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The Tempest of Capital: Climate Crisis and Forced Migration
AMLO's Mexican National Guard (GN) has effectively assumed the role of the US border patrol.
"One touch of nature makes the whole world kin…"
— W. Shakespeare (Troilus and Cressida)
The Tempest of Capital: Climate Crisis and Forced Migration
by taller ahuehuete
✎ 5 minutes
The uncontrolled thirst for profit of the present mode of production has left an indelible imprint on the natural world, leading to a global phenomenon of far-reaching and devastating consequences. The ramifications extend far beyond borders, woven within the fabric of capital's inherent dynamic, creating a web of obstacles that disproportionately affect the most vulnerable populations, particularly those residing in the global South.
Forced migration is a complex phenomenon characterized by the involuntary displacement of individuals from their homes, triggered by factors such as persecution, violence, abuse, war, economic collapse, threats, environmental degradation, and more. Unlike voluntary migration, this form inflicts a myriad of challenges for displaced persons, who often encounter significant risks before, during, and after their displacement, with difficulties that can persist even as they have reached a place of refuge. Surviving makeshift camps like El Chaparral in Tijuana, thousands of displaced individuals confront cartel groups and exploitation within the informal economy. The absence of protective mechanisms, the complicit xenophobic behavior of so-called 'law enforcement' and local populations, and precarious living conditions in these camps render refugees utterly powerless.
On the surface, policies like the Merida Initiative, signed between Mexico and the United States in 2008, aimed to combat transnational ‘organized crime’. Nonetheless, the narrative that migration routes were being exploited by ‘terrorist groups’ merely facilitated the expansion of surveillance and military presence on the southern border, funded by the United States. Similarly, the Southern Border Program of 2014 fortified anti-migration laws, resulting in a significant increase in detention rates.
Since the Merida Initiative commenced, the US Congress has allocated nearly $2.8 billion for training, gear, and military tactical discipline for Mexican state agents, the National Migration Institute (INM), the Army, and the Federal Police. From 2013 to 2014, the detention rate increased by 74%.
Under López Obrador's rule, the Mexican government deepened these containment agreements through negotiations with its northern neighbor. The deployment of over 23,000 state agents on the northern and southern borders in 2019 demonstrated the de facto militarization of the Mexican territory.
A recent investigationby the Universidad Iberoamericana shed light on the atrocities committed against asylum seekers by state operatives. In 2019, Andrés Manuel López Obrador launched the Mexican National Guard, significantly contributing to immigration policing.
Notably, before assuming the presidency, AMLO advocated for the withdrawal of the military from civilian spaces. Regardless, on June 2019, as a result of an agreement with the United States, Mexico made the decision to deploy AMLO’s recently established National Guard to its border with Guatemala. Its immediate involvement in such matters was not initially anticipated or explicitly communicated.
The Mexican Army (GN) has effectively assumed the role of the US border patrol: the Guardia Nacional employs batons, shields, tear gas, stones, and sticks to apprehend refugees. These containment operations, often conducted at night and executed in riot gear, involve military agents forcibly entering churches and private residences. Instances of family separation during detentions and widespread torture of male displaced persons, particularly in the Siglo XXI Migration Station, with a singular focus on Afro-descendant migrants in the Cupapé Migration Station in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, have become distressingly common. In November 2021, military agents shot at a van in Pijijiapan, Chiapas, resulting in the death of a Cuban man and injury to three others.
The closure of borders fueled the intensification of xenophobic narratives. Asylum seekers at the US-Mexico border are stigmatized as carriers of diseases, leading to public legitimization of harsh bureaucratic actions. The Covid-19 pandemic became associated with individuals of Asian origin, while its variants to African countries. These discriminatory narratives permeate media outlets and social networks, contributing to hostility towards refugee communities.
Karl Marx's analysis of the struggles between Irish and English workers resonates, underscoring the endurance of xenophobia as an instrument of the ruling classes. By pitting workers against each other based on citizenship differentials, the ruling class effectively weakens solidarity and perpetuates the misery that is conjoined to accumulation. Marx’s words to Sigfrid Meyer and August Vogt in 1870 remain tragically pertinent, as he addressed the antagonism between English and Irish workers:
This antagonism is artificially kept alive and intensified by the press, the pulpit, the comic papers, in short, by all the means at the disposal of the ruling classes. This antagonism is the secret of the impotence of the English working class, despite its organization. It is the secret by which the capitalist class maintains its power. And the latter is quite aware of this.
As strife and violence expand southward, and the conduct once enacted by American citizens against undocumented workers expands across borders, we assert that it is not the 'invasion' of foreigners that oppresses local populations. To pave the path toward emancipation, it becomes imperative that existing social relations can no longer coexist in their current state. Instead, “for the revolution of a nation, and the emancipation of a particular class of civil society to coincide […] a particular social sphere must be recognized.”
For the oppressed class to be able to emancipate itself, the existing social relations must no longer be capable of existing side by side. In compulsory displacement, it is the increase of productive power which demands a diminution of the population, and drives away the surplus by famine or emigration. After all, “the profound hypocrisy and inherent barbarism of bourgeois civilization lies unveiled before our eyes, turning from its home, where it assumes respectable forms, to the colonies, where it goes naked…”
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Posicionamiento sobre el contexto migratorio en México 2022. Gutiérrez Patiño, Raúl and others. "Posicionamiento Sobre El Contexto Migratorio En México." Accessed 12 May 2023.
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Selected correspondence Progress Publishers, 1975, pp. 220-224.