Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘multinational companies

Hojarasas (Hurricane): the mass transfer of working people everywhere

Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote this novel when he was 18 and it was published years later, before he expanded on the story in “100 years of Solitude”.

Marquez could Not at this age write an epic story of the phenomena as John Steinbeck did in the Dust Bowl, the thousands who left their land to move to California during the financial crush of 1929.

This mass transfer of people following the trail of multinational companies, carrying them to where is their next exploitation of land and downtrodden people has been practiced in ancient civilizations but started actively and documented in the 19th century. People who learned to live for the “present” and could no longer take roots anywhere.

I figured out that this phenomena started after USA civil war when the urgency of linking East and West with train rails and the mushrooming of temporary villages along the way.

As the the company moves on, the people moves along, and the residents are left with an environment much degraded, in landscape and older people down on their fate, not able survive on their own toil and resigned to State subsidies, if any.

All the colonial powers performed the same “feat”, first with their poorer classes at home and then transferred to their colonies at a vast scale.

The older ugly face of slavery has mutated into a mass moving slavery, transferred everywhere where multinational companies settled for a while.

This phenomenon is the same, , even today, everywhere multinationals decide to exploit an under-developed country, or a country reeling after a civil war, or a pre-emptive war, planned, funded and executed by the colonial powers.

In the Hojarasas, Marquez mentions the Great War. I guess it is the period that started in 1880’s of endless civil wars in Latin America. Panama was part of Columbia and the USA wanted to conquer Panama and fomented most of these civil war. And also to pave the way for its agro-multinationals (Banana companies) to exploit the land and people in Latin America.

Marquez opted Not to give names of his major protagonists. There are the colonel, the doctor, the cleric El Cachorro (the Savage who was a terrible rebel, joined the army, rose to grade of colonel before reverting to be a man of religion). Even the daughter of the colonel has no name, neither his grand son. Names are totally irrelevant in period of calamities.

So many colonels in civil wars and so many captains, even today.

The author even asks questions, repeatedly, and never offer answers.

For examples: the second wife of the colonel, Adelaide, suspected she recognized a resemblance of the doctor with someone when he first visited them. She threw a lavish dinner in his honor. She got totally disappointed when he didn’t match her conservative attitudes or offered any explanation on who he is. The doctor said: “I eat only grass, like what the donkey eats”

The doctor and El Cachorro have many resemblance. So many half brothers and half sisters are generated in civil wars and when the hojarasas are on the move. Martin, the husband of the colonel’s daughter moved away when the Banana company folded, never to return, and left behind a son and his wife.

The doctor and El Cachorro arrived to Macondo on the same day and same hour. I doubt that was a coincidence: Some one must have dispatched them to Macondo, hoping they meet and link up. Probably it was colonel Buendias who was still fighting in Panama and who must have had many illegitimate sons and daughters.

We don’t know anything of the origin of the doctor or how he lived before he arrived to Macondo, as this small village experienced the mass transfer of workers to join the banana company.

The doctor lived in the colonel house for 8 years: he was allocated a room that opened to the street. He practised from his room and ate after the household finished eating. He never paid any dues to his room or the food he ate and waited  Saturday for the maid to come a clean up his filthy room.

The doctor got even more recluse when the company sanitary services robbed him of his clients.

There was a period when he decided to get out on evenings, trying his best to look presentable and smelling of cheap cologne. He sat outside the barber shop. Was he trying to find a hapless girl to marry and follow the trail of the company? Possibly, the doctor must have experienced before the hojarasas phenomenon and was willing to undertake another exodus?

The doctor was unable to explain the complex disaster and calamities of that period to non-educated or cultured people, which also would open wide the reasons for multiple questions on his former life.

Actually, it is the doctor who pronounced the term hojarasas to the colonel, as the village flourished for a while and he expected the coming calamities when the company moves on to “greener pastures”

Meme’, the Indian girl, a guajira, who lived in the colonel household since childhood had secret sexual relationship with the doctor. She got pregnant once and the doctor helped her abort. She got pregnant again and this time she wanted to keep the child.

