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Friday, May 26, 2006

Mexico Elections

From the Wall Street Journal (subscription):

On July 2 Mexico will hold the most closely contested presidential election in its history. That in itself wouldn't be a problem if all the candidates were committed to the democratic process. But in recent weeks two of the three main campaigns have jointly pledged to challenge election results in the streets with massive unrest if their candidates don't win. If that happens, Mexico will be thrown into chaos and Mexicans will be the losers...

This situation would weaken the country's institutions, raise uncertainty and fears of anarchy, with potentially serious financial instability and economic disarray. Emigration would mushroom. The long awaited Mexican miracle of fast growth and job creation -- stemming migratory outflows -- would be lost for at least another six years, if not for much longer.

Immigration Bill Passes Senate

From the Arizona Daily Star:

Landmark legislation to secure U.S. borders and offer millions of illegal immigrants a share of the American dream cleared the Senate on Thursday, a rare election-year reach across party lines and a triumph for President Bush.

The 62-36 vote cleared the way for arduous summertime compromise talks with the House on its immigration measure, which focuses on border enforcement, with no guarantee of success. Republicans and Democrats said energetic participation by Bush would be critical.

Now the hard part begins...

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Mayor Bloomberg on Immigration

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has some excellent ideas of a touchy subject.

Cries from the Border

A film about illegal immigration and its effects on border communities is alienating people of both sides of the immigration debate. It's called "Cochise County USA, Cries From the Border."

Joined at the Hip

From the Wall Street Journal (subscription):

Since Evo Morales took office as president [of Bolivia] in January, the coca grower turned socialist politician has aligned his country so closely with Venezuela's Hugo Chávez that it is sometimes difficult to tell where one government begins and the other ends...

The two countries recently teamed up with Cuba in a Free Trade Agreement of the People, a pact dreamed up by Mr. Chávez as a poor man's alternative to a U.S. plan for hemispheric integration. Venezuelan technocrats help set Bolivian policy on everything from health care to land reform to nationalizing the oil and natural-gas industry. When Mr. Morales travels outside Bolivia, he uses a jet provided by Caracas.

Bolivian opposition leader Jorge Quiroga, who lost to Mr. Morales in the presidential race, contends that "we have become a colony of Venezuela." Mr. Morales rejects that accusation, but refers to Mr. Chávez as Bolivia's "godfather."

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Remittances to Mexico

From the Wall Street Journal (subscription):

Mexicans in the U.S. sent an estimated $20 billion back home last year, most of that to their own families. But to hear American critics tell it, these voluntary, private transactions are actually a curse. They are said to be "subsidies" that prevent Mexico from confronting its own lousy economic policies. But this is an argument with more holes than the border fence that Congressman Tom Tancredo (R., Colo.) wants to build.

It's certainly true that Mexico could do more to free up its economy and invite foreign and domestic investment... But foreign "remittances," as these expat cash flows are called, are a force for economic and political good. As an economic matter, they flow directly from individuals in the U.S. to private individuals or businesses south of the border. This cuts out the government middleman and provides capital immediately for private investment or consumption.

Mexicans use the money to start new businesses, improve their homes and educate their children. In this month's issue of the Cato Journal, World Bank economist Simeon Djankov and two other authors find that while "remittances have no direct effect on economic growth," they do "have a significant and positive effect on investment, without having any effect on government consumption." The authors found such private forms of aid far more helpful than traditional, government-led foreign aid, which they argued had "discouraging" results. What would anti-remittance American conservatives prefer for Mexico: more World Bank loans?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Chávez the Divider

From the New York Times:

As Venezuela's president, Hugo Chávez, insinuates himself deeper in the politics of his region, something of a backlash is building among his neighbors.

Mr. Chávez — stridently anti-American, leftist and never short on words — has cast himself as spokesman for a united Latin America free of Washington's influence. He has backed Bolivia's recent gas nationalization, set up his own Socialist trade bloc and jumped into the middle of disputes between his neighbors, even when no one has asked.

