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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Black Underworld Inc. – Part I

The black market is brutal, exploitative, and corrupt. Nothing is off-limits; everything is for sale. Any hints of morals and ethics are non-existent or false. What you buy may not be what it once was or what it now seems. How one justifies their involvement in an entire global network is ignored or never introspective. Workers, suppliers, U.S. employers, foreign sellers, customers in all countries, no exceptions—and the domestic or foreign law-enforcements hoping to keep it tamed and in balance while unaware their own native people, governments, and businesses fuel the ugly, black machine—the experiences, the victims in ALL stages of this inhumane, violent, monetary commerce—is a hidden world out in the open. One way or another it effects us all. All of us are responsible and like it or not we are more accountable than the resident, native-born and wealthy American can fully comprehend. As a whole, our U.S. values equate in various legal and illegal “currencies” of supply and demand. They are the literal blood that pumps life into BU Inc.

Red, White, & Blue Fathered BU Inc.
McKinley_Prosperity

McKinley 1900 campaign poster – Wikipedia Commons

Yes, historical U.S. foreign policy with domestic big business sired a bastard monster which is now cannibalizing its family. Though the Age of Imperialism, expansion, colonialism was by the European Big Nine “fathers” between the 15th and 19th centuries — Belgium, Great Britain, France, Denmark, Holland, Spain, Portugal, Russia, and Sweden — at the turn of the 20th century the hungry United States became the belligerent step-son in family imperialism. The 1900 Presidential campaign and election in the wake of victory from the Spanish-American War and resulting prosperity assured the Red, White, & Blue was embraced into the Imperialist family tree.

Republican-candidate William McKinley ran a campaign ticket of unfettered trade and bigger empire. Democratic-candidate William Jennings Bryan ran one of anti-imperialism and “Free Silver.” However, due to the country’s renewed prosperity under McKinley’s first-term coupled with America’s general approval of the Spanish-American War and victory, as well as acquiring and annexing territories in the western Pacific and Latin America, the McKinley-Roosevelt ticket managed a comfortable win over Democrats Bryan-Stevenson. Yet, these imperialist “victories” came at a cost and further problems for the United States, especially in Latin America in the following centuries. The most ideal whistle-blower to explain the U.S. appetite for expansion and global wealth, no matter the human cost, is from one who was actually there through it all from the beginning:  Major General Smedley D. Butler, USMC (ret):

Major General Butler mentioned Nicaragua and Guatemala. These two Central American nations, along with a few others, are the unstable hotbeds today for drug cartels and trans-generational government corruption fueled and sired to-date by 119-years of American-European exploitation.

philippine-american-war

Retaliation by U.S. Army on Filipinos

In 1901 President McKinley was assassinated at, of all places, the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, NY. The assassin was protesting American military atrocities in the Philippines and sociopolitical inequality in the U.S. by the wealthiest enriching themselves with McKinley’s government exploiting foreign and domestic, impoverished workers and civilians. This included Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Panama, among several others. Why Panama? Since 1513 European explorers from the original Nine Imperialist Fathering empires saw the enormous commercial benefits of a canal for their coffers and treasuries. By the 1820’s U.S. businessmen and their corporations lobbying Congress wanted European powers out of all Americas. They accomplished this by pushing the legislation and approval of the Monroe Doctrine. Many in Central and South America viewed this doctrine as self-appointed permission to bribe native dictator-puppets or replace one imperialist foreign sovereign with another:  the United States. This Pan-American perception was by no means outlandish and unfounded.

Once France tried and failed to complete a canal through Panama in 1889, interest by the U.S., President Teddy Roosevelt (also a strong Imperialist), and Congressional lawmakers and corporate lobbyists looked into building the canal in Nicaragua. But heavy pockets from various business interests in Europe and the U.S. wanted the canal in Panama. Securing the construction of the canal via the Hay–Bunau-Varilla Treaty and Panamanians winning independence from Colombia (more tension for the U.S.) garnered the apropos term of gunboat diplomacy: the constant U.S. financial, military presence, sovereignty and exploitation throughout the western Pacific and Latin America. Little did Americans back home know that this world perception of U.S. foreign policies and imperialism would last through the entire 20th century and into the 21st.

pay-car-colonmod

The Silver and Gold Roll system – the Jim Crow laws of Panama

From 1903 until 1989 Panama was a struggling pawn-Republic dominated by commercial oligarchies influenced by many world powers—none bigger than the “prosperous” U.S. business expansions. These were known as the Banana Republics with Congressional lobbyists from U.S. companies dependent on hard goods, cheap labor, and crude oil and Presidents bound to their party’s corporate promises and politics. Enter Manuel Noriega as early as 1981 with America’s new insatiable coast-to-coast craving for illegal drugs out of Central and South America.

