Archive for June, 2008

Hecklers Highlight Silence of Major Latino Organizations Around War

June 30, 2008

I was in Washington cafe yesterday when hecklers from Code Pink interrupted Sen. John McCain no less than 3 times during a major speech to Latino voters and elected officials. Shortly after the event, several of protesters marched triumphantly into the coffeeshop I was sitting in on P Street after they stole the media thunder of the event organizers, the Nation Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO). NALEO was trying to highlight Latino voting power and unprecedented participation in this year’s elections.

Despite NALEO’s attempts to let the media know that it was the white women and not members of their organization, many of the mainstream media basically reported as if Latinos had dissed the GOP candidate. While many, if not most, of us do, in fact, find McCain and other warmongers more than worthy of attack for their seemingly infinite ability and desire to send other, mostly poor people’s children to kill and die in war, we should prioritize accuracy and fairness.

Yet, while I find Code White…..I mean Code Pink as problematic as other “progressive” organizations when it comes to issues of race and inclusion, I must say that watching and listening to the middle class white women-and not the working and middle class Latinos in the audience-yell in garbled Spanish, “Ya basta con la matanza” (Stop the Killing) as they denounced the war and its supporters inspired a rather odd mix of bother and shame; It reminded me of something I’ve been wanting to talk about for some time: How NONE of the national Latino organizations in the U.S. have come out against the war. NONE.

Though I have longtime friends and colleagues at most of them, it saddens me to report that, to date, none of the major Latino organizations-NALEO, LULAC, National Council of La Raza (NCLR), MALDEF, Southwest Voter Registration (leaders of SVREP have, however, taken positions) have come out against the Iraq war.

Such silence raises questions not unlike those raised around the trials and tribulations of disgraced former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. As stated here previously, leaders of organizations like LULAC and NCLR not only didn’t denounce Gonzales, they were important players in the campaign to get him appointed the country’s first Latino Attorney General-even after revelations of Gonzales’ leadership in legalizing the torture like that perpetrated in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo came out. In an indicator of the nuance and differentiation that exists in the Latino political universe, Southwest and MALDEF came out against Gonzales.

And , in addition to enabling someone who, in a more just and fair world, would be locked up for life as a war criminal, some of these Latino organizations are also taking money from and providing a platform to the most violent and wasteful institution in the United States: the Pentagon. As I’ve reported here , the Pentagon is spending BILLIONS to save itself by recruiting unprecedented numbers of young Latinos for the cause of war and plunder. Money to improve decrepit schools that are supposed to prepare our kids for life, schools that are pushing our kids out, is instead being used to bolster the institution that will prepare them for death-and no Latino organization of any stature is saying anything about it. In their efforts to survive, huge numbers of Latino media outlets have allowed themselves to become mouthpieces of the Armed Forces by accepting hundreds of millions of dollars to print, beam and broadcast Pentagon ads targeting Latinos (ie Army of One, Yo Soy El Army, etc.)

We should not, however, paint all Latinos or all Latino organizations with the same brush of silence about war. MANY, many individuals like Camilo Mejia and many organizations like Project YANO and others are fighting the good fight against the Pentagon in its war for the hearts and minds of our kids.

So, when you see and listen to the silence in the audience in the video below, please remember that is the silence of the few, as polls have, for some time, indicated that the vast majority of Latinos opposes the war madness perpetrated by the likes of John McCain.

Pushout: Report Finds That Lousy Schools Fail Latino Students

June 26, 2008

Pew Hispanic Center a project of the Pew Research Center

This report by the Pew Hispanic Center documents a little-discussed fact of Latino student life: badly-funded schools are pushing them out. The report, The Role of Schools in the English Language Learner Achievement Gap, thoroughly documents how several factors-economics, class, race, to name a few. The report identifies one of the fundamental problems lies not with students, but with schools or what it calls “the concentration in low-achieving public schools and the degree to which this isolation is associated with the large achievement gap in mathematics between ELL students and other major student groups.

Especially interesting is the racial factor in Latino education, specifically how Latinos who went to schools with a higher percentage of white students tended to perform better. In the words of Richard Fry, author of the report,

In all five states investigated and irrespective of grade levels ELL students were much less likely than white students to score at or above the state’s proficient level. However, when ELL students attended public schools with at least a minimum threshold number of white students, the gap between the math proficiency scores of white students and ELL students was considerably narrower, the Pew Hispanic Center analysis has found. This suggests that the lag in test score achievement of ELL students is attributable in part to the characteristics of the public schools they attend.”

So, next time you find yourself in a discussion with someone subscribing to the Darwinian view (ie; Latinos are genetically predisposed to academic failure) show them the report. That is, if they themselves can turn off Fox News for a minute to read something.

Companero Don White, Presente!

June 24, 2008

I just got word that Don White, a much-beloved, longtime companero in the movement for peace and justice in El Salvador, passed away. People of many walks of life, many movements – women’s, GLBT, Middle East peace, labor, immigrant rights, education, Venezuela solidarity and others- around the planet mourn his passing as they celebrate his life. Though he fought many battles in many wars, none moved Don like that of his beloved El Salvador.

Were we, as a society, better able to measure commitment to social justice as we measure baseball, basketball or American Idol stats, Don would surely have won many laurels and trophies for many accomplishments. Without a doubt, Don, a teacher who lived, loved and worked in Los Angeles, holds the U.S. record for organizing marches in a single lifetime. Because the movement in solidarity with El Salvador staged so, so many marches, protests and other events for so many years, Don, the dean of logistics, probably had more experience than anyone I’m ever likely to meet again. And, if I know Don, he’s likely already conspiring to set records for organizing in the Struggle of the Great Beyond.

His bubbly, kitschy humor was also unmatched when it came to raising money, something many of us first learned about from watching Don. It still brings a smile to remember how he made money glide magically into the hats, bags or other makeshift receptacles for cash, checks and other donations to any of the hundreds, perhaps thousands of large and small events he pitched at in English- and in his broken Spanish, which included the word “Companero” in every other sentence.

