Filed under: August Volume 1 - 2008, Latino/Caribe | Tags: caribbean, european union, latin america, Mexico, military recruits
Regional Troops Being Recruited By Northern Powers For Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, With the Promise of First World Naturalization
By Muhammad Ahmad, Islamic Post Staff Writer
While immigrant enlistment in times of war has always been legal in the United States, after President George W. Bush announced in July of 2002 that “non-naturalized soldiers serving honorably in the war on terrorism could significantly step up the process of citizenship and apply immediately or upon enlisting,” the recruitment process and eventual naturalization of legal, and even illegal, immigrants into the military was expedited.
On the other hand, with restrictions tightening in the past few years, free movement of peoples in the Caribbean Community (Caricom), European Union, and North America has, for some cases of undocumented migrants, come to signify a free pass into a jail cell; unless, it seems, the person is prepared to join military or peacekeeping forces.
Late last year, civil activist Ildefonso Ortiz Cabrera told Prensa Latina (Latin Press) US military officers use young Spanish-speaking Americans of Latin American origin to recruit straight out of Mexico for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The governor of the Mexican state of Zacatecas recently declared, despite images seen on the nightly news, that a full 70% of the US military is of African or Hispanic descent – with as many as 40% being of Mexican origin.
With such policies, the term “free movement of people,” as used extensively by regional bodies, is being questioned for its implementation of new immigration restrictions that may, in the future, only allow certain useful types of people through borders, such as the armed forces and their prospective young recruits. Possible candidates for the military seem to be one of the few sectors of society welcomed, even expedited, from the Southern hemisphere of economically developing countries through the process of immigrating to technologically advanced Northern countries.
For those not militarily inclined, borders are closing around the world; everyday travelers are harassed – those seeking visas the worst; and those without documentation are being rounded up into holding cells. Such harshness towards the civilian sector was further illustrated when the European Union passed legislation in recent months for the legal detainment of undocumented migrants for up to a year and a half.
In contrast, there are about 12,000 foreigners serving in the British military, which armed services recently completed a tour of the Caribbean in its recruitment effort; and, if current trends are any indication, recruiters may have arrived in the islands with naturalization promises in tow. France still has its Foreign Legion, mostly comprised of German recruits; the UN Volunteers (Civilian Peacekeeping Corps) has been recruiting landed immigrants in Canada since 1995 – with the Canadian military seeking to do the same since 2006. Spain has also been considering immigrant soldiers for deployment to Iraq as a response to the “recruitment difficulties arising from current demographic developments,” according to Spain’s Real Institute Elcano.
In 2006, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) republished an article from the Washington Post, written by CFR member Max Boot; Jeanne J. Kirkpatrick, Senior Fellow for National Security Studies; and Michael O’Hanlon; in which the trio summed up the matter accurately: “Despite growing anti-Americanism, U.S. citizenship is still one of the world’s most precious commodities, so there should be no shortage of [foreign military recruit] volunteers. Since proficiency in English would presumably be important for those joining the armed forces, we might focus on South Asia, Anglophone Africa, and parts of Latin America, Europe and East Asia (the Philippines would be a natural recruiting ground) where English is common as a second language. These regions have more than 2 billion people, tens of millions of whom reach military age each year.”
By Mubeen Khaleel, Islamic Post Staff Writer
John Kirby, a former federal prosecutor who helped indict the Arellano Felix cartel, cast doubt on the official explanation of the torture classes in Mexico when he told NBC organized criminals in Mexico usually don’t use psychological torture methods which, by nature, focus on the humiliation and defilement of an individual. “They’re [just] going to cut off their fingers and take out their teeth,” said Kirby.
Local officials claim that the extreme debasement being carried out on officers will somehow help them survive violent interrogations. This was also the official line for officers who trained in similar programs in the U.S. and found themselves torturing victims in Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, Mosul and Bagram.
Although the fight is against organized crime and not terrorism, according to Leon’s Mayor Vicente Guerrero Reynoso and Police Chief Carlos Tornero, it is not clear who actually initiated the torture training in Mexico.
Against the wishes of the Americas Program of the Center for International Policy and Witness for Peace, the U.S. Congress recently approved without fanfare a $1.6 billion Plan Mexico, also known as the Merida Initiative, in support of President Felipe Calderón’s battle against organized crime.
The groups argue that no human rights safeguards will be adequate to justify U.S. funding for Mexican military and police under the current circumstances.