Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Open Letter from Bolivian President to EU on the "Return Directive"

The following remarkable statement on immigration issues, sent earlier this week by Bolivian President Evo Morales as an Open Letter to the European Union re: the EU's forthcoming vote on June 18, 2008 regarding its "Return Directive," which seeks to deport undocumented persons from EU territories.  (The Spanish original follows the English translation below.)



Up until the end of the World War II, Europe was an emigrant continent. Tens of thousands of Europeans departed for the Americas to colonize, to escape hunger, the financial crisis, the wars or European totalitarianisms and the persecution of ethnic minorities.

Today, I am following with concern the process of the so called “Return Directive”. The text, validated last June 5th by the Interior Ministers of 27 countries in the European Union, comes up for a vote on June 18 in the European Parliament. I feel that it is a drastic hardening of the detention and expulsion conditions for undocumented immigrants, regardless of the time they have lived in the European countries, their work situation, their family ties, or their ability and achievements to integrate.

Europeans arrived en masse to Latin and North America, without visas or conditions imposed on them by the authorities. They were simply welcomed, and continue to be, in our American continent, which absorbed at that time the European economic misery and political crisis. They came to our continent to exploit the natural wealth and to transfer it to Europe, with a high cost for the original populations in America. As is the case of our Cerro Rico de Potosi and its fabulous silver mines that gave monetary mass to the European continent from the 16th to the 19th centuries. The people, the wealth and the rights of the migrant Europeans were always respected.

Today, the European Union is the main destiny for immigrants around the world which s a consequence of its positive image of space and prosperity and public freedoms. The great majority of immigrants go to the EU to contribute to this prosperity, not to take advantage of it. They are employed in public works, construction, and in services to people in hospitals, which the Europeans cannot do or do not want. They contribute to the demographic dynamics of the European continent, maintaining the relationship between the employed and the retired which provides for the generous social security system and helps the dynamics of internal markets and social cohesion. The migrant offers a solution to demographic and financial problems in the EU.

For us, our emigrants represent help in development that Europeans do not give us – since few countries really reach the minimum objective of 0.7% of its GDP in development assistance. Latin America received, in 2006, remittance (monies sent back) totaling 68,000million dollars, or more than the total foreign investment in our countries. On the worldwide level it reached $300,000 million dollars which is more than US $104,000 million authorized for development assistance. My own country, Bolivia, received more than 10% of the GDP in remittance (1,100 million dollars) or a third of our annual Exports of natural gas.

Unfortunately, “Return Directive” project is an enormous complication to this reality. If we can conceive that each State or group of States can define their migratory policies in every sovereignty, we cannot accept that the fundamental rights of the people be denied to our compatriots and brother Latin-Americans. The “Return Directive” foresees the possibility of jailing undocumented immigrants for up to 18 months before their expulsion – or “distancing”, according to the terms of the directive. 18 months! Without a judgment or justice! As it stands today the project text of the directive clearly violates articles 2, 3, 5,6,7,8 and 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948.

In particular, Article 13 of the Declaration states:
“1. All persons have a right to move freely and to choose their residence in the territory of a State.
2. All personas have the right to leave any country, including their own, and to return to their country.”

And, the worst of all, is that the possibility exists for the mothers of families with minor children to be arrested, without regards to the family and school situation, in these internment centers where we know that depression, hunger strikes, and suicide happens. How can we accept without reacting for them to be concentrated in camps our compatriots and Latin American brothers without documents, of which the great majority have been working and integrating for years. On what side is the duty of humanitarian action? Where is the “freedom of movement”, protection against arbitrary imprisonment?

On a parallel, the European Union is trying to convince the Andean Community that the Nations (Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru) to sign an “Association Agreement” that includes the third pillar of the Free Trade Agreement, of the same nature and content as that imposed by the United States. We are under intense pressure from the European Commission to accept conditions of great liberalization of our trade, financial services, intellectual property rights and our public works. In addition under so called “judicial protection” we are being pressured about the nationalization of the water, gas and telecommunications that were done on the Worldwide Workers’ Day. I ask, in that case, where is the “judicial protection” for our women, adolescents, children and workers that look for better horizons in Europe?

