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Police move in on protesters in Macarthur Park, Los Angeles, May 1.

 

 

La Jornada, Mexico

The Rising 'Climate of Terror' for Migrants in the U.S.

 

"The growing wave of xenophobia and racism against Latinos in the United States is not a product of isolated incidents: it is nourished by Washington's deliberate policy of criminalizing immigrants, which is translated into institutional violence against them."

 

EDITORIAL

 

Translated By Halszka Czarnocka

 

May 5, 2007

 

Mexico - La Jornada - Original Article (Spanish)

This past first of May, tens of thousands of people across the United States demonstrated for across-the-board immigration reform and against the wall being built on the border with Mexico. In Los Angeles, although people were marching peacefully, police using tear gas, rubber bullets and clubs attacked the multitude - which included women and children - with a singular and inexplicable violence.

 

The brutal repression in Los Angeles was one more among many acts of violence perpetrated against migrants in the U.S. over recent days. Last Thursday in Gaithersburg, Maryland, there was an attempt to set fire to a center for day laborers, apparently by a group of xenophobes. Also on May 1st, an armed man - supposedly a member of the anti-immigrant organization the Minutemen - was detained during a march of about two thousand on the streets of Washington D.C. These events are signs of a growing tendency to attack undocumented workers: intimidation, threats, insults, beatings and even kidnappings are becoming more and more frequent realities.

 

At the same time, the White House is preparing for the Cinco de Mayo  celebration, a day that has become an important holiday for all Hispanics in the United States. Nevertheless, this importance only figures in speeches and not in the acts of the Bush administration.

 

The growing wave of xenophobia and racism against Latinos in the United States is not a series of isolated incidents: it is nourished by Washington's deliberate policy of criminalizing immigrants, which translates into institutional violence against them. The granting of broader powers to the Border Patrol to contain the migration, the ease and impunity with which its agents can kill undocumented people, an aggressive media campaign against the immigrants and the raids and deportations of recent months - which have produced an atmosphere of terror and threaten to tear apart entire families - have all led to a climate of aggression against Hispanics. How can one avoid this kind of violence when the authorities of the United States are the main perpetrators?

 

This situation is also partly due to the fact that due to a severe lack of cohesion and unity, the Hispanic movement has been unable to add the needed force and weight to its demands. Thus, this year's May 1st demonstrations drew a smaller number of people than last year, when marches were mobilized due to the debate on migratory reform.

 

For its part, the Mexican government persists in its silence on the issue of human rights violations that its citizens suffer on U.S. soil, instead of protecting them, which is its constitutional obligation.

 

In the face of this wave of aggression, it is urgent to stress the human rights aspects of migration and to close off the path toward violence - which can only contaminate the debate and foil cooperation on an issue that is vital to both countries. The question of migration cannot be confronted like a problem of national security, since it is far more a question of economics.

 

Spanish Version Below

 

Migración bajo fuego

 

Editorial

 

El pasado primero de mayo, decenas de miles de personas en Estados Unidos se manifestaron en favor de una reforma migratoria integral y en contra del muro que se construye en la frontera con México. A pesar de que marcharon en paz, la policía de Los Angeles arremetió con singular e inexplicable violencia contra la multitud, en la que había mujeres y niños, empleando gases lacrimógenos, balas de goma y garrotes.

 

La brutal represión en Los Angeles fue tan sólo uno más de varios hechos de violencia que los migrantes sufrieron en los últimos días. El jueves se registró un intento de incendiar un centro de trabajo de jornaleros en Gaithersburg, Maryland, al parecer por parte de grupos xenófobos. Asimismo, el primero de mayo, un hombre armado, supuestamente integrante de la organización antimigrante Minutemen, fue detenido durante una marcha de unos mil participantes por las calles de Washington. Estos sucesos son una señal de la creciente tendencia a agredir a los trabajadores indocumentados: intimidaciones, amenazas, insultos, golpizas y hasta secuestros se están convirtiendo en realidades cada vez más frecuentes para ellos.

 

Simultáneamente, la Casa Blanca se apresta a celebrar el cinco de mayo, fecha que se ha vuelto una importante fiesta para todos los hispanos en Estados Unidos. Sin embargo, esta importancia sólo figura en los discursos y no en los hechos de la administración Bush.

 

El crecimiento de esta ola de xenofobia y racismo contra los latinos en Estados Unidos no es sólo producto de iniciativas aisladas: se alimenta de una deliberada política de Washington que criminaliza a los inmigrantes y que se ha traducido en violencia institucional contra ellos. El otorgamiento de mayores poderes a la Patrulla Fronteriza para contener la migración, la facilidad e impunidad con la que sus agentes pueden matar a indocumentados, una agresiva campaña mediática contra los inmigrantes, y las redadas y deportaciones de los últimos meses -que han provocado una atmósfera de terror y amenazan con dividir a familias enteras- han derivado en un clima de agresión contra los latinos. ¿Cómo evitar esta forma de violencia si las propias autoridades de Estados Unidos son sus principales auspiciantes?

 

Esta situación también es en parte posible porque el movimiento hispano no ha podido darle más fuerza y peso a sus reivindicaciones a causa de una grave falta de cohesión y unidad: así, las marchas del primero de mayo reunieron a un número inferior de personas que las movilizaciones del año pasado en el contexto de las discusiones sobre una reforma migratoria.

 

Por su parte, el gobierno mexicano persiste en su mutismo ante las violaciones a los derechos humanos que padecen sus ciudadanos en suelo estadunidense, en vez de protegerlos, como es su obligación constitucional.

 

Queda claro que, ante esta ola de agresiones, es urgente recuperar los aspectos de derechos humanos de la migración y cerrar el paso a una violencia que sólo puede contaminar el debate y la convivencia sobre un tema vital para ambos países: la cuestión migratoria no puede ser encarada como un problema de seguridad nacional, ya que se trata más que nada de un asunto económico.

 

 









































Parents and their babies march down Broadway for a May Day rally in Los Angeles, May 1. The demonstrations grew in size throughout the day to total about 25,000. When about 10,000 continued on to MacArthur Park in the late afternoon, police moved in with inexpected ferocity.

[LA TIMES PHOTOS: CRACKDOWN AT MACARTHUR PARK].

Some of the signs read 'Stop the Raids and Deportations' and 'Stop the War on Immigrants.'





Riot police close in on MacArthur Park, May 1.



A Los Angeles police officer picks up KCBS cameraman Carl Stein to move him out of the way.





Gerardo Gomez, 27, of Los Angeles, displays wounds he said he received from LAPD.


A young woman shows wounds recieved in MacArthur Park from baton-wielding police, May. 1.





LAPD Chief Bratton promises to get to the bottom of why police reacted the way they did. Could it be that poilce are merely responding to a general climate being created in the country?