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Trump’s repeated use of the Mexican rapist trope is as old (and as racist) as colonialism

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Donald Trump took time away from a tax reform meeting in West Virginia on Thursday to say, again, that Latin American men are a bunch of rapists, which is why we need stricter immigration laws in the United States. “And remember my opening remarks at Trump Tower,” he began, referring to his presidential campaign kickoff speech in June of 2015 when he said that Mexico is sending, “rapists” along with drug traffickers and drugs.

“When I opened. Everybody said, ‘Oh, he was so tough,’ and I used the word rape. And yesterday, it came out where this journey coming up,” he said referring to the annual Pueblo Sin Fronteras caravan for immigrant rights currently traveling from Central America through Mexico to the United States, “Women are raped at levels that nobody has ever seen before. They don’t want to mention that. So we have to change our laws.” (On Friday, White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that Trump was referring to the Central American women too often raped on the journey to the United States to seek asylum, which is one reason they formed the caravan in the first place.)

When it comes to rallying his voter base, the men-of-color-as-sexual-predator trope has to be the most failsafe tool Trump can invoke, since white men have been using this lie to scare white women and each other into submitting to racism for as long as race relations have existed.

White men have been using this lie to scare white women and each other into submitting to racism for as long as race relations have existed.

The myth of black and brown men as sexual predators towards white women is a deeply psychological motivator that activates people’s basest survival instincts, one that’s been around as long as white men have been colonizing places filled with darker-hued humans. And, it’s clearly been highly effective for getting voters to leave logic behind; It’s part of how Donald Trump won the White House.

The assertion that Mexico is sending rapists to the United States was a test run for how to generate attention in a crowded primary — say something racist and beyond the pale to make the liberals mad, which Steve Bannon’s even acknowledged — that got him more screen time than any of his Republican competitors and continues to gain him media coverage and excite his supporters.

It’s that excitement, that unseemly pleasure that men like Trump apparently take in asserting that we should all fear the sexual predation of non-white men, that makes it so easy for me to believe that the entire racist structure of colonialism is founded upon white men’s sexual insecurities. There is a perverse pleasure taken in making these warnings, in calling us savages, in generating and regenerating the myth that they are protecting “their” women (and thus their pale future) from the voracious sexual appetites of non-white men. They can feel their obsolescence encroaching; they always have.

It takes a rapist to believe that everyone else is intent on rape.

The vilification of men of color also serves as an indicator about some white men’s own malicious intentions: It takes a rapist to believe that everyone else is intent on rape. In the United States, from the colonial period to well into the 1960s, white men raped women of color with impunity even while setting up their white female counterparts as beholden to them for protection against men of color. Through this mind-bending logic, they managed to create a system there were virtually no legal consequences for a white man who raped a black or brown women, while black men could only ever be rapists to white women (and thus strung up at the nearest tree after any accusation, regardless of evidence).

And today we have a white, male president who has been accused of sexual assault or misconduct by at least 15 women since the 1980s and who has admitted on a tape — which we have all heard — to being the type of man who gropes unsuspecting women’s genitals with impunity because of his status. This very president won the White House on a platform that accuses nameless, faceless Mexican boogeymen of traveling all the way to the United States, risking life and limb, to commit rape against American women.

And now he has accused them of committing so much more rape in their home country that the numbers are unseen before in human history, in an effort to deny asylum to, among others, the very women he accuses them of victimizing. His voter base laps up his baseless accusations against whole swaths of humanity while chanting “build a wall,” choosing to believe that immigrants of Latino descent are subhuman — the very savages their forefathers once swore they were — and unworthy of consideration as political refugees fleeing violence and extreme poverty.

Donald Trump doesn’t care about rape victims or potential rape victims, whether they’re white women or Central American migrants who have formed a caravan to escape that fate.

Yes, poor people in Mexico and Central America are vulnerable targets for crime, just like they are in the United States. Yes, women traveling alone and across a foreign country with few resources are at risk for being assaulted, sexually or otherwise, just like they are here.

Yet in fact, one international data crunching website says that rape is twice as prevalent in the United States than in Mexico. And we’ve seen ample proof in the past year that even privileged, white women and men in the United States are at risk of being raped or sexually assaulted because sex crimes are, sadly, all too common among human beings regardless of race or nationality and sexual predators come in every skin color.

