HispanicVista Columns - Osio, Maceri, Robles
OSIO - MACERI - ROBLES
White men speak with forked tongue. – Again? Or Still?
By Patrick Osio, Jr/HispanicVista.com
The United States did in 1969, sign the Vienna Convention on Consular
Relations (VCCR) treaty joining 165 other countries. The treaty clearly stipulates
that signor countries shall comply with the clauses as set forth in the treaty.
A specific number of clauses in the VCCR treaty mandate signor countries to
advise foreign detainees of their right to have their consulate or embassy
notified of their detainment, to notify the corresponding consulate of such
detainment, and allow access to their detained citizens.
The reason why the United States signed was to provide our government legal
means in other countries to intervene on behalf of US citizens with local
authorities and courts to assure that US citizens’ civil and constitutional rights
For purposes of international law and Article VI, clause 2 of the
Constitution of the United States – treaties “…shall be the supreme law of the land.”
Thus in the US the Federal government and all states are bound to obey
So why are we in the United States not living up to our signed obligation
when it comes to citizens of other countries detained and accused of crimes in
any one of our 50 states? But yet we expect, no demand, that other signors obey
The present case of non-compliance is in Oklahoma where a Mexican citizen has
been convicted to die. The Mexican government attempted to get the attention
of the Oklahoma government notifying it that their citizen had been denied by
omission the right to make contact with the Mexican consulate. They believe
that had he had the benefit of such intervention, it is very possible their
citizen would not have received the death penalty. They asked that Oklahoma set
aside the conviction and retry their citizen again.
Oklahoma turned a deaf ear to the Mexican request. Mexico took the case
before the United Nations world court tribunal citing the signed VCCR treaty. The
court held in favor of Mexico’s request rendering a decision ordering the
United States to halt the execution and retry Mexican citizens who have been
similarly denied their right to their government’s intervention. The United States
Federal government refuses to get involved, leaving it instead to the state of
Oklahoma to take or not take any action on the decision. There are 52 Mexican
citizens in death row in a number of states, who have similarly been denied
access to their consulate.
A case took place in 2002 in Texas. Mexico asserted that their consulate in
Dallas was not notified of their citizen’s detention when first arrested, and
thus prevented their citizen of the benefit of proper legal representation. The
US Federal government did nothing, and Texas executed the man on August 14,
So it would now seem that the ‘supreme law of the land’ is not so supreme
and that our nation’s word as signors to a treaty is not bound by the ‘honor of
Most of us saw cowboy and Indian movies wherein an Indian chief uttered the
words, “White man speaks with forked tongue.” This related to first the US
cavalry beating them out of land, and then signing a treaty calling for no more
land taking and the Indians agreed to live in peace. These treaties were broken
by new settlers taking more land until another Indian uprising occurred,
whereupon the US cavalry would blame them for breaking the peace pounding them
into submission again and taking yet more land.
Are we doing the same here? We enter into a treaty only as long as it serves
us, but when we have to comply the rules are not for us? Has our national
level of arrogance due to our ability to pound others into submission reached such
Or has it always been so?
Patrick Osio, Jr. is the Editor of HispanicVista.com (www.hispanicvista.com).
Reach him at PosioJr@...
Dying at the Border and Beyond
By Domenico Maceri/HispanicVista.com
It’s a deadly ritual. Every year several hundred undocumented workers die on
the US-Mexico border as they attempt to enter our country, looking for minimum
wage jobs. Although some of these people come from Central America, most of
them are Mexicans. For those who make it across the border, the dangers are not
over. A recent study by the Associated Press found that Mexican workers in
the US are four times more likely to die on the job than US-born ones.
Because of its size, California is the state with the highest number of
Mexicans who died on the job. According to the Associated Press, 725 Mexican
workers lost their lives at the job site between 1996 and 2002 in the Golden
State. Some of these victims were as young as fifteen years of age.
Yet, the death rates in California are lower than "new destination states" in
the west and southern part of the country.
Ironically, as the American workplace is increasingly becoming safer, the
death rates of Mexicans in the US are rising. From the 1990s to the present,
Mexicans were about 30% more likely to die on the job than US-born workers. Now
the figure is 80%, according to the Associated Press.
The deaths are accidental. Mexican workers die cutting tobacco in North
Carolina, cutting beef in Nebraska, felling trees in Colorado, trimming grass in
Las Vegas, and falling from scaffolding in Georgia. However, deaths are
concentrated in agriculture.
Even compared to other immigrants, Mexicans are twice as likely to die on the
Why? Are Mexicans working in the US less safe than other workers?
Mexicans are willing to accept just about any job and ask few questions.
This is particularly true if legal papers are lacking. They may be placed into
jobs with little training or unsafe equipment. If they don’t speak English or
are in the country illegally, they are more likely to die on the job.
Job safety is not a primary concern for companies employing Mexican workers.
Workers desperately need the job and the company needs the work done. Workers
are considered disposable. If employers are found guilty of having broken
laws, the US government may prosecute them. Yet, very little of that is happening.
Limited resources and shortages of bilingual officials make it difficult to
deal with the situation effectively.
Part of it may have to do with the fact that the victims' families fear
bringing legal actions, especially if the immigration status is questionable. Fear
of being deported forces people to keep quite.
The Associated Press study did not distinguish between documented and
undocumented Mexican workers. Yet, in all likelihood, those without papers are in
the greatest danger of losing their lives while working.
