MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
It is worth debunking just two myths that have been generated in the mainstream media and anti-immigrant organizations about the alleged flood of young people from south of the border.
First of all, most reliable accounts indicate that approximately 75 percent of the youths reaching the US border with Mexico are from Central America, particularly Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. These young people risk a harrowing journey across the spine of Mexico, where they are shook down for money, sometimes kidnapped, sometimes shot by paramilitary groups or the police, and in general face a gauntlet of life-threatening obstacles as they attempt to traverse Mexico to reach the United States. (Often the journey involves riding on top of a notorious freight train that is seen as a source of income and slave labor to different thugs in Mexico.)
How serious a risk is the undertaking of being young and in flight? Consider that you see photos of young people with only one arm. Often that's from falling under the train that moves from south to north in Mexico, sometimes from being thrown off the top of the cars because they could not pay enough money to bandits shaking them down.
Two, according to a July American Immigration Council report, only one in three of the youths seeking safety in the United States are motivated by family reunification, despite the false drumbeat in the mainstream media that "loose" laws are allowing young people with family members in the United States to stay here. The much-hyped "crisis" is complicated, including the role that growing violence, gangs, organized crime, suppression of indigenous protests and conflicts over neoliberal exploitation of natural resources are playing in forcing young people to risk their lives by fleeing - for their lives - from their countries of origin.
There are other issues, such as one that will be the topic of a Truthout piece by reporter Dahr Jamail tomorrow: US foreign policy that forces upon poor Latin American nations GMO seeds produced by Monsanto and the devastating breakdown of subsistence farming hastened by the arrival of cheaper agricultural products from the United States. Meanwhile, all of this is being done in the name of free trade. US agricultural companies are actually setting up big agricultural farms in nations where a significant percentage of the country - and especially indigenous people - have depended upon subsistence farming. The result is the creation of marginalized populations who no longer can feed themselves, in part because the US is imposing US GMO seeds on them, which also increases the price of seeds to farmers. This creates a spiraling destruction of small-scale rural farming.
Needless to say, one cannot ignore the dystopian and heightened violence caused by the ongoing war on drugs. A couple of years ago, I wrote a 10-part series on the how failure of the war on drugs in Latin America and Mexico actually benefits the United States and the oligarchy. Yes, it leads to a collapse of civil society, but that benefits the ruling order. Why? Because the powerless and economic needy are in such fear for their lives that they do not have the ability to develop political alternatives to US hegemony working closely with neoliberal governments.
These and many other realities are the reason that children and teens are now running for their lives to the United States.
The crisis, one might argue, is largely made in the USA.
Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.