Archive for October, 2007

IMMIGRATION DEBATE RAGING IN HIGH TECH LABS

October 31, 2007

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A couple of recent stories this week highlight how the immigration debate has given rise to both “reactionary” and pro-immigrant positions within the very immigrant-heavy high tech industry. This story titled “State of the Engineer: Immigration–The reactionary side of engineering” from the EE Times, a major electronics industry publication, makes clear that the country’s labs are hardly hermetically-sealed off from the greater ills of the larger society. A survey conducted by EE Times found that,

“On immigration, only 21.2 percent of respondents agreed with the idea of allowing an unlimited number of foreign engineers and technical professionals to work in America, and to work here without being asked to leave after a prescribed period of time (see chart below).

The remainder expressed the belief that either the number of foreign engineers should be restricted, or their time in America be restricted or both.”

But like the larger society, the countries labs are also home to many immigrants, an incresing number of whom find themselves having to raise their voices and placards in defense of their very existence. In another article published in today’s AP, I found this quote by a migrant tech worker particularly revealing of the future,

“I’ve never held a banner before, but I don’t know what else to do,” said Gopal Chauhan, a high-tech employee who has been waiting seven years for a green card. “We usually have better things to do, like invent the next iPod.”

And, in another quote illustrating how the Republican and, increasingly, Democrat short-term strategy of bashing migrants will result in economic blowback in the long-term, the the article states,

“The Indian and Chinese economies are being fed right now with people who get tired of waiting and go home,” Bhatia said.

The technological, scientific and immigration chickens are already coming home to roost.

CHICAGO SUN TIMES: IMMIGRANTS “WRONGLY ACCUSED” AS ESPECIALLY CRIMINAL

October 30, 2007

Today’s Chicago Sun Times – not the most liberal newspaper in the country – conducted an investigation into now well-rooted beliefs that equate “immigrant” with “criminal”. To the surprise of no one except KKK members, Minutemen (ooops. they often hold same beliefs and behave similarly) and many a Republican and, now, Democrat, the investigation found that “less than 4 percent of the adults in Illinois prisons have been identified as illegal immigrants.”

The story goes on to quote George Washington University criminologist Ronald Weitzer, who declared that immigrants “are not over-represented [in jails], despite the conventional wisdom that they are much more involved in criminal activity,” adding that “Criminologists see it as something of a myth that immigrants are involved in more crime”.

And, in another example of how dangerously adrift reality is from public perception, Weitzer goes on to say that “The public thinks that with higher immigration comes higher crime, but that just isn’t borne out by the data.”

Whether in Weimar, Rwanda or Main Street USA, “conventional wisdom in times of profound economic crisis and war can be dangerous, very dangerous.

Air America Interview about Latino Political Strategy in 08

October 29, 2007

AIR AMERICA

RADIO NATION with Laura Flanders

Check out a recent interview I did with Radio Nation’s Laura Flanders. Laura’s a very political, very informed host and asked questions not often asked on big radio or other big media. Hopefully, my responses also fall outside the pale of the Matrix too. Check it out here . And, if you listen to the show, please do let me know what you think. Gracias. R

TIMELINE SHOWS HOW OIL PRICES FUELED RISE AND FLACCIDITY OF U.S.

October 26, 2007

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If you’d like to get some sense of where we are within the historical ebb and tide of empires, check out the timeline (below) from the Times UK . It documents the empire-determining fluctuation of crude oil prices from the early days of industrialization and consolidation of the nation-state to the present moment in which industrial strength and the nation-state are being radically reconfigured and redefined.

Helps make some sense of war, history and the decline of this empire. The comparison between present-day China and the present-day US is especially telling. The question is: how long will it take to figure out a way to blame immigrants for the flaccid dollar and crescendoing oil prices bringing the music of a multi-polar world symphony to the ears of Chavez, Ahmadinejad and OPEC?

We’d do well to remember the relationship between the current flood of hate in the late-great unipolar power, the US, and the weakening drip drop of oil.

So, enjoy your imperial citizenship – while it lasts.

