Archive for the 'CULTURE' Category

“Post-Racial” Tu Madre: U.S. Hate Crimes Down- Except Against Latinos

October 28, 2008

//a.abcnews.com/images/TheLaw/ap_immigration_killing_080725_mn.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

washingtonpost.com

Today’s Washington Post (WAPO) has this story about the good news of a decline in overall hate crimes in the U.S., according to FBI Director Robert F. Mueller. Good news, that is, for almost every racial, ethnic, religious and other group except one: Latinos. The WAPO story also tells us that, for the 4th straight year, hate crimes against Latinos continue their upward tick in the downward spiral of hate in our “post-racial” society. 4 years; 4 years in the face of an overall decline in hate crimes means that anti-Latino hatred is becoming dangerously normalized, even institutionalized when we consider who profits economically and politically from hate.

According to the WAPO piece,

“Crimes against Hispanics also increased for the fourth year in a row, the ADL said, with 595 incidents reported in 2007, compared with 475 in 2004.”

And the FBI statistics are but a small -and inaccurate-measure of the size of this monster in our midst.

I was the President of the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission (LACHRC) , one of the largest, most sophisticated government human relations agencies in the country, and can tell you that these statistics hardly begin to map what can only be the tragic topography of anti-immigrant hate. During my tenure at the LACHRC, we documented the obvious: most immigrants do not report crimes against them. For numerous reasons – fear, lack of institutional resources and outreach, ignorance about hate crime laws, etc.- immigrants, especially undocumented immigrants, are not apt to report these incidents, even in places like L.A., where some human relations resources and sophistication about hate crimes exists.

Now, imagine what the situation in places where no such institutional resources or sophistication exists; The FBI is likely only able to report on what happens in big cities and the occasional killing or beating that is so blatant that it cannot be ignored in rural and suburban areas like Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, where 3 white men killed Mexican immigrant Luis Ramirez (pictured above) in what his family and other witnesses believe was a hate crime (police declared the murder not a hate crime). And let’s remember that these are pre-economic meltdown statistics. Common sense and the statistical record tell us that spikes in hate crimes are inversely proportional to declines in key economic indicators. I fear we are entering a new, more institutionalized stage in which hating Latinos, especially immigrants, has become “OK”, “normal” and even “patriotic.”

http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2007/01/dobbs230.gif//www.voanews.com/english/images/cislogo_100.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

What this means beyond the tragedy of it all is that there HAS to be a concerted effort to break the political back of at least some (it only takes the decimation of 1 to discourage the others) of the key think tanks, media outlets and pols whose bottom lines depend on cranking out hate against immigrants. Expensive “Stop the Hate” campaigns are important at the level of counteracting their messages in the general populace, but do nothing to get at the powerful interests that profit from keeping the hate alive. Somebody has to find it expensive to keep up the hate that cheapens life.

Waaaaassup! Then & Now: Tragicomic TV Ad Adds Political Riff to Old Budweiser Ad (Funny)

October 24, 2008

For full effect, check out this “classic” Budweiser ad and and then the one that follows:

After taking a moment to wipe the halcyon from your mental screen as you reminisce about them Good Ole days when down-to-earth multinational corporations simply exploited popular culture for profit, check out this video from the age of supra-national corporations exploiting EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE for SUPERPROFITS:

And, if you cannot access via youtube you can go to huffpost here to find it.

The Saints Have Spoken: San Martin de Obama Will Win By a Divine Landslide

October 21, 2008

This just in from the Great Beyond: Barack Obama has been hiding secretly in the heart and soul of Latino, African and Afro-Latino América all along. This most recent Good News bodes badly for the purveyors of the media’s urban legend about Latino’s near-genetic predisposition not to vote for a black person ; Speaking of our spiritual and genetic DNA, the Good News also reminds us that Latinos, millions of whom have more than a few drops of black blood, have black skin, dance to African-infused music, eat African foods, etc. have, after all, only been praying to black saints for centuries. In my childhood house, San Martin and San Judas were, from earliest times, there protecting us in almost every room of the house – and now they’re protecting the house of our planet from destruction.

