politics of immigration
Podcast: Mexico and the struggle for the genetic commons
In Episode 166 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg discusses how a little-noted US-Mexico dispute on trade and agricultural policy has serious implications for the survival of the human race. Washington is preparing to file a complaint under terms of the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement over Mexico's decree banning imports of GMO corn, slated to take effect in January 2024. Concerns about the (unproven) health effects of consuming GMO foods miss the real critique—which is ecological, social and political. GMO seeds are explicitly designed as part of an "input package" intended to get farmers hooked on pesticides and petrochemical fertilizers, and protect the "intellectual property" of private corporations. Agribusiness, which can afford the "input package," comes to dominate the market. Eased by so-called "free trade" policies, agbiz forces the peasantry off the market and ultimately off the land—a process very well advanced in Mexico since NAFTA took effect in 1994, and which is intimately related to the explosion of the narco economy and mass migration. The pending decree in Mexico holds the promise of regenerating sustainable agriculture based on native seed stock. It is also a critical test case, as countries such as Kenya have recently repealed similar policies in light of the global food crisis. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
Tunisia: protest xenophobic attacks on Black Africans
Amnesty International on March 10 called on Tunisia to put an immediate end to racist and xenophobic attacks targeting Black African migrants. The violence began in early February and was exacerbated by a racially-charged speech by President Kais Saied at a National Security Council meeting on Feb. 21. President Saied said that "hordes of irregular migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa" had come to Tunisia, "with all the violence, crime, and unacceptable practices that entails." He said this was an "unnatural" situation and part of a criminal plan designed to "change the demographic make-up" and turn Tunisia into "just another African country that doesn't belong to the Arab and Islamic nations any more."
US welcomes Ukrainians; Afghans left in limbo
More than 271,000 Ukrainians have been admitted to the United States since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 last year–far exceeding the goal of 100,000 set by President Joe Biden's administration last March. More than 117,000 entered through a private sponsorship program that allows US citizens to financially support Ukrainians to come to the country and stay for up to two years. Other Ukrainians crossed the US-Mexico border before the private sponsorship initiative was launched, or entered the United States through the official refugee resettlement program.
New York City mayor: 'no room' for migrants
New York Mayor Eric Adams on Jan. 15 traveled to the US-Mexico border and declared that "there is no room" for migrants in his city. At a press conference with El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser, Adams called on the US government to help cities manage unprecedented levels of immigration, and claimed that the influx of migrants could cost New York City up to $2 billion. "The federal government should pick up the entire cost," Adams said. "[W]e need a real leadership moment from FEMA. This is a national crisis." He also criticized the governors of Texas and Colorado for contributing to a "humanitarian crisis that was created by man," citing busloads of migrants sent to New York and other northern cities.
Biden admin to expand Title 42 expulsions
President Joe Biden on Jan. 5 announced that the US is to extend a parole program previously offered only to migrants from Venezuela to those from Cuba, Nicaragua and Haiti, allowing them to apply for residency—but reiterated that his administration will continue to enforce Title 42, in compliance with a recent order from the Supreme Court. In fact, under his new policy, Title 42 expulsions are to increase, with Mexico agreeing to accept expelled Cubans, Nicaraguans and Haitians. A provision of the Public Health Service Act allowing for summary expulsion of migrants at the southern border, Title 42 has been in effect pursuant to a Centers for Disease Control order of March 2020 as a COVID-19 emergency measure.
Libya: 'rampant crimes' by Hafar-aligned militia
Amnesty International on Dec. 19 accused armed group Tariq Ben Zeyad (TBZ) of committing "rampant" war crimes and human rights abuses to enforce the rule of the so-called Libyan Arab Armed Forces (LAAF) and its leader Khalifa Haftar. The report details incidences of forced disappearances, unlawful killings, torture, and mistreatment of detained migrants and refugees. The LAAF, previously known as the Libyan National Army, controls the eastern portion of Libya and several cities, including Benghazi, Derna, Sirte, Tobruk, and areas outside Tripoli. The TBZ is headed by Haftar's son Saddam, and Amnesty states that it exists primarily to enforce his rule through a campaign of terror. (Amnesty International, Jurist)
Venezuela: oil sanctions eased, Chevron pleased
Negotiations barely got started in Mexico between representatives of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and his political opposition last month before the United States announced the loosening of oil sanctions imposed on the regime. The move, allowing Chevron to begin pumping oil again, comes amid global energy shortages following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Profits are to go to Venezuela's creditors in the US, not the state oil firm, PDVSA.
Ukraine: Russia accused of forced transfer of civilians
Russian forces have committed war crimes and likely crimes against humanity by unlawfully transferring or deporting civilians from occupied parts of in Ukraine to Russia or Russian-controlled territory, according to an Amnesty International report released Nov. 10. Russian and Russian-backed authorities have also forced civilians through an abusive screening process known as "filtration," during which some were arbitrarily detained, subject to torture or other ill-treatment, and separated from their children.
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