The roots of the Central American migration crisis

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In the last few months the US government has started to resolve the current migration problems with Mexico and Central American countries.

Thousands of Central American migrants cross northern Mexico every day en route to the United States. This is an issue that has become part of the central agenda of the current US administration in recent years. Although this situation opened a wide debate about possible solutions to this problem, little has been said about the root causes of one of the largest migration crises.

To begin with, it is important to understand that the Migration problem is directly related to lack of opportunity, security, justice and equality. People who flee their countries usually live in political instability with weak institutions and low development.

North America is probably divided in two. On the one hand, the United States is a world power that has managed to develop economically. On the other hand, as a society sunk in poverty, Latin America regularly experiences growth deficits and major economic problems. But how did such problems arise in this area?

Although it is impossible to pinpoint an exact point in time when the problems began to develop, it must be remembered that all of these nations were colonies gaining independence and the twentieth century was the key moment for these new lands to make progress.

Unfortunately, however Instead, dictatorships and civil wars began to become part of the political landscape of this region in the middle of the last century.

Many will say that these were simple internal confrontations. Still, there is one key element that makes a huge difference: the intervention of foreign nations, particularly the United States.

In the case of Central America, This is where most of the migrants attempting to cross the United States’ southern border currently come from, various confrontations began to break out.

Some examples are the coup in Guatemala in 1954, the civil war in Guatemala in 1960-1996, the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua from 1979 to 1990, the civil war in El Salvador from 1979 to 1992, the US invasion of Panama in 1989 and the various Coups in Honduras, most recently in 2009.

All these internal confrontations have in common American involvement.

The first crisis mentioned is the 1954 coup in Guatemala. This coup is believed to be the first Latin American coup maneuvered by the US government, and this was the first of many interventions by the US government in the region.

It is also important to note that the United States supported either the government or the revolutionary movements depending on the political conditions in the country, such as the political ideology of the government. For example, in the Salvadoran Civil War, the United States helped the Salvadoran Armed Forces. On the other hand, in the Sandinista revolution, the US government supported the opposition group against the government in Nicaragua, the “Contras”.

As we can see, many of these confrontations have had American involvement in various areas, such as military or economic support. The US government is trying to maintain some political control in the center of the continent by try to waste communist and socialist movements.

Economic, political and social instability arose from these conflicts.

For decades there were no established governments, and there are countries that still have very weak political systems today. The wounds remain unhealed, insecurity and poverty persist and as a consequence, many people choose to emigrate in search of a better life. You are moving to the most powerful nation on the continent – the United States – and causing an alarming migration crisis.

In a way, the United States encouraged this problem by trying to maintain control of this area when instead it only achieved instability.

While I am not saying that the United States bears full responsibility for this crisis, our government has taken advantage of the civil unrest in neighboring countries by taking a leading role and thereby influencing the political futures of those countries.

Despite the complexity of the current situation, there is an opportunity that could mark the beginning of a new era in Central America. I am referring to the current discussions between the United States and the Central American countries.

This could be the turning point of a new collaboration between the countries in the region.

The United States may still be the great driving force behind the reconstruction and development of the region, but time will tell us whether superficial solutions have been sought, such as using military forces to prevent migrants from entering, or whether economic growth has been sought and promoted political stability in the Central American countries.

It is our responsibility as citizens to raise awareness of this problem so that it does not go unnoticed. The people of these countries need our help. We must ask the government to take action to help the Central American countries develop new social and economic policies.

Manuel Villa is a Mexican photographer and writer.


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