Biden Administration to Deliver Peace and Prosperity to Central America, Part 2

Posted on May 4, 2021


Returning to where we left off last week, the United Fruit Company emerged as one of the great titans in American commerce and industries, so controlling in Latin America that the Costa Ricans had a nickname for it, “Mamita Unai,” or “Mama Uni.” Much money was made, but most went to American banana importers and companies, although profits served to reinforce long-standing political institutions in Central America which favored the old elites.

The “Northern Triangle” is clever geographic term invented to somehow separate El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras from the rest of Latin America. Why leave off Nicaragua, Mexico, Panama, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba and almost a dozen other Latin American countries whose people have, at different times and sometimes different circumstances, contributed to the stream of immigrants that make up the people of America, from the first English settlers to Virginia in 1607 looking to get rich quick to the tens of thousands of Cubans in the 1960s all the way to today escaping the tyranny of communism?

We opened the doors to the Cubans during the Cold War, but historically guarded the gates closely to immigrants from most of the rest of the world in spite of the classic poem associated with the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” The compassionate. Christian side of our national personality indeed yearned to incorporate all who wanted to come, but realistically guarded the gates in the same fashion you guard the entrance to your own home.

I have worked, traveled, taught, written about and even preached in the Triangle and the rest of Latin America for over half a century, It is like the United States, a wonderful, incredibly diverse, loving and creative world, shared, like in the United States, by the mean, the criminal, the poor (lots more there than here), and the usual commonalities and differences in the communities of the world.

If I were to give the Vice President some advice, it would be to recognize that we in the United States and Canada, or North America, share a history with Latin America that is important for us both, North Americans and Latin Americans.

We share a common destiny kicked off by the voyages of Christopher Columbus. Kamala Harris needs to learn about the “American” experience, and by American I am referring to all the Americas from Chile and Argentina in the far south to North America all the way to Alaska. We share a heritage of native Americans, European conquerors and settlers and African slaves before the huge immigration streams of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries that brought in Asians, other Africans, and people from literally across the world.

Some Latin Americans prospered immensely like in the United States, others developed economically at different paces, some, if not most, were rocked at one time or another by political, economic, and social revolutions, some developed elites, others a significant middle class, and each nation marched to its own drummer even while being a part of the greater American whole.

We all looked to revolutionary beginnings that stressed liberty, equality, and freedom, but only achieved partial success in all our ideals over the five centuries since the first Europeans, largely Spaniards and later Portuguese who settled Brazil, began to arrive at the end of the fifteenth century. It’s a remarkable journey that has produced everything from the meanest, drug trafficking gangs in the world to a medical community that produced a vaccine in a remarkable time frame, testimony to how far we have moved along the pathways of science in making our world better.

We may be part of the new “global” community now championed by some as the future, but we were an American, Western hemisphere community first with its own ideals and dreams and realities different from those of Asia and Africa. The American Revolution and the Latin American Wars of Independence which produced the United States and the “Northern Triangle” forged a new vision of man and of his relationship to each other politically that gradually changed the rest of the world over the next two and a half centuries.

There are still big, sometimes huge, differences between a rich technology guru of California and a peasant coffee farmer of Guatemala but we need to invoke the spirit of a Simón Bolívar, or a George Washington, or a Benito Juarez, or an Evita Perón, or a Gloria Estefan to resolve our differences and stress our common history in the New World.

More than a quarter of foreign-born U.S. residents in 2017 hailed from Mexico, according to United Nations data.


If you don’t know a lot, or any, of this, Ms. Vice President, you need to read and study a bit, not so much the land, India, of your mother but the island of Jamaica of your father, very much part of the Americas. Once we learn our common history and culture in the Americas, we can then deal more realistically, and successfully, with our differences.

I welcome immigrants to the United States now crowding the border, pero solamente si vienen debajo de las leyes que rigen damas, y caballeros, because we are still a nation of laws. All immigrants may be attracted by liberty and the freedom to worship and work as individuals, but we are also a nation of laws and rights established by our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

Published as “Learning our common history will help us deal with our differences,” in The Tuscaloosa News, Sunday, April 18, 2021.