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Before Promoting Social Justice in Central and South America, It Needs to Start with U.S.

LatinaLista — How ironic is this:
Yesterday, the Bush Administration held a conference at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia titled “A Conversation on the Americas.”

President Bush speaks at the Conference on the Americas
(Source: White House)
It was billed as a conference to hear about the best practices that are working in Central and South America and explore ways for the United States to help their southern neighbors while promoting “social justice.”
To the Administration, social justice only means “meeting basic needs.”
Panelists at the conference included representatives from throughout South and Central America who each took a turn at the microphone, once they broke up into smaller groups, to tell of their successes back in their home countries.
All shared inspiring stories of how the poor are creating businesses for themselves or how education is becoming a community-wide effort. Bush joined in by reciting a list of all that the US is doing to help these countries too:

The President Directed The USNS Comfort – A Medical Ship – To Begin A Four-Month Deployment To Provide Medical Care To 12 Latin American And Caribbean Nations.
The Launch Of The Partnership For Breast Cancer Awareness And Research Of The Americas.
Assisting In Building A Market For Affordable Housing In Latin America
A New $75 Million Initiative To Help More Young People Learn English And Study In The United States.

Wondering what’s so ironic?
Well, the BBC released a story the same day about a group of migrants on the Mexican/Guatemala border who are currently making their way to enter illegally into the US.
Nothing new there except that one of the interviewed migrants was a doctor from Honduras.

When the reporter asked why someone of her profession would come as an illegal migrant, she replied: ” I have no choice. I cannot earn a good living in Honduras.”
Another migrant interviewed explained why she was making the dangerous journey, not alone, but with her 12-month-old baby:

Young mother makes risky journey to US with infant daughter.
(Source: BBC News)

… “The food is better in America, so is the education and the jobs. I have to give my daughter a chance.”
“Even it if means jumping onto a moving train with your baby?”, I ask.
“Yes,” she says.

Back at the Conference of the Americas, in the breakout session hosted by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Latin and South American leaders all reiterated that though they’ve had successes with their individual initiatives the need outweighs those successes.
It is an understatement to say that it will take a lot of money invested in the southern countries to achieve the kind of progress that is needed to stem the desperation people continually feel in these countries.
In addition to Bush’s list of American contributions, the Treasury Department announced a new initiative of its own last week to increase investment in Latin America and the Caribbean.
But it’s going to take time to work — lots of time.
In the interim, the people will keep coming. Wall or no wall. More border security or not.
They’re coming because of our economy. In June, 132,000 new jobs were created – 8.2 million since August 2003.
It’s being reported that over 2 million jobs alone have been created over the twelve months ending in June.
We know that some of those jobs are filled by undocumented immigrants.
So what should we do?
We have to realize that promoting social justice means more than “meeting basic needs.” It is as Wikipedia defines it “based on the idea of a society which gives individuals and groups fair treatment and a just share of the benefits of society.”
It is more than just delivering money for investment purposes. It is changing a mindset that sees certain people as having less value in society than others.
In turn, meaning they are deserving of less.
It is a lesson that needs to start at home.

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