United States-Mexico border refugees interviewed

This March 2013 video from the USA says about itself:

Did The US Fund Honduran Death Squads?

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — The U.S. State Department, which spends millions of taxpayer dollars a year on the Honduran National Police, has assured Congress that money only goes to specially vetted and trained units that don’t operate under the direct supervision of a police chief once accused of extrajudicial killings and “social cleansing”.

But The Associated Press has found that all police units are under the control of Director General Juan Carlos Bonilla, nicknamed the “Tiger”, who in 2002 was accused of three extrajudicial killings and links to 11 more deaths and disappearances. He was tried on one killing and acquitted. The rest of the cases were never fully investigated.

Read more here.

And here.

By Norisa Diaz in Mexico:

Central American asylum seekers forced to wait for months at US-Mexico border

19 December 2018

WSWS reporters spoke last weekend to members of the Central American caravan who have been waiting in a queue for months, at the West pedestrian entrance of the San Ysidro border crossing in Tijuana, for US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) to begin processing their asylum claims.

Just last month the US military and CBP agents fired tear gas, rubber bullets and flash bang grenades at desperate workers and their families at the San Ysidro Port of entry. It is estimated that between six and seven thousand immigrants from Mexico and Central America are currently in Tijuana.

Most of the caravan members spoke of feared repercussions from gangs they had fled and asked that their faces not be photographed.

Guillermo, 30, left Honduras with his wife, 12-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter, following a death threat from a local gang that had been extorting him and recently murdered two of his cousins.

The gangs had been extorting increasing amounts of money from his convenience store, so much so that very little was left for his family. “I could not give them what they wanted.” One day in June, Guillermo received notice that if he did not pay the amount demanded, he would be killed. He went home and told his wife and children they were leaving that day.

Guillermo explained that two of his first cousins, who lived just two blocks away from him, were killed by “las maras”, members of the MS-13 gang, within a month of one another. They both worked for a taxi service and the gang that was extorting them demanded more payment.

Guillermo showed WSWS reporters the photos of the mutilated bodies of his cousins, which he hoped would assist with his family’s asylum claim. One man had a long cross cut through his abdomen, from which his intestines had been removed, and another had been hogtied and left in an alley to rot, where authorities found him.

He told reporters that he was fortunate to have been given a warning, one that his cousins had not received. “They were very close family, we are lucky that we got out”, Guillermo said.

The family has been in Mexico for nearly six months and only arrived in Tijuana in the last month. While running low on food and supplies, Guillermo had to find work in Chiapas for a while before the family could make their way to Tijuana.

Guillermo and his family have joined a list of thousands, and have been waiting for their number to be called on the West Port of Entry from Tijuana into Southern California. He expressed frustration over receiving conflicting and contradictory information from legal counselors. “There are some that give us hope and some that make it seem impossible.”

“I want people in the US to know there are many good and hard-working people here, that one person’s actions do not represent the whole.”

Manuel, a 52-year-old Honduran man, told reporters that he and his 10-year-old son had been in Tijuana for a little over a month and had seen immigration officials service just a few hundred people in that time. “When we arrived on November 12, they were at number 1025, and a month later they are only at 1308,” he said. Manuel, who did not wish to be photographed, said he sold hot dogs at a cart in Honduras and was also being extorted and threatened by “las maras”, which prompted their journey.

A small tent outside the San Ysidro port of entry has been taking names and distributing queue numbers to new arrivals, who must continually check on the numbers being serviced daily. However, with the recent change in venue to “El Barretal”, an abandoned nightclub turned into a makeshift shelter, a 35-minute drive away from the port of entry, constant check-ins are difficult.

Interactions between US Customs and Border Patrol and new arrivals are facilitated by Grupo Beta, which consists of volunteers who are themselves asylum seekers waiting for their own numbers to be called by immigration officials. Once their number is called a separate volunteer will step up to replace them.

Immigration volunteers working with Al Otro Lado and other agencies, who provide legal advice to the caravan in Tijuana, stated that the entire number ledger system being used by CBP is in violation of international asylum and refugee law and that it is illegal for the US to decide it is only going to process a certain number, now 200-300 per month.