But more important than any logistical or fundraising capabilities, was Don’s possession of the one quality that has distinguished and will continue to distinguish the true revolutionary from the rest: that essential combination of unconditional love backed by incessant action. I’ve met many in the U.S. who’ve given heart and soul to distant causes in tropical lands, but none like Don. Long after many “in solidarity” people have left the Salvadoran people as a memory, many of us will remember Don as a light reminding us that we were never alone before, during and after that long, dark night of war. He was a friend I will mourn for many nights.

In his honor, please take a moment to look and meditate on this pic of Don (last man on the right, former member of the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), for it is indeed how our friend, our companero, Don White, would like us to remember him. And as you do so, you too will remember one of those who fit the description of a Bertolt Brecht poem Don loved deeply,

Hay hombres que luchan un dia

y son buenos

Hay otros luchan un ano

y son mejores

Hay quienes luchan muchos anos

y son muy buenos.

Pero Hay quienes luchan toda la vida:

esos son los imprescindibles

(There are men who struggle for a day

and they are good.

There are men who struggle for a year

and they are better.

There are men who struggle many years,

and they are better still.

But there are those who struggle all their lives:

These are the indispensable ones.)


Companero Don White, Presente!

Death by Detention

June 22, 2008

This video by NYC-based Breakthrough-the folks who brought you the ICED video game- should serve as another reminder of the line that distinguishes and will distinguish real immigration reformers from the false profits of immigration.

As we gear up for what will likely be a more favorable climate for immigration policy after November, such videos are most helpful in that they demarcate that line quite clearly. Given the deadly, degenerate turn in U.S. detention policy and practice, any group, including groups calling themselves “pro-immigrant”, ignoring detention issues or any group supporting legislation that worsens enforcement and detention (as in the McCain-Kennedy bill) makes themselves worthy of attack.

It’s bad enough that we have to deal with the right wing extremists for whom promoting pain and death is their daily bread. We shouldn’t allow the false profits to pilfer updated versions of their “trade-off” (legalization for more enforcement) policy, for to do so will only reproduce more of the tragedy of the kind found in the video.

The Guantanamization of Immigrant Detention

June 18, 2008

Imran Ahmad (a pseudonym), a 29 year-old Pakistani computer scientist who can see the Statue of Liberty from his studio apartment in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood, says he no longer believes in the symbol of freedom cast in copper. “Freedom is relative. It depends on things like where you’re from and what you look like” says Ahmad. He reached this conclusion, he says, because of what happened to him as a orange-uniformed detainee held for more than 3 years in numerous federal detention facilities: the denial of habeas corpus (his constitutional right to plead his case before a judge), facing growling dogs, watching friends languish and die while in custody, the “subtle torture” of living for months in a tiny, windowless white room while a nearby TV set blared American Idol or “24.”

After a fellow detainee died under mysterious circumstances, which were covered up by detention facility authorities, Ahmad says he was threatened with lines like “We don’t want you to tell or speak to anyone about this” and “We have cameras and people [detainees] who are watching you, monitoring you.” Though Ahmad was released, he is still in deportation proceedings.

Ahmad’s story will not shock anyone familiar with stories of death, violence and other abuse coming out of Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and other offshore military detention facilities holding men in orange prison uniforms. But what makes his story noteworthy is that it reflects how many of these same offshore practices are now being perpetrated against detainees held within the borders of the United States: the hundreds of thousands of immigrants held in one of the growing number of detention facilities run by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE), the most militarized branch of the U.S. government besides the Pentagon.

To protest what they consider the increasingly cruel and inhuman conditions and practices in the ICE detention facilities, Ahmad and thousands of activists are organizing the Night of 1000 Conversations, a series of vigils, town halls, house meetings and other events which will take place in over 250 towns and cities across the country on June 19th .

Among the principal concerns to be discussed during the nationwide events are what critics say, is nothing less than a “Guantanamization” of migrant detention within the borders of the United States: death, abuse and neglect at the hands of detention facility guards (many of whom are former military personnel who served in Iraq and Afghanistan); the prolonged and indefinite detention of thousands including children and families denied due process and other fundamental rights as they languish in filthy, overcrowded and extremely unhealthy facilities; orange-uniformed detainees sedated with psychotropic drugs, attacked by growling dogs and physically and sexually abused by guards; multi-million government contracts for prison construction and management given to high-powered, military industrial and prison industrial giants like Halliburton and the Utah-based Management and Training Corporation, whose former director set up the infamous Abu Ghraib detention facility.

Jamil Dakwar, director of the Human Rights Division of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), is currently at Guantanamo, outside one of the notorious Military Commission hearings created as a result of the recently rescinded (but still being implemented) law that denied the right to habeas corpus to both military and immigrant facility detainees. Dakwar sees clearly how detention practices on the island have now crept onto detention facilities on the mainland. “The general lack of accountability and oversight, the secrecy, the lack of respect for human dignity for persons held in military and immigration facilities, the lack of legally binding standards regulating treatment of persons in both (military and immigrant) facilities—all of this leads to the abuses we’re now seeing in both” said Dakwar, adding, “In cases of people who die while in custody, for example, the government makes it extremely difficult to impossible to find out who is responsible for conditions that lead to the killing or other loss of life.”

For her part, Dakwar’s ALCU colleague, Amrit Singh, a staff attorney who has worked on different cases involving people detained by the Pentagon in Guantanamo and people held in ICE detention facilities believes that “Noncitizen detainees at home and abroad are part of the same continuum of mistreatment. The dogs used on detainees in the New Jersey [immigrant] detention facilities look very similar to the dogs used on detainees in Abu Ghraib and Iraq.”

In the case of both the military and immigrant detention facilities, says Singh, the Bush Administration has used national security imperatives to deny many of the Freedom of Information Act requests she and her colleagues have filed in their efforts to find out things like how people are being treated in detention, under what conditions did detainees die and what kind of medical treatment they are receiving. Asked about progress towards answering these and other questions, Singh responded, “The answer to these questions are still not being made available to us.”