Look, yee unbelievers, look with your own faithless eyes, for it is so

Though it may provide but another weak weapon to the army of fear and hate that is the McCain-Palin progrom, this breaking news from on high also portends bad things for those who look into the Big Blue Eyes of Jesus before bashing immigrants, black people, gays & lesbianas, Latinas and a host of other infidels. In the minds of the Saints and Gods that guide us, the hateful among us have already been defeated. Unfortunately for that other rotting temple of false and falling idols, el Partido Democrata, the divine winds will also smash the statue of that other False God, San Obama de Corporate America, whose other manifestation sometimes takes the form of ex-Clinton Treasury Secretary, Robert Rubin. You need only believe. For it is written in the book of Eleggua; You can hear it in the coming thunder of Shango; It is done. Aché to my good friend Carlos Cordova for giving us the Good News from the Gods.

Bretton Woods II? Time to (Re-) Interrogate -& Challenge- Big Capitalism

October 20, 2008

Pyramid of Capitalist System

We have entered an era in which 60, 70 and even 85 year-olds are coming out of retirement to find the work they need simply to survive.

Such reports will sadly and surely multiply as the disintegration of economic, political and social life as we know it proceeds. Without a doubt, the root of such sad reports is to be found in the depths of this most recent crisis of capitalism we find ourselves in. For the Lead Political Cheerleaders of Big Capitalism like French President Nicolas Sarkozy to find themselves forced to defend not just deadly economic policies, but capitalism itself, should give us pause; Pause so we think about how we may insert human values into this most vulnerable moment in political and economic history; Just listen to the loud thump of the ideological sandbags “Sarko the American” has to put up to before the abysmal pressures facing capitalism itself:

“Le laissez-faire, c’est fini,” Sarkozy said. “The financial crisis is not the crisis of capitalism. It is the crisis of a system that has distanced itself from the most fundamental values of capitalism, which betrayed the spirit of capitalism.”

Doesn’t that first phrase -“Le laissez-faire, c’est finii”- roll off the tongue in a wonderfully sublime way? It graces the palate with much more good taste and reality than those vomit-inducing war chants like the pathetic calls to “Eat Freedom Fries instead of French Fries!”, no? Sarkozy, who doesn’t much like poor, migrant and colored folks in la Belle France or in greater Europe, has also moved to organize a top-down global response through what some are calling a Bretton Woods Conference II, one that includes leaders of G-8 and other industrialized countries whose mission is nothing less than to salvage and reconfigure capitalism. Such a crisis-laden meeting carries with it great danger and opportunity if we consider that the first Bretton Woods conference established the International Monetary Fund and many of the primary instruments of the global economic domination that forced 60-70 and 80 year-olds throughout the post-war “Third World” to seek work to simply survive.

Time to do what we did during the battle of Seattle: confront big capital and confront them frontally, forcefully and globally through as many means as possible. I myself am not at this time advocating violent means, however. But looking at elderly people like my parents coming out of retirement and gazing at the babies coming out of the dark womb of their tender past must drive us to consider and exercise any and all non-violent means to alter the course of current history.

Every student knows that Roosevelt only agreed to the New Deal after looking at and listening to the loud calls coming from the radical below So, let us meditate deeply on the opportunity, while being vigilant of the dangers “our leaders” are preparing to foist on us in their own efforts to survive. We forget their fear and vulnerability at our own risk; Doing so will keep us on the path of the same sheepish lot that allowed elites to steal not 1, but 2 elections. So, let us also join the armies of the planet that are, according to this piece from the Times UK, re-arming themselves with Das Capital & other writings of Karl Marx as well as other tools with which to analyze and influence the New Direction from the bottom-up. And don’t let the Pavlovian, anti-Marxist conditioning of our decadent system close you off to what are still thought-provoking and critically important resources that can help us give shape to whatever the new era portends. Our ability to analyze and critique capitalism must inform our own policies and political actions if we are not to move beyond the economic, environmental and spiritual devastation wrought by Big Capital and its political cheerleaders.

Move Over Tina Fey & SNL: It’s La Pequeña Sarah Palin!

October 19, 2008

Seems that Barack Obama’s not the only U.S.political figure to move the global imagination or tickle the foreign funny bone. Check out how Sarah Palin and Tina Fey have met their match in the race to realize the comic potential of our political process. Ladies, gentlemen and all you freaks and sinners booted out of Sarah Palin’s Pentecostal church, Of América is honored to introduce you to Chile’s proud contribution to the fast-growing and exciting field of Palintology: La Pequeña Sarah Palin!

