The U.S. is using the pandemic as a pretext to further shut down asylum, while spreading the virus through deportations.
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COVID-19 Weaponized to Shut Down Borders
The Trump administration began pushing its agenda of shutting down asylum in the U.S. right out of the gate, and COVID-19 has now provided a new justification. Purportedly to protect public health, the government has essentially shut down asylum at the southern border with Mexico while the U.S. spreads the virus through deportations. Asylum deals with Central American nations are currently in limbo, but the administration could begin sending people to a third country, Honduras, at any time.
In 2019, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security signed a series of bilateral agreements with security officials in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, including an asylum cooperative agreement (ACA) with each country. The agreements permit the U.S. to send asylum seekers of other nationalities to precisely those Central American countries that hundreds of thousands of citizens have been fleeing, and forcing them to seek asylum there instead or return home.
More than 900 Hondurans and Salvadorans were sent to Guatemala under the agreement between November 2019 and mid-March 2020, when implementation was suspended due to factors related to COVID-19, and the president of El Salvador said months prior that his country did not yet have any capacity to receive people under the third country deal. But implementation of the U.S.-Honduras asylum cooperative agreement could potentially begin at any time, following its publication on May 1 in the U.S. Federal Register.
“There are some reasons why the Trump administration might roll out some other ACAs like the Honduran ACA,” said Yael Schacher, senior U.S. advocate at Refugees International, a humanitarian and advocacy group based in Washington, D.C.
Together with Human Rights Watch, Refugees International just released a new report, “Deportation with a Layover,” that examines the U.S.-Guatemala asylum cooperative agreement. The May 19 report details rights violations and lack of protection at every step of the way, from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody to Guatemala. People are effectively compelled to abandon their asylum claims, according to the report, which notes only 20 of the 939 Hondurans and Salvadorans sent to Guatemala under the deal applied for asylum in Guatemala.
Our genetic make-up is the result of history. Historical events that influenced the patterns of migration and mating among our ancestors are reflected in our DNA — in our genetic relationships with each other and in our genetic risks for disease. This means that, to understand how genes affect our biology, geneticists often find it important to tease out how historical drivers of demographic change shaped present-day genetics.
Understanding the connection between history and DNA is especially important for African Americans, because slavery and discrimination caused profound and relatively rapid demographic change. A new study now offers a very broad look at African-American genetic history and shows how the DNA of present-day African Americans reflects their troubled history.
Slavery and its aftermath had a direct impact on two critical demographic factors that are especially important in genetics: migration and sex. The trans-Atlantic slave trade was a forced migration that carried nearly 400,000 Africans over to the colonies and, later, the United States. Once in North America, African slaves and their descendants mixed with whites of European ancestry, usually because enslaved black women were raped and exploited by white men. And, more recently, what’s known as the Great Migration dramatically re-shaped African-American demographics in the 20th century. Between 1915 and 1970, six million blacks left the South and settled in the Northern, Midwestern, and Western states, in hope of finding opportunities for a better life.
How this turbulent history shaped the genes of African Americans has been unclear because, until recently, most genetic studies have focused either on populations from different geographical regions around the world, or on Americans with European ancestry. Fortunately, African Americans are now being included in these studies on a larger scale, and several long-term studies have collected genetic data on thousands of African Americans, representing all areas of the country. In a recently published study, a team of researchers at McGill University in Montreal turned to this data to take a broad look at the genetic history of African Americans.
AFRICAN AMERICANS WITH A HIGHER FRACTION OF EUROPEAN ANCESTRY, WHO OFTEN HAVE LIGHTER SKIN, HAD BETTER SOCIAL OPPORTUNITIES AND WERE THUS IN A BETTER POSITION TO MIGRATE TO NORTHERN AND WESTERN STATES.
