Thursday, February 26, 2009

Violence in Mexico

The United States hasn't been serious about the violence in Mexico because it would hurt our own government and corporate economic interests. Decades of putting our heads in the sand and a refusal to use a combination of diplomacy and economic sanctions to pressure the Mexican government to fight corruption and reign in their drug cartels, have all contributed to the anarchy and violence that is spilling over the border into our own country. Instead, we pushed fair trade and our corporations built manufacturing plants. "Fair" trade and human rights don't generally go hand-in-hand.

Let's close our manufacturing plants in Mexico. The Mexican government cannot protect the maquiladoras who work in them - over 470 women and girls have been killed in Juarez, Mexico. Over 100 journalists have been killed by drug cartel people, some of the victims thrown to the lions...literally. Over 1,600 people, including US journalists and citizens, were kidnapped and killed just last year. The corrupt government of Mexico can't and won't control its criminals and allows them to act with impunity, because the criminals also include the police, military and government officials, themselves. At the end of this post, please read the more detailed information on the inexplicable arrest of over 45 women in San Salvador Atenco, Mexico. Many of them were tortured and repeatedly raped by their arresting officers and held for over a week without bail. The government has purposefully refused to pursue any investigation of these arrests, rapes, tortures, and detentions since they occurred in May, 2006.

The United States government should recommend that all US corporations and non-profits discontinue all operations and pull their employees out of Mexico for their safety. We can use the production jobs to increase our own GDP and humanitarian assistance here in our own country during own rough fiscal times, anyway. Our country should refuse to send any aid or assistance to Mexico until the government pursues the prosecution and detention of all guilty parties involved in the drug cartels, violence and human rights violations in their country. This should help motivate the Mexican government to actually do something significant about the violence. We should be doing something to protect American citizens in border towns on our side of the border, as well. Our reporters and government should also be telling American citizens the truth about the extremely high levels of violence being perpetrated right on our doorstep!

Check out some of the interesting first-hand accounts of life in Juarez, Mexico and across from it in El Paso, Texas, USA on this CNN blog:

Information of the women of Atenco, Mexico, plus a request to write a politely-worded letter to Mexico's Attorney General demanding justice for these victims of human rights violations:

UPDATE 3/7/09
I just learned that an 18-year-old girl, a cousin of a collegue, was murdered by drug cartel members a week ago in Chihuahua, Mexico; she was an innocent bystander. My collegue has stated she would absolutely not travel to Mexico at this time because of the extent of the violence, much of which is not publicized north of the border to United States citizens. This violence includes grenades being thrown into crowds, as well as kidnappings for ransom. If you're thinking of traveling to Mexico, please think twice.

Monday, February 23, 2009

9-11 and Pearl Harbor Were Not the Only Attacks on US Soil

I was doing research on the Austro-Hungarian Empire when I came across the following information: the United States was attacked on its own soil by German saboteurs long before the attacks on Pearl Harbor, the World Trade Center or the multiple attacks on 9-11. During World War I, there were three attacks on American soil by German saboteurs.

The first was at the Black Tom munitions plant on Black Tom Island, part of Jersey City, NJ on July 30, 1916. German agents sabotaged ammunition supplies to prevent the Allies, especially the British, from using the American-made materials to continue their blockade of German troops during WWI. The first and largest ammunition explosion would have registered between 5.0 and 5.5 on the Richter scale, was felt as far away as Philadelphia, and was heard in Maryland and Connecticut. Fragments from the explosion tore into the Statue of Liberty (after which the arm was permanently closed to the public), and the concussion broke windows as far away as as Times Square in NYC. The explosion killed 4 people.

The successful attack at Black Tom emboldened German agents to stage a second attack on US soil at the Montreal-based Canadian Car and Foundry Company at Kingsland (now known as Lyndhurst), New Jersey. The Foundry had large munitions contracts with Britain and Russia. The Kingsland Explosion occurred in what is now known as the New Jersey Meadowlands on January 11, 1917 and leveled the entire munitions plant, which had been supplying arms to the Allies. Although Germany never admitted guilt in the Kingsland Explosion, the government paid reparations to the United States in the 1950's.

In March, 1917, the third sabotage attack was at the US Naval Shipyard at Mare Island, CA, 25 miles northeast of San Francisco, during which explosive-filled munitions barges exploded, killing 6 and injuring 31.

All three sabotage attacks were not publicized at the time, although President Woodrow Wilson, who had campaigned for re-election in 1916 on an anti-war platform, was well aware of them. He won re-election by a narrow margin. Had news of the first attack been widely publicized to American citizens, the results of this close election may have been different. Nevertheless, these escalating sabotage attacks by German agents on US munitions sites contributed to the decision made by the United States to join forces with the Allies and enter WWI on April 16, 1917.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Mugabe's Zimbabwe: A Reign of Poverty, Hunger and Cholera

President Robert Mugabe refuses to step down, even though he lost the 2008 election. Since he came into office, Zimbabwe has experienced hyperinflation and a complete breakdown of its health care, agriculture, education, water treatment, energy, and other basic infrastructures. His policies have caused the starvation, illness and death of thousands of people, left many homeless and without jobs to earn a living wage. His ruling party has terrorized the population through the use of imprisonment, torture and death to enforce his will. Just a few days ago, Zimbabwe abandoned its currency to allow people to use other currencies to pay for goods and services, and to conduct business. The Zimbabwean government will be paying its workers in US Dollars.

In Zimbabwe, the cholera epidemic has already killed an estimated 3,000 people, and has rapidly become a global threat as Zimbabweans attempt to reach the safety and security of neighboring countries, predominantly as illegal immigrants. Those who travel to receive adequate medical care often die along the way, or soon after they reach overflowing hospitals.

Nearly 3 million people have left the country in the past decade. Those Zimbabweans who now want to legally leave the country can no longer afford the exorbitant passport fees. This affects many people, including those who were slated to go to University outside the country and business people who trade with neighboring countries for necessary goods. As for starvation in Zimbabwe, the World Food Program has estimated approximately 7 million people, or 75% of the population, need food aid. WFP has halved cereal rations in order to feed more people.

Hopefully, when the new unity, all-party government begins rule on February 13, 2009, many of these horrible problems will be addressed and eventually remedied. However, I'm not going to hold my breath.

For basic information on Zimbabwe, read this from the CIA Factbook:

For additional information, read this BBC News article:

This link will provide you with information about cholera:

These IRIN articles are about the high passport fees and starvation: