Global Citizen: September 2008 Archives

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't see too many nativists or anti-migrant organization pushing for the real solutions to our immigration issue which has a lot to do with the way our companies and country treats these people abroad.  Rather than promoting fair labor and sustainability in other countries these angry groups only seek to build walls and terror tactics to keep them from coming here.  With this thought I bring you the video titled "The Story of Stuff" which explains how American greed and consumerism is aiding the destruction of economies and environment abroad.

"Our enormously productive economy demands that we make consumption our way of life. That we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals. That we seek our spiritual satisfaction, our ego satisfaction in consumption. We need things consumed, burned up, replaced and discarded at an ever accelerated rate.


"calle sufrida, calle tristeza"

Me llaman calle - "they call me 'street.'" This is a powerful song with a simple but effective video, and you can see here the charisma in Manu's performance that can be heard in his music. Manu is that rare combination of talent and informed political commentary that only comes around maybe once every decade. I am cursing myself right now for missing two of his rare North American performances in recent years right in my old backyard at Prospect Park in Brooklyn.

This song, about the denigration that sex workers face in machista societies (whether north or south of the U.S./Mexico border), raises one of the rare issues where migrant advocates and DHS are mostly on the same page: human trafficking. 

According to the Department of State, 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked internationally every year, and between 14,500 and 17,500 of them are trafficked into or within the United States. Half of these victims are estimated to be children.  Many of the victims end up in forced prostitution.  More information can be found in the State Department's annual Trafficking in Persons Report

Today was a day for remembering, and for asking hard questions.

El Loco at Latinopundit remembers 9/11/01 and 9/11/73, and the tragedies that occurred on the U.S. Eastern Seaboard and in Allende's Chile on those dates.

Karima Bennoune at IntLawGrrls says that

both our contemporary human rights and security discourses on terrorism need to be broadened and renewed. This renewal should be informed by the understanding that international human rights law protects the individual both from terrorism and the excesses of counterterrorism, like torture.
She reminds us that

Counterterrorist policies that violate international law clearly undermine the endeavors of people like Sifaoui and Kheddar. But a human rights response that focuses solely on the impact of counterterrorism, and not of terrorism itself, hinders their work as well. Instead, international lawyers need to develop what Gita Sahgal has called a "human rights account" of terrorism. Perhaps that could be our best contribution to commemorating the terrible events of September 11, 2001.
Duke at Migra Matters recounts the tragic events of 9/11 and then the tragic two weeks that followed during which the Bush administration began preparations for the war in Iraq.  This war has led to the death and displacement of a far greater number of people than the 9/11 attacks.

Nezua provides a very personal look into his world on 9/11 and the subsequent days and weeks. Tracing his ideological and emotional trajectory will hit close to home to many readers, myself included.

And here are my scattered recollections of that day in lower Manhattan, recorded two years ago. I've probably grown even more skeptical since then of those who claim to lead us and of U.S. claims of the efficacy and good faith of its actions abroad. It is a strange experience--I feel at once more cynical and more hopeful than I have felt before.

Cynical when I think of our upcoming election and the ways I feel the U.S. will be stuck in the status quo regardless of who wins the presidency. Hopeful in the potential I see for transnational organizing and a youth movement that knows no borders.

David Bacon on Migration and Globalization

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Award-winning author and photojournalist David Bacon spoke here in D.C. last night at the AFL-CIO about his new book Illegal People: How globalization creates migration and criminalizes immigrants.

Bacon is emphasizing the need to frame the immigration debate in this country within its larger context (economic globalization).  It's globalization that is the cause of so many people having to migrate in the first place.  If earlier migrants (i.e. people already here in the U.S. whose families migrated in previous generations) understand the reason why people in other countries are having to come here now, I think we will be able to have a more rational debate about how to create more humane policies and reduce human suffering all around.  Globalization and immigration are different parts of the same story.  To speak of one without the other is to give only a partial telling of that story. 

Guest Work: A Graduate in Ghana

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I apologize if I'm bombarding everyone with too much rich content at once, but I know if I hold off on these guest works any longer I'll just forget to post them. 

