The Herders We Have Become

Translated  by Katrina Hassan

In Guatemala, the land where racists, xenophobes, homophobes, corrupt, and classists abound. To be black is worse than to be indigenous. Blacks are at the bottom of the social classes and also in the human rights department. Nobody wants to have a black friend, employer or teacher, wife and or kids. As unbelievable as it seems, the native people who have also been exploited and excluded, they want nothing to do with the black people.  Oh, the irony!

In Guatemala, black people are only good for one thing. Everyone is dying to have a black lover, but never will they marry one and have kids. This doesn’t just happen in Guatemala, but all over the world. The thing is, the colonised mentality is very visible in Latin America.

There is a lot of talk about being black in the USA. We must take a shot at the USA because we are incapable of looking in the mirror to see how racists we are. We cowards do not mention how it is to be black in Latin America. Let the Afro communities in Colombia tell us all about the poverty they have faced for decades. Let them tell us about the violence, forced disappearances, and the unashamed theft of their lands by the government that forces them to flee. Let the people of the Brazilian favelas tell us how it has been even before Bolsonaro. Carolina Maria de Jesus had the courage to talk about how it was to live in the favelas and was subject to poverty and exclusion. Nowadays the images speak for themselves. There is still no reaction from anyone.

Images. If this is how countries treat migrants in front of the cameras, imagine what they do when no one is looking to expose them. I am not only talking about the USA, I am not defending them. I am trying to expose those great Latin American humanitarians. We have double standards in Latin America and are thick skinned when it comes to conveniently using the undocumented for our benefit. Has anyone asked the young man’s name that was receiving the whooping courtesy of the Border Patrol agent? Does he have a family? What made him leave his country and arrive in Texas? How was his journey? Why did he not find refuge in any Latin American country? 

We only show the big black man, the darker the better, to rip off his identity. We clearly see the face of the white man with the whip. Miraculously our mind was refreshed and we knew the history of oppression of black people in the USA. Alas, but not the pain of the Afro-Latino! 

In 2013, the Dominican Republic, country of black people that think of themselves as white just like the rest of Latin America, with it’s supposedly a humanist government, took away the nationality of all Haitian children born in the Dominican Republic. There were 250,000 people left in limbo. Humanitarian Latin America did not even flinch. They only flinched until Donal Trump started to act up in the USA. Is it a double standard or forgetfulness?

Let’s get back on the immigration subject. In August in Mexico, the director of the Migratory Station of Tapachula (from the National Institute of Migration) was caught kicking a migrant in the head. The migrant was from a large group of Central Americans  that was looking to get to the USA. The president of Mexico, Lopez Obrador or AMLO, said the agent was removed from his post when the picture leaked out. Nobody in Latin America said a peep about AMLO and that heart wrenching image, or for his immigration policies. In reality those policies have not varied much from the neoliberal governments of the past. Meanwhile in Texas they closed the doors on the Haitian migrants, in Mexico they rounded them up with helicopters to be captured and deported on the fly back to their country. The image of the dozens of buses loaded up in Coahuila only meters from the camp was not leaked because this is about “brother” Lopez Obrador. In the CELAC summit he told the participants that “Mexico is home to everyone.” This is only if you are a not a migrant. Don’t forget the attendees of the summit, including Cuba and Venezuela, because things are not always black or white. Everyone gave him a standing ovation for this.

As talks come and go, it seems that most of Haiti y crossing Latin America to get to the US. Which humanitarian government will denounce neoliberalism and the USA’s foreign policy and open the doors of their country so that they can have a home, a job and some peace? This is what migrants come looking for in the US, regardless of color.  Which democratic government of Latin America will announce that “Mi Casa Es Su Casa” to those black people that are so proud to be Haitian, that revolted in order to become free from slavery?

Are we so horrible as to throw the stone yet hide our hand? Where is the devotion to Che Guevara, Marti, Chavez, Monseñor Romero, Evita, Jacobo Arbenz, Salvador Allende, Peron, Las Adelitas, Emiliano Zapata, Mariategui, Sandio, and Fidel that people make so much noise about? Where is the humanitarianism of the big defenders of Latin America’s historical remembrance now that their Haitian brothers and sisters need them? Does this only exist when the perpetrators are on the border in the USA? This is not only about opening the border to let them through. The Latin countries just want to wash their hands of this. We need to get involved. There needs to be an offer in place, to live, to work, and of human rights. 

Because we are herders, one day, I hope, the Haitian blood from Mama Africa will flourish in every corner of racist Latin America that turned their backs on them. Creole will be spoken with pride from the descendants of those that were humiliated in the dusty streets of the colonised minded Latin America.

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Ilka Oliva Corado @ilkaolivacorado

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