Some nations are beginning to take umbrage. The mere association with Mr. Chávez has helped reverse the leads of presidential candidates in Mexico and Peru. Officials from Mexico to Nicaragua, Peru and Brazil have expressed rising impatience at what they see as Mr. Chávez's meddling and grandstanding, often at their expense.

Photo I.D.

John Fund:

Amid all the disputes over immigration in Congress, one amendment is being proposed that in theory should unite people in both parties. How about requiring that everyone show some form of identification before voting in federal elections? Polls show overwhelming support for the idea, and there is increasing concern that more illegal aliens are showing up on voter registration rolls. But the fact that photo ID isn't likely to pass shows both how deeply emotional the immigration issue has become and how bitter congressional politics have become with elections only 5 1/2 months away.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Border Security

Charles Krauthammer:

Serious border enforcement is what's missing in the president's "comprehensive" program. And that is why so many "conservatives" are extremely unhappy. Not out of nativism. There are many like me who cannot wait to end the shadow life of the illegals. But doing so while fraudulently promising to close the border is a simple capitulation -- and an invitation to the next president to declare the next amnesty for the next torrent of illegals who will have understood from the Bush program that crossing the border at night and finding a place to hide is the surest road to the American dream.

A Little Coca with your Mocha?

Marcela Sanchez:

If Bolivian President Evo Morales has his way, you may soon find yourself ordering a cup of mate de coca instead of cappuccino at your favorite cafe.

Morales wants to give thousands of Bolivian coca growers access to new markets. He envisions an expanded use for coca as an ingredient in beverages, chewing gum and toothpaste and as a food-flavoring agent.

How Many Immigrants?

That is the question:

For many, perhaps most Americans, the question is not “Should we welcome immigrants?” but “How many?” A moderate influx may be economically helpful and culturally invigorating; a huge one would be disruptive. It is not easy, however, to look at a proposed law and predict how many newcomers it might let in.

Some estimates are extremely high. Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank, put it at 100m over 20 years if the Senate bill were enacted. His study, released on the same day as Mr Bush's speech, also included a “maximum” estimate of 193m. That figure—equivalent to 60% of the current population—was seized upon by alarmists such as Rush Limbaugh, a talk-radio host, and Dianne Feinstein, a Democratic senator from California.

But cooler heads queried Mr Rector's methodology. Michael Fix of the Migration Policy Institute, a pro-immigration think-tank, said he doubted that the guest-worker programme would expand as fast as Mr Rector assumes, that immigrants would naturalise as quickly, that so few would die or return home, and that so many would bring their parents. Compounded over decades, small changes in assumptions lead to big changes in results. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that immigration reform would add a more modest 7.8m people to America's population over ten years.

The Economics of Immigration

Larry Kudlow:

Why legislators fail to understand the economics of this problem is beyond me.

Wage differentials between Mexico and the U.S. are huge — largely because of Mexico’s failure to liberalize its economy. So, as long as American job opportunities and higher wages beckon, immigrants in search of a better life will stream northward into the U.S. — fence or no fence. This has always been the heart of the problem.

The anti-immigration crowd also gets it wrong when it points out that the Senate compromise bill would increase the number of immigrant workers in the U.S. by roughly 61 million over the next two decades. This Heritage Foundation analysis has the fear-mongerers predicting a Mexican takeover of the United States. But we need these workers.

Due to the demographic shift being caused by the baby boomers, the ratio of working-age persons in the U.S. to retirees aged 65 and over will drop like a stone from the current 4.7:1 ratio to 3.5:1 by 2030, and 2.6:1 by 2040. With the Social Security and Medicare trust funds going bankrupt, how will we manage with so few workers per retiree? Will we let our whole economy stagnate like France, Germany, Italy, or even Japan? All of these countries suffer from shrinking workforces and top-heavy government taxation.

Well, the U.S. could maintain a 4:1 ratio of workers to retirees by admitting an additional 57.5 million workers over the next nineteen years, according to analyst William Kucewicz. This would result in an average annual population increase of less than 1 percent and a total of only 16.4 percent more than the 350 million projected by the Census Bureau for 2025.