The dangers of dying on the job have received little attention. In the case
of crossing the border illegally, both the Mexican and American governments
have tried to point out the dangers. Yet, the lure of American jobs is almost too
The huge disparity in wages between Mexico and the US is such an enticing
force that people make the risky journey. Even minimum wage jobs in the US pay
about ten times more than lot of jobs in Mexico. In one hour of work, someone
can make as much as a full day’s work in Mexico.
Imagine if Canada’s salaries were ten times what they are in the US. Also
imagine that there is not too much work available in the US. Would you make the
It’s easy to blame people who cross the border illegally and say that even
accidental deaths are their fault. Yet, the tragedy is that deaths can be
prevented. Raising safety standards for all workers should be a priority. However,
with a Republican president and Republican majorities in the House of
Representatives and Senate, the focus is on supporting companies rather than workers.
Immigration reform is absolutely necessary so workers from Mexico can come to
our country legally and receive the adequate protection US workers receive.
In January of 2004, President George Bush made an immigration proposal and
several months later Congressional Democrats introduced their own immigration
plan. While neither proposal is perfect, both address some key issues and
could eventually save lives.
Unfortunately, given the highly charged emotional issues surrounding
immigration and the likelihood of a close presidential election, it’s highly unlikely
that Congress will act. So people will continue to die as they cross the
border and even when they obtain US jobs.
Domenico Maceri (dmaceri@...), PhD, UC Santa Barbara, a contributing
columnist to HispanicVista.com (www.hispanicvista.com), teaches foreign
languages at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, CA.
Latino Domestic violence - get help before it’s too late
By Erika Robles/HispanicVista.com
Domestic Violence is a widespread and complex social issue that devastates
individuals and families regardless of ethnic, racial, or economic backgrounds.
It has been estimated by the FBI that every 30 seconds a woman is beaten –that
means that 2,880 women are beaten every day. Nearly 1 in 3 adult women
experience physical assault by a partner during adulthood.
Several studies have been conducted to establish the rate of domestic
violence among Hispanics; however recent studies disagree on the scope of the
problem. For Instance, according to the Violence Police Center’s Hispanics and
Firearms Violence (2001), Hispanic Women in intimate relationships suffered the
highest rate of domestic violence --- 181 per 1,000 couples, compared with
non-Hispanic white women who had a rate of 117 per 1,000 and black women 166 per
1,000. On the other hand, the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Crime
Victimization Survey data (2000) suggest no significant difference between Hispanic
What data do show is the correlation between domestic violence and
socio-economic status. These data show that women who are poor and live in rental
housing in urban areas are in particular jeopardy. Unfortunately, the percentage of
Hispanics living in poverty is far too high, incrementing the risk for
domestic violence. Also, Hispanic women who contribute more financially, has less
education, has a greater number of children and whose husband/partner gets drunk
more frequently are more likely to experience more abuse. The apparently
contradictory finding –those women who worked experienced more abuse- is attributed
to the woman going against traditional gender roles.
Latinos and Latinas encounter an array of cultural, linguistic and systematic
barriers. Domestic violence within Hispanic families takes place in the
context of a community suffering from multiple oppressions, including poverty –here
and in their countries of birth-, language barriers, and long-term
discrimination. Present day Latinas who are victims of domestic violence may lack
knowledge about their rights and the legal system, and may hesitate calling the
police for fear of being deported, losing their children or going to jail.
Language barrier is also a grave problem for Latinos/as. Their limited
English proficiency and lack of knowledge about their rights and the judicial system
stops them from seeking help. There is ample research suggesting that Latinas
are reluctant to seek out law enforcement assistance when faced with
interpersonal violence. They fear that the social service worker or the police would
not be able to understand them and therefore they wouldn’t be able to help them.
“Latinas must take the very difficult first steps into totally unknown
circumstances. Their vulnerability in terms of language, documentation, education
level, knowledge of laws and services, and work skills is often used by their
abusers as ammunition in their terrorist practices. Threats of losing their
children if they call the authorities or reveal the abuse to anyone often keeps
many Latinas silent and invisible,” Assistant Research Professor, Julia Perilla
Officially, there shouldn’t be any link between local police and the
Immigration National Service. Therefore, people who have been abused and lack
documentation, can rest assure that if they report the abuse they would not be
deported or go to jail. Although the life experiences and social realities of
immigrant and ethnic minority women are very different from White women, immigrant
women who have been physical or verbally abused have the same rights and deserve
the same help than white women. They are both victims and as victims they
should seek an end to it.
Domestic Violence happens more often than we would want it to happen.
However, there are ways out; there’s a light at the end of the tunnel for victims of
Domestic Violence, regardless of what they might think. The help is out there.
The most important thing to bear in mind is that you are not to blame; you
are not responsible for the acts of others. You deserve to be treated with
respect, dignity and love. If you have experienced physical abuse or know someone
who has, please get in touch with the National Domestic Violence Hotline
1-800-790-SAFE (7233), before it’s too late.
Erika Robles, a contributing columnist to HispanicVista.com
(www.hispanicvista.com), is a writer and translator now living in Eugene, Oregon. She was
educated in Mexico City; London, England; and Melbourne, Australia. Contact at:
erikare77@.... Web page: http://www.geocities.com/oakspublishing
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