The Merchant of Misinformation spoke to us for nine minutes from the Oval Office and hardly anything he said was accurate. How so many pieces of mistruths, stretches, twists and half truths were squeezed into nine minutes was a dazzling and dizzying experience but not one I would ever have wanted from the president of the United States.

No, Mr. President, the trade deal with Mexico will not pay for the wall. If any money comes to us from that it will be in taxes and that goes to Congress to manage, but surely the president should know that. And those vast amounts of drugs you claim are coming across the southern border won’t be effected by a wall since according to the Drug Enforcement Agency, drugs that comes across the border come primarily through legal checkpoints. If you’d asked the DEA they would have told you that, Mr. President. Customs and Border Protection also says the majority of hard drugs come through ports of entry in packages, cargo or with people attempting legal entry. This is one reason why Democrats offered up $1.3 billion for enhanced enforcement so better equipment can be designed to do car checks and things like that. China sends fentanyl through the mail; don’t think a wall can be used there.

I am touched, Mr. President, by your concern over drug deaths but I can’t but wonder why it is that you don’t seem to have the same concern about schoolchildren being shot and the huge number of gun deaths and mass shootings in the U.S. If everybody has a right to have a gun, any kind of gun, then why don’t they have a right to have drugs, any kind of drugs? At least with drugs they would mostly just be killing themselves.

The nine minutes made many references to hordes of criminals heading for our borders but the truth is that immigrants are far less likely to break the law than native-born Americans. The people heading here are mostly families and unaccompanied young people. Why would these people subject themselves to such a horrendous, risky and uncertain voyage? Because we have ruined their countries and they are running in desperation. And no, Mr. Trump, immigrants do not cost us vast sums. Kevin Hassett, the White House’s top economist, said immigration spurs economic growth and the US should double it’s intake. The State Department said there was no credible information that any member of a terrorist group has traveled through Mexico to gain access to the U.S.El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala have long been the playground of American imperialistic policy. We have overthrown governments, supported right-wing militants, provided weapons, sent in armies, and spent millions to install and support American corporate interests. We turned Honduras and Guatemala into what became known as “Banana Republics.” By putting what is now Dole and Chiquita on millions of acres of land, causing farmers to lose land, the downfall began.

U.S. policy has long been that right is good and left is bad but what does that mean? Right means good for corporate interests, left means good for people and the land, nationalizing the land and assets, unions and democracy, all of which are not good for the unlimited power and growth wanted by corporate interests.

In addition to our maintaining control over the governance of these countries they all ended up signing on the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), which gives global multinationals increased influence over domestic trade and regulatory protections. Honduras goes from being a net exporter to a net importer and jobs go out the window. Under CAFTA all U.S. goods enter El Salvador duty-free and domestic industry can’t compete. By 2016 the country had a negative trade balance of $4.18 billion. In Guatemala, among other things, 95 percent of American agriculture enters duty-free.

Now we have countries that have been raped and pillaged and poverty is rampant. Drug cartels and gangs come to life, survival is raw and basic. Honduras has the highest murder rate for people under 19 years old in the world. Do you wonder why those young people are coming here? It’s our government’s longtime policies and actions that have created this mass exodus of desperate people struggling to survive.

Trump says we have a border crisis but the only crisis we really have is Trump and the longtime twisted policies of our government and now, with our government shut down, we are the victims, too.

Sylvia De Rooy resides in Indianola.

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