Kia Alexander, originally from Oakland, CA, is a good friend of mine from college.  Instead of following the herd of undergraduates that go into finance, she decided to go her own way and has ended up in Ghana.  She sent me an email update from there and I asked her if I could publish it on Citizen Orange. The only way to solve the problems associated with is through a global perspective and Kia certainly provides that.  Below is the email.
The Organization for Economic Co-Operation And Development (OECD) has put out a "flagship publication on migration" entitled the International Migration Outlook 2008.  According to the BBC, the OECD "represents the world's richest developed countries", so it's conclusions should be taken with a grain of salt. 

Still the summaries of the report that are available give a good overview of global migration, and the fact that it's being studied suggest that the world is finally accepting migration as a global phenomenon that has to be dealt with in a comprehensive manner:
New America Media just published an excellent piece entitled, "The Long Road To America."  Instead of just focusing on the U.S. this piece follows migrants all the way back to the countries from which their fleeing.  It has an especially excellent section on Vietnamese migrants:

I'd like to introduce a new feature here called "Musical Monday" - at least until I think of another name. Some of the music I like ties in to migration in one way or another, and I've been wanting to share it more widely. As information, goods, and (sometimes) people flow more freely than ever before across borders, musicians are writing about it.

In remembrance of those who've died in Haiti in recent weeks, and in the hope that those who need help can be reached in time, the first Musical Monday is Arcade Fire's Black Wave / Bad Vibrations. Arcade Fire co-founder RĂ©gine Chassagne's family migrated from Haiti to Canada to escape the Duvaliers, like some of my former clients. She has sung about her family's homeland on the band's first album, Funeral, and on last year's Neon Bible. This song is very meaningful to me now that I've gotten to know some Haitians who went through some truly horrific experiences before coming to the U.S.
It seems the world has forgotten Haiti as yet another named storm has pounded into the country.  Hurricane Ike has pounded into the country after hundreds were left dead from Tropical Storm Fay, Hurricane Gustav, and Tropical Storm Hanna. 

The Miami Herald reports from the small town of Caberet in Haiti:

Haitian town hit hard by ike: bodies on every street corner

CABARET, HAITI -- In this tiny Haitian town flooded by Hurricane Ike, the grim reality set in Sunday morning as the bodies of a dozen children lay dead on a concrete slab. Mothers wailed, fathers screamed, an entire town was shaken as they tried to count the dead - many of them children and old women swept up by the river. So far, 22 are believed to have died, but the number would likely rise.

Traveled Far Away....

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Last night I had the privilege of attending a benefit concert for a group traveling to Paraguay to help orphaned and abandoned children. It was inspiring to hear the woman who organized this event tell her story.

As a little girl in Paraguay she prayed that one day she could travel far away to help people. Eventually she came to the United States and now, she said "this is my home." She then shared her belief that this country is a wonderful place which which has given her the opportunity to help others. Now, for the fifth year in a row, she'll be traveling back to her country of birth which, no longer her home, is now that far away place.

When you meet people like this it is an awesome experience. I'm sure there are many people like this who visit this site. To those helping others, both near or far, I say thank you. 

Picture: Ariana Cubillos / AP Photo

Thank God.  It looks as if our prayers for the Gulf Coast came through.  But we forgot to pray for the Caribbean.

(For those of you that can't read all the way through this post, skip to the end.  Haiti needs help.) 

According to the latest report I could find from Bloomberg, it appears as if Hurricane Gustav was nowhere near the disaster that Katrina was.  This probably had a lot to do with the fact that Gustav hit the U.S. with a lot less force than was expected. 

With the federal, state, and local governments in the area mobilizing effectively to oversee efforts in the aftermath of the disaster, and the two major presidential candidates taking significant actions for the relief efforts, I'm starting to realize that an entire populations of the people affected by Gustav are being forgotten. 

The U.S. media and politicans seem to have completely forgotten about the Caribbean, where hundreds have died and entire communities have been wiped out.  While U.S. politicians are patting themselves on the back, Haiti is suffering from it's own Katrina.  (Sombrero tip to Peruanista)