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American Union

by Ruben Botello

The U.S. 'war on terror' launched after September 11, 2001 has created serious social, political and economic problems for U.S. Latinos. Most of these problems stem from stricter enforcement of federal immigration laws, new legislative action to further reduce the number of immigrants in the U.S., and more racial profiling, vigilantism and hate crimes against Latinos. [1]

Local, state and federal lawmakers have joined this nationalist movement against Latinos, in particular, by outlawing equal employment, housing and educational opportunities, bilingual education, Latino Studies, and other basic programs established during the Civil Rights Era, to raise living standards for Latinos and other historically impoverished, exploited and oppressed U.S. Minorities. Some lawmakers are even seeking to outlaw Spanish and citizenship rights for children born in the U.S. of immigrant parentage. [2]

Spanish-speaking Latinos are the majority population of the Americas and Caribbean, about 650 million including around 52 million in the U.S, today. Latinos are not a singular race, nationality or ethnic group. Latinos are a blend of every race, color, language, culture, nationality, ethnicity, religion and creed in the world, and the largest U.S. Minority (16%), living among other Minorities (19%) and a White Non-Latino majority of mostly English-speaking Anglo-Americans that constitutes about 65% of the total U.S. population. [3]

Most U.S. Latinos are bilingual, and Spanish language usage is second only to English, in North America. Most U.S. Latinos are also bicultural (assimilated), and have thus been able to help improve relations between the Anglo-American majority and the larger majority of Latinos throughout the Americas and Caribbean via direct participation in U.S. government, politics and institutions.

As mentioned above, relations have worsened between Latinos and the U.S. government since 9/11. U.S. Latinos are helping repair this damage to some extent, but what the entire Americas and Caribbean Islands really need is an international body of its nations, states and territories wherein all the good citizens of these sovereignties can lawfully live, work, study, travel and conduct business and commerce much more freely.

Instead of band-aid approaches to the immigration problems its sovereignties face, this region of the world needs an American Union (AU) similar to the European Union (EU) that helped end the serious conflicts and hostilities between the EU's member nations that led to World War II. [4]

Several countries from the Americas and Caribbean (the Rio Group) are already working with the EU, today. Unfortunately, the U.S. is not involved in this promising development.

The Rio Group is an international alliance of sovereign states in the Americas and Caribbean including Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Lucia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay and Venezuela. Also known as the "Community of Latin American and Caribbean States" (CELC), the Rio Group meets with the European Union every two years on a ministerial level. [5]

U.S. Latinos -- about eight percent (52 million) of the total Pan-American and Caribbean Latino population (est. 650 million) -- stand between the Anglo-American majority in the U.S. (est. 202 million) and the much larger Latino majority outside the U.S. (est. 598 million). Most Anglo-Americans may not be eager to form an American Union, in partnership with all the Latin American and Caribbean states, and most Latinos outside the U.S. may not be eager to form such a Union with the U.S., either.

Nevertheless, imagine the precious freedoms good citizens of all these countries can gain, to be able to lawfully live, work, study, travel and do business and commerce throughout an American Union like the EU's good citizens are now free to do in Europe. Imagine the decrease in social, cultural, political, economic and military conflicts between AU nations, as now experienced by the EU nations despite their horrendous battles during World War II.

Is a much more peaceful, just and cooperative state of international relations worth establishing, in the Americas and Caribbean? Presently, several U.S. policies toward Latin America seem to be in preparation for war, what Europe was experiencing, as its nations were being dragged into World War II. [6]

Hundreds of millions of Latinos face tremendous barriers and obstacles to better lives including violent crime, high unemployment, slave wages, extreme poverty, illiteracy, hunger, homelessness, sickness and disease. They do not need nor deserve to be exposed to more violence, death and destruction.

Multitudes of desperate Latinos are forced into the underground economy (black market) to stay alive, including drug and human trafficking, sex slavery and gang warfare, and much of this crime spills over national borders, in all directions. As a Union, the nations, states and territories of the Americas and Caribbean could work together instead of against each other, to tackle and resolve these problems once and for all.

U.S. immigration policy under the present Democratic Party administration is primarily directed, at finding, arresting and deporting undocumented immigrants, and at making it more difficult for immigrants especially from Mexico, to enter the U.S. regardless of why they come. Latinos can only expect more of these hostile actions and worse, as Republicans grow stronger in Washington, DC.

A major policy change is needed, an alternative to the anti-immigrant policies and practices of the U.S. and other regional governments, to improve relations between the U.S. and the rest of this vast region of the world. An American Union is the change Latinos and Non-Latinos need, in order to overcome the very real problems confronting the almost billion people, in the Americas and Caribbean, today. [7]

The immigrant-bashing and empty rhetoric heard across the nation about "immigration reform" only serve to maintain the status quo. Like a broken record, the daily repetition of this wordage breeds more hatred, contempt and hostilities against Latinos, citizens and non-citizens alike.

The only real and meaningful alternative to this endless international conflict, at least as it pertains to the Americas and Caribbean, is an American Union similar to the European Union that has already proven sovereign nations can work well together for their common interests despite their differences.

1 Arun Gupta, Alternet, January 12, 2011, "Hate and Violence Are Encoded in the DNA of the American Right,"
2 Mariano Castillo, Shannon Travis and Mary Snow, CNN, January 5, 2011, "Legislators set sights on 'anchor babies'"
3 United States Government, "Census 2010".
4 Europa, "Gateway to the European Union".
5 European Union, "The EU and the Rio Group".
6 Europa, The history of the European Union, "1945-49 A peaceful Europe - the beginnings of cooperation".
7 One World - Nations Online, "The Americas - Countries and Nations of the Americas and the Caribbean, Central America. South".

About The Author

Ruben Botello has been a human rights activist since 1970. Born and raised in Texas, Ruben joined the Marines after graduating from high school in 1965. The activist went to college on the G.I. Bill after returning from Vietnam in 1969, and earned California degrees in journalism, political science and jurisprudence. Ruben founded the American Homeless Society in 1987, and is its director today.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.