Saturday, April 20, 2024

Lázaro Cárdenas Batel “Linking Migration and Development”

Latinovations would like to thank Lazaro Cardenas for his contribution to La Plaza

Migrations are an essential part of world history. No existing nation could be explained without them.

The search for better living conditions has been the historic drive behind migrations. With the exception of Africans who were forcefully taken from their homes and brought to America as slaves, the people who came from other parts of the world to settle and put down roots on these lands did so looking for better livelihoods than those they had in their home countries.

This was the case of the first British colonists who arrived in what is now part of the United States and of the immigrants who, throughout history, have arrived from Ireland, Germany, Italy, Eastern Europe, the Scandinavian countries or Greece.  This is also the case of the present-day migrants who have arrived from Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America.

In exercising their legitimate right to overcome their precarious living conditions, large groups of people are capable of traveling thousands of miles.  They travel from Nigeria to London, from Ethiopia to Washington, from Vietnam to Moscow or from Ecuador to Spain.  It would be inexplicable if they did not do this- as they in fact do- from Haiti to the Dominican Republic, from Poland to Germany, from Bolivia to Argentina, or from Mexico to the United States.

The flow of people between these latter two countries is the largest in the world and this is not merely by chance or without a cause.

The proximity of regions with unequal levels of development is a factor that increases the incentives to migrate. Mexico and the United States share an enormous border and their respective levels of income and development are clearly unequal.

From this point, migrant workers contribute to the development of both countries.

Neither country, however, recognizes the migration phenomenon in its full dimension. In Mexico, migration continues to be seen by many as an escape valve and a source of fresh resources given the national inability to generate development and sufficient and well-paying jobs. In the United States migration, although welcome by broad sectors of the economy that depend on it, continues to be subject to stigmatism and migrants are presented as a threat to national security, citizen tranquility and traditional values.  When migration is debated, the predominant focus is on security. In both countries migration is fundamentally a part of the internal political agenda.

It is therefore fair and necessary to discuss migration as a phenomenon that equally affects all countries in the region and that fundamentally involves the development and the human rights of those who cross borders and those who stay at home and confront marginalization and want.  What is needed is a policy which has as a basis the recognition that the magnitude of human movement is proportional to the gap that exists in terms of incomes and opportunities between our countries. Expelling as well as receiving nations have responsibilities and should assume obligations so that individuals can fully exercise their rights to food, to health, to education, to work, to a fair wage and, of course, the right to not migrate.

Recently citizens of Latin American origin and organizations of migrant workers have made their political power felt in the United Status.  First with the large marches in defense of immigrant rights that took place in more than one hundred cities and later, with their important participation in the election that brought Barack Obama to the presidency.  Rightfully, they now demand a reform to the immigration system that fully recognizes their contributions and rights.  This struggle, whose success would represent a transcendental step in the right direction, should certainly be supported.  Nevertheless, if our countries do not jointly address the migration phenomenon from the perspective of development and human rights, and if the corresponding actions are not implemented, in five, seven or ten years, there will once again be discussions in the United States about what to do with the two, five or seven million new undocumented migrants.  It is clear that neither a border wall nor any other measure based on repression will stop a powerful stream of humans moved by need and by the unequal situation among our countries.

Lázaro Cárdenas Batel served as governor of Michoacán from 2002 to 2008, representing the Party of the Democratic RevolutionChamber of Deputies and the Senate. Since leaving the governorship, Lázaro was a Woodrow Wilson Center Public Policy Scholar where his project focused on “Strengthening Hometown Associations: Mexican Immigrants as Agents for Political Change in Mexico and the United States.” He continues to collaborate with the Woodrow Wilson Center and is a Senior Fellow at the Washington Office on Latin America.


  1. Yes, migrations change history, and immigrants made the U.S. Too bad, the immigrants were virtually all whites from northern Europe, who set up a white supremacist regime that foisted genocide on American aborigines while enslaving blacks, and when it came to Mexico there were too many to kill so they basically foisted de facto apartheid on it and treated it as another country. Until JFK became president in the 1960s, fear of Roman Catholicism was another contributing factor. In the Obama era, this old white supremacy is kaput, as is the Catholicphobia in a shrinking world threatened by radical Islam, and it’s equally kaput to talk about Mexico as another country and attempt to justify “illegal immigrants” as migrants from across the seas while leaving the failed country of Mexico festering. Instead, it’s time to work to incorporate Mexico into the U.S. as 10+ new states, allowing the corrupt Mexican govt. to finally be dissolved and resources and pop. to mix freely, like when the Berlin Wall came down, alleviating the root causes of poverty, injustice and crime in Mexico’s 760K sq. mi. of territory. This can all be done in a matter of a few years via my 7-step nonpartisan Megamerge Dissolution Solution plan if the Congress makes the first move, click the url.