Monday, December 22, 2008

Remains of 12 decapitated men found in Mexico,0,6725030.story


Remains of 12 decapitated men found in Mexico

The heads and bodies are found at separate places in Guerrero state, a hot spot in the country's drug war. Governor says eight of the victims were soldiers and one was a former state police commander.

By Ken Ellingwood

December 22, 2008

Reporting from Mexico City

Twelve men were decapitated and dumped at separate sites in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero, authorities said Sunday.

Mexican news outlets quoted Guerrero Gov. Zeferino Torreblanca Galindo as saying that eight of the men were identified as Mexican soldiers and another as a former state police commander. Earlier, Mexican media had said that the victims' close-cropped hair indicated they were soldiers.

Nine of the heads and bodies were discovered Sunday in the city of Chilpancingo, the state capital. The heads were bundled in a plastic bag and dumped at a shopping center, and the bodies turned up in two other locations at opposite ends of the city, authorities said.

Local prosecutors said three more decapitated bodies were found in a village on the outskirts of the city, the Associated Press reported.

The find came two days after three gunmen were killed in a shootout with soldiers in Guerrero. Mexican media said the beheadings may have been intended as retribution.

The website of the daily El Universal newspaper, citing unnamed state law enforcement officials, reported that a message that accompanied the bag of heads warned: "For every one of mine you kill, I'm going to kill 10 of yours."

Beheadings have become increasingly common around Mexico amid rising drug-related violence that has killed more than 5,300 people this year.

President Felipe Calderon launched a crackdown against drug traffickers upon taking office two years ago, triggering clashes between security forces and gunmen and vicious feuding among rival drug gangs.

The coastal state of Guerrero, home to the Acapulco resort, has been one of the drug war's more violent corners. Nearly 500 people have been killed there since January 2007, a month after Calderon announced his anti-crime offensive, according to a tally by the University of San Diego's Trans-Border Institute.

As part of his crackdown, Calderon has sent 45,000 soldiers and 5,000 federal police into the streets across the country. The offensive has produced thousands of arrests and some major seizures of drugs, cash and weapons, though there is no sign that any of the main drug gangs have been dislodged.

Most of the killings have resulted from turf wars among drug-trafficking organizations, which battle for the most coveted routes for smuggling into the United States.

Copyright © 2009, The Los Angeles Times

Saturday, December 20, 2008


By David Bacon
The American Prospect | December 17, 2008 | web only

When immigration agents raided Smithfield Food's huge North Carolina slaughterhouse two years ago, organizer Eduardo Peña compared the impact to a "nuclear bomb." The day after, people were so scared that most of the plant's 5,000 employees didn't show up for work. The lines where they kill and cut apart 32,000 hogs every day were motionless.

Yet on December 11, when the votes were counted in the same packing plant, 2,041 workers had voted to join the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) , while just 1,879 had voted against it. That stunning reversal set off celebrations in house trailers and ramshackle homes in Tarheel, Red Springs, Santa Paula, and all the tiny working class towns spread from Fayetteville down to the South Carolina border.

Relief and happiness are understandable in North Carolina, where union membership is the lowest in the country. But Smithfield workers were not just celebrating a vote count. They'd just defeated one of the longest, most bitter anti-union campaigns in modern U.S. labor history. Their victory was the product of an organizing strategy that accomplished what many have said that U.S. unions can no longer do - organize huge, privately-owned factories.

In 1994 and 1997, Smithfield workers voted in two union representation elections, both lost by the UFCW. In 1997 the head of plant security, Danny Priest, told local sheriffs he expected violence on election day. Police in riot gear then lined the walkway into the slaughterhouse, and workers had to file past them to cast their ballots. At the end of the vote count union activist Ray Shawn was beaten up inside the plant. Three years later Priest, while still head of plant security, became an auxiliary deputy sheriff, and plant security officers were given the power to arrest and detain people at work. The company maintained a holding area for detainees in a trailer on the property, which workers called the company jail. (Smithfield gave up its deputized force and detention center in 2005.)

Management used such extensive intimidation tactics that both elections were thrown out by the National Labor Relations Board. In 2006 the NLRB forced Smithfield to rehire workers fired in 1994 for union activity, and pay them $1.1 million. That was a victory for the union, but workers on the line could also easily see that Smithfield lawyers kept union supporters out of work for over a decade, in violation of the law.

In 2003 contract workers for QSI, a company that cleans the machinery at night, finally challenged that atmosphere of fear. According to Julio Vargas, a QSI employee, "the wages were very low and we had no medical insurance. When people got hurt, after being taken to the office they made them go back to work and wear pink helmets [to humiliate them]. We were fed up." Led by Vargas, the cleaning crew refused to go in to work. The company negotiated, and workers won concessions. The following week, however, those identified as ringleaders, like Vargas, lost their jobs.

Nevertheless, a new group of UFCW organizers understood the importance of that work stoppage. "We're not going to give the company a chance to use union busters anymore," said Peña. "We're asking workers to take direct action on the plant floor to improve their own conditions." So the union set up a workers' center in nearby Red Springs, holding classes in English and labor rights. Vargas and other fired workers went to work for the UFCW, organizing discontent over high line speed and its human cost in injuries. Workers began to stop production lines to get the company to talk with them about health and safety problems.

In April, 2006, as immigrant protests spread across the country, 300 Smithfield workers stayed out of work and marched through the streets of nearby Wilmington. On May 1 they paraded again, this time by the thousands.

Those heady days, however, were followed by a series of immigration enforcement actions orchestrated between the company and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. On October 30, 2006, the plant's human resources department sent letters to hundreds of immigrant workers, saying the Social Security numbers they'd provided when they were hired didn't match the government's database. Managers gave them two weeks to come up with new ones.

"On November 13 over 30 were escorted out of the plant," recalled Peña. "Many felt they had nothing to lose." That Thursday over 300 workers walked out. They met at a local hotel, came up with a list of demands, and got church leaders to intercede with the company. Smithfield agreed to a 60-day extension, and to rehire those already terminated. "It's hard to imagine how empowered people felt," Peña recalled.

The success of the workplace action impressed African American workers, who at the time made up about 40 percent of the workforce. Union supporters collected 4000 signatures asking the company to give employees the day off on Rev. Martin Luther King Jr's birthday. A delegation took the petitions to the human resources office, but a company vice-president refused to accept them. When they were denied the holiday, 400 workers didn't come in anyway, and virtually shut down the plant again.

"Unity between immigrant Latino and African American workers was essential to organizing a union," said Gene Bruskin, then the director of the UFCW's Justice at Smithfield campaign, and the drive's principal strategist. In the earlier campaigns, divisions between the two groups contributed to the union's defeat.

Nine days after the Martin Luther King day action ICE agents came out to the plant in their first raid. After they arrested 21 people for deportation, and questioned hundreds in the factory lunchroom, fear grew so intense that most workers didn't show up the following day. A few months later, a similar raid took place. "Workers think it's happening because people were getting organized," said Vargas at the time.

The percentage of immigrants began to decline as many Latino workers were forced out of the plant. Eventually, the ratio between Blacks and Latinos was reversed. The immigrant workforce shrank to about 40 percent, while the percentage of African Americans rose to 60 percent. At that point, however, African American workers became more active in the unionization campaign. Union workers eventually collected the signatures of about half the plant's employees, demanding that the company agree to recognize the UFCW. At the end of a noisy march, they presented the petitions at a company shareholders meeting. Meanwhile, UFCW organizers began using the violation of workers' rights to mobilize customer pressure against Smithfield. Union and community activists collected thousands of signatures on petitions asking store chains to find another pork supplier, and the city of Boston stopped purchasing Smithfield products.

Inside the plant, militant activity began to rise again. One key moment came when Juan Navarro wrote "Union Time" with a felt pen on his helmet. Supervisors called him in, and took away his helmet. Navarro worked on the kill floor where a majority of the workers are Black. When he went back to the line, the other workers decided to back him up. "Union Time" appeared on their helmets too, and eventually spread throughout the plant, becoming the slogan of the union campaign. Smithfield was even forced to apologize to Navarro.

In the back room of the tiny Mexican market down the road from the plant, the union committee started meeting before and after work. Black and Puerto Rican activists would then take leaflets and union newsletters into the plant and walk through the halls, into the break rooms, handing them to their coworkers.

When Martin Luther King's birthday approached in 2008, the union passed out a leaflet telling workers to "hold the date." This time, the company not only gave Tarheel workers the holiday, but let workers take the day off in every non-union Smithfield plant. One union activist observed that the increased activity among African American workers gave a kind of cover to the Mexicans, allowing them to regain some of their former activism without feeling they had a target painted on their backs. At the same time, Puerto Rican workers also became more vocal, giving the union another voice in Spanish from workers who aren't immigrants at all.

The company responded to rising pressure both inside and outside the plant by filing a racketeering suit against the union. It demanded the same kind of NLRB election it had won in 1994 and 1997, and accused the union of being anti-democratic when it would not agree to repeat the bitter experience of the past.

As a trial grew close, the union and the company agreed to an election procedure that workers and organizers felt would keep Smithfield from using the old bare-knuckle tactics. The union won the right to access to the plant premises, and organizers were able to walk the halls themselves, to sit in the lunchrooms and talk with workers, explaining the potential benefits of unionization. The company was able to hold a limited set of "captive audience" meetings, which workers were required to attend, where they heard management's anti-union speeches and watched anti-union videos. But the union also won the right to limit those speeches, keeping out threats and overt intimidation.

In the meantime, the lunchrooms became hubs of union activity, with "Union Time" visible on helmets, leaflets, and buttons To union activists, visibility inside the plant meant that, in the eyes of workers, the union had some power. Coupled with concessions on things like the King holiday, and a history of protest over accidents and line speed, it became clear the union could actually win changes. At the same time, workers were the union's visible leaders. Despite the firings and immigration raids, many veteran union supporters stayed active in the campaign. Union organizers spent countless hours with those leaders, talking about tactics and helping make decisions about the course of the campaign.

And when the ballots were counted, the union won.

