Saturday, January 26, 2008

Racist Sheriff protested in Southern Arizona

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Minutemen dragnet for people of color

Article and photos by Brenda Norrell

TUCSON -- Protesters sent a loud message to Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio today to "Go Home!" and take his practices of racism, xenophobia and vigilante patrols with him.Protesting outside the Sheraton, where Arpaio was the speaker at the Pima County Republican Women's Club luncheon, border rights activists and other local residents called for an end to the reign of Arpaio's repression and lawlessness.
Arpaio's practice of racial targeting of people of color and the addition of Minutemen to patrols were two of the reasons that Pima County residents sent a loud message to Arpaio today. Tucson is located in Pima County, southeast of Phoenix and Maricopa County where Arpaio carries out his vigilante raids.Derechos Humanos/CoaliciĆ³n de Derechos Humanos delivered a letter to Pima County Republican Women's Club.
"As members of the Pima County community, we are here today to question your decision to invite Sheriff Joe Arpaio to speak at your event. As you should be aware, Sheriff Arpaio bears much responsibility for the extremely volatile racial atmosphere in Phoenix and its outlying areas.
"We cannot permit this environment in Pima County, and are shocked that you would proudly applaud the efforts of the self proclaimed 'America’s Toughest Sheriff' on your website.
"During his tenure, Sheriff Arpaio has engaged the Arizona taxpayer, and the rest of the state of Arizona, in enforcement and political measures that have not only created great racial divisions, but have cost Maricopa County more than $41 million dollars in court fees, lawsuits, attorneys’ fees, settlements, judgments, photographs of himself, videos of himself, and maintaining his personal public relations staff.
"Did you know that Sheriff Arpaio has arrested hundreds of workers, and together with Andrew Thomas, has charged mothers and fathers, survivors of U.S. and global economic policies with being co-conspirators to their own smuggling, resulting in hundreds of felony convictions and prison time at taxpayer expense?
"Did you know that Sheriff Arpaio has created private posses, where he has permitted Minutemen to join his sheriff deputies in wholesale racial profiling and repression, resulting in an explosive situation in Phoenix neighborhoods?
"Did you know that Sheriff Arpaio has been involved in the violation of the constitutional rights of the readers of the Phoenix New Times by demanding the identity of everyone who had visited the paper’s website and arresting the newspaper’s leaders when they publicized what had happened?
"Sheriff Joe Arpaio is not welcome in the city of Tucson, where many of us continue to work for a community that is diverse, respectful, and appreciative of each other’s differences. We will not permit hatred and xenophobia in our community of Tucson. We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Phoenix who must stand up for human rights on a daily basis."
Meanwhile, immigrant rights attorney Antonio Bustamante is building a racial profiling case against Arpaio. Bustamante is collecting first-hand accounts from witnesses who state that they have been unfairly stopped and arrested by Arpaio's deputies.
Michael Lacey, creator of Phoenix New Times, spent a night in jail in October after exposing Arpaio's "fishing expedition" which involved a grand jury seeking a list of New Times' online readers and even their shopping habits.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