The researchers focused on nearly 4,000 African Americans who participated in two important studies, both sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. The Health and Retirement Study consists of older volunteers sampled from urban and rural areas across the U.S., while the Southern Community Cohort Study focuses on African Americans in the South, particularly areas that have a disproportionately high burden of disease. Together, these two studies are among the largest sources of genetic data on African Americans. Importantly, they represent a geographically broad sampling of the African-American population, which is critical for outlining the patterns of genetic history.
The researchers first looked at what fraction of African Americans’ genetic ancestry could be traced back to Africa. Not surprisingly, the data shows that, for most African Americans, the majority of their DNA comes from African ancestors. The results also show that essentially all African Americans have some European ancestry ancestry as well. The genetic mix of African and European DNA, however, follows a striking geographical trend: African Americans living in Southern states have more African DNA (83 percent) than those living in other areas of the country (80 percent). Conversely, African Americans outside the South have a larger fraction of European DNA. Even within the South, this trend holds: Blacks in Florida and South Carolina have more African DNA than those living in Kentucky and Virginia.
One explanation for this geographical bias could be that interracial marriages have been less frequent in Southern states. But this explanation appears to be wrong. The McGill researchers found that most of the European DNA among blacks today probably entered the African-American gene pool long before the Civil War, when the vast majority of blacks in the U.S. were slaves living in the South. The genetic patterns observed by the researchers suggest that, for at least a century before the Civil War, there was ongoing admixture between blacks and whites. After slavery ended, this interracial mixing dropped off steeply.
The implication of these findings won’t be surprising to anyone: Widespread sexual exploitation of slaves before the Civil War strongly influenced the genetic make-up of essentially all African Americans alive today.
But this poses a puzzle: If African Americans can trace most of their European ancestry to an era when America’s black population was overwhelmingly confined to the South, why is it that African Americans now living outside the South have more European DNA?
The researchers propose an interesting answer. They argue that the Great Migration of African Americans out of the South was genetically biased: African Americans with a higher fraction of European ancestry, who often have lighter skin, had better social opportunities and were thus in a better position to migrate to northern and Western states. Though it will take further evidence to show this definitively, the McGill researchers’ results imply that, even after the end of slavery, discrimination that varied with shades of skin color continued to influence the genetic history of African Americans.
Do these genetic findings matter to anyone other than historians and genealogists? The answers is yes — studies of genetic history like this one are important because they help explain why blacks and whites often have different genetic risk factors for the same diseases. African Americans are disproportionately affected by many common diseases, and while much of this is due to poverty and limited access to good health care, genetics plays a role as well. If African Americans are to fully benefit from modern health care, where diagnoses and treatments are increasingly tailored to a patient’s DNA, it is critical that we understand African Americans’ genetic history, and how it contributes to their health today. In other words, we need to understand not just the cultural and economic legacies of slavery and discrimination, but the genetic legacy as well.
Since January 17, 1961, no one has been held accountable for the brutal murder of Congo’s independence leader and first prime minister Patrice Lumumba who was shot dead with two of his ministers, Joseph Okito and Maurice Mpolo.
However, all fingers point to multinational perpetrators who sanctioned the elimination of one of Africa’s bravest politicians and independence heroes who stood his ground against colonizers.
He led the Democratic Republic of Congo to independence on June 30, 1960, after the country was passed on from King Leopold II, who took control of it as his private property in the 1880s, to Belgium in 1908 as a colony.
Lumumba was inspired by the independence movement of Africa after attending the All-African Peoples’ Conference in Ghana in 1958. This spurred him on to organise nationalist rallies in his country resulting in deadly protests that got him arrested and later released to negotiate Congo’s independence.
Independence came with lots of problems including a political divide and an unapologetic Belgium led by King Baudouin who minced no words during the independence declaration while praising his predecessor, the brutish King Leopold II.
“Don’t compromise the future with hasty reforms, and don’t replace the structures that Belgium hands over to you until you are sure you can do better. Don’t be afraid to come to us. We will remain by your side and give you advice,” he said.
An outraged Lumumba rather gave a damning speech highlighting “humiliating slavery, which was imposed upon us by force.” This heightened Belgium’s disinterest in Lumumba whose government was already being opposed by his political rival and president Joseph Kasavubu.
