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This article originally appeared at Upside Down World.
In the Texas border town of McAllen last month, a Border Patrol Agent—we’ll call him S.—recounted to me his experience during a recent excursion to a different stretch of the Texas-Mexico frontier near El Paso, northwest of McAllen.
According to S., he and other officials were visiting a particular section of the international boundary when an evacuation order was given and attack helicopters were called in. (“We don’t have that equipment in McAllen,” S. remarked.) It was eventually determined that there was in fact no emergency and that a goatherd on the Mexican side of the border was simply in possession of a stick that resembled a weapon.
As for other effective government responses to threats emanating from Mexico, S. acknowledged that the U.S.-Mexico border fence—construction of which began in 2006 and which reportedly cost up to $21 million per mile in California—has stanched neither drug trafficking nor illegal immigration. He did, however, optimistically reckon that the intermittent gaps in the fence encouraged traffickers and immigrants to concentrate their movements in these specific areas, where they could then theoretically be more easily apprehended.
Watch “Food chain slaves” below, the inaugural episode of Rageh Omaar’s new Al Jazeera program Slavery: A 21st Century Evil.
Starting around minute 19.30 is a disturbingly illuminating interview with Global Horizons Manpower CEO Mordechai Orian, an Israeli who has been indicted for human trafficking of Thai workers to farms in the US, where they were subjected to conditions of slavery.
Interjecting two entirely irrelevant references to the Holocaust, Orian informs Omaar that he is being unjustly persecuted by the US justice system, and concocts the appallingly illogical argument that, if he is going to be accused of human trafficking, then “everything is human trafficking. Going on [an] airplane from Hawaii to LA is human trafficking”.
Oppressed populations around the world acquired a new rival on Wednesday with the announcement by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of his campaign to “Free Lampedusa” within 48-60 hours.
What the Sicilian island requires freeing from: thousands of migrants, primarily arriving from North Africa.
Why it requires freeing: residents are not pleased, and Berlusconi sympathizes. (So much so that he has spontaneously purchased a villa on the island.)
The migrants are being transferred to refugee camps on the Italian mainland, which has generated unrest among certain sectors of population of south Italy who feel that the freedom of Lampedusa will occur at their expense.
In this video below, for example, from minute 1.22-1.34 the south Italian gentleman in the red hat explains that “since the state doesn’t do shit” he has taken it upon himself to capture refugees who have escaped from the makeshift camps—in this case, the two darker men being herded in front of him.