After the 2,500 mile journey, more than 7,000 migrants from Central America have reached the U.S.-Mexico border, and have sought shelter in the Mexican city of Tijuana, where they have been met with a mixture of empathy and hatred. Many residents of Tijuana have resorted to using violence to protest the presence of the Central American migrants.
On Sunday, Nov. 25, the U.S. Border Patrol deployed tear gas canisters across the border, claiming the migrants were forcefully charging at the border. Those reported to be injured include migrant children, women and a journalist.
It is important to know the history of U.S. intervention in Central America before analyzing the reasons people migrate to the United States.
Starting in 1823, President Monroe introduced the Monroe Doctrine, a new policy regarding the continued development of the Americas and the opposition of European nations colonizing the Western Hemisphere.
Throughout the late 1800s and the early 1900s, U.S. businesses had great influence in Central American policy because they owned most of the banana plantations. The Banana Wars began during this time, and tensions were high when employees or local governments would comment on the inequality at the plantations. The United States would then get involved, and threaten Central American countries with sanctions and military intervention.
After the success of the Cuban Revolution, the United States feared that leftist groups in Latin American countries could rise in power. The U.S. began to install and fund military dictatorships and governments throughout Central America to stop the spread of communism.
The longest civil war in Central America took place in Guatemala from 1960-1996 between many leftist groups and a U.S. installed military dictatorship. Thousands of people lost their lives, and over 500,000 people were displaced.
In the 1980s the Salvadoran Civil War between the leftist group Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) and the U.S. backed military government, lasted 12 years and claimed the lives of over 75,000 people. According to a United Nations report, 85 percent of the violence and deaths were caused by the U.S. backed Salvadoran government and only 5 percent to the FMLN. After the war, a quarter of the population was displaced.
Due to intervention, many marginalized groups have been facing high rates of violence and death. Over 70 LGBTQ+ migrants fleeing violence and persecution from the region separated from the main caravan because of constant threats and use of violence from other migrants. LGBTQ+ migrants are one of the most vulnerable group of people fleeing their countries seeking a safer life. Many of them are now in Tijuana waiting to claim asylum in the U.S.
The United States' continued intervention in Central America is one of the root causes of migration from this region toward the United States. The instability of the region has caused high rates of poverty, violence and an imbalance of power in the government. The United States continues to cause instability in Central America, and is unwilling to help the people displaced by the its own actions.
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