Tagimmigration

Haiti’s deals with devils

haiti church

Above: Haiti before the quake.

By now we’ve all heard about Pat Robertson’s implicitly racist and explicitly stupid remarks about Haiti’s deal with the devil. Here’s a piece on the history of Haiti from last May, which should give readers a better idea of who the real devils are in this story.

After a dramatic slave uprising that shook the western world, and 12 years of war, Haiti finally defeated Napoleon’s forces in 1804 and declared independence. But France demanded reparations: 150m francs, in gold.

For Haiti, this debt did not signify the beginning of freedom, but the end of hope. Even after it was reduced to 60m francs in the 1830s, it was still far more than the war-ravaged country could afford. Haiti was the only country in which the ex-slaves themselves were expected to pay a foreign government for their liberty. By 1900, it was spending 80% of its national budget on repayments. In order to manage the original reparations, further loans were taken out — mostly from the United States, Germany and France. Instead of developing its potential, this deformed state produced a parade of nefarious leaders, most of whom gave up the insurmountable task of trying to fix the country and looted it instead. In 1947, Haiti finally paid off the original reparations, plus interest. Doing so left it destitute, corrupt, disastrously lacking in investment and politically volatile. Haiti was trapped in a downward spiral, from which it is still impossible to escape. It remains hopelessly in debt to this day.

That’s right. The former slave owners demanded reparations.

What is to be done?

“There is only one solution to Haiti’s problems, and that’s mass emigration,” one senior American foreign-policy expert told me. “But nobody wants to talk about it.” So Haiti remains in debt, relieved for now, but not for ever. And the question of France repaying some or all of the compensation it extracted for Haitian independence is not even on the agenda.

Photo and quotes from Haiti: the land where children eat mud

See also: The Haiti Disaster and Superstition:

None of this explains why there was an earthquake in Haiti, which is a question for geologists, not political economists. But it does explain why a massive earthquake hits Haiti harder than it does most of the rest of the world. And it goes a long way toward explaining the rest of the more quotidien problems that effect Haiti.

Race Riots Grip Italian Town

More than a thousand African workers were put aboard buses and trains in the southern Italian region of Calabria over the weekend and shipped out to immigrant detention centers, following some of the country’s worst riots in years.

The clashes began Thursday night in Rosarno, a working-class city amid citrus groves in Calabria, the toe of Italy’s boot, after a legal immigrant from Togo was lightly wounded in a pellet-gun attack in a nearby city. It is not clear who pulled the trigger — the authorities said they were investigating whether organized crime had provoked the riots — but the consequences were severe.

Blaming racism for the attack, dozens of immigrants burned cars and smashed shop windows in Rosarno in two days of riots, throwing rocks at local residents and fighting with the police. More than 50 immigrants and police officers were wounded, none seriously, and 10 immigrants and locals were arrested before the authorities began sending the immigrants to detention centers elsewhere in southern Italy on Saturday.

New York Times: Race Riots Grip Italian Town, and Mafia Is Suspected

(via Cryptogon)

Inquiry fails to find single trafficker who forced anybody into prostitution

Note that this article does not deny the existence of sex trafficking, it does question how common it is.

The UK’s biggest ever investigation of sex trafficking failed to find a single person who had forced anybody into prostitution in spite of hundreds of raids on sex workers in a six-month campaign by government departments, specialist agencies and every police force in the country.

The failure has been disclosed by a Guardian investigation which also suggests that the scale of and nature of sex trafficking into the UK has been exaggerated by politicians and media.

Current and former ministers have claimed that thousands of women have been imported into the UK and forced to work as sex slaves, but most of these statements were either based on distortions of quoted sources or fabrications without any source at all. […]

There were just five men who were convicted of importing women and forcing them to work as prostitutes. These genuinely were traffickers, but none of them was detected by Pentameter, although its investigations are still continuing.

Two of them — Zhen Xu and Fei Zhang — had been in custody since March 2007, a clear seven months before Pentameter started work in October 2007.

