* Notas de prensa, seminarios y comunicados sobre migración *

Los Angeles Raises Minimum Wage to $15 an Hour

By JENNIFER MEDINA and NOAM SCHEIBER – MAY 19, 2015

Maria Castañeda, a Unite Here union member, raised a fist Tuesday during a City Council meeting in Los Angeles before a vote to raise the city’s minimum wage. Credit Jenna Schoenefeld for The New York Times

LOS ANGELES — The nation’s second-largest city voted on Tuesday to increase its minimum wage from $9 an hour to $15 an hour by 2020, in what is perhaps the most significant victory so far for labor groups and their allies who are engaged in a national push to raise the minimum wage.

The increase, which the City Council passed in a 14-to-1 vote, comes as workers across the country are rallying for higher wages and several large companies, including Facebook and Walmart, have moved to raise their lowest wages. Several other cities, including San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle and Oakland, Calif., have already approved increases, and dozens more are considering doing the same. In 2014, a number of Republican-leaning states like Alaska and South Dakota also raised their state-level minimum wage by ballot initiative.

The effect is likely to be particularly strong in Los Angeles, where, according to some estimates, 46 percent of the city’s work force earns less than $15 an hour. Under the plan approved Tuesday, the minimum wage will rise in increments over five years.

“The effects here will be the biggest by far,” said Michael Reich, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, who was commissioned by city leaders here to conduct several studies on the potential effects of a minimum-wage increase. “The proposal will bring wages up in a way we haven’t seen since the 1960s. There’s a sense spreading that this is the new norm, especially in areas that have high costs of housing.”

The groups pressing for higher minimum wages said that the Los Angeles vote could set off a wave of increases across Southern California, and that higher pay scales would improve the way of life for the region’s vast low-wage work force.

Supporters of higher wages say they hope the move will reverberate nationally. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York announced this month that he was convening a state board to consider a wage increase in the local fast-food industry, which could be enacted without a vote in the State Legislature. Immediately after the Los Angeles vote, pressure began to build on Mr. Cuomo to reject an increase that falls short of $15 an hour.

Local Minimum Wages

Many cities have enacted or proposed legislation in recent years to create a local minimum wage that is higher than the federal minimum and their state’s minimum, if there is one.

MAY 19, 2015

By The New York Times

“The L.A. increase nudges it forward,” said Dan Cantor, the national director of the Working Families Party, which was founded in New York and has helped pass progressive economic reforms in several states. “It puts an exclamation point on the need for $15 to be where the wage board ends up.”

The current minimum wage in New York State is $8.75, and will rise to $9 at the end of 2015. A little more than one-third of workers citywide and statewide now make below $15 an hour.

Los Angeles County is also considering a measure that would lift the wages of several hundred thousand union members who work in unincorporated parts of the county.

Indeed, much of the debate here has centered on potential regional repercussions. Many of the low-wage workers who form the backbone of Southern California’s economy live in the suburbs of Los Angeles. Proponents of the wage increase say they expect that several nearby cities, including Santa Monica, West Hollywood and Pasadena, will also approve higher wages.

But opponents of higher minimum wages, including small-business owners and the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, say the increase approved Tuesday could turn Los Angeles into a “wage island,” pushing businesses to nearby places where they can pay employees less.

“They are asking businesses to foot the bill on a social experiment that they would never do on their own employees,” said Stuart Waldman, the president of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, a trade group that represents companies and other organizations in Southern California. “A lot of businesses aren’t going to make it,” he added. “It’s great that this is an increase for some employees, but the sad truth is that a lot of employees are going to lose their jobs.”

The 67 percent increase from the current state minimum will be phased in over five years, first to $10.50 in July 2016, then to $12 in 2017, $13.25 in 2018 and $14.25 in 2019. Businesses with fewer than 25 employees will have an extra year to carry out the plan. Starting in 2022, annual increases would be based on the Consumer Price Index average of the last 20 years. The City Council’s vote will instruct the city attorney to draft the language of the law, which will then come back to the Council for final approval.

The mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, a Democrat, had proposed a more modest increase last fall, but the Democratic-controlled Council moved beyond him. Mr. Garcetti said Tuesday that he would sign the legislation and that he hoped other elected officials, including Mr. Cuomo, would follow Los Angeles’s path.

A rally supporting a wage increase for fast food workers in Los Angeles last December. Credit Monica Almeida/The New York Times

“We’re leading the country, we’re not going to wait for Washington to lift Americans out of poverty,” Mr. Garcetti said in an interview. “We have too many adults struggling to be living off a poverty wage. This will re-establish some of the equilibrium we’ve had in the past.”

New York City does not have a separate minimum wage, but Mayor Bill de Blasio has spoken out in favor of higher wages statewide. “Los Angeles is another example of a city that’s doing the right thing, lifting people up by providing a wage on which they can live,” Mr. de Blasio said in a statement “We need Albany to catch up with the times and raise the wage.”

The push for a $15-an-hour minimum wage is not confined to populous coastal states. In Kansas City, Mo., local activists recently collected enough signatures to put forward an August ballot initiative on whether to raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2020. The City Council is deliberating this week over how to respond, and could pass its own in advance of the initiative.