Historic Black Latino Summit Previews Power of Solidarity- & Intimacy

October 8, 2008

I had the privilege and pleasure to attend this week’s Black-Latino Summit (BLS) held in Los Angeles on Sunday and Monday. Organized by Policy Link and the William C. Velazquez Institute, the BLS brought together more than 500 black and Latino leaders and activists who spent 2 days debating and discussing the history and future and concerns and shared agenda of our respective communities.

To their credit, BLS organizers opted not to include the media in their event, which , I think, says much about the commitment to go beyond much of the foto op opportunism that usually passes for “Black-brown unity.” I believe they are sincerely trying to develop an agenda. While I’m not at liberty to provide details of the intense planning that took place, I can say that they distributed and discussed position papers (see the Summit web page) around a number of critical issues including criminal justice, education and jobs, immigration and several other issues. And issues of the spirit and heart were also at the center of discussions.

One preliminary learning I bring back with me has to do with the enormous challenge we have before us in terms of moving the ripples of such momentous events beyond the local discussion of the 500 attendees. More specifically, I realized that one of, perhaps the, primary antidotes to the mediation of black-Latino relations by the MSM is obvious, fundamental, yet elusive: intimacy. Listening to the attendees articulate and struggle with feelings, thoughts and plans, it became clear to me that we need to short circuit the electric organization of our senses and thoughts by our increasingly noxious media system, especially around race. The struggle to allow ourselves to be vulnerable within our selves and with others, is the best way I know to dispel and decimate the racial workings that really do divide us. More on this later. For now, stay tuned for the next, more public events of the BLS beginning with a followup meeting in Washington DC in the Spring, when the new President will be greeted with a well-thought out and defined agenda for the Blacks, Latinos and the entire country. Stay tuned to the BLS website.

Malkin Fingers True and Ultimate Foes Behind Our Economic Woes: Mexicans

September 26, 2008

http://www.appletreeblog.com/wp-content/2007/06/malkin-klan.jpg

As right wing columnists like the ever-slimy MIchelle Malkin ooze out even more merde & desperation in their efforts to explain the root our economic crisis, my friends at the Sanctuary (specifically Sylvia at http://problemchylde.wordpress.com/) provide an alternative.

And, if their response doesn;t suffice (or even if it does), do check out this other explanation put together by our friends at the Onion News Network:

Democratic Convention Extravaganza -Of Cops, Paramilitaries & Cake Eaters

August 25, 2008

Today’s pre-Convention events here in Denver included a heavy dose of what has, since before 9-11, become a staple of coneventioneering: cops, paramilitaries and other displays of state power. I took the picture above while dining at Sam’s Diner downtown because it offers us a view into the cultural side of domestic militarism, how normal it is to sit within feet of several heavily-armed people in uniform.

I was especially taken at how the officer in the center of the picture looks like a little girl jumping out of her seat as the smiling waitress shows her a plate full of deserts. She might’ve jumped higher were it not for the weight of her thick revolver, her batons, her mace and other weapons she and others from among the thousands of police, secret service, FBI and other security agents attending the Convention wore. And though they weren’t wearing any of the ubiquitous red, white and blue plastic badges plastering chests all over this place, those wearing silver badges and paramilitary get-ups got VIP treatment as when those of us standing in line at Sam’s watched them cut in front of us on their way to eating cake.

Though the first of the many protests planned for the Convention were quite peaceful, news reports here in Denver seemed to neither notice the peace nor make a distinction between protesters and those posing serious threats of violence. In much the same way that the Convention is a scripted event, local Fox and non-Fox stations reported from the MSM’s default position of conflating protesters with terrorist and other threats, threats requiring such massive displays of policing power. This article by my friend Chip Berlet provides a nice historical and documentary context for how “government law enforcement, intelligence, and security agencies are planning to treat dissidents like potential terrorists because of a reliance on flawed research, hyperbolic assessments, and political bias.”

And, as the photo above makes clear, after a hard days work of bashing skulls and pushing people in the name of protecting us from those who would threaten the democracy taking place inside the fortressed Pepsi Convention Center, the cops also got to have their cake and eat it too.

