By Thulani Conrad Moore, Roots of Justice Trainer
If U.S. businessmen supported by the U.S. government had not plundered the resources of the people of Latin America, and the Caribbean the people of those nations would not be at the southern border looking for their stolen inheritance.
When people feel compelled to leave a place, it may be that they are running from something or to something. In the case of Latin America, pundits always tell us that they are running from violence, socialism, dictatorships, drug cartels, etc. For many that may be true. However, if we dig a bit deeper, we expose other reasons.
Some say the end of Title 42 heralds the Latin American invasion. They are coming here to steal the jobs of hard-working Americans. That is the cry of uninformed Americans who claim to understand why “they” are coming.
I don’t usually quote Fox news guy Tucker Carlson but as usual, he said something stupid about U.S. history so I feel compelled to set the record straight. Tucker said “...This is the biggest story in recent American history; a total change in the American population. Millions and millions and millions of new people, the country will never be what it was five years ago…”
Tucker could not have found a better way to demonstrate his stupidity. If you really want to put current events in perspective you have to know your history. The Supreme Court led by Justice Roberts is ruling on when to end the Trump administration's policy called Title 42. Basically, immigrants legally seeking asylum in the United States have to remain in Mexico while their cases are being adjudicated. Ending that policy will result in many immigrants coming to the U.S. But, Do we even want to understand why? Do we want to go beyond the “taking our jobs” jargon?
First of all, we have to get over our penchant for oversimplifying complex issues. Immigration is now and has always been a complex issue. The U.S. has always had race-based immigration policies like the Chinese Exclusion act and other policies designed to maintain white dominance. Following the money is one reason some immigrants want to come to the U.S. Following the money is the reason easiest to ignore. If we want to understand, we have to do an honest excavation of U.S. history.
As I stated earlier, if U.S. businessmen supported by the U.S. government had not plundered the resources of the people of Latin America and the Caribbean, the people of those nations would not be at our door looking for their stolen inheritance.
Any honest exploration of our history exposes unfavorable facts about rich white American men in Latin America. At this point, some white people cry 'critical race theory' because I’m calling out white Americans. To be clear, the fight against critical race theory is an attempt to hide the evil, illegal, immoral, and murderous behavior of rich white American men throughout U.S. history. The 19th-century writers had a fitting name for these rich white men who plundered Latin America and the Caribbean. They called them robber barons.
Men like J.P. Morgan, Rockefeller, Guggenheim, and others fit the description. In the late 19th and early 20th century, U.S. businessmen controlled 76% of the corporations in Mexico, 96% of its agriculture, and all of its oil. according to journalist and author Juan González. (c.f. his book Harvest Of Empire).
Vanderbilt had businesses in Nicaragua. He had disputes with the local government. He was able to call in the U.S. Navy to “protect his interest.”
To plunder is the violent and dishonest acquisition of property and natural resources. I use the word plunder here because it fits. These men were the real pirates of the Caribbean. None of this information is engraved on the monuments they have built for themselves. To be fair, they were also philanthropists. They gave massive amounts of money to various interests. So, yes they were robber barons, pirates and plunderers, but that is not all they were.
That said, our history teachers, curriculum developers, news media, and social scientists try their best to simplify very complex issues. Unfortunately, all we get from that process is contradiction, confusion, hypocrisy, and deception. It is all an attempt to maintain an image of white male goodness and white male dominance. Focusing only on the good might seem simpler but, leaving out the bad and the ugly means students do not get a complete picture of these men or the U.S. government’s support of their actions in foreign countries.
We try to simplify the reasons for Latin American immigration to the U.S. Some people simply believe “they are coming here to take American jobs from hard-working white Americans.” Could it be that the people of Latin America are coming here to catch up with the money and natural resources U.S. businesses have systematically stolen? Much of the wealth of Latin America has consistently been drained out of Latin America and into the pockets of American businessmen. What are the people left behind supposed to do to survive? One option is to follow the money.
I am not implying that reclaiming their inheritance is the primary motivator for the people of Latin America gathering at the southern US border. However, it is something for U.S. citizens to consider--reparations so to speak. When we think of reparations, we think in the context of African Americans and U.S. chattel slavery. We will demonstrate that we understand the impact of colonialism and empire building when we recognize that all of the survivors of colonialism deserve compensation for inheritance stolen.
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