Immigration and Its Sources

In 1968 I went to Brazil to teach counseling at the University of Brasilia, to be a chaplain to Protestant students and to help the city administration of Brasilia create a new and more humane city. I was a newly ordained minister, but studied urban administration at the U. of Chicago and also made counseling the focus of my masters program at seminary. Almost as soon as I arrived, the Brazilian military invaded the parliament and the university, arresting, torturing and killing students, teachers and political leaders who were opposed to the elite, right-wing and to the intervention of the US and exploitation of Brazil’s resources.

The troops came equipped with military gear clearly stamped “US Army”. Tanks, artillery, jeeps, and even pistol holsters with a big white star. Over the next two years, I found that a US CIA presence was behind the scenes, CIA and US military people were teaching torture methods, and US IBM computer equipment was being used to “track rebels.”  I lost three friends, two Dominican priests killed and one young woman literacy teacher unspeakably tortured, even beyond simple rape.

I found similar things happening in Uruguay, Argentina and elsewhere.

In more recent years I have spent a great deal of time in Mexico, studying Spanish and just living. I began to get in touch with a different side of the US-Mexico relationship. One key was reading the amazing book by Richard Grabman, “Gods Gachupines and Gringos: A People’s History of Mexico” A history book written for guys like me who fell asleep in history class. One portion of the book explains the history of the US-Mexican relationship.

I grew up in Texas. We took one semester of World History, one semester of US History and one full-year, two semesters of Texas History. I learned that Texas, which was a part of Mexico, declared it’s independence from Mexico in 1835 because of the poor treatment the people of Texas were getting from the Mexican government and with the support of the large, wealthy landowners from the United States. One major, but unstated, reason–which we never learned in Texas History class–was the Guerrero Decree which in 1829 abolished slavery in all of Mexico. The Texas landowners mostly from the United States, many absentee, were fearful that Mexico would imposed this Decree on Texas–and why would it not.  However, these landowners were growing cotton and other crops and wanted to continue using black slaves to work the fields.

This was the real impetus for the revolution and independence of Texas. It was demonstrated when, after the Mexican surrender, the plight of black slaves deepened. By 1845, the United States annexed The Republic of Texas by treaty and the number of slaves jumped by over 500%.

It was also the start of the US-Mexico war; a war intended to grab Mexico’s land from the Texas border all the way to the Pacific.

So it has been throughout the history of the US and Mexico. As the Mexican’ say, “Pobre Mexico, tan lejos de dios, y tan cerca de los estados unidas.” (Poor Mexico, so far from God and so close to the US.)

Even right now, we subsidize the giant corn industry so it can undercut the Mexican corn farmers. When the farmers can’t sell their corn and make a living, we blame them for their own poverty or for trying to come across the border into the US. I’m not saying that all of Mexico’s ills are made in the US. They have enough corrupt politicians and corrupt rich elites of their own, but we have made it possible for a large portion of the Mexican economic problem.

All this is prelude to this slide show I found on Huffington Post. You will have to go there–to the bottom of the page– to see it.



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