“Asylum seekers should be able to present themselves at a port of entry and have their asylum claim processed and be granted entry—it is irrelevant if in the end their case is accepted or denied. By law, they must be granted safe entry while they await proceedings”, one attorney explained to a group of volunteers.

“We help them navigate through hell… we tell them they will be stripped down, separated from their children, kept in Hielera (Icebox) for its freezing temperatures, fed two small frozen burritos a day; if your children were healthy, expect them to get sick in there.”

Just last week, seven-year-old Jackeline Caal died in the custody of CBP. Antelope Wells, the CBP facility where she had become extremely ill, had no medical personnel and was entirely unprepared to receive refugees in family groups. Her death was a direct consequence of the punishing and ruthless repression of immigrants by the Trump administration.

Separated from parents and thrown into immigration prisons where temperatures are freezing, the conditions faced by migrants and their children are deliberately calibrated for the purpose of maximizing their suffering.

… Washington and Mexico City are currently negotiating a deal that would force Central Americans applying for asylum with the US to remain in Mexico during the process, also known as “Remain in Mexico.”

Advocates and legal counselors warn that a “Remain in Mexico” policy would allow Mexico to becoming what is known by asylum law as a “safe third country”. Such a designation would allow US immigration officials to argue in the future that asylum in the United States is no longer necessary if they have “safety” in Mexico.

During the first three months of the year alone in Mexico, 7,667 murders were reported, an average of 85 a day, according the Executive Secretariat of the National System of Public Security (SESNESP).

Nearly 28 million people live in extreme poverty in Mexico, the majority of whom are concentrated in rural areas. Half of Mexico’s 127 million residents do not earn enough to meet basic needs, and one in five suffers from hunger. Over half of Mexico’s children live in poverty, and a United Nations study found that 14 percent of children suffer from stunted growth as a result of malnutrition.

The stark reality that is avoided in all the coverage of the Central American caravan is that there are thousands of Mexicans, particularly from rural areas, who are seeking asylum in the United States, fleeing the same conditions as their Central American counterparts, and they have also spent endless months in Tijuana.

The migrants and their supporters worldwide must reject entirely whatever “deal” is being worked out by Trump … which will only exacerbate the violent repression of immigrants at Mexico’s southern border.

Only a movement by the international working class can defend the rights of the asylum seekers. Among the demands of such a movement must be the safe passage and legal entry for all caravan participants into the United States, the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the dismantling of the militarized border region, the immediate liberation of all immigrants detained in the United States, the provision of jobs, homes, health care and educational opportunities to the caravan participants and all immigrants, and a multi-trillion-dollar program to rebuild Central America, to be paid for by expropriating the wealth of America’s billionaires.

The author also recommends:

Mexican immigrants seek asylum amidst growing social inequality and crime
[20 June 2018]

TEAR GAS FIRED AT BORDER MIGRANTS U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents fired tear gas and pepper spray into Mexico early Tuesday after 150 migrants attempted to cross a fence along the southwestern border, the agency said in a statement. [HuffPost]

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents began the new year early Tuesday with a barrage of tear gas, smoke bombs, pepper spray and plastic pellets fired at a group of migrants, including children, trying to cross from Mexico to apply for asylum in the United States at the border between Tijuana and San Ysidro: here.

Trump to deploy more troops to US-Mexico border on semi-permanent basis: here.

“If giving water to someone dying of thirst is illegal, what humanity is left in the law of this country?” Four “No More Deaths” volunteers convicted for providing humanitarian aid to migrants crossing US border: here.

THOUSANDS MORE U.S. TROOPS HEADING TO MEXICAN BORDER The Pentagon is sending 3,750 U.S. forces to the southwest border with Mexico for three months to provide additional support to border agents. [Reuters]

Rebellion in Matamoros, Mexico. 70,000 workers strike at US-Mexico border sweatshops: here.