The colonel demanded explanation and the doctor had to move to the corner house with Meme’ in order to save the “honor” of the colonel, since they were not married. Did Meme’ gave birth? Probably not: the doctor had funded a shop for Meme’ and she was never seen holding a baby to feed for 4 years.

The doctor doesn’t lie, and doesn’t respond when he has to lie, kind of observing his right of the “fifth”. The doctor told the colonel that Meme’ had left him, 4 years after she barricaded herself with him in the small house. The municipality broke into his house and dug the garden, hoping to find the body of a “murdered” Meme’ and found nothing.

Militias had entered the village and many residents were injured. The residents deposited the injured in front of the doctor door, but he refused to open or tend to the injured. He said: “I know nothing anymore to care for them and it is no longer my business”.  I guess he was frank and didn’t want to get involved in anything or get in touch with the community.

The community decided not to bury him after he dies and when once they wanted to burn the house, El Cochorro intervened and calmly told them: “No one is to approach this house”.

The doctor finally hanged himself and only the colonel came and did the necessary arrangement to be bury the doctor. The colonel asked his daughter to join him, and the daughter brought along her 8 year-old son to the deceased house.

The colonel had promised the doctor to bury him when the doctor saved his life after he seriously fell and broke his leg. The doctor told him “you cannot bury me if you die before me”

Note 1: The Hojarasas is fraught with repetitions and redundancies. I doubt an 18 year old would use this style: Marquez must have edited his original to mark the repetitious tendency in conversations in Latin America literature, or mainly in Columbia

Note 2: The oldest main colonial powers were Spain, Portugal, then England, France and the USA. Later on Germany abused of the people in Namibia and East Africa, Belgium in the Congo (over 5 million were mutilated for not satisfying the daily quota of rubber collection off the trees), the Netherlands in Indonesia, Italy in Ethiopia and Libya, Japan in Korea and China, and Russia and China with their own citizens.

All these “prosperous” nations got their wealth on the blood, sweat and suffering of the indigenous people and their own downtrodden citizens.  The price of adopting the “Capitalism” system was pretty high for the poorer classes everywhere in the world. And communism refused to be left behind in cruelty and humiliation of its own citizens.

 

Who’s Really Crossing the U.S. Border, and Why They’re Coming

By Stephanie Leutert.  Saturday, June 23, 2018, 10:04 AM

Central American migrants riding freight trains through Mexico (Flickr/Peter Haden)

Over the past week, the separation of 2,000 children from their parents along the U.S. border has forced immigration into the national spotlight.

The majority of migrants aren’t dangerous criminals. Many are women and families—and many are fleeing gang violence rather than seeking to spread that violence farther north.

For the past two years, I’ve worked to document these issues at the Strauss Center for International Security and Law at the University of Texas at Austin, and also in the Beyond the Border column for Lawfare—based in part on my fieldwork from across Mexico.

To understand Central American migrants means first abandoning the depiction of the “Northern Triangle” of Central America as a homogeneous region.

All three countries have different histories and contemporary political realities, along with varying security and development indicators that help explain today’s situation.

Using the World Bank’s measure, Honduras has the highest levels of poverty, with 30% of the population living at $3.20 a day or less, compared to Guatemala (25%), and El Salvador (ten percent).

Note: these States are dominated by US multinational companies who control the poorer countries

Meanwhile, 2/3 of Salvadorans live in cities, compared to 55 percent of Hondurans and closer to 50 percent of Guatemalans.

Finally, Guatemala’s authorities report that 40% of the population is indigenous, versus closer to 10 percent in Honduras, and an almost non-existent indigenous population in El Salvador (0.2 percent). These factors help explain what moves migrants from each country to travel to the United States.

Take the following map, which illustrates the hometowns of Central American migrant families apprehended at the border (as reported by the U.S. Border Patrol) from 2012-2017.

In Honduras, most families report that they are coming from major cities, such as San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa; the situation is similar in El Salvador, with migrants hailing from San Salvador and San Miguel.

