United States, Honduras, Central America discussed on 1A with Joshua Johnson
This is one A I'm Joshua Johnson, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador struggling with violence economic hardship and corruption these conditions contribute to migrants making their way toward the US southern border. We're discussing at this hour with professor Greg Grandin of NYU. Professor, Elizabeth Oglesby of Arizona state. And Brian winter the editor in chief of America's quarterly we'd love to hear from you your questions about the US involvement in Central America. Or what might be done to make the region more stable or your experiences in Central America, either as a visitor or as a descendant of someone who's Honduran Salvadoran or Nicaraguan, or if you are from those countries yourself and migrated here to the US, we'd love it. If you comment on our Facebook page tweet us at one A or Email one A at W A M U dot org before we keep going. Professor B. I wonder if you could respond to John's question about drugs, Brian mentioned, the drug trade John tweeted if Americans and Europeans stopped. Using illegal drugs would that help alleviate the violence in Latin America, professor, yes? Certainly that's a part of it. But the broader the underlying issue is one of impunity, an impunity. That's a legacy of the counterinsurgency wars in Central America during the Cold War. So the drug trade is part of that. But there are other parts as well. For example, US Canadian European foreign investment in Guatemala, insect in extractive sectors, like mining hydroelectric dam projects, which are displacing a lot of communities, especially in Guatemala and Honduras. So the drug trade is part of the problem. But the underlying issue is one of impunity. That relates to what is going on in Guatemala right now this week which analysts in Guatemala are calling a slow motion coup where the president of Guatemala Jimmy Morales who was under investigation by tamales, anti nitty commission has just expelled that commission from Guatemala in defiance of a court order so Guatemala's in a constitutional crisis right now in its effort to address those underlying issue seven unity. We do want to talk more about what's going on in Guatemala as we continue our conversation. But let me get to few more listener comments. Amanda emailed, I visited Rotan Honduras a few years ago and was told by a local that the US and in particular former secretary of state Clinton had a direct hand in a military coup that overthrew a popular democratically elected president today Honduras is a broken nation. Why why do we keep? Interfering in other countries. This topic has come up with several of you, including with this listener K who's from Washington state. Here's what k- left in our inbox. The thing that doesn't seem to be getting mentioned much is the US involvement in the politics of all those countries for quite a good many years, but we only have to look as far back as Honduras when the democratic elected president who wanted to do things for the people and didn't want big business to just get big profit and leave was was done in by coup. And are then secretary of state Hillary Clinton recognize the new leader does very next day K. Thanks very much for calling in. Professor granted. I wonder if you would respond to k and Amanda with regards to secretary Clinton and Andre great questions. And great points. And yes, the US has been involved in Central America. I mean in two ways there's specific incidents the nineteen fifty four coup in the two thousand nine coup in Honduras, which is what's referred to the Obama administration. There's debate about how how directly involved it was in the actual coup which overthrew a democratically elected reformer that was siding with social movements along the lines that professor we talked about classic kind of siding with the status quo. The Obama administration eventually recognized and legitimated that coup. And you see a lot of people traced back the current disaster and catastrophe. That's particularly in rural areas. Hard hit by the fast expansion of African palm per bio-fuel production and odd one valley or in urban cities like San Pedro, Douglas. These are really some of the regions with highest murder rate in the world, and that's driving a lot of the migration. So there's this specific events, and then there's the lodger policies that the US promotes that contribute to the out-migration one is economic. The what's often called development aid supports the infrastructure of a further extraction biofuel production African palm the space spread of African palm in the polish. He valley where the seven year old watermelon girl Jacqueline. Was from. Was is really devastated by African palm a lot of the migrants from Honduras. Come from one Bali same thing. Skyrocketing bylines. The drug war. We talked about the drug trade, but there's also the drug war. A lot of the a lot of the catastrophe. That's happening in such American to be traced back to Bill Clinton's Plan Colombia. Actually, professor granted. Let me let me let me stop you there because there's a lot of moving. There's a lot of moving parts here. And yes, he's very this is very complex. I just wanna make sure that go a little bit at a time. Would you finish just explaining about African palm? What is that piece of this bomb has grown to produce biofuel? It's it's not native obviously to to Central America. So a lot of peasant communities that grew corn beans, I the subsistence or for their own regional local markets just being wiped out as large plantations moved in a lot of it is financed by US development aid or multi multinational, banks, developmental banks, and they moved into regions that that had been able to. Support some local economies regional economies. Markets