The Obama administration’s defense strategy review, unveiled at the Pentagon on January 6th, is already under attack. A point that has not received adequate attention is the fact that the modest reductions contained in the Obama plan would still leave the United States military with unparalleled global reach at time when traditional military threats are rapidly receding.
Over the 27 years since IRCA, a general division has marked the U.S. immigrant rights movement. On one side are well-financed advocacy organizations in Washington DC, with links to the Democratic Party and large corporations. They formulate and negotiate over immigration reform proposals that combine labor supply programs and increased enforcement against the undocumented. On the other side are organizations based in immigrant communities, and among labor and political activists, who defend undocumented migrants, and who resist proposals for greater enforcement and labor programs with diminished rights.
Over the last 25 years, guest worker programs have increasingly become a vehicle for channeling the migration that has stemmed from free market reforms. Increasing numbers of guest workers are recruited each year for labor in the U.S. from Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean under the H1-B, H2-A and H2-B programs. Recruiters promise high wages and charge thousands of dollars for visas, fees and transportation. By the time they leave home, the debts of guest workers are crushing.
The November vigil to close the School of the Americas (SOA), that U.S. Army training school at Ft. Benning that instructs soldiers and military personnel from Latin American countries,, brought together hundreds of anti-militarization activists from around the hemisphere.
Costa Rica abolished its army in 1948 and recognizes a constitutional right to peace. But recent decisions to militarize the police and allow U.S. military presence and training in the country violate the constitution and threat the commitment to peace.
One of the last century’s most notorious despots, Jean-Claude Duvalier, has returned to Haiti after 25 years in exile. The most effective way for the United States and the MINUSTAH-contributing countries of Latin America to help Haiti would be to provide the support it needs to hold accountable those who flagrantly and violently abuse power at the great expense of the Haitian population.