Crude oil prices 1861 – 2006

Pennsylvania oil boom
Date Price in US$ (money of the day) US$ (2006)
1864 8.06 104.35
Russian oil exports start
Date Price in US$ (money of the day) US$ (2006)
1876 2.56 48.64
Rebuilding post World War Two
Date Price in US$ (money of the day) US$ (2006)
1948 1.99 16.74
Arab oil embargo
Date Price in US$ (money of the day) US$ (2006)
1974 11.58 47.54
Iranian revolution
Date Price in US$ (money of the day) US$ (2006)
1979 31.61 88.13
Iran-Iraq war starts
Date Price in US$ (money of the day) US$ (2006)
1980 36.83 90.46
Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait
Date Price in US$ (money of the day) US$ (2006)
1990 23.73 36.76
Asian economic crisis
Date Price in US$ (money of the day) US$ (2006)
1998 12.72 16.22
China 2nd biggest oil consumer
Date Price in US$ (money of the day) US$ (2006)
2003 38.27 40.83
Year-to-date average
Date Price in US$ (money of the day) US$ (2006)
*2007 65.57 65.57

Source: BP Statistical Review of World Energy June 2007/Reuters

Dream Act (and Democrat Support) is Dead: Time to Dream – and Act

October 26, 2007

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Many an immigrant rights activist and blogger (not to mention immigrant students themselves) is mourning the defeat of the DREAM Act this week. And rightly so. But while we should indeed be saddened by this legislative defeat, there’s actually little time to do so given the threat looms on the electoral horizon: anti-immigrant Democrats joining Republicans.

Beneath the death of the Dream Act lies an even deadlier (as in more desert dead and more detained children and families) future previewed in key developments this week. Among the most disconcerting developments are statements about immigration made this week by Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), the powerful chairman of the House Democratic Caucus and an architect of the Democratic congressional victories of 2006. Emmanuel is quoted as saying that immigration “has emerged as the third rail of American politics, and anyone who doesn’t realize that isn’t with the American people.” He also added that “This issue has real implications for the country. It captures all the American people’s anger and frustration not only with immigration, but with the economy,” and that “It’s self-evident. This is a big problem.”

Talk of a “third rail” coming from one of the top Democrats-one who is central to plotting strategy and raising money towards their 08 campaigns – is nothing less than dangerous. Such statements mean that candidates and incumbents not only need to stay away from immigration issues; such talk means that some Democrats will feel encouraged to follow the anti-immigrant path trod by some of their peers previously. Consider the crop of recently elected “pragmatists” like Montana’s Senator John Tester and Missouri’s Senator Claire McCaskill. Both ran to the hard right of even the most basic immigration reform earlier this year. And when the Dream Act came up for a vote Tuesday, they joined the Republicans in denying the Dream to immigrant students.

Rather than look at last year’s or this week’s votes, some of us need look back a bit further, to 1994, in search of answers about what is now likely to happen with the Democrats-and what we should do about it. That watershed year brought us the beginning of contemporary anti-immigrant politics in the form of California’s Proposition 187, which sought to deny health and education benefits to the children of the undocumented (sound familiar?). Most students of immigration politics trace the origins of the Republican anti-migrant kulturkampf (culture war) to then California Governor Pete Wilson and the Republican party. While true and while important to understand the similarities between California 1994 and a U.S. circa 2007 that’s starting to resemble the Golden state demographically, we miss much if we fail to include the other father of the anti-immigrant politic: Bill Clinton.

As we begin the search for a new way in immigration politics, some of us would do well to remember that the exponential increase in immigrant deaths in the desert began not with the Minutemen patrols but with Clinton, who launched “Operation Gatekeeper” in 1994. Recent desert history makes tragically clear that the Clintonian and Democrat third way in immigration leads directly to deadly mirages.

Rather than Dream with Democrats, some in the immigrant rights movement need to awake from the electoral slumber and get back to basics: local& regional power-building and direct action. Power-building because Emmanuel is almost right when he says that immigration “captures” people’s frustrations with the economy. But,I’d substitute the word “economy” with the word “capitalism”. “Economy” implies a faith in an economic system that’s abandoned even whites, which is why you have rabid Republicans, populist haters like Lou Dobbs and, lest we forget, Minutemen. “Capitalism” because it, not “the American Dream”, drive millions to levels of desperation requiring them abandon their homes, “capitalism” because it has pushed us to the brink of environmental destruction that creates environmental refugees who are branded “criminals” and “invaders” by the very people who either pilfer illusions like the now dead “American Dream” or sell them.