$ 2 Billion

From AP via Forbes.com:

President Bush sent Congress a $1.9 billion request Thursday to increase border security as supporters of sweeping immigration legislation reasserted control in Senate debate.

The White House said the money would pay for the "first 1,000 of 6,000 new Border Patrol agents that will be deployed in the next two years," as well as the temporary deployment of up to 6,000 National Guard troops to states along the Mexican border. The request includes funds for new fencing and other barriers as well as two new unmanned surveillance aircraft and five helicopters to curb illegal immigration.

The White House sent the request to Congress as the president traveled to Yuma, Ariz. to dramatize his commitment to border control and the Senate labored over the most sweeping overhaul of immigration law in two decades.

Chávez Has Money

...and that's a problem:

The U.S. decision on Monday to ban arms sales to Venezuela symbolizes the growing concern around the region about the saber-rattling President Hugo Chávez.

But it's not likely to have much of an effect. First, because Venezuela can probably get much of what it wants in the weapons department via its friends in Russia. And second, because Mr. Chávez's "Bolivarian Revolution" -- which promises to unite the entire region under a neo-Marxist flag -- is being carried out through less traditional means than modern brute force. So far he has picked off Bolivia and serious concerns are now emerging about his financial backing of Sandinista National Liberation Front candidate Daniel Ortega ahead of Nicaragua's November presidential elections.

The trouble is that Mr. Chávez is awash in cash and that is what he is using, both overtly and surreptitiously, to extend his influence in the poorest countries of the region...

Venezuelan democrats will tell you that there is not much hope for a change in government without an oil-price retreat. Until that happens, Mr. Chávez will be too powerful. That's bad news for 26 million Venezuelans who are experiencing sky-rocketing crime rates and declining living standards under Chavismo.

From Mary Anastasia O'Grady (subscription)

The National Language

From the L.A. Times:

English would be declared the "national language" of the United States under a measure the Senate approved Thursday, a largely symbolic move that supporters said would promote unity and encourage assimilation by immigrants.

The measure would not reverse government practices of providing some materials and services — including voting ballots and emergency advisories — in other languages. But it would establish that people have no right or entitlement to ask government officials to provide services or materials in other languages, unless authorized by law.

Minutes after adding the provision to the immigration bill it is debating, the Senate passed a second amendment with less pointed phrasing. Declaring English the country's "common and unifying" language, it specified that the "existing rights" under which the government provides bilingual services and assistance would not be diminished.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Encouragement for the Besieged

David Brooks has some encouragement for Republican Senators who support a compromise on immigration reform legislation (NYT subscription):

For weeks now — months, actually! — you've been besieged by the close-the-border restrictionists, who shut down your phone lines and scream at you in town meetings. You've been hit with slopping barrages of manure by Limbaugh, Savage, Levin and every other talk-radio jock in the Northern Hemisphere. People who don't run for office don't understand how disorienting it is to have your base, your own people, suddenly turn carnivorous and out for your flesh.

They say you and your fellow immigration compromisers are performing the biggest act of political suicide in modern history, and you wonder whether they are right.

What bothers you about the restrictionists is not that they are primitives or racists. They're not. It's their imperviousness, their unwillingness to compromise. They don't have the numbers to govern, but they think they have the numbers to destroy.

They trumpet the studies indicating that immigration decreases wages, but ignore the ones that show it stimulates wages and growth. They mention the strains first-generation immigrants put on social services, but ignore the evidence that immigrants' children are so productive they more than compensate for the cost. They talk about the criminal immigrants, but look past the vast majority who are religious and family-centered.

You haven't been able to get your restrictionist friends to think pragmatically. Do they really think they'll get a better immigration bill in the next Congress, when there are more Democrats, or under President Hillary Clinton or John McCain? Do they really want to preserve the status quo for another decade? Do they think the G.O.P. can have a future if it insults even the Hispanics who are already here?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Oil Trouble in Ecuador

What's going on here?

