Black Underworld Inc. – Part II

Previously in Part I we learned that what happened then—119-years ago in our Pan-American hemisphere—ripple-effects what happens now and into the near and not-so-distant future both in prosperous and horrible ways. Part I was the more visible and dirty, complex public domain where historical facts and political motivations are not always freely attained nor aggressively sought by the average American. Here with Part II let’s follow the Pan-American histories of the 19th and early 20th century and examine what is going on today on the north side of our nation’s southern border.

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Involved with the North American FTA’s covered in Part I and their decades socioeconomic impact on Caribbean and Latin American nations (CLAN) are the foreign corporation’s abilities to conquer the CLAN’s through Investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanisms. There are two development distinctions between politicized “economic development” and how much of that development by foreign “investments” are really stimulating and occurring inside the CLAN’s, or not, and how much “foreign stimulus” is benefiting the investing, foreign corporate pacts. From Dr. Walter Ferrier, University of Kentucky:

Through the 1990s, foreign multinational corporations (MNCs) seemed unrelenting in their quest to invest in and conquer this culturally rich land of more than 500 million people, upwardly mobile consumers, and promising industrial markets. Between 1991 and 2001, the ownership of the 500 largest companies in Latin America changed dramatically, with non-Latin multinational ownership growing to 39 percent from 27 percent. (see Exhibit 1 and 2 below.) The rising foreign competition pressured local Latin companies, which historically served only their home-country markets, to consolidate and expand into other Latin American countries, transforming themselves into “multilatinas.”
Multinationals vs. Multilatinas: Latin America’s Great Race, Gatton College of Business & Economics, University of Kentucky

Exhibits 1 and 2

click here to enlarge

Also mentioned in Part I, the Latin populace rightly protested in the streets against foreign Multinational FTA’s (and BIT’s) that ultimately did benefit those foreign interests. Since 2009 Multilatina investment pacts are slowly able to acquire some CLAN foothold, but in doing so they become competitive threats to powerful American and foreign investment groups and their international law firms.

However, to date few local Latin firms have taken on the world or tried to create large multilatinas. In fact, very few Latin American companies earn more than 50 percent of their revenue outside their domestic market. […]

The post-2000 stock market collapse, currency devaluations, mounting political disorder, and the prospect of defaults on debt obligations have considerably reduced both the rate and the value of foreign investment in Latin America.
Multinationals vs. Multilatinas: Latin America’s Great Race, Gatton College of Business & Economics, University of Kentucky

Since the early and mid-20th century, perhaps too going back to the Age of Imperialism, Latin America’s and the Caribbean’s prosperity has essentially been dictated or at minimum heavily influenced by North American and European interests and their own economic stability or volatility and recessions. This 118-years of exploitation created the modern Black Underworld Inc., then creating further repercussions domestically to the USA. What are some examples of those American-made repercussions?

Big Texas and American Businesses Perpetuate BU Inc.

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It’s the elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about. We live in a society where we don’t really want to acknowledge that… precisely because business depends on those workers.Bill Beardall, Executive Director of the Equal Justice Center – Austin, TX

Minimum wage in Texas is $7.25 per hour, $290 per 40-hour week, or just $15,080 per year. This wage was last changed in 2008 from $6.55 per hour. The vast majority of the jobs that pay minimum wage are food preparation/servers, restaurant dishwashers, retail cashiers, hosts or hostesses, cinema ushers/ticket-takers, and farm workers (any farm). Just 19-years ago it was $3.35 in 2000. The latest Texas per capita income (2017), in other words for legal, documented citizens was $28,985 according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That figure amounts to a $13.93 per hour wage. Texas has a minimum (legal) population of 28,300,000 assessed in 2017. According to the U.S. Census Bureau 6.3% of that 28-million people (i.e. just 1.8 million people) earn over $200,000 per year, or a $98.16 per hour wage.

Yes, the economic inequality or simply the buying power of those 26.5 million average Texas consumer-laborers (see this Texas Tribune article) is frankly atrocious by American standards, particularly in light of rising housing and living costs in an economic model that in so many ways favors and rewards wealth (or proven credit) with more wealth/credit. Texas’ disproportionate wages does not include those wages of the border states:  southern California, Arizona, or New Mexico.

