Fellow talks Chicago’s migrant crisis, US foreign policy with WBEZ

Migrants from Latin America are arriving in Chicago at a record pace. While the challenges of how to house and care for these new arrivals are distinctly local, the roots of the problem are global, Juan González, senior research fellow at UIC’s Great Cities Institute, explained in a recent interview with WBEZ 

González, a journalist and co-host of Democracy Now, discussed how U.S. foreign policy in Latin America over the past 50 years has led to an influx of migrants from those countries. It is an argument he also makes in his book, Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America.  

Below are some excerpts from his interview. You can listen to it in full or read the transcript online. You can also read about Great Cities’ recent launch of a Latino Research Initiative online. 

WBEZ: Tell us what has contributed to the influx of migrants, particularly from Venezuela? 

González: The influx of migrants from Venezuela to the United States is a relatively new phenomenon. … The key thing that most people do not understand is that the United States has been engaged, in essence, in an economic war against Venezuela now for several years. … Besides perhaps war, it is difficult to think of a tool of foreign policy that today causes more economic and humanitarian destruction than economic sanctions.  

WBEZ: Outside of Venezuela, what U.S. foreign policies have caused migration from other countries in Latin America in the past? 

González: If you look at the migrations of Latinos to the United States over the last 50 years, they come precisely from those countries that were most dominated or controlled by the United States in the late 19th and early 20th century: Puerto Rico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, South El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras. Each of those countries had a long history of Americans going into their countries, investing, controlling their resources — often, the United States military intervening. All of these countries suffered, their resources were, in essence, pillaged, and the wealth of their countries were brought to this country. 

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