Tag Archives: President Trump

InCity Documentary Review

But first …

*****

“HARVEST OF EMPIRE: A History of Latinos in America”

Reviewed by Steven R. Maher

For Direct TV viewers: “Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America” can be watched or recorded on the LINK Channel 375 Tuesday, February 28, at 6 a.m. There are also several websites where the movie can be seen.

The hottest button issue on the American political agenda today is immigration from Mexico and Central America. Donald J. Trump was elected President in part by harping on this issue. It was with that in mind I recently watched an obscure Direct TV Channel (LINK, Channel 375) documentary – “Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America.”

This documentary is based on a book by Juan Gonzalez, from Puerto Rico. This writer was very surprised when the film opened with Harry Truman saying Puerto Ricans were being starved on slave labor wages in the land of their birth. Truman’s narration of corporate exploitation was accompanied by films of farm laborers in Puerto Rico looking like emaciated concentration camp survivors.

This was surprising because in November 1950 a Puerto Rican independence group attempted to assassinate Truman and because Republicans today often cite Truman as a “good Democrat.” Gonzalez places Latino immigration to America in a historical context. Gonzalez makes a persuasive argument that past American military intervention has created an environment that periodically stimulates the very immigration Trump wants to build a wall to stop.

Started with Mexico

In 1845 – 1848 the United States invaded Mexico and annexed the northern half of the country, where southern California, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and parts of other states now exist. Some in the U.S. wanted to annex Mexico in its entirety, but others believed a shotgun marriage between White Anglo Saxon Protestant America and Catholic Mexico would not be a happy union. A compromise was reached where it was agreed the U.S. would take Mexico’s relatively unpopulated northern provinces. While the film didn’t give any statistics, there was a Mexican populace in these provinces “who didn’t come to the border, the border came to us.”

Throughout American history, Mexican immigrants were welcomed in the United States when we experienced labor shortages, such as during World War I and World War II. Then, after the wars ended and native Americans came home looking for work, the Mexicans were expelled as illegal immigrants, says Gonzalez.

In 1898, the United States, after a war with Spain, expanded American territories to include Cuba, the Philippines and Puerto Rico. While the first two countries eventually became independent, Puerto Rico was retained as essentially a U.S. protectorate. The U.S. imposed on Puerto Rico a justice system where English was the only language used and an educational system where Spanish could not be spoken. While many Puerto Ricans over time benefitted financially from their status as quasi-Americans, Gonzalez says they “paid a heavy price.”

Five Nations Spur Immigration

Gonzalez argues that U.S. interventions in five Central American nations led to an explosion of the U.S. Latino population:

• Early in the 20th century the U.S. occupied the Dominican Republic, brought to power dictator Rafael Trujillo, and reoccupied the country in 1965 to stop an alleged pro-Castro takeover. This is the least persuasive example cited by Gonzalez. Trujillo was assassinated in 1961 by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and Dominicans seem drawn here more for economic reasons than because of a civil war more than half a century ago.

• Cuba is identified as a country where U.S. military intervention also spurred immigration. A better argument could be made that Fidel Castro’s repressive regime and catastrophic economic mismanagement led to mass flight to the U.S.

• In 1954 the CIA overthrew a Guatemalan government that had expropriated land owned by the United Fruit Company, with which the U.S. Secretary of State and the Director of the CIA, the brothers Dulles, had strong commercial ties. This was a very disturbing scene to view. One could not help but think of members of the Trump cabinet, with their business interests around the Developing World, while watching the Dulles brothers plunge Guatemala into a 40-year civil war that killed 200,000 Guatemalans.

• During the waning years of the Cold War, Gonzalez claims the United States funded death squads in El Salvador that assassinated Archbishop Óscar Romero and four Maryknoll nuns. (Some of these death squads were organized by Roberto D’Aubuisson, known as “Major Blowtorch” for his preferred torture method.)

• During the Cold War, the United States in the 1980s funded the Nicaraguan Contras to overthrow the pro-Communist Sandinista government. Gonzalez says the Contras were comprised primarily of former members of the deposed Somoza dictatorship. However, there were many former Sandinistas in the ranks of the Contras, along with many Nicaraguan freedom fighters, who had nothing to do with the Somozas.

While the U.S. military involvement in Cuba and the Dominican Republic did not send fleeing masses of Cubans and Dominicans to our shores, Gonzalez is on safer grounds in stating the ramifications of the Salvadorian, Guatemalan and Nicaraguan civil wars spurred immigration to the U.S. It should be noted that the Salvadorian, Guatemalan and Nicaraguan conflicts were resolved in the early 1990s, a quarter of a century ago.

Viewing Time

Direct TV users who want to record “Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America” on the LINK Channel 375 can do so Tuesday, February 28, at 6 a.m. There are also several websites where the movie can be seen.

Trump clone Worcester City Councilor Michael Gaffney and his Resolution (or Revolution?!) of Hatred

20170126_161519-1
You see this big sign when you enter Worcester City Hall from the city parking garage. It WELCOMES ALL TO WORCESTER! photo: R. Tirella

By Rosalie Tirella

Take City Councilor Michael Gaffney (PLEASE!). Has there ever been such a dangerous Worcester City Councilor? Such a loathsome opportunist, cynic, headline-grabber and power-snatcher posing as a city “leader”? A demagogue lurking beneath a friendly, penguin-emblazoned sweat-shirt, force smiling that weird, serpentine smile of his and doing all sorts of nefarious things to my beloved city? Worcester’s  own snake in the grass!