The connections between abuse and death in military and immigration facilities has also caught the eye of the international community. Singh, Darwit and some of the groups and individuals participating in the Night of 1000 Conversations, will be submitting testimony to a United Nations Special Rapporteur who, in the next two weeks, will visit several U.S. cities as he investigates deaths in both overseas detention facilities and in U.S. prisons and immigration detention facilities.

And, as he prepares to take part in the Night of 1000 Conversations, former detainee Ahmad says he will raise his voice to educate people about what he sees as the primary cause of the abuses he saw while in detention, “Creating guilty people and detention are all about war. I will tell people about how all those arrests, all that abuse are all about war, a war on immigrants.”

What Obama and McCain Can Learn From Evo Morales About Immigration – and Leadership

June 18, 2008

If you want to hear what a Real Leader sounds like with regard to immigration policy, check out Bolivian President Evo Morales’ Open Letter to the European Union (EU) about the today’s vote EU vote on its “Return Directive,” which calls for a deportation of undocumented persons from EU territories.

I had the pleasure of interviewing President Morales during his visit to the U.N. last year and found him to be a leader of extraordinary insight, intelligence and deep conviction. Instead mimicking the Bush Administration’s drug war-crazed policy of undermining Morales and other Latin leaders, Presidential candidates Obama and McCain might, instead try to learn from Bolivia’s first indigenous head of state in 500 years, especially when it comes to the immigration that started with those “illegals” whose boats were packed with all the trappings of “civilization”: bibles crammed next to the big canons and muskets and balls and chains.

Just imagine if our own immigration debate included statements from our leaders like this one:

Europeans arrived en masse to Latin and North America, without visas or conditions imposed on them by the authorities. They were simply welcomed, and continue to be, in our American continent, which absorbed at that time the European economic misery and political crisis. They came to our continent to exploit the natural wealth and to transfer it to Europe, with a high cost for the original populations in America. As is the case of our Cerro Rico de Potosi and its fabulous silver mines that gave monetary mass to the European continent from the 16th to the 19th centuries. The people, the wealth and the rights of the migrant Europeans were always respected.


And, if you’d like to sign a petition calling on the EU to reject the Return Directive, go here.

There’s much more in this letter that should be studied and emulated. So check it out and enjoy – and imagine.

Open Letter from Bolivian President to EU on the “Return Directive


Up until the end of the World War II, Europe was an emigrant continent. Tens of thousands of Europeans departed for the Americas to colonize, to escape hunger, the financial crisis, the wars or European totalitarianisms and the persecution of ethnic minorities.

Today, I am following with concern the process of the so called “Return Directive”. The text, validated last June 5th by the Interior Ministers of 27 countries in the European Union, comes up for a vote on June 18 in the European Parliament. I feel that it is a drastic hardening of the detention and expulsion conditions for undocumented immigrants, regardless of the time they have lived in the European countries, their work situation, their family ties, or their ability and achievements to integrate.

Europeans arrived en masse to Latin and North America, without visas or conditions imposed on them by the authorities. They were simply welcomed, and continue to be, in our American continent, which absorbed at that time the European economic misery and political crisis. They came to our continent to exploit the natural wealth and to transfer it to Europe, with a high cost for the original populations in America. As is the case of our Cerro Rico de Potosi and its fabulous silver mines that gave monetary mass to the European continent from the 16th to the 19th centuries. The people, the wealth and the rights of the migrant Europeans were always respected.

Today, the European Union is the main destiny for immigrants around the world which s a consequence of its positive image of space and prosperity and public freedoms. The great majority of immigrants go to the EU to contribute to this prosperity, not to take advantage of it. They are employed in public works, construction, and in services to people in hospitals, which the Europeans cannot do or do not want. They contribute to the demographic dynamics of the European continent, maintaining the relationship between the employed and the retired which provides for the generous social security system and helps the dynamics of internal markets and social cohesion. The migrant offers a solution to demographic and financial problems in the EU.

For us, our emigrants represent help in development that Europeans do not give us – since few countries really reach the minimum objective of 0.7% of its GDP in development assistance. Latin America received, in 2006, remittance (monies sent back) totaling 68,000million dollars, or more than the total foreign investment in our countries. On the worldwide level it reached $300,000 million dollars which is more than US $104,000 million authorized for development assistance. My own country, Bolivia, received more than 10% of the GDP in remittance (1,100 million dollars) or a third of our annual Exports of natural gas.

Unfortunately, “Return Directive” project is an enormous complication to this reality. If we can conceive that each State or group of States can define their migratory policies in every sovereignty, we cannot accept that the fundamental rights of the people be denied to our compatriots and brother Latin-Americans. The “Return Directive” foresees the possibility of jailing undocumented immigrants for up to 18 months before their expulsion – or “distancing”, according to the terms of the directive. 18 months! Without a judgment or justice! As it stands today the project text of the directive clearly violates articles 2, 3, 5,6,7,8 and 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948.

In particular, Article 13 of the Declaration states:
“1. All persons have a right to move freely and to choose their residence in the territory of a State.
2. All personas have the right to leave any country, including their own, and to return to their country.”

And, the worst of all, is that the possibility exists for the mothers of families with minor children to be arrested, without regards to the family and school situation, in these internment centers where we know that depression, hunger strikes, and suicide happens. How can we accept without reacting for them to be concentrated in camps our compatriots and Latin American brothers without documents, of which the great majority have been working and integrating for years. On what side is the duty of humanitarian action? Where is the “freedom of movement”, protection against arbitrary imprisonment?

On a parallel, the European Union is trying to convince the Andean Community that the Nations (Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru) to sign an “Association Agreement” that includes the third pillar of the Free Trade Agreement, of the same nature and content as that imposed by the United States. We are under intense pressure from the European Commission to accept conditions of great liberalization of our trade, financial services, intellectual property rights and our public works. In addition under so called “judicial protection” we are being pressured about the nationalization of the water, gas and telecommunications that were done on the Worldwide Workers’ Day. I ask, in that case, where is the “judicial protection” for our women, adolescents, children and workers that look for better horizons in Europe?