This urbanization matters: these cities have high levels of urban gang violence, committed by MS-13 and Barrio 18. These groups have divided control of the cities up into a patchwork quilt and earn the majority of their money from local-level extortion. (The gangs are under the control of US multinationals who use them to extract more privileges)

 

Hometowns of Apprehended Central American Family Units

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, FOIA request.

 

For Central American residents, control of these gangs over their neighborhood likely means a weekly or monthly extortion payment simply for the right to operate a business or live in their territory.

The price for failing to provide this money is death. All it takes is a neighbor or nearby shopkeeper to be gunned down for failing to pay the adequate fees, and it becomes clear that the only options are pay or flee.

Parents may also send their children to the United States or take them north as the gangs try to recruit them into their activities: Boys of 11 years old (or younger) may be recruited as lookouts and teenage girls may be eyed for becoming the members’ “girlfriends.”

Older women who date or at one point dated a gang member can become trapped and unable to escape the violence, with partner-violence a driving migratory factor for many women.

While the gang activities and gender-based violence can empty out neighborhoods, they are Not the only factors driving outward migration from these cities.

Across the region’s larger cities, LGBT migrants are fleeing discrimination and violence. At a recent trip to a migrant shelter in southern Mexico, I listened as the shelter’s director recounted the story of a father and teenage son who had fled Guatemala City only a few weeks prior: the father was afraid that his son would be killed for coming out as gay.

It is not an idle threat. Since 2009, 264 LGBT people in Honduras have been murdered. The La 72 shelter in Tenosique, Tabasco even has a building in the shelter dedicated to providing specialized housing for LGBT migrants.

Among migrants leaving Guatemala, some are fleeing gangs or societal violence in cities, but many migrant families and unaccompanied children come from the Guatemalan highlands, which are more rural, agriculture-based, indigenous, and have lower rates of violence (defined by homicides) than other parts of the country.

In asylum proceedings in the United States, women and children from this region frequently cite endemic family and domestic violence, and neglect from the local police who cannot speak their languages or do not answer their phone calls.

These areas have also been buffeted by a changing climate, frequent natural disasters, and droughts. And the poverty in these regions leaves residents with little ability for resilience in the face of unpredictable rains or external events.

Without an ability to live safely or prosperously in Central America, residents begin looking to head north to the United States. That means coming up with the $6,000 to $10,000 necessary for hiring a smuggler.

To obtain this money, residents may sell their land or property, rely on the generosity of friends or family in the United States, or borrow money from local loan sharks and leave their farms and property as collateral. This latter option has its own consequences: migrants who use loan sharks and then are detected and deported by Mexican or U.S. officials are unable to pay back the loans, losing their lands in the process and becoming displaced once again.

Once the migrants have found a way to raise the money—or if they set out without a smuggler—then they will begin their journey through Mexico. Their mode of transportation and experience will depend heavily on the amount of money that they have, the smuggler’s modus operandi, and whether they plan to seek asylum or try to pass between ports of entry undetected into the United States.

Migrants often find smugglers through recommendations from friends and family and they choose between various services on a sliding scale of prices. Migrants with significant amounts of money could choose to take planes to the U.S.-Mexico border and cross in to the country on fake documents; migrants with less money may pay to ride in a trailer through Mexico or take buses through the country; and those without any money at all will walk or ride on the roof of the trains that pass through Mexico.

These routes also change based on Central America’s geography.

Hondurans generally enter Mexico closer to the Gulf Coast, Salvadorans enter along the Pacific coast, and Guatemalans enter more frequently through crossing points in between. While the image of migrants riding Mexico’s train network dominates the migration narrative, this is far from the only way to reach the United States.

Surveys by researchers from El Colegio de la Frontera Norte (COLEF) of Central Americans who were recently deported by U.S. authorities give a sense of these routes’ diversity.

In 2017, roughly 40% of Hondurans reported riding the train and 40 percent said that they traveled in a tractor trailer at one point in their journey. However, Guatemalan and Salvadoran migrants reported taking these two means of transportation at much lower levels. I

n fact, only 1% of Salvadorans and 8% of Guatemalans said that they had ridden the train at any point during their trip through Mexico, and instead reported primarily taking buses through the country.

