This idea of insurgencies from the top and the bottom certainly applies to the political world of 2014 in the United States. Think the Koch Brothers and war profiteers on one side and gangs and a huge criminal underclass in and out of prison on the other. In a place like Honduras where there is no middle class and no working modern state, it's nothing but the struggle between th two insurgencies. Society becomes divided between gated communities and feral no-go zones -- with nothing in between. "The ultimate losers in all this," Gilman writes, "[are] the people who play by the rules." For a Honduran, it's either accept loser status "or join one of the two insurgences."
Many Honduran parents accept the risks in order to save their kids; they scrounge together money to send them to the US border. Three years ago, 6,800 children were detained at the border; today the figure is 90,000. Twenty-five percent of them are from Honduras. The UN High Commission for Refugees interviewed 104 of these children, and 58% said they left due to violence.
DE-MILITARIZE THE US/MEXICAN BORDER
In a recent New York Times essay called "The Children of the Drug Wars," Sonia Nazario, author of Enriques Journey: The Story of a Boy's Dangerous Odyssey to Reunite With His Mother, describes the case of 90,000 Central American kids fleeing over the US/Mexico border as a "refugee crisis," not an immigration crisis. It's critical how the story is framed. For example, plutocrat-friendly Republicans love to represent it as a military problem and an Obama problem. But it's not even a Bush problem. It's a problem rooted in history, and it's a history in which the US has played such an instrumental role that it owes a degree of attention to the problem. Sending down more guns and troops or building more, bigger fences is not the answer.
Honduras is ground zero when it comes to the ascendancy of Gilman's dueling armed insurgencies preying especially on children.
Fourteen-year-old Carlos Baquedano Sanchez tells Narzario he knows how dangerous a trip to the US border can be; but he's also aware of the dangers of staying in his village. He knows a man who lost both legs falling off a Mexican train on the way to the US border. He also knows eight people who have been murdered; he witnessed three of those murders.
"I want to avoid drugs and death," he told Nazario. "The government can't pull up its pants and help people. My country has lost its way."
Henry Carias Aguilar, a pastor in a poor village, put it this way: "You never call the cops. The cops themselves will retaliate and kill you."
The right wants the US government to increase the militarization of the border. "Secure the border" and "Send in the National Guard" have become their mantra. It's not to catch terrorists, but to snatch up refugee children who want to live -- before anyone in the North can hear their stories.
Instead of more weapons and more prison cells, for a change US policy should help bolster the citizen-protecting features of the Honduran state. We could look at it as an experiment. The right-wing president of Colombia asked President Obama to close down the US Drug War in Latin America and begin to deal with the demand problem here at home. A reasonable legalization program is not far fetched; it would be a great start. It would help weaken the criminal insurgency Nils Gilman talks about.
But that leaves the plutocrats, and the Obama spine is not as stiff as that of the wheelchair-bound FDR. It may take a woman with a spine like Elizabeth Warren.
The point is to really help Honduras get out of its hole, and in the process make the border more human. If left to the forces of US militarism, the border crisis can only get much worse and more dangerous.
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