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The Militarization of the Border and the Tasks of Socialists

An immediate mobilization of workers and popular sectors — on both sides of the border — is necessary to demand the withdrawal of the National Guard and an end to deportations and Trump’s border wall.

Pablo Oprinari

April 13, 2018
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An immediate mobilization of workers and popular sectors — on both sides of the border — is necessary to demand the withdrawal of the National Guard and an end to deportations and Trump’s border wall.

Last week, Donald Trump signed an executive order to deploy the National Guard to the Mexican border “until the wall is built.” The president announced that this would mean between 2,000 and 4,000 guard members stationed at the border.

In recent days, Trump had been angrily denouncing the caravan of Central American migrants who were crossing Mexico in the hopes of reaching the U.S. and who were detained in the Mexican state of Puebla. He declared that “Mexico broke up the caravan because I told them they had to.” And he maintained that the militarization of the border was to combat the “growing influx of illegal immigrants from Mexico, drugs, and violent gangs from Central America.” The U.S. National Security Secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, had said a day earlier that “now is the time to act.”

The latest measure by Trump was taken in the midst of the final round of the negotiation of a revamped NAFTA deal. Mexico’s Foreign Secretary, Luis Videgaray, and Economy Secretary, Ildefonso Guajardo, are currently negotiating the agreement in Washington.

While the action puts pressure on Mexico to win greater concessions for American multinationals in a new agreement on NAFTA, it also doubles down on his xenophobic and racist policies against migrants, who are fleeing their home countries to escape the violence and poverty imposed by the policies of Washington, through deportations, the construction of the wall, and now the militarization of the border.

Trump, who recently achieved a multi-billion dollar increase in the military budget, with the support of both Democrats and Republicans in Congress, seeks to reestablish imperialist authority over Mexico and Central America and force both to bend to its will. At the same time, he seeks to strengthen his position domestically among voters who support his promise to escalate anti-immigrant policies.

The deployment of the National Guard is also a warning to workers and other popular sectors who are beginning to struggle within the U.S., like the teachers, who are fighting for better salaries and increased funding for education, and the youth, who are demonstrating in support of their teachers.

In Mexico, the response of the government and the ruling parties reveals the hypocrisy of those who submit again and again to the Washington agenda.

While the administration of Enrique Peña Nieto sent a message to Trump declaring its “willingness to negotiate,” the PRI leader José Antonio Meade called for national unity to “express our rejection of these actions.” Ricardo Anaya, the candidate representing an electoral coalition between the PAN, Democratic Revolution, and Citizens’ Movement, emphasized that Mexico must show a “steady hand.”

But in the last 18 years, the governments of both parties delivered the country and its natural resources to U.S. corporations, exemplified by Mexico’s 2014 energy “reform,” and were complicit in the deportations carried out by both Republicans and Democrats.

Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the presidential candidate of the oppositional party, Morena, declared “No to the militarization and the wall, Yes to mutual respect and cooperation for development,” and stated that he would convince the U.S. government through “diplomacy.” However, it is not by “cooperation” with Trump that we will defeat his xenophobic and racist plans.

This will be achieved only through the actions and mobilization of the oppressed and exploited classes in both countries — uniting to fight against Trump’s measures, with complete independence from the politicians who wish to continue the subjugation of Mexico to U.S. imperialism.

Internationalist unity against Trump’s actions

We socialists fight to forge the unity of workers and popular sectors across all borders. In the U.S., workers and the youth who are now standing up to fight must embrace the struggle against deportations, the wall, and the militarization of the border. They must demand that the unions categorically denounce Trump’s actions and uphold the civil rights of all migrants.

The Left, for its part, must demand the immediate withdrawal of the National Guard from the border. The powerful and multiethnic U.S. working class, which in recent decades has incorporated millions of Latino workers, must take a internationalist position and one which is independent of the Republican and Democratic imperialists. This also requires a fight against the looting of Mexican oil reserves and other natural resources, and the cancellation of the national debt, which the multinationals and the White House enforce in Mexico.

In Mexico, we must call for an immediate and massive anti-imperialist mobilization. The unions, the Left, and human rights organizations should call for actions throughout the country. It is not through “unity” with the parties and politicians who serve the multinationals, nor through “cooperation” with imperialism that we can defeat the attack. The allies of the exploited and oppressed in Mexico are the teachers and youth in the U.S., the immigrant community that faces xenophobic attacks, and the Black community fighting against police brutality. Our enemies are the same: the capitalists and their governments who uphold this system of exploitation, misery, and oppression.

On both sides of the border, let’s make the voice of the working class, the youth, and popular sectors heard loudly. Let’s defeat, through mobilization in the streets, the militarization and xenophobic actions of Trump.

You can also read this article in Spanish here.

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Pablo Oprinari

Pablo is a sociologist from Mexico City and a leader of the Socialist Workers Movement (MTS).

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