Efforts by the modern U.S. labor movement to organize factories the size of the Tarheel plant have not been very successful for the last two decades. In fact, private-sector unionization has fallen below 8 percent of the workforce. The giant electronics plants of Silicon Valley have an anti-union strategy so intimidating that unions haven't even tried to organize them for years. Japanese car manufacturers have built assembly plants and successfully kept workers from organizing, in spite of efforts by the auto union.

The price for the lack of a successful strategy to organize those Japanese plants became clear in December's Congressional debate over the auto bailout proposal, when Southern Republican Senators demanded that the United Auto Workers agree to gut its union contracts to match the non-union wages and conditions at Nissan, Honda and BMW. The presence of the non-union plants now threatens to destroy the union. The same dilemma exists in industry after industry.
To get out of the box, today's labor movement pins its hopes on the Employee Free Choice Act. This proposal would require a company like Smithfield to negotiate a union contract if a majority of workers sign union cards. It would avoid the kind of union election that took place in 1997, where the idea of voting freely became a farce in an atmosphere of violence and terror. EFCA would also put penalties on employers who fire workers for union activity. At Smithfield, the company was only obliged to pay fired workers for their lost wages, and even then was allowed to deduct any money they'd earned during the decade their cases wound through the legal system. EFCA would substantially restrict the kind of anti-union campaign Smithfield mounted for 15 years.

But EFCA by itself will not build strong unions, which workers can use not just to win elections but to make substantial changes in the workplace itself. The union at Smithfield wasn't created on election day by a fairer legal process. Workers had already organized it in the battles that preceded the vote. They did much more than sign union cards, go to a few meetings, or cast ballots. They had to lose their fear, show open support for the demands they'd chosen themselves, and learn to make management listen to those demands by slowing down lines, circulating petitions and forming delegations to demand changes. Those battles hardened the leaders who survived.

And if African American and Latino immigrant workers hadn't found a way to work together, the union drive would have ended with the immigration raids. Immigration enforcement was used to attack the union drive, and for months after the no-match letter and the two raids, the organizing campaign was effectively dead. At Smithfield and elsewhere, enforcement of immigration law itself has become a way to punish workers when they try to improve conditions. It was only when the African American workers who'd fought the first battle for the King holiday became the core of a new generation of leaders that the struggle to build the union could continue. Immigration raids didn't help Black or other citizen workers - they increased the fear, reduced the activity, eliminated leaders, and added months, if not years, to the time needed to rebuild.

In the end, both African Americans and immigrant workers found a common interest in better wages and working conditgions. But they also had to agree to defend the right of each worker to her or his job - any unfair firing was an attack on the union, whether the victim was Black, Mexican, or Puerto Rican. If the company and ICE had been successful in convincing half the plant that the other half really had no right to work because of their immigration status, workers would have been unwilling and unable to defend each other.

The root of the problem lies in employer sanctions, the provision of Federal law that prohibits employers from hiring undocumented workers. The law, in effect makes working a crime for people without papers, and hands employers a weapon to fight their own workforce. When unions decided at the AFL-CIO convention in 1999 to call for repeal of sanctions, they recognized that changing immigration law was just as necessary for organizing unions as passing reforms like EFCA.

Outside the Tarheel plant, the union grew roots in working-class communities. It organized a permanent coalition with churches and community organizations, not just a temporary arrangement of convenience. It became part of workers' lives. They met in its office, took English classes there, and marched in demonstrations for civil rights. And that coalition was able to turn the company's anti-labor activity against it, exposing its record in the place where Smithfield was most vulnerable - in the eyes of consumers.

Without pressure from workers and their communities, Smithfield had no motivation to reach an agreement on a fair election process. The election result, therefore, was the product of a long-term organizing effort and commitment. Smithfield workers and the UFCW have shown that with a similar commitment organizing is possible, no matter how big the plant or anti-union the employer. But it takes a strategy based on building a real union in the workplace and community. And with changes in labor and immigration law, workers won't have to conduct a 15-year war to do it.

For more articles and images, see

Just out from Beacon Press:
Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants

See also the photodocumentary on indigenous migration to the US
Communities Without Borders (Cornell University/ILR Press, 2006)

See also The Children of NAFTA, Labor Wars on the U.S./Mexico Border (University of California, 2004)

Mexican materials help ELL students academically

Great to see the role of the Mexican government in these efforts. -Angela

Mexican materials help ELL students academically

By Paris Achen
Mail Tribune / Oregon

December 18, 2008 6:00 AM
When Jackson County schools enroll a student who doesn't speak English their first priority is teaching the student the language.

But educators say they are also concerned with improving the student's academic skills, a process that can be stalled during the transition to English.

To help students keep up with their academic skills, the state has had a partnership with the Mexican government for the past 17 years that provides supplemental Spanish instructional materials to Oregon schools at no charge or for a nominal fee.

In January, the state will begin determining how to fill in the gaps where the Mexican elementary, secondary and adult-level curricula don't meet Oregon's academic standards.

The state recently completed a study overseen by the Salem-based Willamette Education Service District that identified how the Oregon content standards and Mexican curricula differ in preparation for the upcoming project.

"It's really useful because if a newcomer comes in and their English isn't strong enough, they can continue gaining in math and science and social studies while they're learning English," said Charlie Bauer, migrant education coordinator at the Southern Oregon Education Service District.

The state decided to align the Mexican curriculum to the state standards because so many students migrate between Mexico and Oregon, said Susanne Smith, a spokeswoman at the Oregon Department of Education.

"This is a way to provide continuity," Smith said.

In Jackson County, there were about 4,232 Hispanic students in 2007-08 and 2,180 of those were considered English language learners, according to the state.

The Southern Oregon ESD and Medford School District have used some of the supplemental Mexican instructional materials, mostly for adult education classes that are offered at Howard Elementary School in Medford. The materials also have been used in some summer school classes, Bauer said.

"The tricky thing is having a teacher whose Spanish is strong enough to use the materials," Bauer said.

Not all ELL teachers are bilingual or necessarily speak Spanish because in some districts, students enroll speaking a variety of languages.

Phoenix-Talent School District took some free books from the Mexican government four to five years ago, which were used in bilingual classes, said Javier del Rio, Phoenix-Talent schools ELL coordinator.

"We are definitely going to be looking into (any new materials) because sometimes they come up with neat stuff," del Rio said.

Reach reporter Paris Achen at 541-776-4459 or

WICHE Report Says American Dream in Jeopardy without Success of Hispanics

In light of previous post, it's interesting to note that the message is: We need to educate Hispanics, but let's assimilate them in a way that subtracts their culture, language and identity. The same old failed recipe is offered over an over again.... And decades of evidence shows that same old approach doesn't work. Happy Holidays everyone!


WICHE Report Says American Dream in Jeopardy without Success of Hispanics

A report of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) (“Beyond Social Justice: The Threat of Inequality to Workforce Development in the Western United States ”) defines the challenges inherent in the unequal levels of educational attainment of the non-majority populations of the U.S. as follows: “The Western states that are experiencing the sharpest declines in educational attainment from generation to generation are those with the fastest-growing minority populations (Arizona, California, New Mexico and Nevada). Their ability to reverse this downward trend depends on their success in closing the gaps between White non-Hispanics and minorities” (p. 11). After acknowledging that the U.S. has excluded its non-majority groups from workforce and economic development, the WICHE report states that “the West contains the majority of states in the U.S. that will face the largest increases in demand for college-educated workers” and that the need for such workers will exist at a time when “many White non-Hispanics approach retirement age, the younger adult population becomes increasingly diverse, and educational participation and completion gaps among White non-Hispanics and minorities persist” (p. 21). The report concludes with the following observations: “Our failure to adequately serve minorities throughout the West is the most distressing story of this report. In the West Hispanics will soon be the majority population. Yet at nearly every stage in the education process, the systems of education in the West serve Hispanics at the lowest rate of any racial/ethnic population. As a result they continue to represent the majority of workers employed in low-skill, low-wage jobs” (p. 31). “Our future will be greatly affected by our ability (or inability) to equalize opportunity at all stages of the education pipeline. At stake is our competitive position in the global economy and the likelihood that our children and grandchildren will experience the U.S.’s prosperity, as we have. If the social justice reasoning for closing racial/ethnic gaps has run its course, then perhaps the public (and policymakers) will pay closer attention to an argument for closing these gaps that addresses something more near and dear: our individual and collective economic well-being” (pp. 31-32).

Friday, December 19, 2008

Task force urges U.S. to 'Americanize' immigrants

By Eunice Moscoso
Friday, December 19, 2008

WASHINGTON — The United States must embark on an aggressive effort to integrate immigrants, including teaching them English and U.S. history, a federal task force recommended Thursday.

If this "Americanization" fails, the nation could see major problems in 20 or 30 years, with foreign-born populations detached from the larger society and engaging in anti-social behavior, said Alfonso Aguilar, who heads the U.S. Office of Citizenship.

Aguilar compared the potential strife to what is occurring in some Western European countries where foreign-born populations do not feel part of the larger society and are not accepted by many as full citizens.

"We should not be naive and assume that the assimilation process is going to happen automatically," Aguilar said, at a news conference.

By 2025, about 14 percent of the nation will be foreign-born, he said.

The Task Force on New Americans recommends that the federal government take a leadership role in an "Americanization movement," but also says that states, local governments, nonprofit groups and the private sector should play a key part.

The report strongly emphasizes that immigrants must learn English in order to fully integrate into American society. Aguilar said immigrants currently want to learn English but many cannot find classes.

He said the report is not recommending "an ugly, English-only approach," but "a friendly, pro-active literary effort."

The report urges the development of Internet based electronic learning tools for adults to learn English and civics.

The task force, which includes 12 Cabinet-level departments and eight additional federal agencies, has been studying the issue for two years. It is part of a Bush administration effort to promote citizenship.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Latino Workers in the Ongoing Recession: 2007 to 2008

Latino Workers in the Ongoing Recession: 2007 to 2008

by Rakesh Kochhar, Associate Director for Research, Pew Hispanic Center
December 15, 2008

A small but significant decline has occurred during the current recession in the share of Latino immigrants active in the U.S. labor force, according to a Pew Hispanic Center analysis of Census Bureau data. In a year when jobs have become scarce for everyone, the proportion of working-age Latino immigrants participating in the labor force has fallen, at least through the third quarter of 2008, while the proportion of all non-Hispanics as well as of native-born Hispanics has held steady.