Welcome to América, Soon-to-Be Land of the White Minority

August 15, 2008

//farm4.static.flickr.com/3150/2709696790_669c8488f7.jpg?v=0” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

In another telling truism about how ‘demography is destiny”, the Census Bureau recently released a report with a most radical implication: whites will be a ‘minority’ by 2042 or a full 8 years before most experts predicted. Coming from places like California, many of us have witnessed firsthand some of the white minority dynamics that will define the future United States Of América. Scholars like my friend David Hayes-Bautista, writers like Dale Maharidge, author of the ever-prescient “The Coming White Minority”, and people in Whiteness Studies programs have long analyzed the extreme fluidity of whiteness. Yet, the news from the Census is nothing less than astonishing in terms of its political, economic, and cultural implications.

Viewed from the perspective of such startling demographic developments, the current anti-migrant climate, a climate filled with fear and with tragedies like the recently reported death of Chinese immigrant Hui Lui Ng , reflect the workings of personal and institutional fear or what I call “White Fear” in this article. Though I do not have any direct insight into the workings of the mind of An Other, I imagine that news of the coming white minority status must inspire images like those depicted in this photo-parody by San Diego-based Chicano artists Richard Lou and Robert Sanchez formerly known as “Los Anthropolocos”:

//www.carolinaarts.com/1103uscs.jpeg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

While the idea of the coming white minority may inspire sardonic humor and premature triumphalism in some while also inspiring intense fear and extreme loathing in Others, we must move beyond these preliminary responses; We must understand and prepare for the implications of such profound shifts in the demographic order. Consider, for example, how no previous Euro-dominant empire has ever witnessed a situation in which a white majority became a minority. Add to this demographic cocktail other, unprecedented and simultaneous developments like the decline of U.S. hegemony and the fundamental reconfiguration of the global economic and political system, and current political issues like immigration became more easy to understand in all their complex intensity and insanity.

How the political and economic elites and the mainstream and other media begin introducing the issue of white minority status into the public discussion must be monitored as it will have definite and deep impacts on whether and how future race relations and racial conflict in the U.S. will evolve. Without a smart, balanced and balancing approach to this intensely personal and racially-charged topic, an approach that is severely lacking today (ie; we don’t even talk about whiteness as it relates to the crisis of immigration), we run the risk of opening up a Pandora’s Box of racial resentment and violence that will make the current immigration conflict look like a pizza party. Current talk of a “post-racial” United States is not just silly; In the age Of América, the Soon-to-Be Land of White Minorities, it’s dangerous.

Much, much more on this critically important development in future posts.

Italy Latest to Use Immigrants as an Excuse for Militarizing Sreets

August 6, 2008

No stranger to deploying totalitarian-lite methods before a severe economic and political crisis, Italia became but the most recent country to militarize its streets under cover of what has rapidly become one of the most fascionable excuses for militarism: immigrants. This article in today’s New York Times (NYT) should be considered a free advertisement for the cottage industry that’s bringing us police states all across this crisis-ridden globe.

Rather than view immigrants as a human expression of the dire crisis the global elites have created, the NYT and other media have instead opted to uncritically accept the elite solution for the problem elite neoliberalism created: militarismo. Though such cowardice and crisis-ridden states like Berlusconi’s Italy are not new, the intensity of the worldwide focus on immigrants as a threat requiring military solutions is pretty unprecedented. The degree of global political alignment between government, economic and media elites reflected in the Times piece also causes one to pause for a second look.

Those of you interested in exploring this migrant-militarization trend, especially its U.S. variant, further might want to check out this analytical piece I wrote for Political Research Associates, a Boston think-tank.

Of América’s Lovato Bashes Militarism on Meet the Bloggers

August 2, 2008

Please be charitable as you watch this clip from the very exciting show I’ve been asked to be a part of, Meet the Bloggers. Despite lighting that makes me look like a Miami Drug dealer wearing dapper summer duds, the clip does capture some of the alternative thinking you’ll find on this important new show from the folks at Brave New Films.

Stopping Military Build-up In Afghanistan Key to Real “Change” and “Hope”

July 31, 2008

//www.globalpolicy.org/images/empire/intervention/Worldwide%20Network%20of%20US%20Military%20Bases/map%201.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Recent debates around a possible and likely military build-up in Afghanistan have created some divisions and tensions within the movement to stop the war in Iraq. Though it is urgent and necessary to debate the pros and cons of exposing the Afghan people to more U.S. militarism, we should, with increasing urgency, worry about exposing ourselves to the effects of continued and increased militarism: budgets broken by war, spikes in global hatred of the U.S. and the possibility of raising children in a future dominated by the anti-democratic dual dictates of perpetual war and “national security.”