And yet despite the wage disparity, oddly enough the U.S. apparently has a big illegal, undocumented immigrant and refugee crisis according to Conservative Republican rhetoric reports, but more bizarre is that we have no hiring or labor crisis. To be honest, in the entire context “border security” immigration is just a small component of a bigger dynamic, but it is not a crisis, much less a National Emergency. What the causes are is never quick or simple to pinpoint. It’s not just one cause either.

No Shortage of Low-Wage Jobs for Illegal Immigrants-Refugees

Within the larger historical political context the United States has a significant debt and responsibility to many decades of political and financial instability/poverty in the Caribbean and Central America since 1901. Recently, one of the major contributing factors of illegal immigrant entrances—that many erroneously describe as a “crisis”—is the constant available work undocumented Latinos and Afro-Caribbeans can easily find throughout the U.S. and here in Texas. Unauthorized immigrants are constantly “hired” illegally by Texas employers and businesses. The current enabling by American-Texas illegal hiring practices creates a non-stop merry-go-round of U.S. invite, seduced migration then/or deportation, and false work/reward dreams to Latinos going back to 1992, but in several ways even to the 1980’s with Ronald Reagan’s overt and covert interventions in Latin America.

unauthorized-immigrants-testimony-REPORT-03+05

click here to enlarge

As reported by one of the nation’s most unbiased news and media organizations, The Texas Tribune, in 2016 – 2017 launched an investigative project over several months into U.S. border security, immigration, the reality and the rhetoric. Their findings in “Bordering on Insecurity” are painfully sobering and about as far away from patriotic pride as an American could ever muster, unless hypocritically mustered. I will briefly pull from this outstanding and extensive report.

Let’s not forget that our U.S. Capitol building, the White House, and many buildings and landmarks in Washington D.C. and throughout the entire U.S. proper—most of the fifty States—heavy hard labor and construction inside the ‘Land of the Beautiful’ was mostly done on the backs of slaves and minorities. During modern times of prosperity, booming business and economic stimuli, certain disadvantaged ethnic groups still do all the hard labor for exploitative wages and labor abuses by their supervisors and employers:

Though it’s illegal, brothers Israel and José Martinez [native Mexicans] have no shortage of work, moving from one construction job to the next in the ongoing building boom of Central Texas. They’ve worked on homes in affluent communities along the Upper Colorado River and renovated sprawling apartments in North Austin. They were on a crew that erected a new health center at a high-end retirement community, and as expert masons have built luxury pools, interior chimneys and backyard grilling stations. […]

In all their years in Texas, Israel and José — pseudonyms, since both asked that their real names not be published — have experienced a lot. One thing they say they haven’t seen: U.S. citizens doing the heavy lifting on construction projects.

“We’ve never seen any Americans carrying cement, picking up stone, working from sunup to sundown,” Israel said. “Never.”

This is the economic and social reality in which the brothers, and millions of other unauthorized immigrants, find themselves — a country so reliant on cheap labor that substantial portions of the economy are built largely on the backs of immigrants willing to do work most Americans won’t, and for lower pay.
Bordering on Insecurity, The Texas Tribune by Travis Putnam Hill, December 2016

Because of Wild Wild West circumvention, good ole boy private agreements, and rear-door activities by (usually) well-educated or street-smart, unscrupulous, native-born American big business owners and supervisors, they’ve learned over decades how to finish “under budget and before deadlines.” With this success comes higher motivation for repeating their illegal rewards for the project-foremen and upper/middle management, and habits are formed blatantly bypassing lawful prohibitions of hiring workers illegally. Next, their competitors duplicate the illegal methods and work abuses to stay in the game of hyper-capitalism… and the vicious cycle continues. Much of the time these native-born American and Texas executives and hiring managers silently know, before and during work projects, that casual oversight in hiring and paycheck finagling are not only illegal, but they also ignore the long-term DAMAGE to many American principles and values. More audacious is that these same good ole boys publicly and “patriotically” rally and campaign for diversionary “problems” in election years. The rally speeches are all the same, the usual vague, oversimplified political rhetoric from candidates. But the damages and the ignored red-white-blue “elephant in the room,” as Beardall described, do not stop there.

