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Rights Action
July 24, 2019
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Letter to The Globe & Mail, re: “Canada is ignoring its own hemisphere” (by Craig Damian Smith, July 17, 2019) 
Canada is not remotely “ignoring” Latin America.  In Honduras and Guatemala, Canada is directly “[partnering] with authoritarian regimes.”
 
Without addressing here Canada’s extensive economic/ political interests in certain South American countries (particularly in the mining, oil and gas, and financial sectors), Canada is deeply involved politically, economically and ‘security’-wise with corrupt, repressive, exploitative governments in Honduras and Guatemala.
 
Full article: “Canada is ignoring its own hemisphere”
“Northern Central America (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras) is the site of the world’s fastest-growing displacement crisis.  Staggering homicide rates, climate change, resource extraction and oppression of Indigenous peoples have created 311,000 asylum seekers.  Hundreds of thousands more are internally displaced. The UN predicts almost 540,000 people of concern by 2020.”
 
This is true, yet Mr. Damian fails to analyze the direct role of the Canadian government - dating back to the late 1990s in general, and in the case of Honduras particularly since the Canadian-backed military coup of 2009 - in maintaining full political relations with both regimes, while aggressively promoting the expansion of Canadian economic interests, primarily in the sector of mining extraction, and also tourism and the maquiladora “sweatshop” industries.
 
“Corruption, lack of co-operation and weak capacity make it doubtful that more money would solve the root causes of displacement”.  This also is true, yet Mr. Damian again ignores how Canada’s government-to-government relations and Canada’s private sector economic interests directly participate in and benefit from the “corruption … and weak capacity”.
 
Canada should immediately do much more to open our borders to many more refugee and forced migrancy claimants.  The crisis is happening now.  The crisis is normalized and systemic.  The crisis will not end any time soon.
 
Yes, “Central America needs help”, but we don’t need to “nudge” the Canadian government “to help” more – Canadians need to demand accountability for Canadian public and private sector policies that contribute to and benefit from the crisis.  We need to demand serious political and economic policy reforms and changes.  Canada is part of the problem.
 
Grahame Russell, grahame@rightsaction.org
 
Grahame Russell is a non-practicing lawyer; adjunct professor at University of Northern British Columbia; and, since 1995, director of Rights Action (www.rightsaction.org). 
 
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Rights Action
Since 1995, Rights Action funds community human rights, environment and territory defense projects in Guatemala and Honduras; funds victims of repression, human rights violations, health harms and natural disasters; and works to hold accountable the U.S. and Canadian governments, companies and investors, international actors (World Bank, etc.) that cause, contribute to and profit from repression and human rights violations, environmental harms and forced evictions, corruption and impunity.

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