A recent report on how to best combat “terrorism”, “How Terrorist Groups End – Lessons for Countering al Qaida,” by the hardly-peace-loving Rand Corporation concluded that, “In most cases, military force isn’t the best instrument.” This report and the common sense conclusion that the current approach -sending hundreds of thousands of troops, deploying massive numbers of ships and conducting thousands of air strikes- make obvious that big money military-industrial interests have failed to deal with what some national security specialists call “asymmetric threats” (groups organized to conduct decentralized, networked and unconventional military operations). And this failure raises a critical question: why another clunky build-up in Afghanistan to fight another nimble threat?

In addition to the axiomatic great game answer that says having a military presence in a region makes it better for securing oil and other “national interests”, another answer seems equally legitimate: that continued big-money militarism in Afghanistan continues to guarantee the that global corporations will rule the economic, political and personal lives of people across the world-including the people in the United States.

By reaching what appears to be another Washington Consensus around a buildup in Afghanistan, candidates Obama and McCain appear to be sending signals not to the voters, but to the Pentagon and Haliburton, Boeing, Blackwater and other military-industrial companies whose stock values depend on the extension and expansion of what Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz calls a “3 Trillion Dollar War.” Viewed from this perspective, changing military focus from Iraq to Afghanistan is a form of coded communication between those who would govern us politically and the de facto interests that govern us from behind the Oval Office – global corporations and military industrial interests that “protect” their investments in the name of “the national interest.”

Without stopping those who profit handsomely by killing both people and peace in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, we will not have the economic resources required to build a more just society; we will not have a political system in which the sovereignty of real citizens overrules the sovereignty of the inhuman and non-human corporate citizens that now define the meaning of “democracy”; We will not rid ourselves and the world of the interests behind the US’s 737 military bases located in 130 countries and inhabiting all the continents where Gallup and other polls tell us we are hated at unprecedented levels. We will not achieve the peace and stability needed to save the planet itself. Any talk of “change” or “hope” must place priority on fighting and defeating the militarism that sucks our economy, polity and culture dry.

For these and many other reasons, we must strike out in powerful opposition to the next excuse for continued militarism, Afghanistan. Whether the face of the next president is black or white matters less than ending the sovereignty of the militarism that paints the world in the black and white, us-versus-them logic that’s starving people and democracy.

For more on the discussion about Afghanistan and militarism, check out tommorrow’s Meet the Bloggers show at 1 pm EST!

Further reading:

Race, Politics & the Deadly Rise of (Corporate) Media Sovereignty

July 27, 2008

Democracy Now!http://annenberg.usc.edu/images/events/big/unity.jpg

For the more than 10,000 attending the 4-day Unity Journalists of Color conference-the largest single gathering of journalists in the United States- one theme overwhelmingly dominated all others: how the thousands of under and unemployed journalists attending the conference signal a colossal crisis of U.S. journalism-and U.S. democracy. Whether it was the many traumatized and fear-filled workers we encountered , or the obvious humiliation of Truth in Journalism we heard on panels or the unprecedented lack of government transparency we discussed, the hallways of Unity were buzzing with devastatingly bad news.

The primary source of the bad news?: the sinister and extremely anti-democratic concentration of media ownership and power in fewer and fewer hands. Many of us are returning home clear of how one of the great threats to any democratic functioning is the deadly rise of Corporate Media Sovereignty. Nowhere was the threat more palpable than around that most critical of media issues of our time, Net Neutrality, the struggle to keep the internet open and free from the clutches of the exploiters of journalists, the purveyors of candy-coated UnTruth and enablers of government secrecy: Big Media.

I for one return from Chicago more convinced of the need to support the Death Penalty, the Corporate Death Penalty as applied to those companies that devastate the public good. We need to get back to those days when bad corporations lost their legal right to exist for violating the Public Good. This was the case from the foundation of the country until the late 19th century and we need to bring back the power of the people to apply the Death Penalty to corporations by denying them what in legal terms is known as “corporate personhood.”

