Thursday, November 1, 2018

Stopping Violence At The Border?

I don't follow the news. If there is anything I'm missing that would make me a better person, then I apologize, and will consider repenting; but truly, it's a policy I like.

Despite my intentional ignorance,  I discovered there is a caravan of at least 4000 people (some estimate as many as 7200), mostly Hondurans, on the road in southern Mexico.

The walk. They have been on the road for over two weeks, averaging 30 miles per day. They say they are heading for the US border. If they go to McAllen, Texas, which is the closest crossing to where they are now, it's going to take them another month, IF they can maintain the same pace.
If 30 miles per day doesn't sound like much of a challenge, because you drive that to work every day, consider this: that's approximately the same PACE the Army requires for  passing Special Forces assessment: 18 miles in 4 hours, 30 minutes. The Army requires it be accomplished while carrying a 50 pound rucksack, but the point is this: 30 miles per day, for 45 days, is going to kill some people.
They aren't the only group on the road; another 2,000 broke through the border between Guatemala and Mexico on Sunday, and 300 more left San Salvador the same day. Those trips, if completed, are on par with the trip from Honduras.
The 'X' is where they are now; the 'O' is where they are going.
It's a thousand miles.

Why would you do that to yourself if you didn't have to?
Media sources such as The Los Angeles Times  and Associate Press' Sonia Perez D report interviews with members of the caravan, complaining of a high rate of crime, specifically out-of-control violence.
An earlier caravan in April of this year prompted a CNN report of gangs extorting a 'war tax' from civilians, and a US Department of State report issued at that time stated Honduras has one of the highest murder rates in the world.  The civil environment that supports that is described by the Canadian government as follows:
Demonstrations and strikes occur regularly in cities throughout the country and often result in significant traffic disruptions and minor vandalism. In Tegucigalpa, demonstrations are known to target the National Congress, Central Park, Presidential Palace, United Nations offices and the United States Embassy. Demonstrations often transit along Centroamerica Boulevard, La Paz and Los Próceres avenues, and Suyapa Boulevard.
Anti-corruption demonstrations occasionally take place on Fridays in Tegucigalpa.


These are non-trivial questions.

The easy answer is to point to the narcotics traffic, and let it go at that. They surely do have a great amount of culpability; they have created an entire system, from international, organized crime, all the way down to the extensive street gangs in the cities.

However, that begs the question: Why NOW? The crime problem in Honduras has existed for YEARS. If the only reason for this massive caravan is to escape crime, then what's the reason for this sudden upsurge?

El Niño is one reason. The Central American 'Dry Corridor' is experiencing the worst drought in 10 years. Farmers can usually bring in two crops per year; now, they aren't sure they can get one. That has struck hard at the economy. There are some outlets reporting this as 'climate change,' essentially parroting the World Bank position that human-generated climate change is real, responsible, and reversible. While not consistent with the understanding of the  El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) as a VERY long-term climate influence, it does have the benefit of making for good copy.

And thus we have the first of those receiving benefit from the caravan: those using the plight of the farmers to promote their agenda on 'remediating' climate change.

A bad television interview. Another answer to 'Why Now?' (that appears to me to be somewhat buried) is, at best, an example of very sloppy journalism. Bartolo Fuentes is a former politician and a lifetime human rights activist, a critic of the Honduran government who has devoted himself to help migrants/refugees. He has regularly assisted with previous - small scale!- caravans, including the one last April. Another SMALL caravan was in the works; small, that is, until an interview broadcast on state-aligned television station HCH. An unidentified woman was quoted as saying Fuentes was going organizing a caravan of migrants north,  and pay for their food and transportation. Overnight, the group swelled from 200 to 7000. A repudiation of the report by Fuentes did nothing to change the momentum; the people were going, and that was that.

A second beneficiary of the caravan: a pro-government news organization that wished to embarrass a person who was critical of government policies.

Anybody else?

Those who know more about politics will have to come up with the answer for that. It  does appear to have become a political football, and a factor in the upcoming elections.  Who will ultimately gain from the events? Don't know.

It smells bad, though.

Who's job is it to fix it? That question brings me to my end thought, which has to do with an oath I took on September 7, 1972 ,when I joined the Army, and similar oaths sworn by our elected officials:
"I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."
Whether it is proper for our nation of immigrants to CHANGE the immigration laws is something we may discuss. However, there is nothing in our CURRENT law that permits immigration-by-walking-across-the-border. There are things that have to happen, and it is needful that our elected officials keep to the letter and spirit of the oath.

People getting shot at the border? No, let's not have that.  Maybe some people need to get shot; from what I've read, that sounds like it ought to be considered as a part of the solution. I just don't think any of those people are marching among the 7,000.

As I pointed out earlier, at the rate they are travelling, it's going to take this group another 30 days to get to Texas. Can we get this thing figured out by then? Please?

Peace be on your household; and on us all.

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