Archive for the 'INDIGENOUS RIGHTS' Category

El tiempo está a favor de buenos sueños (Time is on the Side of Good Dreams)

October 15, 2011

Gazing @ the bright red map that is today’s #Occupiedworld, mobilizing w millions of like-spirited humans, breathing in the sigh of gratitude for our heroines & their children, I am reminded that we would not be here were it not for the parents, the teachers, the mentors and, most especially, the martyrs whose breath still inspires (as in “take in spirit”) that which many had already relinquished to the Powers That Be , Real Hope.

 

 

El tiempo está a favor de los pequeñosde los desnudos, de los olvidados.

El tiempo está a favor de buenos sueños

y se pronuncia a golpes apurados.

Interview: Occupy Wall Street, an Open Source (ing) of US Politics?

October 14, 2011

This interview with Sonali Kolhatkar of Uprising Radio is quite fresh. Seasoned and most wise activist-writer-thinker, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and I had the better part of an hour to anayze and explore the history, strategies and potential of the #OccupyWallstreet movement. I especially enjoyed delving into the fresh ground linking open source technology, anarchist thought and practice and the great traditions of left organizing and thought. As always, Sonali’s breezy-smart interview style succeeds in drawing out the marrow of the OWS matter. This is one of the better interviews I’ve been involved with on this issue. Check it out!

(you can also click listen to it directly right here )

Of América’s Anthem: Latinoamérica by Calle 13

September 30, 2011

 

For those of you that haven't heard it, this song by the ever-incisive 
Calle 13, speaks to the sensibilities-cultural, political, visionary- that 
inform this blog. Check out the lyrics (below) as you play the vid. One thing 
i would add: include those of us in the new country we're
giving birth to-the United States of América.

Latinoamérica

Soy,
Soy lo que dejaron,
soy toda la sobra de lo que se robaron.
Un pueblo escondido en la cima,
mi piel es de cuero por eso aguanta cualquier clima.
Soy una fábrica de humo,
mano de obra campesina para tu consumo
Frente de frio en el medio del verano,
el amor en los tiempos del cólera, mi hermano.
El sol que nace y el día que muere,
con los mejores atardeceres.
Soy el desarrollo en carne viva,
un discurso político sin saliva.
Las caras más bonitas que he conocido,
soy la fotografía de un desaparecido.
Soy la sangre dentro de tus venas,
soy un pedazo de tierra que vale la pena.
soy una canasta con frijoles ,
soy Maradona contra Inglaterra anotándote dos goles.
Soy lo que sostiene mi bandera,
la espina dorsal del planeta es mi cordillera.
Soy lo que me enseño mi padre,
el que no quiere a su patria no quiere a su madre.
Soy América latina,
un pueblo sin piernas pero que camina.

Tú no puedes comprar al viento.
Tú no puedes comprar al sol.
Tú no puedes comprar la lluvia.
Tú no puedes comprar el calor.
Tú no puedes comprar las nubes.
Tú no puedes comprar los colores.
Tú no puedes comprar mi alegría.
Tú no puedes comprar mis dolores.

Tengo los lagos, tengo los ríos.
Tengo mis dientes pa` cuando me sonrío.
La nieve que maquilla mis montañas.
Tengo el sol que me seca  y la lluvia que me baña.
Un desierto embriagado con bellos de un trago de pulque.
Para cantar con los coyotes, todo lo que necesito.
Tengo mis pulmones respirando azul clarito.
La altura que sofoca.
Soy las muelas de mi boca mascando coca.
El otoño con sus hojas desmalladas.
Los versos escritos bajo la noche estrellada.
Una viña repleta de uvas.
Un cañaveral bajo el sol en cuba.
Soy el mar Caribe que vigila las casitas,
Haciendo rituales de agua bendita.
El viento que peina mi cabello.
Soy todos los santos que cuelgan de mi cuello.
El jugo de mi lucha no es artificial,
Porque el abono de mi tierra es natural.

Tú no puedes comprar al viento.
Tú no puedes comprar al sol.
Tú no puedes comprar la lluvia.
Tú no puedes comprar el calor.
Tú no puedes comprar las nubes.
Tú no puedes comprar los colores.
Tú no puedes comprar mi alegría.
Tú no puedes comprar mis dolores.

Você não pode comprar o vento
Você não pode comprar o sol
Você não pode comprar chuva
Você não pode comprar o calor
Você não pode comprar as nuvens
Você não pode comprar as cores
Você não pode comprar minha felicidade
Você não pode comprar minha tristeza

Tú no puedes comprar al sol.
Tú no puedes comprar la lluvia.
(Vamos dibujando el camino,
vamos caminando)
No puedes comprar mi vida.
MI TIERRA NO SE VENDE.

Trabajo en bruto pero con orgullo,
Aquí se comparte, lo mío es tuyo.
Este pueblo no se ahoga con marullos,
Y si se derrumba yo lo reconstruyo.
Tampoco pestañeo cuando te miro,
Para q te acuerdes de mi apellido.
La operación cóndor invadiendo mi nido,
¡Perdono pero nunca olvido!

(Vamos caminando)
Aquí se respira lucha.
(Vamos caminando)
Yo canto porque se escucha.

Aquí estamos de pie
¡Que viva Latinoamérica!

No puedes comprar mi vida.

Silencing the Breakers of Silence: UN Durban II Conference Threatened by Conflicts

April 21, 2009

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND Before asking him about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s controversial speech here at the followup to the U.N.-sponsored World Conference Against Racism (Durban II), I first gave Nobel prize-winner, Elie Wiesel, my thanks. I thanked him not because of his condemnation of an opening speech in which the Iranian president called the holocaust a “dubious question”; I thanked holocaust survivor Wiesel because he provided us with one of the main slogans for combating past and recent racism in the United States: “No Human Being is Illegal.” After he shook my hand and after I offered, in the most Spanish-inflected French possible, my gratitude on behalf of the Central Americans who first launched the “No Human Being is Illegal” campaign back when the United States denied them political asylum and refugee status in the 1980’s, Wiesel smiled and reminisced,”Yes, I gave that term to the Sanctuary movement. It was wrong to deny them (Salvadorans and Guatemalans) (legal) status. I was happy to support the cause.”

As one who dedicated a significant part of his adult life to the cause of Central Americans, meeting Wiesel served as a deeply personal reminder of the profoundly serious issues being discussed here. But as one dedicated to the global movement for migrants rights, which has, in many countries, also adopted his elegantly simple coinage, I’m also gravely concerned about how the focus on Ahmadinejad and the boycott of the Geneva conference supported by Wiesel, the United States and the powerful minority of countries backing the Israeli government is distracting the world from one of its most urgent facts: the exponential rise in xenophobia, hatred and racism around the world, especially following the exponential decline in economic stability triggered by the global greed and corruption centered in the United States.

Were Iran, Israel and other players involved in this display of geopolitical drama not so viscerally divided, someone attending the conference might reach the conclusion that their high-profile conflicts are a subterfuge designed to mask over and disguise the most damaging and deadly racial and ethnic consequences brought on by the depredations and failures of western governments – and the “blue eyed bankers” in the U.S. and other countries recently denounced by Brazilian President Lula and others.

