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Blood on the Border
by Internationalist Group Tuesday, Jul. 06, 2010 at 4:04 PM
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Today in the United States, under the Democratic administration of Barack Obama, xenophobic and racist violence is escalating. The criminal agents of the Border Patrol have reached the point of killing in cold blood, before the eyes of hundreds of witnesses. On May 28, construction worker Anastasio Hernández Rojas was beaten to death by some 20 agents of the U.S. Border Patrol. Then on June 7 in Ciudad Juárez, across the river from El Paso, Border Patrol agents fired into a group of youths on the Mexican side of of the border, murdering 14-year-old Adrián Hernández with a shot to the head. These crimes are part of a policy of racist repression looking for scapegoats, typified by the legalization of xeonophobia and police use of racial profiling in Arizona’s SB 1070 law. But while Obama criticize the law, “Obama, listen, we are in the struggle,” his thugs are killing on the border. It is an illusion to think that the commander in chief of U.S. imperialism, or his counterpart and semi-colonial underling, Mexican president Felipe Calderón, will defend the workers. It is necessary to mobilize the power of the working class to defend immigrants.
Protest march in San Diego, June 3, over the killing of Anastasio Hernández Rojas, murdered by the U.S. Border Patrol on May 28. (Photo: Alexandra Mendoza/Diario San Diego)
SAN DIEGO/TIJUANA, June 10 – Today in the United States, under the Democratic administration of Barack Obama, xenophobic and racist violence is escalating. The last few days have been particularly bloody. The criminal agents of the Border Patrol continue their routine “labor” of deporting and mistreating migrant workers – as well as murdering them under cover of darkness. And now they have reached the point of killing in cold blood, before the eyes of hundreds of witnesses, so sure are they of their impunity, since they act under the orders and protection of the highest levels of the U.S. government.
These crimes are not accidents, but part of a conscious policy of racist repression in search of scapegoats, exemplified by the legalization of xenophobia and the use of “racial profiling” by the police, in the Arizona law known as SB1070. This law calls for the persecution of anyone who “looks illegal” (like the native people of this continent? Mexicans?). Now similar laws are in the works in other states, like Texas and Colorado, and even in northern states like Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. All this is occurring in the context of the global crisis of the capitalist system, and of the imperialist wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, in which immigrants have been made into the “enemy at home.” What will happen when thousands of National Guard troops arrive at the border, fresh from killing men, women and children in the Middle East?
On June 7 in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, directlyacross the border from El Paso, Texas, Border Patrol agents once again violated Mexican territory, shooting at a group of youths, killing 14-year-old Adrián Hernández with a bullet to the head. This boy was not an immigrant, certainly not a “coyote” (trafficker in “illegal” immigrants), but an honors student, cowardly murdered in his own country! The absurd attempt at justification by the spokesmen of the murderers – that the youths were throwing stones (with “potentially lethal force”!) – was clearly contradicted by videos taken by witnesses, which show that Adrian was trying to protect himself and take cover from shots fired by the psychopath in uniform.
Only a few days earlier, on May 28, the day before a march in Phoenix, Arizona against the new racist law, construction worker Anastasio Hernández Rojas, age 42 years, who had lived in San Diego county with his family for nearly 30 years, was beaten to death by 20 Border Patrol and ICE (Immigrations and Customs Enforcement) police at the San Diego/Tijuana border crossing as he was about to be deported. Videos taken by some witnesses show that Anastasio was beaten and electrically shocked with savage ferocity for several minutes, as he cried out for mercy and help until he lost consciousness, never to awaken again. The video shows that the Border Patrol is chock full of sadistic killers.
On Thursday, June 3, sympathizers and activists of the Internationalist Group/League for the Fourth International participated in protests called by the family and friends of Anastasio Hernández at the San Diego/Tijuana border crossing, where the pain of those he left behind was palpable. His five children, now orphans, were inconsolable. This border is truly an open wound. This sorrow was transformed into anger when Anastasio’s killers – those who weren’t on paid holiday while “investigations” that will absolve them are carried out – surrounded the march, mocking the march with cynical smirks as protesters hurled back chants of “¡Asesinos!” – “Murderers!”
Everyone in the San Diego/Tijuana area is talking about the recent killings, in the schools, at work, in the streets; this time, the media haven’t covered up the story. But the result shouldn’t be limited to indignant cursing at the TV set, or translated into the slogan heard at all the marches, “Obama, escucha, estamos en la lucha” (Obama, listen, we are in the struggle), begging the commander in chief of murderous imperialism to take up the banner for “immigration reform” that will never come about. Obama’s secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, is notorious for calling for the militarization of the border when she was governor of Arizona.
No less absurd are the calls on the Mexican government whose marines aimed their machine guns and grenade launchers at us as we protested, and who cowardly witnessed the killings of Anastasio and Adrián. The pious declarations of the Mexican government in defense of immigrants are contradicted every day by its actions. A notorious example is the Grupo Beta, the police of the National Immigration Institute, which under the guise of “protecting the human rights of migrants” arrests and deports immigrants from Central America daily. Now the U.S. press reports that “In a politically sensitive operation at the Arizona- Mexico border, U.S. Border Patrol agents and Mexican federal police officers are training together, sharing intelligence and coordinating patrols for the first time,” in joint operations which “could lead to the creation of a Mexican force serving as a counterpart to the Border Patrol” (Los Angeles Times, 17 February).
The president of Mexico, Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, is a loyal servant of U.S. imperialism, an instrument to maintain Mexico’s semi-colonial status. His dispatch of military units and the federal police (PFP) to Ciudad Juárez is opposed by virtually the entire population there, which now suffers the harassment both of the drug trafficking “cartels” and the federales. The latest feat for this president who likes to put on an army cap was to send his troops in PFP uniforms to crush the heroic miners’ strike in Cananea, Sonora state, before setting off for South Africa to watch the World Cup. It is a naïve, even suicidal, illusion to think that the government and the guard dogs of Mexican capitalism would help the workers.
These atrocities will not stop here, but will only get worse until we act: it’s high time to struggle to mobilize the power of the working class on both sides of the border to defend our immigrant brothers and sisters, to defend ourselves against the destruction to which capitalism condemns us. As we wrote in our article, “War in Iraq, Immigrants Under Attack” (The Internationalist special issue, March 2007), we must “Mobilize Union Power to Defend Immigrant Workers!” We added: “Above all, it is necessary to build a multi-racial and multi-ethnic revolutionary workers party to lead the struggle for workers revolution that alone will secure genuine equality and liberation for all the exploited and oppressed.” Now more than ever the choices facing us are socialist revolution or barbarism. ■
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