New Military Aid to Mexico; New U.S. Base Proposed in Colombia; Restoring the Immigration System; Enforcement First Policy; May Biodiversity Report; Banker Involved in MST Shooting

Dear friends,

This has been a busy week. I was very pleased to attend the 20th anniversary of the Coalition for Justice in the Maquiladoras in Nuevo Laredo. I spoke briefly to a large group of workers and advisers on security and Plan Mexico in a city heavily patrolled by army troops, and learned from the other excellent presentations. It was truly inspiring to listen to stories of struggles in the context of adversity. The crisis means that many of the workers are suffering forced temporary lay-offs, cutting deep into their already meager incomes. The bright spot is that these workers are waging brave and often winning battles for basic labor rights.

The day before the conference I interviewed many migrants, mostly Central Americans, who are still making the harrowing trip north. Several have been kidnapped and robbed along the way and several others were back on the Mexican side of the border after being summarily deported from the United States after living and working there for over 20 years. Lives are being disrupted and threatened on a daily basis by the insane mix of uprooting trade policies and draconian immigration practices. More on that later.

I am now in Brazil to speak on regional integration at the Congress of the Latin American Studies Association in Rio de Janeiro. If any of you are planning to attend, drop me a line. We’ll be organizing an informal Americas Program get-together to meet each other, have a beer or a capeirinha, and talk about the region and our work. Join us!



This Week in Americas Blogs

Americas MexicoBlog:

Diplomacy Buries the Cold War as OAS Lifts Cuba Exclusion

First President from the Left Inaugurated in El Salvador

Border Lines Blog:

Obama’s "Era of Responsibility" for Border Security and Immigration

Enforcement-First Immigration Reform Stuck in First Step

ICE’s Expanding Mission: From Homeland Security to Community Security


This Week in the Americas

House and Senate Pass New Military Aid to Mexico
By Laura Carlsen

Poor Mexico has suffered a series of hard blows lately. From elections that left a bitterly divided populace, to a blood-soaked drug war, to the economic crisis, to the swine flu epidemic, nothing seems to be going right.

Now heaped on top of all that is a little-known measure buried in the U.S. 2009 Supplemental Bill to provide millions of dollars to corrupt Mexican security forces engaged in an unwinnable drug war. Disguised as a way of "helping" our beleaguered neighbor, the measure will push Mexico closer to a Colombia scenario and create a new quagmire to suck up scarce public resources.

See full article at:


New from the Americas Program

New Military Base in Colombia Would Spread Pentagon Reach Throughout Latin America
By John Lindsay-Poland

The Pentagon budget submitted to Congress on May 7 includes $46 million for development of a new U.S. military base in Palanquero, Colombia. The official justification states that the Defense Department seeks “an array of access arrangements for contingency operations, logistics, and training in Central/South America.”

This base would feed a failed drug policy, support an abusive army, and reinforce a tragic history of U.S. military intervention in the region. It’s wrong and wasteful, and Congress should scrap it.

See full article at:


Restoring Integrity to the Immigration System
By Tom Barry

This new policy report from the Americas Program concludes that "to restore integrity in the immigration system, the Obama administration needs to act decisively to restore its function as a regulatory system and remove it from the country’s overcharged system of crime and punishment."

See full article at:


Enforcement-First Immigration Politics
By Tom Barry

In view of Obama’s increased financial commitments to border security and immigration enforcement, the "enforcement-first" political strategy mounted by conservatives and restrictionists during the Bush administration continues to shape immigration policy during the Obama era.

See full article at:


May Biodiversity Report from the Americas Program
By Carmelo Ruíz Marrero

1. Mexico: Swine Flu and the Farm Animal Production Industry
2. New Report on Agrofuels
3. No to Monoculture Forests
4. Genetically Modified Soy Can Never Be “Responsible”
5. Brazil: Genetically Modified Sugar Cane

See full article at:


Fallen Banker with Ties to Citigroup Involved in Shooting of Brazilian Landless Workers
By Isabella Kenfield

On April 18, seven members of the Brazilian Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) were shot by private security guards on a farm in the Amazon that belongs to Agropecuária Santa Bárbara Xinguara S/A, a company controlled by international banker Daniel Dantas. A billionaire with former ties to Citigroup, Dantas is Brazil’s largest producer of cattle, and presently embroiled in a major financial and political scandal that reaches into the U.S. courts and financial system. No one has ever been convicted or imprisoned for the massacre.

See full article at: