For the most part, US citizens have no idea why there is – and continues to be – an unrelenting surge of refugees at our southern border.
The ignorance is so pervasive it is easily turned into the right wing political scam (and vote getting device) we are now witnessing. As a result, tired, frightened, desperate Central American mothers and their small children are now met with gun-wielding, shouting Americans draped in US flags and flecked with their own spittle – a welcoming committee that should shame every person who lives in this country. It is a disgusting display of hate and stupidity magnified to a horrific degree by the signs the protesters carry, especially those that invoke the name of the screaming Christians’ own Messiah, Jesus, who specifically identified children and the “least among you” as those most deserving of compassion and care. (Note to those Christians: Judgment Day is going to be a real difficult time for you.)
Honduras is the country currently sending the largest number of refugees – 50,000 children in the past several months alone. Why Honduras? In addition to the brutal suppression of civil, legal and human rights in that country (in fact, in all of Central America) supported and financed by a succession of US Governments – Democratic and Republican – Honduras can be identified as a failed state if consideration is given to the quality of life there.
In a report “Status of violence against women in Honduras” these observations are particularly alarming:
Governability is threatened by violence that results in murders, mainly those of young people, both men and women. With regards to human rights, the country has received poor evaluation scores in almost all governability indicators, such as social inclusion, social participation, peacemaking or coexistence, competitiveness, and respect for human rights, among others.
According to estimates of the Observatory on Violence of the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH), a person was killed every 78 minutes in 2013. In the course of the year, a million firearms were in circulation in the country, of which scarcely 282 thousand were duly registered. The Weapons Possession Law authorizes each citizen to have in his or her power up to five commercial firearms; this provision, in conjunction with the high number of illegal arms circulating in the country, foments a death culture fueled by high levels of impunity. Different forms of violence are systematically affecting women, especially young women, in both public and private spaces. Rates are increasingly higher, as is impunity.
To be female in Honduras is to be at a level of risk that in itself will push women to take their children and try to find sanctuary – the US being the obvious choice.
In Honduras, 27% of all women report that they have suffered physical violence at one time or another in their lives. And although this figure alone is alarming, violence against women has many other manifestations. The Public Prosecutor’s Office recognizes 25 crimes against women, including injury, domestic violence, sexual violence, and homicide. In 2012, the Statistical Observatory of the Public Prosecutor’s Office reported more than 16 thousand accusations involving violence against women. The highest number of complaints, 74.6%, pertained to Domestic Violence and Intra-family Violence, followed by sex crimes, which accounted for almost 20% of the total.
The violence against women includes horrific injury and death.
The report further states, “ From 2005 to 2013, the number of violent deaths of women rose by 263.4%,10 which implied 636 women murdered in 2013, or one every 13.8 hours. This is reflected in the dramatic rise in the rate of violent deaths of Honduran women from 2.7 in 2005 to 14.6 in 2013 which is even greater than the total homicide rates in countries now officially engaged in a war or armed conflict. (emphasis added)
According to the report, the cases of women killed in Honduras are characterized by the following aspects:
- Most of the women live in urban areas. In 2012, 3 out of 5 violent deaths of women occurred in urban areas, and in 2013, 40% of all murders of women were concentrated in two cities: San Pedro Sula and the Central District.
- Young women make up 43 to 49 percent of all women killed annually, with the 20-24 year age range being the most highly affected.
- Firearms are utilized in more than 70% of all homicides of women.
- Men are the main suspects: In 70% of the cases one or more men have been identified as suspects, and in 1.6%, women; the sex of the remaining suspects is unknown.
- Disappearances are common. In 40.4% of the homicides of women that occurred in 2012, the place of the commission of the crime is unknown, which implied that the victims ––women, girls and adolescents–– were abducted from wherever they happened to be, retained against their will, probably subjected to sexual abuse and torture, and then killed and abandoned in public places.
- Impunity reigns. The average rate of impunity in the last 6 years is 93.5%, which has left at least 2,500 women without any justice whatsoever during this time period.
My emphasis on the area where 40% of the murders occurred is deliberate: That is the City and District to which President Obama ordered women and children returned in his first official act of “undocumented child” deportations. It was to these areas that the screaming, ugly Americans were demanding the US government return these confused and frightened mothers and children.
There’s more. There’s always more:
Poverty, violence and exclusion lead to a forced exodus that obliges thousands of girls and boys to migrate illegally (usually to the United States), suffering a whole series of human rights violations on the way. During the first six months of this year, a total of 3,807 underage children have been returned to Honduras, but it is estimated that the number of girls and boys leaving the country every year in these conditions is more than 12,000.
US-perpetrated violence against the people of Central and South America is not new. It is at the very least more than a century old. US corporations and the capitalist system that spawns them are directly involved in the suppression of any effort toward justice, human rights, and the dignity to which people are entitled. The US CIA has provided the training, the expertise, the weaponry and the leadership in the ongoing denial of human rights to the people of Central and South America. These crimes will continue. What is available to stop them?
And, in the meantime, the screeching, armed, half-witted US protesters will continue to confront people fleeing for their lives with all the compassion expected of those who get their understanding of the immigration crisis from right wing filth such as Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity and the rest of the neo-Fascists who provide the Teabaggers and the “patriots” with the idiocy necessary to see desperate and helpless children as a threat.