Now that Vice President Mike Pence has visited Guatemala, we can better understand the current United States administration. Most striking is the way that Pence scolded the presidents of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, countries that make up what is often referred to as the Northern Triangle. His style was rough, at least here in Guatemala, and his message was no different than Donald Trump’s in either meaning or form. Dashed were the hopes of those who thought the U.S. might be willing to examine the roots of the problems on this isthmus, thereby helping to stem the flow of human immigrants escaping over dangerous and deadly routes. Dangerous migration has existed for years, and now it seemed that the U.S. might be contributing to the search for a meaningful solution.
Instead, a cruel statement was issued warning potential immigrants about the dangers of migration, while ignoring the fact that they have little option but to emigrate, faced with the effects of corruption, lack of opportunity and violence. The United States is fully aware of the situation, so there is no logical reason for its position. Those who live south of the Rio Grande cannot understand why this universally recognized problem puts the United States’ national security at risk – especially when the real risk is the American use and international trafficking of drugs. The lash of the drug trade affects citizens of both North and South American countries, and any effective efforts to combat this trade have to come from the United States, because small countries simply do not have the resources to confront the enormous armed forces and economic power of the gangs.
One can compare what Pence said to someone recommending that a starving child living in a remote village ask his father to feed him a balanced diet. It is a cruel joke. Because of the global attention that Trump attracts, the vice president has been somewhat unknown, thus raising the hopes in Spanish-speaking countries that he might have opinions that differ from those of the president. While the tone wasn’t as brash, the heavy-handedness of the message was the same. Since last Thursday, anyone who doubts the concurrence of the two Republican politicians either lacks the capacity to be politically discerning or is simply denying reality.
So Pence is a “super Republican” like Trump. And many in Congress think the same way, although some have raised their voice in protest. Still, on the whole, the protests occur for the same reason as the statements or silences of all politicians: to win the next election. Sadly, providing a better future isn’t necessarily on the agenda. I believe that Pence’s visit obediently fulfilled the function of making his supporters happy by giving orders to Central America.
By the way, social networks and the some of the opinion columns by commentators aligned with the U.S. president have begun campaigns against their political adversaries and the independent press. These messages look a lot like activity we are seeing by the government here in Guatemala.
Since Guatemala cannot curb illegal immigration, and neither can the United States, Pence’s visit to our country should serve to convince the authorities here to seek new friends or strengthen old ones. This needs to happen now because it seems to me that the two politicians mentioned in this article will be re-elected in 2020. Central Americans will continue to die at the hands of the coyotes and in the deserts, and at the border of the United States, where they can shoot people from Central America or separate mothers and fathers from their children of any age. Understanding this isn’t anti-U.S.; rather, it’s just knowing about the last 75 years of history. I am hopeful, despite the evidence, that I am wrong.