FOR THEE

Posted in Rants on January 10th, 2018 by Ed

When traveling internationally government agencies like the US State Department or the UK Foreign Office can offer valuable advice. The basics – shots, visas, potential complications – are all in one place and up to date. Their travel "advice," however, must always be taken with grains of salt. Let's just say they tend toward extreme caution. I think the State Department in particular imagines the would-be US traveler as an 18 year old college freshman who has never been outside Paramus, NJ and will be unable to handle the slightest "non-Americanness."

Come to think of it, that's a great approach. That is the modal American tourist.

El Salvador is listed by the State Department in Category 3 (Reconsider Need to Travel) which is one stage short of "Do Not Travel Here." The Embassy warns that the crime threat in El Salvador is "critical" and notes, as it does for many countries, that law enforcement is corrupt and as likely to rob you as help you. Poor rural sanitation, Zika outbreaks, and political unrest due to government corruption are also noted. Again, they tend to overdo it a bit, but suffice it to say that El Salvador is a place with many problems.

Despite warning Americans not to go there, the White House announced recently that 200,000 Salvadoran immigrants to the US are about to be given the heave-ho and, presumably, forced to return. Makes sense, right?

What is the point of this? What is the point of any of these targeted attempts to legislate immigrant-bashing? This accomplishes absolutely nothing and benefits no one. Like the "travel ban" countries, we declare these places chaotic shit holes and then actively move to ship people there. I guess borderline failed states are good enough for SOME kinds of people, amirite.

It's worth noting that without being overly dramatic or self-critical, a good portion of the responsibility for the corruption, brutality, and poverty of Central American states belongs squarely in Washington. I mean, what do you think paramilitary death squads do after they've overthrown a duly elected leader, disband and go home to read magazines?

The irony of explicitly calling a country too dangerous to visit and then deporting people to it is almost too much to bear, but I suppose we're all getting used to bearing it.