Lords and Kings — Mastering Supply and Demand, Distribution and Buyers

Today almost half the world live in poverty, on about $2.50 per day, and around 1.4 billion live in extreme poverty on less than $1.25 per day according to United Nations Development Programme’s “Human Development Report, 2014.” Between 1903 and 1990 world poverty and all the consequential problems, crimes, and corruption connected to it was much worse than those figures. Therefore, young girls and boys who grow up in those regions and countries where poverty, crime, and corruption are worse many learn all the tricks and trades of the Hustle. Morality, God, and ethics mean nothing when one is merely surviving (barely) and living day to day, hand to mouth, and night to night. Hoping to see the sun in the morning or some nights to be relieved of the insane hustling-game at the end of a gun-barrel was and today still is the popular Central-South American attitude. Lots of these kids grew up to be drug lords, military elite, and trade kings. Birth-rights and zip codes had little and a lot to do with survival or success in their world and little or a lot to do with death and/or prison in other’s worlds. What’s the difference. They have, I don’t. I have, they don’t. The better the Hustle, the better the life… no matter what side of the flag, fence, wall, river, or canal you are on.

nicaragua-protests

Students protesting President Daniel Ortega & government – Esteban Felix/Associated Press 2018

Whether one was Henry Meiggs or General Manuel Bonilla, President Dwight Eisenhower or Jacobo Árbenz, President Ronald Reagan and Daniel Ortega or Manuel Noriega, or any number of investor-states utilizing various 20th and 21st century “free trade” agreements or treaties—i.e. DR-CAFTA, CTPA, PTPA, and NAFTA—lucrative for the U.S., Canada, and bilateral or multilateral FTA’s for the European Union, the hustle remains the same. These corporate interests with their lobbied governments in bed with Caribbean, Central and South American puppet-governments and leaders, all of it championed as “economic prosperity.” The modern developed nations, lead by the United States, have now fathered, sired a humanitarian crisis and BU Incorporated. For additional details read this excellent and poignant 2014 briefing by the Institute for Policy Studies, “What ‘Free Trade’ Has Done to Central America.

Some of America’s foreign economic, military, and diplomatic interventions interference over the last five to six decades have seen and made the richest, most violent hustlers, drug Lords and crime Kings blossom from the Central and South Americas. Here are just a few others (Pablo Escobar is excluded; he’s very well–known) from an extensive list of first and second generation BU Inc. Lords and Kings:

  • Frank Lucas – American, from La Grange, North Carolina.
  • Rafael Trujillo – Dominican, from San Cristóbal, Dominican Republic.
  • George Jung – American, from Boston, Massachusetts.
  • Nicky Barnes – American, from Harlem, NYC, New York.
  • José Figueroa Agosto – Puerto Rican, from San Juan, Puerto Rico.
  • Richard “Freeway” Ross – American, from Troup, Texas.
  • Juan Perón – Argentine, from Lobos, Argentina.
  • Rafael Quintero – Mexican, from Badiraguato, Mexico.
  • Joaquín Guzmán – Mexican, from La Tuna, Mexico.
  • Griselda Blanco – Colombian, from Cartagena, Colombia.
  • Anastasio Somoza Debayle – Nicaraguan, from León, Nicaragua.
  • Carlos Lehder – Colombian, from Armenia, Colombia.
  • Gilberto Rodríguez Orejuela – Colombian, from Mariquita, Colombia.
  • José Gonzalo Rodríguez Gacha – Colombian, from Pacho, Colombia.
  • Alfredo Beltrán Leyva – Mexican, from Badiraguato, Mexico.
  • Augusto Pinochet – Chilean, from Valparaíso, Chile.
  • Guillermo Rodríguez Lara – Equadorian, from Pujilí, Ecuador.
  • François Duvalier – Haitian, from Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
  • Amado Carrillo Fuentes – Mexican, from Guamuchilito, Mexico.
  • Christopher Coke – Jamaican, from Kingston, Jamaica.

Back in 2004 and even as far back as 1998 citizens of all these Central American nations publicly protested against FTA’s because they favored foreign interests, not their own. From the IPS:

[The people, economists, and legal experts] warned of the unemployment, poverty, hunger, pollution, diminished national sovereignty, and other problems that could result if DR-CAFTA were approved. But despite popular pressure, the agreement was ratified in seven countries—including Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, and the United States.

[…]

Contrary to the promises of U.S. officials—who claimed the agreement would improve Central American economies and thereby reduce undocumented immigration—large numbers of Central Americans have migrated to the United States, as dramatized most recently by the influx of children from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras crossing the U.S.-Mexican border last summer. Although most are urgently fleeing violence in their countries, there are important economic roots to the migration—many of which are related to DR-CAFTA.

One of the most pernicious features of the agreement is a provision called the Investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanism. This allows private corporations to sue governments over alleged violations of a long list of so-called “investor protections.”