As the Los Angeles City Council considered raising the minimum wage over the last several months, the question was not if, but how much. The lone councilman who voted against the bill — a Republican — did not speak during Tuesday’s meeting.

Still, for all their enthusiasm, some Council members acknowledged that it would be difficult to predict what will happen once the increase is fully in effect.

“I would prefer that the cost of this was really burdened by those at the highest income levels,” said Gil Cedillo, a councilman who represents some of the poorest sections of the city and worries that some of areas small businesses will shut down. “Instead, it’s going to be coming from people who are just a rung or two up the ladder here. It’s a risk that rhetoric can’t resolve.”

Even economists who support increasing the minimum wage say there is not enough historical data to predict the effect of a $15 minimum wage, an unprecedented increase. A wage increase to $12 an hour over the next few years would achieve about the same purchasing power as the minimum wage in the late 1960s, the most recent peak.

Many restaurant owners here aggressively fought the increase, saying that they would be forced to cut as much as half of their staff. Unlike other states, California state law prohibits tipped employees from receiving lower than the minimum wage. The Council promised to study the potential effect of allowing restaurants to add a service charge to bills to meet the increased costs.

And while labor leaders and the coalition of dozens of community groups celebrated in the rotunda of City Hall after the vote, they acknowledged there was a long way to go.

“This says to Los Angeles workers that they are respected, and that’s an important psychological effect,” said Laphonza Butler, the president of Service Employees International Union-United Long Term Care Workers here and a leader of the coalition. “To know that they have a pathway to $15, to getting themselves off of welfare and out of poverty, that’s huge. This should change the debate of the value of low-wage work.”

Jennifer Medina reported from Los Angeles, and Noam Scheiber from Washington.

Italy Drops Some Charges in Migrant Shipwreck Case

By GAIA PIANIGIANI – MAY 19, 2015

ROME — Italian prosecutors on Tuesday dropped charges of illegal detention against two men accused of being smugglers in the shipwreck of a boat loaded with an estimated 800 migrants that capsized in the Mediterranean last month.

However, prosecutors said, the men, a Tunisian thought to be the navigator of the ship and a Syrian alleged to have been an accomplice, are likely to still face multiple charges of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abetting illegal immigration.

Early accounts of the wreck reported that smugglers had locked hundreds of migrants in the boat’s hold, but further investigations have determined that the hold doors were closed only to allow more migrants on the boat, and at least one door was open. Two people were in fact able to move from the lower deck to the bridge, said Giovanni Salvi, the leading prosecutor in the case.

The authorities believe that overcrowding and faulty seamanship on the part of the navigator caused the wreck, the deadliest in the Mediterranean in recent years. Only 28 migrants survived, and just 24 bodies were retrieved.

The Italian navy has located the shipwreck in about 1,200 feet of water and been able to inspect it. Recovery is considered unlikely, given the depth and strong currents.

The report of the wreck drew international condemnation and vows of action from European Union officials, as the numbers of migrants seeking asylum swells, and deaths at sea along with it. On Monday, European leaders agreed to use naval forces to intercept and eliminate ships used by smugglers to transport migrants from North Africa to Italy. According to the International Organization for Migration, 1,820 migrants have died this year in the area, compared with 200 in the same period last year.

Migrants in Rome Try to Recover After Ponte Mammolo Camp Is Destroyed

By ELISABETTA POVOLEDO – MAY 15, 2015

The Ponte Mammolo camp in Rome was destroyed on Monday. New migrants had swarmed to the camp, which had about 100 long-term residents. Credit Massimo Percossi/Ansa

ROME — The bulldozers pulled up after some of the residents had already left for work. They lumbered through the encampment, methodically mowing down corrugated tin walls, laminated sheet roofs and concrete blocks.

They razed the camp’s ramshackle lodgings, as well as its whitewashed prefabricated dwellings, indiscriminately crushing their contents: clothing, appliances, personal papers, money, medicine and the mementos of a hundred or so people who called the encampment home.

By the time the municipal bulldozers left a few hours later, the migrant encampment known as Ponte Mammolo had been reduced to rubble. Buried in the debris of this enclave in eastern Rome, where migrants of various nationalities and religions coexisted for nearly two decades, was a black and white placard declaring the camp a “Community of Peace.”

As tide after tide brings in boatloads of migrants seeking refuge, European countries are confronted with many questions. How will they feed and employ these people, as well as absorb the variety of cultures and abilities that have arrived, driven northward by the upheaval in Syria, the Horn of Africa and sub-Saharan countries?

Marco, a longtime resident of Ponte Mammolo from Ecuador, did not want his employer to know that he had lived there. Credit Simona Ghizzoni for The New York Times

Last year, more than 170,000 migrants crossed the Mediterranean into Italy. This year, more than 33,000 have already crossed, a 15 percent increase over the same period last year, according to the Permanent Mission of Italy to the United Nations.

The European Union this week agreed to a new system of quotas for each of its member nations, allocating asylum seekers according to factors like a country’s unemployment rate and gross domestic product. But basic issues like housing remain unresolved, as the migration flows show no signs of abating.

