Pablo Alvarado is executive director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. In an article on CNN’s website, he rails against conservatives, and presumably anyone else, who criticize the thousands of illegal children arriving from Central America. It is a “push” not a “pull” problem according to Pablo. All the kids are arriving not because of promises of amnesty but rather due to the violence in the region. Gang violence in El Salvador, corruption, poverty … you name it. And guess who is to blame for all this? Of course, who else? The US. Civil wars between communist regimes and insurgents in Nicaragua or between right wing governments and left wing rebels in El Salvador and Guatemala are all the result of America meddling according to Alvarado. He knows this because as a young student he had to flee El Salvador after receiving death threats. There are several issues here: What did US foreign policy actually do in the region? What was happening anyway in the region and what was Soviet and Cuban involvement? What does this have to do with gang violence nowadays? And whose fault is that?

Had America not provided aid to those fighting against communist backed regimes or guerrillas, a hard socialist axis in Central America would have been a likely outcome. From Guatemala to Nicaragua, we may have ended up with several Cuba’s forming a regional communist bloc right in America’s back yard. How do you fight communism in a region with a history of violent revolutions and corrupt dictatorships? With neutral observers under a UN mandate? With peace conferences in Geneva? Soviet and Cuban involvement was a fact and the battle got ugly without a doubt. Was there another way? Has negotiation worked with Cuba?

Finally, is gang violence somehow a result of US foreign policy? Or is it more likely a case of Salvadorean and other youth who entered a life of crime and gangs in the US – most as an earlier generation of illegal immigrants – and were deported back to Central America where they brought their gang activities with them to a country already steeped in violence? And somehow the US has to keep the floodgates open and not only that, but also fix Central America’s problems? Is it a surprise there is anger out there?

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