Focus on Phoenix: Exploiting the Global South
Richard D. Vogel
Copyright © 2010 by Richard D. Vogel
Permission to copy granted
The vibrant mass street demonstration to protest Arizona SB 1070 in Phoenix on May 29, the MAIN EVENT, and the strident counter-rally in nearby Tempe, the SIDESHOW, reflect one of the seething contradictions in the USA that will shape the future of the nation:
American capital wants and needs cheap labor from the global South (primarily from Mexico) to facilitate economic recovery but wants to avoid the social responsibilities of supporting working families, while the economic migrants from the global South who are willing to do the dirty, dangerous, and dreary work that has to be done in any society want justice for themselves and their families.
The tension produced by this contradiction was palpable as I walked with the immigrants through the streets of Phoenix from Indian School Park to the state capitol building downtown. During the long walk under the blazing Arizona sun, I could not help thinking about the countless men and women who have died during their attempted migration through the forbidding Sonoran desert.
At one point I stepped out of the flow of people, stopped with my back to the cordon of city cops, and carefully studied the marchers as they passed by. Although there was a smattering of stalwart Anglos and African Americans marching in solidarity, the great mass of the people passing by were immigrants and their families -- young immigrants and young families -- and their native Hispanic supporters.
The concerns and demands of the marchers were emblazoned on the signs they carried and the T-shirts they wore.
CAUSA JUSTA/JUST CAUSE
IMMIGRATION REFORM NOW
STOP SEPARATIONS OF FAMILIES
BEING HISPANIC IS NOT A CRIME
When I rejoined the march, I felt that I was getting back in step with history.
During the long march downtown, I happened to notice a message taped on the back of a large poster:
WE DON'T NEED NO STINKING PAPERS!!
"We don't need no stinking papers!!" is a spontaneous expression of the proposal that I went to Phoenix to deliver to a conference of immigration activists. Asking for immigration reform to legalize economic migrants is not the way to go. The chance of just immigration reform coming out of Washington is less than zilch.
But there is a clear alternative if we consider the march in Phoenix in historical context. Prevailing neoliberal economic policies allow transnational corporations to use international borders to capture labor markets and control the migration of labor, enabling big capital to pit the workers of one nation against those of another -- a zero-sum game for all working people. This fundamental predicament of labor in the modern world, which is creating historic levels of inequality, can only be contested by linking the demand for the free movement of labor to the established practices of free trade. The North American Free Movement of Citizens (FMC) Agreement proposes recognizing the rights of citizens of the NAFTA signatory nations and their families to move and reside within the free trade zone established by that agreement. The full text of the proposed FMC Agreement is available at http://www.combatingglobalization.com/articles/free_movement_of_citizens.html.
Just comprehensive immigration reform is not forthcoming, but it is not necessary. By mutual agreement among the NAFTA signatory nations, the millions of people living in the background in the US and Canada can be decriminalized and get on with their lives.
The urgency of the issue for the immigrant community was clearly expressed by three Mexicano workers at the march in Phoenix who agreed to appear on the Internet:
DEFEAT SB 1070 in the STREETS
WE CAN'T WAIT--WE WON'T BE CRIMINALIZED
The issue is just as urgent for the nation at large. There will be no justice for the working people in the North until the contradiction underlying the events in Arizona is faced and resolved.
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