The other three, Ali Arslan, Edward Facuna and Roman Pacan, were arrested and charged as a result of an operation which began when a female victim went to police in April 2006, well over a year before Pentameter Two began, although the arrests were made while Pentameter was running.

Guardian: Inquiry fails to find single trafficker who forced anybody into prostitution

Via Dr. Petra, who has commentary here.

Transborder Immigrant Tool Helps Mexicans Cross Over Safely

transborder

The hacker/performance art/activist organization Electronic Disturbance Theater has invented a new device, the Transborder Immigrant Tool:

We looked at the Motorola i455 cell phone, which is under $30, available even cheaper on eBay, and includes a free GPS applet. We were able to crack it and create a simple compasslike navigation system. We were also able to add other information, like where to find water left by the Border Angels, where to find Quaker help centers that will wrap your feet, how far you are from the highway—things to make the application really benefit individuals who are crossing the border.

Some background:

In the 80s I was a member of something called the Critical Art Ensemble. We wrote a series of books published in the 90s that speculated on what the future, and computers especially, might bring. Our core speculations were that we would see the emergence of three different arcs of capitalism in the 90s: digital capitalism, genetic capitalism or clone capitalism, and particle capitalism or nano-driven technology. We decided we would speculate not only on the artistic aspect of these emerging capitalisms but also on how we could intervene as artist-activists into each of these areas. We developed the idea of electronic civil disobedience as a way to mediate the emergence of digital capitalism. Some Critical Art Ensemble members have even been arrested for their work. One in particular, Steve Kurtz, was brought before a grand jury in 2004. Homeland Security considered his use of nonpathogenic bacteria in certain museum installations a bioterrorist threat.

Vice: Transborder Immigrant Tool Helps Mexicans Cross Over Safely

(Thanks Josh Ellis)

Underground railroad for homosexual Iraqis

Human Rights Watch is trying to help Iraqi homosexuals flee the country:

Long and Moumneh formulated a plan. They would build an underground railroad of sorts, reaching out to gay men in Iraq through the Internet and their existing contacts in Iraq, then advising and supporting gay Iraqis until they could ferry them to a safe city somewhere in Iraq, then to a haven elsewhere in the region, and eventually perhaps to the West.

Why?

It has never been easy being gay in Iraq. During the Saddam Hussein era, open homosexuality wasn’t technically outlawed, but it was effectively forbidden, and harassment and torture of gay people, if sporadic, were not unknown. After the American-led invasion of the country in 2003, a similar atmosphere persisted. Fadi was 12 years old during the American invasion, so he had little knowledge of what it was like to be gay under Saddam, but as far back as a year and a half ago, he was walking past his local hussainiyah (a Shia gathering place similar to a mosque) when a man at the entrance of the building called out to him. “Come in for a minute,” the man said. Fadi knew there was no point in running because they knew where he lived. He assumed the man calling him over was from the Mahdi Army. He walked to the door of the hussainiyah thinking, This is the end for me. After some ten hours of being whipped, kicked, and spit on, Fadi was told to pick himself up off the floor and get dressed. “This is a warning for you,” one of his tormentors told him. “Tell people like you what happened to you.”

As virulent as the violence against gay people (men mostly) was, it operated at a kind of low hum for many years, overshadowed by the country’s myriad other problems. But in February of this year, something changed. There was no announcement, no fatwa, no openly declared policy by a cleric or militia leader or politician, but a wave of anti-gay hysteria hit the country. An Iraqi TV station, with disapproving commentary, showed a video of a group of perhaps two dozen young men at a private dance party, wiggling their hips like female belly dancers. Terms like the third sex and puppies, a newly coined slur, began to appear in hostile news reports. Shia and Sunni clerics started to preach in their Friday sermons about the evils of homosexuality and “the people of Lot.” Police officers stepped up their harassment of openly gay men. Families and tribes cast out their gay relatives. The bodies of gay men like Mazen and Namir, often mutilated, began turning up on the street. There is no way to verify the number of tortured or harassed, but the best available estimates place that figure in the thousands. Hundreds of men are believed to have been killed.