Under these conditions, if the “Return Directive” is passed, we will be ethically unable to deepen the negotiations with the European Union, and we reserve the right to legislate such that the European Citizens have the same obligations for visas that they impose on the Bolivians from the first of April 2007, according to the diplomatic principal of reciprocity. We have not exercised it up until now, precisely because we were awaiting good signs from the EU.

The world, its continents, its oceans and its poles know important global difficulties: global warming, contamination, the slow but sure disappearance of the energy resources and biodiversity while hunger and poverty increase in every country, debilitating our societies. To make migrants, whether they have documents or not, the scapegoats of these global problems, is not the solution. It does not meet any reality. The social cohesion problems that Europe is suffering from are not the fault of the migrants, rather the result of the model of development imposed by the North, which destroys the planet and dismembers human societies.

In the name of the people of Bolivia, of all of my brothers on the continent and regions of the world like the Maghreb and the countries of Africa, I appeal to the conscience of the European leaders and deputies, of the peoples, citizens and activists of Europe, for them not to approve the text of the “Return Directive”. As it is today, it is a directive of vengeance. I also call on the European Union to elaborate, over the next months, a migration policy that is respectful of human rights, which allows us to maintain this dynamics that is helpful to both continents and that repairs once and for all the tremendous historic debt, both economic and ecological that the European countries owe to a large part of the Third World, and to close once and for all the open veins of Latin America. They cannot fail today in their “policies of integration” as they have failed with their supposed “civilizing mission” from colonial times.

Receive all of you, authorities, Euro parliamentarians, brothers and sisters, fraternal greetings from Bolivia. And in particular our solidarity to all of the “clandestinos.”

Evo Morales Ayma
President of the Republic of Bolivia


Carta abierta de Evo Morales a propósito de la “directiva retorno” de la UE

Evo Morales advirtió que si U.E endurece su política migratoria estaría imposibilitado de profundizar las negociaciones del Acuerdo de Asociación y se reservaría el derecho de exigir visa a europeos

Evo Morales (Bolpress – 10 June 2008)

Hasta finales de la Segunda guerra mundial, Europa fue un continente de emigrantes. Decenas de millones de Europeos partieron a las Américas para colonizar, escapar de las hambrunas, las crisis financieras, las guerras o de los totalitarismos europeos y de la persecución a minorías étnicas.

Hoy, estoy siguiendo con preocupación el proceso de la llamada “directiva retorno”. El texto, validado el pasado 5 de junio por los ministros del Interior de los 27 países de la Unión Europea, tiene que ser votado el 18 de junio en el Parlamento Europeo. Siento que endurece de manera drástica las condiciones de detención y expulsión a los migrantes indocumentados, cualquiera sea su tiempo de permanencia en los países europeos, su situación laboral, sus lazos familiares, su voluntad y sus logros de integración.

A los países de América Latina y Norteamérica llegaron los europeos, masivamente, sin visas ni condiciones impuestas por las autoridades. Fueron siempre bienvenidos, Y. lo siguen siendo, en nuestros países del continente americano, que absorbieron entonces la miseria económica europea y sus crisis políticas. Vinieron a nuestro continente a explotar riquezas y a transferirlas s Europa, con un altísimo costo para las poblaciones originales de América. Como en el caso de nuestro Cerro Rico de Potosí y sus fabulosas minas de plata que permitieron dar masa monetaria al continente europeo desde el siglo XVI hasta el XIX. Las personas, los bienes y los derechos de los migrantes europeos siempre fueron respetados.

Hoy, la Unión Europea es el principal destino de los migrantes del mundo lo cual es consecuencia de su positiva imagen de espacio de prosperidad y de libertades públicas. La inmensa mayoría de los migrantes viene a la UE para contribuir a esta prosperidad, no para aprovecharse de ella. Ocupan los empleos de obras públicas, construcción, en los servicios a la persona y hospitales, que no pueden o no quieren ocupar los europeos. Contribuyen al dinamismo demográfico del continente europeo, a mantener la relación entre activos e inactivos que vuelve posible sus generosos sistemas de seguridad social y dinamizan el mercado interno y la cohesión social. Los migrantes ofrecen una solución a los problemas demográficos y financieros de la UE.

Para nosotros, nuestros migrantes representan la ayuda al desarrollo que los Europeos no nos dan – ya que pocos países alcanzan realmente el mínimo objetivo del 0,7% de su PIB en la ayuda al desarrollo. América Latina recibió, en 2006, 68.000 millones de dólares de remesas, o sea más que el total de las inversiones extranjeras en nuestros países. A nivel mundial alcanzan 300.000 millones de dólares, que superan a los 104.000 millones otorgados por concepto de ayuda al desarrollo. Mi propio país, Bolivia, recibió mas del 10% del PIB en remesas (1.100 millones de dólares) o un tercio de nuestras exportaciones anuales de gas natural.

Es decir que los flujos de migración son benéficos tanto para los Europeos y de manera marginal para nosotros del Tercer Mundo ya que también perdemos a contingentes que suman millones de nuestra mano de obra calificada, en la que de una manera u otra nuestros Estados, aunque pobres, han invertido recursos humanos y financieros.
Lamentablemente, el proyecto de “directiva retorno” complica terriblemente esta realidad. Si concebimos que cada Estado o grupo de Estados puede definir sus políticas migratorias en toda soberanía, no podemos aceptar que los derechos fundamentales de las personas sean denegados a nuestros compatriotas y hermanos latinoamericanos. La “directiva retorno” prevé la posibilidad de un encarcelamiento de los migrantes indocumentados hasta 18 meses antes de su expulsión -o “alejamiento”, según el término de la directiva. ¡18 meses! ¡Sin juicio ni justicia! Tal como esta hoy el proyecto de texto de la directiva viola claramente los artículos 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8 y 9 de la Declaración Universal de los Derechos Humanos de 1948.