Speaking with some from among the thousands of passionately committed and very smart participants from around the globe attending Durban II, I couldn’t help but hear the grave disappointment and even anger at the damaging, even catastrophic effect that both the the boycott and President Ahmadinejad’s speech are having on issues discussed throughout the conference.  For example, lost in the global media’s almost exclusive focus on Ahmadinejad’s speech and on the walkout by a small minority of mostly white Western diplomats, are concerns of the overwhelmingly non-white majority attending the conference, attendees like Yousif Aboh.

“These conflicts (around the speech and the boycott) only help governments like Sudan’s to continue racist practices that push people out, that starve people and that attack and kill people,” said a very somber Aboh, who works with Darfur Peace and Development, a non-governmental organization which is the only Darfuri-led organization still operating in Darfur. “I’m here to get support for the people still living a great crisis in Darfur- people without food and water because of discrimination-and these kinds of controversies make my work difficult to impossible because many in the media don’t want to talk about anything else except Israel and Iran.”

Aboh and others attending Durban II also expressed deep disappointment at the Obama Administration’s decision not to attend the conference.  Non-attendance was roundly condemned as a very dangerous act that communicates the wrong message to racists, xenophobes and genocidal governments around the world. “Their (the Obama Administration) not attending tells governments like Sudan’s that their dangerous racist policies are not a priority,” said Aboh, who also condemned the government of Iran for its support of the Sudanese government.

For his part, Khalil Shahabi, an economist at the Tehran-based Insitute for Sceintific and Political Research, agreed with Aboh about the Obama Administration but also defended the Iranian government against Aboh, Wiesel and other critics, “Our President is the only head of state to come. It’s important that he tell the world about how Israeli racism kills innocent people in Gaza, including fifteen percent who were children.” When I asked him about the Iranian President’s statements about the situation in Palestine, Wiesel told me he thought Ahmadinejad had done “dishonor to his people, who have such a rich history. What arrogance he has to come here to a UN conference on racism only to express such hatred.”

Largely lost in the largely simplistic media coverage of both the conference and the speech by President Ahmadinejad were the more nuanced discussions taking place inside and outside the stately halls of the U.N. For example, Norway’s Foreign Minister, Jonas Gahr Støre, delivered a speech indirectly criticizing Iran, Israel and the United States. “We who have made a point of defending freedom of expression cannot opt for non-attendance as a strategy, leaving the floor to precisely those who hold opposite views” said  Støre  “We will not surrender the floor of the United Nations to the extremists.The President of Iran has just exercised that human right. He did so – I believe – in a way that threatens the very focus of this conference.”

Such an inauspicious start to an event of such global import inspires fears; fears that the specific conflicts involving only a few of the world’s many actors may detract from communicating the powerful spirit motivating most of those attending the Durban II conference. This spirit was best captured by Wiesel, when he said many years ago, “I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

Izalco, El Salvador and the Way Beyond the Silence

March 12, 2009

izalco1

Mystical Izalco portends the end of Salvadoran silence.

To understand the current presidential elections in El Salvador, you have to understand the cities, towns and the campo, El Salvador’s countryside, located outside the capital of San Salvador. What follows is my attempt to provide further context for the media’s description of the horse race between the FMLN and the ARENA parties. A good starting point is the fact that both parties trace all or some of their political roots to Izalco, a relatively small town in the western, coffee-growing part of the country. Izalco is also home to one of the largest concentrations of El Salvador’s small (less than 1% of the population) indigenous population.

For strange, tragic, even mysterious reasons, Izalco, which in the racist popular national lore (ie; one way to call someone ugly is to say they look “indio”) is home to witches, is also home to what, in my opinion, is the ever-present, but unspoken political and cultural spirit of the country. And this region also concentrates large numbers of volcanos, some of which are also quite alive (see above) , as are the narrow and crowded streets of Izalco (below).

izalco-streets

If we want want to take the political pulse of a country as poor (50% of the population lives in poverty) as El Salvador, speaking with people who are not just poor, but a small, indigenous poor minority living in such an enchanting and dark land will give us a unique read. Not all people here in Izalco identify as native people, but all recognize and live indigenous reality like few other places in this country of 7 million.

kids

You can see the indigenous presence in the sublime faces of the kids here.

You can also find it in and on the nahuatl textbooks and notebooks:

nahuat-arm

And you can find the indigenous presence in the deep, dark soil of Izalco’s history. Almost all of the children from Izalco’s Mario Calvo school pictured above are descendants-great, great and great, great, great, grandchildren- of the 20,000-30,000 indigenous people who rebelled against deadly poverty and abuse and were then slaughtered in 1932 by General Maximiliano Hernandez Martinez, the dictator who perpetrated what is known as “La Matanza” (the Great Killing). Martinez and his troops did all this in less than a month, according to scholars like my friend Aldo Lauria-Santiago, whose book is pictured below with a cover of the Izalco volcano.

http://mriveraq.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/1932-libro-nueva-portada1.jpg

Recent research like Aldo’s and that of other scholars reveals that the idea that the rural insurrection in the west was led by urban communists of the period like Farabundo Marti is wrong. In fact, these scholars tell us, it was led by the ancestors (below) of the children pictured above. Below is the picture of the real leader of the insurrection, Jose Feliciano Ama.

https://i0.wp.com/3.bp.blogspot.com/_I4smoUo73EI/SSrUw5lftII/AAAAAAAAClI/8dExOP7XwLU/s400/felicianoama.jpg

The spiritual reality behind images such as these inspired revolutionary Salvadoran poet Roque Dalton to say in his oft-quoted poem,

Todos nacimos mitad muertos en 1932

Sobrevivimos pero medio vivos

(we were all born half dead in 1932

we survived but half alive)

Despite recent research, many still blur the differences between the communists and the indigenous rebels of the period. Even many members of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) make the mistake as do members of the governing ARENA party, which was founded in Izalco by Roberto D’abuisson. D’abuisson also founded El Salvador’s notorious death squads, one of which was named for the old dictator, Hernandez Martinez.

arena1

I actually have no idea who the group of Izalco Areneros pictured above are. I visited the office and spoke with the directores of Arena’s campaign in Izalco, who told me why their message of “democracy,” their message of “freedom” from the threat of El Salvador becoming a “Hugo Chavez satellite” moves Izalco’s voters.; The directores also lauded D’abuisson, whom they met, and Hernandez Martinez, whom they admire. The events of 1932, they said, saved the country from comunismo and laid the foundation for the later formation of the ARENA party. For these and other reasons, they said , ARENA always begins its presidential campaigns in Izalco, as they did when this year’s presidential candidate, private security mogul and former head of the national police, Rodrigo Avila, came here to kickoff his campaign.

The directores also showed me a copy of the ARENA anthem which hails El Salvador as the “tomb where the reds will be terminated.” I thought it odd that, rather than let me take their picture, the directores told the people pictured above to stand outside the ARENA office, where I took the picture. Less than half a small block to the right of the ARENA office is the large (1.5 blocks) field where most of the indigenous people killed in 1932 are buried in an anonymous mass grave (see picture of plaque and smoky Izalco volcano in background below) excavated by forensic scientists from Argentina in 2007.

