“We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers, our actions run as causes and return to us as results.” ― Herman Melville
Cause and effect! Choices made, whether good or bad, follow us forever and affect everyone in their path. For several weeks, we have been bombarded with the Central American child migration crisis in the United States. I believe that this crisis cannot be solved without first delving into the causes.
According to statistics, 52,193 children made the treacherous journey to the U.S. border, fleeing mainly from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. Why no Nicaraguan children?
The border patrol apprehension data indicates that there are several complicated factors, including; Guatemalan children from rural areas are seeking economic opportunities in the U.S. On the other hand, children from El Salvador and Honduras may be leaving because of extreme violence, where the risks of leaving are preferable to remaining at home.
Again, I ask, “Why no Nicaraguan children?”
The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) presented in Nicaragua on May 19, 2014 its Regional Report on Human Development for 2013-2014 on security matters and classified Nicaragua as “atypical” because of its low rates of homicide and robbery. Juan Pablo Gordillo, adviser on security at the Latin American Regional Services Center of the UNDP, said that, “The case of Nicaragua is an important achievement at the regional level,” adding that because Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, it breaks the myth that poverty causes violence. Nicaragua’s homicide rate dropped to 8.7 per 100,000 inhabitants. Honduras, with 92 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, has the highest murder rate in the world. El Salvador has 69, Guatemala 39, Panama 14.9 and Costa Rica 10.3 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants. (The Nicaragua Network)
So, if it is a myth that poverty begets violence, and the Nicaraguan children thrive despite their poverty, where does this violence in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala originate? How did Nicaragua avoid the violence that its neighbors are experiencing?
Is the violence drug related? Fleeing Gangs “With two major youth gangs and more organized crime syndicates operating with impunity in Central America, analysts say immigration authorities will have a difficult time keeping children at home unless the root causes of violence are addressed.” ( F.Robles, Fleeing Gangs, New York Times, July 9, 2014)
Yet, very few media sources give any indication where the root causes of the violence originated. Could choices the United States made in the 1980s be a contributing factor to the drug related violence in Central America?
Possibly, the problem with child migrants is a direct result of U.S. policy in the 1980s when our government trained and funded Salvadoran and Guatemalan military and police to prevent popular revolutions. More recently, the U.S. government backed and supported the coup against President Manuel Zelaya in Honduras.
How did Nicaragua escape the violence? Could it be because El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras were left with brutal and corrupt police forces and unstable governments, whereas Nicaragua, with its successful 1979 revolution, got rid of the U.S. backed Somoza, and replaced the brutal National Guard with a new army and a new police force?
1. Who consumes all those drugs that are causing the violence and corruption in Central America?
2. Who militarized the drug war?
3. Who funds and trains repressive militia in the countries from which the children are fleeing?
If you know the answer to these questions, then you understand that the United States has a responsibility to care for these children, harbor them, and keep them safe. Because choices made, whether good or bad, follow us forever and affect everyone in their path.
The crisis of child migration is affecting Nicaragua, too. Nicaragua and Central America’s Child Migrant Crisis.
Thanks to the Nicaragua Network for supplying much of this information.