Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) blamed United States citizens on Monday for many of the poor conditions in the Northern Triangle countries.
While speaking to a crowd at the College of Charleston in South Carolina, O’Rourke stated that he stands with the people of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras commonly referred to as the Northern Triangle of Central America, while they are experiencing issues that he said the United States is in part responsible for causing.
The number of Guatemalans, Hondurans, and Salvadorans attempting to cross over America’s southern border and into the country has skyrocketed in recent years as the region is plagued with corruption, drug trafficking, and gang violence. A series of civil wars in the 1980s have left the region with a legacy of violence, which O’Rourke contends is due to American involvement.
“[It is] violence which we are somewhat to blame for — the civil wars that we’ve been involved in, the drug trade that we’ve facilitated, the war on drugs that has militarized and hollowed out their civic institutions from their home countries,” O’Rourke preached to the crowd.
Accordingly, the Northern Triangle countries are consistently ranked among the most violent countries in the world. In 2015, El Salvador had the highest murder rate of any country not at war, which was attributed to the surge in the country’s gang violence.
The Democratic presidential hopeful, however, didn’t just blame the United States for the region’s high crime and unstable governmental institutions, but also for an ongoing drought in Guatemala which has led to a nationwide famine.
“Guatemala [is] suffering from the greatest droughts in recorded history,” O’Rourke said. “[It is] caused not by God, not by mother nature, but by you and me and all of us and our emissions, our excesses, our inaction in the face of the facts, and the science, and the truth.”
The drought has reportedly contributed to the record number of migrants fleeing Central America with the hopes of resettling in the United States.
While President Donald Trump has made combating the flood of illegal border crossings a keystone of his presidential platform, O’Rourke has not only embraced illegal immigration, but has made it a focus of his 2020 campaign.
Accordingly, O’Rourke has claimed to oppose open borders, but he has repeatedly called for the removal of a physical barrier on the U.S.-Mexico border. He referred to Trump’s request to fund a wall as an “expression of our smallness, our meanness, our fear to the rest of the world.”
In May, the former Texas congressman unveiled a sweeping policy proposal that would overhaul the U.S. immigration system and create a pathway to citizenship for an estimated 20 million illegal immigrants.
O’Rourke received backlash during his failed 2018 Senate run for not clarifying his positions on a host of related issues, despite immigration and border security being the top issues for voters in Texas. However, his ‘Beto for Texas’ website put forth that the way to improve border safety is to “ensure that we are maximizing the potential from everyone … [and] treating each other with respect and dignity.”