I know I’ve written on this before. And I’ll write about it again. Why? Because the women and children were the ones really caught in the cross hairs. The war ended in the early nineties but those countries are still broken.
We called it the Cold War. Makes it sound almost like a chess game doesn’t it? Well, there was nothing “cold” about it for the hundreds of thousands of civilians caught in the crossfire. In Central and South America all the oligarchs had to do was whisper subversion and the US came trotting up like Pavlov’s dog.
The US invaded Guatemala in the fifties on the advice of the Dulles brothers. One was secretary of state. The other was the head of the CIA AND on the board of United Fruit and the new democratically elected possibly leftist government was not in the best interests of that company. So it had to go. Does the term conflict of interest ring a bell? Events went downhill after that.
Most of these kids are coming from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. Countries that the US has interfered in the decades and that took the brunt of Reagan’s “war on communism” back in the eighties. If you don’t mind getting your heart seriously dented find a copy of Promised land by lay missionary Scott Wright. He spent a total of eight years in country working with Salvadoran refugees both in the camps and in the country. He lived with them, fled with them, prayed with them, hid with them, worked in the refugee camps with them, shared their beans and tortillas. When then had them. Went hungry with them when there was nothing. Watched as those with almost nothing shared what little they had.,
We shot them, bombed them mortored the, burned their houses, burned their crops. Well, WE didn’t. We just supplied the guns, ammo, choppers, fighter bombers,advisors, training at the School of the Assassins, and little number that I haven’t read but is available on Amazon. The little hundred odd page magnum opus is titled Psychological Operations in Guerilla Warfare. It was the CIA’s how to manual for the war in Nicaragua.
At first the CIA tried to blame the document on an overzealous contractor. Later a few mid level officials were reprimanded or suspended. Finally, in 1987, the senior officials who were responsible for producing and distributing the manual were identified. But, the head of the CIA, William Casey, blocked any disciplinary action. “There’s no reason to discipline them for one little slip up.” And I’m sure that it didn’t stay limited to Nicaragua and that playbook was straight out of Viet Nam. The tragic gift that just keeps on giving.
The Salvadorans have been and are a resilient people. For the parents, if these kids have parents to send their kids north, it must be pure hell down there. In more than a few cases the kids, especially girls and young women, are fleeing their own families who have tried to traffic them or get them involved in the drug trade that they’re tied to.
Many of these children would probably qualify as refugees under the treaty Bush signed. If we can keep them in the US long enough to pry their real stories out of them.
I gotta tell you, reading this (and other books is causing a major shift in how I view this country and the “problems” we believe are so earthshaking. I believe deeply in the separation of church and state. And I know that there are groups that would try to impose their brand of Christianity on the rest of us. Good luck with that bro in a country that has almost as many guns on the streets as people. But, somehow facing listening to a sectarian prayer before a meeting pales when you read the stories of men and women murdered because they were lay church leaders. It may come to that here. I hope not. And I hope sharing the stories of men and women who faced the fire and came through might help just a little.