En particular el artículo 13 de la Declaración reza:
“1. Toda persona tiene derecho a circular libremente y a elegir su residencia en el territorio de un Estado.
2. Toda persona tiene derecho a salir de cualquier país, incluso del propio, y a regresar a su país”.

Y, lo peor de todo, existe la posibilidad de encarcelar a madres de familia y menores de edad, sin tomar en cuenta su situación familiar o escolar, en estos centros de internamientos donde sabemos ocurren depresiones, huelgas de hambre, suicidios. ¿Cómo podemos aceptar sin reaccionar que sean concentrados en campos compatriotas y hermanos latinoamericanos indocumentados, de los cuales la inmensa mayoría lleva años trabajando e integrándose? ¿De qué lado esta hoy el deber de ingerencia humanitaria? ¿Dónde está la “libertad de circular”, la protección contra encarcelamientos arbitrarios?

Paralelamente, la Unión Europea trata de convencer a la Comunidad Andina de Naciones (Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador y Perú) de firmar un “Acuerdo de Asociación” que incluye en su tercer pilar un Tratado de Libre Comercio, de misma naturaleza y contenido que los que imponen los Estados Unidos. Estamos bajo intensa presión de la Comisión Europea para aceptar condiciones de profunda liberalización para el comercio, los servicios financieros, propiedad intelectual o nuestros servicios públicos. Además a título de la protección jurídica se nos presiona por el proceso de nacionalización del agua, el gas y telecomunicaciones realizados en el Día Mundial de los Trabajadores. Pregunto, en ese caso ¿dónde está la “seguridad jurídica” para nuestras mujeres, adolescentes, niños y trabajadores que buscan mejores horizontes en Europa?

Promover la libertad de circulación de mercancías y finanzas, mientras en frente vemos encarcelamiento sin juicio para nuestros hermanos que trataron de circular libremente. Eso es negar los fundamentos de la libertad y de los derechos democráticos.

Bajo estas condiciones, de aprobarse esta “directiva retorno”, estaríamos en la imposibilidad ética de profundizar las negociaciones con la Unión Europea, y nos reservamos del derecho de normar con los ciudadanos europeos las mismas obligaciones de visa que nos imponen a los Bolivianos desde el primero de abril de 2007, según el principio diplomático de reciprocidad. No lo hemos ejercido hasta ahora, justamente por esperar buenas señales de la UE.

El mundo, sus continentes, sus océanos y sus polos conocen importantes dificultades globales: el calentamiento global, la contaminación, la desaparición lenta pero segura de recursos energéticos y biodiversidad mientras aumenta el hambre y la pobreza en todos los países, fragilizando nuestras sociedades. Hacer de los migrantes, que sean documentados o no, los chivos expiatorios de estos problemas globales, no es ninguna solución. No corresponde a ninguna realidad. Los problemas de cohesión social que sufre Europa no son culpa de los migrantes, sino el resultado del modelo de desarrollo impuesto por el Norte, que destruye el planeta y desmiembra las sociedades de los hombres.

A nombre del pueblo de Bolivia, de todos mis hermanos del continente regiones del mundo como el Maghreb, Asia y los países de Africa, hago un llamado a la conciencia de los líderes y diputados europeos, de los pueblos, ciudadanos y activistas de Europa, para que no se apruebe e1 texto de la “directiva retorno”. Tal cual la conocemos hoy, es una directiva de la vergüenza. Llamo también a la Unión Europea a elaborar, en los próximos meses, una política migratoria respetuosa de los derechos humanos, que permita mantener este dinamismo provechoso para ambos continentes y que repare de una vez por todas la tremenda deuda histórica, económica y ecológica que tienen los países de Europa con gran parte del Tercer Mundo, que cierre de una vez las venas todavía abiertas de América Latina. No pueden fallar hoy en sus “políticas de integración” como han fracasado con su supuesta “misión civilizatoria” del tiempo de las colonias.

Reciban todos ustedes, autoridades, europarlamentarios, compañeras y compañeros saludos fraternales desde Bolivia. Y en particular nuestra solidaridad a todos los “clandestinos”.

Evo Morales Ayma
Presidente de la República de Bolivia

Lost Your Hope to the Sea of Obamamania? Remember…It’s Che’s B-Day!

June 15, 2008

One of my great fears about the Obamamania juggernaut taking the country has to do with how easily many of us lose it-our hope in ourselves- by giving it to forces outside of ourselves, forces like the Democratic party, that………eh, I don’t think I need to tell you anything about who they are.

Instead, I provide you with an example of the hope promoted by one who, though idolized and made iconic, still challenges us to challenge the cold, grey powers behind the Democrats and the Republicans; I bring you a reminder that today is Che’s birthday.

Check out this video sent to me from a still-militant-after-all-these years friend of mine (ie; he’s a former poetico-military combatant from Nicaragua who’s turning 70 pretty soon). Musical maven Silvio Rodriguez leads a radical chorus of artists that includes the late great Ibrahim Ferrer, members of the Buena Vista Social Club and other singers you’ve not heard of unless you get beyond the Walls of Civilized Musical Discourse brought to you by the for-profit propaganda system that spins your life. And, in case you want to join the coro, I’ve included the lyrics (in Spanish and in English, no less) to Carlos Puebla’s balada popular, Hasta Siempre, below too.

Hasta Siempre, Comandante Che Guevara.

Hasta Siempre

Aprendimos a quererte
desde la histórica altura
donde el sol de tu bravura
le puso cerco a la muerte.


Aquí se queda la clara,

la entrañable transparencia,
de tu querida presencia
Comandante Che Guevara.

Tu mano gloriosa y fuerte
sobre la historia dispara
cuando todo Santa Clara
se despierta para verte.


Vienes quemando la brisa
con soles de primavera
para plantar la bandera
con la luz de tu sonrisa.


Tu amor revolucionario
te conduce a nueva empresa
donde esperan la firmeza
de tu brazo libertario.