Ecuadorean President Alfredo Palacio sent troops to guard oil facilities seized from Occidental Petroleum Corp. as they are transferred to state control, officials said Tuesday.

But officials said the cancellation of Occidental's operating contracts and the seizure of its assets did not mean the Andean nation is nationalizing its oil industry.

Defense Minister Oswaldo Jarrin told reporters late Tuesday that Palacio issued a decree directing the soldiers, who started arriving to the oil fields earlier in the day, "to provide protection and safekeeping" for up to 60 days "of all hydrocarbon complexes" formerly held by the U.S.-based oil company.

Ecuador unilaterally canceled Occidental's operating contracts on Monday over a dispute that stretched back several years, claiming that the oil company had broken the terms of its contract.

Hate Groups

From USAToday:

Tension over illegal immigration is contributing to a rise in hate groups and hate crimes across the nation, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. It says that racist groups are using the immigration debate as a rallying cry...

The center's report says the national debate that has focused on Hispanic immigration has been "the single most important factor" in spurring activity among hate groups and has given them "an issue with real resonance."

Alan García Redux

From the Wall Street Journal (subscription):

Alan García, who presided over an economic disaster as Peru's youthful leftist president during the 1980s, is now living one of the stranger second acts in Latin American political history. As Peru enjoys a surge in economic growth, an older and seemingly more moderate Mr. García has emerged as the front-running candidate in next month's presidential election precisely because he's seen as a bulwark against another young, leftist radical, Ollanta Humala.

Mr. García, 56 years old, who just barely qualified for the June 4 runoff after a hard-fought first round in April, has charged ahead in the polls by recasting himself as a moderate and tying Mr. Humala, 43, to the region's fiery populist leaders, Venezuela's Hugo Chávez and Bolivia's Evo Morales. To many in Latin America's middle class, Messrs. Chávez and Morales have increasingly become symbols of the bad old days of runaway inflation and confrontational politics.

I think this means there's hope for Peru.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Immigration Debate

I almost wet my pants watching this video.

Dead Capital in Mexico

From TCS Daily:

Mexico's poor own their limited property in "deficient form," says Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto, with inadequately documented rights and assets. They have what he terms "dead capital" - "houses but not titles; crops but not deeds; businesses but not statutes of incorporation." Worse, they have little opportunity to improve their lot, as long as they remain in Mexico.

Much of rural and small-town Mexico does not even have electricity, telephone and internet service, sewage treatment, water-purification, or decent roads, schools and healthcare. Just five miles from Cancun, I visited Valle Verde, where several thousand people live in primitive wood shacks, with electricity for only a few light bulbs and no running water or sanitation. One cannot help wondering where all that petroleum and tourism money has gone.

The President's Speech

Please share your comments on the President's speech last night on immigration.

Remittances & Inflation in El Salvador

From the Miami Herald:

LA UNION, El Salvador - It is hard to overstate how much this tiny Central American nation has benefited from the estimated $2.8 billion that Salvadoran immigrants in the United States send back to their relatives each year.

Without it, the portion of families who live in extreme poverty would jump from 6 percent to 37 percent, according to a recent study by the United Nations Development Program.

Yet economists have become increasingly concerned that the flood of U.S. dollars may also be driving up the cost of living in El Salvador, forcing ever-larger numbers of Salvadorans to leave for the United States -- where their presence, along with that of other illegal immigrants, has already triggered a fierce debate.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Passing the Joint in Mexico

From the Economist in Mexico City:

500 protesters gathered on May 6th for a marijuana “smoke-in” to criticise an about-face by Mr Fox on a drugs bill. The president had promised to pass (and had helped design) a bill to decriminalise possession of small amounts of most drugs, a measure that the bill’s supporters say would free up police to pursue dealers and traffickers instead of small-time users. Both houses of congress had passed the bill, but Mr Fox, under pressure from America, abruptly reversed course on May 4th. Some Mexican legislators say they may override the president’s veto.