Under these conditions, if the “Return Directive” is passed, we will be ethically unable to deepen the negotiations with the European Union, and we reserve the right to legislate such that the European Citizens have the same obligations for visas that they impose on the Bolivians from the first of April 2007, according to the diplomatic principal of reciprocity. We have not exercised it up until now, precisely because we were awaiting good signs from the EU.

The world, its continents, its oceans and its poles know important global difficulties: global warming, contamination, the slow but sure disappearance of the energy resources and biodiversity while hunger and poverty increase in every country, debilitating our societies. To make migrants, whether they have documents or not, the scapegoats of these global problems, is not the solution. It does not meet any reality. The social cohesion problems that Europe is suffering from are not the fault of the migrants, rather the result of the model of development imposed by the North, which destroys the planet and dismembers human societies.

In the name of the people of Bolivia, of all of my brothers on the continent and regions of the world like the Maghreb and the countries of Africa, I appeal to the conscience of the European leaders and deputies, of the peoples, citizens and activists of Europe, for them not to approve the text of the “Return Directive”. As it is today, it is a directive of vengeance. I also call on the European Union to elaborate, over the next months, a migration policy that is respectful of human rights, which allows us to maintain this dynamics that is helpful to both continents and that repairs once and for all the tremendous historic debt, both economic and ecological that the European countries owe to a large part of the Third World, and to close once and for all the open veins of Latin America. They cannot fail today in their “policies of integration” as they have failed with their supposed “civilizing mission” from colonial times.

Receive all of you, authorities, Euro parliamentarians, brothers and sisters, fraternal greetings from Bolivia.  And in particular our solidarity to all of the “clandestinos.”

Evo Morales Ayma
President of the Republic of Bolivia


Carta abierta de Evo Morales a propósito de la "directiva retorno" de la UE

Evo Morales advirtió que si U.E endurece su política migratoria estaría imposibilitado de profundizar las negociaciones del Acuerdo de Asociación y se reservaría el derecho de exigir visa a europeos

Evo Morales (Bolpress - 10 June 2008)

Hasta finales de la Segunda guerra mundial, Europa fue un continente de emigrantes. Decenas de millones de Europeos partieron a las Américas para colonizar, escapar de las hambrunas, las crisis financieras, las guerras o de los totalitarismos europeos y de la persecución a minorías étnicas.

Hoy, estoy siguiendo con preocupación el proceso de la llamada “directiva retorno”. El texto, validado el pasado 5 de junio por los ministros del Interior de los 27 países de la Unión Europea, tiene que ser votado el 18 de junio en el Parlamento Europeo. Siento que endurece de manera drástica las condiciones de detención y expulsión a los migrantes indocumentados, cualquiera sea su tiempo de permanencia en los países europeos, su situación laboral, sus lazos familiares, su voluntad y sus logros de integración.

A los países de América Latina y Norteamérica llegaron los europeos, masivamente, sin visas ni condiciones impuestas por las autoridades. Fueron siempre bienvenidos, Y. lo siguen siendo, en nuestros países del continente americano, que absorbieron entonces la miseria económica europea y sus crisis políticas. Vinieron a nuestro continente a explotar riquezas y a transferirlas s Europa, con un altísimo costo para las poblaciones originales de América. Como en el caso de nuestro Cerro Rico de Potosí y sus fabulosas minas de plata que permitieron dar masa monetaria al continente europeo desde el siglo XVI hasta el XIX. Las personas, los bienes y los derechos de los migrantes europeos siempre fueron respetados.

Hoy, la Unión Europea es el principal destino de los migrantes del mundo lo cual es consecuencia de su positiva imagen de espacio de prosperidad y de libertades públicas. La inmensa mayoría de los migrantes viene a la UE para contribuir a esta prosperidad, no para aprovecharse de ella. Ocupan los empleos de obras públicas, construcción, en los servicios a la persona y hospitales, que no pueden o no quieren ocupar los europeos. Contribuyen al dinamismo demográfico del continente europeo, a mantener la relación entre activos e inactivos que vuelve posible sus generosos sistemas de seguridad social y dinamizan el mercado interno y la cohesión social. Los migrantes ofrecen una solución a los problemas demográficos y financieros de la UE.