Seguiremos adelante
como junto a ti seguimos
y con Fidel te decimos:
!Hasta siempre, Comandante!


Until Always [English]

We learned to love you
from the heights of history
with the sun of your bravery
you laid siege to death


The deep (or beloved) transparency of your presence
became clear here
Commandante Che Guevara

Your glorious and strong hand
fires at history
when all of Santa Clara
awakens to see you


You come burning the winds
with spring suns
to plant the flag
with the light of your smile


Your revolutionary love
leads you to a new undertaking
where they are awaiting the firmness
of your liberating arm


We will carry on
as we did along with you
and with Fidel we say to you:
Until Always, Commandante!


Immigrant Detainee, Activists Launch Hunger Strike, Vigils to Protest ICE Abuses

June 14, 2008

This just in from my friend Rosalinda Guillen, an activist in Washington State.

Melt I.C.E.!
Peaceful Protest and Vigil for Human Rights
11:00am to 4:00pm, Saturday June 14
Northwest Detention Center
1623 E. J Street – Tacoma, WA 98421

For more information call Rogelio Montes – 360-441-0516

Join the Vigil and be in solidarity with the workers being treated in such a disrespectful and inhumane manner. We have been hearing for months about the lack of healthy food and the food they do get is in very low unhealthy portions. Many people in the detention center are losing weight and have become sick because of the lack of enough food and having to eat unhealthy food.

Jonah has been in Northwest Detention Center for about a week and a half now.

During this time, he has been buying overpriced ramen noodles and trading meat for small cups full of green beans at meals. He has sent in requests for vegan food several times and they have all been denied.

Today he’s starting hunger strike. He’s already feeling weak from lack of nutrition.

You can help by calling the GEO Corporation at (253)396 1611 tell them to feed him good healthy food!!

You’ll need his A# – 88737285 and his full name – Jose Alberto Larrama Portillo.

He need our supporter from all over write letters – On a computer or typewriter, not hand written – to the judge. In these letters you should include who you are, what your citizenship status is, your contact info and how this kind of treatment is inhumane and that his family and friends are asking us as Washingtonians to make the GEO group behave in a humane manner to him and all detainees! Having plenty of good healthy food is a human right!

You need to write them to “Honorary Immigration Judge.” Sounds silly, I know, but you have to do it. “Dear Honorary Immigration Judge,” And send them to Jose. Three copies please.
And please keep sending letters of support.

Jose Alberto Larrama Portillo
1623 East J St, Suite 5
Tacoma, Wa 98421

Thanks everyone! Pass it on! His hearing will be within the next two weeks we think.

Obama and McCain on Immigration: Life vs. Death

June 13, 2008

Obama and McCain on Immigration: Life vs. Death

New America Media, News analysis, Roberto Lovato, Posted: Jun 13, 2008 Share/Save/Bookmark

Editor’s Note: When it comes to immigration reform, what’s the real difference between Barack Obama and John McCain? Spanish-language newspaper La Opinión provides the most comprehensive analysis, writes NAM contributor Roberto Lovato.

A recent story by Maribel Hastings of La Opinión newspaper provides the most comprehensive analysis yet of the similarities and differences between John McCain and Barack Obama around immigration policy. According to Hastings, “Both candidates support construction of a wall at the southern U.S. border. But the most important differences are less obvious and have more to do with what kind of reform the candidates advocate for and try to get approved, according to Cecilia Muñoz, vice president of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR).”

Among those revealing details, says Hastings, are small but important differences that may make a major difference in what will surely be an intense fight for the Latino vote. Hastings continues, “McCain, for example, is opposed to the DREAM Act, which would benefit undocumented students and Obama supports it;” adding that “McCain opposes the idea of giving driver’s licenses to the undocumented, while Obama favors the proposal.”

Reading Hastings’ article, one can’t help but think of how many other opportunities for differentiation the seemingly endless maze of migration law and policy offers the candidates – and the immigrant rights movement – this election year.

If only the political will to bring greater attention to these often life-saving details existed.

The most strategic and important opportunity to turn the page on the immigration debate via the elections does not orbit around the twin axes of legalization and border security favored by the liberal-conservative consensus of some Democrats, some Republicans and their allies. This is the approach of the McCain-Kennedy bill still favored by both candidates.

Much has changed for immigrants since that bill failed in 2006-2007. What is, without a doubt, the most significant change since backers of the various versions of the McCain-Kennedy bill failed to reform immigration policy in 2006-2007 is how rancid and radically bad – detention deaths, thousands of raids, massive deportations, traumatized children, steadily growing streams of hate media and hate crimes, etc. – the anti-immigrant climate has become thanks to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency and others. In such a climate, “immigration reform” focusing primarily on legalization and “border security” seems out-of-touch, if not dangerous.

A more strategic, urgent and powerful immigration reform strategy has to center around the colossal tragedy caused by ICE, the colossal tragedy that is ICE. The greatest good Obama, McCain or anyone else can do to aid current and future immigrants is to put radically re-organizing, if not dismantling, ICE at the center of any discussion about “immigration reform” in the United States. Asking McCain and Obama to lead calls for either Congressional investigations or the establishment of a special investigative committee of some sort (as happened with detention facilities in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo) seems like a good place to start. So would calls for the immediate resignation of ICE chief Julie Myers, who has overseen an agency that has sexually abused, physically beaten, drugged, used dogs against and even killed immigrant detainees in a manner not unlike that seen in offshore military detention centers. With increasing frequency since 2006, Hastings and other Spanish language reporters in print and electronic media outlets have filled pages and airwaves with tear-inspiring, almost daily reports of numerous forms of abuse, death and fear experienced by immigrants at the hands of ICE.

In their efforts to differentiate themselves among voters, especially Latino voters, Senators McCain and Obama might also want these voters to see and hear them lead the fight to pass the Secure and Safe Detention and Asylum Act (SSDS), which was reintroduced last Wednesday by Senators Lieberman, Brownback, Kennedy, and Hagel. The SSDS addresses some of the more serious problems faced by immigrants in detention, problems recently brought to light by major news reports. The detention-focused legislation includes provisions for improved conditions and medical care, reporting of deaths, judicial review of detention for asylum seekers and other detainees, expansion of alternatives to detention and, most importantly, more oversight.

