Images of devastation are appearing on television screens around the world out of Brownsville, Texas and surrounding areas. Please keep in mind that no one will ever see the images of those whose lives will be wiped out from this storm. That is because those who will be most harshly dealt with are not living in Texas, but across the Rio Grande in Mexico.
There are, no doubt, pockets of extreme poverty all along the Rio Grande valley in Texas. That is not the issue here. The real issue deals with the lack of understanding regarding just how bad conditions are on the Mexican side of the valley. One must keep in mind that few Americans ever venture into the horrible neighborhoods of most Mexican cities where people live in cardboard houses (at best) and survive on nearly nothing. Welcome to the “Third World”.
One does not have to go to countries in Africa or Asia to find living conditions so brutal that no one in this country could imagine. Poverty so deep that there are no solutions and political systems so rife with corruption that there is no hope are the norm in most third world countries. Too many times Americans picture Mexico as a resort country due to visits to Cancun or Acapulco. Also, too many times Americans associate Mexico only with the huge and sprawling capital of Mexico City.
Outside of these areas, there is a huge country locked in poverty with few governmental services available and areas run more by drug lords than any official government. The people live in utter squalor and have for many generations. From these dire straits comes the yearning to come to America where there are jobs (which most Americans refuse to do) and money to be legitimately made. Most of what is made by Mexicans in America goes back to Mexico to support their families.
As fewer and fewer Americans are willing to make a living doing physical work, somebody must to it or it won’t get done. If it were not for the Mexicans who went to New Orleans and the Mississippi coast after Katrina, hardly any roofs would have been repaired or replaced. Americans are simply not willing to climb up on scalding hot roofs and do the hard work needed to make the repairs.
We all know that we would starve to death if not for the migrant workers who make their living picking the fruits and vegetables we enjoy so much. These people spend all their lives doing a job very few Americans would do even if paid $30 an hour. Americans are simply not willing to get down on their hands and knees to do what is needed no matter how difficult or physically taxing.
Yet, in spite of all the good things most of our neighbors from the south have done for us, they are hated and despised and huge numbers of Americans want to deport anyone who snuck into this country. Giant fences are being put up to keep people who are trying to survive out of our pristine land. Since when is this country so damn righteous that we shut our doors to those who are only trying to literally live? Since when are we so high and mighty that we say NO to those who are gladly willing to do the jobs we refuse to do.
Nothing has changed since the days of slavery. Just because official slavery was banned by the Constitution doesn’t mean it does not still exist. What else do you call the importation of legal and illegal aliens to do jobs no one else will do? Slaves were imported to work in the cotton fields and to take care of children and make meals. Slaves were imported to do all the dirty work so that the wealthy land owners could busy themselves with making more money, socializing and traveling.
Those wealthy enough to hire “household servants” usually don’t get them from the local labor pool. No, they scarf them up from Guatemala or El Salvador or Mexico. Why? So they don’t have to pay them what an American would demand in wages. This exact same thing goes on with migrant workers and other menial jobs Americans will not lower themselves to do unless they receive a king’s ransom for doing them.
As Dolly plows up the Rio Grande River valley, it will literally wipe out hundreds of thousands of cardboard homes and probably end of killing thousands of poor people the world will never hear about. Every major hurricane has seen far more casualties than are officially recorded. Eyewitnesses swore under oath that they saw trucks loaded with bodies in body bags leaving the devastation after Hurricane Andrew. The same can be said after Katrina.
Officials refuse to accurately give statistics for fatalities due to fears that they will be held responsible financially or in the court of public opinion. Instead, they downplay the numbers of people killed, especially when they are peasants, homeless, illegal aliens or ultra poor. These tactics are employed in the United States, Mexico Miramar, China, Russia and just about every other country in the world. Ruling governments do not want the world to know just how badly they screwed up by not preparing for a major storm or helping them quickly afterwards.
Please keep all this in mind as you see the handpicked images of particular destruction that will grace our televisions over the next few days. Rest assured that a week or so from now, Dolly will be forgotten except for those directly impacted. The rest of the country will be far more concerned about politics and sports than how “forgotten” people will figure out how to move on when they have lost literally everything they had in this life.
In any major disaster there are those who we see on the news who somehow manage to get all the help they need both economically as well as volunteers. The people we never see are the ones who either fall through the cracks and somehow miss out on all the help provided by social safety nets or worse yet; as far as the government was concerned—they never were there to begin with. God help the invisible forgotten masses whose only means for survival comes from our prayers and the willingness on the part of a few true heroes who look for them and help them exclusively.
I thank God for the small independent relief agencies whose mission is to find those people neglected by everyone else. I thank God for those who are willing to avoid the headlines and the photo ops to search out the one lost sheep no one else cares about. In my books, those who are worthy of being called “relief workers” are those who go where no one else is willing to go to help those no one else will help.