Along US border, a growing opposition to military deployment

he amount of militarization that we already experience on a daily basis and that we are currently living under is like living in a waking nightmare, says border resident. (The San Diego Union-Tribune via AP)
Updated 09 November 2018
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Along US border, a growing opposition to military deployment

  • I find the fact that the military is being deployed absolutely terrifying: Arivaca resident
  • The military expects to have most of the over 7,000 troops planned for the mission deployed by Monday

PHOENIX: Amy Juan drove two hours north from her remote community on the US-Mexico border in Arizona to rally against the deployment of troops there.
She’s one of many residents of the Southwest who oppose and are speaking out against President Donald Trump’s deployment of over 5,000 military troops to the border to fend off a slow-moving caravan of Central American migrants headed to the US
In El Paso, Texas, a march is planned to protest the deployment this weekend. In Laredo, the city’s mayor released a statement referring to the deployment as “false efforts” that will “harm morale and damage the economy of our region.”
“Even though our communities are all very different and diverse, we all experience the same thing, which are the effects of militarization at the border,” said Juan, who was one of several speakers at a news conference in Phoenix on Thursday. “Having an increased presence of military is scary, you know. It’s scary.”
Juan is a member of the Tohono O’odham Nation, which sits on about 75 miles along the international border. Residents of the reservation have long had a complicated relationship with the US Border Patrol, and its leadership has been vocal about its opposition to the president’s plans for a border wall.
“I find the fact that the military is being deployed absolutely terrifying. The amount of militarization that we already experience on a daily basis and that we are currently living under is like living in a waking nightmare,” said Eva Lewis, a resident of the small town of Arivaca just north of the US-Mexico border.
Many residents of Arivaca have spent years battling the Border Patrol’s checkpoints, which require everyone who cross them to stop and declare whether they are citizens. Trips to school or the grocery store require passing through checkpoints, and many residents say that agents discriminate against Latinos in the area, a claim the agency denies.
In Nogales, Arizona, which shares a name with its neighbor to the south, residents said they were distressed, confused and shocked when the military showed up on election day to install barbed wire on a border fence, according to the Nogales International newspaper.
As of Thursday, there are over 5,600 troops deployed at the border. There are 2,800 in Texas, while 1,500 are in Arizona and another 1,300 are in California.
The military expects to have most of the over 7,000 troops planned for the mission deployed by Monday. A spokesperson for the Department of Defense could not be reached Thursday.
But not everyone opposes the military presence.
Jim Chilton, an Arizona border rancher and staunch Trump supporter, said in a news release to the AP this week that he looks forward to the arrival of more troops. Chilton said the 25 miles of international border in Arivaca is poorly secured and actively sees drug smuggling and human trafficking.
“The lack of access and infrastructure, cartel scout presence, and rough terrain and inefficient ‘defense in depth’ strategy creates a de facto ‘no man’s land’ in which border ranchers live and work,” Chilton said.
Despite rhetoric about the Central American migrant caravan, illegal immigration to the US is at historic lows, with only a fraction of arrests made by the Border Patrol — and twice the number of agents — made this year compared with 2000, at the height of illegal activity.


OIC countries seek to be dependent on their own halal vaccines

Updated 53 min 58 sec ago
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OIC countries seek to be dependent on their own halal vaccines

Ismira Lutfia Tisnadibrata, JAKARTA: Member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) are forging a way to become self-reliant on vaccines and medicines to the Islamic nations as representatives of their respective heads of national medicine regulatory authorities are meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia, for the first time.
Penny Lukito, chairwoman of Indonesia’s National Agency of Drug and Food Control, said the first-ever meeting, which was called by Indonesia and kicked off on Wednesday, was timely since the dire health situation due to the lack of access to medicines and vaccines in some Islamic countries is worrying, especially in the least developing ones and those mired in conflicts.
“The capacity and ability of pharmaceutical industries in the Islamic world to produce essential medicines and vaccines are still at low proportions,” Lukito said in her opening speech. “We can’t let this situation continue unabated.”
This meeting, therefore, serves as a platform to identify gaps and opportunities for improving medicines' regulatory capacity, promoting public health and how to advance the pharmaceutical industry in OIC countries, said OIC Assistant Secretary-General for Science and Technology, Muhammad Naeem Khan.
“Overdependence on imported medicine and vaccines has had an adverse impact on the provision of health care in some OIC countries, including the refusal by some communities to use such medicines and vaccines,” Khan said in his opening remarks.
“It has also made many member states vulnerable to counterfeit and substandard medicines,” he added.
President of the Saudi Food and Drug Authority Hisham Saad Aljadhey said the outcome of this meeting will be very fruitful for individuals living in OIC countries in terms of availability and safety of medication.
“We have issues such as high prices of medication and building capacity," Aljadhey told Arab News on the sidelines of the two-day meeting. "We need to build a medicine regulatory agency within OIC countries which will focus on guidelines in accordance with the international ones and include good manufacturing practices for medication, review of scientific evidence, and to follow up on the safety of the product.”
Of the 57 OIC member states, only seven are vaccine producers and only a few produce export-quality medicines, while many countries, including the least developed ones -– many of whom are OIC member states -– still have to rely heavily on imported vaccines and medicines.
Saudi Ambassador to Indonesia Osama bin Mohammed Al-Shuaibi said Islamic countries need to collaborate on vaccine products because there are halal and non-halal vaccines, and vaccines would have to be approved by the ulema council.
However, he said Islam is very open and even if the medicine is not halal, people should take it to prevent death or illness to themselves and others.
“You can’t say this is not halal and your child is dead. This meeting will build more trust between Islamic countries to start producing their own medicines which are halal, if there is only a non-halal one. We try to find something halal, but if there is not, we have to have the medicine, whatever it is,” he told Arab News.
Febrian Ruddyard, the director general for multilateral cooperation at Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry, said the meeting would produce a joint statement dubbed the Jakarta Declaration, which reaffirms the OIC countries’ commitment to strengthen the regulatory framework on medicines and vaccines.
“Health problems could disperse and cause other problems if we don’t regulate them. We can’t be healthy on our own. We have to stay healthy together,” he said.