Migrants’ misery is a problem of our own creation

A migrant who did not give his name waited with his children as they sought asylum in the United States, at the border in Tijuana, Mexico.
A migrant who did not give his name waited with his children as they sought asylum in the United States, at the border in Tijuana, Mexico.(Gregory Bull/File 2019/AP)

US aid to Central America would be reparations, not a gift

Thank you for bringing context to our growing Central American migrant crisis (“Want to stop border crossings? Aid Central America,” Editorial, March 8). Your urgent call for aid to create incentives for people to remain in their homelands is timely and important.

I would just add two observations. While civil unrest is, as you say, a major driver of families migrating north, the root cause for much of that unrest is the climate crisis. Over the past decade, erratic patterns of rainfall and drought in that region have caused repeated crop failure, widespread hunger, and migration to urban areas, where the unrest and violence you describe are particularly brutal. And let’s be clear: While Central Americans are victims of climate change, they have done almost nothing to cause it. We in the United States are far and away the world’s greatest emitter of greenhouse gas over time. We own a large share of the climate problem.

Furthermore, civil unrest in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador should be understood in relation to the regular interventions of our government in the region, overthrowing progressive governments and thwarting social revolutions. We own a share of that civil unrest as well.


In short, US aid to Central America is not a gift. Rather, we owe substantial reparations for all we have done to exacerbate the troubles in that region. Admitting refugees and offering development funds would be a small down payment.

Brent Whelan


We’re the cause of misery in region

The US interventions in Central America over the past four decades have much to do with the chaos and criminality that terrorize the citizens of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala today, causing the people to flee for their lives from their homelands. The president, since he has been in office, has made at least one correct observation about our foreign policies — that being when he questioned an interviewer’s observation that dictators he seems to favor so highly cause misery for their people. The president retorted, about the United States, “Are we so innocent?”


We are not.

We have helped set up brutal dictators and trained their security and police forces. Our appetite for cocaine and other illicit drugs fuels warring drug cartels. Innocent civilians are caught up in this living hell. No wonder people need to flee for their lives.

We owe them more than aid.

Jerome Watson-Peters