Jobs attract many Hispanic immigrants to the United States, and their labor force participation rate -- the proportion of the working-age population that is either working or actively seeking work -- is typically higher than the rate in the native-born population. That remains the case now.

However, among Latino immigrants, 71.3% were in the labor force at the close of the third quarter of 2008, compared with 72.4% a year earlier. This 1.1 percentage point decrease follows on the heels of a steady increase in the labor force participation rate of foreign-born Latinos since 2003 when the economy started its recovery from the 2001 recession.1 The drop in labor market activity was about twice as high among immigrants from Mexico and among immigrants who arrived in the U.S. since 2000. Among all non-Hispanics, the labor force participation rate was essentially unchanged during this period -- it was 66.2% at the end of the third quarter of 2008, up marginally from 66.0% a year earlier. Among native-born Hispanics, the rate was 66.4%, up from 66.0% a year earlier.

The absolute number of immigrant Latinos in the labor force did increase slightly -- by 150,000 -- between the third quarters of 2007 and 2008. But this increase is much smaller than it had been in previous years. And because it is also much smaller than the growth in the working-age population of Latino immigrants, the share that is active in the labor force has declined.

It is not possible to conclude from these data whether or not some of the foreign-born Latinos who left the labor force have returned to their countries of origin. The growth in the immigrant Latino population has leveled off in recent years, but it is not clear whether this has been due to an increased outflow of migrants. Passel and Cohn (2008)2 do find a decrease in the annual inflow of undocumented migrants to the U.S. since 2005. About four-in-five undocumented migrants come from Latin America.

The labor market data do not paint an unrelentingly negative picture for Latino immigrants, who make up about 8% of the total U.S. labor force. Their unemployment rate in the third quarter of 2008 was 6.4%, not much higher than the 6.1% rate for the total U.S. workforce and much lower than the 9.6% rate for native-born Hispanics (who account for about 45% of the Hispanic labor force in this country). However, workers who withdraw from the labor force are not counted among the unemployed. If foreign-born Latinos had remained as active in the labor market in 2008 as they were in 2007, their unemployment rate would be much higher today.

This report analyzes labor market outcomes for workers using a variety of indicators. Some labor market indicators, such as the working-age population (those 16 and older) and the size of the labor force (those either employed or actively seeking work), respond principally to demographic forces. For immigrants, economic forces may play a stronger role in shaping the working-age population and labor force by triggering changes in inflows and outflows of migrants. Tracking those indicators establishes the size of a racial or ethnic group in the labor market and whether its relative size is expanding or shrinking.

Other important labor market indicators respond principally to economic developments. Those include employment levels and the employment, unemployment and labor force participation rates. The data for this report are derived from the Current Population Survey3 , a monthly survey of about 55,000 households conducted jointly by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau. Data from three monthly surveys were combined to create larger sample sizes and to conduct the analysis on a quarterly basis.

Recession and Latino Labor

This report focuses on economic outcomes for Hispanic and non-Hispanic workers during the ongoing recession. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the semiofficial arbiter of these dates, the U.S. economy entered a recession in December 2007. Earlier this year, the Pew Hispanic Center released a report that analyzed labor market developments for Latinos through the first quarter of 2008.4 That report showed that outcomes for Latino workers, such as the unemployment rate, had turned markedly worse during 2007, even prior to the recession.

A year into the recession, it is now feasible to update labor market outcomes through the third quarter of 2008. These outcomes are compared with the labor market status of workers in the third quarter of 2007.5 Developments over that one-year period provide a fuller understanding of the effects of the recession on Hispanic and non-Hispanic workers, as well as on native-born and foreign-born workers.

Prior to the onset of the recession in December 2007, Latino workers seemed to be feeling the brunt of the slump in the construction sector (Kochhar, 2008).6 Their unemployment rate had climbed sharply in 2007, much more so than for non-Hispanics. Moreover, the impact on foreign-born Hispanics had been especially hard. In the first quarter of 2008, the unemployment rate for foreign-born Latinos exceeded the rate for native-born Latinos. That was the first such occurrence since 2003. Since then increases in the unemployment rate for Latino immigrants have been curbed, in part, by labor force dropouts. Absent such a withdrawal their unemployment rate today would be close to 8%.

The impact of the deepening recession is now pervasive as job losses and rising unemployment affect all workers. From the third quarter of 2007 to the third quarter of 2008, 1.7 million non-Hispanics, 287,000 native-born Hispanics and 239,000 foreign-born Hispanics are newly unemployed.

This report is not able to identify immigrant workers by whether they are documented or undocumented because the immigration status of workers is not recorded in the source data. However, estimates by the Pew Hispanic Center show that unauthorized migrants account for about 5% of the U.S. labor force and about one-third of the foreign-born labor force. They are overrepresented in certain industries such as construction, where they account for 12% of employment (Passel, 2006).7 Most unauthorized migrants are from Latin American countries, with those from Mexico accounting for about 55% of the total.

The principal findings of the analysis, organized by major labor market indicators, are below. More detailed analysis and data are presented in the full report.

Working-Age Population

Latinos have remained an important source of workers to the U.S. economy during the recession. Their working-age population increased 1.1 million between the third quarters of 2007 and 2008, accounting for 42% of the total increase in the U.S. working-age population.
The contribution of foreign-born Latinos to the growth in the working-age population has leveled off. The number of immigrant Hispanics in the workforce increased 470,000 from the third quarter of 2007 to the third quarter of 2008. That was similar to the previous two years.
Labor Force

The number of Hispanic immigrants in the labor force increased by 150,000 between the third quarters of 2007 and 2008. That was not a statistically significant change, however, meaning one cannot say with certainty that the estimated change is different from zero.8
The modest growth in the foreign-born Hispanic labor force is due to diminishing numbers of those who entered the U.S. between 1990 and 1999. The working-age population of that group of immigrants is estimated to have fallen by 234,000, either as a result of deaths or departures from the U.S.
Relative to the size of their population, fewer immigrant Latino workers were either employed or actively seeking work in the third quarter of 2008 compared with a year ago. The labor force participation rate for foreign-born Latinos fell from 72.4% in the third quarter of 2007 to 71.3% in the third quarter of 2008, a drop of 1.1 percentage points.
The decrease in labor force activity among foreign-born Hispanics was led by those from Mexico or those who arrived in the U.S. in 2000 or more recently.
In contrast, the labor force participation rates for native-born Hispanics and all non-Hispanics were up slightly in the third quarter of 2008 compared with a year earlier.

Employment growth came to a halt between the third quarter of 2007 and the same period in 2008. Employment of Hispanic workers increased by 88,000, but employment of non-Hispanic workers fell by 323,000. Thus, total employment was down 235,000.
Employment of foreign-born Hispanics decreased by 90,000 and their employment rate fell from 69.1% in the third quarter of 2007 to 66.7% in the third quarter of 2008, a drop of 2.4 percentage points. The decrease in the employment rate of foreign-born Hispanics exceeded that for native-born Hispanics and non-Hispanics.
Unemployment and Job Losses

About 2.2 million workers joined the ranks of the unemployed from the third quarter of 2007 to the third quarter of 2008. The breakdown is 1.7 million non-Hispanics, 287,000 native-born Hispanics and 239,000 foreign-born Hispanics.
The unemployment rate for Hispanics increased from 5.7% to 7.9%. The 2.2 percentage point rise was less than the 1.2 percentage point increase for non-Hispanics, whose unemployment rate went from 4.6% to 5.8%.
The unemployment rate for native-born Hispanics rose sharply from 7.1% in the third quarter of 2007 to 9.6% by the third quarter of 2008, an increase of 2.5 percentage points.
The unemployment rate for immigrant Latinos, which stood higher than the rate for native-born Hispanics in the first quarter of 2008, has now dropped to its familiar perch below. For foreign-born Hispanics, the rate increased from 4.5% to 6.4% between the third quarters of 2007 and 2008.
The increase in the unemployment rate for foreign-born Hispanics would have been greater if not for the fact that many of these workers withdrew from the labor market. Absent any withdrawal from the labor market, it is estimated the unemployment rate for foreign-born Hispanics in the third quarter of 2008 would have been 7.8% rather than 6.4%. That means their unemployment rate would have increased 3.3 percentage points since the third quarter of 2007, the greatest increase among the groups examined in this study.
The construction sector was the leading source of job losses for both Hispanic and non-Hispanic workers. Hispanics lost 156,000 jobs in this industry, and non-Hispanics lost 544,000 jobs.

Median weekly wages in constant dollars fell 1.4% for non-Hispanics from the third quarter of 2007 to the third quarter of 2008. Wages for Hispanic workers, however, were unchanged.
Weekly wages for native-born Hispanics decreased 1.9%. Surprisingly, wages for foreign-born Hispanics are estimated to have increased 5.5% since the third quarter of 2007. That may be a result of low-wage immigrants departing the labor force.
Read the full report at


1 The labor force participation rate of foreign-born Hispanics had decreased by somewhat larger magnitudes in 2003 in comparison with 2002. That year marked the tail end of a nearly three-year long period of an economic slowdown, including a recession in 2001.
2 Trends in Unauthorized Immigration, Pew Hispanic Center, Oct. 2 2008.
4 Released in June 2008, this report focused on the impact of the construction slowdown on Latino workers (see Kochhar, 2008).
5Estimates in this report account for the annual revisions to the weights in the source data, the Current Population Survey. Details are provided in Appendix A.
6Rakesh Kochnar, "Latino Labor Report, 2008: Construction Reverses Job Growth for Latinos," Pew Hispanic Center, June 2008.
7Size and Characteristics of the Unauthorized Migrant Population in the U.S., Pew Hispanic Center, Mar. 7, 2008.
8All tests of statistical significance in this report are conducted at the 90% level of confidence. If a number is not significantly different from zero, it means that there is a 90% chance the number lies within a range that encompasses zero.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Anti-Immigrant Fervor Translates to Terror for Women

Anti-Immigrant Fervor Translates to Terror for Women

by: Melissa Nalani Ross, On the Issues Magazine
Fall 2008 Issue

In my work on civil and human rights, especially with immigrant populations, I was contacted recently about a woman without documentation who worked at a fruit stand in the northeast. A male customer approached her and asked if she had any waitressing experience, as he needed servers at his restaurant. Seeing this as an opportunity to make a little more money to support herself and her family, the woman agreed to stop by the establishment for an interview. When she arrived, instead of sitting down and discussing a job opportunity, the woman was met by a group of men who took turns raping her. They then told her that if she went to the authorities, they would have her deported.