The most controversial cases have involved public interest laws and regulations that corporations claim reduce the value of their investments. That means corporations can sue those countries for profits they say they would have made had those regulations not been put into effect.

life-1964-01-24-flag-protest-cover

1964 protests in Panama – Life Magazine

These types of lawsuits have financially wrecked poor Central American countries often struggling to provide basic quality of life programs and services. These imposed conditions have greatly tempted the weak or corrupt governments away from domestic accountability and invoke policies favoring transnational corporations abroad in the U.S. or Canada. In certain circumstances U.S. Presidents, Congressional lobbyists, and/or corporate trade-investment partnerships push for clandestine military interventions—e.g. Lt. Colonel Oliver North—to stabilize or destabilize foreign governments depending on the most profitable U.S. interests. However, these operations, agreements, and policies are only part of the public domain or veiled and patriotically distorted manipulated mechanisms in the “restricted” public domain. This accessible domain is only the stained dirty side of a much darker, black underworld side.

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In the upcoming Part II of Black Underworld, Inc., we find after closer investigation that the dark criminal domain and the public domain discussed above actually stimulate each other’s livelihood in a largely symbiotic dynamic. But at what costs in the short, mid, and long-term? And costs to who specifically?

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Believe Every Word!

All we’re doing is passing our savings on to our client base.
It’s a proprietary strategy. I can’t go into it in great detail.
But take my word for it, for the most part
you can ignore those market swings.
Bernie Madoff responding to his clients, 2001

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Lesson 1: Why lying well or sounding truthy can be self-nurturing and very lucrative. I am not saying that one needs to be a conspiracy theorist 24/7. What I am saying is that much of the time you need to stay sharp and not take everything at face value, especially when it is all dressed up looking and sounding pretty. Here are four more examples that beg for fools and fun, or painful trouble, depending on which side of the result you’re on.

  • In order to become old and wise, you must first be young and stupid.
  • The most dangerous animal out there is the shy, silent man.
  • Wouldn’t it be great to have a six-month vacation twice a year?
  • Cinderella is proof that a new pair of shoes can change your life.

The art of verbal flatulence is alive and well today. In all honesty, it has been quite well and thriving for many centuries and likely several millenia. Only today, it is sometimes dressed up and symphonious then other times so audaciously in your face and eccentric that the gullible audience begins to consider “Well, maybe it IS true.” Take for another prime example last evening’s State of the Union address to Congress.

Thanks to the Poynter Institute’s commitment to excellent journalism and its unparalleled non-profit service in providing a resource for anyone who aspires to engage and reliably inform all citizens. They serve 21st-century democracies, around the globe for people who honor all human rights, self-government, and freedom of expression (speech) coupled with a speaker’s or writer’s ownership of truths or lies. They also provide the invaluable Pulitzer Prize winning fact-checking website PolitiFact.com.

Here are some of [President Trump’s] comments [during the SoU address], fact-checked or with additional explanation or context. This report includes information on three accurate statements and 12 claims that are inaccurate, exaggerated or lack context.

Because 25% (to be kind) is such a horrible score at telling the truth, I am picking eight of Trump’s 12 wrong, overblown, and lacking good context comments to illustrate that not every word can be believed by Bernie Madoff President Donnie Trump.

On the Economy

President Trump:  “Wages are rising at the fastest pace in decades.”

Wages are indeed rising, but they began their upward trajectory under President Barack Obama, and wages actually rose a bit faster under Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

One common measurement of wages is median usual weekly real earnings for full-time wage and salary workers 16 years and older, an inflation-adjusted figure.

During Trump’s presidency, this figure has risen from $351 to $355, an increase of 1.1 percent over the better part of two years.

But the current wage increase began in earnest in the second half of 2014, when Obama was still more than two years away from leaving the White House. Overall, wages increased by 7.5 percent over that period, from $330 to $355.

This rise in wages wasn’t as steep as the country saw in the 1990s. Between the fourth quarter of 1997 and the first quarter of 2002, wages rose from $314 to $341, an increase of 8.6 percent.Louis Jacobson

President Trump:  “African-American, Hispanic-American and Asian-American unemployment have all reached their lowest levels ever recorded.”

This was accurate in 2018, but is out of date. Unemployment levels for each group reached record lows under Trump’s watch.

African-American unemployment fell to a record of 5.9 percent in May, and is at 6.8 percent as of January. Asian unemployment fell to 2.0 percent in May, and is now at 3.2 percent. Hispanic unemployment reached 4.4 percent in December 2018, and is now at 4.9.

But these trends began under former President Barack Obama, and economists say presidents don’t deserve either full credit or full blame for the unemployment rate on their watch.Manuela Tobias

President Trump:  “Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by the new calls to adopt socialism in our country. America was founded on liberty and independence and not government coercion, domination, and control.”

