Innocent Children And Voracious Oligarchs…Joaquin Villalobos In El Pais

There is a lot to argue with in this opinion piece by Joaquin Villalobos published in El Pais (Spain). I recommend a close read and I’ve provided a quick translation below the original posted here. -molly

Niños Inocentes Y Oligarcas Voraces (Joaquin Villalobos – El Pais)

The story below is translated without permission by Molly Molloy.

Innocent children and voracious oligarchs

Joaquin Villalobos 12 jul 2014
El Pais

The prolonged social and security crisis in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador has already become an unprecedented humanitarian emergency. Tens of thousands of children are fleeing north along a route 3,000 kilometers long and plagued by dangers. The fundamental cause of this crisis resides in the brutally extractive economies that dominate in these countries. Six million migrants from these countries—making up 12% of Guatemalans, 14% of Hondurans and nearly 40% of Salvadorans—live in the United States. In the last 20 years, these Central Americans have sent the fabulous sum of $124 billion dollars in remittances to their countries. Exporting poor people has become the most lucrative business of the local oligarchs.

The debate over this crisis has focused on its consequences rather than its causes. There is talk about Mexico’s responsibilities for the threats along the route, or the delays in Immigration Reform in the United States and of organized crime generated by Colombian cocaine. But the problem is that remittances have strengthened the extractive economic model and created an artificially financed consumer economy whose earnings end up in the coffers of the dominant/ruling families of each country.  Just as petroleum profits generate wealth with little effort, remittance income deforms economies, undermines incentives to produce, multiplies the riches of the oligarchs, creates inequality of tragic proportions, destroys families and communities and generates social and criminal violence on a grand scale.

Imports to El Salvador are valued at about $8.5 billion dollars annually and remittances pay for half of these imported goods and services. Giant shopping centers multiply while agriculture has been abandoned. The economy has not grown in 20 years resulting in chronic unemployment and massive emigration of the population.  Coyotes (people smugglers) drive the economy and criminal gangs govern poor barrios. Honduras and Guatemala have joined this model. The rich capture the remittances, using them to supplement their consumption and then send the profits out of their countries, transforming themselves into regional and global businessmen.

The wealthy families of these countries have investments in Florida, Panama, the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Just one of them invested $250 million dollars in a tourist complex in the Dominican Republic. There are no objective reasons for the Guatemalan, Honduran and Salvadoran rich to invest in their own countries, nor to strive to reduce emigration. The dangers of the journey and the massive deportations of migrants are simply transportation risks for them and the (temporary) return of their merchandise. Remittances have made them much richer than when they were only landlords.

According to statistics from the consultant Wealth-X, in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador there are 610 super-rich individuals possessing $80 billion dollars. Among them they control most of the $12 billion dollars in remittances that come every year from the United States. In comparison to the wealth of these oligarchs, the $3.7 billion dollars proposed by President Obama to confront the emergency looks absurd.

Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras are falling into a vicious circle connecting remittances with violence. More emigration, more remittances; more remittances, less productivity; less productivity, more unemployment; more unemployment, more violence; more violence, more emigration. Criminal gangs grow out of the exponential multiplication of dysfunctional families and the destruction of the familial, social and communal fabric, leading to emigration. Gangs dominate many neighborhoods and communities and affect the poor almost exclusively with extortion rackets on everyone, even newspaper sellers. According to the small-business guild in El Salvador, 90% of micro-businesses pay extortion. In the capital of Honduras, 1,600 small businesses closed due to violence in 2012 alone. Emigration is a violent social catastrophe for the poor and a big business for the rich.

Public security doesn’t matter to the rich in these three countries because they protect themselves with private security—the police are few and poorly paid. The rich have created their own private city in Guatemala called Paseo Cayala. It is a walled-in area of 14 hectares with all services provided inside the walls—a world apart from crime and insecurity. Private security firms in Guatemala employ 125,000 men while the police have just 22,000. At the same time, it is the Latin American country that sells the most armored cars per capita. Guatemala has 406 registered private airplanes and 142 private helicopters—one of the largest private air fleets on the continent.

The rich of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador have become completely insensitive to the reality around them. Protected by their own security guards, they pay hunger salaries, they do not invest in their own countries and they resist paying taxes. They are fans of the idea of weak and rickety states which can rely on external investments to resolve problems. In 2011, Honduras created a program called “Honduras Open for Business” that was supposed to give away land in exchange for foreigner managing the state’s business. Three years after the initiation of the program no investors have arrived since Honduras happens to be the most violent country in the world. Salvadoran businessmen now want to copy this failure.

