Migrants Without Shoes

Submitted by admin on Thu, 01/18/2018 - 04:02
Looking at the photographs by Shahidul Alam - pictured above - in Dhaka last week


Dear Friends,

Looking at the photographs by Shahidul Alam - pictured above - in Dhaka last week reminded me of the migrants from Ethiopia who returned home from Saudi Arabia without shoes. His pictures were about Bangladeshi migrants in Malaysia, but the stories seemed to mirror those of Ethiopians in Saudi Arabia. These are people who remit more money to their home countries than the Foreign Direct Investment that goes into them, and yet while the FDI merchants are treated as saviors, the migrant workers are treated as criminals. There is no secret to why this is so. It is the infrastructure of criminality that reduces the power of these workers to bid up their wages. Their inability to sell their labour at cost is what produces the massive profits that increase income inequality across the globe.

At Alternet, I have an essay on the Ethiopians and the Bangladeshis, people from two different continents who share so much in terms of their structural location in the 'international community'. You can read my story here.

This is my second story from my trip to Bangladesh. The first, which came in the previous newsletter, was on the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh (also at Alternet). The next, the third, will be a Dhaka Diary, which will appear in The Hindu. I'll let you know when.


Kim Jong-un reads Fire and Fury by Cathy Vogan


OK. Fine. The picture above is photoshopped. But it is funny. It was created by Cathy Vogan, an Australian artist.

The book by Michael Wolff was a fun read. It came to me - as it did to many - by PDF. I read it and then reviewed it for Frontline. My review opens with this joke: A man calls the White House. He says that he wants to be the President of the United States. The operator says: “Are you an idiot?” The man replies: “Is that a requirement of the job?” You can read my review here. It suggests that books such as by Wolff are part of the world of mirrors and opinions that give fuel to Trump. Both the subject and the critic are inside Trump World. They are absorbed by it.


President Lula
Photo Ricardo Stuckert


There will be many elections this year. But perhaps the most consequential one will be in Brazil, where former President Lula will fight against the government of the coup to preserve the policies that have helped reduce hunger in the country and renew hope for the future. It will be hard to understand what is happening in Brazil, largely because of the disinformation that will flood the airwaves and newsprint produced by the corporate media. I will take my navigation from such news outlets as Brasil de Fato. For a taste of their English-language coverage, see their most recent story on Lula and the judiciary written by Rafael Tatemoto. A story from the previous day by Cristiane Sampaio informs us that a Brazilian judge rejected the coup government's attempt to privatize Eletrobras - the state electricity company.

Brasil de Fato was created in the World Social Forum in 2003 in Porto Alegre (Brazil).


The girls in Nachikuppam village's teenage parliament.
Photo Vishaka George


Today I read two stories at the website of the People's Archive of Rural India. These are stories written by Vishaka George, who was previously with Reuters. Both stories are about young people in rural India - the one about young people in Snehagram (Tamil Nadu) who have created a parliament in their school and the other about young women and girls in Hesaraghatta (Karnataka) who play the dollu (drum). These are charming stories. They made me feel hopeful about our world. I hope you will read them.

Thinking of young girls - in Palestine, the Israeli occupation forces arrested Ahed Tamimi after she slapped a soldier who without permission entered her home. She remains in HaSharon Prison. On January 31, Ahed turns 17. CodePink has organized a campaign to send her a birthday card. You can get more information about that here.

If the girls from Snehagram or Hesaraghatta lived in the same conditions as Ahed Tamimi, they too would have behaved as she did. They are all courageous young women who want to produce a better world.


All-India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers


These young women grow up to be these courageous older women above - the women who took to the streets across India yesterday to demand higher wages and better working conditions for anganwadi workers. These are workers who tend to child care centres across India. Organised by the Communist-led All-India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers, the women gathered in towns and villages to put forward their message. Newsclick captured some of them talking about their demands here (mostly in Hindi and Punjabi - with wonderful images of the demonstrators).


Red Star Over the Third World


Finally, I'm happy to say that an extract from my new book - Red Star Over the Third World - has appeared at the website of the Indian Cultural Forum. You can read that extract here. The book is available at the LeftWord Books website, which has now come back on line. You can see the book's page here. It is only 131 pages - a short book about a big subject. Hope you will read it.

Warmly, Vijay.