The protesters at the smoke-in were joined by Patricia Mercado, the presidential candidate of the Alternative Social Democratic party, whose strong showing in a recent presidential debate bumped her up in the polls—though her support base is still paltry, at 3-4%. Ms Mercado declined to light up, but said she supported the decriminalisation of marijuana.

Catch and Release

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Beefed-up enforcement at the U.S.-Mexico border since Sept. 11, 2001, has substantially increased the number of arrests of illegal immigrants, but tens of thousands of captured non-Mexicans continue to be released into the United States because there is no place to hold them, according to experts and immigration officials. Mexico will not accept them.

The vast majority simply slip away inside the country after being issued "Notices to Appear" for a deportation hearing -- documents known to Border Patrol agents as "Notices to Disappear." The success of border crossers who stay in the United States through this "catch-and-release" process has encouraged others who hope to enter the country the same way.

The Guard at the Border

From the New York Times:

President Bush's plan to send National Guard troops to patrol the southern border of the United States has raised the concern of his longtime ally President Vicente Fox of Mexico, who called Mr. Bush on Sunday to express his worries.

White House officials said Mr. Bush assured Mr. Fox that a permanent National Guard presence on the border was not being considered.

What the heck is Vicente "concerned" about?

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Prime Time

From Yahoo! News:

President Bush plans to address the nation Monday night on the immigration debate, trying to build momentum for legislation that could provide millions of illegal immigrants a chance to become American citizens.

The White House said it was seeking time from television networks for the president's remarks.

Latino Voters & Immigration

Not surprisingly...

Eighty percent of registered Latino voters support an immigration proposal, similar to one recently proposed in the U.S. Senate that would allow immigrants currently in the United States to earn their way to citizenship, according to a recent poll conducted for the Latino Policy Coalition.

Who Speaks for Whom?

From New America Media:

A new coalition of U.S. Latinos headed to Washington D.C. last Monday to say the massive protests seen around the country "don't speak for us."

The group, known as 'You Don't Speak for Me,' was started by U.S. Latinos who were "offended by the demands being made by people who have broken our nation's laws," according to a statement released by the group. The group arrived in the nation's capitol May 1 with the hopes of meeting with members of Congress and discussing immigration reform.

According to the group's statement, the coalition supports the "strengthening and enforcement of U.S. immigration laws." This includes added manpower and barriers along the border with Mexico, denial of non-emergency benefits and services to undocumented immigrants and "vigorous enforcement" of businesses that hire undocumented workers, the statement said.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Legalization and Assimilation

Peter D. Salins:

The key to assimilation in the United States has been our openness to large-scale immigration and tolerance of ethnic and religious differences. But it has also depended heavily on laws and policies that have allowed legal immigrants to become American in every sense.

Clearly, the 11 million to 12 million undocumented immigrants now here can never assimilate, whether they want to or not. Their illegal status will keep them from being accepted by their American neighbors, regardless of their virtue or utility. Thus, legalizing their status is essential.

Columbia Honors Payá

From OpinionJournal:

College graduation season is upon us, and once again the list of commencement speakers and honorary-degree recipients makes interesting reading. Some are perennials on the May-June diploma circuit, like the famous faces--Tom Brokaw, Hillary Clinton--from show business and politics. Others are local figures well known chiefly to the audience they will be addressing.

Yet this year one man's name stands out, and not only because of his personal accomplishments. By conferring a Doctor of Laws degree on Cuban opposition leader Oswaldo Payá, Columbia University effectively honors every person in Cuba who shares his burden, dreams and goals.

A Columbia press release about the award summarizes those goals: "As a prominent human-rights organizer and director of the Varela Project, an effort to democratize Cuba's political system, Payá is celebrated as an agent of nonviolent change.

Fox Disses Hugo and Evo

From MarketWatch:

Vicente Fox, the president of Mexico, on Thursday delivered a salvo against the leftwing policies of Venezuela and Bolivia, warning that protectionism and nationalisation could damage the prospects of Latin America as a whole.