The possibility of the Dream Act and of “immigration reform” was not born in the rotting bosoms of the two corporate parties, nor of their allies in the community. It was born of dreaming and acting on the part of those with nothing to lose. I remember calling DC-based advocates last year and asking them about the prospects for new legislation. Most sounded like they do now: sad, lonely and scared, much like immigrants facing a less political, more existential reality inspired by the rabidity of the raids. Then, suddenly, the movements took schools, streets and the country entire. And the prospects for “reform” changed.

Elections and politicians alone will not solve either the general crisis at hand or the even greater immigration crisis that looms.;They matter only when there is power from below that obligates or persuades them to move.

So, I think we need to take a break from looking to DC groups and their Democrat allies for “reform”. That formula has failed and failed with fatal consequences for many years. Let’s stop believing the siren songs already heard in the Beltway that sound something like “Just wait til we elect a Democrat.”

Our timing needs to look beyond the electoral clock. Our target can’t solely be white and black voters. Our vision can’t just be limited to the illusion of the border. And we don’t just need to change parties. We need to change the country, change capitalism.

The Dream Act is dead. Time to Dream – and Act.

Bush Prepares Aid, Mass Jailing for Cubans

October 25, 2007


President Bush proposed a multi-billion dollar fund to prepare for what he called “Cuba’s transition to a future of freedom and progress and promise.” His “tough language was warmly received” by his handpicked audience of sympathetic Cubans sitting in the State Department’s Benjamin Franklin room.

But all that warm and fuzziness may soon become shock and awe when Cuban Americans discover the tough language in the separate and more discreet 2005 announcement of “Operation Vigilant Sentry,” a multi-agency Bush plan to jail more than 45,000 Cuban and other Caribbean migrants on the Guantanamo naval base in the event of a massive exodus. At least two huge tents are planned to go up alongside tents already holding some 330 prisoners/detainees/enemy combatants (pick your label ) the U.S. has not deigned to charge. The new strategy makes obvious the Al-qaedization of Cuban and other immigrants, a fusion of national security and immigration policy that critics say is warping the debate about the rights of not-so-threatening farm workers, maids and busboys.

Bush’s announcement of the “freedom fund” and the continuation of the U.S. embargo against the island is designed, in part, to court Cuban-Americans, many of whom are still incensed at U.S. regulations limiting travel between the United States and Cuba. The 2004 announcement of the restrictions by Bush’s Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba, means that Cubans who had grown used to visiting family on the island at least once a year can now see their relatives only once every three years.

As a result, significant political divisions have taken root among heretofore reliably Republicano Cuban-Americans, divisions that have created a huge opening for Democrats in next year’s elections. Things have become so competitive in Florida that once invincible Cuban American pols like Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R), an eight-term incumbent, are viewed as very vulnerable. Also adding to the Republican dilemma down in South Florida is the issue of immigration. The zeal with which they have pursued the issue will likely come back to bite them and South Florida will be one of several national bellwethers.

How Cuban Americans interpret Bush’s calls to “freedom” as they try to locate their mothers, fathers, children and loved ones in the sea of orange jumpsuits on Guantanamo will be muy interesante.

POLL: RICHARDSON WOULD LOSE DEM PRIMARY TO COLBERT

October 24, 2007

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(Colbert with a bear)

In another clear sign that Latinos need to get with the funny thing, a recent poll found that political satirist Stephen Colbert leads veteran politico Bill Richardson among likely voters in next year’s Presidential race. The poll of 1000 voters by Public Opinion Strategies, a Republican polling firm, has Colbert winning 2.3 percent of the vote while Richardson takes 2.1 percent according to a blog at the Washington Post.

The main conclusion we should draw from this is that humor beats “Hispanic” (as opposed to “Latino”). It also points to the fact that we are, without a doubt, well into the media age, an age in which a lifetime of politics can be trumped by a couple of successful seasons in the TV and multimedia sphere. But his (Richardson’s) panic should not be our (his)panic. Richardson is the best representative of Latino politics only if your definition of politics extends as far as the border of elections and electoral politics.

Speaking of borders, did I tell you the one about how I once asked Governor Richardson how he could speak as an immigrant ‘advocate’ when he was among the first to unleash the National Guard because of a “border emergency” due to immigration? He avoided the question -but with a smile. On top of that, his not-so-funny role in the racist purge leading to the ruin of accused Los Alamos scientist Wen Ho Lee should give some of us all the more reason to greet this candidate’s performance with a Simon-like American Idol thumbs down. Maybe it’s not too late to build a “Sanjaya for President!” movement.

But, until that hallowed moment in hair history arrives, it’s time to yell, “Que viva Stephen Colbert!”

