Monday, August 15, 2016

As the World Turns: A fool and his wall

By Ed Rogers

A wall is built to keep something or someone out. It is supposed to make the builder of the wall feel safe. In most cases, it does just that – until the wall is breached for the first time. The fear of being unprotected is overwhelming at that point. It is more intense even than before the wall was built, because there is no backup plan. Once your wall is breached, your faith in it will never be the same. Your only choice or hope is to find a bigger and better wall – right?

We moved to Costa Rica in 2012. The first place we lived was in the country. It was a beautiful area. The house was located on the side of a mountain overlooking a valley that I still dream about. We felt safe there.
    All the windows and doors had bars on them [see photo below]. We met and were accepted by our neighbors, whom we were sure would look out for us. The front of the house had a tall fence and gate. Around the rest of the property, the fence was only about five feet high, but in order to reach it, you had to come through the jungle. To me, that seemed unlikely.

    The first break-in happened within a three-hour window. We had taken a drive to the beach and back. It was on a Sunday and most of our neighbors were in town for a big horse parade. From the time we left the house until our return was three and a half hours.
    They came out of the jungle and broke through the back wall. So much for the bars and the fence with the gate.
    After the second break in, we went looking for a bigger and better wall. We found it in a suburb of San Ramon named San Juan. It had a brick wall across the front topped off with razor wire and a metal gate. Both sides butted up next to the neighbor’s house and the back had an eight-foot fence sitting on a six-foot brick wall and topped with barbwire. Someone still got in. Getting in proved easier than getting out. Most of the things that were taken from the house were piled next to the wall. They were not able to get both themselves and the stolen goods over the wall. So more wire was added, but by then I realized that a determined person will always find a way.

This has all been leading up to the wall that the fearful want to build along the border with Mexico. The people who are trying to cross into the States are not waking up late at night and driving a few blocks or miles to rob someone. There are two sets of people coming across the border.
    The first set: poor Central and South Americans. They are fleeing cartels and starvation. They have no passport or visa and are prey to the worst people in the world. Yet they come anyway. I don’t believe anyone knows how many have died.
    The second set: they have traveled hundreds, even thousands of miles in order to cross that border. Most have the hopes and prayers of an entire family riding on their back. The family will have put together every dime they could get their hands on for this person to make the trip. If I could not keep out a thief with so much less to gain than the people heading toward our border, why in God’s name would anyone believe a wall could stop a person so determined?
    If the flow is to be stopped or slowed, it has to happen long before the people reach our border. Most Central and South American countries have little or no limits on visas. While I was living in Costa Rica, Nicaragua closed its border and thereby trapped over three thousand Cubans in Costa Rica. If not for the border closing, no one would have known about the Cubans. As far as I know, Costa Rica is still dealing with the problem. At the time there were over six thousand in Costa Rica or on the Panama border trying to get into Costa Rica. The problem Costa Rica had, or has, is not the Cubans coming into Costa Rica, but the Cubans who are staying. This is how all the South American countries feel about it – it is a Norte Americano problem.
    In some regards they are right. After all, the people are not illegal when they come into these countries. Ecuador allows just about anybody into their country and hands out a visa to the world like the world hands out a visa to us. As US citizens, we don’t apply for a visa. We get on a plane with our passport knowing we will be welcomed at the other end. It is this way across Central and South America. Once in one country, if you cross a border, your passport is stamped.
    The people in the second set travel from all over the world. Landing first in Ecuador, then moving north, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, and at last Mexico. All this time they are traveling with a legal passport and a visa. I say “legal”; it may be forged or maybe not. It matters little to the countries they are passing through. The countries know that these people are just passing through and will be of no concern within a day or two.
     Central and South American countries have treaties that control entering and exiting across their borders, so unless every country did like Nicaragua, and closed its borders, you end up with a mess. Costa Rica paid thousands of dollars to fly the Cubans to Mexico just to get them out of their country. Everybody knew where the Cubans were heading, and they just wanted them to get on with it.

The answer to the problem is not a wall. The countries of the world are at fault for destroying the hope and dreams of their people. The idea that free trade helps bring these people hope and prosperity is a lie told by corporations to exploit the poor of the world in order to line their own pockets and the pockets of the elite of the countries that house the slave labor camps.
    That is why people flee these countries. Mexico is full of drug gangs, but it did not happen overnight. The gangs filled the void the Mexican government left. They employed the poor and lost who were forgotten by their own country. These same people were the communist rebels of the 1950s. Mexico is a rich country with large oil deposits and gold and silver mines, and land that grows enough marijuana and coca to make cartels rich. That same land can produce food, but the elite of Mexico will not invest the money to help their people. And it is not just Mexico – it is countries throughout Central and South America. Costa Rica protects a few families that produce rice and pork even though rice and pork are cheaper if imported. The Costa Ricans pay the highest price for rice and pork of any Central or South American country.
    We must first get our own house in order before we can change the world. While we allow the elite of our country to exploit us, how do we demand that other countries do better?
    If you want to stop the flow of illegals into this country – you have to make it better for them to stay home. A wall will only give you a false sense of security.

Copyright © 2016 by Ed Rogers


  1. Ed, I am grateful to you for explaining borders and passport controls throughout Central & South America, and their crucial role in that second set of immigrants who come in across our southern border.

  2. Your perspective, Ed, is both realistic and humane. I wish this was on the front page of every newspaper in the country. Thank you!

    1. Eric, your endorsement is so strong (and merited), I have revised my Facebook ads to quote it. And I need to ask a few more people on Facebook to please share those ads on their pages....THANKS!

  3. An excellent set of insights, Ed. Bravo! Along with your personal experiences in CR. I too agree with Eric. It needs to be seen in all our newspapers. I will do what I can to spread it. Thanks for your time and sharing.

  4. Wow Cousin, so, so true, just makes me appreciate you even more, if that is possible. So glad we grew up in South Texas and got to see the good and bad. Ta, Shirley

    1. Vic Midgett referred this to me. Well researched and presented with a good analysis which mirrors the global scene.

      Australia has oceans as a wall. In recent years naval captains offer large financial inducements when they apprehend illegal migrant boats to the boats masters to return home or face imprisonment with their vessel being burnt. They head back. But sadly, many come from war zones but others as economic migrants.
      The situation in Costa Rica remids me of South Africa (my birth place) and during one visit just after Sunrise I took my sister's ankle high, delightful mongrel for a walk down the road past all the highwalls and fences with razor wire. We were the centre of attraction with German shepherds, Rottweileirs and others doing their utmost to get out and rip us apart. The occupiers dushed out to control and silence their dogs in their pyjamus.
      Mongrel and I kept going with ever broadening smiles.

    2. Vic, Shirley, and "Unknown": All of your comments were so recommending of Ed's article that I quoted them as comments on my Facebook and Google+ "ads," in the hope that some of those reading them will be motivated to share them further. Ed's article deserves to "go viral."
          See the ads at Google+, Morris Dean's Facebook page, and Moristotle & Co.'s Facebook page.

  5. As I grew up in India, the thing coveted most by pilferers was mom's typewriter, (today's computer). The unwanted soon found out that breaking a window pain resulted in dad appearing with a large stick, so they found with a lot of hard work they could dig their way straight through the wall making a hole just large enough to crawl through. No small task as it was concrete and over a foot thick.

    Dad soon learned the difference in the muffled noise that activity made versus an animal scratching which was more common. However, we still lost several typewriters!