Saturday, October 09, 2021

Reaping the Whirlwind: Ending Illegal Immigration

Once again, we're being force to turn our attention to our southern border. At present, there's over 200,000 immigrants gathered along the Mexican border looking to cross into America. Reports indicate that there another 60,000 or more working their way up from South and Central America in hopes of crossing too. 

Meanwhile, 1.1 million illegal immigrants have been caught this fiscal year. Many (perhaps a majority) are unvaccinated, be it Covid, TB, measles, mumps, chickenpox or whatever. What motivates these individuals to make a thousand mile (or more) trek to come to the United States?

The majority of these individuals are coming to seek a better life, which is pretty much the motive millions of others have made to come this once "Land of Plenty".  Many of the countries they are fleeing are rife with  governmental corruption, from the local cop on the street on up the line to the president. Nevertheless, "economic asylum" is not consider a bonafide reason for acceptance according to the United Nations and U.S. immigration law (even Amnesty International agrees).

Their economic opportunities are limited, primarily due to a poor social infrastructure, poorer education, and history of suppression dating back centuries in which wealthy and powerful land owners, in conjunction with the Catholic Church, conspired to keep the much poorer "peon" class of workers just that---poor and largely uneducated.  As a result, a large viable middle class never firmly took root.

Attempts to form unions or adopt a more "liberal" interpretation of the Christianity through doctrines like Liberation Theology which promoted breaking up large estates, better pay, and improved education, were crushed, often violently. In the case of Liberation Theology, everyone from bishops and priests down to parishioners were threatened with excommunication from the Vatican itself.  Union organizers, community activists, doctors, and teachers, were often beaten, jailed, and on numerous occasions, found to have "gone missing".

Meanwhile,  governments elected by popular vote (often democratic socialists) typically found themselves overthrown in violent coups (under the ubiquitous term of "regime changes"), such in as in Argentina, Paraguay, Columbia, Bolivia, and elsewhere, thanks to backing by the CIA and other agencies.  Key officials were assassinated, especially if these governments or their policies ran afoul of certain special interests in the U.S.. 

For instance, under CIA backed Chilean General Augusto Pinochet's government, an estimated 40,000 individuals suffered human rights violations (some were formally arrested. Many weren't). Some 10,000 were tortured. 1,312 were exiled, and at least 2,279 simply "disappeared", while dozens of opposition leaders and members of unions, political associations, and opposition media were assassinated.

With these ousters, right wing military juntas typically stepped in, with the blessing of the U.S State Department and the virtual guarantee of American economic and military aide (in exchange, of course, for strategic concessions of natural resources, support of U.S. regional policies, or perhaps the use of local facilities for military or intelligence purposes ("enhanced interrogation" anyone?).   

The end result, was the creation of a society which had a underlining theme of distrust of the government (including the police and military), which were often corrupt, an economy with a small and powerless middle class with limited opportunities; both of which being highly dependent on the U.S. corporations for jobs and foreign aid to keep their government afloat---$314 million just for fiscal year 2021 went to Latin America alone. 

What happens without American corporate investment or foreign aid? Take a look at Cuba or Venezuela. The U.S. imposed its embargo in 1963 (which was loosened in 2002 for Humanitarian purposes). Nevertheless, Cuba's economic development is decades behind most countries, despite past assistance from the former USSR and other countries which ignored the embargo, such as Venezuela, Mexico, Canada, Spain, Brazil, and the Netherlands.

It's worth nothing that in the 1950's, almost two-thirds of Cuba's imports came from the United States, not to mention billions in U.S. tourism which viewed Cuba as another Las Vegas or Reno but cheaper and with better weather and beaches! 

Beginning around 2004, Venezuela's President, Hugo Chavez, created the "ALBA", or the Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of Our America, which was designed to circumvent U.S. political and economic dominance of the region and the America led Free Trade Area of the Americas. 

 Thanks to Venezuela's booming oil soaked economy, ALBA also created a central bank of its own---the Unified System of Regional Compensation, which sought to provide financial support of regional countries, as well as help develop infrastructure, create a unified military for ALBA members similar to NATO, a trade arbitration court, collectively  improve education and medical care independent of the World Bank and IMF (International Monetary Fund) while simultaneously reducing the use of the U.S. Dollar as the default currency.  Needless to say, the U.S. was not pleased with ALBA or Hugo Chavez.

The collapse of the Venezuelan economy is viewed by many economists, political scientists, sociologists, and historians as one of the worse since the end of World War II, outstripping the fall of the USSR and the Eastern Bloc, Zimbabwe under dictator Robert Mugabe, post-war Europe and Japan, Cuba post-embargo, much of Africa, and perhaps even Haiti which has face numerous natural disasters amid an corrupt and incompetent government. 

The causes of Venezuela's collapse are as disputed as they are varied. Some claim that the collapse was over extension of Hugo Chavez's "socialist" or "populist" economic policies which focused on social welfare. Others point out that the economy was doing well until Chavez's death in 2013 of a massive heart attack and ongoing complications from stomach cancer. It should be noted that his supporters claimed and still maintain that because of his "independent" and "democratic socialist" polices, he was assassinated by the CIA; a charge the U.S. has steadfastly denied.

Before going further, we need to briefly examine Chavez's policies and political ideology. Chavez regarded himself as a populist first and foremost. He was an avid supporter of economic communes and co-ops, land reform, extending public education, ending income inequality (which took Venezuela from near the top of the worse in 1998 to one of the best, just behind Canada by 2011), improved healthcare ( particularly improved infant mortality rates), and greatly reduced poverty levels.

