US PRESIDENT Donald Trump spat on the Statue of Liberty this week and the revolutionary history of the United States, especially its call from the Statue of Liberty to the world: ‘Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!’
This was the call that saw millions of the poorest and and the most oppressed masses, from Ireland to China, flock into the United States to provide the labour power that propelled the USA forward to its post-1945 position, astride a major part of the planet.
Now these same poor are ‘enemies of the people’, who, if they pick up a rock on being refused entry into the USA by 15,000 plus troops, are to be used for target practice by the US military – with the President’s authority behind the soldiers’ shooting and no doubt killing.
So great is the oppression and poverty at home, the caravan of men, women and children from Honduras and Guatemala, which swelled to around 7,000 people at its peak, is determined to march to the US border and enter the US to make a better life.
Trump said on Thursday: ‘… I will tell you this – anybody throwing rocks – we will consider that a firearm because there’s not much difference when you get hit in the face with a rock. ‘They’re throwing rocks viciously and violently. We’re not going to put up with that. They want to throw rocks at our military, our military fights back. I told them to consider it a rifle. Because there’s not much difference.’
In the two weeks since setting out from San Pedro Sula in Honduras, the caravan of migrants has crossed two borders and covered more than 1,000km (621 miles), passing through police roadblocks, disaster zones, sweltering heat, and torrential downpours.
The masses are fleeing desperate poverty. A staggering 83 per cent of Guatemalans live in extreme poverty. 46.5 per cent of girls and boys under the age of five suffer from chronic malnutrition. 68.5% of Hondurans live in poverty. In the rural areas known as ‘The Last Mile’, six out of 10 of households are subject to extreme poverty with incomes of less than £2.90 per day; 40% of the country is unemployed.
President Trump said he intends to take executive action next week to ‘end the abuse of the US asylum system’, a plan including ‘massive tent cities’ at the southern border aimed at holding migrants indefinitely. He characterised the group, which includes many families, as ‘dangerous’ and akin to an ‘invasion’. Some 2,300 children were among the group last week, according to the UN children’s agency. They travel in strollers, or slung across their parents’ chests – or they trudge along the roadside.
However, en route, the response the caravan has met with from the local people in the towns and villages they pass through has been huge and warm.
So far, the group has averaged about 60km (37 miles) a day. They gather in evening assemblies, and vote on major decisions, such as when to rest, and where to head next.
The defiance and determination of the caravan is part of the world movement of the working class rising up to demand their basic rights: a home, a job, health care, education, food. Capitalism cannot and is unwilling to provide even the most basic things which people need to live.
US workers must give the caravan their full support. After all it was the US working class in blue coats that freed the slaves in the US civil war! Today’s civil war is one between the workers of the world and the different groups of capitalist exploiters. The US workers whose forefathers were migrants have nothing to fear from the caravan. The AFL-CIO must mobilise hundreds of thousands of workers to ally themselves with the Caravan, demand its entry into the USA, and tell the US troops ‘on no account must you open fire!’
This will establish the unity of the working class throughout the Americas and undermine capitalism and imperialism north and south of the Gulf of Mexico. This unity of the working class is vital for smashing capitalism and going forward to the United Socialist States of the Americas, that will provide jobs and a decent life for all.