Saturday, October 27, 2018
The Migrant Caravan: Who is Coming, Why, and What We can Expect
First of all, who are these people? The "best guess" is that they are mostly from Honduras and El Salvador. They seem to be most poor working class individuals; what we would call lower working class, along with peasant farmers and the chronic poor. The more or less "official" reason for their exodus is the serious and prolong decline of their "Socialist paradise" economies, corrupt government and police, and terroristic drug cartel gangs. They also blame, at least in part, the US Government for its not to subtle war against spread of populist Socialism which was inspired by former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (1999 - 2013). The economic clampdown, they claim, has seriously affected their economies, and as a result, caused massive unemployment, high inflation, an increase in crime.
There is some truth in this. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), "socialist" Venezuela will see inflation of one million percent this year (2018), but in El Salvador it's averaging 2.20%, which is a far cry from neighboring Venezuela, but it's still only slightly high (it's expected to drop to 1.8% by the start of the fourth quarter). In Honduras, the inflation rate is hovering around 4.40%, which is considered slightly high, but a far cry from its previous high of 40.2% in 1991. However, while these rates are a little on the high side, they are no sufficient reason for the exodus. What about unemployment?
In Honduras, the unemployment rate is about 6.7%, a decrease from 7.4% in 2017. El Salvador's is been holding at 7% since 2017. As for the epicenter of the "Socialist paradise", Venezuela, the unemployment rate has been running at around 7.3%, down from 10.62% in 2016. If we look at the unemployment rate among the youth (ages 15 -24), it's holding at 14.2% in El Salvador; 8.4% in Honduras, and in Venezuela, it's running at 14.1%. By comparison, Mexico has an inflation rate of 5.2%, which is up from 4.8% in September 2018. Unemployment is 3.6% overall, and 3.76% for its youth. As for the US, our inflation rate is 1.9% while are unemployment rate is 3.9% through September 2018. Youth unemployment is around 8.4% (as an aside, Cuba has an inflation rate of 6.9%. It's unemployment rate is actually just 1.7%).
El Salvador has a similar problem, with a murder rate of 65 per 100,000, which is still three times that of Mexico. The capital, San Salvador, is on the US State Department's "Critical" list as well with the majority of murders resulting from gang violence and specifically names criminal groups like MS 13 and the 18th Street which are involved with street level drugs, extortion, carjacking, and murder-for-hire. As an alarming aside, law enforcement authorities detained several dozen known gang members interspersed in the "caravan" heading to the US, which likely means there are numerous others who managed to slip through. if they should cross into the US and link up with other gang members already in here, the result could be deadly.
Another factor to consider is that El Salvador authorities have also apprehended 100 known ISIS/ISIL members (based on Interpol "Wanted" notices and US Intelligence Agencies alerts). While this is a good thing obviously, there's no telling how many others they missed. As we've already seen in this country the damage and deaths that small cells of even one or two can cause, there's no need to point out the harm that could come from, say 20 or 25 making it into the US. These are indeed wolves among sheep.
The next question we need to address is that of who is funding this? This also goes hand-in-hand with "why?". Billionaire George Soros is always among the usual suspects who come to mind when events like this occur, however, there appears to be no real evidence of his involvement, at least thus far (Soros has become the arch-villain for anything Left or Lean leaning. However, as I previously written, Soros is actually a small fish in a very exclusive pond when it comes to backing causes, Left or Right). So, who is backing this then? One group which has surfaced is the "Libre Initiative", which appears unlikely. The Libre Initiative is Right-leaning organization funded by the Koch Brothers (the arch-villains of all things Right Wing) which targets registered Latino voters on behalf of the Republicans and Conservative causes. There would be no logical reason for them to fund a mass movement from Central America to come north.
There are a few possible candidates who have the ability to have pull something like this off in my opinion, along with a "little help from their friends" to borrow from The Beatles. The main culprit in my opinion is Venezuela. The US and Venezuela have been having a long "tit-for-tat" fight for decades, starting with a alleged US backed coup attempt against President Hugo Chavez in 2002 (CIA documents revealed that the US knew about the intended coup attempt but did not act or inform the Chavez Government. It did, however, station US naval vessels off the coast to monitor the situation). As a result, relations rapidly deteriorated while Cuba's Fidel Castro and Chavez became fast buddies. In 2005, Chavez publicly claimed that the US intended to have him assassinated (which, as we know, the US has done on numerous occasions throughout the world along with staging or backing coups).
