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economic justice | immigration

Open letter to the Minutemen, their friends and sympathizers

To those who call themselves the Minutemen, their friends and sympathizers- we have a question for you. Do you support the North American Free Trade Agreement? Maybe like many Americans you are not quite sure what NAFTA is. It is an agreement between the leaders of the North American countries to formalize the program of "structural readjustment" that has been in various stages of implementation for some time now. This readjustment is in truth vast and complex but we can narrow it down to a basic concept and a concrete reality.
To those who call themselves the Minutemen, their friends and sympathizers- we have a question for you. Do you support the North American Free Trade Agreement? Maybe like many Americans you are not quite sure what NAFTA is. It is an agreement between the leaders of the North American countries to formalize the program of "structural readjustment" that has been in various stages of implementation for some time now. This readjustment is in truth vast and complex but we can narrow it down to a basic concept and a concrete reality.
The basic concept is nullification of tariffs, social support laws, those concerning labor rights or defending citizens from unscrupulous corporations, or dealing with benefits, programs of land reform or social security- namely because those laws are (or were) intended to help keep citizens "in the green-" at the potential expense or decrease in profit growth of big corporations. And the concrete example? Well there are many good examples, so lets just start with INMECAFE, the Mexican coffee institute that helped to stabilize and keep reasonable coffee prices in the world market for Mexican growers, that was proclaimed to be restrictive and unfair to free trade- a hindrance for those who only care for maximum profit. That program was disbanded, due to NAFTA, at a time when coffee growers were already suffering from a deep price reduction due to previous moves towards free trade. Another example might be the "reform" of article 27 of the Mexican constitution. This article provided legal means for peasants farmers and indigenous Mexicans to request the granting of communal living and farm land from the government, to be protected from seizure or purchase once created. This too was a hindrance to unfettered economic growth, and under pressure from multi-national corporate elites and influenced by NAFTA, the government eliminated this legal means of community subsistence. Maybe the reality of small farms loosing tax and market incentives and thus becoming less profitable sounds familiar to you or some of your family members. Big farms, employing fewer people and paying lower wages have the advantage now and buy up huge portions of land, once communal and family owned. Where do these families go? They don't just vanish. Perhaps you have heard about some of the problems associated with Genetically Modified corn? Aside from the fact that if any seed happens to contaminate your land by air or any other means then you can be held liable for "stealing" this often patented life-form, it is also weak and needy, requiring huge and constant inputs of expensive fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides. These harsh chemicals actually make pest infestation more likely over time. GM seed of any type can rarely be saved, making a once manageable expense a constant burden. In Mexico, traditional farmers in the past used to plant beans, squash, greens and other supplemental food crops in and around their older varieties of corn, thus providing a richer, healthier diet from a smaller space. The herbicides and fertilizers that now popular "green revolution wonder-corn" requires, however, makes this practice impossible as other plants are killed off; overall production actually falls and families are faced with the choice of going hungry or looking for sources of income elsewhere. It's not the fault of these small farmers that demands for corn in other parts of the world prompted multinational corporations and agencies to sell and give them this seed, but rather those who control the economics of "free trade" that benefit us in the north and force those in the south into endless cycles of cheap and destructive export.
And the examples don't end there- these are just a few that stand out- the list of problems that cause not just inconvenience but extreme poverty , homelessness, hunger or death is a long and growing once. OK you say, maybe NAFTA isn't all it's cracked up to be. So what? Well let us put it this way; if you support NAFTA then you support conditions that force Mexicans to immigrate into the more prosperous North. If you support NAFTA then your anger is completely unjustifiable and you should go home and get used to that particular byproduct of greed-based economics.
If however you understand that NAFTA is bad policy, then STOP fighting the impoverished people who are themselves forced by NAFTA to travel in search of work.
This is one reason why people know your organization is a racist one- aside from the fact that most of your members are white or in some cases self-hating and harbor strong racist sentiments, it is because you choose to harass and make life hard for those people of color forced to relocate instead of those comfortable white people who are doing the forcing in the first place. Do you really believe that so many from places farther south want to break up their families, endure hardship, ridicule or death in this racist country and work hard, dangerous jobs under the constant threat of trouble with the authorities or your vigilante groups? Do you think they do this for fun, for the thrill or maybe for a good laugh once deported back to home? If so then you are all hopelessly out of touch with reality. Most people believe the truth is that, despite your claims to the contrary, you simply like whiter people and don't care much for browner people- you fight those who themselves suffer from the symptom, instead of those who create the cause. If then you sincerely hope to correct some wrong situation that really does exists with this system then you are going to have to turn around, look up and north instead of down and south, and stand up to some powerful white people.
Perhaps cynicism (or just realism) causes us to think that this is not the path you will choose, because really you just want to make trouble instead of justice. Furthermore, putting an end to the conditions that make immigration a dangerous or deadly necessity for millions is only one part of process- one that you could potentially rally behind while maintaining your feelings of fear and hatred. The other part of the process is making movement from one part of the world to another a feely made and supported decision. This requires a capacity for love and understanding that you have shown no evidence of having. We will carry out this task with or without your resistance and would prefer not to have do deal with your stupidity and lies. A few things have been pretty clearly laid out for you. Consider yourselves educated- but also warned.

from an autonomous contingent of anonymous individuals
drafted November 9th 2007
No Borders Camp, Calexico/Mexicali

NAFTA, Inequality and Immigration 13.Nov.2007 09:49

Laura Carlsen | November 6, 2007