Letters to the Editor - Summer 1991

By Ramon Ruiz
Published in The Social Contract
Volume 1, Number 4 (Summer 1991)
Issue theme: "What makes a nation?"


Not marching in step with Borders and Quaker Values, which appears in your Spring 1991 issue, would be like turning your back on motherhood, duty to father and love of one's children. But like the above homilies, the article, while articulating intelligent principles, is much too abstract. Reality is something else when it comes to borders, often the embodiment of much nonsense that passes for patriotism in most countries, the United States included.

The 'principles,' if that is what they are, would be much stronger if they dealt with the specifics of American border 'questions.' I refer, for example, to those between Mexico, a poor and blighted Third World country, and rich, imperialistic United States. That border is not merely two thousand miles long, but the biggest border between extremes of dire poverty and gross affluence. The flood of Mexicans who daily cross into California testifies to the disparity between these two nations. That disparity, furthermore, is not merely a border problem, for it stems partly, if not to a great extent, from the unjust and unequal economic relationship which American capitalists and their government in Washington have imposed on Mexico. Granted that the well-off in Mexico acquiese (sic), even applaud that relationship, to the detriment of their own poor; that, however, does not justify it.

Nor do the Quaker 'principles' talk about race, the color of one's skin. Mexico, like much of the Third World (the southern hemisphere) is not 'white,' a phenomenon that since colonial days has terrified white Northamericans. It is no accident that border problems for the United States usually deal with people who are not 'white.' The issue, therefore, is racism, not just the border. American racism, as the world knows, has old roots, dating from the pilgrims on hills, slavery at Jamestown, Manifest Destiny and the killing of Indians and Mexicans and justifications for all of that from the likes of Jefferson, Calhoun, Fiske, TR, the Social Darwinists and the present occupant of the White House who decries what he calls 'quotas' and scares his compatriots with Willie Horton.

The border impasse with Cuba, moreover, will not end until the Cubans renounce socialism, as Washington demands, and harkens (sic) to embrace 'free market' economics, which have kept all of Latin American (sic) in a stage of underdevelopment for nearly two centuries. The world without borders, as most Northamericans envisage it, is capitalist and intolerant of those who would deign to seek other formulas.

Ramón Eduardo Ruiz, Professor

Department of History

University of California at San Diego

La Jolla, California

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