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Chicanos welcome Central American caravan

By Sol Márquez

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Los Angeles, CA – On October 26, as the caravan of refugees from Central America traveled through Mexico, they were welcomed with food, festivity, aid, and clothing. As Chicanos, we must do the same when the caravan arrives at U.S. border.

Attacking Mexicans, and by extension Chicanos, Trump has dispatched the U.S. military to the U.S.-Mexico border to block the caravan. We say down with Trump, down with him hiding like a coward behind the U.S. military, down with the continued militarization, killings and abuses at the border, down with the injustices to the undocumented in the U.S., and down with the U.S. destabilization of Central America.

We must demand legalization for all current 11 million undocumented people in the U.S., and asylum now for the caravan refugees when they arrive at the border. Aztlán welcomes them with open arms.

A brief history

Chicanos of Aztlán – or the Southwest United States, a land that was once northern Mexico – express solidarity with those who make up the caravan and the countries they’re from: Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Close to 7000 individuals have been walking on foot for close to a month now. The caravan began in San Pedro Sula, Honduras on October 12.

Fleeing the destabilization and misery that the U.S. caused in their countries, these refugees have set out for an unknown, long, exhausting and extremely dangerous journey.

For us Chicanos who live in places like Los Angeles, we don’t have to travel far to meet or interact with Central Americans. As early as the 1940s, Central Americans have been immigrating to and permanently staying in Aztlán. As of 2009, up to 560,000 Central Americans live in the greater part of Los Angeles. If you know MacArthur Park, you know that since 2008 over 350,000 Salvadorans call it home.

A cultural embrace

What has this beautiful mix of cultures, history, language, economic struggle, and land done for both Central Americans and Chicanos? It has made us unite and have much in common. Chicanos participate in festivals like Salvadoran Day. There are also shared closeness of independence days like September 16 for Mexico, and September 15 for El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Many Central Americans participate in celebrations of Chicano holidays like Cinco de Mayo or El Grito for Mexicans. A shared love of food and music has caused Chicanos and Central Americans to learn about each other’s cultures and languages as well as embrace them. Central Americans talk about the differences in their tamales and Mexican ones, ask Mexicans for salsa recipes; while Mexicans and Chicanos enjoy pupusas.

Aside from culture and language, Chicanos and Central Americans also share workplaces, neighborhoods and struggle. Accounting for a major part of the workforce and the creators of wealth in places like California and the rest of Southwest, Chicanos and Central Americans are uniting.

Sharing stories of heroic fighters like Father Romero in El Salvador, along with Mexican revolutionaries like Zapata and Pancho Villa, a common outlook of united struggle is coming into being. Stories about crossing the border and how seeking a better future caused us all to live in Aztlán are also commonplace.

Stand up, fight back!

White supremacist sympathizers are having a field day with the caravan and it is up to us to stop them. On October 29, Trump ordered over 5000 U.S. troops to militarize the Mexico-U.S. border. Live broadcasts of public displays of bigotry were shared all over social media. Meters upon meters of barbed wire were wrapped around already existing border fences.

White extremists like Anne Coulter have suggested that the U.S. military invade Mexico to stop the caravan, stating, “They could invade. They could go in ten yards into Mexico. We didn’t ask for Iraq’s approval to go in, we didn’t ask for Afghanistan’s approval to go in.” Secretary of the State Mike Pence says of the caravan, “You will not be successful in getting into the U.S. illegally, no matter what.”

Vigilantes are self-deploying to the border, as they have done in the past. Armed with hatred and weapons, these vigilantes are also responsible for unmarked migrant graves found yearly at the border.

We in the U.S. will fight back against these vile and racist attacks. Stop Trump and his white extremist sympathizers. No to border militarization and troops. Let the caravan in!

Sol Márquez is a Chicana member of Freedom Road Socialist Organization. Márquez organizes for Chicano liberation in Boyle Heights with the grassroots group Centro CSO.

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