32

The fact that this is the only commemoration of La Matanza in El Salvador, a country where surveys tell us that 75% of the population knows nothing about the events of 1932, provides an object lesson in the dangers of institutional and political amnesia; It also tells us why ARENA has won every mayoral election in Izalco since it was founded here in 1981; Every mayoral election until this year, that is:

f5-izalco-mayor

Pictured above in the blue shirt is Roberto Alvarado, a member of the FMLN and Mayor-elect of Izalco whose stunning victory last January reflects the depths of the changes here and in the entire country. “They sang that stupid song about “the tomb of the reds,” Alvarado,a former teacher who was pursued by death squads, told me adding, “Now we are going turn Izalco, the cradle of ARENA, into the the political grave of the ARENA party.” Alvarado’s coalition-students, indigenous communities, Catholics and evangelicos– provided the FMLN with a major spiritual and political victory -and a model to be emulated across the country.

Streets reddened and silenced for several decades by the blood of the indigenous martyrs are now red with the hope voters are placing in the FMLN and its candidate , the multi-mediagenic former journalist, Mauricio Funes:

fs-streets1

f5-cola-ii

f5-shoes

The unprecedented openness expressed in the shoes, shops and streets of Izalco has many, many reasons and thousands of people to thank for it. Together, these forces ended the silence that cast a permanent cloud over Izalco -and El Salvador-after the events of 1932. One of today’s most vocal and effective breakers of the silence is Juliana Ama, director of the Calvo school that teaches nahuatl. She is also the great, great granddaughter of rebel leader, Jose Feliciano Ama (above). Since 2001, Juliana has organized commemoration ceremonies every January at the site of the mass grave near the ARENA office in Izalco, ceremonies that draw conflict and controversy.

Despite the tensions, despite the threats she has received, Ama soldiers on in what she defines first and foremost as a”spiritual act” because, she says, “we have no choice; we can’t remain and suffer in silence.” Juliana also believes that there is a direct link between the commemoration ceremonies and the defeat of the ARENA party. “Those ceremonies made it normal and acceptable to be open about the loss of long ago, the loss that still lives with us,” she said. “Nothing like this was ever possible before and I think that the ceremony made it possible for people to start being more open about political feelings too.

juliana

Finally, as the son of the 10 year-old boy who witnessed and survived la Matanza and then went on to become my father, I want to thank Juliana and the people of Izalco for their example, their courage and their great wisdom.

R

Grijalva Appointment to Interior Department Would Bring Ecological-and Political- Balance to Obama Cabinet

December 6, 2008

AlterNet

Anyone who has visited a national park or traversed the country’s diverse wilderness comes home with gorgeous, yet distressing images of it; those returning from a visit to one of the more than 562 tribes the federal government recognizes and is supposed to assist also bring back sad stories about it; and those of us who enjoy camping or fishing or hunting inevitably return home talking about it. “It” is the scenery and life found on the millions of acres of federal land left blemished and vulnerable by Bush Administration’s Department of the Interior (DOI).

As urbanization, economic restructuring and the insatiable lust for land and natural resources continue to threaten the still-astonishingly beautiful and rich land of this country, we should all care about whom President-elect Obama chooses to lead the DOI. The urgency of these issues came home twice this week as the Bush Administration delivered two parting gifts to big mining interests by rescinding two important regulations — one requiring the DOI to prevent mining companies from dumping waste near public streams and another protecting federal land near the Grand Canyon from mining and oil and gas development.

In order to deal with such challenges to the land and people under the purview of the Department, which is charged with managing most federally-owned land as well as with managing relationships with Native American peoples, the Obama Administration must appoint someone with the experience, expertise and political sophistication to lead nothing less than a New Deal for the land and people our government deals with.

Of all the candidates being vetted by the Obama transition team for this complex and challenging responsibility, none can match the unique qualifications of Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ). Grijalva, who was the leading voice denouncing this week’s most recent giveaway to mining companies by the Bush Administration, will bring urgently needed balance and poise to a federal land management bureaucracy that has pushed we the people into dangerous disequilibrium with the land we live on- and love. Appointing Grijalva, who was elected Co-Chair the Congressional Progressive Caucus, will also bring more and much-needed political balance to the Obama cabinet than some of the Republican-lite Democrats also being considered for the DOI post like California Blue Dog Democrat, Mike Thompson.

Like almost all of the previous Secretaries of the Interior, Grijalva hails from the West, more specifically Arizona, where his 7th Congressional district seat has provided him with the kind of experience and leadership we will need in a DOI Secretary.

Grijalva’s willingness to reverse the values and practices instituted by the Bush Administration’s Department of the Interior are well-illustrated by his leadership of the National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee of the 110th Congress. Most recently, he spearheaded efforts to stop the planned re-mining of the Black Mesa, located in northern Arizona. In a recent letter to current DOI Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, Grijalva called on the Bush Administration to restore some semblance of the natural balance between the diverse interests DOI must manage: “Mining at Black Mesa has caused springs on Hopi lands to dry up and jeopardized the sole source of drinking water for many Hopis and Navajos.”

This same will to balance informs the National Landscape Conservation System, and the Environment Congressional Task Force Co-Chair Grijalva’s efforts to craft urgently needed legislation to reform the very outdated General Mining Law of 1872. Environmentalists, scientists and other advocates believe this law must be changed if the wilderness of the west and of our national parks, forests and public lands systems are to return to sustainability. Such actions have secured very strong support for Grijalva’s DOI bid from environmental, scientific and other groups, including the National Conservation Association, the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees and the U.S. Humane Society, to name a few. A letter to President-elect Obama in support of Grijalva was signed by more than 50 prominent scholars specializing in biology, conservation and other disciplines. In the letter, the scholars called him a “broad thinker” and praised the Congressman’s “Report on the Bush Administration Assault on Our National Parks, Forests and Public Lands” as the work of “someone who understands and values science.”

No less effusive are the statements of support Grijalva is receiving from Native American leaders like Ned Norris, who as tribal Chairman of the Tohono O’odham Nation-one of 7 tribes in Grijalva’s district- says he has “enjoyed an extensive and extremely positive relationship with the Congressman for many years.” Asked what appeals most to tribes like his about a possibility of a Grijalva-led DOI, Norris answered “He has a deep understanding of and respect for relationship between tribes and U.S. government.” Norris also pointed to the Congressman’s sophistication and success in settling a 30 year-old water and resource dispute between the Tahono O’odham tribe and the federal government.

In his efforts to foster change and hope with regard to both the stewardship of federal land and the management of relations with Indian nations, President-elect Obama will bring urgency and much-needed balance to these important government functions by appointing Congressman Raul Grijalva Secretary of the Interior.


This piece was first published on Alternet.org

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.

Alaska Sounds like Aztlan — Palin Leading the Secessionist Reconquista?

September 5, 2008

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New America Media, Commentary, Roberto Lovato, Posted: Sep 04, 2008

NEW YORK — Sarah Palin’s repetition (5 times) of the word “Alaska,” her home state, during her acceptance speech last night may actually have sounded to some Latinos like “Aztlan,” the mythical homeland of the Aztecs. If Lou Dobbs and other political prognosticators are right, Latinos’ interpretation of the Republican vice presidential nominee’s references to her home state were not simply the product of bad English-to-Spanish translation (Spanish language media’s payback for years of garbled, sometimes horrific, Spanish-to-English translations in mainstream media, perhaps?), but something else, something much more nefarious: the mainstreaming of secessionist sentiments.