Only three months into the new and independent Congo, soldiers mutinied against Belgian commanders who refused to leave and some regions, including the mineral-rich Katanga and South Kasai, rebelled against the central government and seceded with the backing of Belgian troops who were sent to protect their interests.
The Congolese government called for the United Nation’s help and a resolution was passed by the Security Council calling on Belgium to withdraw its troops. UN peacekeepers were sent into the Congo to restore order and “use force in the last resort” to secure the country’s territories.
However, Belgium did not leave and the UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld failed to provide the Congolese government with military assistance as demanded by Lumumba and sanctioned by the Security Council. He also ignored the prime minister’s appeal to send troops to Katanga but rather chose to negotiate with secession leader Moise Tshombe.
Hammarskjöld died in a plane crash on his way to meet Tshombe in September 1961, winning him a posthumously Nobel peace prize. Meanwhile, the country was in turmoil and Lumumba got no help from the West and the United Nations. He called on Russia and the Soviet Union sent weapons and “technical advisors” which incensed the United States.
The U.S. was a strong ally of Belgium and had a stake in Congo’s uranium. It is suspected to have planned an assassination as disclosed by a source in the book, Death in the Congo, written by Emmanuel Gerard and published in 2015.
U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower was reported to have given the order without any discussion. Lawrence Devlin, CIA station chief in Congo at the time, told the BBC in 2000 that a CIA plan to lace Lumumba’s toothpaste with poison was never carried out.
By September, the Congolese President Kasavubu dismissed Lumumba as Prime Minister after receiving a telegram from Belgian Prime Minister Gaston Eyskens. Lumumba also declared Kasavubu deposed. This ushered in the takeover by army chief Colonel Mobutu Sese Seko who placed Lumumba under house arrest and guarded by his troops and the United Nations troops.
Lumumba escaped in late November with his wife and baby son hidden in the back of a car leaving his residence. They headed towards the east where he had loyal followers in Kisangani (then Stanleyville). He engaged villagers on his way and on the evening of December 2 as they waited for a ferry to cross the Sankuru River, Mobutu’s forces appeared.
Mobutu ordered his detention at a military prison at Thysville, a hundred miles from Léopoldville. For six weeks, Lumumba was kept in cells and that’s where he wrote letters to the United Nations for help and to his wife to calm her nerves.
While Lumumba’s speeches from prison were creating confusion, Belgian Minister of African Affairs Harold d’Aspremont Lynden was putting pressure on the government to move him from Thysville where he could be freed by his supporters.
Lumumba and his two former ministers were flown to Katanga on January 17 while being beaten so badly that the pilot warned the violence was threatening the flight, says De Witte.
They arrived at the Elizabethville (now Lubumbashi) airport and taken into custody by Katangese police and military under the supervision of Belgian forces. They were driven to a colonial villa owned by a wealthy Belgian, Villa Brouwe, and the beatings continued by both the Congolese and Belgian forces.
By that evening, they were semi-conscious and had been visited by Katangese cabinet ministers and President Tshombe himself. Later around 10, a decision was taken on their fate and they were dragged from Villa Brouwe into a nearby bush where a firing squad awaited them.
The execution was commanded by Belgian Captain Julien Gat and Belgian Police Commissioner Frans Verschurre, who had overall command, discloses De Witte in his book based on documents he discovered in the Belgian archives. They were shot separately by a big tree as President Tshombe and two of his cabinet ministers looked on. The bodies were quickly thrown into shallow graves.
To conceal their crimes the next morning of January 18, the Interior Minister Godfried Munongo called a senior Belgian policeman, Gerard Soete, to his office and ordered that the bodies disappeared.
“You destroy them, you make them disappear. How you do it, it doesn’t interest me. All I want is that it happens that they disappear. Once it is done nobody will talk about it. Finished,” Soete recalled Munongo’s orders.