Ponte Mammolo was a solution created by earlier waves of non-Italians, many of whom came and never left. Most of the encampment’s permanent residents had been there so long that they had achieved legal immigration status.

But word had gone out that it was a place where the new migrants, Eritreans in the latest wave, could stop on their way north.

According to the Roman authorities, it was the flow of newcomers that forced them to move on the camp. The transients swelled the camp’s population, spilling out into a parking lot in front, creating an eyesore and, the authorities said, a potential health hazard.

“When you have such important migratory movements, it becomes a social and health problem,” said Francesca Danese, Rome’s municipal councilor in charge of social issues, including housing. “The situation was unsustainable. People can’t live in those conditions.”

Olha Larcik, 67, who came from Ukraine, said she managed to pack some possessions before her prefabricated home at the camp was destroyed, but she did not know how she could live on her limited funds. Credit Simona Ghizzoni for The New York Times

All together, there were about 300 people at Ponte Mammolo on Monday. About 200 were transients, and when the bulldozers and the police arrived, many panicked and ran away. Once new arrivals are identified as immigrants, they are required by European Union laws to request asylum in the first country where they set foot, and because of the weak economy in Italy, most do not want to remain here.

Others, including some of Ponte Mammolo’s permanent residents, were taken to dormitories run by private associations.

Marco, an Ecuadorean construction worker with a residency permit, and his wife were among the permanent dwellers at the camp. He said he had received a frantic call at work from his wife saying she had been told she had 15 minutes to pack. She filled three garbage bags, making sure to include Marco’s work clothes. Whatever happened, he still had a job to go to.

In the space of a morning, “our life was turned inside out, I still can’t believe it,” said Marco, 43, who asked that his last name not be used because his employer did not know where he had been living. In his 14 years at Ponte Mammolo, he had transformed a small, existing building into a home with electricity, water, even Internet and cable television. “We’d just finished paying off our fridge and washing machine last month,” he said.

Some of those displaced found friends to stay with, others rented rooms. Still others refused to leave, camping out in the parking lot.

Dobro, a Montenegrin in his 60s and one of the encampment’s first residents, vowed that he would stay until he found his cat.

Graphic

What’s Behind the Surge in Refugees Crossing the Mediterranean Sea

There were about 17 times as many refugee deaths from January to April this year as there were during the same period last year.

OPEN Graphic

“I don’t mind sleeping in the parking lot. I am not leaving,” he said, his eyes welling with tears. All he had left were the clothes he was wearing, he said, gesturing at his grungy blue track suit.

Nongovernmental organizations that had volunteered at the camp concede that Ponte Mammolo was untenable, but say that there was a better way to deal with the problem. Many said the bulldozers exemplified the clumsy ways that Italy has dealt with a crisis that does not seem likely to end soon.

“The choice of evacuation was paradoxical because so many ended up on the streets,” said Fabiola Zanetti, of Prime Italia, which developed job training programs for some of the refugees. “It was urgent to eliminate this at-risk place, but not in this way.”

Some aid workers suggested that complaints from neighbors had led the city to act. The timing, some noted, followed gains by anti-immigrant political parties in local elections this month.

Others said that the Roman Catholic Church’s jubilee, which will start in December, drawing millions of pilgrims to Rome, had put pressure on officials to clean things up. The parking lot in front of Ponte Mammolo was built for tourist buses.

Ponte Mammolo is only one of several makeshift encampments in Rome. Migrants with precarious job prospects, even those with residence permits or refugee status, receive no tangible support from the city. Rents in Rome can easily absorb the lion’s share of an average salary — and can far exceed what is left after the newcomers send money to families in far-flung homelands.

Refugees settling in for the night after their camp was leveled. Credit Simona Ghizzoni for The New York Times

Though they may have been there temporarily in principle, for many migrants at Ponte Mammolo the impromptu lodgings became home. Among the dwellings were prefabricated structures assembled by a handful of Ukrainian residents, with brightly colored flowers on their stoops.

“I managed to pack my religious images and a few clothes,” but left behind the furnishings of a prefabricated home, said Olha Larcik, 67, who was raised in Ukraine and lived in the camp for four years, the best she could afford on disability payments and her pension.

Red-eyed “from three days of tears,” she wondered what would become of her. Transported to a dormitory on the outskirts of the city, she had no idea what would come next. “I have one euro in my pocket,” she said.

Before the bulldozers arrived, said Ms. Danese, the city councilor, the longtime residents of the camp were contacted by social workers. Many residents, however, denied that they had been contacted.

More important, Ms. Danese said, is for Rome “to do real integration” with the camp residents, as well as establish “a humanitarian corridor” for the migrants on their way north. But, she said, at a time of cutbacks the city did not have the money to cover such large numbers.

Daniela Pompei of the Community of St. Egidio, an organization that regularly brought food and drinks to the residents since 1998, said the refugees would keep coming, as long as there were wars. “Big cities are just going to have to deal with it, it’s their responsibility,” she said.

Marco said the city had been negotiating with residents and humanitarian agencies to find a solution to the illegal encampment for two years, but left them unprepared for the sudden evacuation.

In February, Pope Francis made an impromptu visit to Ponte Mammolo.

