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HispanicVista Columns - Osio, Maceri, Robles

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    HispanicVista.com COLUMNISTS OSIO - MACERI - ROBLES http://www.hispanicvista.com White men speak with forked tongue. – Again? Or Still? By Patrick Osio,
    Message 1 of 1 , May 12, 2004

      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
      are respected.
      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 treaty.
      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
      the nation.’
      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
      journey north?
      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
      and non-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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      Patrick Osio, Jr/Editor POsioJr@...

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