Another negative side-effect from these native-born patriotic American business owner’s/employer’s and their subversive double-standard practices cheat all American citizens out of public state and federal tax-funded services and programs:

Many undocumented immigrants also find informal work paid in cash under the table, often at rates far below minimum wage, and the employer can pretend they were never hired.

Operating in the shadows of this clandestine labor market puts the workers in a vulnerable position: Yes, jobs are plentiful, but only in exchange for working long hours for low pay and little recourse against unscrupulous employers who cheat or exploit them.
Bordering on Insecurity, The Texas Tribune by Travis Putnam Hill, December 2016

And these unethical, illegal practices by (advantaged, wealthy, white?) American and Texas business owners and supervisors create more negative ripple-effects of social, economic, domestic, and illegally explicit temptations and behaviors. These are the native-born Americans with criminal records and/or ties to organized crime-groups which prey upon the thousands of undocumented immigrants. The snaring of illegal, struggling immigrant workers fuel increased problems of drug addiction/abuse, drug dealing or running, further public mental-health problems—due to state or county clinic’s following proper, legal admission protocols so they go back out to the streets—and prostitution and/or sex-trafficking.

The Martinez brothers in the Tribune’s article are fortunate. They are mobile when they recognize employer abuses. The brothers state repeatedly just how ‘easy and endlessly available the service or construction jobs were to find.’ The never-ending availability of low-wage jobs is due in large part because the vast majority of college-educated young Americans are not seeking low-wage jobs after 4-5 years of going into thousands of dollars of debt or spending it to acquire their Bachelor’s degree. It was easy for Israel and José to work multiple 10-12 hour a day jobs, 365 days a year. However, as state and federal immigration policies become increasingly strict, he and his brother had to adapt or counter the new, stricter policies and laws:

[Now] they have to get past the laws that forbid their being hired. For many undocumented immigrants, that path forward is through fraudulent documents.

“The workers present false documents of the kind that the law requires the employer to inspect,” said Bill Beardall, executive director of the Equal Justice Center, a nonprofit law firm that represents low-wage workers, many of whom are undocumented, in employment rights disputes. “Now, the employers know this. The workers know this. The prohibition on hiring undocumented workers has stimulated the growth of that whole industry in creating false documents.”
Bordering on Insecurity, The Texas Tribune by Travis Putnam Hill, December 2016

Yes indeed, today large American and Texas corporation CEO’s, department Heads, Hiring Managers and Supervisors are for the most part familiar with the numerous benefits of low-wage illegal workers laundered through (sketchy) subcontractors. There are many who are so familiar with hiring and labor laws they know what not to see, hear, read or inspect closely. They also understand the buffering benefits of having scapegoats, ala Senior Executive Bunny Greenhouse of the USACE, Lt. Colonel Oliver North and National Security Advisor John Poindexter, Capt. Charles McVay of the USS Indianapolis, or famously PI Bryan Wagner employed by Board Member/External Director Patricia Dunn of Hewlett-Packard, or more famously Kareem Serageldin of the Credit Suisse Group.

Aeschylus quote

target+picAs the nation’s 39th ranked company in total revenues on the 2018 list of Fortune 500 American corporations, the Target Corporation and its many subsidiaries is the 8th largest retailer in the U.S. As of Sept. 2018 Target had 1,839 stores across the USA with 148 in Texas.

In 2004 or 2005 an Austin-area Target store hired/contracted a local janitorial-cleaning company, Jim’s Maintenance, to clean bathrooms, take out garbage, wash windows and carpets, and polish floors to a reflective white sheen, something the Target Corporation publicly prides itself. An undocumented Mexican immigrant nicknamed “Chunco” had been working for several contractors cleaning Target stores. Chunco told The Texas Tribune that all the cleaning-janitorial workers he’s ever known in those 12-years are illegal immigrants. They go in the stores between 10 and 11pm and are scheduled to leave between 7 or 8am on company records. However, he said, that rarely happened.

Target night managers locked them in and they couldn’t leave until a walk-through inspection by the manager was completed, usually well after 8:30 or 9am. Working this way in the wee-hour shadows puts Chunco and fellow immigrant workers at risk for exploitation. They were hired by Austin-area contractors and companies with full unspoken knowledge and oversight they were or might be unauthorized to work in the U.S. and Texas. Many times Chunco reported that he and fellow custodians were paid less than minimum wage and no overtime pay for working 7-day work weeks.