“He told us to be serene, that we had his blessing,” Marco said, “but it all fell apart.”

A version of this article appears in print on May 17, 2015, on page A6 of the New York edition with the headline: Migrants’ Lives in Ruin as Camp Is Razed in Rome.

Homeland Beckons Immigrants as Retirement Nears

MAY 15, 2015

After living in Los Angeles for 35 years, Janet Todosychuk moved back to her native Canada. One reason was the cheaper health insurance. Credit Martin Tessler for The New York Times

By ALINA TUGEND

THEY came to America from all over the world for many reasons — to make money, to marry, to live in peace. But now, as they face their retirement years, many of these longtime immigrants want to go home.

“There is always a hankering for your roots,” said Conrado Rigor Jr., editor of The Filipino-American Bulletin, a newspaper based in Washington State. “After all is said and done, after you’ve been here for 25 to 30 years, you want to go home.”

No overall statistics are available for how many people return to their native countries to retire, but consultants, real estate agents and others who help immigrants make the journey say the numbers are increasing.

They leave for many reasons: They worked in menial jobs in the United States and can afford a much higher standard of living in their native countries; they want to be around their relatives as they age for emotional and practical reasons; the spouses they immigrated with or married in the United States have died or they have divorced.

Federico Mejia, the general manager of Su Vivienda Internacional, a consulting and international real estate company catering to Colombians, said his business had doubled in the last decade.

“An increasing number want to go back to Colombia to retire,” Mr. Mejia said. Demographics is one reason. One of the big waves of Colombian immigrants hit American shores in the 1970s, so most are reaching retirement age.

Also, Colombia, like some other Latin American countries, has become more economically and politically stable in recent years, so it is a more appealing place to return to. And, like many immigrants, Colombians feel a deep emotional pull.

But the economics should not be underestimated. Alfredo Padilla, director of Expresito Carga, a shipping business in New York that specializes in working with returning immigrants, said that in the last five or six years, an increasing number of retirees were moving back to Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

On an income that can barely sustain one person in New York, “you can live like a king in Ecuador,” Mr. Padilla said.

That is because people not only have the money they have saved, but if they have paid into the Social Security system while working in the United States, they can continue to receive payments abroad. But some exceptions apply, so it is wise to check the Social Security website.

While Social Security is portable, those returning to their home country will not be eligible for Medicare, which can be a major disadvantage, Mr. Rigor said. Medicare is generally not available outside the United States and its territories, even for American citizens who have paid into the system.

“People want to be covered by the benefits they accrue,” said Mr. Rigor, who moved to the United States from the Philippines in 1982. The Center for Medicare Portability, a nonprofit research organization,lobbies to get Medicare laws changed so Americans living overseas can receive benefits.

For some, however, losing Medicare is more than offset by their native country’s health care system. Janet Todosychuk, 59, returned to Vancouver, British Columbia, last month after living in Los Angeles for 35 years. A divorce prompted the move, but the fact that most health care is almost free in Canada has been a huge relief, Ms. Todosychuk said.

“I was paying $615 a month for health insurance,” in Los Angeles, she said. “It was definitely a factor in moving.”

Paul Kurucz, an instructor of marketing at Vancouver Island University, runs a website for returning Canadian natives. It started as a hobby, and although much of the information is free, he now offers a planner and guide for $25.

He said about 50 people a year inquire about returning to Canada to retire — mostly Canadians who immigrated to the United States but some who left for other countries.

Having relatives in Canada is probably the No.1 reason older people want to return, he said, but health care is the second. And the third is fear about the future of Social Security and their retirement income if they stay in the United States into old age.

Mario Perez, 57, who lived in Pittsburgh for 20 years but moved back to Costa Rica in 2013, said it was more economical to live in Costa Rica, which also has a nationalized health care system.

But Mr. Perez, like almost every immigrant, says he feels the push-pull between his adopted and native countries. He liked living in the United States, where he and his American wife, a professor, raised three children, whom he deeply misses. But a divorce and the needs of his elderly mother in Costa Rica led him to return several years ago. He was also driven by something more intangible related to belonging and status.

“I had a good position in Costa Rica with the telephone company,” he said. “In the United States, I couldn’t get into telecommunications. I was a laborer, a handyman. I feel more a part of something in Costa Rica — more respected.”

Many returning immigrants do not realize how difficult it can be to return to a place they consider home, but where they have not lived for many years.

As the website Expat Exchange noted when writing about repatriating: “Coming home can seem deceptively simple — after all, the culture is familiar. Yet many repatriating families experience a sense of alienation in their own country.”

The ideal, for many immigrants, would be the ability to live six months in the United States and six months in their native country. As Mr. Kurucz said of returning Canadians: “They feel a real love for the U.S. The No.1 question I get, is, ‘Can I keep my Florida retirement condo?’” The answer is yes.

Ms. Todosychuk, who moved back after a divorce from her American spouse, said that if her marriage had not ended, she probably would have stayed in Los Angeles. But she said she started toying with the idea of returning and while visiting a friend in Vancouver, “a switch flipped, and I thought I was ready to do it.”

After doing her research, she put her California house on the market, found a place to rent in Vancouver, and drove across the border with her two dogs and two cats.