Latinas, Latinoaméricanas (Still) Leading Countries, Movements & Continent

October 23, 2007

 

 

 

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Protest leader

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Though it may not be news to women, mainstream media seems to be waking up to the fact of Latina and Latinoaméricana leadership and power. Stories like this one in today’s Seattle Times document how women in Latin America are, in fact, “winning political power at an unprecedented rate.” The article and others like it point to the rapid electoral ascent of women in the hemisphere. No mention, however, is made of the liberation movements -sexual, gender and national- that created the very conditions making possible the rise of Chile’s single socialist mom President, Michelle Bachelet, or the more-than-likely election of Cristina Fernandez in Argentina.

Still, that women, especially left-leaning women, are occupying positions of power does encourage as do reports of Latina leadership in the immigrant rights and other movements of this country. Reports of Latina political involvement from places like Denver reflect Latinaméricanizacion of US politics, a Latinaméricanizacion in which mujeres (women) combine movement-building with electoral power. We can see the coming threat to the largely unaccountable corporate and philanthropy-influenced Latina institutional leadership rising on the new political horizon defined by the immigrant rights movement.

This article by my friend and colleague Pueng Vongs captures the feminine spirit at the core of Latin American slogans like “Ahora Marchamos, Manana Votamos” (Today We March, Tommorrow We Vote) that are now rooting themselves deeply in los United States de América. Let us look forward to the winds of change coming from women carrying nothing less than the salvation the continent with them as they continue crossing – and destroying-borders.

 

 

 

 

NEW TREND: “ONSHORING” TURNING U.S. INTO MAQUILA ECONOMY

October 22, 2007

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For many months now, I’ve been noticing several reports about domestic and foreign companies investing in the US because it’s as cheap as doing so in what used to be called the “third world”. Take this story in the LA Times about “onshoring”, a trend describing how U.S. & foreign firms are opening production facilities not just at the border, but in places like the deep South, rural areas and suburbs across the country. Common sense and neoliberal economics tell us why: because its as cheap or cheaper than places like India or China for them to do so.

The story goes on to describe how low wages (as in union-unfriendly “right to work” states) and cheap real estate are enticing companies like bomber-builder Northrop Grumman and Accenture to invest in rural areas like Corsicana, Texas and the Umatilla Indian reservation in Oregon. Locating in these parts of the U.S. has become a cost-cutting measure designed to improve their positions vis a vis global competitors.

But even global competitors from countries formerly designated “third world” (refers more to regions than entire countries now) like India, where Bangalore-based Wipro technologies has just outsourced work to Atlanta are taking advantage of the economic decline of the majority in this country. A weak dollar and a fast-strengthening rupee and yuan (China) make it easier for outsourcer countries to reciprocate by outsourcing to the US. This article in PC World magazine and this one in the NYT make the same and other points about the maquilization of large swaths of increasingly cheap U.S. real estate. But, instead of telling us abut the devaluation of our work, property and existence, too many media simply adopt uncriticially the buzz words, the phraseology of corporate PR flaks who define many “trends”.

This “trend” inn particular has as much to do with the anti-Latino, anti-immigrant moment, but neither right-wingers nor most mainstream “immigrant rights advocates” mention it either.

Some of us might want to think about or mention this next time we come across a local Minutemen or other angry, mostly white anti-immigrant workers (see this story I wrote about whites and globalization) abandoned by big capital that once promised them good paying work for a lifetime. Immigrants have little to do with the investment portfolios of global corporations whose decisions determine who does and doesn’t work where and for how cheap. Lou Dobbs Manichean populism (ie; hate trade, blame immigrants) shows that he understands this. Though he does so in a warped, racist way, he does not shy away from talking about the the fact of open borders or the abandonment of US workers.

We, on the other hand, ignore the maquilization of the US economy at our own peril.

U.S. POLICY KILLS ONE MIGRANT PER DAY: MEXICAN HUMAN RIGHTS NGO

October 19, 2007

One Death Per Day at the Border

This story in today’s La Opinion reports on how implementation of border enforcement program known as Operation Gatekeeper in 1994 led to the current average of one immigrant death per day, according to the the director of Mexico’s National Commission
on Human Rights (CNDH).

During a recent visit to Los Angeles, CNDH representative, Mauricio Farah denounced the border enforcement policies he believes are responsible for immigrants deaths in and
around the US-Mexico border area. “In the last decade, the United States has opted to spend around $30 billion on enforcement, increasing from 6 thousand to 18 thousand the number of border patrol agents” said Farah, adding that such actions reflect the “closing of the governmental conscience of countries.”. The story also quotes California Rural Legal Assistance organization estimates that more than 4,500 immigrants have died in the desert over the past 13 years.

And the list of politicos doling out death is not just limited to dour Republicans. Lest we forget, aggressive enforcement and militarization of the border began with smiley Democratic party darling Bill Clinton. Clinton signed the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) in 1996. AEDPA started us down the slippery slope of what leading immigration scholars are calling “crimmigration”. Scholars like Lewis and Clark University’s Juliet P. Stumpf have analyzed how Clinton’s AEDPA facilitated subjecting non-citizens to criminal and immigration laws retroactively -no matter how long ago their crime was committed. In doing so, Clinton accelerated the process leading to today’s current catastrophe: criminalizing immigrants and subsuming immigration law under criminal law. So, immigrants today are sleeping in a legal bed made for them by Bush II and Clinton.

So, remember this next time your hear a Democrat or one of their big-philanthropy- funded “immigrant rights” allies singing the siren song of “reform” in the immigrant desert.

INTERVIEW W/ I. WALLERSTEIN ON “THE INEVITABLE DECLINE OF THE AMERICAN EMPIRE”

October 18, 2007

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Agree or disagree with him, world systems theorist, Immanuel Wallerstein always has some stimulating, provocative things to say about a lot of things. In this interview he did in Latin America with Raul Zibechi of the Americas Program at the Center for International Policy (CIP), Wallerstein talks about America Latina’s position within the multipolar world rising rapidly out of the ashes of US domination.

The question it raises for me is, “What is our role here in on the northern front?”

Whatever our work, I think it’s important for those of us in the belly of the ailing beast to read stuff like this as we analyze, dialogue and define our own roles. To remain within the increasingly infantile and infantilizing logic of citizenship, sovereignty and “illegality” has proven itself a very dangerous go-nowhere proposition. Like America Latina, we may well have a historic role- a barbarian’s role, if you will- vis a vis the decline of this empire, but don’t know it-yet. Thinking about the historical position and empire questions can only expand the prevailing politic that’s defined by the parameters of electoral politics or the borders of that isolationist, isolating nation-state box known as the TV (I mean how far can we go with the narcoleptic dualism of the “Are you for Hillary or Obama?” question?)

Quotes like this one about the relationship between social movements and political parties should resonate with those of us pondering how to relate to the Democrat-SEIU-big philanthropy-funded nonprofit complex that brought us the “immigration reform” debacle:

A head-on collision is a problem, as is not doing anything. In my opinion the movements should take a clear stance: support the better parties but without expecting that they will make fundamental changes. It is a defensive position, but it is a matter of trying to maintain autonomy.

Not sure I wholly embrace his social-democrat logic, but it does stir thinking outside that nasty nation-state box. Hope you enjoy the rest of the article.

Thanks to my friends Laura Carlsen and Katie Kohlsted at the CIS for the links to the Americas program.

R

“IT IS ALSO ABOUT THE INTEGRATION OF PEOPLE”: VENEZUELAN AMBASSADOR ON LATINOS & LATIN AMERICA

October 17, 2007

 

(photo by Jesse Spector of NYC brownstone housing Venezuelan consulate)

A recent interview with Venezuela’s ambassador I did for New America Media.

U.S. Latinos Very Important to Latin America: Venezuelan Ambassador

New America Media, Q&A, Roberto Lovato, Posted: Oct 16, 2007

The National Latino Congreso draws Latino leaders from across the United States to discuss policy and electoral strategy. But the presence of representatives of Latin American governments alongside the U.S.-based Latino groups and community based organizations at the meeting raises intriguing questions about Latino and Latin American identity. NAM Contributing Editor Roberto Lovato spoke with Venezuelan Ambassador Bernardo Alvarez Herrera at the National Latino Congreso in Los Angeles.

What draws you, a representative of the Venezuelan government, to a meeting of U.S. Latinos?

It’s very natural. There are longstanding and deep cultural, economic and political ties between Latinos in the United States and Latin America. We support the agenda in Latin America and we support the Latino agenda in the United States.

Do you feel or are you treated as someone foreign to this kind of meeting?

