Sunday, November 23, 2014

Ethnic & Cultural Diversity in Northeastern Pennsylvania

I was asked to write-up a brief overview on Ethnic & Cultural Diversity in Northeastern Pennsylvania for a round table discussion scheduled for an event at the University of Scranton on Monday. I was only asked to prepare a five-to-ten minutes so it is not very in-depth. Anyway, I thought that I would share it here.

According to several studies, approximately 41 million foreign-born immigrants were residing in the United States as of 2012. Mexican-born immigrants comprised approximately 28 percent of that total. Significant populations also came from India, China, the Philippines, El Salvador, Vietnam, Cuba and South Korea. In terms of Pennsylvania, like many states, we have a long history of immigration. Foreign-born immigrants comprise roughly 5.9 percent of the Commonwealth’s population. Recently, the Latino population has grown from 2 percent to 5.9 percent and the Asian population from 1.1 percent to 2.8 percent from 1990 to 2011.

In terms of undocumented immigrants, the estimated number has decreased from a high of 12.2 million or so in 2007 to between 10 and 11 million today. That decrease was caused in large part by growing opportunities in Mexico, increased security on our southern border, record-level deportations, and a significant slowdown in the US economy, particularly in the housing, restaurant and service sectors. While the number of Mexicans coming to the US has decreased rather significantly, we have witnessed a significant increase in undocumented migrants coming from the Northern Triangle of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, where people are fleeing violence caused by drug traffickers, gangs, organized crime, and petty street crime and the lack of economic opportunity. Many young people and families are going north to the United States to reunite with family members that have been here for years. In many ways we believe this is the same pattern that happened with earlier immigrant groups.

When it comes to Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties, an estimated 25,000 foreign-born individuals live here. The foreign born population in Lackawanna County has grown from 2.3 percent in 2000 to 4.6 percent in 2012 while the in Luzerne County, the foreign born population has grown from 1.9 percent to 4.8 percent. There has been a strong increase in the Latino population in the area, as well as increases in the Russian and Indian populations. As of 2012, Scranton also counted some 170 Bhutanese families from South Asia. 

According to the 2010 census, Lackawanna County’s Scranton’s population is approximately 80 percent white, 10 percent Latino, 5 percent black, and 3 percent Asian. In Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, approximately 79 percent is white, 11 percent black, and 11 percent Latino.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Pan-American Post on Guatemala happenings

The Pan-American Post has two updates from Guatemala in yesterday's news roundup.
Despite concerns over corruption and civil society groups’ objections to recent judicial nominations in Guatemala, the country’s Constitutional Court upheld the appointments in a 3-2 ruling yesterday afternoon. Prensa Libre reports that the new Supreme Court and appellate court judges -- who were reportedly chosen as a result of backroom deal between the ruling Patriot Party (PP) and the opposition Renewed Democratic Liberty Party (LIDER) -- will assume their offices in five days’ time. In an interview with El Periodico, human rights advocate Helen Mack of the Fundacion Myrna Mack told the paper that the decision represents proof of the lack of judicial independence in the country. As a next step, Mack endorsed a proposal by the UN-backed Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) to hold a series of technical conferences to put together an agenda for justice reform.
Steve Inskeep of NPR’s Morning Edition has a brief interview with former Guatemalan Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz, who describes some of the risks she faced in her job. Out of concern for her safety, Paz y Paz claims that she traveled with a seven-member security detail in Guatemala. Asked about why she has moved to the U.S. after leaving office, the ex-prosecutor said her family “needed to be away for a little bit.”
Following the overturning of the Efrain Rios Montt genocide and crimes against humanity convictions, I held open the slight possibility that the technical ruling could be a step forward for Guatemala's courts. 

One did not just want Rios Montt found guilty simply because we "knew" he was guilty. We wanted him found guilty on those charges if the evidence supported that conclusion. We wanted the trial to be conducted fairly even though that option was not made available to those massacred. And we wanted the trial itself to contribute to the strengthening of the rule of law in Guatemala. 