Mexican strikers show working class answer to capitalist reaction at US-Mexico border: here.


From CIA-supported violent dictators to the Tijuana refugees

This 2 December 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

A Brief History of U.S. Dirty Wars in Central America That Set the Stage for the Refugee Crisis

The world watched in horror as U.S. Border Patrol agents opened fire with tear gas on a group of refugees seeking asylum in the United States. Among the targets of this assault by U.S. forces were women and children, many of whom fled Honduras.

Across the news media, these refugees are simply referred to as “migrants”, or “the caravan.” Rarely do we get any context of why they are risking their lives and the lives of their children to flee Honduras.

And part of why we don’t hear the context is because to really tell this story, you need to talk about the U.S. dirty wars in Central America in the 1980s, the impact of neoliberal economic policies, and the catastrophe of climate change caused by the U.S. and other major world powers.

You need to know history. And if you know this history, particularly in Honduras, then you know that what we are seeing now is a situation where the U.S. set a house on fire and as the flames have raged, the U.S. is standing against the people trying to flee the fire that Washington set to their home.

Will Trump shoot refugees from Honduras dictatorship?

This 25 October 2018 video says about itself:

The Migrant Caravan and Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric

Migrants are undeterred by Trump’s smears and threats against the migrant caravan.

By Andrea Lobo:

Trump to deploy hundreds of troops to the border against Central American migrants

26 October 2018

The US Defense Department is expected to approve as early as next week the deployment of 800 to 1,000 active duty troops, mostly from the Army and Air Force, to the US-Mexico border, according to Trump administration officials.

While media reports indicated that details have not been finalized, this is the most concrete indication so far that the Pentagon plans to deploy troops domestically against the “caravan” of thousands of Central American migrants, mostly families with women and children that are currently crossing Mexico and seeking to reach the US.

The comments made by the US officials and media commenters sought to minimize the significance of the deployment, stating that the troops will be composed of engineers, aviation support, doctors and lawyers. Troops can still carry arms, CNN cites a military official, but “solely for self-defense.”

However, the unofficial announcement comes exactly one week after Trump first threatened to “call up the U.S. Military and CLOSE OUR SOUTHERN BORDER!” He called the caravan an “onslaught” and said that the impoverished workers and peasants are “hardened criminals”, while making unfounded and racist claims that “Middle-Easterners” have joined it.

On Thursday morning, Trump restated his threat to deploy the military on Twitter, calling it a “National Emergency” and adding, “They will be stopped!” The previous night at a rally in Wisconsin he said the military was “all set” to be sent against the migrants.

Such a move would violate the Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibits the armed forces from carrying out domestic law-enforcement activities, excluding the National Guard. While US officials speaking to CNN denied that troops would deal directly with the caravan, a myriad of provocations can be construed to justify their direct intervention, which could turn into a massacre of unarmed workers and children on the basis of “self-defense”.

Last weekend, at the Guatemala-Mexico border, about 400 Mexican antiriot police began an assault against the migrants by tackling and shooting tear-gas canisters against the defenseless families seeking to cross the bridge toward the port of entry. Some migrants responded by throwing rocks, sandals and other objects, which led to an even more aggressive attack by the police.

While not confirming the deployment, Captain Bill Speaks, spokesman for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, wrote in an email to Military Times that the Department of Defense will “ensure the safety and security of the CBP [Customs and Border Patrol] personnel involved in border security operations.”

The troops are expected to join the 2,100 National Guardsmen already deployed across the US-Mexico border in late May.

The move is bound up with Trump’s efforts to exploit the caravan to ramp up nationalist and xenophobic sentiments ahead of the November 6 midterm elections in the United States.

The caravan has become a massive demonstration of workers. As they marched into Mexico, the 7,000-strong caravan chanted “Migrants are not criminals! We are international workers!” Mexican workers and peasants have warmly welcomed them with food, supplies and lifts.

The domestic deployment of the military against immigrants is a serious warning to the entire working class in the United States and internationally, immigrant or native-born alike. The ruling class is ready to respond to any defiance to the foundations of capitalist rule by proclaiming a “national emergency” and employing deadly repression.