NY Magazine: The Hunted

(via OVO)

Netherlands to close prisons for lack of criminals

The Dutch justice ministry has announced it will close eight prisons and cut 1,200 jobs in the prison system. A decline in crime has left many cells empty.

During the 1990s the Netherlands faced a shortage of prison cells, but a decline in crime has since led to overcapacity in the prison system. The country now has capacity for 14,000 prisoners but only 12,000 detainees.

Deputy justice minister Nebahat Albayrak announced on Tuesday that eight prisons will be closed, resulting in the loss of 1,200 jobs. Natural redundancy and other measures should prevent any forced lay-offs, the minister said.

The overcapacity is a result of the declining crime rate, which the ministry’s research department expects to continue for some time.

NRC: Netherlands to close prisons for lack of criminals

(via Cryptogon)

Questions:

1. If certain politicians and pundits are to believed, The Netherlands has been experiencing a crime epidemic as the result of rampant immigration. Could it be that this was only xenophobic scare mongering?

2. What would happen in the US if prison populations were to decline? Also, since the US has been experiencing overall reductions in crime over time as well, why is our prison population not decreasing? What is the key difference between the US and the the Netherlands in this regard?

Update: I forgot to give link back to Cryptogon early. Many apologies.

After Losing Freedom, Some Immigrants Face Loss of Custody of Their Children

When immigration agents raided a poultry processing plant near here two years ago, they had no idea a little American boy named Carlos would be swept up in the operation.

One of the 136 illegal immigrants detained in the raid was Carlos’s mother, Encarnación Bail Romero, a Guatemalan. A year and a half after she went to jail, a county court terminated Ms. Bail’s rights to her child on grounds of abandonment. Carlos, now 2, was adopted by a local couple.

In his decree, Judge David C. Dally of Circuit Court in Jasper County said the couple made a comfortable living, had rearranged their lives and work schedules to provide Carlos a stable home, and had support from their extended family. By contrast, Judge Dally said, Ms. Bail had little to offer.

“The only certainties in the biological mother’s future,” he wrote, “is that she will remain incarcerated until next year, and that she will be deported thereafter.”

New York Times: After Losing Freedom, Some Immigrants Face Loss of Custody of Their Children

(via The Agitator)

Italy bans kebabs and foreign food from cities

The tomato comes from Peru and spaghetti was probably a gift from China.

It is, though, the “foreign” kebab that is being kicked out of Italian cities as it becomes the target of a campaign against ethnic food, backed by the centre-right Government of Silvio Berlusconi.

The drive to make Italians eat Italian, which was described by the Left and leading chefs as gastronomic racism, began in the town of Lucca this week, where the council banned any new ethnic food outlets from opening within the ancient city walls.

Yesterday it spread to Lombardy and its regional capital, Milan, which is also run by the centre Right. The antiimmigrant Northern League party brought in the restrictions “to protect local specialities from the growing popularity of ethnic cuisines”.

Full Story: the Times

(via Fadereu)

Related External Links

Are you living in a constitution free zone?

Using data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, the ACLU has determined that nearly 2/3 of the entire US population (197.4 million people) live within 100 miles of the US land and coastal borders.

The government is assuming extraordinary powers to stop and search individuals within this zone. This is not just about the border: This ” Constitution-Free Zone” includes most of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas.

Full Story: ACLU

(via OVO)

DHS to Green Card Holders: Fingerprints and Photos, Please

The Bush administration has a parting gift for lawful permanent residents of the United States: starting next year, they will be subject to the same biometric collection program used to track foreign visitors.

That’s right. “Green card” holders will get the same treatment as other visitors. According to a notice posted in the Federal Register, the Department of Homeland Security will collect digital fingerprints and photographs for US-VISIT, the security screen created after 9/11 to checks the identities of visitors against a terror watchlist and other criminal databases. The new rule, the notice says, “expands the population of aliens who will be subject to US-VISIT requirements to nearly all aliens,” excepting Canadians and a few others.

Full Story: Danger Room

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