Palin’s personal connections to the Alaska Independence Party (AIP), which has, since 1978 sought the Last Frontier states’ separation from these United States, have brought state secessionist sentiments onto the national political stage like no candidate since Alexander Stephens and his Confederate President Jefferson Davis’ did in the lead up to the civil war. Palin and her husband, Todd, the “First Dude,” may well have their greatest appeal among Latinos in the south-western United States if we are to believe Lou Dobbs, Michelle Malkin, Pat Buchannan and many other conservative commentators and politicians who rail daily against what they believe is the upcoming conflict sparked by Latinos’ lust to reclaim their former land.

Just a week before Palin’s speech, for example, a videotape was released in which New York Congressional candidate Jack Davis decried how “in the latter part of this century or the next, Mexicans will be a majority in many of the states, and could therefore take control of the state government using the democratic process.” And, he added: “They could then secede from the United States, and then we might have another civil war.”

For almost a decade now, the careful research, in-depth investigations and the almost daily denunciations of the commentators have detailed a Southwestern Latino, especially “illegal” Mexican, plot to secede from the United States in what has become popularly known as the “reconquista,” or reconquest.

According to Malkin, “Aztlan is a long-held notion among Mexico’s intellectual elite and political class, which asserts that the American southwest rightly belongs to Mexico. Advocates believe the reclamation (or reconquista) of Aztlan will occur through sheer demographic force.” Like most of the commentators and pundits, Malkin has the uncanny ability to divine the workings of the Latino immigrant mind, without speaking Spanish. And after years of careful study of the Latino Fifth Column, Malkin and other Latino experts will surely be alarmed by how Palin’s speech shortened the distance from cold Alaska to sunny Aztlan.

Meanwhile, the major and minor Latino organizations and Latino leaders allegedly spearheading this invisible demographic empire, (all of whom are more careful and surreptitious than Palin and the First Dude about any statements or ties to secessionist groups), may be inspired to go public by the Palin’s links (ie; Todd was a card carrying AIP member in 1995 and 2002) to an organization with 13,681 registered members whose political platform calls for securing the “complete repatriation of the public lands, held by the federal government, to the state and people of Alaska.”

Sarah Palin’s mantra-like repetitions of the Aztlan-sounding “Alaska” may finally provide the conservative commentators their most definitive lead in their relentless hunt for the secessionist menace. The big difference is that the more dangerous secessionist movement will not be led by white people belonging openly to an actual political party whose candidates (including a former governor) and initiatives are included on state voting ballots, a secessionist party ignored by the media and lauded loudly by politicians like Palin for their “inspiring convention,” and encouraged by her to “keep up the good work.”

Instead, the imminent and potentially catastrophic urge to unmerge will be realized by poor, brown-skinned secessionistas, especially those “illegal” Latinos that syndicated multimedia stars like Glenn Back regularly tell us are silently, secretly waiting to come out of their closet of illegality by taking back the Southwest. “You’ve got people coming here that have no intention of being Americans. They say, you know, ‘Hey, this is our land. We deserve it back.'”

Though they have spared us the pain of focusing on the lesser, whiter of the secessionist threats, Dobbs, Malkin, Beck and their peers must be credited for their pre-emptive strikes against a threat that has yet to come out of its separatist cave — but which may finally do so in no small part thanks to the secessionist leanings of a candidate who promises to “put America first” when she starts working the White House.

Palin’s rapid and apparently non-vetted rise to political prominence may, however, also reveal contradictions in some of these same pundits who’ve denounced those carrying the “reconquista” gene.

Though he has for many years made regular statements and written many books and articles about how Latinos are bringing about “the complete Balkanization of America,” MSNBC commentator Pat Buchannan himself has ties to the secessionista-friendly GOP vice presidential candidate and her hombre. Just last week Buchanan confessed to MSNBC’s Chris Matthews that Palin “was a brigadeer in 1996 as was her husband … They were at a fundraiser for me. She’s a terrific gal, she’s a rebel reformer.”

Unfortunately for Buchannan and his conservative commentator peers, Palin may turn out to be more rebel than reformer as rural and big city Latinos in the Southwest start hearing calls to create the Aztlan Confederacy in her stump speeches about small town Alaska.

Whatever the outcome, we are fortunate to have political observers and politicians that are so committed to the cause of racial and political unity.

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

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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

Obama and McCain on Immigration: Life vs. Death

June 13, 2008

https://i1.wp.com/weblogs.newsday.com/news/local/longisland/politics/blog/obama_mccain.jpeg

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.

Obama on Latin America: “Small Change”, If Any

May 29, 2008

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(this article first appeared in the Black Agenda Report)

by Roberto Lovato

Many of us had great “hope” for the much-vaunted “change” in U.S. policy towards Latin America. But listening to Barack Obama’s “substantive” speech on U.S. Latin America policy last week and reading his “New Partnership with the Americas” policy proposal, it’s pretty clear that Obama will do nothing to alter the basic structure of George W. Bush’s Latin America policy: trade backed by militarism.

Given the painful failure and generalized destruction wrought by the last century of U.S. policy in the hemisphere, the basic outline of “substantive” policy towards America Latina should look something like this

  • Immediate de-escalation of tensions between Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and US ally/surrogate Colombia. One would hope that, in the face of the atrocities in Colombia, Ubama would add a condemnation as loud as those Democrats wield at Cuba, whose violation of sovereignty (condemned by OAS) and human rights record-death squad killings, disappearances, torture of thousands-pales before that of Colombia;

  • Holding up Colombia’s multi-billion dollar military aid package would also indicate some substance;

  • Dismantling NAFTA, CAFTA and other trade and economic policies (ie some IMF and World Bank programs) that destroy livelihoods and communities (nay regions), bust government budgets and further enrich the elites in these countries;

  • Ending the embargo on Cuba. Will Obama stop beating the tattered political pinata of Cuba or simply spin it a little differently, hit it more gently?

  • Ending the low intensity destabilization programs in Venezuela and Bolivia;

  • Re-negotiating Bush’s crop-killing ethanol program;

  • Aborting Plan Mexico, which is already Colombianzing (ie; drug wars, anti-insurgent war, repression against opposition under cover of national security, etc.) a country that, for more than 80 years, has lived without the imposition of military rule. U.S. Presidents from Roosevelt, Kennedy, Reagan and Carter have paid for the arming of death squads who kidnap and torture jurists, journalists, union members and ordinary citizens as our “Latin American policy”;

  • Placing migration policy within the hemispheric context in which it originates;

  • Closing the School of the Americas and the ILEA training facility in El Salvador, both of which are factories for barbarism under the guise of national security.

With some important exceptions – engaging Venezuela, reconfiguring the World Bank and IMF, environmental agreements- his current approach to Latin America veers only slightly to the left of Bushismo. There is little in his speeches and proposals that is “liberal”, “progressive” or very enlightened in terms of easing the crush of poverty and repression in the region. In fact, Obama’s proposals for continuing and expanding the drug war in the hemisphere will only complete the efforts of the Bush Administration to re-militarize the region under cover of fighting drug wars.

In the search for post-Cold War enemies, the Bush Administration found its new excuse to militarize the region in the drug cartels, who, must be dealt with, but not in the Bush way.

Obama should know better.

The full text of Obama’s Miami speech can be found here.

Barack Obama’s “New Partnership For Latin America” also outlines his Latin America policies, and is located here.

