30 June 2011

Border Militarization Destroys Indigenous Communities

Alex Soto, Tohono O’odham:

"...the Border Patrol troops are the real trespassers, not us. How can I, a Tohono O'odham person, be trespassing on my own land? Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Border Patrol, Immigration Custom Enforcement and their corporate backers such as Wackenhut, are the true criminals. Troops and paramilitary law enforcement, detention camps, check points, and citizenship verification are not a solution to ‘issues’ of migration. Indigenous Peoples have existed here long before these imposed borders, and Elders inform us that we always honored freedom of movement. Why are Indigenous communities and the daily deaths at the border ignored? The impacts of border militarization are constantly being made invisible in and by the media, and the popular culture of this country. Even the mainstream immigrant rights movement has often pushed for 'reform', which means further militarization of the border, leading to increased suffering for Indigenous communities. Border militarization destroys Indigenous communities." (see: O'odham: Border Patrol Lock Down Trespassing Charge Dropped, CENSORED NEWS, 23 June 2011)

In Arizona, O'odham have been mobilizing against the Border Patrol that has disrupted and displaced indigenous communities and militarized their space. As Alex Soto explains, "Currently the state of Arizona is pushing for the construction of the South Mountain Loop 202 freeway extension on Akimel O’odham land (Phoenix Area). The Loop 202 is part of the CANAMEX transportation corridor, which is part of the larger NAFTA highway project. The two proposed routes will either result in a loss of approximately 600 acres of tribal land, and the forced relocation of Akimel O'odham and Pee-Posh families or would gouge a 40-story high, 200-yard wide cut into Muadag Do'ag (O'odham name for South Mountain), which is sacred to all O'odham and Pee-Posh."

With the construction of the current fortified U.S./Mexico border, 45 O’odham villages on or near the border have been completely depopulated. According to No More Deaths, from October 2009 to April 2011 there have been more than 338 deaths on the Arizona border alone. In addition, 1,200 National Guard troops have been stationed along the southwestern border since June 2010. Also, the state of Arizona recently passed a bill which will allow for Arizona to build its own border wall. The law goes into effect July 20 of this year. The video below was produced as part of the O'odham mobilization against the militarization of their border areas:

In connection with this, please see the O'odham Solidarity Across Borders Collective, and the Border Opposition Action Fund.

Regarding border militarization, see Brenda Norrell's "Hacked data reveals US Marines as contract killers, hunting migrants on the border." Thanks to the hacktivism of LulzSec which penetrated the Arizona Department of Public Safety last week, just before the group closed down, we learn of the hunting and murder of migrants by U.S. Marines along the Arizona border.

Arizona law enforcement officers were aware that migrants were being hunted by off-duty Marines patrolling the border with assault weapons. The information was contained in a report from October 2008 by Arizona's High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Investigative Support Center:

"In other incidents reported in October, U.S. Border Patrol agents encountered two subjects who claimed to be members of the Border Watch Group the Blue Lights based on the Caballo Loco Ranch. The subjects, armed with pistols and at least one M4 rifle, were dressed in full desert camouflage uniforms, similar to those of the United States military. They stated they were not members of the Minutemen, but paid contract employees who ‘get the job done’ and ‘were not just volunteers.’ They possessed valid United States Marine Corps identification cards."

As Norrell explains, "Arizona and federal agents have largely ignored the militia and white separatist groups patrolling this area, along the border of the Tohono O’odham Nation, south of Three Points, and southwest of Tucson."

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