Para nosotros, nuestros migrantes representan la ayuda al desarrollo que los Europeos no nos dan - ya que pocos países alcanzan realmente el mínimo objetivo del 0,7% de su PIB en la ayuda al desarrollo. América Latina recibió, en 2006, 68.000 millones de dólares de remesas, o sea más que el total de las inversiones extranjeras en nuestros países. A nivel mundial alcanzan 300.000 millones de dólares, que superan a los 104.000 millones otorgados por concepto de ayuda al desarrollo. Mi propio país, Bolivia, recibió mas del 10% del PIB en remesas (1.100 millones de dólares) o un tercio de nuestras exportaciones anuales de gas natural.

Es decir que los flujos de migración son benéficos tanto para los Europeos y de manera marginal para nosotros del Tercer Mundo ya que también perdemos a contingentes que suman millones de nuestra mano de obra calificada, en la que de una manera u otra nuestros Estados, aunque pobres, han invertido recursos humanos y financieros.
Lamentablemente, el proyecto de “directiva retorno” complica terriblemente esta realidad. Si concebimos que cada Estado o grupo de Estados puede definir sus políticas migratorias en toda soberanía, no podemos aceptar que los derechos fundamentales de las personas sean denegados a nuestros compatriotas y hermanos latinoamericanos. La “directiva retorno” prevé la posibilidad de un encarcelamiento de los migrantes indocumentados hasta 18 meses antes de su expulsión -o “alejamiento”, según el término de la directiva. ¡18 meses! ¡Sin juicio ni justicia! Tal como esta hoy el proyecto de texto de la directiva viola claramente los artículos 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8 y 9 de la Declaración Universal de los Derechos Humanos de 1948.

En particular el artículo 13 de la Declaración reza:
“1. Toda persona tiene derecho a circular libremente y a elegir su residencia en el territorio de un Estado.
2. Toda persona tiene derecho a salir de cualquier país, incluso del propio, y a regresar a su país”.

Y, lo peor de todo, existe la posibilidad de encarcelar a madres de familia y menores de edad, sin tomar en cuenta su situación familiar o escolar, en estos centros de internamientos donde sabemos ocurren depresiones, huelgas de hambre, suicidios. ¿Cómo podemos aceptar sin reaccionar que sean concentrados en campos compatriotas y hermanos latinoamericanos indocumentados, de los cuales la inmensa mayoría lleva años trabajando e integrándose? ¿De qué lado esta hoy el deber de ingerencia humanitaria? ¿Dónde está la “libertad de circular”, la protección contra encarcelamientos arbitrarios?

Paralelamente, la Unión Europea trata de convencer a la Comunidad Andina de Naciones (Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador y Perú) de firmar un “Acuerdo de Asociación” que incluye en su tercer pilar un Tratado de Libre Comercio, de misma naturaleza y contenido que los que imponen los Estados Unidos. Estamos bajo intensa presión de la Comisión Europea para aceptar condiciones de profunda liberalización para el comercio, los servicios financieros, propiedad intelectual o nuestros servicios públicos. Además a título de la protección jurídica se nos presiona por el proceso de nacionalización del agua, el gas y telecomunicaciones realizados en el Día Mundial de los Trabajadores. Pregunto, en ese caso ¿dónde está la “seguridad jurídica” para nuestras mujeres, adolescentes, niños y trabajadores que buscan mejores horizontes en Europa?

Promover la libertad de circulación de mercancías y finanzas, mientras en frente vemos encarcelamiento sin juicio para nuestros hermanos que trataron de circular libremente. Eso es negar los fundamentos de la libertad y de los derechos democráticos.

Bajo estas condiciones, de aprobarse esta “directiva retorno”, estaríamos en la imposibilidad ética de profundizar las negociaciones con la Unión Europea, y nos reservamos del derecho de normar con los ciudadanos europeos las mismas obligaciones de visa que nos imponen a los Bolivianos desde el primero de abril de 2007, según el principio diplomático de reciprocidad. No lo hemos ejercido hasta ahora, justamente por esperar buenas señales de la UE.