Even three years ago, it was strange to see people coming from South America at these kinds of meetings (i.e. Latino Congreso). Now, we’re seen as a close reality, as not so distant. There are commonalities and there is even a common agenda developing. It’s very exciting.

Where do you see these commonalities?

I look at the facial expressions here and I see meetings I’ve been to in America Latina (Latin America). I listen to the issues they discuss and they are the same issues: housing, employment, the environment, women’s issues, community development and others.

How do you respond to those who say that, through your work with Latinos and other groups in the United States, you are helping create a fifth column subverting the “American Way”?

In order to understand these kinds of statements and what’s happening today, you need to understand the Cold War. It’s like a 50-year-old man who can no longer read well, one who doesn’t want to accept that he needs glasses. This (U.S.) Cold War vision is blurred and negative and has been an abject failure. It looks for terrorists and finds them wherever it looks.

And where do you see this playing out here in the United States today?

Immigrants in the United States are being looked at as terrorists. First they (the government) began criminalizing them. Now, immigrants are viewed through the lens of “National Security” because the primary threat in the world is now defined as international terrorism. There seem to be good and bad terrorists. It seems that some use the words “terrorism” and “terrorist” when it suits their interest.

Any specific examples?

Take the case of (Cuban-born Venezuelan) Luis Posada Carriles. He planted a bomb on a civilian (Cuban) airplane and killed more than 70 people. That is a clear act of terrorism, but the (U.S.) Department of Justice and the Bush administration refuse to extradite him as we have requested. Meanwhile, we are watching how national security is increasingly being used to deal with domestic, internal issues like immigration. As in the Cold War, national security is used with foreign countries and with people inside the country.

Do you think U.S. Latinos will form part of the integration processes taking shape in Latin America?

The Washington Consensus (U.S. trade and economic policy in Latin America in the 80’s and 90’s) was a failure. We’re developing a new vision of integration. The first priority is to take care of the needs of our people. Then, the priority is integration with our neighbors. And then integration of the cultural base. In the case of the United States, we’re not just talking about Latinos, but African American and other communities as well. For example, we produce energy and we cooperate with families in Venezuela and other countries with different programs. We also cooperate with low-income families in the United States through our heating oil program.

Do Latinos in the United States fit into this integration and, if so, how?

Latinos in the United States are very important to Latin America. They send billions of dollars in remittances to almost every country. Latinos in the United States need to pay close attention to economic policies. Right now, the United States is promoting neo-liberal trade through Free Trade Area of the Americas (ALCA in the Spanish initials). We have joined Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador, Haiti and Nicaragua to start a different mechanism, the Bolivarian Alternative for Latin America and the Caribbean (ALBA in the Spanish initials). U.S. Latinos should follow what the United States government is proposing through ALCA and what we are proposing with ALBA.

What’s the difference and why should U.S. Latinos care?

It’s just being decided by a small cabal, but seeks consensus between governments and between social organizations and people. Because of their history in this country, Latinos in the United States will easily understand why the main difference between the proposals is that ALBA is not just about the integration of markets. It is also about the integration of people.

GARDENERS GIVING WHAT GOVERNMENT WON’T: MINI-DREAM ACTS FOR MIGRANTS

October 16, 2007

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(Bay Area Gardeners Foundation founder, Catalino Tapia, an unidentified friend and Catalino’s panza sharing a cheerful moment beneath the trees in Redwood City, California)

The big immigration news out of California was Governor Schwarzenegger’s veto of the California Dream Act legislation last week. But the allegedly immigrant Governor is hurting – not killing- California Dreams. Less known, but of no less import than the news of the veto, is this story in today’s SF Chronicle about the Bay Area Gardners Foundation. It tells the very inspired and inspirational tale of Catalino Tapia, a 63 year-old gardener in Redwood City California who started the Foundation along with a dozen other gardeners to help Latino students pay for college.“This year,” according to the story, “the foundation gave out nine scholarships of $1,500, almost double what it distributed in 2006, its first year.”

Tapia came to the US with a 6th grade education and $6 in his pocket and exemplifies a reality that more of us should wake up to: we need grow our own. Whether its families and hometown associations that sent $50 billion in remittances to families across Latin America last year or whether its those atlas-like mothers who who facilitate the upward mobility of white middle class women while carrying and caring for families in the US and Latin America, Latino immigrants are leading. In much the same way that Latin America is leading its own way past the economic and political failure of the Washington Consensus at the root of much migration, immigrants in the US have much to teach us about how to do with and, increasingly, without government.