She is enjoying becoming reacquainted with the city, but is aware that “I need to be respectful of the fact I’ve been away. I can’t just pop into the country and pretend that 35 years haven’t happened.”

And she misses being close to her children and the community of friends she left behind. “I’ve had moments of sadness, but no regrets,” she said.

For some, returning is harder than for others — especially if they moved because of a sense of duty, rather than a desire.

Laurel Montecel, 68, is planning to move back to Guayaquil, Ecuador, this month after more than 40 years in New York, where she was a home aide. She is an American citizen. She votes in elections.

But her mother, who lives in Ecuador, is 91 and needs help, and Ms. Montecel’s brothers have asked her to return. Because she is single and without children, they feel she is in a better position to provide the care, she said.

“It’s my turn to take care of my mother,” she said.

She has returned every year to Guayaquil to visit, but knows that is not the same as living there.

“It’s my country, it’s my city, but it’s new — like when I came here for the first time,” Ms. Montecel said. “For me it’s very confused. I love my country, but I love New York.”

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A version of this article appears in print on May 16, 2015, on page B4 of the New York edition with the headline: Homeland Beckons as Retirement Nears.

· No buscaban solución, sino evitar problemas a EU: WOLA

Presunta presión de Washington a México para frenar migración

· El gobierno nacional hizo el trabajo sucio: reportaje de sitio web

En apariencia, el Programa Frontera Norte busca garantizar la seguridad de los migrantes; en la práctica se trata de hacer casi imposible que crucen el territorio mexicano y la frontera, señala el reportaje

Foto Notimex

De la Redacción

Periódico La Jornada
Viernes 15 de mayo de 2015, p. 17

En un reportaje aparecido en la publicación web In These Times titulado Cómo Estados Unidos ‘solucionó’ su crisis migratoria, se afirma que México hizo el trabajo sucio de Washington bajo presión de ese país y su apoyo económico, al obstaculizar las rutas para migrantes provenientes de Centroamérica y dejándolas a merced de pandillas que los someten a violaciones, secuestros, extorsión y asesinato.

A un año de que los refugios de la frontera sur de Estados Unidos se vieron colmados de menores de edad sin acompañantes adultos, el tren usado por los migrantes sin papeles conocido como La Bestia transita prácticamente vacío. Las actuales condiciones obligan a muchos migrantes a quedarse en refugios en Apizaco, Tlaxcala, después de días de caminar, si no quieren ser detenidos por patrullas o ser víctimas de pandillas criminales. In These Times cita como fuentes a Amnistía Internacional, la Oficina en Washington para Asuntos Latinoamericanos (WOLA, por sus siglas en inglés) y activistas independientes, y fue realizado con el auspicio de becas del Instituto Leonard C. Goodman para el reportaje de investigación y la Fundación Puffin.

Durante años los vagones de La Bestia trasladaban a través de México a migrantes deseosos de llegar a Estados Unidos. En junio de 2014 aquel país enfrentó lo que Washington llamó oficialmente una urgente emergencia humanitaria, cuando a sus albergues fronterizos llegaron 50 mil niños migrantes de América Central y México, que sin compañía de adultos intentaban cruzar la frontera norte, y fue entonces cuando el presidente Barack Obama se puso en contacto con su similar mexicano, Enrique Peña Nieto, para aplicar medidas de control a la situación.

El reportaje afirma que los migrantes “no han dejado de llegar a México, simplemente se les ha obligado a emplear rutas más peligrosas para impedir su llegada a Estados Unidos. Lo que se puso en marcha fue una serie de políticas financiadas o tácitamente ordenadas por Washington. Según WOLA, estas medidas han provocado la más severa crisis humanitaria en el hemisferio occidental, donde las violaciones sexuales, ataques, extorsiones, secuestros y asesinatos están a la orden del día para los centroamericanos que intentan llegar a Estados Unidos.

La publicación entrevistó a más de una docena de fuentes en ambos lados de la frontera estadunidense-mexicana, todas involucradas en el trabajo con migrantes y coincidieron en señalar que la actual situación es resultado de las presiones que el gobierno de Washington ejerció sobre el mexicano, no para solucionar la situación de los migrantes mexicanos y centroamericanos, sino para evitar que éstos fueran un problema para Estados Unidos en su territorio.

Creo que está claro que el verano pasado Washington presionó al gobierno mexicano para poner alto a la migración, y lo obligó a ayudar a impedir el éxodo de centroamericanos en el sur de Texas, sostuvo Maureen Meyer, encargada principal de WOLA para los derechos de los migrantes mexicanos.

Daniel Ojalvo, del albergue para migrantes Hermanos en el Camino, de Ixtepec, Oaxaca, sostuvo que la frontera de Estados Unidos comienza ahora en Guatemala.

El reportaje afirma que otra opinión generalizada es que el Programa Frontera Norte tiene, sólo en apariencia, la intención de garantizar la seguridad de los migrantes y erradicar a grupos criminales que abusan de ellos; pero en la práctica se trata sólo de hacer casi imposible que los indocumentados crucen el territorio mexicano y la frontera por otro medio que no sea a pie, pues agentes del Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM) rutinariamente detienen trenes y autobuses para deportar a cualquier persona que intente llegar a Estados Unidos. Los ferrocarriles tienen órdenes de ir a mayor velocidad para impedir que suban los migrantes.