Below are quotes from and brief analyses of these documents.

SUBJECT
WHAT OBAMA’S SPEECH & DOCUMENTS SAY WHAT THEY MEAN
On the brutal 46 year embargo of Cuba I will maintain the embargo. It provides us with the leverage to present the regime with a clear choice…” Traveling to, or doing business in or with Cuba will remain illegal under US law. Academics and artists from Cuba will be denied visas, no cultural exchange permitted.
On US responsibility for deposing President Aristide and imposing the current regime poverty and terror upon Haiti Nothing The policy will not change
On US funding of the brutal war and death squad regime of Colombia When I am President, we will continue the Andean Counter-Drug Program, and update it to meet evolving challenges. We will fully support Colombia’s fight against the FARC. We’ll work with the government to end the reign of terror from right wing paramilitaries. We will support Colombia’s right to strike terrorists who seek safe-haven across its borders. And we will shine a light on any support for the FARC that comes from neighboring governments. ” The policy will not change. The Colombian government has a blank check and a green light to murder and engage in cross-border provocations at will.
On the US continuing low-intensity war against Venezuela In Venezuela, Hugo Chavez is a democratically elected leader. But we also know that he does not govern democratically. He talks of the people, but his actions just serve his own power. Yet the Bush Administration’s blustery condemnations and clumsy attempts to undermine Chavez have only strengthened his hand.” Destabilization attempts under an Obama administration may be less blustery and clumsy.

Juan Crow

May 8, 2008
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The Nation.

Juan Crow in Georgia

by Roberto Lovato

This article appeared in the May 26, 2008 edition of The Nation.

May 8, 2008

Justeen Mancha’s dream of becoming a psychologist was born of the tropical heat and exploitation that have shaped farmworker life around Reidsville, Georgia, for centuries. The wiry, freckle-faced 17-year-old high school junior has toiled in drought-dry onion fields to help her mother, Maria Christina Martinez. But early one September morning in 2006, Mancha’s dream was abruptly deferred.

From the living room of the battered trailer she and her mother call home, Mancha described what happened when she came out of the shower that morning. “My mother went out, and I was alone,” she said. “I was getting ready for school, getting dressed, when I heard this noise. I thought it was my mother coming back.” She went on in the Tex-Mex Spanish-inflected Georgia accent now heard throughout Dixie: “Some people were slamming car doors outside the trailer. I heard footsteps and then a loud boom and then somebody screaming, asking if we were ‘illegals,’ ‘Mexicans.’ These big men were standing in my living room holding guns. One man blocked my doorway. Another guy grabbed a gun on his side. I freaked out. ‘Oh, my God!’ I yelled.”As more than twenty Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents surrounded the trailer, said Mancha, agents inside interrogated her. They asked her where her mother was; they wanted to know if her mother was “Mexican” and whether she had “papers” or a green card. They told her they were looking for “illegals.”

After about five minutes of interrogation, the agents–who, according to the women’s lawyer, Mary Bauer of the Southern Poverty Law Center, showed no warrants and had neither probable cause nor consent to enter the home–simply left. They left in all likelihood because Mancha and her mother didn’t fit the profile of the workers at the nearby Crider poultry plant, who had been targeted by the raid in nearby Stilwell. They were the wrong kind of “Mexicans”; they were US citizens.

Though she had experienced discrimination before the raid–in the fields, in the supermarket and in school–Mancha, who testified before Congress in February, never imagined such an incident would befall her, since she and her mother had migrated from Texas to Reidsville. Best known for harvesting poultry and agricultural products, Reidsville, a farm town about 200 miles southeast of Atlanta, is also known for harvesting Klan culture behind the walls of the state’s oldest and largest prison. But its most famous former inmate is Jim Crow slayer and dreamer Martin Luther King Jr. His example inspires Mancha’s new dream: lawyering “for the poor.”

The toll this increasingly oppressive climate has taken on Mancha represents but a small part of its effects on noncitizen immigrants, especially undocumented immigrants, and other Latinos. Mancha and the younger children of the mostly immigrant Latinos in Georgia are learning and internalizing that they are different from white–and black–children not just because they have the wrong skin color but also because many of their parents lack the right papers. They are growing up in a racial and political climate in which Latinos’ subordinate status in Georgia and in the Deep South bears more than a passing resemblance to that of African-Americans who were living under Jim Crow. Call it Juan Crow: the matrix of laws, social customs, economic institutions and symbolic systems enabling the physical and psychic isolation needed to control and exploit undocumented immigrants. Listening to the effects of Juan Crow on immigrants and citizens like Mancha (“I can’t sleep sometimes because of nightmares,” she says. “My arms still twitch. I see ICE agents and men in uniform, and it still scares me”) reminds me of the trauma I heard among the men, women and children controlled and exploited by state violence in wartime El Salvador. Juan Crow has roots in the US South, but it stirs traumas bred in the hemispheric South.

In fact, the surge in Latino migration (the Southeast is home to the fastest-growing Latino population in the United States) is moving many of the institutions and actors responsible for enforcing Jim Crow to resurrect and reconfigure themselves in line with new demographics. Along with the almost daily arrests, raids and home invasions by federal, state and other authorities, newly resurgent civilian groups like the Ku Klux Klan, in addition to more than 144 new “nativist extremist” groups and 300 anti-immigrant organizations born in the past three years, mostly based in the South, are harassing immigrants as a way to grow their ranks.

Meanwhile, a legal regime of distinctions between the rights of undocumented immigrants and citizens has emerged and is being continually refined and expanded. A 2006 Georgia law denies undocumented immigrants driver’s licenses. Federal laws that allowed local and state authorities to pursue blacks under the Fugitive Slave Act appear to be the model for the Bush Administration’s Agreements of Cooperation in Communities to Enhance Safety and Security (ACCESS) program, which allows states to deputize law enforcement officials to chase, detain, arrest and jail the undocumented. Georgia’s lowest-paid workers, the undocumented, now occupy a separate, unequal and clandestine place that has made it increasingly difficult for them to work, rent homes or attend school.

The pre- and post-Reconstruction regional economic system centered on the stately Southern mansions that once graced Atlanta’s storied Peachtree Street has given way to a more global finance-driven system centered on the cold, anonymous skyscrapers that loom over Peachtree today. And in a more hopeful sign, some veterans of the civil rights struggle against Jim Crow are joining Latino immigrants in what will likely be one of the major movements of the twenty-first century.

These and other facets of immigrant life in Georgia, the Deep South and the entire country are but a small part of the labyrinthine institutional and cultural arrangements defining the strange career of Juan Crow.

The immigrant condition in Georgia worsened in the wake of the failed immigration reform proposal last year. The national immigration debate had the effect of further legitimizing and emboldening the most extreme elements of the anti-immigrant movement in places like Georgia. Since the advent of what he terms “Georgiafornia,” for example, D.A. King, a former marine and contributor to the anti-immigrant hate site VDARE, has leapfrogged into the national limelight to become one of the major advocates for deportation and security-only “immigration reform.” Strengthened by the defeat of national reform, King, State Senator Chip Rogers and a growing galaxy of formerly fringe groups succeeded in getting some of the country’s most draconian anti-immigrant laws passed. These new racial codes are disguised by the national security-infused bureaucratic language of laws with names like the Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act (GSICA).