Again, we see a new more autonomous politic developing as a complement and/or alternative to that “ethnic” politic focused almost exclusively on hitting the government pinata for economic dulces to drop out.

But let me not dwell on the past. Let me instead leave you with that beautiful gardener who reminds me so much of my and many of our parents who carried and poured their tears and sweat into this land so that we might blossom.

Another pic that says so much about why the future is so ours:

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When we let these political defeats defeat us we forget what our parents would tell us if we asked them about such a loss: Forget the Dream Act; Remember the Dream – and Act.

LATINO AGENDAS RISING

October 14, 2007

THE NATION.

Though it repeats some things written in previous posts, this piece I wrote for the Nation’s website describes how many different Latino agendas -regional, environmental, immigration-focused and others-are converging towards the creation of a new agenda, one that’s more integrated, global and less corporate than that of Latino organizations I think you know and are tired of. You know, the ones that have paid professionals whose job it is to be and speak for Latinos.

BREAKING NEWS: COLUMBUS STILL EXTREMELY DEAD, HIS LEGACY DYING

October 12, 2007

Más de mil integrantes de diferentes etnias asisten al Encuentro de Pueblos Indgenas de América, en Vcam, Sonora

(Thousands of indigenous Leaders Celebrating Burying Columbus Day)

In case you don’t live in one of those cities where elderly Italians and Spaniards march alongside cops and ROTC-garbed 10 year-old Latino and black kids, you may do well to take a moment to reflect on the meaning of this “Columbus Day.” Consider the meaning of these statements by Colon (Columbus), who was among the first to bring free market capitalism to the Americas:

“Of anything they have, if you ask them for it, they never say no; rather they invite the person to share it, and show as much love as if they were giving their hearts; and whether the thing be of value or of small price, at once they are content with whatever little thing of whatever kind may be given to them.”

Or these by Columbus, bringer of ships and men shaped by the blessings of modern warfare

“They have no iron or steel or weapons, nor are they capable of using them, although they are well-built people of handsome stature, because they are wondrous timid…. [T]hey are so artless and free with all they possess, that no one would believe it without having seen it.

Or these choice words from Columbus, the cross-carrying standard bearer of the western banner of progress and efficiency:

“I could conquer the whole of them with fifty men, and govern them as I pleased.”

Or, if you prefer, you might practice solidarity meditation by sending some loving kindness to the indigenous people celebrating the Summit of Indigenous People’s of the Americas taking place in Vícam Estación, Sonora, Mexico (see La Jornada) right now. Subcomandante Marcos joined indigenous leaders like purepecha leader Juan Chavez. Chavez opened the meeting by declaring that the Encuentro would “send a message of rebellion from our people who are defending mother earth against ecocidal, ethnocidal and genocidal capitalism” (Are you listening, Al Gore?).

Such was the message thundering throughout the Américas, including the United States Of América.

Though it would’ve been enlightened for anti-capitalist Bolivian President and Aymara leader, Evo Morales, to get the Nobel Peace Prize instead of unflinching capitalist Al Gore, Evo was at work this week doing the work on behalf of indigenous and all people as noted in this article about a recent meeting Bolivia. Morales and other leaders are meeting to make practical the recent UN Declaration recognizing the right of the world’s 370 million indigenous people to autonomy, self-determination and control of their territory and resources.

And This article in today’s UK Guardian talks about how the left turn in America Latina is laying waste to the bloody legacy of Columbus and his political, economic and cultural descendants.

So, yes, there is much to celebrate in these United (and integrating) Nation States Of América

Enjoy yer weekend! Embrace the inner indigena!

INTELLIGENT LIFE ON PLANET BEANO (REALLY): CHECK OUT LATINO NETROOTS PODCAST

October 12, 2007

Latino Blogger

For spirited, funny (and insightful) conversation among a few of the growing number of digital bean people (aka the Frijolegentsia), check out this podcast on the Latinonetroots site.

Marisa Treviño (Latina Lista), Liza Sabater (CultureKitchen), Louis Pagan (Latino Pundit) and your bald servidor (Of América) join La Bloguera and Dabloguiman in the first podcast of the Fall season.

Check it out as we prove the mainstream wrong about there not being any intelligent life in the Latino universe. These aliens think!

VICENTE FOX PROMOTING (TOP-DOWN) OPEN BORDERS / INTEGRATION?

