Minutemen come to Virginia
Those vigilantes who have taken it upon themselves to police the wide-open U.S.-Mexico border, the Minutemen (see Web site), have come to Virginia, looking for illegal aliens in work places. If news reports and anecdotal tales of harrassment and intimidation are accurate, then this is clearly stepping over the line of legitimate citizen action, turning into crude xenophobic persecution. As I've said before, however, unless and until the Federal government and state governments agree on a more consistent approach to immigration soon, the door will be wide open to these "free-lancers," needlessly raising social tensions. If there is one clear lesson from what just happened in France, This matter cannot be left on the back burner forever!
The Washington Post editorialized against these self-appointed guardians, but they missed a fundamental point: The demand for labor in Northern Virginia reflects the high barriers to entry for legitimate employees, via mandated fringe benefits, with skyrocketing health insurance premiums, etc., etc. By deriding efforts to uphold the law (they sniff that the IRS "has bigger fish to fry") the Post is contributing to the atmosphere of lawlessness that undergirds a substantial portion of the U.S. economy, but which hardly anyone has the guts to acknowledge. What a shame.
Protests against Fujimori
A background article by Monte Reel in Saturday's Washington Post explored the various reactions by Peruvians to the surprise arrival (and arrest) of former president Alberto Fujimori in Chile last week. Opinion polls indicate that most people oppose his (possible) candidacy, but many of his backers remain fervently convinced that "only he can save Peru." (I'm borrowing the slogan of APRA for the sake of ironic effect.) The "Si, cumple" movement sounds suspiciously like a Fujimorista front organization to me.
Venezuela may join MERCOSUR
Presidents Hugo Chavez and Nestor Kirchner met to discuss building a pipeline that would carry natural gas from Venezuela to Argentina. The estimated cost is $10 billion, and there would be a high risk to the ecologically sensitive Amazon Basin; think Alaska pipeline times ten. Chavez is thinking about joining MERCOSUR, but doing so might necessitate pulling out of the Andean Group, which is headquartered in Lima, Peru. See CNN.com.
Guatemalan official arrested
The top Guatemalan anti-narcotics investigator, Adan Castillo, was arrested in Virginia on drug-smuggling charges last week, along with two of his deputies. In a supreme irony, he was attending a training course on fighting drug trafficking. See CNN.com. The State Department had strongly criticized drug corruption of the previous leader of Guatemala, Alfonso Portillo, and this case shows that this problem lingers to some extent in the government of Oscar Berger, who was inaugurated in January 2004.