I am not going to discuss here the rightwing use of anti-immigration policy as a way of politicizing racism, nor as a means of splintering the working class and getting a lot of workers to vote for the parties of the ruling class by voting for rightwing anti-immigrant politicians. Both of those are well-known goals of anti-immigrant discourse.
Not that anti-immigrant discourse is all bad. There are times when immigration is out of control and things need to be brought under order. The use of foreign workers are temporary low wage scabs to increase profits, the abuse of the refugee program, large numbers of problematic immigrants coming to a country, immigrants straining government services, illegal immigrants, environmental degradation by mass immigration, changing the nation’s ethnic and cultural character via mass immigration of foreigners, all of these things are examples of some of the negative effects that can occur via unregulated or poorly regulated immigration.
What I wish to talk about here is something different: anti-immigration rhetoric as a rightwing diversion from rightwing projects, in this case to dismantle the state.
A wildly corrupt and outrageous rightwing parliamentary coup followed by a blatantly corrupt trial of the head of the former president resulted in a hard rightwing putschist state pursuing a radical reactionary project of dismantling all of the progressive reforms of the leftwing PT government under President Lula. Since then, public institutions have been systematically defunded even when they were already underfunded to start with in part because Brazil has never once taxed the rich in its entire existence as a nation. So public services are collapsing due to defunding in the same way that public entities collapsed under rightwing Sam Brownblack in Kansas and the NHS is presently collapsing in the UK due to a death by a thousand cuts via the Tory government.
Public frustration over the collapsing state is at a high level. At the same time, many new immigrants have been coming into Brazil due to the rightwing and US-created collapse of the economy there.
You need to understand about immigration in Latin America. It does not have the racist overtones of the debate here in the US about immigration. Also the income differences between the countries of Latin America are not vast. Latin American nations consider all Latin Americans to be part of a single ethnic mixed race people sharing a single Latin American basic culture. In many countries, the immigrants speak the same language as the residents. This makes even mass immigration much more of a “meh” issue in Latin America than it is here. All Latin Americans are brothers, ethnically, culturally and often linguistically, so why not let your brothers into your house when they desire shelter from a storm?
Hence, even White Argentina has been taking in large numbers of mestizo immigrants from Peru and Bolivia lately with a promise to soon legalize them all. Even heavily White Costa Rica has taken in 1-2 million mestizos from its neighbors who are either impoverished or devastated by street crime with an apparent promise to normalize most of them. Venezuela took in many Colombians fleeing war and poverty without batting an eye, and Colombia took in many rightwing Venezuelans fleeing Chavismo. Except in Mexico, immigrants are seldom deported in Latin America. The idea is to house, integrate and even legalize them as soon as possible.
Nevertheless, the line of Venezuelan immigrants has turned into a flood in some cities.
Brazil’s rightwing gangster state has made clever use of the problems of mass Venezuelan immigration by deviously blaming the collapsed public services (devastated and defunded by rightwing evisceration) on the masses of Venezuelan immigrants! This is apparently not true at all. The immigrants are not overwhelming public services and causing them to collapse. Instead the public services are collapsing via gutting by the rightwing state.
But the government has the people whipped into a wild nativist frenzy over this. This is in spite of the fact that Brazilians and Venezuelans are probably little different ethnically – both being some mixture of Black, White, and Indian. The result has been daily attacks on Venezuelan immigrants in some cities and most recently a spate of high profile arson attacks on buildings housing Venezuelan immigrants.
This could be called attacks on immigrants as a diversion from anti-people rightwing projects. It’s a way of getting people to look the other way and scapegoat innocent people while the state is dismantled by the rich.
If you enjoy the hard work that goes into this website, please consider a contribution to support the continuation of the site. Donations are the only thing that keep the site operating.