By Alfred McCoy
ew recent headlines reveal the painfully inhumane, dangerously volatile state of U.S. relations with its own home region, the continent of North America. A record-breaking 2.76 million border crossings from Mexico filled homeless shelters to the bursting point in cities nationwide in 2022. This year, the possible cessation of Covid restrictions could allow tens of thousands more migrants, now huddling in the cold of northern Mexico, to surge across the border, as some are already able to do. Most of those refugees are Central Americans, fleeing cities ravaged by gang warfare and farms devastated by climate change. The inept U.S. response to such a disturbing world ranges from the Biden administration’s nervously biding its time without a plan in sight to Arizona Governor Doug Ducey’s cutting an ugly scar through a pristine national forest by building a four-mile border “wall” out of rusted shipping containers (which he now has to dismantle).
Meanwhile, miserable millions in Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince are struggling to survive in the world’s worst slums, ravaged by recent earthquakes and roiled by endemic gang violence. While the U.N. Security Council debated launching an international military intervention to address what its secretary-general called “an absolutely nightmarish situation,” the U.S. expelled another 26,000 Haitian asylum seekers without hearings in 2022. The harshness of that was caught in September 2021 when Border Patrol horsemen used “unnecessary force” to herd Haitians back across the Rio Grande. Elsewhere in the Caribbean, Washington’s recent economic sanctions on communist Cuba — imposed by Trump and maintained by Biden — have sparked the flight to the U.S. of 250,000 refugees last year, more than 2% of the island’s population.
Farther south, after years of U.S.-led economic blockades and at least one Washington-sponsored coup, Venezuela has hemorrhaged 6.8 million of its citizens in what the U.N. called “the largest refugee and migrant crisis worldwide.” In 2018, only 100 Venezuelans crossed the southern U.S. border. In 2022, that number was an unprecedented 188,000. And keep in mind that all of this is likely to seem but a trickle in the years to come when, as the World Bank warned recently, a human flood may head north as the devastation of climate change uproots as many as four million people annually from Mexico and Central America….