Cultural Event Reflection: The Honduran Exodus and Climate Crisis

Posted on February 9th, 2020 by

Event organized by OLAS

This presentation was one of many given by representatives from multiple activist organizations, including Comunidades Organizado el Poder y La Acción Latina (COPAL) and La Vía Campesina, throughout Minnesota in order to inform Americans about the exodus and climate crisis in Honduras. Since the 2009 military coup, the new Honduran government has adopted neo-liberalist policies that have led to the further deterioration of the country and its citizens. The new extractionist model encourages international corporations to exploit Honduran land for its natural resources, so much that 65% of the country’s territory is now being used for extraction of natural resources, including the mining of metals and minerals. As a result, not only are beautiful scenes of nature being destroyed, but the campesinos, indigenous people, and garífunas that live in these areas lose their means of survival and become ill from pollution at the extraction sites. The result is mass displacement and increased immigration to nearby countries, including the United States. Peasants have risen in defense of Honduras’ natural resources, and the government responded with military force, mass imprisonment of activists, and assassination of activist leaders. This is funded in large part by financial aid provided by the United States to promote capitalism in the country. 

 

The representatives made an interesting point about how the hardships faced by the latino population are largely left out of the international discussion about the climate crisis. Global leaders on the issue of climate change often say that its harsher effects will be felt by future generations, and it is them we should fight for. However, this is not entirely true. Peasants in Honduras are suffering the effects as we speak in the form of homelessness, poverty, and loss of human rights. Even developed countries like the U.S. feel the effect of climate change through the constant flow of immigrants from countries like Honduras. As a result, immigration is at the forefront of national policy discussion, and the effect is felt personally by a large portion of Americans. It is one of the major issues on which President Trump was elected, yet people don’t understand what is causing the problem. Perhaps, if told how corporate exploitation of natural resources is the principal driving force, more Americans would acknowledge the climate crisis as a problem for everyone in the current day population, not just for teenagers and young adults. 

 

In addition, this presentation prompted further reflection on President Trump’s policies, showing just how important the upcoming 2020 presidential election really is. Throughout the 2016 presidential race and as well as during his presidency, President Trump has portrayed illegal immigration as a major threat to the livelihood of American citizens by using inflammatory rhetoric and proposing domestic legal enforcement as the solution. Now knowing that corporate exploitation is what’s forcing immigrants to come to the U.S., President Trump’s policies appear even more backward. By promoting capitalism and big business and flat-out refusing to address environmental issues, the current administration’s policies perpetuate mass displacement in countries like Honduras and encourage immigration in the U.S., therefore worsening the very issue they have pledged to solve. Furthermore, their solutions of legal enforcement in the domestic sphere show little promise because immigrants, once removed, have nothing to go back to. Thanks to corporate exploitation, their homes and land were destroyed, and so they will resist American law enforcement because they have no better option. The problem seems better solved through environment-sensitive policies and careful scrutiny of the financial aid being sent to Honduras and what it is being used for. The sooner America can elect representatives that realize this, the better.

Grace Worwa ’22

English, Political Science and Spanish major

 

 

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