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Kamala Harris’ trip to Guatemala showed our unwillingness to accept any guilt for the woes in the region.


Vice President Kamala Harris made her first foreign visit to Guatemala and Mexico this week to address the “root causes” of Central America’s migration to the United States. But, ignoring the intimate role the United States has played in developing these root causes, she bluntly told desperate Guatemalans “don’t come” to the United States and dismissed any controversy over her non-visit to the border. South America saying she hadn’t been to Europe yet. Is.

So the immigrant daughter and the first woman of color to serve as the Vice President of the United States left no doubt that she was not the new hope Central Americans had wanted her to be.

Harris spoke this ‘new age’ immigration language – which flies in the face of asylum law and President Joe Biden’s promise to restore the asylum system at our border and bring about long-awaited immigration reform – with as much compassion as the “I really don’t care.” Are you? ”Jacket that former first lady Melania Trump wore on her journey to visit migrant children in a detention camp.

“I want to be clear with the people of this region who are considering taking this dangerous journey to the US-Mexico border: don’t come, don’t come,” Harris said at a press conference with the Guatemalan president. Alejandro Giammattei.

“I believe that if you come to our border, you will be turned away,” she said.

His bad cop warning to potential migrants fell like a balloon in the region and fueled criticism from his own party at home.

Biden apparently sent Harris to “lead our efforts with Mexico and the Northern Triangle and the countries that are helping – are going to need help stemming the movement of so many, stemming the migration to our southern border.” He said she was “the most qualified person to do it.”

But after that trip, it’s clear she isn’t: His bad cop warning to would-be migrants fell like a balloon in the region and fueled criticism of his own party at home.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, DN.Y., for example, called Harris’ statement “disappointing.”

“First, seeking asylum at any US border is a 100% legal method of arrival,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter. “Second, the United States has spent decades contributing to regime change and destabilization in Latin America. We can’t help but set someone’s house on fire and then blame them for running away.

The hope had been that Harris would bring a different and more humane approach to American immigration policy. But even her simple flippant response to the question of why she hadn’t visited our border yet left her looking like the inept immigration czar that the Right describes her as.

Kamala Harris’ trip to Guatemala showed our unwillingness to accept any guilt for the woes in the region.

When asked by Lester Holt of NBC News if she was going to visit the border, Harris replied, “This whole border thing, we went to the border. We went to the border.

When Holt corrected her by telling her she hadn’t been to the border, she laughed. “And I haven’t been to Europe. I don’t understand what you mean.”

But the rest of us did.

El Salvador, however, is truly America’s forgotten war. As a direct result, approximately 2.1 million Salvadoran immigrants and their children live in the United States.

Watching Harris took me back over 30 years to when I first arrived in El Salvador – a country then President Ronald Reagan called a model democracy – as United Press bureau chief International in Salvador. As I walked through the airport, I passed posters of children with crutches or prostheses, victims of landmines supplied to the Salvadoran army by the United States, watched by heavily armed soldiers. I knew the expression “model democracy” was a lie.

Central America was in turmoil at the time: the Socialist Sandinistas had come to power in 1979 in neighboring Nicaragua, and a powerful guerrilla movement similar to El Salvador was gaining ground. Still pissed off by the failure of the United States to defeat Chinese-backed Communist forces in Vietnam, Reagan decided that El Salvador was the place to finally stop Communism in its tracks. (A popular 1980s sticker stating “El Salvador is Spanish for Vietnam” painted an accurate picture of US policy in the region.)

The Reagan administration funded the Salvadoran army’s bloody war against Farabundo Marti’s National Liberation Army guerrillas – but the real victims (and often the primary targets) of that war were and still are the Salvadoran people. Over 75,000 Salvadorans died or “disappeared” during the war.

El Salvador, however, is truly America’s forgotten war. As a direct result, approximately 2.1 million Salvadoran immigrants and their children – both first and second generation – live in the United States. And El Salvador is the largest source of immigration to the United States from Central America, in part because of the region’s continue.

Harris, however, has ignored our entire history and has not covered himself with glory, even when addressing today’s issues.

So it’s deeply disturbing to see Harris – who introduced herself as a committed migrant rights advocate while in the US Senate – now using the caustic language of deterrence as a member of the executive.

While decades of poverty, corruption, war and dictatorship – an inevitable result of Washington’s direct interference in regional policy – would make any visit by a member of a new Democratic administration like a poisoned chalice , there is still a lot of history out there that the United States should apologize for. Harris, however, ignored all of this and did not cover himself in glory, even when addressing today’s issues.

More than 178,000 migrants – mainly from the Northern Triangle of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, including a growing number of unaccompanied minors and adolescents – arrived at the southern border in April. It was the highest number in a single month in two decades, and it has given the Biden administration a problem it must resolve. The situation became so politically delicate for the new president that Biden was forced to pivot – a term like that in Washington – from his campaign promises of a more humanitarian approach to the border and rely instead on a emergency rule put in place by President Donald Trump which allows border officials to immediately turn back migrants without giving them the opportunity to seek asylum.

Yet Biden has pledged nearly $ 4 billion to tackle the “root causes” of migration. And during her visit, Harris said that over the next three years, the United States will invest $ 40 million in a program for young people, primarily indigenous women in Guatemala through USAID, who to in turn, would allocate an additional $ 48 million for affordable housing and agribusiness in the country. She also said the United States would help an anti-corruption panel in Guatemala, with Giammattei (who denounced the panel) standing next to her.

All of these strategies have been used in the past. Yet the problems in these countries that cause mass migration still exist, migration has not been halted, and none has addressed the root cause: the failure of US foreign policy in the region and Washington’s reluctance. to admit it.

If Harris went looking for “root causes,” she missed the elephant in the room by not looking in the mirror.

At the end of her three-day visit, reporters asked Harris what she thought of her trip.

“Do I declare this trip a success?” ” she said. “Yes.”





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