The sky above is soft, giving the illusion of peace and safety as pink fluffy clouds float by, waiting for the sun to rise and fill the space with heat and light that will bounce off the metal roof and the golden bullet casings scattered outside the window and across the street. She looks at her daughter, finally sleeping in the pre-dawn quiet, and she wonders how many mornings they have left…if they stay. She is tired, so very tired, of the struggle just to survive. She thinks of her neighbors to the north and she ponders going to them for help. Her thoughts drift to the mothers in that country who are, even now, slowly getting up to make coffee, cooking their children breakfast before sending them off to school. She wonders if they have ever seen the morning sun reflecting off of bullet casings. She wonders if they even know what their country has done to their neighbors to the south over the past several centuries.
She knows. She has heard the stories, lost more relatives than she can count, seen the economy of her country totter and flail. She know the desperation of hunger, the weight of constantly having to look over her shoulder. When she looks in the mirror, she sees the lines of a woman twice her age. She looks at her sleeping daughter and dreams of watching her grow up with a belly always full, a daughter who skips to a big yellow school bus with a backpack full of supplies to learn in a safe environment.
Should she go? She has heard the stories of those who have gone before. Some have starved on the way and never made it. Some have made it there, only to have their children taken away from them. She has heard of the deaths, the rapes, the torture. She looks again at her daughter. If she stays, she knows those things will happen here. But if she goes, maybe, just maybe she will be the lucky one to make it through. She reaches out in faith for her backpack, hand hovering in the air as the sun peaks up over the horizon, its light bouncing off of the bullet casings outside of her window.
This story was written to give voice to parents south of our borders who are facing an incredible struggle to survive. I was recently made more aware of our country’s involvement with our southern neighbors and it got me thinking. We have invaded them again and again over the years, sometimes under the guise of helping, but always with our own interests in mind. We have toppled government after government. Imagine the trickle down effect of that. We can only imagine because we have been at the top for so long. Please take a moment to read the brief summary below of our involvement South of the border.
- 1846 US went to war with Mexico over land issues and took 1/3 of Mexico’s land, including most of present day California, Utah, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico.
- 1903 US helps engineer Panama’s independence from Columbia and gains, in return, exclusive possession of the Panama Canal. The US kept possession until 1999.
- 1809-1903 US helps Cuba gain independence from Spain, continues to occupy Cuba and refuses to pull troops until it gets something in return – long story short, the perfect spot for a Naval Base, Guantanamo Bay.
- 1914 US invades Vera Cruz, Mexico, hoping to help take down Mexico’s leader.
- 1954 CIA backs a coup to take down the Guatemalan president.
- 1961 CIA launches full scale invasion of Cuba, in hopes to topple Castro from power.
- 1964 US backs coup that takes down Brazilian president
- 1965 US sends troops to the Dominican Republic in hopes of preventing a communist dictator from taking over.
- 1973 US backs military coup in Chile to overthrow the democratically elected president. He is replaced by a brutal dictator.
- 1970s US plays a significant role in Operation Condor, and intelligence operation that resulted in an estimated 60,000 deaths.
- 1980s Regan fears communism and interferes in both Nicaragua and El Salvador. The US backs forces against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua and sends $3Bn to El Salvador who is fighting left-winged guerillas, The US also invades Grenada to take down a communist ruler.
- 1989 US invades Panama and takes down the dictator.
- 1994 US leads invasion of Haiti to restore the former president to power.
- 2002 US backs coup in Venezuela.
- 2009 US backs coup to overthrow Honduran president.
While I am sure that there are more details that could be added to this list, I hope it can spark a chain reaction in your brain. Imagine that each state of the US were its own country and that for the last 150 years, Canada had been either invading various “countries” or backing coups, always manipulating outcomes to grow it’s own wealth and protect its interests. Imagine what our economy and infrastructure would be like. Imagine what our family dynamics might be. Imagine, if you will, waking up to sunlight on bullet casings and deciding you have had enough. Would you look at the opportunities and the security of your northern neighbor and want that for your children?
What would you do if you woke up in those shoes?
Photo courtesy of Adrienne Gerber Photography.