Soete said he and another helper exhumed the corpses and “hacked them in pieces and put them into the acid. As far as our acid because we had two bottles like that of acid, big bottles, but we hadn’t got enough so we burned what we could in those bottles. For the rest I know that my helper made a fire and put them in and we destroyed everything.
“We were there two days. We did things an animal wouldn’t do. And that’s why we were drunk, stone drunk. We couldn’t do things like that. Cut your own, your own – no, no, no. Nobody could say now, today, it’s there, it happened. That’s impossible, you couldn’t,” Soete was quoted in a BBC documentary, Who Killed Lumumba?, which aired in 2000 based on accounts from De Witte’s book published in English in June 2001.
Just as planned, Lumumba’s death was announced a month later on February 13, 1961. Interior Minister Munongo announced that the three prisoners killed their guards and escaped in a getaway car before they were recognized by villagers, who beat them to death.
The truth was hidden despite international protests at Belgian embassies nationwide until 1999 when Ludo De Witte’s book titled, The Assassination of Lumumba, presented new evidence taken from documents long hidden in official archives and interviews of surviving witnesses.
The Belgian Parliament established a commission of enquiry three months after the book was published to determine the circumstances of the assassination of Patrice Lumumba and if the Belgian government was involved.
The report was presented after 18 months of investigation in 2002 and then published as a book in 2004 for the public. It concluded that Belgium had a moral responsibility in the assassination of Lumumba and that it “acted under pressure from the Belgian public, which had heard for days about violence against Belgian citizens in Congo.”
It said there were plans to kill Lumumba and the Belgian government showed little respect for the sovereign status of the Congolese government. The commission confirmed that secret funds (about $8 million today) were used to finance the policy against the Lumumba government by the Ministry of African Affairs, reports the Brussels Times.
It, however, stated that execution was carried out by Kantangese authorities in the presence of the Belgian officials and there was no evidence to prove that Belgium was part of the decision-making to kill Lumumba.
The Belgian government admitted to having had “undeniable responsibility in the events that led to Lumumba’s death” but did not take full responsibility and issued a public pardon of the Belgians involved in the assassination of Lumumba.
The foreign minister at the time, Louis Michel, said “The government feels it should extend to the family of Patrice Lumumba … and to the Congolese people, its profound and sincere regrets and its apologies for the pain inflicted upon them.”
This was accepted by Lumumba’s son, Francois Lumumba, who later filed court cases against Belgium for hiding its role in the assassination of his father.
In January 2016, it was reported that a tooth of Lumumba was confiscated in the former home of police officer Gerard Soete who died in June 2000 during the parliamentary enquiry.
In his 1978 novel, the Belgian who helped dissolve Lumumba’s body in acid described the taking of two teeth, two fingers and bullets from the body, reports Brussels Times. He later declared that he had thrown them into the sea.
The Cuban government has created a program against racism and racial discrimination, a problem that continues latent in the country’s society, where it generates complaints, criticisms and insistent calls for its eradication.
This was one of the issues addressed during the most recent meeting of the Council of Ministers―headed by President Miguel Díaz-Canel―which state media reported on this Friday.
Díaz-Canel said that the Cuban Revolution “possibly has been the social and the political process that has contributed the most to eliminating racial discrimination,” but acknowledged that there are still “some vestiges, which are not part of policies in our society, but in the culture of a group of persons.”
As an example, he mentioned the manifestations of racism that are perceived in jokes, in certain attitudes at the social level and in some convocations for positions in private businesses that “specify skin color.”
The new program aims to “combat and eliminate the vestiges of racism, racial prejudice and racial discrimination that remain in Cuba,” explained Deputy Minister of Culture Fernando Rojas.
The deputy minister considered that the dismantling of racial discrimination began since the coming to power of the Cuban revolution in 1959 with advances that he described as “gigantic, solid and unquestionable,” but admitted that “it has been difficult to reverse in just 60 years four centuries of inequality.”
The Cuban program against racism will include “the fight against regionalism and discrimination based on ethnic and national origin,” manifestations that are also associated with that problem.