As the Pentagon escalates its military confrontations against its main geopolitical rivals, the US ruling class is preparing to suppress all political dissent. The domestic deployment of troops is a precedent for waging total war against rivals abroad and social opposition at home.

On Tuesday, US vice-President Mike Pence told the media that the Honduran [right-wing coup] president, Juan Orlando Hernández, had assured him that the caravan was being “organized by leftist organizations and financed by Venezuela”, which Trump has referred to repeatedly as “socialist”. Such arguments seek to characterize the migrants as a “foreign invasion” to create a ready-made pretext for a violent attack against the migrants.

The Mexican and Guatemalan authorities have also deployed their militaries to stop the caravan. The Guatemalan government reported that it has sent back about 4,000 Honduran migrants. It placed military personnel and barbed wire at the main highway into the country from Honduras, at Agua Caliente. However, about 2.500 Hondurans who crossed into Guatemala on Tuesday successfully repelled the Guatemalan police and military officials who were requesting documentation and seeking to make arrests. According to the Guatemalan Prensa Libre, they simply marched forward as a group.

The current Central American caravan across southern Mexico and Guatemala is estimated at 14,000 migrants, according to the Mexican El Universal, with additional contingents planned. The main body leading the caravan yesterday left the town of Mapastepec in the Mexican state of Chiapas, about 95 miles from the Guatemalan border.

The migrants are at least 1,000 miles from the US border. There can be long pauses to regroup as the caravan faces the efforts of Mexican authorities to divide, detain and deport the migrants. It is therefore uncertain when it will reach the US and how large it will be.

The fascistic policy of the Trump administration builds on measures previously supported and implemented by the Democratic administration of Barack Obama, which presided over more deportations than any other. While Trump has taken these policies to a new level, the parallels of both administrations include family separations, the deployment of the National Guard to the border, the expansion of surveillance and physical barriers at the border, the deportation of minors, and the buildup and use of the Mexican armed forces as an extension of the US border patrol.

Policies such as the separation and prolonged detention of migrant families violate US and international law, constituting torture and crimes against humanity. Moreover, the attempted deportation of a Salvadoran mother and daughter in August in the middle of an ongoing hearing demonstrates the sheer lawlessness with which the government is carrying out its policies.

Trump’s threat to force migrants to apply for asylum in Mexico before reaching the US is another breach of US and international law.

The response of the Democratic Party to Trump’s onslaught against immigrants was characterized by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who told Democratic candidates this month that insisting on criticizing Trump’s anti-immigrant policies was a “waste of energy.” Even after Trump’s threats against the caravan, Democratic leaders kept accusing Trump for “changing the topic.”

The Democrats have instead focused their electoral appeals on stoking militarism and anti-Russia hysteria to portray Trump as “too soft” on Russia. In addition to seeking to compel Trump to adopt a more aggressive stance against Russia, this campaign has been used to attack basic democratic rights, including through Internet censorship.

Democratic legislators have led an offensive for pressuring the Ecuadorian government to hand over WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange, calling him a “threat to global security,” while seeking to incriminate him as an actor in the supposed Russian interference in the 2016 elections.

Without WikiLeaks, Americans and the world would not know the extent of the lies and US cover-up of the Honduran military coup of June 28, 2009 that installed a regime even more pliant to US demands and further worsened the social crisis behind the mass migration.

After the coup in 2009, the State Department insisted to the press that it did not know “who did what to whom.” However, a cable released by WikiLeaks dated July 24, 2009 from the US embassy in Honduras and sent to the Obama’s White House and Hillary Clinton’s State Department explores legalistic rationalizations “for a solution” to justify the overthrow. It concludes that the event “constituted an illegal and unconstitutional coup” and that the “Forced Removal [of President Manuel Zelaya] by Military was Clearly Illegal.”