Their efforts were egged on by the Bush Administration’s implementation of the ACCESS program last August. ACCESS provided new excuses for state and local officials to pursue the undocumented in states like Georgia. In tandem with the federal government, King and Rogers led the push to pass GSICA, which requires law enforcement officers to investigate the citizenship status of anyone charged with a felony or driving under the influence. GSICA and federal efforts laid the foundation on which the other legal and social structures of Juan Crow grow.

Georgia’s estimated 500,000 undocumented immigrants must think twice before seeking emergency support at hospitals or clinics because of laws that require them to prove their legal status before receiving many state benefits. “No-match letter” regulations requiring all employers to confirm the Social Security numbers of their employees have been issued by the Social Security Administration and have resulted in firings and growing fear among immigrants. But even without the no-match letters, undocumented immigrants in Georgia have many reasons to fear going to work. If they work at a company with more than 500 employees, for example (and most undocumented immigrants are employed in meatpacking, agricultural, carpet and other industries with hundreds, sometimes thousands, of workers), they must worry about laws that punish employers who knowingly hire undocumented immigrants and mandate that firms with state contracts check the immigration status of their employees. Similar laws denying or restricting housing, education, transportation and other aspects of immigrant life are also being instituted across Georgia.

For a firsthand look at how the interplay of state and federal policies fuels Juan Crow, one need go no further than the immigrant-heavy area surrounding Buford Highway in DeKalb County, near Atlanta. During the weekend of October 18, 2007, the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR) and other advocacy groups from across the state reported sharp increases in arrests of immigrants in the area. “This weekend alone we received more than 200 phone calls from people telling horrible stories of arrests,” said GLAHR executive director Adelina Nicholls of Mexico City. “There are hundreds of Latinos who’ve been hunted down like animals, taken to jail, and they don’t even know why or whether or not they’ll be released,” said Nicholls more recently.

Nicholls and other advocates are working feverishly in response to the exponential increase in official and extra-official profiling of immigrants. Last year there were forty-four reported armed robberies of DeKalb County-area Latino immigrants in August alone. One especially outrageous incident took place just west of Atlanta, in the rural town of Carrollton, last June. Emelina Ramirez, a Honduran immigrant, called local police to report that her roommates were attacking her, punching and kicking her in the stomach. Ramirez was pregnant. Locals say that when police got to Ramirez’s apartment, officers handcuffed her, took her to jail and then ran her fingerprints through a federal database. After discovering that she was undocumented, they contacted federal authorities as stipulated under ACCESS and GSICA. Ramirez was then deported.

Nicholls says she and GLAHR staff exist in a perpetual state of exhaustion after having to expand their DeKalb County work to deal with cases like Ramirez’s. Adding to their load is the situation in nearby Cobb County, where the local jail has 500 adults captured on streets, at work and in their homes. All of these people, says Nicholls, are awaiting deportation.

Beneath the growing fear and intensifying racial tensions of Georgia lies the new, more globalized economic system that sustains Juan Crow. At the core of the economy in Dixie are the financial dealings taking place in the shiny towers of Peachtree Street, buildings constructed atop the ashes of plantation houses.

Lining Peachtree today are SunTrust, Bank of America and other titans of global finance with major operations in downtown Atlanta. Along with the financial players of Charlotte, North Carolina, the companies occupying the towers on Peachtree are among the prime movers behind the transformation and restructuring of the Georgia economy–and of its race relations. On Peachtree you can find US banks and financial firms investing in companies doing business in post-NAFTA Latin America, where nonunion labor and miserably low wages drive immigration to Georgia and other states. The investment portfolios of many of these companies have grown fat with high-yield investments in the poultry, meatpacking, rug, tourism and other Georgia industries employing undocumented immigrants from Mexico and Latin America. The need to keep down the wages of these undocumented workers is fulfilled with the legal, political and psychological discipline of Juan Crow. Along with the most visible legacy of Jim Crow–Georgia’s massive and growing population of black prisoners, housed in Reidsville and other, mostly rural prisons–the Peachtree State’s undocumented immigrants find themselves at the bottom of the South’s new political and economic order.

By keeping down wages of the undocumented and documented workforce, Juan Crow doesn’t just pit undocumented Latino workers against black and white workers. It also makes possible every investor’s dream of merging Third World wages with First World amenities. Promotional brochures put out by the state’s Department of Economic Development, for example, tout Georgia’s “below average” wages and its status as a “right to work” (nonunion) state. Georgia’s infrastructure, its proximity to US markets and its incentives–nonunion labor, low wages, government subsidies, cheap land–allow the state to position itself as an attractive investment opportunity for foreign companies. While the fortunes of Ford, GM and other US companies have declined in the South, the fortunes of foreign automakers here are rising. Companies like Korean car manufacturer Kia, which plans to open a $1.2 billion plant by 2009, see in Georgia and other Southern states a new pool of cheap labor. Of the $5.7 billion of total new investment in Georgia in 2006, more than 36 percent was from international companies–companies that were also responsible for nearly half of the 24,660 jobs created by government-supported foreign ventures that year.

Also critical to the economic strategies formulated in the towers on Peachtree Street is another Latin-centered component: free trade with Latin America. “We are the gateway to the Americas,” boasted Kenneth Stewart, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. Stewart was among the more than 1,000 people, including three US Cabinet members and finance ministers, trade representatives, investors, corporate executives and politicians from thirty-three countries in the hemisphere, who attended the sold-out Americas Competitiveness Forum at the Marriott on Peachtree Street last June. As an organizer of the event, the gregarious Stewart, like many of the region’s economic leaders, considers hosting the forum a critical part of Atlanta’s bid to become the secretariat of the Free Trade Area of the Americas organization. Local elites support building a $10 million, privately financed FTAA headquarters complex, possibly in the area near Peachtree and the Sweet Auburn neighborhood.

Before being rapidly gentrified by the white-collar employees working in the Peachtree towers, Sweet Auburn, the birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr., was one of the cradles of the African-American freedom struggle. Echoing the connection frequently made here between increased globalization and commerce and improved race relations, Stewart told me that free trade “will benefit citizens of Georgia and the citizens of Mexico and other Latin American countries.” But when I asked him about the increased racial tensions, including the murders of some immigrants in Georgia, and about the growing repression of noncitizen Mexican workers, Stewart abruptly ended the interview.

For her part, Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin–among the most recent in a long line of African-American Atlanta mayors that includes former Martin Luther King colleague and Wal-Mart consultant Andrew Young (who has an office in a Peachtree high-rise)–also linked local freedom struggles with global free trade. Before the Americas Competitiveness Forum, she and other regional elites distributed splashy brochures promoting the city’s FTAA bid. Included in the brochure was a picture of the headstone of King’s grave, which bears the inscription Free at last. Free at last. Thank God Almighty I’m Free at last. The brochure promoting “the city too busy to hate” also paints a positive, global Kumbaya picture of the plight of Georgia’s migrants: “With its attractive quality of life and rapidly expanding job market, Metro Atlanta draws thousands of newcomers every year and has growing Latin, Asian and African American communities.”

