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“More than one in ten Syrians have been killed or wounded since 2011 in the Syrian Civil War, but although the West is responsible for much of that toll, there was a more direct and sinister complicity regarding deaths on the part of the U.S. during the Central American civil wars.” — Richard Martin Oxman

Between 1974 and 1996, the Central American civil wars left at least 250,000 Salvadorans, Guatemalans and Nicaraguans dead. Around 75,000 people were killed in El Salvador — more than 1 percent of the entire population — during the country’s twelve-year civil war. Imagine 1 percent of the U.S. population (around 326 million as of 2017) being killed in a dozen years. That’s about half of the people the Nazis exterminated during WWII.

In Guatemala, 100,000 were killed and another 40,000 “disappeared” between 1978 and 1984 alone. Widespread violence, economic instability and political insecurity forced many others to flee their homes. According to historian Maria Cristina Garcia (who I spoke with recently), 1 million people were internally displaced and 2 million more sought refuge in Mexico, the United States and Canada.

By the time the Salvadoran civil war ended in 1992, a quarter of the country’s population had left, leading one social scientist to dub El Salvador a “nation of emigrants.” Some 500,000 Salvadorans and 200,000 Guatemalans settled in Mexico, but Mexico’s neglect of Central American migrants (justified by the claim that they were merely passing through its borders), combined with the promise of higher wages, led many to push farther north. By 1990, there were more than 465,000 Salvadorans and 225,000 Guatemalans living in the United States, most of whom had arrived in the previous fifteen years.

My father traveled throughout every single Central American country during that decade and a half. He’s given me lots of documentation showing how the U.S. School of Americas contributed to all of the misery I’ve described here, and why the powers that be from that realm continue to export death squads.

The roots of Central American gang culture and migratory dynamics involving the southwestern U.S. borders and much of the mental set that we find among Central Americans living in the U.S these days can be attributed, in great part, to what the U.S. did repeatedly (and still does in many respects not even touched upon in this article) during the period my father risked his life to be supportive of the immiserated in Central America, those plagued by U.S. policies.

That’s why my “Papi” is pro-Latino.

The Flannery O’Connor Academy is comprised of home schooled teens, for the most part, studying with members of the Oxman Collective*. They write anonymously and exclusively for Countercurrents (CC). They can be reached at flanneryoconnoracademy@gmail.com.

*All members write exclusively for CC.

 

 

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