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- Historical and Contemporary Perspectives
- U.S.-Mexico Borderlands
The war was described by President-General Ulysses S. It was based on deeply racist ideas. That took Texas away from Mexico. The rest of the war, and the later historical period, basically involved additional land grabs. In order to understand it, you should read the progressive writers like Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and others. We should really call it Occupied Mexico. Like many borders around the world, it is artificially imposed and, like those many other borders imposed by external powers, it bears no relationship to the interests or the concerns of the people of the country—and it has a history of horrible conflict and strife.
Take the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, for example. The British imposed the borderline. They partitioned the overall area nearly in half and arbitrarily divided the land. No Afghan government has ever accepted it, and nor should they. This has happened all across Africa as well, of course, and so the Mexican border is no exception. After the war of the s the US-Mexican border remained fairly open. Basically the same people lived on the same sides of it, so people would cross to visit relatives or to engage in commerce, or something else.
In , the Clinton administration initiated the program of militarizing the border, and that was extended greatly under George W. Bush in the s—largely under the guise of safety and defence from terrorism. If you take a look, you can see why. The Canadian border is so porous that you and I can cross it in some forested areas. If you were worried about terrorism, you would fortify the Canadian border.
Instead, they fortified the Mexican border where there is no threat of terrorism; it was, clearly, for other reasons.
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The Office of Technology Assessment called for some form of free trade agreement, but one that was quite differently constructed to the final version of NAFTA. It was clear that the final version of NAFTA, which is not a free trade agreement at all, would lead to the substantial destruction of small and medium scale American-Mexican agriculture.
It was also inevitably and deliberately meant to undermine smaller scale American agricultural businesses and workers, which is exactly what happened. In general, it was assumed that there would be a flow of people fleeing from Mexico across the border as either a direct, or indirect, result. It had to be militarized and protected. The defense infrastructure that crosses swathes of US land now, was not coincidental.
It was tied up with all these issues. In early May this year, one of the dictators of Guatemala, Rios Montt, was given a heavy sentence for his role in the virtual genocide of indigenous Guatemalans living in the highlands—actions that were strongly supported by Ronald Reagan in the s. Across the United States, generally, there are many people who fled the Guatemalan highlands as a result of the atrocities carried out in the early s.
Border crossings themselves are the acts of desperate people. No notes for slide.