The months and years that followed saw a dramatic intensification of the use of death squads and the military to repress social opposition against the coup and the resultant wave of corporate tax cuts, tax exemptions, cuts to environmental and labor regulations, and corrupt concessions that chiefly favored US and local corporations. A 2014 report by the US think tank Center for Economic and Policy Research measuring the impact of the overthrow found that poverty had increased 13.2 percent and extreme poverty 26.3 percent in the first two years after the military coup.

By Steve Sweeney:

Friday, October 26, 2018

NICOLAS MADURO branded US Vice-President Mike Pence a “crazy extremist” today after Washington accused the Venezuelan president of funding the migrant caravan which has been blocked from entering the US.

Caracas blasted claims of a “Venezuelan plot”, warning they could be used as the pretext for US military intervention against the country.

Speaking from the Oval Office alongside US President Donald Trump, Mr Pence claimed he had spoken to Honduran [right-wing coup] President Juan Orlando Hernandez who told him the caravan was sponsored by “leftist groups” and funded by Venezuela.

WHITE HOUSE MULLS LEGAL ACTION AGAINST MIGRANT CARAVAN The White House is considering a major executive action to stop the caravan of migrants traveling through Mexico from entering the U.S. Any potential ban would come from the same legal authority as Trump’s controversial travel ban. [HuffPost]

Defend immigrant workers against Trump’s military crackdown: here.

Honduras cracks down on teachers, doctors and students protesting privatization drive: here.

US-backed repression by Honduran military leaves four dead: here.

Honduran girl escapes from Trump’s prison, recaptured

This Twitter message is about a girl refugee from the bloody dictatorship Honduras, who escapes from a Donald Trump prison for immigrant children, and is then recaptured.

Scottish Conservative politician supports Honduras, Haiti dictatorships

Scottish Conservative Andrew Bowie campaigning with British Prime Minister Theresa May in 2017

By Conrad Landin in Scotland:

Exclusive: Ruth Davidson called to condemn Scottish Tory MP over links to coup-backing lobby group

Andrew Bowie took sponsorship from International Republican Institute accused of links to coups in Honduras and Haiti

SCOTTISH TORY leader Ruth Davidson is facing calls to condemn one of her MPs, after he met with a US lobby group linked to a series of coups d’etat.

West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine MP Andrew Bowie was sponsored by the International Republican Institute (IRI) on a two-day junket to Paris worth £450, the Morning Star can exclusively reveal.

The Tory politician told parliamentary authorities that the purpose of the January trip was “to discuss from a British perspective the response to populism and the changing political landscape in the West.”

The IRI has been linked to the failed 2002 coup against Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.

It has also been accused of playing a role in the successful removal of Haitian leader Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004, and of Honduran president Manuel Zelaya in 2009.

Labour’s Holyrood shadow Brexit minister Neil Findlay said: “The Scottish Conservatives have tried to distance themselves from the more extreme elements in the Conservative Party.

“And yet here we see one of their MPs working hand-in-glove with an organisation that is implicated in the undermining of democracy and sovereign states.”

Mr Findlay said Scottish Tory leader Ms Davidson “should condemn and distance herself from the actions of this MP.”

The IRI is one of several organisations funded by the National Endowment for Democracy, which was established by the US Congress in 1983 after US president Ronald Reagan’s seminal speech at Westminster calling for an international alliance “to foster the infrastructure of democracy.”

It received a US government grant of $339,998 (over £230,000 at the time) for “political party building” in Venezuela prior to the short-lived 2002 coup.

On the day Mr Chavez was temporarily ousted, IRI president George A Folsom said Venezuelans “rose up to defend democracy.”

Stanley Lucas, institute boss in Haiti, was accused by former US ambassador Brian Dean Curran of behaviour which “risked us being accused of attempting to destabilise the government.”

Mr Lucas was an avowed opponent of president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and counselled the opposition to refuse to work with the social democrat government in order to cripple it, according to the New York Times.

In 2004 a group of right-wing military chiefs ousted the Aristide government in a coup.

In 2009 Mr Zelaya was ousted as Honduran leader in another military coup.

The IRI said the sham election which followed was “free of violence and overt acts of intimidation” and appeared credible.