In an interview with the Financial Times, he made a thinly veiled attack on Hugo Chávez, Venezuela's president, and Evo Morales, his Bolivian counterpart, who recently moved to nationalise the gas industry.

"I respect the opinions of other presidents and do not want to interfere in their decisions," Mr Fox said, when asked about the rise of economic nationalism in the region. "But, yes, I can say if something has not worked well in Latin America, it's precisely populism, demagoguery, deception, which only hurt the process of development and impoverish people even more."

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Winners and Losers

U.S. News tries to tell us who the winners and losers will be if immigration reform, as is proposed right now, succeeds.

Immigration Arrests

From the WaPo:

Federal authorities announced the arrests yesterday of four construction supervisors and 76 illegal immigrants at a Kentucky home-building company, continuing a promised government crackdown on employers that rely on illegal labor.

The arrests at Fischer Homes, a leading builder in Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio, followed the April 19 arrests of seven current and former managers and more than 1,100 workers for Ifco Systems North America Inc., a subsidiary of a Dutch manufacturer of plastic crates and wooden pallets.

The effort comes as Congress debates plans to overhaul the nation's immigration laws.

Violent Crime in Venezuela

Caracas has become the world capital of violent crime:

According to U.N. figures, the rates of gun-related violence are higher here than anywhere else on earth. The rank stench coming from the police office -- a building that doubles as a morgue -- is a rotten byproduct of a homicide rate that in recent years has eclipsed that of Colombia, a country torn by 40 years of civil strife between armed militias. Bullets fly so often in Caracas that even the white truck that ferries dead bodies from the barrios to the forensics building has a bullet hole in its driver's-side door.

The frustration among crime-weary Venezuelans recently has become a political issue, erupting into several large street protests demanding that Hugo Chavez's government do something to stem the violence. Chavez's opponents are trying to make crime a central theme of the December presidential elections, demanding action from a president they say has neglected the issue since taking power in 1999.

Local Enforcement of Immigration Laws

From the New York Times:

To people who say round up more illegal immigrants, Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County [Arizona] here has an answer: send out the posse.

On Wednesday, the posse, a civilian force of 300 volunteers, many of them retired deputies, are to fan out over desert backcountry, watching for smugglers and the people they guide into these parts.

Already, a small team of deputies roams the human-trafficking routes to enforce a nine-month-old state law that makes smuggling people a felony and effectively authorizes local police forces to enforce immigration law.

Not only do deputies charge the smugglers, but many of their customers have also been jailed. That has drawn criticism from several quarters, even the politician who sponsored the law and has generally supported Sheriff Arpaio's position.

Hispanic Growth

From the USAToday:

Hispanics remain the USA's fastest-growing minority group, but most of their population increase comes from births here rather than immigration, according to Census Bureau estimates released Tuesday.

As debate over immigration policy roils the nation, government numbers show that 60% of the 1.3 million new Hispanics in 2005 are citizens because they were born here.

More from the Washington Post:

Nearly half of the nation's children under 5 are racial or ethnic minorities, and the percentage is increasing mainly because the Hispanic population is growing so rapidly, according to a census report released today.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Andy Garcia's "The Lost City"

Politically correct movie critics are lambasting Andy Garcia's "The Lost City" because it challenges their myths about pre-Castro Cuba. Go figure.

Cuba Oil Drilling

Here's another reason the Cuban embargo is a bad idea.

Monday, May 08, 2006

KKK

From the Birmingham News (2nd item):

A Ku Klux Klan anti-immigration rally Saturday in this northwest Alabama city drew a crowd of more than 300 supporters and counter protesters...

At the rally, marchers yelled anti-immigration slogans such as "Send them back." One robed woman held a sign saying "Remember the Alamo, Stop Invasion Now, Save America..."

Ray Larsen, imperial wizard of the National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan from South Bend, Ind., told the crowd on a megaphone that illegal immigrants are in America to take jobs. "They want to take all jobs," he said.

Bolivian History

According to the New York Times, the history of Bolivia helps explain Evo Morales' move to nationalize the energy sector.

