Voices from Russia

Saturday, 30 June 2018

America’s Problem Isn’t Immigration… America’s Problem Is White Supremacy


The USA appears to be destined by Providence to plague [the continent of] America with misery in the name of liberty.

Simón Bolívar

These words of the great 19th-century Latin American emancipator accurately describe the relationship between the USA and Latin America to this day. It’s why the punitive treatment by the Trump Administration of migrants attempting to cross the border from Mexico into the USA constitutes a double injustice.

The first injustice is the role that Washington plays and played in destabilising and impoverishing the economies of Latin American states over generations, while subverting and helping to bring down those governments south of the border that dares attempt to unshackle their countries from the chains of US imperialism, in process of which rampant crime, corruption, and violence prosper. The second injustice is the dehumanisation and demonisation meted out to the victims of the ensuing instability and social and economic dislocation wrought when in a state of extremis they flee their homes for sanctuary across the border with their families. Under no moral code can you justify or defend the forced separation of children, including infants, from their parents… none whatsoever. We saw this in the justifiable outcry unleashed in response, which eventually forced Trump to rescind the policy. However, this being said, the nauseating hypocrisy of liberals excoriating the president over the policy of separating children at the border with Mexico has been near impossible to bear. The likes of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, people who when they weren’t responsible for the mass slaughter of children in the Middle East with their régime-change wars, have, in the case of Clinton, supported mass incarceration in the USA itself, involving the forced separation of families, such people have absolutely no right to take any moral high ground on this issue.

Focusing on the whys and wherefores of mass migration, it’s incumbent on those who are serious about grasping the issue at its roots to identify its causes, rather than continue to deal with its symptoms, and thereby only succeed in creating more causes. In so doing we come to the role of US imperialism in sowing uneven and combined development throughout the Americas. Putting it another way, the development and wealth of the USA were contingent on the underdevelopment and poverty of Latin America… the former impossible without the latter. As Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano pointed up in his classic work Open Veins of Latin America:

Underdevelopment isn’t a stage of development, but its consequence. Latin America’s underdevelopment arises from external [European and US] development and continues to feed it. The strength of the imperialist system as a whole rests on the inequality of its parts.

No leader of a Latin or Central American country defied and resisted the juggernaut of US imperialism more than Fidel Castro did. Of the countless speeches he gave during his time at the helm of Cuban politics and society, The Second Declaration of Havana (1962), is among the most powerful:

Since the end of World War II, the countries of Latin America have become more and more impoverished. Their exports have less and less value, their imports cost more. The per capita income falls, the frightful rate of infant mortality doesn’t decrease. The number of illiterates is higher; the people lack jobs, land, adequate housing, schools, hospitals, means of communication, and means of life. Latin America is the provider of cheap raw materials and the buyer of expensive finished articles.

Lest anyone believe that Castro’s views of the relationship between North and South America in the early 1960s bear no relation to the same relationship today, consider, if you will, the plight of Honduras. According to Human Rights Watch, the Central American country in 2018 has violent crime, corruption, and political repression. Meanwhile, according to the World Bank, over 6o percent of its people live in poverty. What we shouldn’t forget is that in 2009 the army toppled the country’s democratically elected leftist President, Manuel Zelaya, in a coup sanctioned by the Honduran Supreme Court and supported by the Obama Administration. As Stephen Zunes reminded us in a 2016 article:

During his [Zelaya’s] tenure, he raised the minimum wage and provided free school lunches, milk for young children, pensions for the elderly, and additional scholarships for students. He built new schools, subsidised public transportation, and even distributed energy-saving light bulbs. None of these was particularly radical, but it was nevertheless disturbing to the country’s wealthy economic and military élites. More frightening was that Zelaya sought to organise an assembly to replace the 1982 constitution written during the waning days of the US-backed military dictator Policarpo Paz García.

With this sorry fate of the country in mind, is it any accident that the number of illegal Honduran migrants into the USA across the Mexican border spiked in recent years? At this juncture, I feel obliged to make a confession. Back in the early to mid-1990s, I was an illegal immigrant living in the USA. However, unlike those crossing the border from Mexico, I wasn’t fleeing natural disaster, grinding poverty, political repression, or a society plagued by crime and violence. I instead had travelled to the USA compelled to do so by nothing more than personal ambition, succumbing to the myth of the American Dream, which as the saying goes is a dream because you have to be asleep to believe it. Anyway, I spent five years in LA as part of the British expat community in Santa Monica, replete with its British pubs, shops, and all the rest, rubbing shoulders and working alongside many other Brits who lived there illegally, many of them having done so for a long time. I worked, paid tax, and was able to exist as if completely legal.

