As our time here in Mexico winds down I can’t help but think about how in the world I’m going to transfer the knowledge I’ve learned here to my practice in social work once I return home. I can’t help but feel a bit hopeless. I see the systemic hands of oppression at play and really don’t know what to do about them but know that I cannot do nothing. The following is only one perspective of many and I hope you find it to be just as important and valid as I do.
Policies and structures like NAFTA and the US Army School of the Americas (now called WHINSEC- The Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) have been the cause of a lot of migration from Mexico and Central America to the United States. The North American Free Trade Agreement favors large American corporations. There’s evidence to support that our country’s exports to Mexico have driven the price of crops down in Mexico and have left Mexican farmers without jobs. Local shops have been driven out of business by big stores like Walmart and free trade policies have done away with Mexican subsidies that made tortillas affordable to the people of Mexico. Big American corporations are getting richer at the cost of the Mexican economy. And we wonder why so many Mexicans migrate to the United States.
The US Army School of the Americas is known for training Latin American soldiers who have then gone on to violate human rights and overthrow governments. Evidence shows us that the civil war in El Salvador in the 80’s was unfortunately supported by our government in an effort to protect U.S. economic interests. Salvadorian troops were provided aid and support by the U.S. government. Families were torn apart by that war, tens of thousands of civilians lost their lives, and thousands emigrated from their country to flee the horror.
As I walk the streets of Puebla it’s hard not to notice the variety of American products that flood this country’s economy. I feel powerless when I think about it, but again, I cannot do nothing. If I can’t fight these big money making machines and financially-driven governments, then I can choose to love and accept the very people they marginalize and view as disposable. I choose to love and accept immigrants and their children. I choose to view them as human beings instead of “illegals”. I choose to understand their struggle. I can cry with them. I can laugh with them. I can live in harmony with them. In choosing love comes hope and change. I choose love and so can you.
“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.” –Audre Lorde
For more information on the repercussions of NAFTA and The US Army School of the Americas (now called WHINSEC) please visit the following websites: