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Central American Migrants Suffer from Skyrocketing Violence After Immigration Crackdown


Central American Migrants Suffer from Skyrocketing Violence After Immigration Crackdown

Nika Knight, staff writer

The journey taken by Central American refugees seeking asylum in the U.S. has grown so violent that nine out of 10 migrants seen by Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontiers (MSF) psychologists exhibit symptoms of depression and trauma as a result—a 300 percent increase from 2014.


I am growing numb over the global refugee crisis, in general . It is like if the U.S or Europe does not absorb 65 million people, we are no better than the nazis and it's not fair. I don't mean to sound harsh but people need to fight, not flee, for freedom and justice they seek elsewhere. Fleeing is the path of least resistance but it is very presumptuous to expect others to always be there to pick up the pieces when your society fails. Taking in potentially millions of fleeing Central Americans does nothing to improve or resolve the conditions they are fleeing. The violence will only stop when the people of this region demonstrate that they are willing to die for a cause which preserves human dignity and rights for all of its people. Every time a person flees his or her home land in distress, the country falls more into the hands of violent radicals. It is also very simplistic and non-constructive to always respond to a global crisis by faulting the U.S. since it always seems to the country of choice for refugees we allegedly created.


It's very brave of you to say these things, but many of these refugees are women and children. Others don't have the temperament you aspire to. What's happening to them is not a comic book. I'm sure that there are many young men and women who are fighting for a better life in their countries. I also dislike this article's referring to these people fleeing terrible situations as "migrants". They are refugees in every sense of the world. There's a legal difference. Members of the UN have agreed that they have an obligation to take in and help refugees. There are now about 60 million of them in the world. Certain European nations and the US are violating their own commitments to refugees. A good start here is to stop calling them "migrants" and call them what they are, which is likely what most of our ancestors were -- refugees. Is that the Statue of Liberty I see weeping?


If Mexicans would stop raping and murdering the migrants, that would be nice...


The news (and what we see in the grocery stores) is about refugees or migrants from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. It has been years since Nicaraguan migrants and refugees have been in the news. I have heard nothing about Costa Rican or Panama (or Belize) on this topic ...

Except for Cuban refugees / migrants stacked up at the Costa Rica / Nicaragua border, stopped from moving further towards the USA. ...

I wonder what is causing the distinctions. Why are the first three so much in the news and increasingly in our communities, and the rest are not?


That is because there are not refugees fleeing from Costa Rica, Belize, and Nicaragua. Costa Rica is stable, democratic and the most prosperous country in Central America, Belize is likewise stable and safe, and Nicaragua, since it recovered, more or less, from the US-instigated and supported Contra wars of the '80's, does not see its citizens fleeing either.
Guatemala and El Salvador are still suffering violence and poverty that resulted from the horrors they suffered from the overthrow of their governments by US-backed and SOA-trained military types, who then perpetrated horrific crimes against the populace in the 80's. Hondurans are the victims of the violence that resulted from the (Hillary Clinton-supported) coup against President Manuel Zalaya in 2009. Although there is poverty in Panama, the government is stable and violence is not an issue.
The Cubans who arrived and were temporarily housed by the Costa Rican government, until a plan could be worked out to help them reach the US southern border (eventually they were transported to El Salvador and took buses from there), are allowed free entry into the US, so you aren't going to hear much about that.

If you want to learn about US actions, and the consequences of same, in Central America, there is a wealth of information in two books by William Blum: Rogue State, and Killing Hope. Journalist Allan Nairn covered, and still covers, what happened/happens in Guatemala--another good source.


It is a flight or fight response. If the choices of to flee for your own safety even if it means being a part of a moral brain drain on the country or staying in the country and facing the very likely scenario of torturous austerity and death, many desperate people might want to take the easier way out. The thing is, with globalization, the hell that refugees are experiencing will be total and no place will truly be safe for them.

I don't think the fact that the U.S. or EU not absorbing enough refugees labels them like the nazis, although that helps, it is more to do for the fact that they are responsible for shattering many of the countries where these refugees are escaping from. And with Clinton at the helm, don't expect this to change anytime soon.


Most of the "leadership" in the world takes care of themselves and the 1%. They are not interested in the poor and struggling. If we had any good leaders, these kind of things would not happen as much as they do and we would have inspiration rather than degradation.


And so many deluded americans still laud Ronald Reagan as "great" although he directed impeachable actions in Central America which brought misery and death to so many. The bad gangs - mara salvatrucha and the zetas - are probably a direct result of the destabilization brought about by the US and its central American lap dogs.


I want to pose a seeming contradiction, for you and other readers to ponder.