Chavez was never "anti-American". He considered himself a supporter of the American People. It was, however, the American government that he both disliked and distrusted. He was a strong opponent of what he regarded as "colonial imperialism", especially when it came to foreign corporate dominance of local economies, as well as "welfare economies" which were dependent on U.S. foreign aid.

In terms of ideology, Chavez was hesitant in referring to himself as a "Communist". He did acknowledge being a "Trotskyite" in that he believed in a "permanent revolution" for social justice. He was a "democratic socialist" which blended the best of capitalism with the best of socialism and democracy. Overall, he saw himself as a Marxist (which differs from the Stalinist version of Communism we're all so familiar with).

Chavez's chief failure was his economy's near total dependence on oil and gas to run the economy. He failed to develop an adequate supporting economic infrastructure such as manufacturing which could pick up the slack should oil and gas prices take a sustained drop in price (which it did). With this, his second major failure was his direct challenge to the IMF, World Bank, along with United States and its potential corporate investments which could have brought in jobs and tax revenues.

After Chavez's death in 2013, Nicolas Maduro was elected president based on his promises to continue with Chavez's policies. However, amid claims of corruption, incompetence, increased authoritarianism, inadequate trade partners, and economic sanctions by the U.S., the European Union, the Lima Group, and others, plus the lack of economic investments, the economy began to falter.

 Once U.S. sanctions were extended to include oil and gas, along with the suppression of oil and gas prices globally, the Venezuelan economy went into a freefall. Venezuela suffered mass unemployment, widespread power outages, massive shortages of food, fresh water and other necessities, plus a huge uptick in crime, especially gang violence backed by narco-crime cartels. The IMF has predicted that Venezuela's inflation rate by the end of 2021 will be 5,500%.  As an aside, in October 1923, the inflation rate in Germany's Weimar Republic was 29,500%. Prices doubled ever three and a half days.

Meanwhile, supporters of President Maduro blamed the U.S. for instigating a de facto economic coup to overthrow Chavez's polices to build a viable democratic socialist country by merging aspects of capitalism, democracy and socialism, bypassing the "predatory capitalism" of U.S. regional policies, the World Bank and the IMF. Maduro's supporters call it a undeclared "economic war" on Venezuela.

Nevertheless, the implosion of Venezuela's economy affected the entire region, including Honduras, Panama, and Columbia. Even larger economies such as Brazil and Mexico have been affected. The result is the mass exodus to "el Norte" and ultimately to what they hope will be a new start. Most don't want to become citizens. They have no interest in learning our laws, traditions, or values. They don't want to learn anymore English than necessary to get and hold a job. 

Many have been told by the drug cartel "coyotes" who led them on their thousand mile journey that America and "Tio Sam" will welcome them, along with their fellow Latinos in America (many "coyotes" make up to $10,000 per head illegally smuggling people into the U.S.). The "anti-illegal immigration" rhetoric they've heard is just that---rhetoric. It's "BS" by the corporate media to discourage the rest of the world from coming to America. If they can just reach and cross the border, all their problems will be over. They will receive free housing and healthcare, good paying jobs, and catered education for their children in Spanish...if they can just reach and cross the border.

Unfortunately, America's off again/on again immigration policy has created just enough doubt to make the stories of the coyotes believable. Build a wall. Tear down a wall. More border patrol. Less border patrol with reduced ability to apprehend. Meanwhile, we have defacto criminals in the U.S. willing to defy immigration laws to help people illegally cross the border. Most are churches and religious organizations who believe the Church is above any laws. They've built complex networks to help whisk individuals away from the border and on to a new life forever on the run. 

These naive "do-gooders" will pass them on to individuals who will teach them how to circumvent law enforcement and play the system to get free (and unquestioned) healthcare, housing, jobs, and how to get their children into schools (and often taught in their native language) as well as "free" legal assistance should they need it... all on the taxpayer's dollar of course.

Of course, all are subject to deportation the instant they're caught. But even that's not so bad. Anyone caught, either at the border or someplace else, is subject to a taxpayer paid medical checkup for one and all (along with any needed medication), three meals until they're put on a taxpayer paid bus or airplane and returned home where they're free to try it again.

We are seeing the thousands upon thousands trying to illegally cross our borders on a regular basis. Most are doing so as a result of our foreign policy, which is directed by powerful corporate players. Until we stop meddling in the affairs of other countries, we will continue to face the specter of illegal immigration which will increasingly stain our near broken social safety net and overwhelm us.

This doesn't mean withdrawing into ourselves and cocooning away from the world as we tried in the first half of the 20th Century. It does, however, mean that we stop interfering with other nation's elections regardless of whether we like who they chose or not. It also means that we should work within their economic and social policies to create a fair and just outcome. Until we do, we will continue to reap the whirlwind we've sown. Want to know more? Check out the sites below.


CRS: U.S. Foreign Assistance to Latin America and theCaribbean: FY2021 Appropriations

Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America

Venezuela's Collapse Is the Worse Outside of War on Decades, Economists Say


How one migrant family got caught between smugglers, the cartel, and Trump's zero-tolerance policy

Migrant encounters at Us-Mexico border are at a 21 year high

U.S.-Mexico border apprehensions for the fiscal year surpass1 million this June

The Lima Group

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