By Greg Moses
Although the president and Southwest border governors says the National Guard mission at the Mexican border as non-lethal, activists say the very same kind of activity resulted in one Texas killing in 1997. Elected leaders should stop the militarization, they say, before another life is put at risk.
Twenty activists from Brownsville will stage a protest against the militarization Saturday at 11:00 am outside Texas National Guard Headquarters at Camp Mabry, Austin.
“They say the operation will include listening posts and observation,” says Ray Ybarra of the American Civil Liberties Union. “But these are the exact same things that were being done by Joint Task Force Six when Esequiel Hernandez, Jr. was killed by a Marine” (see link to official report below).
“It’s the exact same scenario,” emphasized Ybarra (speaking by telephone from the Austin airport Thursday afternoon), “and we don’t want it in our backyards. Border communities do not want to live in occupied territories.”
One problem with the summer’s plan to militarize the border, says Ybarra, is that the agenda is being driven more by politics than military policy, and this means that training for the border missions is in danger of not being thoroughly prepared..
“It’s happening way to fast,” said Ybarra. “In the rush to make a political statement, resources are not being looked at. Politics are coming before human rights.”
For Saturday’s protest, Ybarra says his group is trying to get a permit to protest inside Camp Mabry, but so far the permit has not been granted, so the group is planning their protest along the 35th Street sidewalk outside the main entrance to the base.
For Ybarra, this will be the second action of Texas protest this week. Tuesday evening June 20 the ACLU demonstrated in El Paso against the Operation Linebacker program coordinated by the county sheriff. Special Task Forces such as Operation Linebacker are endangering human rights, says the ACLU, so the program was selected as one target for a national day of action that accompanied release of an ACLU report to the United Nations on human rights issues in the USA.
The El Paso task force is also subject of a lawsuit and press conference from the recently opened Paso del Norte Civil Rights Project. The lawsuit claims the task force is profiling Hispanics for immigration enforcement. And the press conference alleged that migrant women had become fearful of reporting domestic abuse to law enforcement for fear that immigration enforcement would be enforced by deputies and police officers.
Official report on the 1997 killing of Esequiel Hernandez, Jr.
ACLU report to the UN on Human Rights in the USA
PNCRP press conference on violence against women
PNCRP / TCRP Press Release on Operation Linebacker lawsuit
The first paragraph has been edited to replace “Texas National Guard” with “president and border governors” in order to focus on the primacy of a civilian (and civil) struggle, the point of this issue not being the existence of a National Guard as such or its ultimate duty to obey civilian commands but the just use of its soldiers and powers as tools of civilian political affairs.
In this case, the Texas Civil Rights Review takes the clear position that the plan to deploy thousands of guard troops to the border this summer is political misdirection that aggravates a logic of excessive militarization.
“There are military people,” said my old mentor Manuel Davenport, “and there are militarists.” Isn’t it clear that our national tantrum of militarism should come to an abrupt end everywhere? Perhaps, the beginning of that end has come home to roost in Texas. We hope so.–gm