That seems to describe Panama. We the USA has had lots of reason to intervene in Panama since 1903, namely the canal. The School of America (SOA) was once located in the Canal Zone. Back c1989 when GHW Bush was President we intervened and overthrew their 'leader', Manuel Noriega. So with all that, so similar to what happened in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Colombia on the other border with Panama, why don't we hear of continuing paramilitary repression of the public in Panama, and of refugees fleeing headed to the USA?


Last I heard, the Zetas were a Mexican drug gang, and rose up from the different sort of USA-caused destabilization, our 'War on Drugs'. MS-13 came out of Los Angeles and its world of 'Jets' and 'Sharks' and 'Bloods' and 'Crips' and more.


Knowing something of the history of these various "actions", I don't see a contradiction at all. They weren't one-size-fits-all operations, and a reading of the history makes that clear. The US, until 2000, when it closed all its military bases in Panama and turned the canal over to Panamanians, was ever present in Panama, but not fomenting violence, or overthrowing leaders (except for Noriega, a long-time CIA asset who did something to displease his US 'owners' and thus had to be gotten rid of). The US presence in Panama was to maintain control of the canal, and as long as Panama's leaders didn't interfere, they were allowed to continue in power. Some were autocrats, some had policies meant to help the economy and raise the standard of living (which by and large did not succeed), but there wasn't ever the violence and repression that occurred in other countries of Central America. The US didn't want that kind of thing happening near the canal zone and disrupting 'business'. Hence you don't have Panamanian refugees flooding north, and as I mentioned before, Panama is stable and non-violent.


First, history tells us that in 1964 there were large riots in Panama, which prompted the negotiations that eventually turned the canal over to Panama's control. And in 1968 there was a coup, overthrowing populist leader Arnulfo Arias and installing the military.

Second, most Latin American countries have had local plantations and latifundias that are operated much like U.S. southern cotton and tobacco plantations, one well-to-do family in charge and many workers, with charges of oppression and inequality, and popular movements to overthrow the system and enact land reform. From Wikipedia: "Panamanian politics have historically been corrupt."
-- Historically the USA has favored 'order' and the status quo.
Are you saying that Panama is the exception to the wide pattern of oppression, rebellion and counter-insurgency in Latin America? Any idea why it is the exception?

BTW, earlier you and I missed the chance to remark that Nicaragua, not currently a mass source of refugees, is governed by Daniel Ortega of the Sandinista Front since 2007. They recently changed the law so that Ortega can be reelected indefinitely, a la Hugo Chavez, and Porfirio Diaz. And to remark that El Salvador, = a mass source of refugees, is governed by the 'moderate' wing of the FMLN revolutionary movement, elected to power back in 2009 and has governed since.


Thanks for your response. No, I'm not saying that Panama has been the exception to to the pattern of oppression, rebellion and counter-insurgency in Latin America. As I understood your post, you were wondering why you don't hear about Panamanian refugees entering the US, and my response was that Panama is stable and without the violence seen in the other countries. I stand corrected that there was never the violence seen in other countries, but since the turn of the century, there has been little, which I believe is the reason you don't see or read of Panamanian refugees entering the US. (Panama is a very popular country for emigres from the US, mostly retirees, as are Costa Rica and Nicaragua). If they were attempting to come in, imo, you'd know about it, just like you read of those from the other countries. I'm a little confused about your thinking, or the point you are making--do you believe it just isn't reported in the US that there are refugees from Panama, or that there aren't refugees from Panama?

"Historically, the US has favored 'order' and the status quo". That is a point I was attempting to make in my response. In the other countries, as long as US corporate interests were protected, the US didn't give a damn about the murders and other violence taking place, and in fact aided and abetted same. In Panama the US wanted 'order', so

Re: Ortega. I lost respect for him many years ago, but I have a professor friend in Costa Rica who has traveled widely in Nicaragua, and says that Ortega is still very popular in the small rural communities of Nicaragua, because he's had policies which benefit them. With the canal going through, I'm sure he has lost support from the Indigenous who live along the route, however. In the cities, he's not popular any more, because they've seen what he's about--total control and corruption to secure it.

My understanding of the situation in El Salvador, from what I've read in the past, is that after the violence of the '80s, when many flooded into the US, the youth, most in southern California, became involved in drugs and gangs, and those who were apprehended were deported back to El Salvador, where they brought the gangs, drugs and violence "home"--a place many of them had no memory of . That is what many people are fleeing now, which is why you read of Salvadorans trying to enter the US. I haven't read much about the current government, but apparently it has not been able to curb the violence, or you wouldn't see so many women with children attempting that treacherous journey north on their own. A woman alone with her children would have to be pretty desperate to set out on such a trip, imo.

Thanks for the exchange, I've enjoyed it.