This is a variation on misleading attacks Republicans repeatedly made on Democrats during the 2018 midterms.

The narrowest definition of socialism is where the state owns all the means of production. Democrats have not called for the government to take over business.

American politicians such as U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., or U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., have used the term to call for a dramatic expansion of the social safety net, including already available health care programs. They typically propose much higher tax rates to pay for the programs.

That resonates with the systems in place in Europe, not Venezuela.Amy Sherman

President Trump:  “We have created 5.3 million new jobs and importantly added 600,000 new manufacturing jobs.”

Trump is close on overall job creation but less accurate on manufacturing jobs.

The United States has added 5.3 million jobs since Trump was elected in November 2016. Counting from when he took office in January 2017 makes the figure a bit smaller, at 4.9 million.

As for manufacturing jobs, the number rose from about 12.4 million in January 2017 to 12.8 million in January 2019, or an increase of 454,000. We should add that the increase in manufacturing jobs under Trump followed a rise under Obama that began in 2010, when the worst of the Great Recession had passed.Louis Jacobson

On Foreign Policy

President Trump:  “For years, the United States was being treated very unfairly by friends of ours, members of NATO — but now over the past couple of years, we have secured a $100 billion increase in defense spending from NATO allies.”

This could [might] be true two years from now.

NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said that’s what the European members expect to spend, and he credited Trump’s “clear message.”

“By the end of next year, NATO allies will add 100 — 100 billion extra U.S. dollars for defense,” Stoltenberg said on Fox News Jan. 27.

In constant dollars, NATO member defense spending has gone up about $24 billion since 2016. In current dollars, the amount is $48 billion. While we don’t know Stoltenberg’s starting point, $100 billion requires a steep rise, and we won’t know if it comes true until many months from now.Jon Greenberg

On Abortion

President Trump:  “Lawmakers in New York cheered with delight upon the passage of legislation that would allow a baby to be ripped from the mother’s womb moments before birth.”

This distorts the circumstances covered by the law signed Jan. 22 by New York governor Andrew Cuomo.

Previously, women in New York could only get abortions after 24 weeks of pregnancy if their lives were threatened. Under the new law, women can also get an abortion after 24 weeks if their health is threatened or the fetus isn’t viable.

The law codifies for New York the same standards established by the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision.

Jen Villavicencio, an ob-gyn in the Midwest who provides abortions, told PolitiFact recently that late-term abortions are rare and usually due to medical crises. The Guttmacher Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention both report that slightly more than 1 percent of all abortions occur after 21 weeks.

“Abortions are not performed at 40 weeks on healthy, viable pregnancies,” Villavincencio said. “Overwhelmingly, abortions that occur at this point in pregnancy are pregnancies where lethal fetal anomalies have been diagnosed.” —Jon Greenberg and Ciara O’Rourke

On Immigration

President Trump:  “Year after year, countless Americans are murdered by criminal illegal aliens.”

We can’t specifically document how many U.S. citizens have been killed, because there is no national database on murders committed by immigrants in the country illegally. There also is no national data or study tracking the nationality of the victims, experts have also told us.

And while some immigrants here illegally have committed murders, research indicates that immigrants are less likely to engage in criminal behavior than the native-born population. —Miriam Valverde

On Energy

President Trump:  “We have unleashed a revolution in American Energy – the United States is now the number one producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world.”

This is mostly accurate. The United States ranks first in both, but that’s only new for crude oil.

In 2017, the United States ranked first in the total production of petroleum and other liquid fuels as well as natural gas. Within the subset of crude oil production, the United States edged past Russia and Saudi Arabia in the summer of 2018, according to the Energy Information Administration, the federal office that collects energy statistics.

But the United States has been the world’s largest oil producer since 2012, and the largest natural gas producer for years.Manuela Tobias

Lesson 2: Lying better and sounding sensational doing it can also be very self-nurturing, very lucrative, and somewhat bumpy stepping on and over the many imbecile suckers in your wake of destiny. To the patient, experienced critical-thinker the minute you have to embellish, to sensationalize, hype it up and (try to) push people’s buttons and triggers… you are showing all your cards. Game over. But not everyone understands the con-man’s, showman’s game. Otherwise this man would not be in the White House in the first place.

That said however, Americans are not hard to figure out. The Land of Capitalistic Opportunity” or anything goes unless you get caught does enable the massive egos of the clinically psychiatric to thrive. Many Americans love (are obsessed with?) a great bombastic rebel. Our national history is without a doubt replete with them.

Fyi Nan, the clip is only 2.5 minutes. 😉

To read the rest of PolitiFact.com’s fact-checking on President Trump’s February 5th State of the Union speech, click here. It deserves noting too that the immediate Democratic response to the President’s speech by Stacey Abrams was also without context and more specific facts — hence, leaning to rhetoric and propaganda.

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Look Deeper for Your Own Good, Please!

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