It’s a commonly used term, but the idea of a “Banana Republic” (penned by the writer O’Henry) actually stemmed from the governments formed in the tortured Northern Triangle of Central America: El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. The region is known for its banana crop and U.S. demand, satisfied by the centralized corporatization of fruit production, has created a crisis whose repercussions we are now seeing. These are desperately poor countries and the issue on our border should not be to deport these refugee children, As Emile Schepers says, “What is needed is for U.S. politicians to ponder why it is so dangerous for them to stay.”
Large U.S. multinational corporations are making a fortune in Central America, so much so , they’ve privatized their own “security forces” to keep their interests protected. Much like the democratically elected government of Iran in the 1950’s, the CIA conducted a similar operation to overthrow the popularly elected government of Guatemala, by unseating the democratically elected Jacobo Arbenz. During the Eisenhower administration, Secretary of State John Dulles was motivated to act in Guatemala because he had some interest in the holdings of a corporation known as United Fruit. The intervention was a personal matter to the Secretary of State.
And the Dulleses had their own personal sympathies for United Fruit: they had done legal work for the company, and counted executives there among their close friends.
Throughout the 1980’s we had a minor little scandal called Iran-Contra, where the U.S. sent arms to the Nicaraguan guerillas. When the U.S. passed the Boland Amendment in 1982, our real interference with Central American affairs helped truly make the region a volatile powder keg.
Let’s fast forward to the twenty-first century. Our need for bio-fuels like palm oil, has created a very volatile situation especially in Honduras. The impoverished nation also experienced a dire water crisis, where much of the resistance to flooding has been attributed to aggressive forest clearing by logging. The U.S., with the failed war on drugs, has also had a hand in the violence in the area, where we’ve essentially turned Central America into a war zone.
When President Barack Obama signed the annual list of countries with major drug trafficking or drug producing problems in September of 2010, five of six Central American countries made the cut.
Families risk a dangerous voyage north to the United States border to give their children a fighting chance at life. Contrary to Tea Party opinions, there is no such thing as an illegal human being, but rather millions of refugees who have been put in a terrible situation by no fault of their own. Thanks in part to corporate pillaging and a tremendous murder rate, these impoverished people need our help more than ever.