Donald Trump doesn’t care about rape victims or potential rape victims, whether they’re white women or Central American migrants who have formed a caravan to escape that fate. He’s simply willing to twist the very real fear of a very real crime that doesn’t discriminate by race or country into a racist projection against immigrants that misinforms voters, further victimizes the disenfranchised and drives an even bigger wedge between cultures. And to do all of that for political gain is, quite frankly, the most inhuman thing of all.

Cindy Casares is the founding editor of Guanabee.com and has contributed to The Guardian, The Texas Observer and Latina.com. She grew up on the border of Texas and Mexico and currently resides in Austin, Texas.

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St Vincent volcano: Around 16,000 people flee communities after eruption of La Soufriere | World News

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About 16,000 people have had to flee their ash-covered communities after a volcano erupted on the Caribbean island of St Vincent.

The eruption of La Soufriere on Friday has transformed the island’s usual lush towns and villages into a gloomy, grey landscape.

It was the 4,000-ft volcano’s first major eruption since 1979.

Thousands have had to flee their homes since the eruption
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Thousands have had to flee their homes since the eruption

Thousands of residents have had to evacuate their homes and seek shelter with as many belongings as they could stuffed into suitcases and backpacks.

It comes after a strong sulphur smell was unavoidable on Saturday as ash blanketed large parts of the island.

There have been no reports of anyone being killed or injured by the initial blast or those that followed.

The volcano erupted on Friday
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The volcano erupted on Friday
Roads on the island are covered in ash
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Roads on the island are covered in ash

The had government ordered people to evacuate the most high-risk area around the volcano before the eruption after scientists warned that magma was moving close to the surface.

Government authorities delivered water, food and supplies to the shelters where many had fled to.

The island’s international airport remained blanketed in ash and smoke on Saturday making the runway barely visible.

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Western Australian towns evacuated after tropical cyclone barrels down with 100mph winds | World News

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A tropical cyclone has hit the western coast of Australia with winds of more than 100mph (170km) and much of the area put on “red alert”.

A spokesman for the Bureau of Meteorology, Todd Smith, said cyclone Seroja was now at category two but had reached “category three cyclone intensity” with damaging winds which would continue into the night.

Emergency services opened shelters in preparation for the high winds and coastal flooding.

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) said in a bulletin: “There is a possible threat to lives and homes.

A police officer stands amid the rubble of buildings during a search for victims at a flood-affected village in Ile Ape on Lembata Island, East Nusa Tenggara province, Indonesia, Thursday, April 8, 2021. Multiple disasters triggered by Tropical Cyclone Seroja in eastern Indonesia and neighboring East Timor have left a number of people dead or missing. (AP Photo/Ricko Wawo)
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Tropical Cyclone Seroja caused a severe downpour in Indonesia a week ago, killing at least 174 people and leaving 48 still missing

“You need to take action and get ready to shelter.”

The DFES has so far put five coastal towns on “red alert”.

Some towns north of Perth were evacuated while sandbags were being made available to residents further down the coast.

A category three classification can see wind speeds of up to 170mph (224km).

After touching down on the north western town of Geraldton (124 miles/200km north of Perth) and dumping more than 10cm of rain in just two hours, tropical cyclone Seroja headed inland, lessening slightly in intensity.

However, officials were still braced for a “high degree of damage” to buildings in the area.

A spokesman for the Western Australia emergency services department explained that buildings were not constructed to withstand such strong winds in a region as it typically too far south to fall into the path of cyclones.



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Russia: Inside the Kremlin’s military build-up along the Ukraine border | World News

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At the Maslovka railway station just south of the Russian city of Voronezh, there’s a small military camp, a few trucks and a tent.

The clearing in front is rutted thanks to the steady unloading of military equipment in recent weeks.

A soldier recognises us from the day before.

“Hello spies,” he said.

Rutted ground at the railway station at Maslovka, near Voronezh
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The unloading of equipment at the railway station has left the ground rutted

Russia’s military build-up in Crimea and along the border with Ukraine has hardly been subtle.

It has coincided with the breakdown of the latest ceasefire in the simmering conflict between Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

More and more videos have appeared on social media of Russian troop movements – artillery convoys along the bridge connecting Russia with Crimea; trains loaded with weaponry coming from as far east as Siberia.

These sightings from ordinary Russians alongside warnings from Ukrainian generals preceded the Russian military’s announcement of exercises in the region and sent alarm bells ringing across Western capitals.

The kit unloaded at Maslovka is headed to a nearby training ground, which has been turned into a huge military field camp.