“This is the home of Dr. King,” said Franklin in her welcome speech at the packed forum. “It is in the spirit of peace, it is in the spirit of collaboration and it is in the spirit of fairness that we attack this issue of [economic] competitiveness,” she told her audience in King-like cadences. But had Franklin taken her foreign visitors on the short stroll from their hotel to Sweet Auburn, they would not have found the racial harmony described in the glossy brochures and spirited speeches.

Documented and undocumented Latinos dealing with the economic and political effects of Juan Crow in Georgia (and across the country) find themselves unwitting actors in a centuries-old racial drama, which they must alter if Juan Crow is to be defeated. The major difference today is that Latinos also find themselves having to navigate a racial and political topography that is no longer black and white. Young Latinos, in particular, attend schools that teach them about Jim Crow while giving them a daily dose of Juan Crow.

High school senior Ernesto Chávez (a pseudonym) does not look forward to becoming one of the few undocumented students in Georgia to go to a university like Kennesaw State, which requires them to carry student IDs with special color coding, or to a college that denies them aid and forces them to pay exorbitant, nearly impossible-to-pay out-of-state tuition. He has already learned enough about Jim Crow–and Juan Crow–in high school.

Chávez, who sports a buzz cut and wears baggy clothes, said that when he studied Jim Crow in school, he identified strongly with the heroic generation of African-American youth who rebelled against it. “They couldn’t ride in the same trains, they couldn’t drink from the same fountains,” he said during an interview in a classroom at Miller Grove High School in the Atlanta suburb of Lithonia. “I felt mad when I read about that, even though they weren’t my people,” said the soft-spoken Mexican, who is part of the small but growing minority of Latinos at Miller Grove (African-American students make up about 93 percent of the student body).

Chávez said he came to know the limits of his physical, social and psychic mobility, thanks to the Georgia law that requires people to show proof of citizenship or legal status in order to obtain a driver’s license. “It’s hard to describe what it feels like to be ‘illegal’ here in Georgia. It’s like you can’t move,” he said, his voice cracking slightly. “It feels scary because you know that when you go out to a public place, you might never know if you’re going to come back. I’m really scared because my mother drives without a license. She’s scared too.”

Chávez and other Latino students also expressed their shock and dismay at being discriminated against by some of the descendants of those discriminated against by Jim Crow.

“When I first got here, I was confused. I went to a mostly white school in Gwinnett County and started noticing the fifth-grade kids saying things to me, racial stuff, asking me questions like, ‘Are you illegal?'” said Chávez as he fidgeted nervously in one of those ubiquitous and visibly uncomfortable school desks. “But when I was in seventh grade, I went to Richards Middle School, where it wasn’t the white people saying things, it was black people. They didn’t like Mexican kids. They would call us ‘Mexican border hoppers,’ ‘wetbacks’ and all these things. Every time they’d see me, they yelled at me, threatened to beat me up after school for no reason at all.” Asked how it felt, he said, “It’s like, now since they have rights, they can discriminate [against] others.”

Chávez’s family, along with many immigrant families in Georgia, will be watching closely to see how the state’s justice system deals with the still-pending 2005 case of six Mexican farmworkers killed execution-style in their trailers, which were parked near the cotton and peanut farms they toiled on in Tifton. Pretrial motions began last July in the case, in which prosecutors allege that four African-American men bludgeoned five of the immigrants to death with aluminum baseball bats and shot one in the head while robbing them in their trailer home. Though the face of anti-immigrant racism in the Juan Crow South is still overwhelmingly identified as white by the immigrants I interviewed, some immigrants also see a black face on anti-immigrant hate.

Politically, a growing divide has emerged between pro- and anti-immigrant blacks in Georgia. The African-American face of Juan Crow is embodied by State Senator and probable Democratic Atlanta mayoral candidate Kasim Reed (he’s also considering a gubernatorial bid). Reed proposed a five-year prison sentence for anyone caught trying to secure employment with a false ID. Local Latino and African-American activists have criticized Reed for what Bruce Dixon of the online Black Agenda Report called his “morally bankrupt attempt to outflank Republicans on the right.”

Activists like Janvieve Williams of the US Human Rights Network, based in Atlanta, counter the anti-immigrant tide by elevating the tone of the debate and shifting the terms to human rights. As an Afro-Panamanian immigrant, Williams says she feels discrimination from many whites in Georgia, but she also experiences discrimination from mestizo immigrants. Her perception of anti-immigrant sentiments among African-Americans adds another layer to the complex racial dynamics unleashed by Juan Crow. “I’m caught between African-Americans who don’t want to understand immigration and immigrants and Latinos who use words like ‘moreno,’ ‘negritos,’ ‘los negros’ and other terms that are not good,” says Williams.

But rather than see her Afro-Latino identity and her Latin American political experience as a barrier between communities, Williams–who co-hosts Radio Diaspora, a weekly Afro-Latino program that helped promote the 50,000-plus immigrants’ rights marches in 2006–uses Latin American media and organizing experience to cross linguistic and political borders. “We need to move from civil rights to human rights. We need to start using the language and tools of human rights around the issue of immigration. It’s an international issue that needs an international framework,” says Williams, whose organization co-sponsored the visit to Atlanta last May by the United Nations special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants. Williams’s organization brought together many groups who shared stories of Juan Crow with the special rapporteur, who took his report to the UN General Assembly.

In the same way that the concept of civil rights grew as a response to Jim Crow, the human rights framework advocated by Williams and other immigrants’ rights activists in the South and across the country challenges traditional approaches to race and rights. “Some civil rights leaders here don’t think human rights affects us in the United States,” says Williams. “A lot of the [civil rights] elders of that movement are not linked to the human rights movement, and that also gets in the way of working together.”

Not all of Georgia’s civil rights elders fit thirtysomething Williams’s description. The Rev. Joseph Lowery, the lieutenant to Martin Luther King Jr., says he did not perceive the threat that some whites and African-American Georgians felt from the massive immigrant marches of 2006; instead he sees in the millions marching in Atlanta and across the country “instruments of God’s will to change this country.” Reverend Lowery, who now leads the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda, has spoken eloquently and vociferously against what he considers “wicked” immigration policies and has attended pro-immigrant rallies. He believes that massive immigration to the United States came about because of the workings within the tall buildings like those in spitting distance of his office in the historic Atlanta Life building on Auburn Avenue. “We’ve globalized money, we’ve globalized trade and commerce, but we haven’t globalized fairness toward work and labor. The solution to the ‘problem’ of immigration and other problems is globalization of justice,” he said.

Speaking of the relationship between American blacks and Latino immigrants, Lowery said, “There are many differences between our experience and that of immigrant Latinos–but there is a family resemblance between Jim Crow and what is being experienced by immigrants. Both met economic oppression. Both met racial and ethnic hostility.

“But the most important thing to remember,” said Lowery, as if casting out the demons of Juan and Jim Crow, “is that, though we may have come over on different ships, we’re all in the same damn boat now.”

“Post-Racial” Society? Report Says U.S.Treatment of African Americans, Immigrants “Abysmal”

February 18, 2008

A new report to the to a United Nations human rights committee criticizes the U.S. government for its “abysmal” treatment of African Americans, immigrants and other racial and ethnic groups.

The report by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was delivered to the United Nations’ Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in response to a ” flawed U.S. government report that underreported the state of racial discrimination in the United States.” CERD is a U.N.-sanctioned group of internationally recognized human rights experts that oversees compliance with a 2004 treaty on the elimination of racial discrimination. Since the Clinton Administration ratified the treaty in 1994, the U.S. government has used CERD to denounce racism and other discrimination in other countries.

