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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: An open letter to Deal about children
August 07, 2014 11:13 AM | 5723 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print

[Gov. Nathan Deal], you recently wrote a letter to President [Barack] Obama objecting to [U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services]' sending 1,154 refugee children to their sponsors in Georgia without notifying you beforehand.

The children came predominantly from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala — their sponsors were usually a parent or other relative living here. You wrote in the letter, “We are provided with little or no information about children for whom we are expected to provide an education and/or other social services during this adjudication period.” You claim to know the underlying issues but obviously you do not. Let me explain.

I was a Spanish teacher in the 1980s and knew all about the brutal civil wars occurring in two of these countries. Honduras was spared a civil war because it was a militarized U.S. staging base for the Contras during their war with Nicaragua’s Sandinistas.

We were in the Cold War and the Reagan administration was aggressively anti-Communist. Although what was happening in Guatemala and Honduras was more a popular uprising à la Bastille than a Communist takeover, the Reagan administration sent our CIA into these countries to provoke chaos while assuring the victory of military dictators. The CIA’s modus operandi was to fortify the military so it could continue sustaining the 1 percent landowning class and American corporations. The officers received training in counterinsurgency — read terror and torture — at our own Army School of the Americas.

The military forces, armed with U.S. weapons and training, crushed the rebellions with death squads and horrendous acts of terror. Many thousands of innocent people were massacred. And even though the U.S.S.R. collapsed in 1992, the U.S. continues to support military governments over popularly elected presidents.

Read any journalistic reports from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador today and you will meet dangerous, unstable societies where the military and police murder with impunity street kids and protesters. There is no rule of law. How ironic that now the parents from the above destroyed countries try to save their children by sending them to the U.S.

Note that Nicaraguan children are not among those appearing at our borders. The Sandinista government, for all its faults — e.g., prohibiting abortion absolutely — is making progress in poverty eradication and literacy and is supported by the majority of people.

I hope you see, governor, we should be expected to provide an education and social services for these refugee children because our country was complicit in the destruction of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador and their people’s suffering. We have at least a moral duty to help them.

Melinda Lehrer


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