October 12, 2007

During this interview with Larry King, former Mexican President Vicente Fox appears to advocate open borders, albeit a top-down version lead by hemispheric and global elite interests:

Such statements promoting Fox’s rather garishly titled new book, Revolution of Hope, are causing the Bush Administration to cringe as they issue statements clarifying that they don’t “think that that’s something we’re actively considering.” Fox and the Bush are giving Lou Dobbs and former Swift Boater-turned closed border activist, Jerome Corsi even more fodder for their futile efforts to build Fortress America.

This should be watched, especially by those of us lacking any vision beyond the border walls. This causes me to ask “If Vicente Fox and Lou Dobbs have positions about this, what is the ‘progressive position’ with regard to regional integration?” Is there an alternative to the top down or closed border vision? Though we’ve not yet articulated such an alternative, at least some of us are shortcircuiting Fox and others efforts to give credibility to the continuation of the top-down politica that’s ruined so many lives, including that of murdered New York media activist, Brad Will, and Mexican activists repressed by Fox and his successor, Felipe Calderon.

Please remember to dream beyond the walls of civilized discourse.

R

AGAINST FORGETTING: SUPPORT THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE RESOLUTION

October 11, 2007

(Survivors of Armenian genocide perpetrated by Turks in Congress yesterday)

The 92-year struggle to secure official condemnation of the mass killings of Armenians by Turkey during World War I as an act of genocide won an important victory in Congress yesterday. A proposal presented to a House subcommittee by Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) passed by a vote of 27 to 21 and is causing great consternation among the more reactionary sectors of the globe, including the Bush Administration and its ally, Turkey, which has threatened to pull its support for US bases used to invade Iraq if the measure passes beyond the subcommittee.

This tragic, longstanding refusal to acknowledge atrocities committed by the then-declining Ottoman Empire provides an object lesson in the politics of memory, the geopolitics of genocide. Those of us interested in and pursuing justice here in the US should study closely and support strongly the efforts of Armenians in Glendale, CA and other parts of the country to gain official recognition. In addition to being just and necessary, the pursuit of these kinds of re-vindications paves the way for some kind of psychic closure of the abysmal wounds inflicted on Armenians everywhere. It’s also important to note the Bush Administration’s resistance to the resolution. While this NYT story links the Bush Administration’s opposition to Iraq, it fails to note that maintaining such a state of public, official amnesia enables the constant state of pillage, war and genocide that began with the erasure and spin surrounding the genocide against native Americans in this country. And we wonder why Bush won’t do the right thing? It’s business, strictly (war) business.

Such a situation calls to mind these words by Czech writer Milan Kundera,

“The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.”

GORBACHEV ON BORDER WALLS: NOT “EFFECTIVE” OR “EFFICIENT”

October 10, 2007

[Mikhail

Former Soviet Union leader and Nobel laureate Mikhail Gorbachev knows better than most the workings of walls, the failure of the fortressed country. After Gorbachev gave a speech at the University of Texas yesterday, a local newscaster asked him, “President Gorbachev, if you agree that there’s a parallel between the Berlin Wall and the U.S. wall currently being placed along the border of Mexico and the United States what would you tell President Bush if he were here with us tonight?”

Though he didn’t give the answer that many of us would’ve liked -“Mr. Bush, don’t build that wall” – he did have some choice words about walls:

“Well, I cannot repeat what President Reagan once said,” said Gorbachev, through a translator. “But take each historically: the Great Wall of China, or the Berlin Wall, and other walls. They have not been particularly effective; not particularly efficient.” He also added “… given a country as wealthy as the United States, (it) doesn’t have all the money in the world. Why spend the money on this kind of thing?”

History has proven with predictable accuracy that behind the walls of empire lie the rotting remains of a decrepit civilization – and will do so again. Let us bring down these walls in our efforts to rise up and heal the planet. So, save the world by embracing your inner barbarian.

NPR INTERVIEW: BLACK-BROWN COALITION BUILDING

October 9, 2007

nprlogo.gif NEWS AND NOTES

This interview on NPR’s News and Notes was thoughtfully done by host Farai Chideya, a very capable journalist and cool person. Fellow interviewees Raphe Sonenshein, a professor at California State University Fullerton; and Van Jones, president of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in Oakland, Calif. made the discussion pretty rich. We even got to talk about (believe it or not) how capitalism informs the racial discussion in the US. Really. Check it out.