Swine Flu: Health, Agriculture, and Trade Implications; Immigration and the Wars on Crime and Drugs; Bolivia’s Plan 3000; Impunity in Atenco; Mexican Human Rights Groups against Military Aid

This Week in the Americas

Dear Readers,

It has been a strange couple of weeks here in Mexico City. Finally the kids went back to school, restaurants and bars opened, and people venture out with noses and mouths uncovered. Americas Program analysts have been working overtime to research, understand, and explain the epidemic and what it teaches us about our globalized society and future risks. The danger of the A/H1N1 virus is not over but perhaps even more dangerous than the flu itself is the overall health risks it reveals, the protection of powerful economic interests, and the economic devastation it leaves in its wake. We will continue to monitor the situation, writing in these pages and speaking to media in radio, print, and television interviews throughout the region (http://americas.irc-online.org/news/).

In this week’s Americas Updater we also publish a series of three Special Reports from Tom Barry. Based on his extensive on-site investigative reporting across the U.S.-Mexico border, Barry places the new phase of criminalization of immigrants in the context of the "war on drugs" and "war on crime" models and looks hard at the dynamics of who benefits from putting migrants behind bars.

To round out this issue, we then travel south to Bolivia where monthly contributor Raúl Zibechi reports on the sprawling settlement of Plan 3000. This organized community on the outskirts of Santa Cruz where the local elite has spearheaded racist attacks on indigenous peoples and against the federal government has developed grassroots ways to protect itself.

This kind of in-depth, on-the-ground analysis, written by analysts from throughout the hemisphere committed to social justice movements, is what you’ve grown to expect from the CIP Americas Program. Please help all of us in the program—our network of writers, translators, volunteers, and organizers—keep writing and sending out the information and analysis that the mainstream press misses.

This note officially launches our spring fundraising drive. Your contribution of any amount is crucial to keeping the program going. In hard times, good information can be invaluable. If, like so many others, you have read these articles and learned something, distributed them in your classes, cited them in research, heard us speak in media or events, or used them in campaigns, it’s time to chip in. On our end, we’re doing a lot with a little, but we still need that little to keep it up.

Laura Carlsen


New from the Americas Program

Swine Flu Reveals Flaws in Global Public Health System
By Laura Carlsen

Mexico’s swine flu epidemic provides lessons that go beyond the pandemic and strike at the heart of a system that favors corporate interests above public health. It’s time to turn that system around.

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Outbreak of Deadly New Swine Flu Strain, Warning to Rethink Agricultural Trade Model
By Talli Nauman

Authorities’ declaration of an "epidemic" and then an "imminent pandemic" in Mexico fueled an environmental health scare that has had a staggering socio-economic impact in Mexico, weighing heavily on top of existing fiscal woes and survivors’ heartbreak over lost loved ones.

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Mexico’s Swine Flu and the Globalization of Disease
By Laura Carlsen

Mexico has long been considered the laboratory of globalization. Now a potentially deadly virus has germinated in that laboratory, finding ideal conditions to move quickly along a path toward global pandemic.

Those conditions include: a rapid transition from small livestock production to industrial meat farms after NAFTA established incentives for foreign investment, the failed decentralization of Mexico’s health system along lines established by multilateral lending banks, lax and non-enforced environmental and health regulations as the Mexican government was forced to downsize, the increased flow of goods and persons across borders, and restricted access to life-saving medicines due to NAFTA intellectual property monopolies for pharmaceutical companies.

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Criminal Alien Funding and the Immigrant-Based Criminal Justice Complex
By Tom Barry

The Obama administration got it right when it decided to defund the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program. But saving $400 million federal dollars and then at the same time committing our financially-challenged nation to still more criminal-justice responses to the immigration issue is wrong, albeit politically adept. The administration’s new border security budget and buildup takes the ideologically driven "enforcement first" agenda of the immigration restrictionists and the Bush administration and is attempting to institutionalize it as an enduring national policy.

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"War on Crime" Targets Immigrants
By Tom Barry

Immigrants have reenergized the flagging "war on crime." Charges against immigrants are clogging federal courts, and new prisons and detention centers are opening to accommodate immigrants. The Obama administration is asking for more money to expand the dragnet for "criminal aliens" and to crack down on drugs and crime along the border. Immigrants have become the latest victims of the country’s "severity revolution."

This article, "War on Crime" Targets Immigrants is drawn from a new CIP Americas Program policy report: Immigrant Crackdown Joins Failed Wars on Crime and Drugs (http://americas.irc-online.org/am/6015).

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Fighting the Drug War at Homeland Security
By Tom Barry

While the Border Patrol and immigration agents have always had bit parts in the drug war, the integration of border patrol and immigration enforcement into the Department of Homeland Security in 2003 not only drafted them into the "war on terrorism" but also into becoming major players in the "war on drugs."

At the start of a new administration and a new Congress, it’s time to start asking if the Border Patrol is really focused on protecting the nation against dangerous people and goods or if it, like other law enforcement agencies, has become distracted from the public safety and national security missions by an ill-conceived and long-failing drug war.

This article, Fighting the Drug War at Homeland Security, is drawn from a new CIP Americas Program policy report: Immigrant Crackdown Joins Failed Wars on Crime and Drugs (http://americas.irc-online.org/am/6015).

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Plan 3000: Resistance and Social Change at the Heart of Racism
By Raúl Zibechi

In the middle of a racist city of white elites, the nucleus of the agro-export oligarchy, Plan 3000 is an immense and poor suburb of almost 300,000 inhabitants mostly of Aymara, Quechua, and Guarani descent; a microcosm composed of 36 Bolivian ethnic groups. It is a city that—in the name of the struggle against inequality—the residents of Plan 3000 resist the machista, oppressive, and violent culture of the local elite.

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