corn and beans and just kind of spread through and displace these communities, and and there's a lot of an and that creates two things one is fightback among the peasants peasant who don't want to lose their land and plantations either because of market forces because landowners are using violence and coercion to get them the turnover title or to evict them or they just have no more work. They they cornered so cheap because they can't compete with US agro-industry because of these free trade treaties, or or there's just not the markets have been completely distorted and destroyed as a result of the spread of a kind of plantation economy. Okay. So let me come back to Brian winter on that point in particular. Do we have a clear sense in terms of the number of migrants, we see coming or trying to at least to come into the US along the southern border of how much? These particular effects have affected certain migrants. In other words, is there a way for us to know, Brian, you know, this many people from this country are attempting to cross into the southern border because of the African the influence of African palm on on farmwork, farmers and farm workers. Is there a way to know that I think there's a way to know it specifically by by talking to people and a lot of the reportage that I've seen and read from the border. You know, a lot of these people come from rural areas, there's no question and in a country like Honduras, where you've got nearly two thirds of the labor force either unemployed or underemployed it's clear that there's something wrong with government policy in these places, but you know, drawing generalizations about why they're coming. I think the best we can do is saying that it's because you know, again polling shows this is really economically driven. And in that sense. You know, what's happening? There is new. You and there are some factors that are unique to Central America. And then this is also a tale that is as old as time, and certainly as old as the United States itself, which is it's people seeking opportunity in a richer safer country, which is the US. That's what this country was was made from professor Oglesby. Let me talk wanna Tamala for just a moment as we mentioned. It's one of the countries were very hard hit by US foreign policy in Central America. We mentioned those two children who died last month in US federal custody. One of them. Professor granted mentioned Jacqueline column. Mckean Philippi Gomez Alonso who both died after seeking asylum at the border with their families. We mentioned the US and Guatemala, and what happened in one thousand nine hundred fifty four professor Oglesby. Were what was the immediate consequence of that? Was it clear that the current state of affairs would shape up or did it kind of take a while for things to get to the point where they are now. So the coup. Was the watershed in Guatemala. It really started a civil war that lasted until nineteen ninety six which had various intense moments, especially in the early nineteen eighties where the Guatemalan military. Committed genocide through a scorched earth campaign, nearly seven hundred massacres displacing one and a half million people mostly in the rural areas of Guatemala. So that is the first great wave of Guatemalan migration to the United States. When the peace accords were signed in the nineteen nineties. Some people who had taken refuge in Mexico went back to Guatemala, but they found that they could not survive in this society that the war had created. And so international migration became a form of reparation really for those people and that was supported by Guatemalan leads. They were only too happy to see people immigrated even the World Bank in the nineteen nineties began to see international immigration as a kind of development policy, of course, then after the nineteen nineties is professor grand and described the border became more militarized. And so that seeking opportunity or that form of international education is reputation for the war became much more difficult and dangerous for people. But the the roots of the migration that we're seeing today are definitely in Guatemala are definitely in. History of civil war in the history of displacement. And we're in many ways we're seeing that replicated today perhaps not at the scale of the genocide of the early nineteen eighties. But just in the last year thirty environmental activists have been assassinated in Guatemala, and these are community leaders who are trying to protect their communities from extractive industries like mining or large scale dams or the extension of of African palm sugar cane plantations for biofuel, these are the people who are trying to struggle for a different way of life. So that people can stay in Guatemala, right? But they're coming up against the limits of what the system is willing to tolerate and there's a violent backlash. And so that's why I return to the. To the problem of impunity. Because as long as the states in Central America are captured by violent criminal networks, and as long as there is a life or death risk for community organizers who are trying to find a different way of life. Then there can be no solution to this might issue that might dovetail into a voicemail. We got from Keith who called us from Arlington Virginia not far from here. Here's what he left in our inbox. I worked forty years in Central America, fifteen years when fischel US passport, and I saw that the US bear some responsibility for problems in the region, for example, the US negotiated a free trade agreement which opened up markets, undermining the Central American small farm sector in benefiting farmers and agribusinesses it directly led to out migration to cities in the US and the further weakening governors who he's in the courts..