Saturday, January 28, 2017

Donald Trump's stupid wall and Central America

There is no wall tall enough.
Even if you can leave aside the racism and the attempt to exploit and worsen fears and prejudices, Donald Trump's plan to build a wall along the Mexican border is remarkably stupid.

Early in our stay in in Honduras, I started hearing about the huge number of people who went to the United States. It was an incredibly difficult, dangerous and expensive effort. People set out with almost no money to make a 3,100-kilometre journey through Guatemala and Mexico and across the already difficult U.S. border. They risked robbery, kidnapping, rape, extortion and a lonely death in the desert. Many travelled on La Bestia, a Mexican freight train that carried hundreds of migrants.

I wrote about the journey here and here. The idea that a wall would deter people willing to risk death and sacrifice everything they had for a chance to spend a few years in the U.S. is idiotic.

As is Trump's failure to recognize the risk to U.S. interests created by his $15-billion wall plan.

Hondurans, for the most part, didn't want to move to the U.S. They wanted to spend three or four years working at the jobs no one wanted and sending money home, to pay for a better education for their children, a plot of land to farm or to start a small business. (In countries where employment is scarce and precarious, even a tiny business offers some security.)

Remittances - money sent back by Hondurans working in other countries - equals about 18 per cent of the GDP of Honduras, according to the World Bank. It's about 17 per cent for El Salvador, 10 per cent for Guatemala and nine per cent for Nicaragua (although much of that country's remittances come from people working in Costa Rica).

For comparison, the natural resource and sectors combined contribute 16 per cent of British Columbia's GDP.

The U.S. has fretted about security risks in Central America since the 1890s. And now Trump proposes a wall that, to the extent that it works, will destabilize economies and governments in the northern triangle — an already troubled region.

3 comments:

RossK said...

Regarding remittances...From the ever expanding 'Have you no decency sir?' file...

"...Mr. Trump originally threatened to simply impound remittances, a matter of dubious legal standing and some logistical complication. Later he suggested a more sophisticated strategy. He would just threaten to change rules under the Patriot Act antiterrorism law to prohibit immigrants who couldn’t prove legal residence from wiring money abroad. Under threat of losing these resources, the reasoning went, the Mexican government would soon cave and offer to pay for the wall...

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Mr. Beer N. Hockey said...

Governments best intentioned have a time of it making policies big and small work the way they imagine they will. Even the most social license only gets you so far. Governments hatefully intentioned end up applying policies meant to solve problems that get bigger and bigger and bigger until at last it is decided War will solve everything. The War ends eventually whether anything is solved (not usually you may have noticed) or not at which point the cycle begins anew. Or, as the arms manufacturers exclaim, "The Beast is dead! Long live the Beast!"

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