Global Citizen: December 2008 Archives

Global Slowdown In Remittances

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An article in the Washington Times pointed me towards a recent report by the International Organization for Migration, which is describing a global slowdown in remittances.

The flow of remittances to developing nations - currently about $283 billion, according to the World Bank - could decline by up to 9 percent because of the global slowdown, he said.

India was the top recipient of remittances last year, amounting to $27 billion, or about 3 percent of its gross domestic product.

Remittances received by China reached $25.7 billion; the Philippines, $17.2 billion; and Bangladesh, $6.6 billion; according to the IOM's "World Migration 2008" report.

Mexico got $25.7 billion in 2007, it said.
John Zaracostas - Washington Times (8 December 2008)
Remittances are the life blood of many people living in the majority world. This economic slowdown and the fall of remittances could be disastrous for many migrant sending nations.

This week's entry for Music on Monday is Thievery Corporation's new album Radio Retaliation.

It's in-your-face majority world political trip-hop/dub, featuring artists like Seu Jorge and Femi Kuti. Don't let the message distract you from the music, though--both are great. From the group's website:

"Radio Retaliation is definitely a more overt political statement," says Rob Garza of Thievery Corporation. "There's no excuse for not speaking out at this point, with the suspension of habeas corpus, outsourced torture, illegal wars of aggression, fuel, food, and economic crises. It's hard to close your eyes and sleep while the world is burning around you. If you are an artist, this is the most essential time to speak up." So that's exactly what they do with their new album.

Recording in their Washington DC based studio, Rob Garza and Eric Hilton, better known as the international DJ and production duo Thievery Corporation, have managed to blossom in the heart of a city they often refer to as "Babylon;" a poignant reference to the traditional Rastafarian distaste and distrust of a corrupt and unjust modern system. Although the city is best known as the seat of an aggressive American Empire, paradoxically Washington DC has long been the home of a music subculture legendary for fierce independence, a staunch do-it-yourself work ethic, and conscientious social activism exemplified by genre-defining pioneers like godfather of go-go Chuck Brown and indie punk rockers Bad Brains, Minor Threat and Fugazi.

Likewise, although some may lazily pin Thievery Corporation as the soundtrack to their cocktail infused late night soiree, the duo have always drawn deep from the well of independent and confrontational music subculture their home town is known for, to produce an ever expanding globally conscious catalogue of music that is difficult to classify.

Despite it's conservative bent, the Miami Herald continues to be a favorite stop of mine for news on Latin America.  I still often refer back to their informative Children of The Americas feature, which highlights just how bad malnutrition rates are for children in Guatemala.

The Miami Herald is starting a new series, now, on how migration to the U.S. is slowing.  Reporters for the Miami Herald buy into the false notion trumpeted by nativist groups like the Center for Immigration Studies that migration enforcement is actually working.  In reality, it's the economy that's causing the slowdown.

Still the series provides a global perspective on what is too often portrayed from a narrow nationalist point of view.  Here's the introduction to the series, the reasoning for it, and three stories: one on unauthorized migrants going home, another on slowing remittances to El Salvador, and a final story on the steep price migrants have to pay for a few more dollars in the bank.  I like the last two stories on El Salvador the most.