We cannot blame the United States, Mexico or cocaine for this crisis. Why are there no Costa Rican, Nicaraguan and Panamanian children fleeing to el norte? Despite their own problems of inequality, revolutionary Nicaragua, Keynesian Costa Rica and Torrijos’ Panama based on the recovery of the Canal, have continued to grow their economies, attract tourists and foreign investment and suffer no great security crises. And in the cases of Panama and Costa Rica, they do not expel, but rather have a demand for, workers. Panama receives remittances of $214 million dollars and pays out $374 million. If China moves forward with canal construction in Nicaragua, the three southern countries of Central America will become a powerful center of development while the three of the northern triangle will end up drowning.

In 2011, Guatemala hosted a summit of the presidents of Central America with the United States, Mexico and the European Union. On this occasion, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the businessmen of the region: “The rich of each country should pay fair taxes. Security should not be financed by the poor.” It is clear that the main generator of the current emergency is the voracity of the Salvadoran, Guatemalan and Honduran oligarchs. This humanitarian emergency is not an earthquake producing dead and injured victims. It is the extractive economic model that is creating refugees. Without a doubt we must act in solidarity with these innocent children who are fleeing, but the oligarchs must be pressured and sanctioned. Mexican and U.S. donors should not have to assume the costs of this emergency—this would be the equivalent of subsidizing the mansions, yachts and private jets of those guilty of causing the crisis.

Joaquin Villalobos was a Salvadoran guerrilla and is currently a consultant in international conflict resolution.

Border Reflection & Debunking Myths

Listera Kathy Nicodemus sent this reflection (posted with permission) on the current border situation and below is an excellent article by David Bacon published in IN THESE TIMES with details on how US economic and security policies have exacerbated the situation that forces people to flee their homes in Central America. -molly

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Border Reflection – Support Non-violent solutions in Central American Countries. My thoughts on the Central American immigrant-refugee situation at the moment.

We need to deal with the immediate need, however, if we don’t deal with the systemic issues, the situation will only continue. First we need to stop contributing our (US) part- Corporations that use the land, cheap labor (including Maquilas), our cheap products sold to these countries (taking away their ability to make a living). Need to stop-Selling weapons, supporting bad leaders, US need for drugs. I know there are many other issues. What might be of help–The US supporting these countries to be self-sustaining economically and non-violent.

Debunking 8 Myths About Why Central American Children Are Migrating (In These Times)

U.S. Visas Helped Fuel the Juárez Drug Wars…Jason McGahan in The Daily Beast

There is more information about Julio Porras (the main ICE informant in the Daily Beast piece) in this 2012 article from Reporte Indigo. Apparently Julio Porras is also Ramiro Chavez and he worked as an informant for the PGR during the same time he was providing information on Juarez Cartel activities to ICE.

http://www.reporteindigo.com/reporte/mexico/otro-gobernador-en-la-mira?page=1 (Reporte Indigo) 

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/07/01/u-s-visas-helped-fuel-the-juarez-drug-wars.html (Daily Beast)

Two Bizarre Billboard Messages Startle El Paso Commuters…EPTimes

This looks much more like Anonymous agitprop estilo “Occupy” … I can see where the police and Chamber of Commerce in El Paso get excited. I’d like the trick better if it said something like “Dying from maquiladora slave wages…”  Or maybe “dying for Wall Street money laundering bankers…” Just saying…  -Molly

Two Bizarre Billboard Messages Startle El Paso Commuters (El Paso Times)

Juarez Drug Wars: Display of Threats Often Used by Cartels (El Paso Times)

Border Residents Fear Message On Mysterious Billboards (KHOU)

WikiLeaks Highlight Concerns About Juárez Drug Abuse, Mexican Drug Wars…EPTimes

Many of the Wikileaks revelations about Juarez were detailed in earlier reports (from 2012) in the Narco News Bulletin:

Mexican Diplomat Traded Secrets with Private Intel Firm Stratfor, WikiLeaks Documents Reveal

Mexican Special Forces Employed as Death Squads in Drug War, Email Records Released by WikiLeaks Reveal

This current info is from the El Paso Times.

WikiLeaks Highlight Concerns About Juárez Drug Abuse, Mexican Drug Wars

Drug addiction in Juárez represents a daily drug-trafficking market of about $2.3 million, according to files disclosed by online whistleblower WikiLeaks.

The leaked file cites a Mexican official who is referred to only as “MX-1.” During a meeting with U.S. and Mexican officials, the official identified as MX-1 said “that Juárez has a drug abuse problem which amounts to about 30 million pesos a day.”

