YDATL Blog NOTE: The opinions expressed by our individual bloggers are their own, and not necessarily those of Young Democrats of Atlanta.
Sunday, June 04, 2006
I will have . . . US Mariana Islands!!
Where to start?
What with Iraq, the economy, the tax cuts, the environment, the amending the constitution to ban gay marriage, the sweatshops in the North Mariana Islands, the corruption in our government, Iran and nuclear power, the assault on the internet, gas prices, immigration . . . well you get the picture- there are just to many delicious choices.
Trying to pick an issue to write about could be compared to going to a restaurant with so many fabulous dishes but you have to pick just one. You may want to try them all, but for the evening you have to settle a singel dish, leaving the other mouth watering choices aside. I suppose what keeps you coming back to the restaurant- if you had a good experience- is so that you may try the other choices on the menu.
So tonight I shall try the sweatshops in the North Mariana Islands.
The North Mariana Islands are a territory of the US that we acquired after World War II. The commonwealth follows our legal system; however CNMI (Commonwealth of North Mariana Islands) are exempt from our laws dealing with customs, wages, immigration, and taxation.
Thier government has created a "guest worker" program basically just modern day indentured servitude. Women mostly Asian are required to pay 7,000 dollars to come to CNMI -which many times they have to barrow from the Chinese mafia with interest- and work in the factories. These women are told that they will work in the hotels or tourism industry. Only when they arrive, they are either sent into sex tourism or the garment industry. In these factories, women are working twelve to twenty hour days, for $3.05 an hour, in poor working conditions. They have huge deductions and find it close to impossible to pay off their debt or to even live.
"They staffed their factories with workers from China and the Philippines with promises of work in the US. But, workers soon discovered that the work contracts they signed consigned them to near-indentured servitude deep in the Marianas steamy jungles. Wages were low, hours were long. The companies docked workers' pay for housing, food, medical treatments and other charges. The low wages and high deductions made it nearly impossible for workers to save enough money to return home." )Part IV: DeLay's Unregulated Pacific "Paradise" By Stephen Pizzo, AlterNet.)
They are forced to either live in the factory barracks or find their own place of living that usually is even worse than the miserly offerings from their employers.
"But the dark underbelly of DeLay's "shining light" is right across a busy Saipan street and a few yards down a dirt road. That's where garment workers live in tiny, corrugated-tin-roofed homes, with three women sharing a queen-size bed. Their "kitchen" is a few hot plates and water-filled plastic buckets set outside on a concrete counter. Nine people share one toilet."(Destroying Paradise for Profit By Rebecca Clarren Ms. Magazine)
If these poor, tortured women become pregnant they are basically forced to get abortions because the companies do not want to offer health care for the pregnancy or the children.
"Human rights groups, long up in arms over the work conditions on the islands, charged that sweatshop operators did not appreciate it when their female employees got pregnant. Numerous allegations of forced abortions surfaced over the years." (Part IV: DeLay's Unregulated Pacific "Paradise"By Stephen Pizzo, AlterNet.)
As if these horrors are not enough, many of the women, whom were factory workers, are becoming prostitutes. China's factories are undercutting the labor cost of the CNMI factories, forcing the factories in CNMI to close leaving women homeless and lost in a strange US territroy with no money. These women work hard to make a better their life a better life and they are treated as though they are nothing more than slave with no prospect of a better future. However, some of our members of congress and a former member of congress (Tom Delay yesss!!!!) feel that the North Mariana Islands represent how the rest of the US should opperate. Tom Delay feels as though he can proudly stand on and cripple the backs of his workers to support the American dream . . . being rich.
"At a New Year's Eve dinner on Saipan in 1998, he lavishly praised the CNMI governor - a moment caught on camera by ABC's "20/20:" "You are a shining light for what is happening in the Republican Party, and you represent everything that is good about what we're trying to do in America in leading the world in the free-market system." (Part IV: DeLay's Unregulated Pacific "Paradise"By Stephen Pizzo, AlterNet.)
Can you believe this? Do you think that using a person as a tool used in your garden is okay? Does our free market economy have to mean that others suffer for a single persons benefit? What if you-the wealthy business owner- become a lowly slave to what once was your cause? How would you feel then . . .I do wonder!
So I ask you to stand up and care about the situation of these beautiful hard working women, and call your congress men and women and fight for their right to be treated as a human, as a US citizen.