The Border-Industrial Complex Goes Abroad

“Nothing will stop our national security officials from making this country more secure from one of the least pressing dangers Americans face: terrorism.”
In this Nov. 12, 2013 photo, a Haitian man crosses into Haiti along the border with Jimani, Dominican Republic. In September, the Dominican Constitutional Court ruled that being born in the country does not automatically grant citizenship, including people born to non-legal residents going back to 1929. The ruling is a reflection of deep hostility in the Dominican Republic to the vast number of Haitians who have come to live in their country, many brought in to work in the sugar industry and their descendants. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

In this Nov. 12, 2013 photo, a Haitian man crosses into Haiti along the border with Jimani, Dominican Republic. In September, the Dominican Constitutional Court ruled that being born in the country does not automatically grant citizenship, including people born to non-legal residents going back to 1929. The ruling is a reflection of deep hostility in the Dominican Republic to the vast number of Haitians who have come to live in their country, many brought in to work in the sugar industry and their descendants. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

It isn’t exactly the towering 20-foot wall that runs like a scar through significant parts of the U.S.-Mexican borderlands. Imagine instead the sort of metal police barricades you see at protests. These are unevenly lined up like so many crooked teeth on the Dominican Republic’s side of the river that acts as its border with Haiti. Like dazed versions of U.S. Border Patrol agents, the armed Dominican border guards sit at their assigned posts, staring at the opposite shore.  There, on Haitian territory, children splash in the water and women wash clothes on rocks.

One of those CESFRONT (Specialized Border Security Corps) guards, carrying an assault rifle, is walking six young Haitian men back to the main base in Dajabon, which is painted desert camouflage as if it were in a Middle Eastern war zone.

If the scene looks like a five-and-dime version of what happens on the U.S. southern border, that’s because it is. The enforcement model the Dominican Republic uses to police its boundary with Haiti is an import from the United States. Continue reading

As China’s investments grow, Obama gives advice to Africans

[Obama speaks from the long experience of the US’ empire in Africa, when he urges African caution when new investors come around.  These are not altruistic words; they come from the proverbial fox seeking to “guard and protect” the hen house from other predators.  Obama asserts that African development can only occur under his “trusted” US’ tutelage.  But the pathbreaking writer Walter Rodney, author of the 1973 book “How Europe Undeveloped Africa,” detailed those relations and concluded, “African development is possible only on the basis of a radical break with the international capitalist system.”–  Frontlines ed.]

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Ask questions on foreign investments, Obama tell Africans

Vanguardngr.com, PRETORIA, on June 29, 2013

US President Barack Obama urged Africans on Saturday to ask more questions about lop-sided deals with some foreign investors, while dismissing talk of a Chinese and US scramble for influence on the continent.

During a landmark visit to the continent of his father’s birth, Obama said he welcomed renewed interest from larger emerging markets.

“I actually welcome the attention that Africa is receiving from countries like China and Brazil and India and Turkey.”

But he urged African nations to make sure trade was not a one-way street.

“When we look at what other countries are doing in Africa, I think our only advice is make sure it’s a good deal for Africa.” Continue reading

Brazilian megaproject in Mozambique set to displace millions of peasants

UNAC, Via Campesina Africa, GRAIN | 29 November 2012

The Brazilian government and private sector are collaborating with Japan to push a large-scale agribusiness project in Northern Mozambique. The project, called ProSavana, will make 14 million hectares of land available to Brazilian agribusiness companies for the production of soybeans, maize and other commodity crops that will be exported by Japanese multinationals. This area of Mozambique, known as the Nacala Corridor, is home to millions of farming families who are at risk of losing their lands in the process.

brazil-mozambique-slide-1-638The Nacala Corridor stretches along a rail line that runs from the port of Nacala, in Nampula Province, into the two northern districts of Zambézia Province and ends in Lichinga, in Niassa Province. It is the most densely populated region of the country. With its fertile soils and its consistent and generous rainfall, millions of small farmers work these lands to produce food for their families and for local and regional markets.

But now ProSavana proposes to make these same lands available to Japanese and Brazilian companies to establish large industrial farms and produce low cost commodity crops for export. Through ProSavana, they intend to transform the Nacala Corridor into an African version of the Brazilian cerrado, where savannah lands were converted to vast soybean and sugar cane plantations.

Large numbers of Brazilian investors have already been surveying lands in northern Mozambique under the ProSavana project. They are being offered massive areas of land on a long-term lease basis for about US$1/ha per year.

GV Agro, a subsidiary of Brazil’s Fundação Getulio Vargas directed by the former minister of agriculture, Roberto Rodriguez, is coordinating the Brazilian investors.

Charles Hefner of GV Agro dismisses the idea that the project will displace Mozambican peasants. He says ProSavana is targeting “abandoned areas” where “there is no agriculture being practiced”.

“Mozambique has a tremendous area available for agriculture,” says Hefner.  “There is room for mega projects of 30-40,000 ha without major social impacts.”

But land surveys by Mozambique’s national research institute clearly show that nearly all the agricultural land in the area is being used by local communities.

“It is not true that there is abandoned land in the Nacala Corridor,” says Jacinto Mafalacusser, a researcher at the Instituto de Investigação Agrária de Moçambique (IIAM). Continue reading

India: 4,500 anti-nuclear farmers walk out of public hearing

Villagers shout slogans after boycotting a public hearing for a proposed nuclear plant, near Bhavnagar, Gujarat, on Tuesday. Photo: AP Photo/Ajit Solanki

Villagers shout slogans after boycotting a public hearing for a proposed nuclear plant, near Bhavnagar, Gujarat, on Tuesday. Photo: AP Photo/Ajit Solanki

[The proposed nuclear power plant is slated to be constructed by Westinghouse Corporation of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, by contract with the Nuclear Power Corporation of India.  To prevent yet another Bhopal and another Chernobyl and Fukishima, farmers whose lands are in the path of the proposed nuclear plant are acting to stop the project, its nuclear poison and its mass displacement. — Frontlines ed.]

