June 9, 2021

While talking about Vice President Kamala Harris's first solo foreign tour, Joy Reid gave viewers a history lesson about U.S. exploitation in the countries of Central and South America.

"She visited Guatemala. She visited Mexico. She held meetings with the presidents of both of those countries. Though she's now giving a press conference. About a good 25 minutes in, it was almost a 35-minute press conference in which the vice president discussed policy extensively. Policy ideas and agreements and commitments that she was able to achieve during this visit. This is perhaps a popular opinion in the business now. But I think we need to have some perspective. There are seven countries in Central America. There's another dozen countries in two sort of territories in South America.

"The United States southern border with Mexico is not the only important issue that matters to the world. Those seven countries have a long history with the United States, much of it troubling. The United States used much of Central America as essentially a giant plantation. Google the United Fruit Company. We have a long, sordid history with this region. The history does not begin at the border where people are showing up. That's not the only important thing that matters. There's a whole history that long precedes people arriving at the border between Mexico and the United States. To reduce what we just heard, ten minutes of that, to 'Are you going to the border,' to me strikes me, personally, as missing a huge opportunity," she said, referring to the first question at the press conference.

"We have this huge opportunity to understand the reasons why the things that preceded that happening. Let me go through some of the things the vice president said. I think this is an important line she had. She said most people -- and this is true because anyone who ever lived anywhere knows this -- do not want to leave home. When people flee their home, they are either fleeing harm, says the vice president, or they know that to stay at home means they will be unable to meet the basic needs of their family. People want to stay home. She talked about the pride that people have in their homes. Their homes are a history. They are the link to their family, to their grandparents, their great grandparents. There's a whole history.

"We talk about Guatemala. The great Maya of Guatemala-- 70 percent of that population was essentially enslaved by the United Fruit company. The hope was deleted by us. By things the United States and our corporate interests did that preceded people -- people aren't just showing up here because they want to live in Texas and not be able to vote if they ever can become a citizen. I just feel like I have to say that.

"Let me go through a couple other things that the vice president talked about. She talked about some of the agreements she was able to reach while she was in these two countries. In Guatemala, she said they are going to create an anti-corruption task force because one of the outgrowths of our policies, including overthrowing the democratically-elected government that was in place for ten years around the same time, 1954, we were doing this in Iran, we were overthrowing the government there because they wanted to do their own thing and not be subject to our economic needs. We overthrew that government. The CIA threw them out. They had a corruption problem ever since. There's deep corruption in the region, in part because the outgrowth of our policies had an impact.

"We need to remember that and know that history before we approach telling people not to leave."

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