El mundo, sus continentes, sus océanos y sus polos conocen importantes dificultades globales: el calentamiento global, la contaminación, la desaparición lenta pero segura de recursos energéticos y biodiversidad mientras aumenta el hambre y la pobreza en todos los países, fragilizando nuestras sociedades. Hacer de los migrantes, que sean documentados o no, los chivos expiatorios de estos problemas globales, no es ninguna solución. No corresponde a ninguna realidad. Los problemas de cohesión social que sufre Europa no son culpa de los migrantes, sino el resultado del modelo de desarrollo impuesto por el Norte, que destruye el planeta y desmiembra las sociedades de los hombres.

A nombre del pueblo de Bolivia, de todos mis hermanos del continente regiones del mundo como el Maghreb, Asia y los países de Africa, hago un llamado a la conciencia de los líderes y diputados europeos, de los pueblos, ciudadanos y activistas de Europa, para que no se apruebe e1 texto de la “directiva retorno”.  Tal cual la conocemos hoy, es una directiva de la vergüenza. Llamo también a la Unión Europea a elaborar, en los próximos meses, una política migratoria respetuosa de los derechos humanos, que permita mantener este dinamismo provechoso para ambos continentes y que repare de una vez por todas la tremenda deuda histórica, económica y ecológica que tienen los países de Europa con gran parte del Tercer Mundo, que cierre de una vez las venas todavía abiertas de América Latina. No pueden fallar hoy en sus “políticas de integración” como han fracasado con su supuesta “misión civilizatoria” del tiempo de las colonias.

Reciban todos ustedes, autoridades, europarlamentarios, compañeras y compañeros saludos fraternales desde Bolivia. Y en particular nuestra solidaridad a todos los “clandestinos”.

Evo Morales Ayma
Presidente de la República de Bolivia

To view a description of the European Union Directive, Click here.

To sign a petition against the Directive, click here.



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Honest governments do not have their populaces fleeing their homelands. Brazil and other Latin American countries are famous for their abuse of indigenous peoples, political corruption and destruction or waste of the natural resources. Latin American governments are now using specious arguments to avoid facing the return of peoples who have had a taste of living in the successful law revering European environment. Latin American politicians fear return of these expatriates greatly, thats why they desperately, hypocritically and audaciously use references to human rights to appeal to the compassionate nature of the citizens of the European Union.

South America should look towards solving its own problems rather than driving its population to Europe. The open borders advocacy folks like professors Johnson and Hing like to speak of the natural migrations of the past, but this is the 21st century, and modern times migrations are not the natural search for opportunity, a fleeing from natural diaster, or the result of war. Such migrations are the symptoms of the aforementioned failures and as relief valves for corrupt and ineffective governments, permitting them to continue when they should be removed from office and put in the dust bin of history. Professors Hing and Johnson are sadly, unwitting enablers of the oppressors of Latin America.

Like the U.S., Europe isn't interested in being complicit in Latin America's deliberate purging of its excess and potentially revolutionary poor and uneducated. If the Europeans and Americans are wise, they will never let these failed states dictate their immigration policies, and continue implementing their deportation policies.
Latin America Corruption
by Luis Vega

October 27, 2004

Corruption is an integral part of every part of every governing body in the world whether it is high on the political ladder with the president being involved in some form or another or it may trickle down to the local assemblymen or most commonly the police force. Taking bribes, stealing money to fund your own personal ventures, or turning the other way when you see something going on right in front of your face is all forms of corruption that if they occur enough it could stagnate the economic progress of the country, or even the growth of fair government or democracy.

A Cabal of Corruption
Latin American governments are often noted for the amount of corruption that exists between them. Even the most politically and economically advanced countries deal with corruption of some sort. In Mexico the police force is notorious for the amount of corruption that it participates in from kidnappings, taking bribes, to drug dealing. It is comparable across the board. All countries deal with it, some more than others but at any rate it is prevalent.

The stagnation of economies is due to leaders taking advantage of their post to benefit themselves even though when they were elected they promised to work in the best interest of the people. The temptation of taking advantage of the situation that they are put in is way more than they can handle. On top of the power that officials and politicians possess they have access to government money. Why do these forms of abuse take place? In the United States they will say it is democracy or lack there of. But the truth of the matter is that it happens even in the most of democratic nations in Latin America.