Too afraid to go to the police out of fear of being separated from her family and livelihood, she will be left in isolation, with no recourse, no justice and no security. Her tale will not be covered by the mainstream media. The men who raped her will never be brought to justice.

In July, The New York Times published an article about Juana Villegas, a woman stopped for a routine traffic violation by a police officer. Villegas was jailed for six days for violating U.S. immigration laws. An undocumented immigrant, she was nine months pregnant, and, while imprisoned, went into labor. She was handcuffed to the bed during the birthing process, then was separated from her newborn baby and sent back to jail. Authorities would not allow Villegas to bring a breast pump into her cell, leading to a breast infection.

The experiences of these women are frighteningly emblematic of the challenges immigrant women face across the country from immigration enforcement policies gone awry. Villegas and countless other women experience fear, anxiety, degradation and harm on a daily basis. Few of their stories reach the public, but as someone who works with the immigrant community, I hear them regularly.

Anti-immigrant fervor in the United States makes injustice for immigrant women tolerated - even encouraged. As a result, immigrant women are living in situations of sheer terror.

Change in Tactics Targets Women

Both of these women's stories are the byproduct of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement - widely known as "ICE" - and its 287(g) program. Under 287(g), police forces enter into Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) with ICE. Officers are trained and then authorized to enforce federal immigration law. This partnership hands local and state officers "necessary resources and latitude to pursue investigations relating to violent crimes, human smuggling, gang/organized crime activity, sexual-related offenses, narcotics smuggling and money laundering," according to ICE.

This, however, is not how the program plays out on the ground. Typically, women, whose only real violation of the law is being in the country without documentation, have become, because of their vulnerability, some of the program's main targets.

Anti-immigrant groups have been pushing this brand of immigration enforcement for years, without care for the human and civil rights violations that follow. Groups like the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which calls itself by the acronym "FAIR," the nation's largest and most powerful anti-immigrant organization, travel the country, advocating for the expansion of the 287(g) program and asking for more police forces to buy-in. FAIR is now listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, alongside the KKK. According to ICE, "more than 60 municipal, county, and state agencies nationwide have requested 287(g) MOUs ... and more than 400 local and state officers have been trained under the program."

Now FAIR is also advocating for increased ICE raids in factories and meatpacking plants. While this might not seem like an extreme or unjust measure on its face, the impact it has on local communities is destructive, separating mothers from their children. Some of the largest and most inhumane raids have occurred in the last year in the United States, with little public attention or concern. In May of 2008, ICE conducted the biggest raid up to that time in U.S. history in Postville, Iowa. The small town of 2,300 residents, in one solemn sweep, lost 10% of its population, leaving the community in shock.

Subsequent raids have surpassed - in number of agents, community upheaval and arrests of workers - the one in Postville.

Family members were separated from each other and children were left to fend for themselves. The Postville raid did not just negatively affect those without documentation, described in eyewitness accounts, it also disrupted and devastated the lives of the U.S.-born residents in the community. Principals, teachers and parents reported school children having nightmares and drawing pictures of their families and friends being taken away.

Wrong Policy

Despite the community outrage and the utter terror it brought to the immigrant population, FAIR rallied "in support of ICE's stepped-up enforcement activities." Susan Tully, FAIR's National Field Organizer, said,

"The American public has waited far too long for ICE to finally begin taking worksite enforcement seriously and, by our presence in Postville, we hope to demonstrate that we want to see such efforts increased, not ended."

This type of enforcement serves no public good. It does not deter immigration, nor does it solve - or even address - the reasons behind increased migration to the United States. The only real purpose it serves is to create an environment so toxic that immigrant women are forced into the shadows and live in a constant state of fear and anxiety.

FAIR and the anti-immigrant movement are guiding the United States down a path strewn with civil and human rights violations, dehumanization and suffering, especially by women and children. Instead of actually paying any mind to the real causes of migration to the U.S. - such as the North and Central American trade agreements, NAFTA and CAFTA - the focus has largely been on its consequences. The root issues of immigration, for this reason, will never actually be dealt with, creating a situation where there are no humane or real solutions. By only pushing for enforcement, more raids and more 287(g) buy-in, more women will be subjugated and live in terror.

Immigration Is a Women's Issue

The violence and abuse immigrant women face on a daily basis in the United States are challenged, mostly in solitude, by the immigrant rights movement. By and large, the women's movement has failed to stand in solidarity with the women who suffer under anti-immigrant activity. Why haven't more women leaders and women's organizations added their voices to the national dialogue and opposed the push for stricter immigration enforcement practices and the dehumanization they portend?

Part of the problem is that the gender aspects of harmful immigration policies go unrecognized and unacknowledged. The women's rights movement over the last several decades has largely been about equal rights and equal treatment But women, always on the frontline, are the most deeply and intimately impacted by systems and institutions wrought with injustice. The tragedies suffered by Juana Villegas and other immigrant women are intolerable in a just society, yet without women of conscience taking a stand, these violent practices will undoubtedly continue.

Efforts around the country are beginning to address the problems caused by both enforcement tactics and policies that are guided by groups like FAIR. The Campaign for a United America is a collaborative effort by anti-racism, religious, labor, immigrant-rights and grassroots groups to promote a fair, values-based discussion around immigration, free of bigotry and sexism.
As evidenced by the terror that immigrant women face in the United States, the struggle for women's rights is not over. It will take the efforts of women throughout the country to ensure that all women, whatever their "status," live in a safe and just environment.
Melissa Nalani Ross is the Director of the Campaign for a United America, a national initiative of the Center for New Community in Chicago to push back against the racism of the anti-immigrant movement with organizing, strategic research, investigation and analysis. Melissa previously worked at the Invisible Institute, a Chicago-based social justice company, focusing on police brutality and violence against women, and served as an AmeriCorps VISTA at the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law.

Settlement opens up amnesty for tens of thousands of immigrants

Kudos to attorney Peter Schey, lead attorney who handled this suit and won against the federal government.


From the Los Angeles Times
Settlement opens up amnesty for tens of thousands of immigrants
Many who entered the United States on valid visas but fell out of legal status between 1982 and 1988 are eligible for the amnesty offered under the 1986 immigration reform law.
By Teresa Watanabe

December 15, 2008

For two decades, Anaheim businessman Erkan Aydin has taken on a task unimaginable for most immigrants like himself: trying to convince the U.S. government that he was here illegally.

Aydin, 50, arrived in the United States from his native Turkey with a valid student visa in 1981, but fell out of legal status when he failed to enroll in school, he said.

The customer service representative has a powerful reason why he wants to be considered an illegal immigrant. It would make him eligible for the amnesty offered to 2.7 million illegal immigrants under the 1986 immigration reform law.

Thanks to a recent legal settlement, the chance to apply for amnesty is finally open to Aydin and tens of thousands of others who entered the country on a valid visa but fell out of legal status between 1982 and 1988. The settlement, approved this fall by a U.S. district court in Washington state, stems from a class-action lawsuit filed by attorney Peter Schey originally on behalf of an immigrant assistance program of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO.

"I have been born again, like a new baby," Aydin said last week in his Anaheim car dealership office. "I will start a beautiful life in this beautiful country."

The landmark reform law offered a one-time amnesty to immigrants who were in the United States unlawfully from before 1982 to about 1988.

But Congress was concerned that those who entered the country with a valid visa would argue that they fell out of legal status during that time simply to qualify for amnesty. As a result, Schey said, Congress created a rule requiring immigrants to show that their shift from legal to illegal status was "known to the government."

That rule, however, created a new problem: How to prove that the government knew about their violations?

Nigeria native Olaniyi Sofuluke, for instance, came to the United States in 1981 on a student visa to study banking and finance at Troy State University (now Troy University) in Alabama. But, lacking funds, he soon dropped out to work as a dishwasher in two Atlanta restaurants until he could earn enough for his tuition and living expenses.

That violated his visa conditions and threw him into illegal status. The university was required to send a notice to the U.S. government that Sofuluke had dropped out but was not able to provide him with a copy when he requested one five years later. So immigration officials rejected his amnesty application, saying his violations were not known to the government.

Schey, however, successfully argued that because schools were legally required to send the notices, it should be presumed that the government received them and therefore knew about the violations.

He also successfully argued that the government knew many immigrants had violated their status another way: by failing to furnish an address report every three months. The government's failure to produce the address reports showed that the immigrants had not filed them, violating the terms of their visa, he argued.

U.S. immigration officials accepted both arguments in the settlement. They have announced that immigrants whose cases involve violations known to the government may apply for amnesty between Feb. 1, 2009, and Jan. 31, 2010.

Although the settlement was announced in September, many immigrants are just learning about it. Sofuluke, now a Maryland administrator, just found out about it last week.

"I couldn't even eat dinner, I was so full of joy," he said. "I've been in the twilight zone all of this time."

As a banker in Nigeria, he said his colleagues would return from studying in the United States and regale him with stories about the land of opportunity.

He devoured news about the United States in Time and Newsweek, he said, and finally got his chance to study here in 1981.

He eventually earned an undergraduate degree in accounting and an MBA, started a dry cleaning business that employed 16 people, bought his own home and began doing volunteer work with the disabled. (He was given a work permit while his amnesty application was pending.)

