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Mon Sep 7, 2020, 12:35 AM

Trump Can Use MS-13 as a Prop Because the US Won't Acknowledge a Role in Creating It


by Roberto Lovato

ROBERTO LOVATO is an educator, journalist and writer based at The Writers Grotto in San Francisco, California. He is the author of Unforgetting: A Memoir of Family, Migration, Gangs and Revolution in the Americas (Harper Collins). Lovato is also a Co-Founder of #DignidadLiteraria, the movement advocating for equity and literary justice for the more than 60 million Latinx persons left off of bookshelves in the United States and out of the national dialogue. A recipient of a reporting grant from the Pulitzer Center, Lovato has reported on numerous issues—violence, terrorism, the drug war and the refugee crisis—from Mexico, Venezuela, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Haiti, France and the United States, among other countries.

As I listen to President Trump speechify about how he is launching “an all-out-campaign to destroy MS-13,” the Salvadoran gang whose members (maras) I’ve known for over 30 years, the first thing I think is “it must be election season.” The second thing I think about is history, specifically, a historical figure whose contributions to creating the “gang threat” have had and are still having catastrophic consequences: Attorney General William Barr. More than anyone in U.S. history, Barr perfected the Salvadoran gang formula—mixing elections, gangs, immigration and policy—he’s been developing for decades, since the L.A. riots of 1992.

Trump ‘s Oval Office speeches and other recent MS-13 rants come on the heels of many previous pronouncements, like his 2019 midterm statement referring to the Speaker of the House as “the MS-13 lover Nancy Pelosi."

While Trump’s deploying MS-13 as an election year prop is predictable and laughable in how it (again) tries to paint the gangs as “terrorists,” these electioneering ploys hide a history of policing and intervention that created in Los Angeles, and exported to Central America, both the gangs and the policing models many are now calling on the country to abolish. Few people have worsened the devastation in Central America and the humanitarian crisis of refugees fleeing the region as much as William Barr. In attacking the maras, Trump is continuing a pattern of lies backed materially by policy and police and military boots on the ground.

I first noticed Barr’s outsized role while watching him commenting on Face the Nation right after the L.A. riots of 1992. As Barr started talking about “the significant involvement of gang members at the inception of the violence (of the riots),” it was obvious that he was laying responsibility for a billion dollars of destruction on the maras and other gangs, even though those of us who were actually on the streets knew it was the country’s first multiracial uprising. In order to understand the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other cases that moved Black Lives Matter back into action in cities across the U.S., we must understand what William Barr did in those cities to Salvadoran and other gangs following the L.A. riots.


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Reply Trump Can Use MS-13 as a Prop Because the US Won't Acknowledge a Role in Creating It (Original post)
Judi Lynn Sep 2020 OP
RockRaven Sep 2020 #1
Judi Lynn Sep 2020 #2

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Mon Sep 7, 2020, 12:41 AM

1. The US acknowledging their role would not stop Trump from using it nor his followers

from swallowing whatever he is offering. He's a congenital liar and they are congenital dupes.

One can be correct about US culpability and completely wrong about how it would/would not be used politically if things were different.

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Response to RockRaven (Reply #1)

Mon Sep 7, 2020, 05:47 AM

2. You're right. His worshipers couldn't respect the truth less, ever. n/t

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