By Dimitris Kazakis, newspaper “To Honi”, 1.7.2012
Do you know what ‘immigration’ means? Before remembering the sadness, expressed by popular Greek songs of the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, when Greeks’ migration movement reached tragic proportions, you may know that, for the world economy, it is a blessing. Especially during times of an economic crisis. This is, at least, what the World Bank claims, supporting that migration is the No 1 political solution to deal with poverty in under-developed countries. This is what the World Bank tells us: “International immigration strengthens global income. It allows workers to move where they can be more productive, immigration results in increasing global product and income”. In other words, the more people migrate, the better it is for everyone.
With the World Bank’s blessings
A recent study by the World Bank mentions that the number of immigrants doubled in the past 25 years (until 2010), whereas immigrants’ money transfers to developing countries quadrupled and reached over 300 billion dollars per year. It was feared that the 2008-9 global recession would result in immigrants’ return and the fall of immigrant money transfers to developing countries. These fears did not come true. Countries that sent immigrants to many other countries had the least returns, whereas the most free immigration passageways responded in time to the changing economic conditions, as, for example, the Polish left Ireland for other EU countries.
So, opening the borders for facilitating migration, is one of the top choices of world markets. World Bank informs us that it has set up a special Task Force group, in order to facilitate immigration from developing countries. According to the UN, apart from the 215 million immigrants globally, there is another 700 million internal immigrants, i.e. immigrants within their own country’s borders. Of those, almost 2/3 are China’s internal immigrants. Global crisis’ dynamics, along with the needs of global markets’ vultures, are considered to fuel even stronger migration trends within the years to come. So, the World Bank estimates that within the next decade, immigrants from country to country will reach 500 million, i.e. more than double. Therefore, organisms, like the World Bank, which serve the interests of global markets, are already caring about three priorities:
a) to open borders even more for the uprooted poor from economically destroyed areas of the planet
b) to open further the ‘free migration passageways’, like those in the EU, and in particular the Eurozone
c) to drastically reduce the money transfers from migrants’ countries of reception to their countries of origin
Of course, neither the World Bank, nor any other wealthy institution of the global markets, is concerned with the fact that immigration presupposes untold poverty, misery and hunger in the migrants’ countries of origin. The deliberate destruction and marginalization of countries, nations, whole areas on the planet is considered perfectly normal and inevitable for the followers of the free markets. Therefore, the uprooting of masses and their channeling as immigrants into the global market funnel, is considered a natural outcome, about which no one should care, but instead we should be happy.
Special economic zones (SEZ)
What is the destination of immigrant labor? It used to be the more developed countries. Today, it is a little more complicated. The greatest volume of migrants, internationally, but also within developing countries, is destined for the ‘Special Economic Zones’.
Special Economic Zones are areas within the state territory, allocated to private investors, under special legal, administrative and labor status, with a sole purpose: exports. These Zones, in their current form, have been around for the past 50 years. But, only recently, after the 90s, their popularity has risen. The database of the International Labor Organization regarding Special Economic Zones mentions 176 such zones in 47 countries in 1986. Until 2006 these had increased to 3.500 zones in 130 countries. Special Economic Zones operate on the following principles:
1)They allow investors to import and export without duties or exchange controls, or other types of legal and financial obstacles.
2)They facilitate issuing of permits and simplify, for the benefit of the investor, all other adjustments (spatial design of investment, natural and social environment, archaeological constraints etc…)
3)They usually exempt private investors and their enterprises of business tax obligations, VAT and other local taxes.
To enter most SEZ, a special visa is required and those employed are preferably internal and external immigrants. In this way, private investors can not only benefit from labor costs, but also increase their labor force’s mobility. In any case, local people always pose a threat to the private investor. The sense of locals’ ownership, that their land belongs to them, has always been the biggest headache for colonialists. Love for their land has been one of the basic motives for anti-colonialist revolts, from the peak of colonialism (mid-19th century) to the first half of the 20th century. In this way, colonialists lost their most vital acquisitions.
Today, with SEZ and migrant labor, the new colonialists, called private investors, can sleep peacefully. The immigrant lives only for the miserable daily wage available. Without a sense of homeland, or root, lost in an international trafficking network, he is but a paid slave, without a homeland, with no human or social rights. Very suitable for modern SEZ colonialists. SEZ are the main medium that our European partners, and Germans in particular, believe ‘growth’ should carried in bankrupt Greece. That’s why nearly 2 million immigrants are crowded in Greece, from everywhere in the world. Many are destined for the new SEZ foreseen about Greece.
Young Greeks migrate too
Migration problems are not just limited to the massive import of destitute people into our country, but extend to the massive export of the most productive age-ranges of the Greek population. According to the recent report on Social Europe by the European Commission (27/6), Greeks between 15-35 years old, wishing to work in another European country were in 2011, 63% of that age population. The number of Greek job seekers through the EURES CV Online network reached 8,700 applications in June 2010, whereas in June 2012 they had exceeded 29,400: an increase of 238%, bigger than that of any other country. Therefore, memorandum policies and the general sell-out of the country opened a huge door for migration of the most productive part of Greek society, the proportions of which will soon resemble the migration currents of the ‘60s. This particular report, mentions that in 2010, migrant exodus from Greece in 2010 rose to 120,000, 52% of whom were destined for other EU countries, while 48% countries outside the EU. All this, only in 2010.
What fuels this unprecedented migration trend in Greek society? Not too hard to think. The complete lack of prospects of work in Greece. Poverty and deprivation ravage Greek society and strengthen the trend to escape abroad. For those who can do it. For the rest, there is only one option left: complete deprivation.
Poverty and unemployment turn us into immigrants within our own country
According to the same report, homelessness has dramatically increased in the past two years. This phenomenon was not particularly common, thanks to the Greek family, which would not allow its members to end up on the streets. Now, poverty and unemployment has hit the Greek family so hard, that she cannot sustain her homeless members, not to the degree that she was able to. From 2009 till 2011, the number of homeless people surviving thanks to charities and free meal offerings, has increased by 25% and exceeds 20,000. Half of them live in Athens and Piraeus, the rest in cities like Heraklion, Trikala, Chania. This population does not carry the characteristics of the socially marginalized, does not have addiction problems, but instead, is well-educated and used to have a wealthy life, which they can no longer afford to maintain, due to redundancy or bankruptcy.
The memorandum and bail-out policies of the past two years have led 68% of the Greek population to live below the absolute poverty line (income less than 60% of average national income). This is according to the report. Let us remind you that the corresponding percentage in 2009 was below 22%. But the worst is that 40% of the income of those poorer populations , esp. the 68% under the poverty line, is spent on rent and mortgages.
Converting the biggest part of the Greek population into immigrants within their own country, under such poverty, is the suitable social environment to impose a “final solution” for Greece, from which neither the country nor the people can emerge safe and sound.