“It’s a 30 million peso a day market for Juárez, with anywhere from 2,000 to 2,500 individuals,” MX-1 said. “He (MX-1) added, for example, they know that most of the people that are participating in the kidnappings are addicts,” according to the leaked file…

Mexico’s Vigilante State…Al Jazeera English

This new report from Al Jazeera is not available online to those of us in the US.  Perhaps a listero in another country can figure out a way to post this via Facebook or some other platform that would be viewable in the US…  It sounds like an interesting piece with on-the-ground reporting.

Mexico’s Vigilante State

“Correspondent Teresa Bo takes viewers to the troubled state of Michoacán for an immersive examination of the autodefensa movement.  With tension between the vigilantes and the government increasing this week, a tenuous disarmament deadline looming, and new allegations of cartel affiliations…I think the story will shed some light on how things have been unfolding on the ground.”

Click here for some background and preview to the new Fault Lines on Michoacan. 

Drug Dealer’s Daughter Recalls A Luxurious Life On Both Sides Of The Border, Before It All Crashed…Borderzine

Drug Dealer’s Daughter Recalls A Luxurious Life On Both Sides Of The Border, Before It All Crashed

Nadia Rivas on May 2, 2014

EL PASO — Luz relaxes in a chair and taps the table with her fingertips as she begins to reveal startling details about her unique life as the child of a powerful Juarez drug cartel member.

Reminiscing about her childhood brings a smile to her face. She lived a life that was close to perfect, she says, full of luxuriesexpensive clothes, cars, parties, entertainment, and any wish she desired.

“You get used to having a lot of stuff, good stuff,” says Luz, 24, who asked that her name not be revealed. “I never remember hearing my mom say, ‘no we can’t get that because we don’t have money.’”

At the same time, she admits, it was difficult for her mother to teach her and her younger brother strong ethics and values because of her father’s criminal activity.

“We weren’t following any of the rules, any of the laws,” said the petite 24-year-old with light-brown shoulder-length hair and brown eyes. “I was always told I couldn’t talk about what my dad did, which involved the drug cartels.“

Read the full article here.

Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown…Mexico

Under the Volcano

Americans love Mexican food. We consume nachos, tacos, burritos, tortas, enchiladas, tamales, and anything resembling Mexican in enormous quantities.

We love Mexican beverages, happily knocking back huge amounts of tequila, mezcal and Mexican beer every year.

We love Mexican people — as we sure employ a lot of them. Despite our ridiculously hypocritical attitudes towards immigration, we demand that Mexicans cook a large percentage of the food we eat, grow the ingredients we need to make that food, clean our houses, mow our lawns, wash our dishes, and look after our children. As any chef will tell you, our entire service economy — the restaurant business as we know it — in most American cities, would collapse overnight without Mexican workers. Some, of course, like to claim that Mexicans are “stealing American jobs.” But in two decades as a chef and employer, I never had ONE American kid walk in my door and apply for a dishwashing job, a porter’s position — or even a job as prep cook. Mexicans do much of the work in this country that Americans, provably, simply won’t do. We love Mexican drugs. Maybe not you personally, but “we,” as a nation, certainly consume titanic amounts of them — and go to extraordinary lengths and expense to acquire them.

Click here to read more about Anthony Bourdain’s visit to Mexico.

The episode is set to repeat on Sunday. Check the CNN broadcast schedule for times.

The Hunt For El Chapo: How the world’s most notorious drug lord was captured…New Yorker

The Hunt For El Chapo: How the world’s most notorious drug lord was captured

By Patrick Radden Keefe

One afternoon last December, an assassin on board a K.L.M. flight from Mexico City arrived at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. This was not a business trip: the killer, who was thirty-three, liked to travel, and often documented his journeys around Europe on Instagram. He wore designer clothes and a heavy silver ring in the shape of a grimacing skull.

Click here for the full article.

Mexico Forbids Drug Lord’s Extradition Even As Negotiations With US Continue

This is worth listening to.  One of the more honest looks at the arrest of Chapo in the US media.  Note the statement of the unnamed legal clerk in the audio of the story.

Fronteras Desk spoke with a judge’s clerk in Chihuahua. Fearing possible retribution, he asked that we not use him name. He says Guzmán’s testimony would expose long-alleged government involvement in organized crime. “If he told the truth, you’d find out he’s not even the biggest player,” the man said in Spanish. “You’d soon see connections with (Mexican) congressional representatives and senators.

Mexico Forbids Drug Lord’s Extradition Even As Negotiations With US Continue

By Lorne Matalon

CHIHUAHUA, Mexico — On Feb. 22 the world’s most wanted drug trafficker — Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera, known as “El Chapo,” or “Shorty”— was captured in a joint U.S.-Mexico operation.

Click here to read the rest of the story and listen to the audio.