SNP MP Chris Stephens told the Star: “This revelation demonstrates that the Scottish Tories, far from being centrist, are hard-line rightwingers, whose views on domestic and international issues continue to alienate the electorate.

“Ruth Davidson should distance herself from Bowie. The extremist views held by the Scottish Tories are the reason they have lost 21 elections in a row in Scotland.”

Nine years on from the coup, we still need to stand up for Honduras: here.

Washington presses Central America to militarize and turn away from China: here.

Honduran two-year-old girl cries because of Trump’s Border Patrol

A two-year-old girl from Honduras cries as her mother gets strip searched and arrested at the USA-Mexican border. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Photo of 2-year-old girl feeds outrage over US immigration policy

In the United States, criticism is growing against President Trump’s immigration policy. …

And if there is one image that feeds that indignation, it is the above photo by the American photojournalist John Moore. Some American newspapers have published it and the photo is widely shared on social media.

We see a 2-year-old girl from Honduras who looks up cryingly at her mother, who is being arrested by the border police. They were part of a group of about twenty people who had crossed the border with Texas. The border police caught them on 12 June at McAllen.

The US American photographer John Moore was there. He has been working along the Mexican border for ten years. “When the border patrol noted the names of the people, I could see a mother holding a young child. … [The Border Patrol] … asked the mother to set down her daughter. At that moment, the young child broke into tears, and she started wailing. ”

“And I took a knee and had very few frames of that moment before it was over. Almost overwhelmed by emotions, she picked up her daughter, and they were rushed into the van and all taken away.” I had to take a few deep breaths to recover.”

The mother still said that they came from Honduras. They had been on the road for one month and were exhausted. “But as a father – and I have a toddler myself. It was very difficult to see what was happening in front of my lens and thinking what it would be like for my kids to be separated from me”, says Moore. “Because I thought they would be separated quickly. I saw from their faces that they had no idea what would happen to them.”

It is not clear whether this girl has really been separated from her mother. This usually does not happen immediately with the arrest. It happens when the parents are prosecuted because they cross the border illegally. Then they are not allowed to keep their children in prison.

The US government recently introduced a zero tolerance policy. Almost 2,000 children have been separated from their families since April. According to the rules, children under 5 years of age may stay with their parents. But that does not always seem to be the case in practice. Due to language problems or lack of staff in the reception centers it sometimes goes wrong.

Unknown where the girl is

The American BuzzFeed News made inquiries with the American border police last weekend. A spokesperson did not know what had happened to this girl. …

Photographer John Moore also does not know what happened to her. “I would very much like to know. Ever since I took those pictures, I think about that moment often. And it’s emotional for me every time.”

In Honduras, there was a right-wing military coup deposing the center-left president in 2009. Then President Obama at least verbally condemned that coup; but his then Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton supported it. Ever since, the regime, its death squad supporters and violent drug dealers massively murder pro-democracy activists, environmentalists, indigenous people, teachers, lawyers, feminists, journalists and little girls who complain about bad situations at schools.

BORDER PATROL CHASE ENDS IN DEADLY CRASH At least five people were killed and several others injured when an SUV believed to be carrying undocumented immigrants crashed in southern Texas after being chased by Border Patrol agents. [HuffPost]

PROTESTERS DESCEND ON TEXAS TENT CITY Constructed last week to shelter migrant children, the site became home to a protest Sunday as crowds marched to oppose the separation of immigrant families at the border. [HuffPost]

A young girl holds on to her mother as they wait with other families to request political asylum in the United States, across the border in Tijuana, Mexico

Trump under fire after blaming Democrats for child refugee scandal: here.

ALMOST 2,000 children were separated from their families at the US border over six weeks, officials say. Following a Trump administration crackdown on ‘illegal’ border crossings from Mexico, adults are being detained, meaning the children with them are removed from their care. The issue is causing a growing political storm in the US. Last Thursday Attorney General Jeff Sessions cited the Bible to defend the ‘zero tolerance’ approach: here.