Unfortunately, the legal reasoning behind the overturning of the conviction was flimsy. The prosecutor was pushed out early and the selection process for her replacement was questionable. And now after the Guatemalan people and the entire world have seen the the questionable selections of Supreme and Appellate court judges, whatever wishful thinking one might have clung to has now disappeared. 2014 has been a rough year for the rule of law in Guatemala.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Education for Justice: Torture

Here I am discussing the annual theme that my Education for Justice program at the University of Scranton selected to highlight this year. You'll have to forgive me but I didn't get much heads up on what they wanted me to discuss as I was actually there to speak briefly about my research on Central America.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

To help Central America, send smarter aid, not just more aid

Go read what my friend, and friend of Central America, Mauricio Vivero has to say with regards To help Central America, send smarter aid, not just more aid.
The plan announced last week by the presidents of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras is a promising start toward addressing the issues causing so many people to flee those countries.  
Announced alongside Vice President Joe Biden and Inter-American Development Bank President Moreno, the plan focuses on development and job opportunities for youth, providing security through prevention and better law enforcement, and improving governance. But it’s going to take more than rhetoric to attack the problems driving migration. The governments of Central America and their private sectors, the United States government and U.S. philanthropic community, and other international donors are going to have to provide resources to turn the rhetoric into reality. 
Mauricio is the CEO of Seattle International Foundation. You can read SEAIF's recent report on foundation funding to Latin America here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Coffee vs. Gangs in Honduras

I am cited in the article by Rob Crilly (@robcrilly) on Coffee vs. Gangs in Honduras.
For David, it was the 18th Street Gang who came calling. He started out like so many others, acting as a lookout in his neighborhood, keeping a wary eye out for strangers, other gangs, the police or anything else that caught his attention.
“They get you when you are innocent,” he said. “Then they give you a fashionable watch, a cellphone, some money, clothes. When you are done, you’re 25 years old and at a rank you couldn’t even imagine.”
Go check out the article and read more about Coffee vs. Gangs from Kenco.

Congrats to Tim and his El Salvador Blog

Tim's El Salvador Blog celebrated its ten-year anniversary yesterday.
It's appropriate that I am in El Salvador as I begin writing this post.   I realize that a great many of the topics which have filled the pages of this blog have been present in the past 10 days I spent in the country. 
I participated in events commemorating the 25th anniversary of the massacre of the 6 Jesuits, their housekeeper and her daughter.   It's one of many anniversaries of massacres I have blogged about, and all of those persons who gave the orders for those massacres have never faced any form of judgment.   Impunity is a word I have used often in this blog.
Another ongoing blog theme is migration. I casually talked yesterday in English with men who had been deported from the US after living there for many years.  I heard the stories of the center where El Salvador processes children deported from Mexico.   I passed by many "remittance houses" built with money coming from the US and elsewhere.
Thank you Tim for helping us all understand El Salvador a little better and for inspiring me to start blogging as well.

Here's to the next ten years.

Monday, November 17, 2014

It wasn't just Ellacuria and the Jesuits who were targeted that night in El Salvador

Following a number of posts on the 25th anniversary of the martyrs in El Salvador, I planned to write a post today reminding people that it wasn't just Ignacio Ellacuria and the other Jesuits at the Central American University who were targeted in November 1989.

When the FMLN launched its second final offensive on November 11th, the Army High Command appears to have had a list of several individuals who they sought to liquidate in the midst of the violence. The list included leaders of the civilian opposition who had relatively recently returned to the country to participate in the 1988 and 1989 elections as well as other religious who had been working to end the violence in the country.

Last night, Tim republished the Subversive Cross which he initially posted on November 16, 2009.
On November 16, 1989, that same fateful day in El Salvador when the Jesuits were murdered, Lutheran Bishop Medardo Gomez was also targeted by the military. For Bishop Gomez and his Lutheran church were also voices who denounced the injustice they saw in Salvadoran society. They were deemed to be subversives by the government for siding with the poor and doing such radical things as operating a refugee camp for families fleeing the armed conflict, or for teaching the poor that they were entitled to equal human rights with the rich and powerful.
You know the government's view of your church when it sets up a machine gun post directly across the street from your church, your church named Resurrection Church – the church of Easter, and the machine gun is always aimed at the front door of the church. 
Go over to Tim's page to read the entire post.

The other intended victims of the army in mid-November, including Bishop Gomez, took refuge in Embassies scattered throughout the capital. As a result, they survived. The Salvadoran Jesuits thought that they were safe on the campus as the army had already searched the UCA and had it surrounded.

So while it is important that we remember the work of the Jesuits and why they died, it is also important to remember that they were not the only ones who were targeted that week. The Salvadoran High Command was prepared to wipe out nearly all civilian opposition figures that they deemed a threat.