the everyday person becomes more and more challenging. Thus, Trump provides a ready scapegoat that emerges, as if by magic, out of the fears and nightmares of some Americans.
Despite the fact that Central American refugees are not the people laying off workers at General Motors, nor are they the people trying to cut Medicaid and Medicare, it seems easier for too many to believe that their real enemies cannot possibly be people that look like them, but, instead, must be the OTHER, that is those arising from the heart of darkness.
This is the central political challenge in the USA over the coming years.
Bill Fletcher, Jr. is the former president of TransAfrica Forum. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and www.billfletcherjr.com. Read his new novel, The Man Who Fell From the Sky, published by Hardball Press.