Image description: painting by Diego Rivera entitled “Gloriosa Victoria” (Glorious Victory) depicts the influence of American commercial interests in the overthrow of Guatemala’s democratically-elected government.
By: Mara Henao, Philly Socialists Co-Chair
When I was growing up in Colombia, the story that a better life awaited in the United States was fed to us on the daily — big houses with large lawns, better educations, etc; capitalist dreams wrapped in a light-skinned bow. We heard this in movies, read it in the news, in advertisements, everywhere: “Up North is a dreamland of opportunities for hard working people.”
What parent wouldn’t want that for their children?
But what is left out of that story is the crucial role the United States has played in the destruction of countries like mine. This nation was built on the sweat, blood and tears of immigrants and others. We can not live in a capitalist superpower without the inhumane destruction and exploitation of the rest of the American continent.
Image description: a spanish-language newspaper with the headline, “100 Muertos y 238 Heridos en el Conflicto de la Region Bananera (100 Killed and 238 Wounded During the Banana-Zone Conflicts)”
On December 5 of 1928 in Cienaga, Magdalena (a city one hour away from my hometown in Colombia) the United States threatened to invade if a strike of the banana workers wasn’t put down. They were asking for better working conditions from their employer, the US-based United Fruits Company.
Their resistance led the workers to be deemed “communists” and dangerous by the local US officials. Finally, under US pressure, the Colombian army massacred all of the workers involved. The US ambassador to Colombia, Jefferson Caffery, boasted in a telegram to US Secretary of State Frank Kellogg that, “…the United Fruit Company told me yesterday that the total number of strikers killed by the Colombian military exceeded one thousand.” Today, the people of Cienaga are still poor and their working conditions are still unfair and – you guessed it – still slaves to the banana trade.
We come here to the United States, because our countries are broken by the same hand that wants to persecute us and get rid of us. Immigration from Latin America is the harvest of the American Empire.
The US owes reparations to its neighbors. We’re not a pest, we’re a people. We have families, we have needs, we don’t want to leave our countries behind, but a lot of us are left with no options.
Many people are saying we need to “abolish ICE.” While that is absolutely right, we need to be clear what this means.
The solution isn’t to go back to pre-ICE immigration policies. The solution is to eliminate the concept of “illegal immigrants” altogether, and to start paying up for those reparations the rest of America deserves.
The injustices of US immigration policy has recently captured the wider public’s attention when news came to light of immigrant children being separated from their parents. Thousands of people of conscience have shown their support for these families by marching together in the streets and raising their voices in protest. But it is not enough. It will never be enough until every child in a cage is set free. We must do more.
Philly Socialists is organizing together with several other local groups a mass action against ICE on Monday July 2nd, 2018. Please consider joining us. Don’t let the anger last for one week, don’t let that fire die. If we do, we will never be able to stop this fascism in this country and the venom from its fangs will run deep and destroy what humanity we have left in us.
Link to the Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/162651121262772/
Event details: Rally at City Hall, Philadelphia @ 4:30pm
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