"You can find the greatest opportunities here," he said in a phone interview. "That's why we call America 'the golden egg.' "

The settlement marks Schey's third and final class-action lawsuit over the 1986 amnesty law. The previous lawsuits, both settled in 2003, resulted in more than 150,000 immigrants being allowed to apply for amnesty.

In the first lawsuit, Schey successfully challenged U.S. policy that effectively barred from amnesty applicants who traveled outside the United States roughly between 1986 and 1988. Although Congress specifically allowed a "brief, innocent and casual absence" during that period for, say, holiday visits, immigration authorities at the time essentially declared that anyone who left and reentered illegally was not "innocent" and therefore became ineligible for amnesty.

In the second lawsuit, Schey argued against the rejection of amnesty applicants who had returned home and reentered with a valid visa. Immigration officials at the time held that the reentry was legal, breaking the continued illegal residency required for amnesty. Schey argued, however, that the reentry was illegal because the immigrants would have to have lied about themselves when they applied for the visa to return.

Schey said that amnesty will allow countless immigrants to report crime without fear of deportation, to visit ailing parents back home and to leave exploitative jobs.

"It will make an immeasurable difference in the lives of thousands of people," Schey said. "For many of them, it will be the first time since they entered the country 30 years ago that they will be able to move forward and end their underground existence."

For Aydin, the settlement will give him the chance to fulfill a long-held dream of serving his adopted country in law enforcement or the military.

Once he has his green card, he said, he plans to pursue a master's degree in criminal justice administration with an eye toward joining the Navy, Secret Service, FBI or CIA.

"For many years, I wanted to serve this country, but I haven't had the opportunity," Aydin said. "Now I'm happy I'll finally have the chance."

Watanabe is a Times staff writer.

Copyright 2008 Los Angeles Times

Reviews of: How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants

The first two reviews respond to an earlier review of "Illegal People
- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants"
(Beacon Press, 2008)

All three are available on the website for Foreign Policy in Focus

A Few Bad Apples...Or a Rotten System?
Laura Carlsen | December 12, 2008
Editor: Emily Schwartz Greco

Since President-elect Barack Obama promised to deal with immigration
reform in the early part of his presidency, the nation began gearing
up for another round in what has been one of the most contentious
issues of our time. Faced with a vociferous anti-immigrant right
wing, failed reform attempts in Congress, and the human tragedy of
criminal raids against immigrants, it's crucial that we get it right
this time. The immediate challenge is to build a broad-based movement
to pass a fair and humane reform that grants all workers and their
families equal rights and protections under the law.

David Bacon's book, Illegal People: How Globalization Creates
Immigration and Criminalizes Immigrants provides essential tools to
envision and fight for this reform. For that reason, Michele Wucker's
biased interpretation and portrayal of the book does this budding
movement a disservice.

There are two fundamental differences of opinion between Wucker and
Bacon that must come to the forefront of the debate on how to frame
this reform.

The first question is the bad apples one - whether the numerous cases
of employer abuse of undocumented workers and guestworkers that Bacon
describes are anomalies or corporate labor strategies for reducing
costs and increasing profits.

Wucker states that Bacon chronicles the misdeeds of "bad-apple
employers" while giving short shrift to "employers who would hire
workers with papers if the system provided a way to do so" and that
Bacon's "cut-and-dried labor-good, corporate-bad message doesn't
leave room for such subtleties."

The problem isn't one of subtleties - it's a question of how we
analyze the real forces opposing legalization for migrant workers and
what kind of strategies we build based on that. Bacon's book is
devoted to documenting the structural aspects of the use of visa and
undocumented workers in the United States and how that has become a
major strategy for competition and profits in the age of
globalization. He describes a series of corporate-led policies and
practices - trade agreements that displace workers in their countries
of origin, the criminalization of work, the definition of people as
illegal, and the use of migrant labor to erode labor rights - that
create a system of abuse. After reading the skilled combination of
history, personal testimonies, statistics and logically constructed
arguments, it's difficult to see this system as anything less than a
widespread corporate strategy based on fundamentally unfair practices.
Immigration Myths Debunked

Bacon debunks several myths of the immigration debate that have led
to dead-ends. One is that employers would hire native workers if they
could. Bacon cites many statistical studies showing that the increase
in migrant labor has been accompanied by an increase in unemployment
among certain sectors of U.S. workers, especially black workers. The
reason is not that migrants do work U.S. workers won't do. It's that
employers have actively replaced organized workers and workers with
exercisable rights with the more easily manipulated migrant workforce.

Bacon demonstrates that this is a preference - not an absolute
numerical demand - for undocumented and visa workers. The reason is
simple and you don't have to be an anti-business conspiracy theorist
to see it: they are in general a cheap workforce with no labor
rights, bargaining power or job security. This point is central for
showing the structural motivations - not "bad apple" behavior - of
companies and because it constitutes the groundwork for some of the
most innovative and successful labor organizing in the country in
recent years. The Mississippi Rights Immigrants Rights Alliance,
which brings together black workers and immigrants to fight for jobs
and labor rights for all workers, is a shining example of the
possibilities of uniting around the message of full, enforceable
labor rights for all workers.

The other myth of the immigration debate that Bacon takes on is that
migrants are opportunistic individuals seeking to take advantage of
the American dream. He documents displacement of workers under the
North American Free Trade Agreement that led to a sharp increase in
migration from Mexico to the United States. He provides examples of
companies that supported the agreement, which allowed investment and
production to flow to Mexico while blocking the movement of workers
displaced by imports and the failure of Mexican farms and small
businesses, and went on to replace their workforces with visa or
undocumented workers. The availability of these workers drives down
labor costs, erodes labor rights and inhibits effective organization.
Economic Power

The subordinated role of immigrants in the economy carries is, of
course, reflected in policy and government practice as well. If cases
of corporate abuse were mere anomalies, how do we explain the fact
that the justice system has been so uniformly unwilling to prosecute
them, while at the same time so avid in prosecuting undocumented
workers and union organizers? The economic power of employers is felt
not only at the plant, but at the moment of policymaking and
enforcement. For all the talk, employer sanctions have been little
used and function not to make businesses feel the pain, but to offer
a justification for taking immigration violations - formerly just an
administrative infraction - into the labor sphere.

The second question is whether a guest worker program would be part
of the solution or part of the problem. Although Wucker does not
elaborate, she takes umbrage with his opposition to guestworker
programs, which she views as a compromise measure.

Bacon argues that a guestworker program would be part of the problem.
By looking at the origins of guestworker programs and analyzing the
current H2-A and HI-B visa programs, he documents their chilling
effect on organizing for workers' rights and the abuses by employers
- again, not as isolated cases but as part of a system that keeps
labor costs low. He concludes that a guestworker program without full
citizen rights is an enabling mechanism for the same system to
continue to function in benefit of powerful economic interests and
against workers' rights and wellbeing. Many migrant organizations
have taken clear positions on guestworker programs, which they see as
harkening back to the bracero program of over 50 years ago. We should
pay close attention to their views. It was the pioneers of the
migrants' rights in labor movement - Cesar Chavez, Bert Corona,
Ernesto Galarza - who finally won the repeal of the bracero act in
1964. This opened the door to the formation of United Farm Workers
Union. Bacon quotes Galarza on the origins of the bracero program:
"To frustrate the danger (of a strong union), the industry realized
that the roots must be cut and perpetual mobility reintroduced as a
way of life for harvesters."

The security aspects of migrant control today and the entry of
migrants into non-seasonal sectors have modified the "perpetual
mobility" model, but criminalization means that one is rootless even
while staying in the same place. Although many portray it as a legal
stable solution, a return to guestworker programs would create
ultimate insecurity by combining "living in the shadows," as Obama
puts it, and the insecurity and family division of the old model.
This means maximum control over the workforce. It's no wonder that
President George W. Bush, one of the most pro-corporate presidents in
history - was so enamored of the guestworker program and made it a
central goal of his administration despite the political cost among
the populist right of his base.
Labor Rights

Finally, Wucker's objection to what she calls the "labor-good,
corporate-bad" message of Bacon's book inexplicably introduces a
good-and-evil criteria that Bacon avoids. True, a reader will feel
moral indignation at the injustices suffered and often recounted by
the victims themselves. But his book doesn't moralize; it lays out
the conflicting interests in the immigration debate.

As long as companies can contract workers at a lower price and
stripped of labor rights, why wouldn't they? We learn in Econ 101
that the logic of capitalism is maximization of profits. That's why
unions came into being in the first place: because society realized
that without a collective counterbalance to the logic of maximum
gains you can't have a healthy work environment, and abuses could
destroy lives and communities.

The pragmatism of politics dictates that tradeoffs must be made to
win. Negotiation is and should be a part of any democratic process.
Bacon's point is that if we allow basic principles to be undermined
by that pragmatism we will not only lose the battle, but also the
war. By correctly identifying the offensive against workers and their
rights that has characterized globalization, immigrants' rights
groups make common cause with other workers and citizens.

The equation Bacon lays out at the end of his book is relatively
simple and the documentation ample: if workers don't have full
rights, labor can't fight back against the loss of rights and living
standards that characterizes this point in our history. And if labor
can't fight for decent jobs, nondiscrimination and social benefits,
our communities suffer. Only a system of full rights for all workers
- including the right to find gainful employment in their countries
of origin - can begin to correct the current system that has become
so dangerously skewed in favor of business.

Laura Carlsen (lcarlsen(at) is director of the Americas
Policy Program ( in Mexico City, where she has
been an analyst and writer for two decades. She is also a Foreign
Policy In Focus columnist.

Review: Illegal People
Mary Bauer | December 10, 2008
Editor: Emily Schwartz Greco

Michele Wucker's review of David Bacon's excellent book, Illegal
People: How Globalization Creates Immigration and Criminalizes
Immigrants, misses the mark. Wucker is put off by Bacon's supposed
emphasis on "bad apple" employers. In fact, Bacon's book argues
compellingly that the problem with the American immigration system
isn't bad-apple employers (although there are certainly many of
them); the problem is structural. And Bacon's book shows that it's a
structure the United States has created that leads directly to the
abuses Bacon highlights. Reading this book as merely a condemnation
of bad corporations misses the real insights the book has to offer.

