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Migrant caravan: Foreshadowing the future and reflecting the present

Migrant caravan: Foreshadowing the future and reflecting the present

The march of hundreds of Central American migrants through Mexico has inflamed tensions between the Trump administration and the Mexican government and focused attention on the United States’ southern border.

The ostensible reasons for the march are familiar: The migrants were fleeing corruption, social and political turmoil, and lack of opportunity in their home countries. Many were from Honduras which suffered a coup in 2009 that continues to divide the country politically including during the last election in which supporters of the challenger to the incumbent president claim their candidate was cheated out of a win.

All of this reminded me of Jean Raspail’s novel The Camp of the Saints. In it, impoverished Indians seized hundreds of ships docked in their harbors and set sail to find a better place to live. (The book was published in 1973 when many believed that millions of Indians and other Asians would likely starve in the coming decades due to poor agricultural yields. The full effects of the so-called Green Revolution still lay ahead.)

In the novel, as the seaborne caravan makes its way westward, first to the Suez Canal, where it is repelled, then around the Cape of Good Hope, Europe braces for what it believes is an inevitable invasion of desperate Indians.

A vitriolic debate ensues inside France about whether the country should try to help the Indians or simply repel them.

Raspail, a celebrated author in France, was denounced as a racist when the book was released. His book continues to be a favorite among American white supremacists. And, former Trump advisor, Steven Bannon, is reported to be a fan of Raspail.

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