On Sept. 14 the U.S. House of Representatives, in the spirit of election-year politics, passed HR 6061, the “Secure Fence Act,” which calls for construction of 700 miles of fencing along the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border.
The Secure Fence Act will join “Operation Gatekeeper,” “Operation Hold the Line” and “Operation Wetback,” among others, as attempts to secure a border area created in 1848 and fueled by “white man’s burden” and “manifest destiny” racist, imperialist ideology.
This border, which cut Mexico in two, has served to control resources, settlement and security over the occupied territory, and subjugated Chicano and native American peoples in what is now called the U.S. Southwest.
The bill exemplifies the class division, paranoia, racism and bigotry inherent in bourgeois neo-liberal democracy, as all over its “free world,” shameful walls and blockades are erected for imperialism’s preservation and expansion.
The Berlin Wall was trumpeted around the world by the bourgeois press as the epitome of repression and bondage, a “wall of infamy.” However, calls ringing out from the world’s oppressed for world imperialism to tear down its own walls — walls much vaster and affecting many more lives than the “iron curtain” — fall only into silence.
Israel’s West Bank wall — which in a matter of years will be much longer than the Berlin Wall — perpetuates Israeli apartheid and imperial occupation in Palestinian lands.
Spain’s double razor wire fences around its enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla continue legacies of Spanish imperial dominion in North African Berber land.
The little heard-of Moroccan wall, 16 times greater than the Berlin Wall, says Eduardo Galeano, “continuously mined and surveilled, for 20 years has perpetuated Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara” — and the subjugation of the Saharawi people in this resource-rich land.
Finally, the U.S., the greatest imperialist power — with its Cuba blockade enacted to counter the Cuban Revolution waged for self-determination and social justice, its former Mason-Dixon line designed to preserve slavery and subjugation of African Americans, and now its “Secure Fence Act” — has historically been a nation of blocks and barriers, of privatization (from the Latin “privare” — to withhold, deny) and of appropriation of the territory, resources and sovereignty of others.
The oppressed and their oppressors will never live together in peace. “Pax Americana” therefore must divide, neutralize, keep out or destroy class, nationality and race foes that it cannot or will not assimilate.
Writes Black and Brown unity advocate John A. Imani, “The lie is that there are borders, nations, divisions. The truth is that we are all one. The lie is that there is too little. The truth is that there could be so much. And all it takes is work.”
As the walls go up around us and across the “free world,” of capitalist neo-liberalism and its “free trade,” dividing and segregating working class allies, the international sea of oppressed across borders and nation-states must work to tear down ideological and physical barriers of racism, xenophobia and false patriotism — walls that consolidate imperial rule, walls whose color is the green of corporate greed.
Cristóbal Cavazos is a Chicano activist and graduate student who lives in the Chicago area.