Vail Daily column: Human displacement
North Africa, Mexico, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Guatemala and to some extent, Australia, all have the by-products of colonialism in their histories, that which plagues them all today.
In the Mediterranean, we see tragedy unfolding, as poor, unskilled, desperate families and individuals flee Libya, Tunisia, Mali and Algeria, from the plague of both tyranny and religious zealotry. State and mosque-controlled thinking, economies and social order dictated fight-or-flight momentum, clearly.
Across Mexico, the media shows trains, unwittingly carrying thousands of young family desperadoes from Guatemala atop boxcars, fleeing unstable regimes, “narcotraficantes” and poverty for a new life in the U.S.
Malaysia is seeing immigrants headed its way from Bangladesh and Myanmar, both fleeing economic and racial oppression. Upon arrival, they are systematically demonized and segregated: A common occurrence against migrants who have few marketable skills, taxing the state financially, socially and culturally.
Boatloads of immigrants without visas arrive regularly to the shores of Australia, mostly Somali or Afghani, on merchant vessels chartered by malicious human brokers, motivated by complicit suffering and ensuing profit. Most are now settled in nearby island detention centers for processing in an inordinately lengthy asylum determination. Muslim and Aussie social assimilation has been elusive and fraught with cultural difficulty.
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The history of Guatemala is littered with a mix of Spanish imperialism and colonialism, choice of which depends on political spin from Pedro de Alvarado, conquistador of Mexico in 1524. His army referred to Mayans as “infidels” who needed to be forcefully converted to Catholicism and “pacified,” disregarding the achievements of their civilization. This colonialist attitude may help explain the dependency argument oft-discussed academically and politically, that which may doom both initiative and self-sufficiency in any nation. (See results in Western welfare states: US, Canada, Britain, Italy, Spain, Greece.)
My talking points speak to three cause-and-effect questions, designed quixotically to produce answers to this miasma of human displacement.
• Does the West — Germany (Africa), France (Africa), England (Africa, Australia and the Far East) — owe these embattled nations some form of reparation in the form of jobs and/or citizenship? After all, they occupied, created bureaucracies, force-fed religion and cultural structure, leading to dependency. Upon exit/independence, said nation had neither the political/social/administrative acumen to be self-sufficient — under-weaned, almost. Just like a child, autonomy soon becomes a void for tyranny on a national scale.
• Religion. As in Latin America, Spanish nations implemented Catholicism in edict format, enforcing such via decrees that forbade jewelry and artifacts as demonic — even though Alvarado sent them back as pillage to Spain, fulfilling Spain’s original purpose for colonization — money and “tribute.”
Could faith deployment, if managed politely yet purposefully (note the circuitous route to this topic), augment true political and social reform without offending anyone? (Wishful thinking.)
• Will Italy, Germany or France consider some form of immigration plan on a bipartisan basis to accept more asylumists? Thus far, it is a hot potato in Europe, as it is in the U.S. The left clamor for future votes, the right for adherence to existing sovereign laws. On a humanitarian, biblical and personal conscience level, the norm will win no votes, and Italy’s prime minister faces a no-win solution, and he knows it, given the 50/50 split in ideological and political spectrums.
I am open to suggestions.
Pat Mitchell lives in Edwards.