“We’ve realized that [employers] prefer us for being undocumented because we just keep our heads down to get jobs,” Chunco said. “[We] can’t afford to complain. They take advantage of us being undocumented.”

Chunco and 28 other custodians represented legally by the Equal Justice Center filed a lawsuit against Target and Jim’s Maintenance for unpaid wages and overtime. Despite the fact that it was Target night managers letting the workers in back doors late at night, directing them what to do for 10- or 12-hour shifts and letting them out the back doors late into the following morning, attorneys for the large retail corporation claimed they were not co-employers with Jim’s Maintenance. The case was eventually settled out of court in 2008. Jim’s Maintenance, however, had already been put out of business in 2006 because Target terminated its contract with him and withheld $496,000 in fees owed to Jim’s for its services. This buffering tactic has sometimes been called scapegoat contracting.

Executive Director of Austin’s Equal Justice Center Bill Beardall talked about how disadvantaged workers like Chunco are not informed by native Texas (or American) business owners and contractors of any labor rights they actually do possess:

“Employment rights apply equally to all workers, regardless of their immigration status,” Beardall said. “The problem is most undocumented workers don’t know that, and employers may not know that. If they do know that, they will nevertheless use those workers’ vulnerable immigration status to discourage them from enforcing their rights.”

h-e-b_plus-BurlesonThe H.E.B. Grocery Co. is a supermarket chain I am very familiar with; it was founded in 1905 in my Mom’s 20-year hometown of Kerrville, Texas, now based in San Antonio, Texas. Today H.E.B. and its many subsidiaries, including in Mexico, has 350+ locations with over $21-billion in revenues in 2018. According to the National Retail Federation’s 2017 ranking of retail stores, H.E.B. ranked 20th in the USA. Like the Target Corporation, H.E.B. also practices in scapegoat contractors.

In 2012, produce workers filed a class action lawsuit against Pastrana’s Produce and H.E.B. for cheating them out of minimum wages and overtime pay. As in the case with Target, the H.E.B.-Pastrana’s undocumented workers worked long 10-12 hour shifts and frequently 7-day work weeks. And…

As in the Target case, lawyers from the Equal Justice Center argued that the workers were jointly employed by H-E-B and Pastrana’s because they were a vital part of H-E-B’s business. They worked only in stores owned by H-E-B and under supervision of H-E-B managers, who determined their work hours and daily production.

Once again this case was also settled out of court with H.E.B. shouldering no responsibility for their ties and contract with Pastrana’s Produce. What is more aggravating to note is that in both of these cases the immigration status of the plaintiffs was never a concern in the court case! Care to guess why?

Consequently, like hundreds of thousands of unauthorized immigrants and refugees, construction workers Israel and José Martinez step closer into illicit, illegal activity to keep jobs and keep working. Chunco is still cleaning the exact same bathrooms and floors of Austin-Target stores he always has for the last 14-years with a host of custodial companies all contracted by Target, but below minimum wage and still 10-12 hour shifts with no overtime pay. Yet, in their native countries everyone knows work in the U.S. is very easy to come by. So they come. And keep coming because the standard of living in their hometown or city is much worse and in many cases has been as far back as 1901, as covered in Part I.

For these immigrant workers and thousands of others who can find abundant work, but want some protection from exploitative Texas and American contractors, better hours, and better pay, they then slip into another side of a growing profiteering equation, the underground market of forged and falsified documents and I.D.’s. For each work document or I.D. a forger charges $100 – $1,000. This puts them at risk for another type of exploitation. But Israel and José Martinez are men. Associating with and having to depend on certain mechanisms and unethical or abusive people in positions of power over their American dreams, or its dormancy, or detection and arrest. It is a racket with daily temptations for the American-Texas extortionist or blackmailer. And these vulnerabilities for illegal, but hired workers are significantly higher for female teenagers and women, and possibly their children.

The Effectiveness of a Great Wall of China

On a final note, when there are hundreds to thousands of American corporations, business owners, upper and middle management supervisors/foremen illegally hiring undocumented immigrants—either directly or through scapegoat contractors—and have been doing it since at least the late 1990’s, what is any practical use of a fixed, and quite permeable 1,954 mile Medieval wall when American big businesses are (allowed) happy to give illegal immigrants jobs? A near 2,000 mile symbolic hurdle seems insanely asinine to me.

