Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness... I am sure that all of you who have been through political science and philosophy in universities have discussed these ad nauseam. These are concepts probably unfamiliar to others, people like my father, my uncles.
My father and uncles drove trucks, worked in the steel mills and on car assembly lines (when rabid profit makers still allowed factories in our country). This brings me to the first point of my article. Whose Life, Liberty and Happiness was being assured when the owners and "rich" stockholders closed the places of well-paying jobs in Detroit, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Youngstown, etc.? Definitely not the American people at large. However, the American population still held on to the promises of our Declaration of Independence as it held on to the Bible. As long as we can continue as a people to equate these three beautiful values as materialistic and consumerist ones, we will continue to embrace them. John Locke did add protection of Property to that phrase from the Declaration of Independence, but that line was edited out for the final round.
Now we are 4 percent of the world population and consume 25 percent of the world's energy production. We get it any way we can mostly by war, interventions, overthrowing governments, assassinations, etc. Along with Great Britain, the USA has interfered in more democratically-elected governments around the world than anyone else. And it's always because it was to our imperialist benefit to do so and to keep the American people believing they are living the American ideals by living lives of consumerism.
The American values of Life, liberty, Pursuit of Happiness do not apply to Latin-American people. America believes that the Latin American countries are their backyard and that includes all their natural resources. All we want from those countries is a docile, controlled population that allows the extraction of their resources for America's insatiable consumption. We need their copper, their petroleum, lumber, zinc, bananas, cheap labor for manufacturing our cars, clothes, etc., etc.
The list of American interventions in the national affairs of the Latin American democratic processes is long. The only result was to install pro American, undemocratic brutal military dictatorships. Not once has there been an exception. In some few cases, after overthrowing freely and democratically elected governments, the dictatorships have supported additional totally manipulated and controlled pseudo-elections to make sure of the continuation of the pro-American status quo. This resulted almost always in the extreme suffering of the population, executions, assassinations, prohibition of mass organization like unions, student organizations and political parties. The flow of their natural resources to the USA continued unimpeded. The loss of political freedoms to them meant continued economic freedom to the 1 percent in the USA.
The misery created for Latin Americans has been horrendous. One of the underlying causes for the massive migration from those countries to the USA was the denial of democratic opportunities impeding economic progress. We have in the last 20 years, installed military regimes trained, armed and logistically supported by the USA such as in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. The 57,000 plus children at the border are mostly from these three countries; is this a mere coincidence?
I think not. There are many reasons but one very significant one, is the almost constant and interrupted disruption of the democratic processes in Latin American affairs. As a result, economic and other development has been stunted or slowed, creating masses of people yearning for growth, envious of the "American dream" and jumping at the opportunity of entering the USA legally or illegally.
The following is a list such interventions:
- 1846 Annexed almost half of Mexico
- 1898 Colonized Puerto Rico
- 1898 (circa) Took over Cuba
- 1906 invaded and occupied Cuba
- 1912 Invaded and occupied Cuba (again)
- 1912 Invaded and occupied Nicaragua for two decades
- 1933 Invaded and occupied Cuba (again)
- 1915-1934 Invaded and occupied Haiti
- 1916 Invaded and occupied the Dominican Republic for eight years to collect bank debts
- 1954 Overthrew the democratically-elected government in Guatemala
- 1961 Organized and equipped invasion of Bay of Pigs in Cuba
- 1964 Supported the overthrow of democratically-elected government of Brazil
- 1960-1970s Supported, trained, and armed military dictators fighting popular guerillas, resulting in over 300,000 civilians killed
- 1973 Supported and financed overthrow of democratically elected government of Chile
- 1976-1983 Backed military coup in Argentina that overthrew the government, with over 30,000 people killed
- 1979 Funded and supported the Contras in Nicaragua, attempted and failed to overthrow the democratically-elected Sandinista government
- 1994 Invaded Haiti
- 1980s Supported, armed, trained and financed military junta in El Salvador. This junta over saw the assassination of American priests and the rape of nuns
- 2009 Supported and armed military which overthrew democratically elected Honduran government, at the start of which the US ambassador gave written letter of approval one day before to Honduran military chief
- 2007-2011 Refused to control flow of weapons to Mexican cartels
In 1846, shortly after the annexation of Texas, President James Polk ordered U.S. troops into disputed lands, precipitating a war against Mexico. The war ended with the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848. This is what Chicano activists mean when they say "the border crossed them."
The United States invaded Puerto Rico in 1898 during the Spanish American War and has retained control of the island ever since. More people of Puerto Rican descent currently live in the United States than on the island.
The United States also took over Cuba, put a naval base there, and only left when the new government allowed them the right to intervene at will. And yet somehow, U.S. politicians viewed themselves as liberators. Because once wasn't good enough, the United States invaded and occupied Cuba again in 1906 and once more in 1912. It retained the legal authority to intervene in Cuba's affairs until the 1933 Sergeant's Revolt overthrew U.S.-backed dictator Gerardo Machado. Later U.S. administrations would use the naval base to jail suspected terrorists and hold them indefinitely without trial, also submitting them to torture tactics, according to Human Rights Watch.
The United States invaded Nicaragua in 1912 and occupied the country until 1933. Shortly after the U.S. forces left, Anastasio Somoza took over, launching a decades-long dynastic dictatorship with U.S. support. It should be noted that among the many children refugees from Central America currently in detention pending hearings, almost none are from Nicaragua. Of all the Central American countries, Nicaragua is the only nation to have rejected American interventionism and have enjoyed political autonomy.
Economic progress, democracy and human rights have been stunted or at least slowed in the region significantly. Many Latin American countries have started to regain freedom and stability. Things could get better if only we stay out of their affairs and treat them with respect.