What Bacon's book does better than anything I have read before is to
explain the cycle of that structure and how it leads inevitably to
the abuses he catalogues. He starts at the beginning of the cycle -
the forces in Mexico and other nations that drive people northward
from the homes they love. Bacon often focuses on Oaxaca and the
agricultural life, rich in tradition and culture, if not money, that
had been possible for many before the North American Free Trade
Agreement (NAFTA). He describes the breakdown of that life that NAFTA
pushed into place, making small farming in rural Mexico impossible.
After the NAFTA "reforms," longtime peasant farmers found that there
was literally no market for their product, and there was thus no
possibility for earning income in their home communities.

Bacon also describes in compelling terms the structures in place in
the United States that serve to oppress people as workers once they
arrive in the United States, driven from their homes. One of Bacon's
most persuasive sections describes the guestworker programs in
existence in the United States. He exposes these programs as
structurally exploitative - not merely the product of a few bad
employers. He also demonstrates the powerful political forces - in
government and business - that have used enforcement against
vulnerable immigrants in efforts to force the nation to accept that
immigration reform must take the shape of large-scale guestworker
programs. He shows how enforcement, in the form of large and
small-scale immigration raids - is being used for the most nefarious
political purposes: to destroy worker-organizing efforts and to move
forward a political agenda toward guestworker programs at the expense
of a just immigration reform.

A reading of this book that contends that Bacon focuses on "bad
apple" employers misses the real contributions of this book. There
are millions of employers, some better, some worse. But, whether or
not they involve bad apple employers, guestworker programs are
inherently abusive. Our current immigration system is, too. Bacon's
book explains why, from beginning to end. He also points us to a
future of hope - where those who do the hard work of living are able
to be full participants in our social and political life.

Mary Bauer is the Director of the Immigrant Justice Project at the
Southern Poverty Law Center and the author of Close to Slavery:
Guestworker Programs in the United States. She is also a contributor
to Foreign Policy In Focus.

Review: Broken Immigration System
Michele Wucker | September 25, 2008
Editor: Emily Schwartz Greco

Immigration reform advocates still disagree over the Senate's failed
2007 attempt to push through legislation that would have provided a
path to legalization for the estimated 12 million undocumented
immigrants in the United States. Unions and big business had briefly
allied in supporting a legalization program combined with an increase
in visas. But the partnership collapsed after an ill-begotten attempt
to secure the bill's passage, which added so many noxious provisions
that it lost many of its supporters while failing to win over
implacable opponents.

David Bacon's new book, Illegal People: How Globalization Creates
Immigration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press), suggests that
no reform was better than the half-hearted measure that crashed and
burned. His argument could improve the next round of attempts to
rationalize America's broken immigration system.

A wave of widely publicized crackdowns on employers and family homes
has intensified following the Senate bill's demise, fulfilling the
worst predictions of the flawed immigration bill's advocates. Nursing
mothers were separated from their babies. Thousands of workers were
seized at their jobs while their employers went largely unpunished
except for a few days' lost work. Such shameful policies have
escalated in intensity, but they continue the longer, wider pattern
of injustice that Bacon details.

Through vivid stories, Illegal People shows how current immigration
laws hurt citizens and legal immigrants as well as the undocumented
immigrants whom the laws target. "Legalization isn't just important
to migrants - it is a basic step in the preservation and extension of
democratic rights for all people," Bacon writes.
Rotten Apples

He convincingly demonstrates how the system in its current form
rewards the "bad-apple" employers and hurts workers. He gives only
glancing attention to the ways in which the system also hurts the
employers who would hire workers with papers if the system provided a
way to do so, and who understand that healthy, trained workers who do
not constantly fear deportation are more productive.

Bacon's cut-and-dried labor-good, corporate-bad message doesn't leave
room for such subtleties. This is too bad, because a legalization
program with a path to citizenship depends on wide support from labor
and "good" businesses with common interests to counter the small but
loud nativist minority that believes in delivering death threats to
members of Congress. For Bacon the game is simply employer versus
worker, as evidenced in his conviction that the guest-worker plan was
not merely a compromise but the employers' intended outcome all along.

To be sure, President George W. Bush's original proposal in 2005
envisioned a guest-worker program without a path to citizenship. But
Senate draft bills in 2006 and 2007 both included provisions for
access to permanent residence and citizenship as well as
"portability" of work visas that would free workers from dependence
on specific employers. Many businesses and their lobbies supported
these reforms; they were as disappointed as was labor over the
last-minute changes that re-emphasized temporary labor and threw
obstacles in the way of a path to citizenship.

Still, it's easy to see where Bacon's distrust of all employers is
coming from, with bad-apple examples as heinous as the many that he
gives. Tales of cheating and abuse-gaming scales so that workers paid
by piece rate would get less money, deductions for "equipment
rental," 11-hour days with no lunch break or overtime, and wages that
didn't cover living expenses charged by the company are on a par with
the kinds of practices I've seen in impoverished countries that are
regularly accused of slavery. There's a delicious irony when the
American Civil Liberties Union and Yale Law School use the labor side
accord in the North American Free Trade Agreement to file charges
against the Department of Labor and U.S. immigration authorities.
Cut-Rate Corn

Speaking of apples, it's the agricultural employers who come off
looking the worst. Bacon does the movement a great service in showing
the financial interests of Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) the
heinous HR 4437's lead sponsor. That bill would have penalized
churches for aiding undocumented workers, in promoting restrictive
immigration policies. With Sensenbrenner's family ties to the company
going back a century, the Kimberly-Clark paper conglomerate uses
thousands of immigrant workers each year to convert forests into wood
pulp and directly benefits when rights remain out of the reach of
migrant workers. (Let's hope that Bacon sets sight on the money trail
between U.S. lawmakers and the rapidly growing immigrant
detention-center industry.)

With rich-country agricultural subsidies rightly at the center of the
developing world's gripes, Bacon misses an opportunity in the chapter
on the North American Free Trade Agreement. He rightly contends that
U.S. corn exports under NAFTA have increased migration by driving
Mexican farmers and farm workers off the land. Agricultural subsidies
- courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer - allow big U.S. corporations to sell
Mexico corn at prices far below the price at which Mexican farmers
could break even, much less make a living. Bacon doesn't go into
anywhere near the kind of specific detail here in which he excels
elsewhere in the book, and which would have been far more effective
than relying on simple anti-corporate boilerplate.

When talking about policy options within the United States, however,
Bacon makes an essential point that is too often lost in a political
arena with little room for complexity: Political and social rights
for immigrants must be an integral part of a broad agenda for change.
As long as Americans are insecure about their own jobs, housing,
healthcare, education, and workplace rights, they will be vulnerable
to the toxic misinformation spread by the anti-immigrant right.

Neither immigrants nor Americans will be well served by a reform that
provides only, or mainly, temporary visas without allowing guest
workers to convert to permanent-resident and eventually citizen
status. Will the intensified raids of the past two years wake
Americans up to the moral, economic, and societal consequences of our
poor policy choices and open the way to changes that protect all
worker rights by giving migrant workers a path to legalization and
citizenship? If so, then perhaps there will be a silver lining to the
failure of attempts to date. Our record so far isn't encouraging.

Michele Wucker, a Foreign Policy In Focus contributor, is the
executive director of the World Policy Institute in New York City and
the author of Lockout: Why America Keeps Getting Immigration Wrong
When Our Prosperity Depends on Getting It Right.

Isabel Garcia: Compassion and courage earn reward

Isabel Garcia has been a powerful, if controversial, defender of immigrants' human rights and now her efforts are being rewarded. Clearly, the immigrants need a voice and she is a competent leader. -Angela

Our Opinion: Isabel Garcia: Compassion and courage earn reward
Published: 12.13.2008
Congratulations to Isabel Garcia, whose determined and compassionate service to indigenous and immigrant communities finally has won positive national recognition.
Garcia this week was given the Lannan Foundation's $150,000 Cultural Freedom Award.
We would like to supplement that award with 1 million thanks.
Garcia has some spiteful enemies in the Tucson area, certainly, but they are outnumbered by her friends, fans and supporters.
She co-founded the local Coalición Derechos Humanos (Coalition of Human Rights), which defends immigrants' rights and publicizes conditions on our border with Mexico.
She also fearlessly puts herself front and center at every opportunity to raise awareness about the hostility and maltreatment doled out to indigenous peoples, including illegal immigrants.
Controversy erupted in July, for example, when she and other activists picketed outside a book-signing by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is accused in lawsuits of targeting Latinos specifically for harassment and arrests.
After young activists decapitated a piñata resembling Arpaio, Garcia carried the sheriff's faux head out of the parking lot.
The mere visual incited shrill calls for her to be fired from her job as a deputy public defender for Pima County. But the county's review of the incident showed no wrongdoing, and common sense prevailed.
Garcia even stirred controversy in Mexico when its Commission of Human Rights wanted to give her an award in November 2006.
She would not accept unless Mexico would let her speak on that nation's "silence and complicity in the deaths of over 5,000 migrants on the border."
Officials agreed but reneged once she was there. So Garcia refused to attend the ceremony and instead held her own news conference.
Now she has the Lannan Foundation's Cultural Freedom Award, for "people whose extraordinary and courageous work celebrates the human right to freedom of imagination, inquiry, and expression."

Past recipients include Mahmoud Darwish, Palestinian poet and human rights advocate; Helen Caldicott, physician and activist; and Robert Fisk, British journalist and author.
Clearly Garcia, who is investing most of her award back into Derechos Humanos, is in good company. And with her in our community, we're in good company, too. Congratulations.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Mexico's bloody drug war

Wow! Check this out. "An official in El Paso estimated that up to 100,000 dual U.S.-Mexican citizens, mostly upper middle class, have fled north from Juarez to his city this year. Only those lacking means to escape remain." How can the U.S. be numb to this as Danelo suggests?

Another frightening comment: "When 45,000 federal troops are outgunned and outspent by opponents of uncertain but robust size, the state's legitimacy quickly deteriorates."