Thinking Together

The Washington Post has a write-up on a new website for a group calling itself Mexicans and Americans Thinking Together (MATT).

Update: Here's another website.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Latinos Hate Bush

From HispanicBusiness.com:

A new national survey released today by the Latino Policy Coalition finds that President George W. Bush has dramatically less support among Latino voters than popularly believed. He has even less support among Latinos than the Republican Party has...

The national poll found that Bush's positive job performance rating among Latino voters is a staggeringly low 23 percent. In contrast, 75 percent of Latino voters have a negative view of the job the president is doing.

Journalists Jailed in Cuba

From the Miami Herald:

Today, the Inter American Press Association is focusing attention on the deplorable plight of 25 independent Cuban journalists imprisoned for committing crimes of conscience. We call upon the government of President Fidel Castro to release all 25 and immediately provide medical treatment to the 18 who are suffering serious health problems.

The condition of the journalists has deteriorated since they were jailed in March 2003 as part of an official crackdown on a group of 75 dissidents. The decline is due to physical mistreatment and punishment, poor food, lack of medical attention, restrictions on family visits, overcrowded cells and confinement among a dangerous criminal population.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Learn English!

From the Houston Chronicle:

President Bush on Thursday told a largely Hispanic audience at a Cinco de Mayo celebration in the White House that America is a nation of immigrants but that all new arrivals should learn English.

"Those who come here to start new lives in our country have a responsibility to understand what America is about, and the responsibility to learn the English language," Bush said. "That's what we want."

Bush in recent days has intensified his stance on English as he tries to win support in Congress for a controversial guest worker program for immigrants.

Common Ground?

From the L.A. Times:

Latino and African American activists announced plans Thursday for a national leadership conference in Los Angeles to ease tensions and build unity over such hot-button issues as immigration, jobs, education and gang violence.

The Rev. Al Sharpton and Christine Chavez, the granddaughter of United Farm Workers founder Cesar Chavez, will headline the June gathering, which was announced at a Leimert Park news conference by Najee Ali of Project Islamic Hope, Earl Ofari Hutchinson of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable and others.

This is going to end badly. Anything that Sharpton touches only gets worse.

The Flat Tax in Costa Rica

Mary Anastasia O'Grady (WSJ subscription):

The concept is anathema to Costa Rica's hard left, which is crying foul on grounds that a single, low rate is unjust: Under a flat tax the rich don't pay their fair share and it leads to profits -- a dirty word to Latin socialists -- for business.

Yet the flat tax has already proved an effective way to fight poverty in a host of developing countries... For individuals, tax evasion goes down and tax collection goes up because of better compliance. Low corporate rates attract capital, spurring economic growth and job creation. That means there is more money in government coffers to help the needy. Without a laundry list of tax exemptions and loopholes, corruption is thwarted.

If anyone can sell these concepts to Costa Ricans, it's Mr. Arias. He has the confidence of many Costa Ricans who tend to distrust the private sector, thanks in part to the systematic indoctrination of young minds by the left-wing national teachers' union.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Against Ollanta Humala in Peru

Carlos Alberto Montaner is trying to encourage the political factions in Peru to unite against Ollanta Humala to make sure he does not become the next president of that South American country:

On the political field, Humala -- like Hugo Chávez, Evo Morales and Fidel Castro -- is an enemy of the political values of Western democracies. On the economic field, he is a convinced and avowed collectivist.

Were Humala to win the election, ultranationalism and indigenism would rule together with statism and the rejection of the market. Add his intolerant, anti-Semitic and homophobic character, and this inevitably would lead to an authoritarian, unproductive and increasingly militarized government that would bring only pain to the Peruvian people.

Los Tres Amigos

Alvaro Vargas Llosa:

When Evo Morales was elected in Bolivia, a number of commentators (myself included) were expressing the faint hope that the president would resist the temptation to follow Hugo Chávez's footsteps. Brazil's important economic presence in Bolivia, we thought, might give President Lula da Silva, a more moderate man, the sort of leverage that would persuade Evo Morales to keep Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez at arm's length even against his deepest instincts. The fact that the United States was avoiding open hostility seemed to give Morales room to maneuver.

