Oaxaca’s New Government Calls for Migrant Rights
The Oaxacan Institute for Attention to Migrants, and its director Rufino Dominguez, called for a new era of respect for the rights of migrants in commemorating the International Day of the Migrant in the
Around the balconies of the palacio’s courtyard hung photographs showing the lives of current migrants from
Dominguez, the former coordinator of the Binational Front of Indigenous Organizations, which organizes indigenous migrants in both
We can’t tell the
“Oaxacans are also migrants within our own state, like those who work in the coconut palms on the coast. About 30,000 Oaxacans migrate for work without leaving the state, and we’ve never paid attention to them. Another 300,000 live in
“And we’ve never consulted the people who actually live in the
“Our starting point is to understand the need for economic development because the reason for migration is the lack of work and opportunity in people’s communities of origin. If we don’t attack the roots of migration, it will continue to grow. There’s a fear of investing in our own people, but there’s no other way. We have to have economic development and respect for the human rights of migrants as “they come and go.
We also have to tell people about the risks of migrating. In
“So we have to work on implementing the right to not migrate, while protecting the ability to migrate safely, making sure that people’s dignity and human rights are respected.
“In March alone, 4,000 migrants were sent back after trying to cross into the
“Over 300 Oaxacans have disappeared and we don’t know if they’re alive or dead…. Our state is responsible for them, along with the Federal government. Yet we don’t accept responsibility for the economic development that could change it. This silence is a disgrace, at the same time we’ve become so dependent on remittances migrant send back to their families.
“The labor of migrants in the
I don’t believe that a program of guestworkers or braceros will resolve these problems of migration. First, it perpetuates a dependence on remittances. We also know from our experience with the bracero program in the 1950s and 1960s that these programs don’t work. We have many former braceros who are still fighting to get the 10 percent of their wages that was withheld during those years. Current H2A and H2B programs give people a work visa, but the rights of workers in these programs are not respected. Often they aren’t paid legal wages, they live in terrible conditions in substandard housing, and they have no right to organize or make demands on their employers.
“With a green card, or residence visa, people migrating have some security. That doesn’t exist with a guest worker visa or crossing with a coyote. If people’s rights are violated, if they’re not paid adequately, if they can’t earn Social Security to allow them to eventually retire, then this system is worthless. It’s just producing throw-away workers whose labor gets used, but who have no benefits. So why are we talking about more programs that fail to respect human and labor rights, and which don’t guarantee housing, education, and health care?
“If we begin by talking about rights and decent wages and conditions, maybe we can see a way forward. But if it’s just “come sell your labor” with no respect for your rights, these programs are worthless. The governments of both
“We will work with everyone. We are a government of everyone. We say, we are all