The journey across Mexico is not, as Trump commented on Thursday, “like … walking through Central Park.”

Migrants are extorted, robbed, assaulted, raped, kidnapped, and murdered at alarmingly high levels and with almost complete impunity. The perpetrators vary by geographic area, including MS-13 and Barrio 18 in the southern part of Mexico (the very gangs that many are escaping); larger criminal groups such as the Zetas and Gulf Cartel in the northern parts of the country such as Tamaulipas; local kidnapping rings and bandits throughout the territory; and even municipal, state, and federal migratory and public security authorities.

2017 Doctors Without Borders report noted that 68% of the migrants that it provided services to in shelters across Mexico had been the victim of a crime during the journey. Women and children are also at particular risk, with nearly 1/3 of the women reporting that they were sexually assaulted during their trip through Mexico.

And many Central American migrants are female—many more than the Mexican migrants who came before them. While female Mexican migrants averaged around 13 percent of all Mexican migrants apprehended by the Border Patrol from FY1995 through FY2017, Central American women averaged between 20 and 32 percent. I

n recent years these numbers have increased even more, with women constituting 48 percent of all Salvadoran migrants in the last fiscal year and Honduran women reaching 43 percent of migrants from their country.

 

Percent of Female Central American and Mexican Migrants

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, FOIA request.

 

This change is even more dramatic when looking at families and unaccompanied minors. While these groups make up a small proportion of Mexican migrants overall, in recent years, Central American families and unaccompanied children have constituted on average between 40 and 60 percent of the migrants from Central America arriving to the United States.

The numbers of unaccompanied children peaked in FY2014 and have since declined slightly, while the number of families arriving at the border—particularly from Honduras and Guatemala—has remained steady.

 

Apprehended Unaccompanied Minors and Families Along the Southwest Border

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/stats/sw-border-migration.

 

In other words, the families that the Trump administration has focused on separating make up an increasingly high proportion of the migrants who reach the U.S. border.

Previously, many migrants would seek to reach the United States by hiking through the desert undetected. But in recent years, families have begun crossing the border and waiting for a Border Patrol agent, or showing up at ports of entry, to ask for asylum. Before the Trump administration’s recent immigration crackdown, these families would be then taken to a family detention center, where they would have to pass a “credible fear” interview to be released—that is, prove that they have a real fear of returning to their home countries.

At least 77% of the families pass this hurdle and are released with an ankle monitor or after paying a bond. They can then begin their cases in immigration courts.

The Trump administration is looking to shake up this system. Under the current policy and the June 20th executive order, the administration is pushing to detain families together for months, if not years, while their cases are processed.

However, this flies in the face of the Flores settlement, a 1997 consent decree that courts have found to require that children not be detained for more than 20 days. The administration is now seeking to modify the settlement, a gambit that seems unlikely to succeed given the deciding judge’s previous rulings on the matter against the Obama administration.

 

U.S. Asylum Cases Received by the Executive Office of Immigration Review

Executive Office of Immigration Review, U.S. Department of Justice, https://www.justice.gov/eoir/file/asylum-statistics/download.

 

At the moment, the Trump administration’s policy is in flux. It’s not clear what will happen if the judge declines to amend the Flores settlement. Yet according to Politico, the administration focus on detaining adults indefinitely has hit it’s own wall—a casualty of insufficient resources on the part of the government.

And while the Border Patrol has announced plans to return to their parents the children who are in its custody, there are still thousands of migrant children separated from their parents and families that remain in gut-wrenching uncertainty.

Even in the best of situations, the current arrival of tens of thousands of Central American migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border would bring its own challenges: addressed effectively, it would require rethinking and shifting resources within the United States’ immigration and asylum systems to better process not just single adults but also mothers and fathers with toddlers and teenagers, who are in need of special protections.

But despite the administration’s claims to the contrary, the numbers of Central Americans arriving at the border are not near the all-time highs, and there is no infestation or invasion of MS-13.

What the data shows instead is something far less dramatic: men, women, families, and children who are arriving to seek safety and the basic American dream of a better life.


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