NAFTA, US spy dollars, designed to cut Mexico off at the knees

NAFTA, US spy dollars, designed to cut Mexico off at the knees
By Brenda Norrell
Photo: Tohono O'odham Mike Wilson/photo Brenda Norrell
GREEN VALLEY, Arizona – A panel of US/Mexico border speakers said that the North American Free Trade Agreement has benefited the United States, while forcing people in Mexico off their lands. The result has been a wave of displaced people crossing the US/Mexico border, with racist rhetoric and migrant deaths increasing in the United States.
“We have created a community of slaves,” said Delle McCormick, executive director of BorderLinks. McCormick pointed out that many Americans want migrants to come to the US, but for the wrong reason.
McCormick said many Americans want “slaves,” and do not want creative, intelligent, thinking people from Mexico to relocate here. Once here, they want migrants to be “invisible.”McCormick joined a panel of speakers at the Santa Cruz Valley Border Issues Fair on Saturday, January 19. More than 400 residents from Green Valley and Tucson, primarily retirees and winter visitors, attended and praised the humanitarian efforts underway to save lives at the border and battle with education the growing migrant xenophobia in the United States.
McCormick pointed out that NAFTA was launched on January 1, 1994, with the promise of bringing Mexico into the modern world. But while the people of Mexico waited for their lives to resemble those on “I Love Lucy,” their worlds began to crumble.
While the United States talked about “equalized trade,” out of one side of its mouth, out of the other side, the US was calling for the closure of its borders.
The US sent big business to seize the lands of the poor in Mexico. Further, the big box stores like Wal-Mart were soon putting smaller, locally-owned stores out of business. At the sacred places, Indigenous Peoples were pushed away and vendors began selling “Made in China,” trinkets, slowing the demand for handcrafts.
McCormick said while Mexico cut funding for social services, it increased funding for trade-based corporations.Meanwhile, in Chiapas, dams were built to provide electricity for the US corporations, pushing Mayans off their lands. Like never before, this began the exodus of Indigenous corn farmers, now displaced and bound on foot for the US, desperate to survive. Today, a higher percentage of people walking across the US/Mexico border come from Chiapas, since NAFTA has wielded its damage, she said.McCormick pointed out that the people of Mexico, including the Zapatistas, have creative ways of emerging and developing a new economy.
What the United States needs to do, she said, is “Get out of their way.”Mike Wilson, Tohono O’odham human rights advocate, urged those attending to apply political pressure on the Tohono O’odham Nation government and hold it accountable for the large number of people dying each year on O’odham lands, primarily from dehydration.
Wilson puts out water for migrants and searches for bodies at the request of family members.
“The Tohono O’odham Nation lacks the big picture, the world view," he said.
Wilson said the Tohono O’odham Nation is very responsive to the United States government and will not go against Homeland Security, especially if there is a threat of the loss of US funding.
Border speakers discussed the ways the United States government controls Mexico. In 2007, the United States provided funding to Mexico to spy on individuals. The $2.9 million DEA contract was to Verint Technologies in New York for spy technology for Mexico. The US contract provided for storing all phone calls for at least 25,000 hours, installation of 30 monitoring stations and cell phone location and tracking devices.
Mike Marizco, freelance journalist who publishes the Border Reporter online, pointed out that the US funding provided the FBI of Mexico with the ability to eavesdrop on all cell phone calls, e-mails, faxes and other communications.
One person attending the border fair suggested that what the US needs to do is what it does in other countries, and send money to refashion the economy of Mexico. But speakers said the real solutions remain in the creative endeavors of the people of Mexico themselves.Speakers also pointed out that none of the front running US presidential candidates are proposing visas or alternative guest worker programs for migrants. Instead, the candidates, protecting their political images, are calling for more border security and border walls.
Further, speakers said with more funding for the so-called “war on drugs,” the US continues its role as imperialist nation with covert agendas.Dr. Anna Ochoa O’Leary, lecturer, Mexican American Studies Research Center, spoke of the impact on women of separations and migrations. She said the United States is most often the source of problems in Mexico.
“Anytime you see the United States as a ‘savior,’ chances are we broke it first.”Organizations working for positive change and delivering humanitarian aid at the border participated in the fair, including Border Action Network, BorderLinks, JustCoffee, No More Deaths, Derechos Humanos, Humane Borders, Samaritans, artists Valerie James & Debbi McCullough and border photographer Michael Hyatt.
Photo: Tohono O'odham Mike Wilson at the border fair/photo by Brenda Norrell
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Mayan Land Title Case in Belize May Help Indigenous Peoples Elsewhere

In an article written by Kim Petersen and published yesterday in The Dominion, an independent Canadian newspaper,, we have learned the following.

On October 18, 2007, the Supreme Court of Belize issued a ruling that will elicit cheers from indigenous peoples and activists around the world. By the same token, the ruling is sure to be seen as a dark cloud on the horizon by the governments of the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, the only four countries in the world to reject the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (DRIP), enacted by the UN General Assembly on September 13, 2007.

The ruling in Cal v. Attorney General is the first anywhere to cite DRIP, and holds that “Mayan rights to occupy their lands, farm, hunt and fish pre-date European colonization and remain in force today.” Supreme Court Justice Abdulai Conteh noted, “[A] mere change in sovereignty does not extinguish native title to land. … Extinguishment of rights to or interests in land is not to be lightly inferred.” The Supreme Court further held that "that the national government must recognize the indigenous Mayans’ customary tenure to land and refrain from any act that might prejudice their use or enjoyment of this land."

This ruling effectively puts an end to the Belize government’s granting of licenses to corporations and other concerns seeking to engage in logging, mineral extraction and hydroelectric development on Mayan land. Arguably, these companies will now be forced to negotiate directly with the Mayans who may or may not allow such operations. It is almost certain that Mayan values and culture will act as a moderating force upon any such ventures, ameliorating adverse impacts on the environment and ecosystems in Belize.

In what is perhaps the most troubling (for colonialist governments and multinational corporations) language in the ruling, Justice Conteh held that “British colonial and subsequent acquisition of land in Belize did not abrogate the Mayan people’s primordial rights to their land.” Citing Delgamuukw v British Columbia, Conteh said, “Indigenous title is now correctly regarded as sui generis.” In other words, indigenous title to land is unique, unlike any other claim of title to land. Essentially, the extremely long occupation and use of land by its original inhabitants confers title to them sui generis. This ruling means that a foreign government that seizes land from indigenous peoples by military force or acquires it by deception and fraud cannot convey clear title to its own citizens.

We may soon see cases brought in the U.S. and Canada, and perhaps Australia and New Zealand raising this very issue. Citing this case, tribes will demand that title to their traditional homelands revert to them because original title belongs to them sui generis, and a mere change in sovereignty does not defeat that title. Alternatively, this ruling could be used to support the filing of liens on existing landholders in the Lakota Nation, which has renounced its treaties with the U.S. government and reclaimed its sovereignty. See

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