Of course, the difference boils down to the fact that I, and we, happened to be white Europeans, and thus accorded the unwritten but nonetheless obvious privileges white skin affords you in the land of the free. This, ultimately, brings us to the heart of the matter. America’s problem isn’t immigration, its white supremacy. Whether conscious or unconscious, it matters not. The result is brutal treatment meted out to people of colour, migrant and non-migrant alike.

25 June 2018

John Wight

Sputnik International



Saturday, 12 January 2013

12 January 2013. RBTH Infographic. Would You Like To Live In Another Country Permanently?

00 RBTH Infographic. Would You Like to Live in Another Country Permanently. 2012


According to state-run pollster VTsIOM, the desire to emigrate from Russia is at a record low despite a turbulent election season marked with a rise in protests. However, the young and the supporters of political hopeful Mikhail Prokhorov, a presidential candidate who participated in the recent demonstrations, are the most likely to voice a desire to leave the country.

29 March 2012

Russia Behind the Headlines



Friday, 7 November 2008

Andrei Schmemann, Twin-Brother of the Well-Known Theologian, Died in Paris

Andrei Dmitryevich Schmemann (1921-2008), leading figure in the French emigration, he stood four-square for Orthodox tradition, and did not get on well with his brother’s Renovationism. Vechnaya Pamyat!


Andrei Schmemann, one of the last surviving Russian émigrés of the “First Wave”, passed away in Paris in his 88th year after a long illness, Interfax-Religion learned from sources in the Moscow Patriarchate. He was the son of Dmitri Schmemann, a highly-decorated officer of the Semyonovsky Guards, and was born on 13 September 1921 in Revel (modern Tallinn) in Estonia, where his family fled after the retreat from Petrograd of the forces of General Yudenich in 1919. His twin-brother Aleksandr was one of the most well-known (and controversial) Orthodox theologians of the 20th century. In 1929, the Schmemann family moved to France, and the brothers Aleksandr and Andrei entered the Nikolai II Cadet Corps in Versailles. The instructors, former tsarist officers, educated the brothers in the Orthodox faith and gave them a love for Russian culture, history, and literature. He finished his education as a cadet sergeant-major (vitse-feldfebel), and he retained throughout his life his faithfulness to the ideals of the cadet corps and was a loyal friend to all of his school-mates. As a boy, he entered, and later headed, the Paris branch of the Russkiye Vityazi (Russian Knights), which had a primary mission of spreading knowledge of Russian culture and history. For many years, Andrei Dmitryevich was the chairman of the Association of Russian Cadets in Paris and was the curator of their military museum. In 2000, the Russian Cadets and their descendents, with the full participation of M Schmemann, made a momentous decision. They decided to reconcile and collaborate with the new Russian state, solemnised by a liturgy at the Russian cemetery of St Geneviève de Bois, near the graves of their ancestors and companions-in-arms.

In 2004, President V V Putin met with Andrei Dmitryevich in Cannes and granted him a Russian passport. Up to that time, M Schmemann had only had a so-called “stateless passport”, a temporary identity card for refugees introduced by the League of Nations on the basis of the Geneva Agreements of 1922. “For many years, I lived with disquiet in my soul, feeling myself purely Russian, yet, simultaneously, I realised that I was a man without a country, I was a stateless person. Now, I’m happy that I’m reunited with my Motherland”, Andrei Dmitrievich stated. For more than 50 years, M Schmemann was the warden of the parish of the Mother of God of the Sign in Paris. Together with other leading figures in the Russian emigration, he was one of the founders of the movement OLTR, the initials in French for “[Organisation for] Traditional Local (Western European) Russian Orthodoxy”. Andrei Dmitryevich always remained a staunch supporter of the return of all émigré parishes to the MP’s jurisdiction.

7 November 2008



Editor’s Note:

Although they were twins, Aleksandr Dmitrievich and Andrei Dmitryevich were antipodes apart in their attitude to the Church and Russia. Andrei was faithful to Tradition, whereas Aleksandr wasn’t. Andrei led the fight against Renovationism in Western Europe, as one saw in the so-called “Paris jurisdiction”. The group that he founded, OLTR, deserves your prayers and support. They’re persecuted by the present Bishop Gabriel, as exemplified by his nasty actions towards Mme Plas in Nice. They’re modern-day confessors. Vechnaya Pamyat, rab bozhii Andrei! May the Lord grant you rest and repose in the Heavenly Mansions! We’ are all the poorer with his passing.


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