Roque Planas, a graduate from the CLACS MA program, is now an editor for the Huffington Post, as well as the Chair of the Board of Directors for the North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA). Planas recently wrote a piece for the Huffington Post that has become an internet sensation. In the article Planas explores how U.S. foreign policy and interventionism in Latin America have played a large part in immigration to the United States—from the Treaty of Guadelupe Hidalgo to the current flow of weapons across the border in Mexico.
As Planas writes in the April 18 Huffington Post piece “19 Reasons Latin Americans Come to the U.S. That Have Nothing to Do With the American Dream”:
The conventional wisdom says that most Latin American migrants who come to the United States are looking for a better life, inspired by the “American Dream.” And it’s hard to deny that there’s a lot of truth in that.
But there’s another side to the story — people leave Latin America because life there can be very hard. Poverty, political instability and recurring financial crises often conspire to make Latin American life more challenging than in the U.S., a wealthy country with lots of job opportunities.
Living on the northern side of the U.S.-Mexico border, it’s easy to view Latin America as another world, isolated from the United States. But the truth is that the U.S. government has historically made life in Latin America harder by overthrowing democratically elected governments, financing atrocities and pushing trade policies that undermine Latin American industries, dealing blows to local economies. Perhaps instead of building walls, the United States should focus on being a better neighbor.