En Apizaco se han instalado pilotes de concreto a lo largo de las vías con el mismo fin. En octubre pasado, Arlem Nahúm Zepeda Martínez, un migrante cuyo lugar de origen se desconoce, murió al tratar de abordar un tren que viajaba a baja velocidad. El hombre se estrelló y luego fue arrollado por el convoy.

Antes del Programa Frontera Sur, los migrantes no sólo enfrentaban los riesgos de viajar en La Bestia, sino los peligros del crimen organizado. Según estadísticas de Amnistía Internacional, además de los secuestros y asesinatos de migrantes, un reporte de 2010 indicó que 60 por ciento de las mujeres que intentaron cruzar el territorio mexicano hacia Estados Unidos fueron violadas. WOLA estima que 20 mil migrantes son secuestrados al año, y miles más son asesinados. Según Ojalvo, más gente es asaltada, más mujeres son violadas y ahora son más los desaparecidos.

Ante esto, el sacerdote Alejandro Solalinde fundó otro refugio en Chahuites, Oaxaca, donde, según These Times, pueden alojarse entre 40 y 50 personas en condiciones de extrema pobreza, con una sola regadera.

Según diversos reportes, la cuota para permitir a los migrantes abordar los trenes hacia el norte en ciudades como Palenque y Orizaba es de cien dólares.

La consigna de los agentes del INM es deportar, a cualquier costo, mediante operativos policiales en trenes, autobuses o arrestos afuera de los refugios, lo cual es ilegal. En muchos casos los migrantes denunciaron que fueron atacados con pistolas paralizantes.

El Grupo Beta, otro riesgo

In These Times también recogió el testimonio de un activista, quien pidió el anonimato y que habló sobre el nuevo papel del Grupo Beta, unidad del INM. Antes eran una ayuda, pero recientemente han cambiado, pues muchos migrantes dicen que los miembros del grupo llaman a la policía para denunciarlos.

En todo caso, la intención tácita de impedir que migrantes lleguen a la frontera con Estados Unidos ha funcionado, pues en los pasados seis meses las deportaciones de salvadoreños, hondureños y guatemaltecos desde México se incrementó en 34 por ciento, y el número de niños migrantes que viajan solos que llegaron a la frontera con Estados Unidos descendió en 57 por ciento, de 45 mil los primeros seis meses de 2014 a 19 mil, en los seis meses recientes.

Rubén Figueroa, coordinador del grupo de derechos humanos Sureste del Movimiento Migrante Mesoamericano sostuvo que nada detendrá el flujo de migrantes. Además de encontrar nuevas y peligrosas rutas a pie, algunos están tomando embarcaciones para avanzar por las costas del Pacífico y del Golfo de México, y seguirán buscando nuevas formas de llegar a Estados Unidos. Si se quedan, morirán, si se van, podrían morir. Su elección es entre una muerte segura y una muerte probable, señaló Figueroa.

Una prueba para la UE

Editorial – El País

La crisis migratoria en el Mediterráneo exige una respuesta efectiva de la Unión

La política sobre inmigración se está convirtiendo en piedra de toque de la voluntad de cooperación de los socios de la UE. Ante la evidencia abrumadora de la tragedia humana que se está produciendo en aguas del Mediterráneo —y de la catástrofe que puede haber este verano si no se toman más medidas— los europeos no logran ponerse de acuerdo sobre cuestiones mínimas.

En lo obvio, como no podría ser de otra forma, todos están de acuerdo: hay que poner los medios para evitar que decenas de miles de personas arriesguen sus vidas lanzándose al mar mientras se lucran con ello las mafias de traficantes de personas. Los países más afectados de la UE —los de la ribera mediterránea— no pueden asumir solos esta responsabilidad, y las medidas que se adopten deben situarse en el marco de la legalidad internacional. Pero a la hora de concretar estas afirmaciones es cuando la UE muestra sus debilidades.

Es muy complicado llegar a un acuerdo sobre qué hacer y cómo repartir el contingente de personas desesperadas que llegarán en los próximos meses; y la aprobada misión militar contras las mafias que acarrean a seres humanos con menos cuidado que al ganado plantea interrogantes burocráticos, además de muy serias limitaciones.

El proyecto europeo va mucho más allá de declaraciones y discursos. La inmigración es una cuestión fundamental y la UE no está todavía a la altura del reto.

19 MAY 2015

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Palestina: al nakba y el Vaticano

José Steinsleger* – La Jornada, México

Dicen que la política sería el “arte de manejar las contradicciones”, y a politólogos, historiadores o pensadores tocaría interpretarla, guiándonos por lo que la política es: un laberinto de espejos. Tarea incierta (a más de poco envidiable), que tiende a resumirse en lo “políticamente correcto” y en concreto nada.

V. gr.: en América Latina, la seguridad de los gobiernos antineoliberales reposa sobre China y Rusia, potencias neoliberales con armas atómicas que mantienen el precario equilibrio de la paz mundial. Misterio persa: ¿qué predomina en el “espíritu” de las naciones? ¿El sentido de justicia y la sensibilidad, o las movidas geopolíticas de quita y pon?

