By R. Sanchez – basicsnews ONLINE – December 2010
The world was forced to take notice of the plight Central and South American migrants must face as they travel through Mexico, when a massacre of 72 people by narco-trafficing gangs was brought to light by some of the few survivors. Sadly, this is but one example of the hundreds, if not thousands, of deaths of migrants making their way to North America, not to mention the assaults, kidnapping, rape, and forced labour they must also endure.
One is forced to ask oneself, what could compel someone to risk so much to go to a place where their very existence is deemed “illegal” by right-wing sectors of the countries they aim to reach? Decades of imperialist plunder have made survival in Central and South America nearly impossible. The imperialist countries in this region, the United States and Canada, have promoted and imposed policies that have deliberately made the procurement of labour very inexpensive. In other words, workers are paid extremely poorly. Unemployment runs very high, and those who can find work still struggle to feed their families.
This has been the history of the region for centuries: perpetually exploited. Most efforts by the population to address their circumstances through political struggle are crushed by imperialists and their domestic puppets through assassinations, repression, and coup d’états. The reason is clear: the capitalist system demands cheap labour and easily-plundered natural resources, and they’re willing to create these conditions by any means possible. The ruling class is constantly developing means to exploit the working class, extracting profit by exploiting the labour of workers. With a situation such as this, migrants are left with no other choice but to look for work abroad. It is desperation that forces people to brave the dangerous and often deadly journey north.
The Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) recently held its meeting in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, an informal gathering where the governments of migrant sending and migrant receiving countries come together to purportedly to talk about migration issues. The real aim of the GFMD is to better coordinate the exploitation of migrants. Though they claim to be interested in the well-being of migrants, their only interest is, as their website claims, “to maximize development benefits of migration and migration flows.” Development, to the ruling class, means greater exploitation, more land theft, more resource plundering, and no benefits to the people.
Migrants who successfully make it to the U.S. and Canada find that exploitation crosses the border with them. The same kind of racist and oppressive policies that make labour cheap and “flexible” in their home countries are implemented in the imperialist countries. Immigrants often find themselves marginalized here as well, confined to jobs that domestic workers simply will not do, or they work in low paying jobs outside of their field. The racism that pervades the U.S. and Canada places the blame on immigrants for the economic difficulties faced by the working class. The motivations for this are the same, so that the ruling class can continue to exploit their labour and continue to make profit off the backs of migrant labour.
The GFMD has shown us that the ruling class is taking steps to organize itself at an international level. Our response as workers should be the same. We need to get organized both in our home countries and our new countries of residence. We need to build links between movements in imperialist countries and exploited countries. We need to be prepared to respond to anti-migrant policies and initiatives wherever they may be found in the world.