I’m just not sure what outside of legalizing drugs is going to help Mexico in this crisis. And of course, that would be a big, big deal to accomplish. It just seems to me that turning these guys into capitalists would not be too dissimilar from the way that the U.S. dealt with prohibition. Then they could be taxed for rehabilitation and education.We have such an extraordinary crisis brewing. Where’s the leadership with the good policy ideas and solutions?

Also, check out this video and report by Sam Quiñones.

Also, here's a link to a video that Sam Quiñones made about one of the victims in the shooting.


From the Los Angeles Times
Mexico's bloody drug war
The drug violence in Mexico rivals death tolls in Iraq.
By David Danelo

December 10, 2008

On Nov. 3, the day before Americans elected Barack Obama president, drug cartel henchmen murdered 58 people in Mexico. It was the highest number killed in one day since President Felipe Calderon took office in December 2006. By comparison, on average 26 people -- Americans and Iraqis combined -- died daily in Iraq in 2008. Mexico's casualty list on Nov. 3 included a man beheaded in Ciudad Juarez whose bloody corpse was suspended along an overpass for hours. No one had the courage to remove the body until dark.

The death toll from terrorist attacks in Mumbai two weeks ago, although horrible, approaches the average weekly body count in Mexico's war. Three weeks ago in Juarez, which is just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, telephone messages and banners threatened teachers that if they failed to pay protection money to cartels, their students would suffer brutal consequences. Local authorities responded by assigning 350 teenage police cadets to the city's 900 schools. If organized criminals wish to extract tribute from teachers, businessmen, tourists or anyone else, there is nothing the Mexican government can do to stop them. For its part, the United States has become numb to this norm.

As part of my ongoing research into border issues, I have visited Juarez six times over the last two years. Each time I return, I see a populace under greater siege. Residents possess a mentality that increasingly resembles the one I witnessed as a Marine officer in Baghdad, Fallouja and Ramadi.

"The police are nothing," a forlorn cab driver told me in September. "They cannot protect anyone. We can go nowhere else. We live in fear."

An official in El Paso estimated that up to 100,000 dual U.S.-Mexican citizens, mostly upper middle class, have fled north from Juarez to his city this year. Only those lacking means to escape remain.

At the same time, with the U.S. economy in free fall, many illegal immigrants are returning south. So illegal immigration -- the only border issue that seems to stir the masses -- made no splash in this year's elections. Mexico's chaos never surfaced as a topic in either the foreign or domestic policy presidential debates.

Despite the gravity of the crisis, our closest neighbor has fallen off our political radar. Heaven help you if you bring up the border violence at a Washington dinner party. Nobody -- Republican or Democrat -- wants to approach this thorny discussion.

Mexico, our second-largest trading partner, is a fragmenting state that may spiral toward failure as the recession and drug violence worsen. Remittances to Mexico from immigrant labor have fallen almost 20% in 2008. Following oil, tourism and remittances, drugs are the leading income stream in the Mexican economy.

While the bottom is dropping out of the oil and tourism markets, the American street price of every narcotic has skyrocketed, in part because of recent drug interdiction successes along the U.S. border.

Unfortunately, this toxic economic cocktail also stuffs the cartels' coffers. Substitute tribal clans for drug cartels, and Mexico starts to look disturbingly similar to Afghanistan, whose economy is fueled by the heroin-based poppy trade.

Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, Obama's pick for Homeland Security director, has argued for permanently stationing National Guard troops along the border. That response alone will do little to assuage American border citizens. To them, talk of "violence bleeding over" is political pabulum while they watch their southern neighbors bleed.

If Napolitano wishes to stabilize the border, she will have to persuade the Pentagon and the State Department to take a greater interest in Mexico. Despite Calderon's commendable efforts to fight both the cartels and police corruption, this struggle shows no signs of slowing. When 45,000 federal troops are outgunned and outspent by opponents of uncertain but robust size, the state's legitimacy quickly deteriorates.

The Mexican state has not faced this grave a challenge to its authority since the Mexican revolution nearly a century ago.

If you want to see what Mexico will look like if this pattern continues, visit a border city like Tijuana, where nine beheaded bodies were discovered in plastic bags 10 days ago. Inhale the stench of decay. Inspect the fear on the faces. And then ask yourself how the United States is prepared to respond as Mexico's crisis increasingly becomes our own.

David J. Danelo is the author of "The Border: Exploring the U.S.-Mexican Divide" and "Blood Stripes: The Grunt's View of the War in Iraq."

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Mexico planting own 'green wall' along border

Kudos to the Government of Coahila for doing this. The blight is the U.S.-wall that will get covered up with greenery. What a fitting symbol particularly in light of the ecological devastation that this wall is already causing.


Mexico planting own 'green wall' along border
Line of trees to serve as protest against U.S. barrier, environmental awareness booster.

By Jeremy Schwartz
Sunday, December 07, 2008

CIUDAD ACUA, Coahuila — Tractor-trailers rumble across the bridge above, but down on the Rio Grande, it's a peaceful autumn morning as ducks paddle the river and herons glide from bank to bank.

On the U.S. side of the river, in Del Rio , plans are moving ahead for a controversial security wall that will eventually stretch across 670 miles of the southwest border.

But on the Mexican side, authorities have begun work on an entirely different kind of wall: a so-called green wall, made of 400,000 trees to be planted along 217 miles of the Rio Grande. Eventually, Mexican leaders hope the green wall will stretch the entire length of Mexico's shared border with Texas.

Officials in the state of Coahuila, where the project is beginning, call the green wall a rejection of the U.S. border barrier. The local Mexican officials hope the clusters of cypress, mesquite and ash trees will stand in stark contrast to the concrete and steel fencing being erected by the U.S. Homeland Security Department.

"This is a signal of protest, but it's also an opportunity for dialogue to find shared solutions to the question of immigration," said Gabriela de Valle del Bosque , Coahuila's environmental policy coordinator .

De Valle said the green wall will be an opportunity to bring more environmental consciousness to Mexican border communities. Area residents also will participate in riverside cleanups and classes on ecology and recycling.

Local officials hope the green wall will bring more attention to environmental worries associated with the U.S. border wall, particularly the migration of species such as white-tailed deer.

"If they put in the wall, Mexicans will find another way to get across, but the deer and other animals are not going to find a solution like Mexicans will," said Carlos Lombardo Gomez, who is in charge of technical matters associated with the green wall.

Coahuila Gov. Humberto Moreira said the green wall will result in Mexico's longest parkland corridor.

Moreira is no stranger to grand gestures. His administration has garnered national headlines in Mexico by ushering in a gay marriage law and has promised a state death penalty for murderous kidnappers, even though Mexico now outlaws the death penalty.

At a ceremony marking the start of the green wall, Moreira blasted the U.S. border barrier as a "wall of hate."

U.S. officials say the border fence is needed to bolster security along the southwest border. And supporters of the U.S. border wall warn that Mexico's green version could potentially aid drug runners and human smugglers.

Jim Gilchrist, president of the Minuteman Project, a U.S. activist group that monitors the border flow of illegal immigrants, said the green wall will "provide effective camouflage for criminal drug and human cargo cartels as they mass their illicit products behind the tree lines, awaiting delivery into the U.S. under cover of darkness."

So far, the state of Coahuila, which extends opposite Big Bend National Park almost to the outskirts of Laredo, has planted 2,500 trees along 25 miles of border. The state has approved about $1 million for the tree-planting program. Plans would extend the green wall in other border states such as Tamaulipas and Chihuahua.

The U.S. border wall is unpopular along much of the Texas border and has been opposed by most border communities in the state.

Despite that opposition, federal officials say that 90 percent to 95 percent of the 670-mile barrier should be completed or under construction before President Bush's term ends in January.

The City of Eagle Pass recently lost a court battle against the U.S. government over the border fence, and construction has begun near the city's downtown. Mayor Chad Foster , one of the border wall's most outspoken critics, said he doubts the change of administrations will halt the wall.

"I don't think President-elect Obama will take office soon enough to impact (the) damage being done in our town," Foster said.

So far, 426 miles of pedestrian and vehicle fencing have been built, according to the Homeland Security Department, but that includes just 25 miles in Texas.

Federal officials plan to build 116 miles in the state.

In Mexico, few think the green wall will have any real impact on the U.S. border barrier, but local residents are happy that it will bring more green spaces and parks.

Arturo de la Cruz Talavera, who runs daily at a park beneath the international bridge in Ciudad Acuña, is looking forward to the day when the green wall saplings grow into mature trees.

"The green wall is in favor of life, it will create oxygen," he said. "It's not like the steel wall, which just rejects."

Find this article at:

Statement on U.S. Mexico Border in today's Austin American Statesman

The extremes never cease to amaze, if not frighten, me. -Angela


Border with Mexico, state schools and Obama's twofer


Sunday, December 07, 2008
Border blight

Re: Dec. 4 New York Times editorial "A cool head on immigration."

It was refreshing to read the editorial about President-elect Barack Obama's selection of Janet Napolitano as secretary of homeland security.

In my opinion, explosives should be placed at strategic points along the fence at the border, from Port Isabel to San Diego, and that abominable blight on the human landscape blown to smithereens. Not only would we save ourselves several billion dollars, we would all feel better about our neighbors.

Carroll O. David

San Marcos

Click here for rest of article.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Critical Statement by Robert Lovato on Tax-payer funded Media

Hope you're well.

As many of you know, NPR has started providing free adertising to the Department of Homeland
Security (DHS), one of the most controversy-ridden, violent and mismanaged parts of the federal government .
Anyone that knows how sophisticated DHS has gotten about improving its bad image through media should recognize this
for what it is: free PR for a repressive & scandal-riddeninstitution, PR paid for with our tax money-twice over. Not only are our taxes paying for
the commericals bought by DHS, what's left of our tax money after the bi-partisan corporate bailout, goes to
pay for part of NPR (ie; the "Public" part of their name)'s ability to underwrite what are known as "funding credits."
Those of you listening to recent broadcast of Latino USA, the independently produced program probably heard the ads.
That even Latino USA, a show that NPR does not fund and that it casts into its scheduling ghetto as part of its
institutional commitment to ignore Latino talent and programming, has to run the E-verify ads says much, much that is wrong with NPR.
Those of you as incensed as I am about this absurdity -how they have us paying for an agency and policies that kill and terrorize immigrants-and then
use it to provide PR for that same agency-should make your voice heard here <>

and by calling your local NPR affiliate. Ask them to yank the E-Verify Ads before February, when NPR's dangerous trial balloon
is scheduled to end.