Reflexiones aparte, un barco acaba de hundirse con 700 africanos en el Mediterráneo. Y uno más, en los mares del sudeste asiático, flota “ahorita” a la deriva con 350 refugiados entre niños, ancianos y famélicos, sin que país alguno concurra en ayuda.

Frente al drama de los refugiados, de poco sirve el desgarre de vestiduras. Pero el de los palestinos se ha convertido en suerte de “aleph” que, en los cuatro puntos cardinales, simboliza como ningún otro la despiadada época que vivimos. No sólo porque el “aleph” encabeza la primera letra del alfabeto arábigo, hebreo y persa, sino porque en Palestina, donde empezó todo, el nuevo gobierno de Tel Aviv amenaza terminar con todo.

Desde hace 67 años, los palestinos conmemoran el 14 de mayo con el término nabka, que significa “desastre”. Día en que el complejo de culpa occidental y ciertos manejos de la geopolítica imperial le dieron luz verde a su vicario, “Israel”, para expulsar a todo un pueblo de la “tierra prometida”.

Con datos de 2008 registrados por la agencia especializada de Naciones Unidas (Unrwa, por sus siglas en inglés), fuera y dentro del Estado colonial la diáspora palestina asciende a:

• 4 millones, 360 mil en Cisjordania y la franja de Gaza.

• 1 millón 587 mil en “Israel”.

• 2 millones 839 mil 639 en Jordania.

• 422 mil 699 en Siria.

• 421 mil 292 en Líbano.

• 314 mil 226 en Arabia Saudita.

• 238 mil 721 en Estados Unidos.

• 303 mil 987 en otros países.

En total, 10 millones 487 mil 564 personas. De las cuales, 44 por ciento (4 millones 618 mil 141), son reconocidas por la Unrwa como “refugiadas”.

Básicamente, hay cinco grupos principales de refugiados y ­desplazados:

Expulsados de sus hogares en 1948, que incluyen a los palestinos registrados como “refugiados” en la Unrwa, y otros que no son receptores de la ayuda.

Desplazados de sus lugares de origen en la guerra de junio de 1967: Cisjordania ( west bank), Jerusalén este y franja de Gaza.

Habitantes que abandonaron los territorios ocupados en 1967, y a los que Tel Aviv revocó su residencia, prohibiéndoles el retorno, negándoles la reunificación familiar y amenazándolos con deportación bajo el cargo de “indigentes”.

Habitantes a los que entre 1967 y los primeros años de 1990 se les revocaron sus derechos de residencia (aproximadamente, 100 mil), y padecieron la demolición de sus casas, campos de refugiados y la confiscación de miles de kilómetros cuadrados.

Desplazados internos que perdieron sus casas y villas, pero permanecieron en las áreas que “Israel” ocupó en 1948.

A finales de 2008, la organización no gubernamental palestina Badil estimó en más de 7.1 millones el número de refugiados y desplazados:

• 4.7 millones de desplazados en 1948, registrados para ayuda.

• 1 millón de desplazados en 1948, pero no registrados para ayuda.

• 955 mil 247 refugiados por primera vez, en 1967.

• 335 mil de los desplazados internamente en 1948, y 129 mil en 1967.

A más de la insostenible situación en Gaza, los palestinos están pagando los costos de la guerra en Siria. Con 18 mil personas y 3 mil niños entre ellas, el campo de Yarmuk (situado en las afueras de Damasco), ha sido escenario de combates entre el ejército sirio y los mercenarios del llamado Frente Al-Nursa, cuyos heridos son atendidos por médicos judíos en el hospital Zeif, en Safred, ciudad palestina ocupada por Israel.

Es por eso que el Comité Nacional Palestino para el Boicot, Desinversión y Sanciones Significativas contra “Israel” (Movimiento BDS) viene impulsando con la sociedad civil internacional (sindicatos, ONG, redes de base, partidos políticos, parlamentarios, gobiernos) medidas que impongan embargos militares y sanciones comerciales a Tel Aviv. Brasil, por ejemplo, acaba de cancelar un contrato de 2 mil millones de dólares con una empresa de seguridad judía para los Juegos Olímpicos de 2016.

A propósito de la política y sus contradicciones. Es claro que el papa Francisco pegó un gol de media cancha cuando en días pasados reconoció el Estado de Palestina. Y otro en contra al calificar de “ángel de la paz” a su presidente, Mahmoud Abbas.

A finales de marzo, Abbas pidió a la Liga Árabe realizar ataques contra Hamas en la franja de Gaza, similares a los que Arabia Saudita ejecuta en Yemen, so pretexto de ayudar al fugitivo presidente del paupérrimo país arábigo.

*Periodista argentino residente en México. Columnista de La Jornada.

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Mar Mediterráneo, travesía ominosa

Ana María Aragonés – La Jornada, México

Los terribles acontecimientos que se han presentado en estas últimas fechas en el escenario de las aguas mediterráneas del mundo europeo han puesto en evidencia las equivocaciones recurrentes de los países que quieren solucionar el fenómeno migratorio militarizando las fronteras, sin tomar en cuenta las razones de los migrantes.