Magnay submitted - field camp near Voronezh
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Russian forces have created a military field camp near the city of Voronezh

It stretches for around a mile and a half and backs right onto a neighbourhood of dachas, the weekend homes of mostly Voronezh city-folk who tell us the build-up began in late March.

We accidentally drive right in, though the soldiers make no effort to come after us.

There are a large number of military trucks, row after row of tents, troops milling about.

The sign at the entrance is one that most Russian conscripts remember from military service – “Difficult on exercise, easier in the fight”.

The site was first identified through open source methods by the Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT) in Moscow.

“It looks more like preparing for an offensive operation, not just to protect our land,” CIT’s Ruslan Leviev told us in Moscow.

But he does not believe it’s a prelude to war.

“It looks like a show of force to put pressure on the Ukrainian government, to show your posture on the international stage, to show your position to the new American administration.”

field camp near Voronezh
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The military build-up has hardly been subtle

Locals pottering around their dachas hardly spare a thought for the military build-up next door.

“If Zelensky (the Ukrainian president) isn’t a fool, then nothing will happen. If he is a fool, anything could happen,” said Nina, a pensioner who we meet watering her garden.

“‘Anyway, it’s not him who decides things, it’s the Americans.”

She does not want to give her surname.

“I hope I haven’t revealed any military secrets,” she added.

“There are always exercises here, every summer,” said Yuri, a local guard.

“Stop all this talk of war.”

But there are not exercises on this scale.

Neither here nor elsewhere along Russia’s border with Ukraine.

field camp near Voronezh
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Western calls to de-escalate the situation appear to have been ignored

Not since the annexation of Crimea has Russia beefed up its presence there to this extent, re-deploying an air brigade from near the Estonian border and sending 10 naval vessels from the Caspian to reinforce the Black Sea fleet.

In response, the US has announced it will send two warships into the Black Sea.

The German chancellor asked Vladimir Putin this week to wind down the military build-up.

This Sunday after consultations with his US counterpart, Britain’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab tweeted the same.

It does not appear to be happening.

The Russian position is clear. What happens on Russian soil is Russia’s business.

It is hard to argue with that.

But ostentatious muscle-flexing around Ukraine is not an option for the West to ignore – the stakes are too high, they are for all involved.

Ukraine’s leader Volodymyr Zelensky may clamour for fast-track NATO membership but he will not get it.

For all their loud protestations over NATO’s possible eastward-creep, the Kremlin knows that.

US President Joe Biden may declare his unwavering support for Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty and integrity but he will be wary of walking anywhere near potential conflict with Russia.

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Ukraine president visits Donbas region amid tensions

And surrounded as he is by Russian forces, president Zelensky knows re-taking the country’s eastern Donbas region, parts of which are held by separatists, is wishful thinking as is any large-scale fight with his powerful neighbour to the East.

It is of course hard to know what Russia is playing at but they seem to be eyeing the long game.

Coercive diplomacy to extract concessions in negotiations on Donbas, a powerful display of military muscle for the new US administration to take note of while the de facto annexation of the separatist regions of Ukraine chugs along apace.

field camp near Voronezh
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Russia seem to be eyeing the long game

According to Russian state news agency Ria Novosti, 420,000 people in the Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics have already received Russian passports.

Russia is aiming for one million by parliamentary elections this September.

“It’s unifying their legislation with the Russian one, it’s providing them with the Russian vaccine, it’s providing them with passports. It doesn’t mean Russia wants to annex them,” said Maxim Samorukov from the Moscow Carnegie Institute.

“At least in the near future,” he added.

It also provides quite the justification for full-scale intervention should Russia’s calculus change.

field camp near Voronezh
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The Kremlin is sending a message to Ukraine and the wider international community

President Putin has said allowing Ukrainian troops along Russia’s border with the separatist regions could lead to a Srebrenica-type massacre – the 1995 genocide of more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslims by Bosnian Serb forces.

Dmitry Kozak, Russia’s representative in negotiations on Ukraine, has threatened that a Ukrainian assault on Donbas would be a ‘”self-inflicted gunshot wound in the foot and to the head”.

“If the Srebrenica massacre takes place there, we will have to stand up for their defence,” he said.

Sharp rhetoric to match an aggressive display of military might.

All in the interests of deterrence? Perhaps.

But also an indication that eight years of sanctions has hardly served to deter Russia from at the very least flexing its muscles, if not more.



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