Articles by: Pablo Morales
"There will be violence, there will be clashes.” So said Bolivian opposition lawmaker Fernando Messmer in November, as six of the country’s departments staged a general strike to protest the rewriting of the national constitution. As we go to print, at least three people have been killed in riots on the streets of Sucre, where the Constituent Assembly meets, after right-wing demonstrations turned into riots. The assembly has been meeting for the past year with little to show for its efforts, largely because the party right has managed to gum up the process with dilatory maneuvers and outright obstruction, while its supporters have taken to the streets, often resorting to violence and harassment.
Since 1901, when the first duties between puerto Rico and the United States were abolished, the island’s economy has served as a kind of experiment in what we today call neoliberalism. Puerto Rico has long been notable for its deep integration into the North American system, the maximal fluidity of labor and capital flows between it and the U.S. mainland, and its dependence on U.S. imports. This century-old brand of colonial capitalism has been adjusted and readjusted over the years, often in response to system-wide shocks—most recently and dramatically in 2006, when the insular government ran out of money and temporarily laid off about 80,000 public employees.
Picture it: two flags, one Chinese, the other Cuban, flying on an oil rig just a few dozen miles off the U.S. coast. The January 2005 deal between Chinese state company Sinopec and its Cuban counterpart to explore for oil in the Gulf of Mexico is but one of many examples of new a “multipolar” trend in the hemisphere, indeed in the world. Although Cuba, because of the embargo, has pursued international partnerships for more than a decade, more nations in the hemisphere are following the same strategy
With about three quarters of its population living in dense settlements, Latin America is the planet’s most urbanized region. It is also its most unequal. The well-to-do enclaves of major cities often stand shoulder to shoulder with vast poor areas, variously known as barriadas, barrios marginales, colonias, favelas, inquilinatos, rancherías. Though Latin American urban segregation traces back to the colonial era, most of today’s so-called megaslums and satellite cities have arisen in the last 40 years with rural-to-urban migration, which resulted in an almost 40% growth in the region’s urban population between 1960 and 2000.
The last time NACLA devoted a report to immigration (“Welcome to America: The Immigration Backlash,” November/December 1995), we noted: “The roots of the backlash are essentially twofold: economic uncertainty and uneasiness about the country’s changing demographics.” While the themes of economic fear and nativism persist, today’s immigration battle is powerfully conditioned by two new factors: a boom in immigration, largely from Mexico, and the post-9/11 securitization of U.S. society.