He said that it is a government program whose follow-up will be integrated into the president’s work agenda, and a Government Commission headed by Díaz-Canel himself will be created to coordinate the tasks.
Rojas highlighted the active role in addressing racial issues by the official Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC) and the José Antonio Aponte commission of that organization that combats racism and racial discrimination from a cultural perspective.
In recent times articles on this subject have been appearing in the official media with some frequency, but it is in social networks where there are the most comments and complaints.
A couple of years ago, the case of a private taxi driver who was arrested after the complaint of a black passenger was published in the state weekly Trabajadores. The passenger accused him of having treated her violently, asking her to get off before what had been agreed.
The young woman―a law student at the University of Havana―said in a letter to the newspaper, which published it, that the driver ordered her to get out of the car and told her that “he didn’t want blacks in his car,” so she photographed the car with her mobile and took note of the license plate.
The publication indicated that after the complaint Havana’s police authorities immediately proceeded to locate the owner of the vehicle, who was arrested for an alleged act of racial discrimination that was investigated by the District Attorney’s Office in order to confirm the “criminal offense.”
Source: IBW21 _ IBW21 (The Institute of the Black World 21st Century) is committed to building the capacity of Black communities in the U.S. to work for the social, political, economic and cultural upliftment, the development of the global Black community and an enhanced quality of life for
“This amazing story tells the events of these men, women and children, who were kidnapped from their native land in West Africa, enslaved in Ouidah, a coastal town in the Kingdom of Dahomey, the current day coastal country of Benin, and brought to America on what is believed to be the last slave ship, the Clotilda. Through their resilience, they not only survived the horrific Middle Passage, but the American Civil War, the reconstruction of Alabama, and the Jim Crow period, but they also fought to preserve their African memories, culture, and community over the generations. “For out of the bowels of slave ships they rose, and their descendants are, in the powerful words of Langston Hughes: Still Here.”After the Emancipation Proclamation, the newly freed Africans tried, but failed to return to their beloved homeland Africa. The story describes the group reuniting from various plantations, alongside American-born, formerly enslaved men, women and children. The Africans bought land and founded their own settlement, which came to be known as Africatown.The Founders appointed tribal leaders and governed Africatown according to customary African laws, spoke their own regional language, kept their own customs, used African irrigation and gardening techniques, and built their own social structures. The people of Africatown formed their own self-sufficient world.Marine archaeologists and researchers from Search, Inc. have confirmed the location of the schooner Clotilda-the last known ship to bring enslaved Africans from Benin, West Africa into the Mobile Bay. The search team discovered the schooner in a remote area of Alabama’s Mobile River.”
Roots of Transformation International (“Roots”), now an international non-governmental organization (NGO)
Roots of Transformation International (“Roots”), founder, Carmen delRosaario, announced earlier today that Roots of Transformation International has been recognized as an international non-governmental organization (NGO).
“Dear Friends, I am happy to share with you that Roots of Transformation International (“Roots”) has been recognized as an international NGO, and it up and running! As many of you know, I have spent years reflecting and talking about creating Roots. This idea has been in the making for many years, and this idea is now a reality. Roots is committed to equipping people with the knowledge, wisdom, and tools needed to make decisions that will positively impact their futures- as individuals, for their families and for their nation. Roots is guided by knowledge and experience acquired from over 25 years working in different parts of the world, learning and sharing knowledge in diverse cultures and communities, working with men, women, and young people from all walks of life. The focus of Roots’ work is on how violence, including genocide, female genital mutilation, child soldier, sexual violence, racism and more affects the physical and mental health of so many people around the world. However, we do not stop there. The goal of Roots is to engage and empower individuals, families and communities to interrupt the cycles that perpetuate these forms of violence, starting with the self.
Roots of Transformation working with men for non-violence in the DRC
According to a popular quote from Einstein, “the world as we have created it is a process of our thinking, and it cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” Roots is creating sustainable change in behavior by renewing individual, community and group minds. For example, in my experience working on prevention of female genital mutilation with the people who cut the girls (sometimes as early as 2 months old), some of them are telling me that “well, they also did it to me” or “I want my girl to get married”, reasons based on a mindset that they have not themselves fully understood or agree with . I call this the cycle of knowledge, information, and practices that repeat from generation to generation, and which can be interrupted- not by simply telling or asking people to stop, but through transformational processes that result in people wanting and creating a different outcome for themselves and their children.
OUR COMMON GROUND Voice, Carmen del Rosario, Founder, Roots of Transformation International
About Roots of Transformation International
Roots of Transformation International is a non-governmental organization (NGO) that facilitates organizational stability, change, and transformation by the renewal of individuals’ minds through individual and institutional capacity building. Roots works in collaboration and partnerships with a wide range of government, religious and civic organizations, as well as both national and international NGOs. These partnerships are the means to provide technical assistance and support to local communities by increasing their knowledge of themselves in a holistic manner; a tripartite definition of self as being (1) physical, (2) mental, and (3) spiritual. Roots is committed to equipping people with the knowledge, wisdom, and tools needed to make decisions that will positively impact their futures-as individuals, for their families and for their nation. At this point, Roots needs your help in order to continue this work. This Mother’s Day, please consider supporting Roots in our efforts to support hundreds of women and girls of all ages in their struggle to survive the consequences of female genital mutilation, and in our work to bring an end to this harmful practice.
There is no such thing as too small, even just $10 or $20 can go far in some communities. With much appreciation, Carmen” del Rosario
Donations can be made via PayPal
OCG encourages you to donate. No where else has the need for non-violence work and transforming the meaning of community taking a deep meaning in the lives of each citizen more needed. Roots has been there fighting a culture of non-violence in communities struggling to survive the cultural remnants of war and genocide.
You can listen to Carmen delRosario sharing her passion and hopes for Roots (ROT) here:
“The court seems to buy into the concept that there are exactly two genders, and that there’s a bright line dividing them: If Caster Semenya has 4.99 nanomoles of testosterone per liter, the “integrity of female athletics” will be preserved, but at 5.01, it won’t.So, if you were forced to submit to a testosterone test, would you bet your livelihood and your identity on the hope that your measurements would turn up on the correct side of the line? If they didn’t, would you alter your identity based on this new data — or might you argue that your personhood was more than a number? Most women have never been forced to submit to such a test; most of us are quite sure we know who we are without one.How should athletes who are born with hormonal differences be allowed to participate in the world?
If a higher-than-normal level of testosterone makes someone excel in certain pursuits, do we then dictate that they have to stay away from those pursuits — that they can only do things they suck at?”
“A quarter-century ago South Africa’s blacks finally were able to vote, bringing democracy to the country. But long after the brutal apartheid system of racial discrimination, speakers said many still struggle to find a decent life.“What is the meaning of freedom if many people in a township are unemployed?” asked David Makhura, premier of Gauteng province, which includes South Africa’s largest city, Johannesburg, and the capital, Pretoria.“What is the meaning of freedom if you don’t have a job? Or if you don’t have a house or land?” Makhura said the government of the African National Congress party is working to get title deeds for black South Africans: “The land must belong to our people!”All South Africans must respect the rights of the country’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersex citizens, the premier added, saying many in the LGBTI community still suffer violence and discrimination in their workplaces, in church and elsewhere.”
Cornel West recently expressed support for the ADOS movement . . . not surprising… Martin Luther King, whom West has written about, was not a Pan-Africanist, but he clearly saw the connection between the African struggle for freedom and the African American struggle for freedom. King said:
The masses of people are rising up. And wherever they are assembled today, whether they are in Johannesburg, South Africa; Nairobi, Kenya; Accra, Ghana; New York City; Atlanta, Georgia; Jackson, Mississippi; or Memphis, Tennessee — the cry is always the same: “We want to be free.”
In embracing ADOS, West is embracing the opposite of King’s vision.