The Times of India, March 5, 2013

RAJKOT: Thousands of farmers walked out from a public hearing in Nana Navagam organized by Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) for the proposed 6000 MW nuclear power plant at Mithi Virdi in Bhavnagar district.  The hearing was held on behalf of Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) that will build the plant. The public hearing was held to discuss the environment impact assessment of the proposed plant prepared by Engineers India Limited (EIL).  The nuclear plant is expected to have six light-water reactors. The public hearing was attended by Bhavnagar collector V P Patel along with officials of GPCB and NPCIL.As soon as the NPCIL officials started their project presentation, about 4,500 farmers from around 28 villages started protesting and demanded they be heard first. “When they refused to address our queries first, all the farmers walked out in protest,” a resident of Jasapara village Khengarsinh Gohil said. The farmers said they will not allow the nuclear power plant to come up here in the area.Environment activist Krishnakant said the hearing was conducted in an illegal manner and the issues raised by farmers were not heard. Continue reading

The global rush to grab land and other resources

[The basic law of capitalism is “expand or die” — and quickly so, as the threat of being crushed or swallowed by competing exploiters also grows without a break.  Maximizing profits through ruthless exploitation of labor, manipulation of trade, and wholesale plunder of resources, all drive at immediate returns, and threaten and cause the destruction of the long-term survival of peoples across the planet. The article below details how the inherent malevolence of the capitalist-imperialist system, is driving billions of people in despair and into struggle against it.  — Frontlines ed.]

25 February 2013. A World to Win News Service. The planet is facing a serious food crisis. The unsustainable use of resources, from the land to the sea, due to the violent rush for profit, poses a great threat to humanity and the planet. But rivalry for control of food production and distribution under the profit-driven capitalist system is still sharpening, taking new forms and causing greater misery for the world’s people. The land-grab going on in Africa and other parts of the world is part of this trend.

Africa, whose people were kidnapped by the millions for the slave trade and ground down and bled under colonialism and since, a continent whose resources has been sacked for centuries and which has suffered so much from wars spurred by big-power rivalry, faces a new form of looting today. Corporations, private banks, pension funds and many multinational companies have grabbed fertile land all over the continent. With the connivance of corrupt and client governments dependent on foreign investment, they have secured long leases by paying as little as half a U.S. dollar per hectare per year.

Although this kind of land acquisition is far from new, there has been a spectacular jump since 2008. In the following year, investors bought or leased more than 56 million hectares in Asia, Latin America and especially Africa, roughly 15 times more land that the yearly average in the preceding half century. (Farah Stockman, Boston Globe, 24 February 2013) Continue reading

IMF’s “generosity” imprisons generations in debts that only grow

IMF gold windfall helps poor countries now but won’t break cycle of debt

By subsidising cheaper loans to low-income countries, the IMF will keep them trapped by debt repayments for years

MDG : IMF and debt payment : Demonstration in Lisbon Portugal

[A demonstration against the IMF and austerity policy in Lisbon. Are IMF loans maintaining a debt crisis for low-income countries? Photograph: Jose Elias/Alamy]

The countries that run the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have decided to spend a $2.7bn (£1.7bn) windfall on subsidising cheaper loans to low-income countries. This will represent a small financial benefit for countries taking such loans, but leaves unchallenged what such loans and debt exist to do.

In the mid-2000s, the IMF faced a financial crisis as middle-income countries such as Argentina and Brazil paid off their debts to the institution. The fund’s $1bn costs are paid for by the interest it charges on loans, and its income dried up as countries got off lending programmes, scarred by two decades of austerity and liberalisation.

The IMF decided to sell off some gold, invest the money earned, and use the proceeds to run the institution. Then the financial crisis hit; a crisis the IMF had not only systematically failed to warn of but had helped to precipitate through its praise of light-touch regulation. Lending by the IMF has ballooned along with its income: this year a profit of $2.2bn has been made on loans to countries including Pakistan, Jamaica, Ireland and Greece. And with gold prices rising, far more money than predicted came in from the sell-off, leaving a $2.7bn windfall. Continue reading

The UN, int’l agencies, and the ‘has-been’ world capitalist system admit political/economic bankruptcy at Rio+20

Some came with high hopes, others were not so sure. But all left empty handed.

Rio+20, an environmental summit whose outcome made all unhappy

By Associated Press, June 23, 2012

RIO DE JANEIRO — It was hard to find a happy soul at the end of the Rio+20 environmental summit.

Not within the legion of bleary-eyed government negotiators from 188 nations who met in a failed attempt to find a breakthrough at the United Nations conference on sustainable development.

Not among the thousands of activists who decried the three-day summit that ended late Friday as dead on arrival. Not even in the top U.N. official who organized the international organization’s largest-ever event.

“This is an outcome that makes nobody happy. My job was to make everyone equally unhappy,” said Sha Zukang, Secretary-General of the conference, nicely summing up the mood.

In the end, this conference was a conference to decide to have more conferences.

That result was hailed as a success by the 100 heads of state who attended. Given how environmental summits have failed in recent years as global economic turmoil squashes political will to take on climate and conservation issues, the mere fact of agreeing to talk again in the future constitutes victory. Continue reading