Kate Gordon is a dedicated border and human-rights advocate. She recently posted this message about travel restrictions, and how to be most helpful to folks in need at the border: “If you were planning to travel to volunteer in Brownsville/Matamoros with refugees there, please donate everything you were going to spend to Team Brownsville, Resource Center Matamoros, Project Corazon, and Global Response Management. These organizations are well connected with the AMAZING refugee leaders in the camps. Your help now will make a huge difference.”
She’s also written this, putting the current health crisis in context:
The sickest I have ever been in my life was when I was 22 and lived in a tiny village in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala. I was a human rights observer, accompanying Q’eq’chi folks who were returning to their land after displacement and massacres during the 1980s genocide aided and abetted by my government.
I was able to be in the community for about 3 weeks at a time before I got too sick because of the lack of clean water. I would walk the few hours into town, catch a bus to Coban, and then to Guatemala City where I could pay for penicillin, deworming medication, Tylenol. I remember one day when it was a struggle to walk out when I was developing pneumonia. I walked out. As I left, I heard the same coughing of the girls in the house I lived in. I went out, got healthier and came back. They were still coughing and sick. During about 3 months, I lost 30 lbs, to where I was well below the weight I was in 9th grade when I played volleyball and softball competitively.
I have never ever thought that Guatemalans fleeing to the US were fleeing poverty. Rather, they were fleeing forced famine and the residue of the genocide.
Deporting Guatemalans, Hondurans, Salvadorans back to the countries they have fled now will cause so much death. While most healthy adults will probably survive the actual corona virus ok, what about a population that is already starving? Already trying to recover from genocide? I anticipate that if the contagion gets quickly to the community I lived in, folks of all ages will die in silence and abandonment.