By Caleb T. Maupin
Published Jun 8, 2007 10:36 PM
The shopping centers of Painesville, Ohio, which usually bustle with activity, are empty.
Parents are afraid of being separated from their U.S.-born children. “Everybody’s terrified right now,” Veronica Isabel Dahlberg, executive director of Hispanas Organizadas de Lake y Ashtabula (HOLA) told the media shortly after raids began. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, June 2)
About 400 people began seeking sanctuary in the local Roman Catholic Church. Parents wouldn’t let their children go outside.
With the pretext of looking for a rapist, the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) on May 18 had begun conducting massive sweeps through the immigrant community. In two weeks it has arrested 37 people whose only offense was entering this country without papers.
A 10-year-old boy named Ramón had his father taken away. A 17-year-old woman was ripped out of her bed by male ICE agents. Another woman reports that agents “manhandled” her. Meanwhile, 50 anti-immigrant bigots gleefully stood in the streets waving their American flag, as if the disappearance of 37 people was something to celebrate.
Twelve of those arrested in the raids were from the nation of Honduras. Honduran nationals lived under U.S. military occupation during the 1980s. The U.S. used this small nation as a base for death squads and terrorist organizations it funded to overthrow the revolutionary socialist government of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. Those who resisted the occupation by the U.S. forces, or tried to fight the extreme poverty in Honduras, faced extra-judicial killings and disappearances.
The infamous U.S. Battalion 316 roamed Honduras, rounding up those who tried to make a better life for themselves and change the conditions of the people. Now those coming to the U.S. to find work are suffering the same tactics of oppression. They have been disappeared in the night by those who serve the same global capitalist-imperialist system that occupied and repressed their homeland.
But these brutal tactics are proving what Mao Tse-Tung said long ago: “Where there is oppression, there is resistance.” Though many remain terrified, the immigrant community is not cowering.
The day after the arrests began, hundreds went to Painesville’s City Hall to protest. They were organized by a diverse group of clergy and local Latin@ organizations.
They marched to the church where those seeking refuge were staying. They carried Mexican and American flags and held signs bearing the message, “We come here to feed our families.” Elias Goiz, captain of the local Salvation Army, made it clear: “We are here to support the families divided by the arrests!”
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