So, in the netherworld of the immigrant gulag growing on our shores, the small differences around the minutiae of immigration law can mean the difference between life and death, a difference that can win the hearts and minds of many voters this year.

(Note: What follows is the La Opinion piece translated into English thanks to Matt Ortega)

Immigration Reform Defines Positions

Obama and McCain plans overlap somewhat, but have significant differences

By Maribel Hastings
La Opinion Correspondent

At first glance there doesn’t seem to be significant differences between Senator Obama and Senator McCain’s stance on immigration. It’s because Obama supports reform previously supported by John McCain until the political climate led him to take a “security-first” approach.

If anything is similar between McCain and Obama and their respective political parties, Republican and Democrat, it’s to avoid the issue all together when possible. Especially since it’s not on the top of the issues of most concern to voters, and a volatile topic.

What’s odd is that it’s an issue that, according to some, would benefit McCain in the fight for latino votes as the Senator from Arizona co-authored the Immigration Reform Bill with Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA).

Although McCain presently emphasizes a “security-first” approach, the McCain/Kennedy bill still resounds among many hispanics.

But everything is relative. Yesterday a NBC/WSJ poll concluded that 62% of hispanic voters prefer Obama versus 28% for McCain.

Upon closer scrutiny of both candidate positions, there are differences. For example, McCain opposes the Dream Act that benefits undocumented students and Obama supports it; McCain opposes giving driving licenses to illegal immigrants; Obama supports it.

Nevertheless, both would vote in favor of building a wall on the southern border.

“But the most important differences are less obvious and have to do with what type of reform they’ll propose and try to pass,” said Cecilia Munoz, vice president of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR).

According to Munoz, McCain’s talk on immigration changes “depending on his audience.”

“We had George Bush’s heart behind immigration reform and that wasn’t enough. I think John McCain’s heart is behind the legislation but we don’t know if he wants or would be able to really push through the type of reform he wants,” she added.

“Not only is he trying to placate latino voters, but the anti-immigrant side of his party as well, and this will constrain him in an important way” said Munoz.

McCain spokesman Jeff Sadosky told La Opinion that McCain thinks its very important to express his positions with “clear and compassionate” language.

“John McCain thinks that we need to secure the border first, but at the same time he understands that we need to handle the immigration debate humanely while understanding that everybody needs to be treated with respect,” declared Sadosky.

For McCain it’s to attract hispanics without alienating the conservative Republican base.

But Obama also faces obstacles.

Certainly, the Senator’s positions are also more progressive than the official position of the democrats that control congress, like the Senator’s support for giving drivers licenses to illegal immigrants.

But not even the democrats that control both Houses of Congress have been able to advance comprehensive reform.

The Senator tried, but the House of Representatives seems more interested in holding hearings than producing concrete results.

There’s a division between conservative democrats in the House that favor measures focused on security like Rep. Health Shuler’s (R-NC) plan and those that support comprehensive reform like the Hispanic Caucus.

Furthermore, it’s not only the white working class that’s hostile to comprehensive reform. There’s also a perception that there are sectors within the Afro-American community that are hostile to such reform as well.

Munoz pointed to surveys that prove otherwise and that national Afro-American organizations, like the NAACP, actively support comprehensive reform.

But, according to Munoz, the fact that Obama promises to advance immigration reform in the beginning of his possible administration not only is a message to the immigrant community but also to Congress.

“It’s the type of difference with [John McCain] that is less obvious but equally important: the quality of the compromise,” she concluded.

Lou Dobbs for New Jersey Governor?

June 13, 2008

CNN host Lou Dobbs is considering a bid for New Jersey Governor, according to this story in the Star Ledger. “Several well-connected Republicans say they’ve heard the buzz that Dobbs, famous for his sharp commentary about Washington policies and politics, may be turning his sights on Trenton and has inquired about the steps necessary to start a campaign” says the Ledger’s Josh Margolin.

Dobbs, who was also rumored to be considering a presidential bid, did little to dissipate the rumors swirling around a possible gubernatorial bid. Asked to deny the rumors were true, Dobbs responded, “I’m just not going to comment.”

More on this as it develops.

Issues You Won’t Hear about During the Campaign: The Pentagon’s Lust for Young Latino Bodies

June 12, 2008

Here’s an issue we can safely assume the candidates will conveniently ignore: the massive recruitment efforts of the U.S. Pentagon. This video doc by Jorge Mariscal and my friends at Project Yano details the machinations of the U.S. war machine in its efforts to not just survive to fight another day, but to simply survive.

As I’ve said previously, given the vastness of the U.S. military presence abroad, we can expect the Pentagon’s multi-billion (yes BILLION) dollar effort to recruit young bodies to intensify at home. Because of the rapid decline in the number of young blacks and women opting out of military service, the Pentagon has taken an unprecedented and very expensive interest in young Latinos.

So, if you want to destroy the Empire, you can do so non-violently by supporting anti-military recruitment efforts like those of Project Yano, the AFSC and a growing galaxy of organizations doing their part to bring down Sauron’s tower by bringing down the number of our kids doing Sauron’s bidding.

Check out this video by project Yano. Those of you who are teachers or those who work in community organizations can use it with young people to counteract the effects of the seamless system of war consciousness created by private-public partnerships like those documented in James Derderian’s book about what he calls the “military-industrial-media-entertainment network”.

So, Project Yano’s kind of media work previews what must be the future tactics of any effort to destroy the workings of militarism in the minds of our young. Check it out.

J-Lo Backing Obama?

June 11, 2008


Superstar actress and singer Jennifer Lopez (J-Lo) was seen “slipping”into Barack Obama’s Senate office for what the Hill called a “mysterious meeting”. Asked by reporters about the purpose of her visit to the presumptive Democratic nominee, Lopez answered “I’m not ready to do any press yet”.

