politics of immigration
The Brazilian state of Acre declared a state of "social emergency" April 10 in response to a surge of undocumented migrants from neighboring Bolivia and Peru—originating in countries from Haiti and the Dominican Republic to Bangladesh to Senegal and Nigeria. Officials said some 1,700 migrants had arrived during the past two weeks. The state "has been turned into an international travel route controlled by coyotes," said Nilson Moura, Acre's secretary for Justice and Human Rights., referring to the smugglers who guide the migrants into Brazil, often in exchange for exorbitant fees. The jungle town of Brasileia has become a key transport point for migrants bound for Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Brazilian police last year raided a number of sweatshops in Sao Paulo and the capital, Brasilia, where undocumented immigrants from Bolivia and Pakistan were found working in unsafe conditions for very little or no pay. (BBC, April 11; AFP, April 10)
With all eyes on the crisis between North and South Korea, the international media have largely overlooked growing tensions between both Koreas and Japan. On April 5, Seoul lodged a diplomatic protest against Japan's renewed territorial claim to the Dokdo Islands, known as Takeshima in Japan. The protest came after Tokyo issued a formal claim over the Seoul-controlled easternmost islets through approval of a diplomatic report that stated: "Takeshima is clearly Japanese territory in light of historical facts and under an international law." In a separate protest days earlier, Seoul lodged a complaint over new textbooks approved in Japan that emphasize Tokyo's claim to the islets while downplaying Japanese wartime atrocities in Korea. (Dong-a Ilbo, April 6; Xinhua, April 5; AsiaOne, March 27)
After months of struggle, 112 Haitian workers laid off last year by a coconut processing plant in the southern Dominican province of San Cristóbal learned on April 1 that they had won their suit for severance pay and back wages. In a March 18 decision that wasn't made public for two weeks, San Cristóbal Civil Appeals Court president Juan Procopio Pérez ordered the company, Coquera Real, and its owner, Rafael Emilio Alonso Luna ("Billo"), to pay 10 million pesos ($243,015) in back wages and 30 million pesos ($729,042) in fines for "non-payment of benefits over a period of 10 years." The court ordered the immediate seizure of Coquera Real's property to guarantee payment, as the company has declared bankruptcy.
Malaysian security forces remain in a stand-off with some 100 men they say are armed insurgents from a rebel faction in the southern Philippine region of Mindanao, who are accused of having taken over a village in a remote part of Sabah state on Borneo Feb. 14. But the Philippine government maintains the men are unarmed Filipino peasant migrants who had been promised land in the area. The Malaysian inhabitants of the village, named as Kampung Tanduao, have reportedly been forced to flee. Malaysian police forces say the invaders procialmed themselves the "royal army" of the Sultanate of Sulu, which has an historic claim to the area. By some accounts, the men have raised the Philippine flag in the village, which is now surrounded by Malaysian troops. The Philippine military has meanwhile deployed naval vessels and an aircraft to the coast of Malaysian Borneo.
In what has now become an annual ritual, a group of hundreds of neo-Nazis attempted to march on Dresden's city center to crash commemorations of the 1945 Allied bombardment of the eastern German city, and were blocked by a human chain of thousands of anti-fascist activists. Some 13,000 anti-fascists linked arms in a chain stretching form the Elbe River to the city's historical city center, preventing an estimated 800 Hitler nostalgists from proceeding with what they billed as a "funeral" march, with propaganda about a "bomb holocaust." An estimated 25,000 people perished in 37 hours of Allied aerial boming that started Feb. 13, 1945. The official commemoration was presided over by the Dresden mayor and Saxony governor, both of the center-right CDU, and attended by US, Jewish and church representatives. It ended in a march to the city's Heide cemetery, where white roses were laid on the snow-covered ground for all victims of the war.
On Jan. 19 a group of Haitian immigrant workers reached an agreement with international organizations and Dominican authorities to leave an encampment they and family members had maintained in front of the Dominican Labor Ministry in Santo Domingo since Dec. 14. The 112 mostly undocumented workers said they were owed a total of 15 million pesos (about US$368,550) in severance pay and benefits after two coconut processing plants, Coquera Kilómetro 5 and Coquera Real, in nearby San Cristóbal province went out of business.
World War 4 Report has been keeping a dispassionate record of Barack Obama's moves in dismantling, continuing and escalating (he has done all three) the oppressive apparatus of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) established by the Bush White House. On the day of his second inauguration, we offer the following annotated assessment of which moves over the past year have been on balance positive, neutral and negative, and arrive at an overall score:
Some 3,000 marched in Athens Jan. 19, parading the coffin of a Pakistani immigrant who was stabbed to death earlier in the week by suspected right-wing extremists. The anti-racist demonstration gathered in the city’s central Omonia Square, holding banners reading "Neo-Nazis out" and "Punishment for the fascist murderers of Shehzad Luqman!" Immigrant Luqman, 27, was assaulted by two men on a motorcycle as he rode his bicycle to work in the Athens neighborhood of Petralona in the early hours of Jan. 16. Police discovered dozens of pamphlets from the ultra-nationalist Golden Dawn party in the home of one of the two men who confessed to the attack.