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The genesis of the exodus (fall, 2018 ‘caravan’) from Central America was in 1909; but justice for their citizens decreased more quickly during the Cold War
By Henry H. Bucher, Jr., faculty in Humanities, Austin College
Oct 29, 2018
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President William Howard Taft ordered, on his initiative, the overthrow of Nicaraguan president (J.S.Zelaya) in 1909 “to protect American security and promote democratic principles.”(1) In the 1900s, the USA prefered stability for our corporations over the stated goal of spreading democracy and strengthening our national security, especially in Central and South America; but also wherever we believed there was a communist threat.

What is extremely hard for US citizens to understand, especially during a contested election year, is that families are fleeing now from Central America for much more than a "better life." They are fleeing from the reality of chaos and possible death  in their own countries, due, in part, to US foreign policy over many decades, and under multiple and diverse administrations.

Those covering the present ‘caravan’ heading north through Mexico say that many, if not most, are from Honduras. An award-winning foreign correspondent, Stephen Kinzer notes that we can never know what might have happened if the USA had not intervened there, but he affirms that two facts are indisputable: “First, the United States has been the overwhelming force in Honduran life for more than a century. Second, Honduras today faces a nightmare of poverty, violence, and instability. Hondurans bear a part of that blame for this heartrendering situation, but {US} Americans cannot escape their share.”(2)

In the past week, the “fear of a refugee caravan” has been eclipsed by pipe bombs mailed to high-ranking democrats in the USA, followed by shootings of two African Americans in a Kroger store, and the massacre of eleven worshippers (and more wounded) in the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. This synagogue is well known for its many years of service to immigrants of many faiths

Polls say that health care is now a top consideration leading some Republicans, who tried seventy times to replace the Affordable Care Act, to agree with our president’s recent contradictory comments that “Republicans have always backed people with pre-existing conditions!” 

With more than a week left untill our mid-term elections, no one knows what will happen; but the USA’s relationship to Central America has been pre-existing for more than a century, and will probably continue after the elections.

(1)    Stephen Kinzer, Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq (Henry Holt, 2006), p. 3.

(2)    Kinzer, S., p.103. 

Henry H. Bucher, Jr., Ph.D.

Associate Professor Emeritus of Humanities

Austin College