Should she decide to back Obama, Lopez would be the latest -and most famous- from among the throng of Latino celebrities that have already come out in support of the Illinois Senator. Among the other Latino artists already backing Obama are the more than 20 Latin music and film stars who recently released a Spanish-language video in support of the Democratic presidential candidate.

The list of latino artists participating in the “Podemos con Obama,” or “We Can With Obama” video includes actor John Leguizamo and hip hop artist Don Omar. Other pro-Obama Latino celebrities include international pop stars Alejandro Sanz and Paulina Rubio and actors George Lopez and Jessica Alba.

With a recent Gallup poll showing Latinos preferring Obama by a lopsided margin of 62-29%, the backing of high profile celebrities like Lopez can only help the growing chorus of Latino support of the Obama candidacy.

McCain Mulling Immigrant Driver’s License Attack on Obama

June 10, 2008

In what may be the first of several tacts learned from the Clinton campaign’s failed racial strategy against presumed Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, the McCain campaign appears to be gearing up for its own racial antics.

According to this story in Newsday, we should expect “sniping to intensify around race, class and terrorism.” Every schoolboy/girl/lgbt who follows this blog and anyone who’s not been in a coma over the course of this primary (sadly) knows that race-and racism-occupy a central part of of the formula of any campaign now. In this post-industrial era of intense social, economic and political fragmentation, mixing numerous kinds of fear-inspiring memes occupies much of the time of any political consultant today.

Again, the Newsday story says that we should expect McCain to “exhume Obama’s support for ex-Gov. Eliot Spitzer‘s aborted license plan for illegals – perhaps eclipsing McCain’s own past fight with his GOP rivals on immigration.”

I personally think that such a tactic is neither advisable nor very smart. Such a stealth bilingual approach – spewing anti-immigrant cant in English while courting immigrant Latino votes with Spanish language political love poems- will not work. That McCain’s Spanish language ads goes out of its way to distance him not just from GWB but from the GOP itself (as in his ad says “When we are filling up the gas tank, we are not Republicans, Democrats or Independents. We are Hispanics, and we all are hurting together in this uncertain economic time.”) gives us some sense of how much the fear there is in the GOP around the much-anticipated Latino backlash against Republicans, who went from getting 35-40% of the Latino vote in the 2004 primaries to less than 22% in this year’s primaries.

In sum, it would only take one of the great majority of Latinos that is bilingual to point out that McCain will be speaking out of both sides of his mouth if he tries to use the immigrant driver’s license attack on Obama.

GRITtv Interview on Detention, Raids and the Terror of ICE

June 5, 2008

Check out this very fresh interview about a rather rancid subject: death, raids and the terror of ICE. Host Laura Flanders and Maria Muentes of Families for Freedom in New York and Jeanvieve Williams of the U.S. Human Rights Network and I do what I think is a pretty (ICE) smashing job of examining the abysmal depths of the Bush Administration’s most violent bureaucracy outside of the Pentagon. Despite the sad, trauma-inducing gravitas of our subject, Laura, Maria, Jeanvieve and I manage to bring some light and hope to it. As you watch, keep in mind this question: Do Congressional hearings around improving health care get at the problems described?

You can find it here.

Hope you like it.

While Clinton Almost Concedes, Obama Leads the Planet in a Collective Sigh of History

June 4, 2008

Barack Obama with his wife Michelle after claiming victory.

Exactly 200 years after the United States Congress banned traffic in chattel slaves from Africa, Barack Obama became the country’s first African American chosen as Presidential candidate by electors of any of the major parties.

“Stunning”, “tear-inspiring” and “about time” are but a few of the words that come to mind.

Though I do not support any candidate and though I am most critical of Mr. Obama on a host of issues, I cannot but take a moment to join the country, nay the entire planet, in its collective sigh of history……….

In honor of this truly breathtaking development, I will, for the moment, refrain from attacking, criticizing or otherwise politicking so that you may meditate on your own part of this sigh.

Clinton Wins Puerto Rico, a Colony With 0 Bearing on the General Election

June 2, 2008

Touting her victory in Puerto Rico as another sign that she is the best candidate to win a general election, Hillary Clinton told supporters that the “show of overwhelming support,” gives her more reason to continue her statistical Lost Cause

Unfortunately, her statement runs smack into the tragic historical reality of the Puerto Rican condition: colonialismo. As a de facto U.S. colony stolen from Spain, the island and, more importantly, the island’s inhabitants occupy a second class status vis a vis the land we imperial citizens sleep and work in. More specifically, the colonial status of Puerto Rico disenfranchises Puerto Ricans, who, though they are U.S. citizens, are not allowed to vote in general elections.

So when the Clinton’s trumpet the PR vote as some indicator of that general election inevitability they’ve lost since Iowa, they’re being dishonest. In addition, they are winning in what is an anomaly this election year in the Latino U.S.: a low turnout Latino election. While Latinos in other primaries are voting a stupendously high 59% more than in 2004, Puerto Rico is also witnessing record turnouts too-record low turnouts, as my friend Liza Sabater points out.

Neither does this vote say anything about Latino predisposition to vote for Obama in a general election. Nothing in the historical or recent record indicates that there’s even a sliver of truth of Latino unwillingness to vote for either black candidates generally or for Barack Obama specifically. Nothing. Though they do not come out and say it, the Clinton message has been and continues to be, “My Latinos will not vote for a black man-but they’ll vote for me.”

With Latinos voting Democratic at an average of 78% in this year’s primaries (versus somewhere between 56-73% -in 2004 primaries), the Clinton’s attempts to instill fear of a return of some Latinos to the glaringly white tent of Republicanism will likely fail regardless of who the Democratic candidate

If Spanish language, mainstream and other media did their job, Latinos might better-know the unprecedented and breathtaking amount of prevarication, racial tomfoolery and naked manipulation the Clinton’s have inserted into our political process, they might not vote for them at all. So, you see, manufactured consent works for both Republicans and Democrats.