I was shocked but not surprised when US Vice President Kamala Harris warned would-be Guatemalans fleeing corruption, violence, and poverty. What Harris said in Guatemala was shameful and dishonest.
“I want to be clear to folks in the region who make that dangerous trek to the Unites States-Mexican border – do not come, do not come,” she was quoted as saying in The Guardian. “The United States will continue to enforce our laws and secure our border. There are legal methods by which migration should and can occur. But one of our priorities is to discourage illegal migration, and I believe if you to our border, you will be turned back.”
Harris’ warning was shrouded by US hegemony in the region with a lack of historical context.
There is a reason why Central American countries like Guatemala are known as banana republics.
Even if Vice President Harris suffers from a bout of historic amnesia, the US under Ronald Reagan was responsible for giving the green light to former General Efraín Ríos Montt, who was tried and convicted of genocide and war crimes that left an estimated 200,000 dead.
According to The Center for Justice & Accountability, “General Efraín Ríos Montt came to power in Guatemala through a coup in March 1982. A month later, he launched a “scorched earth” operation against the country’s Ixil Maya population. Under Ríos Montt’s dictatorship, the army and its paramilitary units systematically annihilated over 600 villages.”
Ríos Montt died in 2018 at the age of 91.
US Congressperson Alexandria Ocasio Córtez put matters in perspective with her keen eye for political detail:
Just like Africans fleeing poverty and political oppression in their countries, Latin Americans are in the same boat and victims of US hegemony in the region.
Both Africans and Latin Americans are treated as worthless humans that don’t even deserve the basic human right of asylum.