Tag Archives: Mexican nations

Those “Mexican” Countries

It’s no wonder Donald Trump loves Fox News. In the annals of stupidity, they are fellow over-achievers.

Paul Krugman’s recent newsletter referenced the most recent evidence (as if we needed any) that Fox is not a legitimate news outlet:

Social media had a field day after “Fox & Friends Weekend” opened its show with a banner reading “Trump cuts off aid to three Mexican countries.” It was a stupid error, but also revealing: Clearly, a lot of the staff at Fox think all them brown people are the same.

And meanwhile, Trump is trying to cut off aid to a fourth Mexican country — one that happens to be part of the United States, home to three million U.S. citizens.

What that Fox banner was about was Trump’s order to the State Department to cut off all aid to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, countries that have recently been the source of many would-be migrants to the U.S. Leaving aside the reality that the “border crisis” is a figment of Trump’s imagination, what, exactly, is this aid cutoff supposed to accomplish?

The cutoff will, after all, make the conditions that have led some central Americans to flee their homes even worse, increasing their incentive to try to move north. So what are the governments of these nations supposed to do? Erect barriers to keep their people in?

The insanity of Trump’s approach was highlighted by an email I received from a friend. Dick Patterson is a  retired academic who used to live in Indiana, and who wrote about his recent trip to those “Mexican” countries.

In January, 2018 I joined an Indiana Audubon Society birding trip to northern Honduras. We flew in to San Pedro Sula, a small city in the north. I had never before heard of San Pedro Sula, but it was an attractive small city. Little did I know that it was a hotbed for gang violence and was soon going be the starting point for columns of migration north.

The view from the airplane of the ground below was of square miles of banana plantations, followed by more square miles of what I learned were pineapple plantations…  I was told that the plantation hires local people as laborers, but don’t provide permanent jobs because the company does not want to pay benefits. The jobs are in the tropical sun and the workers are exposed to toxic chemicals.

Honduras has more than bananas and pineapple plantations. Palm oil, cacao, sugar cane and coffee are also grown. The plantations take up most of the good farmland, with Chiquita and Dole taking up 60%.

In 2018 president Hernandez ran for a second term. Despite the fact that the constitution allows only one term, he won. Our birding guide, an extremely intelligent civic-minded man, just shrugged his shoulders, and said he just had to get on with his life.

In summary, a corrupt banana republic.

Is it any wonder that the best job available is to join a gang that extorts money from local businesses? Or that hordes of people see no future there? And now Trump wants to cut off foreign aid because they can’t keep everybody home in these conditions.

We could help by pressuring the American fruit corporations to clean up their act. Cutting off foreign aid will only make a bad situation worse.

Making a bad situation worse might just be the mantra of American foreign policy. How many times, in how many situations, have we pursued what State Department naifs conceived of as our short-term advantage only to find that we had undermined our long-term interests?

With the “election” of a man who has zero understanding of geopolitics, who sees every interaction as a zero-sum game and every country other than Russia as either a competitor or an enemy, we have abandoned even the pretense of a rational foreign policy. We now have a “Christian warrior” as Secretary of State, a President who is incapable of understanding cause and effect, and a Republican propaganda machine that labels all countries south of the border as “Mexican.”

It’s an embarrassing time to be an American.