By Bender Bending Gonzalez and the Webmaster
Why do immigrants (legal or illegal) come to this country? In search of a better life of course. I am an immigrant myself [Bender Bending Gonzalez], and I came to the U.S. to obtain a better education, a better job, a higher standard of living, and if at all possible help my family that was left behind. Such is the case with the millions of other immigrants that come from all over the globe. Contrary to what CNN, Fox News and my favorite Lou Dobbs may have you believe, not all immigrants come from Mexico. But what is an undisputed fact is that is that Mexican, Central American and South American immigrants create mini-economies by sending a large percentage of their annual earnings back to their home countries. According to the Inter American Development Bank (IADB), it is estimated that remittances from the U.S. to Latin America will exceed a staggering $100,000 million in 2010.
So what is the U.S. doing to make sure they get their share? Have a look at this announcement that was posted this week on the State Department’s website:
U.S. BRIDGE Initiative Commitments with El Salvador and Honduras
Office of the Spokesman
September 22, 2010
On September 22, 2010, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton signed separate Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) with Honduran President Porfirio Lobo and Salvadoran Foreign Minister Hugo Martinez outlining the United States’ commitment to the Building Remittance Investment for Development Growth and Entrepreneurship (BRIDGE) Initiative in Honduras and El Salvador.
Led by the Department of State’s Bureau of Economic, Energy and Business Affairs, the United States has committed through the BRIDGE Initiative to work with El Salvador and Honduras to develop and support partnerships with strong and reliable in-country financial institutions to maximize the development impact of remittance flows from the U.S. and to help establish strong foundations for sustainable, inclusive, and transformational economic growth.
Remittances have the potential to be a transformational asset in meeting the development goals of the Latin America region as they can enable greater access to the types of long-term capital required for the multi-year investments that will sustain growth. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) estimates that U.S. $50 billion in worker remittances flow from the U.S. to Latin America and the Caribbean annually.
Under the BRIDGE Initiative, strong in-country financial institutions in Honduras and El Salvador will be able to partner with the United States and multilateral partners to help explore options to use their remittance flows safely and soundly as an asset to raise lower-cost and longer-term financing for infrastructure, public works, and commercial development initiatives that are currently lacking in these countries. USAID-supported market assessments confirmed the feasibility of BRIDGE’s goals in Honduras and El Salvador.
Based on previous successful efforts in Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, BRIDGE will not impact the basic transfer of remittances. The millions of households in El Salvador and Honduras that depend on remittances as income and for basic daily living expenses will not see their regular payments disrupted by this effort.
So why focus on El Salvador and Honduras? In my opinion, it is because they are easy corruptible targets. Hillary (inherently Obama) won’t dare pursue the same agreement with Mexico, not after she dug herself a hole by comparing Mexico to Colombia and because Mexican financial institutions are currently strong, relative to how severely the economic recession has affected other Latin American economies and don’t need any sort of BRIDGE type agreement. Perhaps most importantly, Mexican institutions and special interests won’t let anyone else take their share of the pie. Mexico is the largest trading partner with the U.S. so it’s best to leave them alone. We’ll get our share by imposing higher trade tariffs.
The Salvadorian Central Reserve Bank indicates that there are signs that remittances are on the rise and that El Salvador has received $1,728 million as of June 2010, an increase of $43 million compared to the same month totals in 2009. The latest statistics from IADB also indicate that Honduras remittances have increased by 11.2% compared to last year. We are talking beaucoup bucks.
Here’s my favorite line of the memorandum “Under the BRIDGE Initiative, strong in-country financial institutions in Honduras and El Salvador will be able to partner with the United States and multilateral partners to help explore options to use their remittance flows safely and soundly as an asset to raise lower-cost and longer-term financing for infrastructure, public works, and commercial development initiatives that are currently lacking in these countries.” This basically means, we’ll tell you how to spend your money, what contractors to hire and determine the infrastructure you need; and we’ll legitimize it by partnering with your own financial institutions.
I’m sure the government of President Lobo will say “fine, if this is what you want in exchange for you leaving me alone and letting me run my corrupt regime.” But who are the real victims in all of this? The poor immigrants who come to this country to work hard and get blamed for every single ailment by Tea Baggers and Minutemen.
These immigrants work the fields, they work in sweat shops and factories enduring abuses for salaries well below minimum wage because of fear of deportation. They are robbed of their dignity while crossing the border. God forbid they run into a group of Minutemen or Sherriff Arpaio and his goons. They work their butts off so we don’t have to pay $5 for an orange, and then they send their hard earned cash back home. Our response to their struggle, we don’t give their children access to a higher education, we’ll portray them as almost subhuman in the traditional media, and in the end you better believe that Uncle Sam is going “get his” come hell or high water. We’ll blame them for everything, and gladly take their money!
I am disgusted that President Obama is entering these types of agreements with illegitimate governments and that the elite in these countries are getting richer at the expense of the poor. This is dirty business that stinks to hell and back.
I remember growing up in Mexico and people saying, “It doesn’t matter who’s in power in the U.S. It could be Reagan, Clinton, or Bush. We are going to bow down to their will either way”….and boy isn’t that the truth!