Unfortunately, it looks like Mr. Morales' presidency has said "adios" to common sense. He is beginning to pick fights with moderate neighbors, to push away Brazil, to alienate investors, to inundate his country with "social workers" and advisors from Cuba and Venezuela, to reopen old wounds in the separatist region of Santa Cruz, and to undermine the independent electoral system. This week he nationalized the country's oil and gas industry...

Unlike Venezuela, Bolivia does not obtain $50 billion from oil sales every year. In fact, its national budget is dependent on foreign donations. By allying himself with Venezuela and Cuba, Mr. Morales is not only making a dangerous political calculation that could isolate him from countries such as Brazil, Chile, and Peru but also betraying the expectations of those millions of indigenous Bolivians who need capital in order to start the hard process of overcoming poverty. By concentrating power, this self-styled scourge of "traditional politics" is doing the most traditional thing possible in Latin America.

No Affirmative Action for Immigrants

Edward Blum and Roger Clegg:

Affirmative action on the basis of race, color, or national origin should not be available to any temporary worker—or any recent immigrant, for that matter. In other words, immigrants shouldn't be given a preference in school admissions, public contracting, and employment on the basis of skin color or ethnicity.

After all, someone who has recently entered the country can hardly claim a right to favored treatment to make up for "historical discrimination" against him by American employers or any unit of government. He just got here.

The Next Generations

Commentary from the Wall Street Journal (subscription):

The impact of immigration on American culture is not determined by what immigrants do, but by what their children and grandchildren do. Here the evidence is unambiguous: The children and grandchildren of Mexican immigrants assimilate and move up the income ladder. Meticulous research by James Smith at Rand demonstrates that second- and third-generation Mexican-Americans quickly overcome the educational deficit faced by their immigrant parents and grandparents. As a result, they do not constitute a permanent economic underclass; they have been steadily narrowing the income gap with native-born whites. Nor do they constitute a social and cultural group independent of mainstream America. The reason is clear: 80% of third-generation Mexican-Americans cannot speak Spanish.

Immigration & Civil Rights

From the New York Times:

Some blacks bristle at the comparison between the civil rights movement and the immigrant demonstrations, pointing out that black protesters in the 1960's were American citizens and had endured centuries of enslavement, rapes, lynchings and discrimination before they started marching.

Others worry about the plight of low-skilled black workers, who sometimes compete with immigrants for entry-level jobs.

And some fear the unfinished business of the civil rights movement will fall to the wayside as America turns its attention to a newly energized Hispanic minority with growing political and economic clout.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Immigration & Employers

Commentary in Forbes Magazine:

No one seriously disputes the existence of an illegal immigration problem in this country. But aggressive and costly enforcement initiatives against employers are fundamentally unfair, since they fail to address the underlying problems, such as porous borders and the easy availability of counterfeit documents. Our immigration problems will not be improved by passing the buck to corporate America.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Bolivia Nationalizes Gas

This is the beginning of the end for either Bolivia or Evo Morales' presidency. My guess is the former:

Bolivia's President Evo Morales decreed the nationalization of the country's natural gas industry today, following through on an election pledge to increase control over the energy industry.

Under the decision, he ordered foreign firms to send production to a state company for sales and industrialization, and said that the state will also recover Bolivian hydrocarbons companies that were privatized in the 1990's, with the state taking over shares that are in the hands of foreign companies and of semi-public Bolivian entities, according to an Associated Press report based on Mr. Morales's speech, which was delivered at the country's San Alberto gas and oil field.

He also ordered the military to occupy the natural gas fields, the A.P. said.

Expect that foreign investment in the country will dry up very quickly and a poor nation to become even poorer. What a shame!

Work Stoppage

Strikes are paralyzing Buenos Aires, Argentina. Illegal immigrants staying home for a day are not having the same effect in the U.S.