This interview on Democracy Now explores these issues in the context of the interplay between race, media and politics. We discuss how, for example, Janet Murguia and the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) -the same folks who supported the nomination of war criminal Alberto Gonzalez, are silent on Iraq and accept money from and promote the Pentagon- have been silenced and neutralized around Net Neutrality by the money they get from telecommunications companies eager to control the Internet. So check out how DN co-host (and now NAHJ Hall of Famer) Juan Gonzalez and author Amy Alexander and I explore these and other issues. Enjoy!

Closing of Historic Arizona Radio Station Signals Larger Crisis of Latino Media

July 23, 2008

This story from the Arizona Republic tells the sad, but increasingly not-so-uncommon story of the impending closure of radio station KNUV-AM (1190), better known as “La Buena Onda”, a historic and important source of information for Spanish-speaking migrants in the very contentious Phoenix area.

According to Ricardo Torres, a former media executive interviewed by the Republic, the reason that the station will close on July 31rst has to do with the fact that

“The industries that rely on immigrants are hurting: construction, agriculture and hospitality,” he said adding “And what is happening is the immigrant community is shrinking due to bad economic times and the current hostile atmosphere created by (Maricopa County) Sheriff Joe Arpaio and laws passed by the Legislature.”

Because Spanish language media represents the largest immigrant media in the country, the fatal combination of economic decline, institutional racism (ie: How is Arpaio allowed to represent the law?) and media economics should be viewed as precursors of similarly devastating dynamics impacting other media in other migrant communities.The fate of La Buena Onda provides an object lesson in the politics of media, Latinos and democracy. With small, independent community based media suffering the same fate as the Phoenix station, the Spanish -and English-speaking Latino community will depend primarily on conglomerated media for most of its information about the world. This slightly older story from Washington Post makes the same point.

If information does, in fact, constitute the life blood of democracy, it appears that we are witnessing another devastation of democracia.

Recreate 68, the DNC and the Urgent Need to Reinvent Our Political Language

July 7, 2008

Tie-dye used as stage decor, Snoqualmie Moondance festival (1992)1968 protest

This article in the L.A. Times (LAT) about the protests and other activities planned for next month’s Democratic National Convention (DNC) make me want to throw on a tie dye, smoke some sin semilla and blare the the song, Times They Are NOT a-Changin’.

My point is that, rather than frame the protests as a response to the unique confluence of issues that constitute our crisis – war, declining empire, worldwide starvation, the death of the American Dream and the rapid decimation of the planet itself, to name a few- the writers and editors at major media outlets simply cut story lines and even images(!) from the 60′s protests and paste them onto the present. But most problematic is not so much the reporting as the fact that DNC protest organizers themselves provided the frame. They did so from the moment they chose the unhappy name for the coordinated protest effort in Denver: Recreate 68.

Sources in Denver told me last year of plans to call the event Recreate 68 and my initial reaction was, “Have they no political imagination?” Asked how they came to this decision, my sources, who didn’t want to be identified because of their need to coordinate with the protest organizers, told me that a most deadly combination was largely responsible for coming up the Recreate 68 tag: aging white leftists and young people anxious for history and change. Those who say that the language matters less than the real life issues being discussed have zero sense of how language and framing can completely block and deaden your main message.

While the motivations of both the young people and the aging white leftists are understandable, their political logic is not. By framing things in this way, they are basically denying the uniqueness of the political moment, the specificity of specific struggles. Also, local activists and their activities, their language will be beamed out to a country and a planet unable to distinguish the Colorado political accent from that of the rest of us who do not wax as nostalgic for 1968.

Some will argue that the mainstream media will inevitably spin against protesters anyway. Maybe, but we don’t need to do the work for them and, more importantly, we ourselves, especially young people, must forge a political identity and create language unique to current challenges, something made exponentially more difficult by the deadening nostalgic mediocrity of the Recreate 68 frame.

Keeping a line of political tradition constitutes a necessary part of any good movement-building-but not at the expense of eliding the burning issues or our time. I can already hear the deployment in Denver of political language so dead and compromised that even Presidential candidates are using it: “Yes we can”, “Si Se Puede”, etc. Denver points to the urgent need to reinvent and reinvigorate our language and political framing.

More than ever, we need to focus national and global attention on the unique and daunting problems we face. “Recreate 68″ sounds more like something more appropriate for Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young reunion concert than for a movement of our troubled times.

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.

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 U.S.like 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.

Imagine.

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

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION FOLLOWED BY ORIGINAL SPANISH LANGUAGE VERSION]

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

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

jlopez

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.

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.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 51 other followers