Michael (Mike) Gaffney’s goal?

Pure raw power.

And to overthrow the Democrats who, for the most part, have run this city for decades.

Gaffney wants a Republican-lead Worcester and he, already the head of the city’s Republican committee. wants to be crowned her king.

Screw the  fairly progressive Democratic Gateway City we all live in and pretty much love. Welcome to carnage-strewn Trumpland! Welcome to Gaffney shitsville where people, especially minorities, are thrown under the bus daily.

If we aren’t smart and vigilant, Gaffney – with the help of his friend and personal public relations machine, the racist, classist Aidan Kearney of Jefferson, the evil voice of the hate-spewing Turtle Boy blog  – could become our next mayor! Think I’m kidding? Worcesterites are getting used to Gaffney’s creepy, slippery ways. And he’s smart: people often don’t realize he’s playing them, playing on their deepest prejudices when he decides to run hard with a (wedge) issue on the City Council floor and wants their support. Or when he conflates two issues and ends up scapegoating a minority group. Or when he just fucks with our heads, sowing racial intolerance and chaos.

Forget about leading a  complex, diverse, very cool Gateway City! Gaffney is all about hatred.

Gaffney, a relative newbie to the Worcester City Council, is the exact kind of morally bankrupt asshole you’d expect to be vomited up during these toxic Trump times! His ideas, his speeches, even his supporters are all taken from the Donald Trump playbook. Our insane PRESIDENT😰😫😫 has made it ok for politicians like Gaffney to behave in racist, divisive, bigoted ways. Trump has, perversely, validated their un-American-ness! Because he’s the biggest fascist!

So Gaffney throws a bomb on to the City Council floor every other week!

He traumatizes the City of Worcester with his red herrings for mere political gain and to weaken the city’s present power structure. Gaffney’ll pounce on any issue – or create one – that he thinks will hurt our mayor, Joe Petty, and make him (Gaffney) the hero. Gaffney will say anything or float any nutty, racially explosive idea to gain the upper hand. Usually it’s one that is somehow connected to vulnerable subsets of our people – for example: the minority-run Mosaic Group or City Councilor Sarai Rivera and her property. Gaffney beat those issues and people to death. He was able to be so merciless because both issues’ main players were people of color. And there are lots of bigots in this town (all Turtle Boy readers) who cheered him on!

Now we’ve got the latest Gaffney-manufactured shit-storm, another racial and ethnic hornets nest, with our weakest brothers and sisters (many children) at its heart: Next city council meeting City Councilor Michael Gaffney is ASKING THE MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL TO WEIGH IN ON SANCTUARY CITIES. TO, IN A VERY PUBLIC WAY, DECLARE THAT WORCESTER IS OR IS NOT A SANCTUARY CITY. Gaffney is demanding that his City Council colleagues  sign on to – or not! – the anti-Sanctuary City resolution he has so craftily crafted!

What garbage. What bull shit. What a way to make the City Council fritter away the city’s time! This has nothing to do with making Woo a better city! Gaffney has set up this situation up so he can WIN POLITICAL POINTS – and he wins either way!

He hurts Mayor Joe Petty and the Dem power structure in town no matter how the council votes. Just bringing this shit resolution on the council floor opens the floodgates to race baiting, group-hating and soul-sapping arguments between Woo residents and among Woo City council members. Rotten words and hurt feelings will rule the day as we rue the day!

Gaffney does not give a fig that he teases out all kinds of racist feelings in our community,  exploits people’s deepest prejudices and obfuscates the real issues.

He willfully chooses to make things murky! He uses people. He keeps Worcesterites from understanding each other and learning the truth about each other!

On Gaffney’s watch there is no bending that arc towards justice! Just more hatred in hate-filled times.

So, this is what the Gaffer’s true intentions are:

1. To get the mayor and city council to say: YES, we’re a SANCTUARY CITY.

2. To get the mayor and city council to say: NO, we’re not a SANCTUARY CITY.

If they go with #1 they make all their constituents happy and do the right thing, but the City, thanks to President Trump, loses millions of dollars (except for cops) in federal funding. Also: the more conservative folks in Worcester, plus all our racists and bigots, will hate them and try to vote them out of office in November.

If they go with #2, their constituents and supporters will be devastated and Worcester’s most vulnerable folks will be scapegoated, sent back to violent lands, torn apart. They will be broken-up and broken-hearted. We’ll get the federal monies, but we’ll lose a good chunk of our collective soul.

In the meantime,  a crazy, evil, confused and confusing debate swallows up our city.

Thanks to City Councilor and mayoral candidate Michael Gaffney.

For Gaffney to create this kind of civic havoc is wrong.

For him to create a scenario, under the guise of his stupid SANCTUARY CITY RESOLUTION, divides folks. It pits one group of people against another, magnifies our slight differences and attempts to erase our shared humanity.

It’s just not right!

As we say here in lower Vernon Hill: Michael Gaffney’s a PIECE OF SHIT.