Among the many”shortcomings” in the Bush Adminstration’s more positive report to CERD are the ACLU says, “the minor mention of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the outright omission of issues including the dramatic increase in anti-immigrant acts and practices, exploitation of migrant workers, the escalating problem of police brutality and racial profiling, and the “school to prison pipeline,” whereby the criminal justice system overzealously funnels students of color out of classrooms and on a path toward prison.”

Witnesses joining the ACLU for testimony before CERD in Geneva will include Akif Rahman, a native-born United States citizen who was detained, questioned and abused by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on five separate occasions as he re-entered the country after business or personal trips abroad.

The importance of such reports cannot be underestimated. One of the largely unwritten chapters of civil rights history is about how more internationalist and left-leaning African Americans like WEB Dubois and Paul Robeson used international forums to shame the U.S. government before its peers about Jim Crow. Declassified documents from numerous national security archives reveal that officials at the highest levels of government were, in fact, concerned about the international embarrassment brought on them by such acts of outing.

The ACLU report also provides a healthy antidote to the dangerous absurdity of the “post-racial” talk on the left and right side the Obamamania wave. For these and other reasons, it’s important for social movements to pressure Obama to use his abundant rhetorical gifts to speak about things in the report.

NPR Interview: Is There Really a Black/Latino Divide?

February 5, 2008

NPR Home Page

Handshake

Would that we lived in a world with more journalists like Farai Chideya, the consequential host of NPR’s News and Notes. Guest Earl Ofari Hutchison, Congresswoman Maxine Waters and yours truly joined Farai in this brief, but quite cool deconstruction of the categories “Latino” and “Black/Latino divide”.

Something to think about while we await the results of the most racialized election in U.S. history, an election in which historic Latino participation heralds the beginning of the end of the “Black/white electorate”.

Beyond Immigration Reform(ism): Direct Action Against the Wall

November 12, 2007

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Rather than resurrect the decaying body of “immigration reform(ism)”, activists in Southern California have taken an important step toward an living alternative: direct action.

Concerned about the relentless environmental and human degradation (an important connection to make) wrought by the policies embodied in the border Wall, a group calling itself “No Borders! Earth First!” took its concerns to one of the many economic interests benefiting from Wall politics: wall builders. According this post on the Indybay media center site ,

In the early morning hours of Sunday, November 11, a group calling themselves “No Borders! Earth First!” sent a clear message to the El Centro office of Granite Construction Company: Their continued construction of the US-Mexico border wall will not be accepted. The activists hung one banner reading “Save the San Pedro!” on Granite Construction’s entrance gate, and another reading “Stop Building a Wall of Death” was unfurled from the company’s roof. Activists also wheat-pasted a message to the company to the front door, demanding that they halt construction on seven miles of border wall that will cut through the San Pedro National Conservation Area in the Southern Arizona desert. Locks on the front door and entrance gate were jammed with glue, and the gate was immobilized with epoxy.

Expect local, state and federal authorities and their right wing -and “mainstream” echo chamber to make a loud, visible example of “No Borders! Earth First!”- whether or not they catch them. Also expect Democrats and DC groups to denounce these tactics too. Like boycotts, work stoppages and other direct actions, such bold initiatives do what DC-based immigration reform doesn’t: remind us it’s the (immigrant-industrial) economy, stupid.

Think what you will of them, these kinds actions point directly at and foreground the vast and growing ecology of parasitic interests feeding off the the hunted immigrant living and the desert dead; These kinds of offensive actions alter and take us beyond the Wall politics of the right and their defensive liberal enablers.

Que Muera el Muro de la Muerte!

More to follow on this important development!

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

October 23, 2007

 

 

 

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Protest leader

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

LATINO AGENDAS RISING

October 14, 2007

THE NATION.

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

BREAKING NEWS: COLUMBUS STILL EXTREMELY DEAD, HIS LEGACY DYING

October 12, 2007

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

(Thousands of indigenous Leaders Celebrating Burying Columbus Day)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy yer weekend! Embrace the inner indigena!

AGAINST FORGETTING: SUPPORT THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE RESOLUTION

October 11, 2007

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

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

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

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

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

BROWN WATERS, CLEAR WATERS RUN DEEP AT LATINO CONGRESO

October 8, 2007

This week’s Latino Congreso taught me that, from Maywood, California to the Bronx and Cochabamba, Bolivia, brown people are drinking brown water. I also learned about the deepening wells of of elite fear beneath racist metaphors like “brown tide rising” used to describe the political ascent of Latinos across the continent.

But what struck me most was how problems like the dirty brown water are giving rise to a political clarity and unified vision unprecedented in the annals of hemispheric history. Like the oceans and subterrenean waterways that have always united us beneath the surface, political agendas from the Canadian border to Patagonia are starting to flow from the same source: the pursuit of justice.

I heard this from 22 year-old Latino Congreso delegate Karen Linares. After looking at a thick, rusted pipe and a bottle of brown water used as part of the presentation by a South LA activist on a panel about “Water Justice”, very smiley Salvadoran-Mexican college student Linares got a serious look about her. “The L.A. river water running by my house is full of filth. I saw the same brown water in El Salvador. In Tijuana you see the sewage trickling down the dirt roads.” Asked whether a and what, if any, connection existed between what she saw in her neighborhood and in her parent’s homelands the rather “shy” (ie; “You should talk to my friend cuz this is my first event and she knows more”) answered, “Clear water runs upward where the money runs. Brown water runs down where poor brown people are.” In listening to Linares’ “shy” brilliance one hears the political music of the spheres, the hemispheres being written.

The beauty I found running through the Congreso was in how the line connecting Linares’ issues and consciousness to the rest of the continent is growing. “I look at the facial expressions here and I see meetings I’ve been to in America Latina” said Bernardo Alvarez, the US Ambassador of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela who also attended the Congreso as part of a large Latin American contingent. “I listen to the issues they discuss and they are the same issues: housing, employment, the environment, women’s issues, community development and others. We support the agenda in Latin America and we support the Latino agenda in the United States.”

Though not yet concluded, the Latino Congreso has already managed to channel the insurgent energies of its more than 1,500 delegates towards the development of a broad, inclusive and different Latino agenda that brings together and connects many issues. For example, members unanimously passed a resolution calling on the US to stop signing trade agreements they believe are one of the primary causes of immigration. Also connecting several issues, Oscar Chacón, Executive Director of the National Association of Latin American and Caribbean Communities, a National Congreso convener said “NAFTA has been the main cause for more than 1.3 million Mexican campesinos to lose their livelihoods. Not surprisingly, the number of Mexicans who have emigrated to the United States rose 60 percent in the first six years after NAFTA,” adding “We can only resolve immigration issues by addressing the bigger question of what is forcing so many people to emigrate in the first place. The first step is to stop expanding the same agricultural rules of NAFTA to Peru and other Latin American nations.”

Chacón and other Congreso delegates also passed resolutions around such “non traditional” Latin issues as Renewable Energy, Farm Bill Reform, Production, Ocean Management , Green Schools and many others. And, of course, they also addressed the very continental issue of how to turn brown water into clear water – and clear continental thought. Have a a clarisimo day 🙂

R