Fires have been raging in central and southern Chile, fanned by strong
winds, hot temperatures and a prolonged drought. Emergency services have
battled the flames nonstop for days with thousands of firefighters on
the ground and helicopters and airplanes in the air. The forest fires
have displaced thousands, killed people and destroyed entire villages.
The multiple blazes have ravaged 680,000 acres (273,000 hectares) in
just over a week. (AP/Getty)
Photos: (from top) REUTERS/Juan Gonzalez (3), AP Photo/Esteban Felix (3)
At a time of heated and divisive debate over immigration, the new feature-length documentary, “Harvest of Empire,” examines the direct connection between the long history of U.S. intervention in Latin America and the immigration crisis we face today. Based on the groundbreaking book by award-winning journalist and Democracy Now! co-host Juan González, “Harvest of Empire” takes an unflinching look at the role that U.S. economic and military interests played in triggering an unprecedented wave of migration that is transforming our nation’s cultural and economic landscape. González is a columnist at the New York Daily News and author of three other books, including “News for All the People: The Epic Story of Race and the American Media.” We’re also joined by the film’s co-director, Eduardo López
Few incidents in U.S. history so directly confront our cultural identity as does the Texas War of Independence and its legendary Battle of the Alamo. For more than a century and a half, the fort’s siege has been a part of American mythology. Its 187 martyred defenders, among them William Barret Travis, Jim Bowie, and Davy Crockett, have been immortalized as American heroes despite the fact that they openly defended slavery, that they were usurping the land of others, and that they were not even American citizens. Technically, they were Mexican citizens rebelling to found the Republic of Texas.
Most of the Anglo settlers had been in the province less than the two years. Many were adventurers, vagabonds, and land speculators. Travis had abandoned his family and escaped to Texas after killing a man in the United States. Bowie, a slave trader, had wandered into the Mexican province looking to make a fortune in mining. Sam Houston, commander of the victorious rebels, and Crockett were both veterans of Andrew Jackson’s grisly victoy over the Creeks at Horseshoe Bend, and they shared Old Hickory’s racist and expansionist views toward Latin America.
Juan Gonzalez, Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America
The four most populous states– California, New York, Texas, and Florida–contain more than 60 percent of the nation’s Latinos. In both California and Texas, one of every four residents is Latino.
This demographic shift is so massive it is transforming the ethnic composition of the country and challenging key aspects of its accepted national identity, language, culture, and official history, a seismic social change that caught the power structures and institutions of U.S. society unprepared. Instead of seeking to address the causes of that change, those institutions attempted in the 1990s simply to repress and reverse it.
Not too long ago, Latin American was thought of as an exotic and beckoning backyard for U.S. power and influence, a series of nondescript banana republics and semicivilized nations were Americans often ventured for adventure or for vacations or to accumulate cheap land or make huge fortunes. The region’s hapless government became perpetual prey to the intrigues of competing circles of U.S. bankers and investors and to the gunboat diplomacy of U.S. presidents. But now Latino migrants, the product of those old inequities have invaded the North American garden, kitchen, and living room. We are overflowing its schools, even its jails.
That mushrooming presence has sparked enormous insecurity among citizens of European descent, a disturbing number of whom started to believe in the 1990s that the country was under attack by modern-day Huns, hordes of Spanish-speaking “barbarians at the gate.” They saw images of Mexican street gangs in Los Angelges and Phoenix, Puerto Rican unmarried mothers on welfare in New York and Boston, Colombian drug dealers in Miami, or illegal Central American laborers in Houston and San Francisco. These immigrants, they were told in countless news and were disproportionately swelling the ranks of the country’s poor.
If Latin America had not been pillaged by U.S capital since it’s independence, millions of desperate workers would not now be coming here in such numbers to reclaim a share of the wealth; and if the United States is today the world’s richest nation, it is in part because the sweat and blood of the copper workers of Chile, the tin miners of Bolivia, the fruit pickers of Guatemala and Honduras, the cane cutters of Cuba, the oil workers of Venezuela and Mexico, the pharmaceutical workers of Puerto Rico, the ranch hands of Costa Rica and Argentina, the West Indians who died building the Panama Canal and the Panamanians who maintained it.
“It was one of the most dramatic courtroom scenes I’ve ever been in.” -Michael Ratner, the president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights, on Bradley Manning’s pre-trial hearing testimony. Ratner described Manning’s testimony about his detention in both Kuwait and the Quantico base in Virginia in detail, including the torture and sensory deprivation the U.S. government inflicted on Manning.