Roberto Lovato
Contributing Associate Editor
New America Media
244 Madison Avenue, #149
New York, NY 10016

A Note from Bolivia President, Evo Morales

Evo Morales: Save the Planet from Capitalism

Climate Change:
Save the Planet from Capitalism

Sisters and brothers:

Today, our Mother Earth is ill. From the beginning of the 21st century
we have lived the hottest years of the last thousand years. Global
warming is generating abrupt changes in the weather: the retreat of
glaciers and the decrease of the polar ice caps; the increase of the sea
level and the flooding of coastal areas, where approximately 60% of the
world population live; the increase in the processes of desertification
and the decrease of fresh water sources; a higher frequency in natural
disasters that the communities of the earth suffer[1]; the extinction of
animal and vegetal species; and the spread of diseases in areas that
before were free from those diseases.

One of the most tragic consequences of the climate change is that some
nations and territories are the condemned to disappear by the increase
of the sea level.

Everything began with the industrial revolution in 1750, which gave
birth to the capitalist system. In two and a half centuries, the so
called ?developed? countries have consumed a large part of the fossil
fuels created over five million centuries.

Competition and the thirst for profit without limits of the capitalist
system are destroying the planet. Under Capitalism we are not human
beings but consumers. Under Capitalism mother earth does not exist,
instead there are raw materials. Capitalism is the source of the
asymmetries and imbalances in the world. It generates luxury,
ostentation and waste for a few, while millions in the world die from
hunger in the world. In the hands of Capitalism everything becomes a
commodity: the water, the soil, the human genome, the ancestral
cultures, justice, ethics, death ? and life itself. Everything,
absolutely everything, can be bought and sold and under Capitalism. And
even ?climate change? itself has become a business.

?Climate change? has placed all humankind before great choice: to
continue in the ways of capitalism and death, or to start down the path
of harmony with nature and respect for life.

In the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the developed countries and economies in
transition committed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by at
least 5% below the 1990 levels, through the implementation of different
mechanisms among which market mechanisms predominate.

Until 2006, greenhouse effect gases, far from being reduced, have
increased by 9.1% in relation to the 1990 levels, demonstrating also in
this way the breach of commitments by the developed countries.

The market mechanisms applied in the developing countries[2] have not
accomplished a significant reduction of greenhouse effect gas emissions.

Just as well as the market is incapable of regulating global financial
and productive system, the market is unable to regulate greenhouse
effect gas emissions and will only generate a big business for financial
agents and major corporations.

The earth is much more important than stock exchanges of Wall Street and
the world.

While the United States and the European Union allocate 4,100 billion
dollars to save the bankers from a financial crisis that they themselves
have caused, programs on climate change get 313 times less, that is to
say, only 13 billion dollars.

The resources for climate change are unfairly distributed. More
resources are directed to reduce emissions (mitigation) and less to
reduce the effects of climate change that all the countries suffer
(adaptation)[3]. The vast majority of resources flow to those countries
that have contaminated the most, and not to the countries where we have
preserved the environment most. Around 80% of the Clean Development
Mechanism projects are concentrated in four emerging countries.

Capitalist logic promotes a paradox in which the sectors that have
contributed the most to deterioration of the environment are those that
benefit the most from climate change programs.

At the same time, technology transfer and the financing for clean and
sustainable development of the countries of the South have remained just

The next summit on Climate Change in Copenhagen must allow us to make a
leap forward if we want to save Mother Earth and humanity. For that
purpose the following proposals for the process from Poznan to Copenhagen:

Attack the structural causes of climate change

1) Debate the structural causes of climate change. As long as we do not
change the capitalist system for a system based in complementarity,
solidarity and harmony between the people and nature, the measures that
we adopt will be palliatives that will limited and precarious in
character. For us, what has failed is the model of ?living better?, of
unlimited development, industrialisation without frontiers, of modernity
that deprecates history, of increasing accumulation of goods at the
expense of others and nature. For that reason we promote the idea of
Living Well, in harmony with other human beings and with our Mother Earth.

2) Developed countries need to control their patterns of consumption -
of luxury and waste - especially the excessive consumption of fossil
fuels. Subsidies of fossil fuel, that reach 150-250 billions of
dollars[4], must be progressively eliminated. It is fundamental to
develop alternative forms of power, such as solar, geothermal, wind and
hydroelectric both at small and medium scales.

3) Agrofuels are not an alternative, because they put the production of
foodstuffs for transport before the production of food for human beings.
Agrofuels expand the agricultural frontier destroying forests and
biodiversity, generate monocropping, promote land concentration,
deteriorate soils, exhaust water sources, contribute to rises in food
prices and, in many cases, result in more consumption of more energy
than is produced.

Substantial commitments to emissions reduction that are met

4) Strict fulfilment by 2012 of the commitments[5] of the developed
countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least by 5% below the
1990 levels. It is unacceptable that the countries that polluted the
planet throughout the course of history make statements about larger
reductions in the future while not complying with their present commitments.

5) Establish new minimum commitments for the developed countries of
greenhouse gas emission reduction of 40% by 2020 and 90% by for 2050,
taking as a starting point 1990 emission levels. These minimum
commitments must be met internally in developed countries and not
through flexible market mechanisms that allow for the purchase of
certified emissions reduction certificates to continue polluting in
their own country. Likewise, monitoring mechanisms must be established
for the measuring, reporting and verifying that are transparent and
accessible to the public, to guarantee the compliance of commitments.

6) Developing countries not responsible for the historical pollution
must preserve the necessary space to implement an alternative and
sustainable form of development that does not repeat the mistakes of
savage industrialisation that has brought us to the current situation.
To ensure this process, developing countries need, as a prerequisite,
finance and technology transfer.

An Integral Financial Mechanism to address ecological debt

7) Acknowledging the historical ecological debt that they owe to the
planet, developed countries must create an Integral Financial Mechanism
to support developing countries in: implementation of their plans and
programmes for adaptation to and mitigation of climate change; the
innovation, development and transfer of technology; in the preservation
and improvement of the sinks and reservoirs; response actions to the
serious natural disasters caused by climate change; and the carrying out
of sustainable and eco-friendly development plans.

8) This Integral Financial Mechanism, in order to be effective, must
count on a contribution of at least 1% of the GDP in developed
countries[6] and other contributions from taxes on oil and gas,
financial transactions, sea and air transport, and the profits of
transnational companies.

9) Contributions from developed countries must be additional to Official
Development Assistance (ODA), bilateral aid or aid channelled through
organisms not part of the United Nations. Any finance outside the UNFCCC
cannot be considered as the fulfilment of developed country?s
commitments under the Convention.

10) Finance has to be directed to the plans or national programmes of
the different States and not to projects that follow market logic.

11) Financing must not be concentrated just in some developed countries
but has to give priority to the countries that have contributed less to
greenhouse gas emissions, those that preserve nature and are suffering
the impact of climate change.

12) The Integral Financial Mechanism must be under the coverage of the
United Nations, not under the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and
other intermediaries such as the World Bank and regional development
banks; its management must be collective, transparent and
non-bureaucratic. Its decisions must be made by all member countries,
especially by developing countries, and not by the donors or
bureaucratic administrators.

Technology Transfer to developing countries

13) Innovation and technology related to climate changes must be within
the public domain, not under any private monopolistic patent regime that
obstructs and makes technology transfer more expensive to developing

14) Products that are the fruit of public financing for technology
innovation and development of have to be placed within the public domain
and not under a private regime of patents[7], so that they can be freely
accessed by developing countries.

15) Encourage and improve the system of voluntary and compulsory
licenses so that all countries can access products already patented
quickly and free of cost. Developed countries cannot treat patents and
intellectual property rights as something ?sacred? that has to be
preserved at any cost. The regime of flexibilities available for the
intellectual property rights in the cases of serious problems for public
health has to be adapted and substantially enlarged to heal Mother Earth.

16) Recover and promote indigenous peoples practices in harmony with
nature which have proven to be sustainable through centuries.

Adaptation and mitigation with the participation of all the people

17) Promote mitigation actions, programs and plans with the
participation of local communities and indigenous people in the
framework of full respect for and implementation of the United Nations
Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The best mechanism to
confront the challenge of climate change are not market mechanisms, but
conscious, motivated, and well organized human beings endowed with an
identity of their own.

18) The reduction of the emissions from deforestation and forest
degradation must be based on a mechanism of direct compensation from
developed to developing countries, through a sovereign implementation
that ensures broad participation of local communities, and a mechanism
for monitoring, reporting and verifying that is transparent and public.

A UN for the Environment and Climate Change

19) We need a World Environment and Climate Change Organization to which
multilateral trade and financial organizations are subordinated, so as
to promote a different model of development that environmentally
friendly and resolves the profound problems of impoverishment. This
organization must have effective follow-up, verification and sanctioning
mechanisms to ensure that the present and future agreements are complied

20) It is fundamental to structurally transform the World Trade
Organization, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the
international economic system as a whole, in order to guarantee fair and
complementary trade, as well as financing without conditions for
sustainable development that avoids the waste of natural resources and
fossil fuels in the production processes, trade and product transport.

In this negotiation process towards Copenhagen, it is fundamental to
guarantee the participation of our people as active stakeholders at a
national, regional and worldwide level, especially taking into account
those sectors most affected, such as indigenous peoples who have always
promoted the defense of Mother Earth.

Humankind is capable of saving the earth if we recover the principles of
solidarity, complementarity, and harmony with nature in contraposition
to the reign of competition, profits and rampant consumption of natural

November 28, 2008

Evo Morales Ayma

President of Bolivia