About a year ago, the Spanish government launched a campaign that was somewhat controversial among immigrant groups: el Plan Retorno (“Return Plan”), a program offering monetary assistance (basically early unemployment benefits and a paid ticket back home) to immigrants who are in Spain and want to go back to their home countries. When I first heard about this I thought to myself, “Why would anyone take a measly amount of money to go back after all they’ve gone through to get there?” What I wasn’t counting on was a real estate bubble — arguably the largest in all of Europe — bursting and leaving the construction industry in ruins. Construction was a prime industry for immigrants to Spain and suddenly tens of thousands were left jobless. The effects are being felt the hardest in Latino immigrant communities, and as a result thousands have already applied for benefits from the Plan Retorno. Argentina’s Clarín reports:
According to the latest data, 5088 foreigners living in Spain have asked to return to their countries with the help of the voluntary return program that started in 2008.
According to the Spanish Labor and Immigration Ministry, they have already processed 4,753 petitions, and 3,977 have been approved. Citizens of Latin American countries are the “primary applicants”, making up 91% of the petitions.
Applicants accepted into the program reportedly receive an average of 9000 euros (about 12,500 dollars).
“The police were shooting to kill, but that’s not all, because they hid the dead,” one man told the BBC.
“They took them to the ravine and threw them from the helicopter in plastic bags. There are also dead on the river banks. Up there beyond the hill, there are more, as if it were a common grave.”
President Garcia has roundly rejected the allegations. He accused the protesters of disarming, tying up and slitting the throats of the officers taken hostage.
President Garcia has blamed foreign forces – widely understood to mean Bolivia and Venezuela – for inciting the unrest, saying on Sunday they did not want Peru to use its “natural resources for the good, growth and quality of life of our people”.
Does fighting against corporate environmental destruction not feel as good as fighting against native peoples making a living?
Why were people working in such conditions? Why is it considered ok to have some children grow up surrounded by toxins that kill?
There are no answers yet–and given the Calderon government’s past history with transparency and accountability, I hardly expect them. I wish nothing but strength and healing for the people dealing with this tragedy–and may Calderon be on the right side when these families begin raising hell in the name of their loved ones.
If the title of this post sounds ridiculous, wait to you see what it refers to.
The above is an editorial cartoon circulated by Creators’ Syndicate that appeared in The Oklahoman’s Tuesday editions. It depicts President Obama’s Supreme Court Justice nominee, Sonia Sotomayor, as passive, docile human piñata, hanging from a tree while a cartoon Obama in a Mexican sombrero invites GOP elephants to take a hit.
The image is so racist and sexist in multiple ways that even some members of the GOP were offended enough to demand an apology.
“This grotesque insult requires a formal editorial apology from both Creators’ Syndicate and The Oklahoman,” said Jose Niño, a former President of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce who, besides co-Chairing the conservative Hispanic Alliance for Prosperity Institute, has been a major fundraiser for the campaigns of President George W. Bush, Senator John McCain and other Republican candidates and conservative causes.
On Friday, June 5th, more than 100,000 persons marched in San Juan to protest the recent firing of some 10,000 workers by pro statehood Governor Luis Fortuño and his Law 7 which would privatize every remaining bit of the public sector economy.The law also allows the government to disregard contracts already signed with labor unions. The march and protest was called The People’s Assembly. The People’s Assembly declared that it was in permanent session and would start organizing activities in the 78 municipalities.
At the head of this movement are Labor organizations. The pro independence and Left organizations created an alliance called All Puerto Rico With Puerto Rico. It includes the Independence Party, Movimiento Independentis Nacional Hostosiano, Socialist Front, Movimiento socialista de Trabajadores, Communist Refoundation, Movimiento Al Socialismo, and the Popular Democratic Party.
Pero artist and actors also represented, including Calle 13 and Cultura Profetica.
For me it’s really interesting to see all of these somewhat unlikely forces working together against Fortuño and under the banner that Puerto Rico as a nation, with it’s own distinct culture, deserves better than what the pro-statehood governor is bringing.