Causas que si bien por su complejidad son multifactoriales, aquellas como la pobreza, las dictaduras, la inseguridad del crimen organizado y las guerras son motivos suficientemente graves que explican esos movimientos. Ciertamente no muy diferentes de otros flujos migratorios que se producen en diversos rincones de este sufrido planeta. Migrantes que no tienen alternativa, despojados de toda posibilidad para alcanzar una vida digna en sus países de origen y se ven forzados a deslazarse, ya sea en pateras, en botes destartalados, caminando por los desiertos, sabiendo que puede costarles la vida. Tan trágico como las rutas que los centroamericanos deciden tomar pasando por México, a pesar de todos los peligros.

Muchos de ellos buscan trabajo, labores que son necesarias en los países desarrollados; por lo tanto, en lugar de cerrar las fronteras, una solución pasa por ofrecer programas de inserción productiva en sus economías: no sólo todos se verían beneficiados, sino que de esta forma se evitaría que empleadores inescrupulosos se aprovecharan de su vulnerabilidad por falta de papeles. Otros migrantes requieren que se les otorgue asilo, derecho universal que está regulado por el código sobre refugiados de Naciones Unidas y que la mayoría de los países ricos han firmado.

Y si bien hay una responsabilidad de esos países, las propuestas son sumamente restringidas en relación con las necesidades que enfrentan miles y miles de personas. Y peor todavía, estos migrantes no son tratado como seres humanos, pues para impedir su entrada colocan vallas con cuchillas como las que se encuentran en Ceuta y Melilla, construyen centros de internamiento, donde son detenidos los migrantes, en condiciones lamentables de higiene y hacinamiento, por semanas o meses. Verdaderas cárceles aunque no hayan cometido más delito que buscar un espacio en el que puedan hacer efectiva su propia humanidad. Y lo peor es que muchos saben que serán deportados a pesar de que eso supone devolverlos al horror del que quisieron huir.

En este año 2015 las muertes se han incrementado 20 veces más que las que se produjeron en 2014. La tragedia más reciente ocurrida frente a las costas de Libia, en la que se hundió un barco en el que viajaban más de 800 personas, ha sido considerada el peor desastre migratorio sucedido en el Mediterráneo. Y, de acuerdo con el Alto Comisionado de Naciones Unidas para los Refugiados (Acnur), 35 mil personas llegaron por barco al sur de Europa desde principios de año y mil 600 están desaparecidas.

Ante esta situación, la Comisión Europea, que se reunió en Bélgica para buscar soluciones a este grave problema, lo que plantea son medidas policiacas, es decir, reforzar las fronteras, ampliar los centros de internamiento, dar más recursos al mecanismo denominado Tritón, no el Mare nostrum que dio muy buenos resultados, pues llegaron a rescatar miles de personas, pero según ellos rescatarlos podría convertirse en un “efecto llamada” y optan por “retornarlos en caliente”, deportar en forma rápida a los migrantes irregulares. Y ciertamente propuestas poco generosas, pues plantean otorgar el asilo a sólo unos 5 mil migrantes, cuando los desplazados por la guerra en Siria se cuentan por millones.

Hay un grave error de percepción de estos funcionarios, pues suponen que los culpables de esta masiva migración son los traficantes de personas, las mafias, los también llamados coyotes; por lo tanto, la solución es encarcelarlos, bombardear sus barcos, etcétera. Esta es una visión totalmente equivocada, pues si bien estas mafias están formadas por delincuentes, los causantes de su expansión son los mismos que cierran y refuerzan las fronteras, pues obligan a los migrantes a buscar ayuda donde esté para poder traspasar esos muros. Por lo tanto, la solución pasa por abrir las fronteras y de forma ordenada dar solución a estas personas en el marco de derechos humanos.

Como señala la Unesco, el control de las fronteras es una estrategia que no puede coexistir con los principios de derechos humanos, y amenaza las libertades que radican en el núcleo de las sociedades democráticas. A pesar de todos los costos en dinero y en vidas humanas, detenciones, deportaciones, sanciones, visas, la migración no se detiene.

Por lo tanto, hay que atacar el problema de raíz, pues si bien la migración ha sido la forma en la que históricamente la humanidad ha buscado nuevos horizontes, a partir de la globalización neoliberal se favoreció la circulación de mercancías y del capital, pero se restringió el movimiento de personas, es decir, las fronteras se cerraron. Por otro lado, esta globalización neoliberal ha beneficiado sólo a unos cuantos países y empresas trasnacionales, sobre todo estadunidenses (Chomsky), quienes concentran el poder económico, militar y tecnológico. Sistema que se ha sostenido en la pobreza mundial, excluyendo a las grandes mayorías del beneficio del desarrollo.

Por lo tanto, la solución estructural pasa por combatir la desigualdad y la marginación, verdaderas causas de las tragedias que viven los migrantes, lo que garantizaría el “derecho a no migrar”.

¿Podrá ese mar Mediterráneo estudiado por Fernand Braudel volver a ser un centro civilizatorio, de intercambio de ideas y de culturas?. 30.04.15

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