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In Part III I want to further peel back the uglier, illegal black market a majority of every day Americans know little about, are too busy and/or naïve to connect all the dots of how their own business-as-usual consumer-values and American corporate profit-models fueled and have sustained the inhumane virulent tri-continental black market. It gets worse.

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12 thoughts on “Black Underworld Inc. – Part II

  1. What is particularly interesting to me is why the same common yet illegal practices that go on between the US and its southern neighbours does not go on north of the US with Canada. This raises the question of why. Any ideas?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. As long as those exploitative jobs still provide the illegal immigrants a better standard of living than what they can get in their own country, they would continue to keep on coming.
    Trump’s wall would be a long worthless collection of bricks if the practices of these American businesses are not put in check first.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan, I must agree. The Chinese keep telling us that a “Great Wall” DOES NOT WORK! They repeat: “It just becomes a tourist attraction!” 😆

      And yet in a much more modern, advanced society than Antiquity thru the 17th century in China, we would quickly become the laughing stock of the world if that 2,000 mile wall was finished, although we already are in many ways. However, here’s another way to look at this asinine mentality from the White House. If our Statue of Liberty no longer symbolizes in the least our real government attitude toward specific foreigners, the Great Wall of Idiocy will most certainly symbolize it to the tee! 😖

      Liked by 1 person

    • BINGO Rosaliene! I would sure like to know ALL of the details in those two cases I cited above with Target and H.E.B. that were settled out of court. But then again, I do know exactly why those two mega-corporations would want those files permanently sealed, even destroyed. Duh, right?

      And how many Americans remember the early 20th century American “interventions” and business exploitations in Central and South America and their long-term impacts? Pffffttttt, how many American’s even know that many of our nation’s landmark monuments, buildings, the Capital building, White House, etc, were erected by slaves and immigrants? Amazing how that elephant in the room or the 500 lbs guerrilla NEVER get brought up in a modern discussion/debate. I guess some Americans HATE looking in the mirror.

      Liked by 1 person

      • (Disclaimer: Did not read your post.)

        Re: your comment about who erected the government buildings — I wish this information could be made into a news article and printed in one (or more) of the popular conservative newspapers … or better yet, presented in a discussion on Faux News. The holy whites need to be made aware of this. I’m not ignorant to their response … but I still say it’s a FACT that they should know about!

        Liked by 1 person

        • I completely concur Nan. How does a state and nation raise and teach its youth and future leaders and fair, equal, democratic TEAM members with critical-thinking skills and tools to manage not only a melting-pot nation of 326 million Americans (and rising fast!) to be rational, virtuous, and significant members of the GLOBAL family… if we (severely) handicap them!? To me, and I’m sure you too, that seems like very irresponsible, shitty parenting, if I can be bluntly honest. 🙂

          Like

    • Thank you Bill for such a kind, flattering comment. That is humbly appreciated. My assessment has, as usual, been more critical. Hahaha. I still think I could’ve done better, on both Parts.

      But as I hope my overlying theme is being conveyed and deciphered is that MY digging, and trying to get at the nuts-n-bolts of the ENTIRE context of the “Crisis” or just a boy Screaming Wolf too many times… it requires NOT taking public, political rhetoric at face-value, EVER!!! Hahahaha! And I know that might seem elementary and a given for most halfway intelligent, discerning Americans. But I’ll be damn if the shallow, oversimplifications and rallying and rattling sabers isn’t persistently penetrating too many… umm… geeezzz, what’s the diplomatic words…

      GULLIBLE and IMPATIENT riled up brains and hearts! 😛 What I’ve done here anybody can do themselves or with a little assistance from a librarian at your local county or municipal library… or the Library of Congress. HAH!

      But I do know this, a person damn sure want get the full context from FOX News, FOX and Friends, or Sean Hannity. 🤭😈

      Thank you again Sir.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The proudly gullible would rather burn the books and torch the library than have their law-and-order minds confused by a librarian. Unless they find a libertarian librarian (never a “democrat party” librarian) who voted for Trump, has memorized his 100 words and watches Fox in the Hen House News.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Black Underworld Inc. – Part III | The Professor's Convatorium

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