Democracy amongst Americans is simple to conceptualize but when enforcing it upon other countries it seems like they drop it and it leave it. And even when democracy is not the form of government in another country as long as they get backing from the United States government and follow United States protocol the American government will give support. Support from the United States and following protocol will oft give the impression that corruption will cease or at least be limited. This is not the case at all. As an outsider looking in it is pretty easy to tell that the United States will only meddle in only to a certain extent. The truth of the matter is, if it does not curtail the plans of the United States government that’s when the blind eye gets turned.

Common Corruption
It is common for corruption to occur amongst top officials in a country but what is not spoken of is the corruption with local officials. Local communities are hurt by local politicians because of the bribery and thievery they involve themselves with. On a recent trip to Panama right in the midst of election season just before Martin Torrijos was elected president it was evident how important local politics were. It was apparent that democratic elections were taken very seriously in Panama. There were advertisements all over the place from Panama City to the Costa Rican border. Along with the help of the United States Panama has been able to maintain economic stability that other Latin American nations have not even come close to.

Outside of Panama City where 2.5 million of its 5 million inhabitants dwell local politics are imperative people to maintain a decent way of life. When asked a local of district 14 about the upcoming elections “The national elections are great and our people have a sense of nationalism but outside of Panama City no one matters and local politicians steal the money they are supposed to use for our communities. Democracy doesn’t mean much at all when there is so much money involved. It is so easy to steal from the government which in turns they are stealing from us.” I asked where his expertise of politics comes from he replied as if I insulted him and simply said “just because I’m from the country doesn’t mean that I couldn’t afford an education.”

Paving the Infrastructure
Local politics are often determined by how much enforcement officials could get away with, which trickled down from governors to police officers to small business owners. Some of the smallest towns and districts operate on a budget as small as 5,000 to 10,000 a month.

These figures are supposed to break down and represent books for school, paving roads, fix potholes, and anything to better the community. The truth of the matter is most of these improvements never occur, and it is prevelant especially of what I witnessed in District 14. Most of the 5,000 to 10,000 dollar budget gets pocketed with fake receipts and false promises. Schools look like shacks, roads are impossible to ride on, and schools are using the same books they’ve been using since before Manuel Noriega. Either the president and top officials are clueless or they just turn a blind eye for support from local politicians.

Corruption is the main reason for political instability which in turn hurts the economy and even though the United States is very supportive of democracy and its main goal is to spread it throughout the world it does not follow through in teaching the principles and formalities that come with it.

It is easy to say that the United States has assisted many nations the movement towards democracy but what is often not heard of is how very poorly these countries are conducting the democratic values. Who is stop officials from taking and offering bribes? With this happening there is nothing that can be done in terms of checks and balances. Who is to stop who without the United States being the controller? Democracy has been able to work in the United States but it hasn’t been so successful in other countries of the world. In Latin America without controls set in place it is very unlikely for democracy to work. Economies are sinking lower and lower and politicians are becoming richer and richer, and corruption is making democracy unachievable. Hopefully democracy is the answer, but it is probable that it may not be.
Read more:
Corruption in Latin America, a Desk Assessment, 2004

Posted by: Horace | Jun 17, 2008 5:42:02 PM

Horace is right in every respect, representatives of Latin American governments do not stand on the moral high ground when it comes to chastizing Europe for its treatment of Latin American peoples. The Bolivian government is responsible conditions in that country that lead to their citizens migration to Europe. As in Mexico, there's a great deal of courrupt self interest in their motivation to oppose the repatriation of Latin Americans. The authors of this blog would do well to point out these facts, else they commit the sin of omission, and inadvertantly become complicit in this self-serving propaganda and consequently destroy their own credibility.

Posted by: Publius | Jun 18, 2008 5:06:48 PM

Thank you for this post and comments. I have linked them to my own post on the topic as well, commenting on the historical transnational migration between Europe and Latin America.
-Laura E. Ruberto http://www.i-italy.org/bloggers/3111/european-union-s-immigration-policy-and-italian-immigrants-latin-america

Posted by: Laura E. Ruberto | Jun 30, 2008 8:03:49 AM

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