The US attempted to isolate Venezuela at meeting with the Organization of American States in 2005 with a resolution to "monitor" democracies, which failed. While the US imposed economic sanctions against Venezuela, Chavez also sought closer relationships with US enemies abroad such as Iran, China, and groups like Hamas and Hezbollah. Nevertheless, Chavez attempted to mend US/Venezuelan relations following Hurricane Katrina by offering tons of food, fresh water, medical supplies, and even oil/gas. However, the offer was rejected by then President George W Bush (later a deal was worked out with CITGO, which is owned by Venezuela, to provided deeply discounted cost oil and gas for low income families in the US), but that honeymoon didn't last.
President Barack Obama rejected overtures to develop a "friendship" with Chavez and later, in speaking at People's Friendship University in Moscow, called the US both an "empire" and the world's biggest "terrorist" state. It wasn't long afterwards that Hugo Chavez died of cancer, which his supporters claimed were a direct result of the CIA's attempts to murder him. Since then, relations with Venezuela's new president, Nicolas Maduro haven't improved despite a "gift" of $500,000 toward President Trump's inauguration. In April 2017, under Maduro's orders, the Venezuelan army seized control of a General Motors plant in Zulia, resulting in the plant's closure. In August 2017, Trump announced that he wouldn't rule out a US led military intervention given the country's increasing economic instability, which was met with the expected outrage from various Venezuelan officials as well as other Latin American states.
Another factor to consider is that several years ago, in 2013/14, we had to deal with the equally mysterious exodus from Central America of thousands of children (about 48,000 "unaccompanied" children and young adults from El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Guatemala) bound for the US, the President of El Salvador, Mauricio Funes, stated that the US "had no right" to close its borders, preventing individuals from Latin America from entering, either legally or not. This was an echo of Mexico's former president, Vicente Fox, who had stated in 2006 that the US "had no legal right to seal its borders" for Mexicans or anyone else from Latin American wanting to enter America. Given the ease thus far in crossing Mexico's southern border, I wonder if perhaps Mexico isn't at least a enabler in passing these individuals through (remember that with the children's exodus, Mexican cartel led "coyotes" , Federal Police, and military escorted them to the US border, along with reports that they actually aided them in illegally crossing. The US/Mexican border is littered with secret conduits into the US thanks to drug and people smugglers.
There are other bad actors who I think may be involved as well. The first is La Raza ("The Race"), which is a Hispanic organization whose intent is to create (or recreate) a separate Hispanic nation within Southwest US ( based on a mythical land known as "Aztlan") based on the notion of "Reconquista" or reconquest of lands which once belonged to the ancient Aztecs and, later, Mexico. They openly promote the election of Hispanic individuals to every level of government, the creation of Hispanic only businesses, strong Hispanic schools, as well as Hispanic culture, traditions, and language in public schools. They support open borders and openly encourage those from "South of the Border" to come to the US by whatever means.
The other possible accomplice are groups like the Catholic Church which have for decades ignored US immigration laws and provide protection to illegal immigrants, as well as aid in finding them permanent shelter, jobs, and educate them on ways to circumvent US, state, and local laws. Of course the Catholic Church and their affiliated organizations aren't the only ones, but they certainly are the most prominent given that the majority of Latin Americans are Catholic. Although their actions are, in themselves illegal, they don't seem to fear any legal repercussions for their blatant disregard of US laws, which should strip them and similar non-profit groups of their tax exempt status and even jail priests, ministers, and their various governing board members.
There is no doubt this mass influx, or "invasion" as many are calling it, is intentional. There is also no doubt that its motive is both political and economic. Some claim that it's an attempt to "embarrass" President Trump. I believe it's designed to relieve the situation in their home countries and to punish the US for its foreign policy and disrupt our economy; putting a severe strain on own economic safety net which will likely result a dramatic rise in taxes and crime as well as weaken our sense of national sovereignty by overrunning our borders.
The US has long intervened in the internal affairs of other governments; destabilizing those which Washington and special interest groups disapproved of. That has to stop. We must accept that not everyone wants to be "Americans" or to live like we do (in fact, despite the hundreds of countries that we have propped up through our "nation building" efforts, not a single one has ever decided to based their government on the US model), and that's fine. It's their choice and we should accept that. Of course, that also means we don't have to do business with them or force them to, and we sure don't have to send them any US aid either (by the way, we send $127 million to Honduras, $74 million to El Salvador, $87 million to Mexico, and believe it or not, just over $3 million to Venezuela). We also need to crack down hard on "sanctuary" cities and states by cutting their federal funding. Finally, we must go after the root cause---those who shelter and employ illegal immigrants, be they churches and nonprofits or businesses. If we eliminate demand, we will eliminate supply.
USDoS Bureau of Diplomatic Security: Honduras Crime and Safety Report 2018
USDoS Bureau of Diplomatic Security: El Salvador Crime and Safety Report 2018
No Evidence Soros is Funding Immigrant Caravan
We've Just Learned Who's Funding the Migrant Caravan; It's Bad