LA PAZ – Former Colombian President Ernesto Samper said on Monday in Bolivia that rightist populist movements around the world demonize and criminalize migrants to gain favor with their voters, and he proposed dealing with migration not as a problem but as a right to human movement.
Samper, who arrived in Bolivia on Monday morning, spoke at a press conference in La Paz prior to attending the International Conference of Peoples “For a World Without Walls” being held starting Tuesday in Tiquipaya, in the central Cochabamba region.
The former general secretary of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) said that the wave of rightist populism around the world “demonizes” immigrants “as if they were to blame for the lack of employment, the occurrence of all sorts of crimes or simply for the social instability caused by the economic crisis.”
He urged leaving to the side “the discriminatory – even criminal – concept of going out and demonizing migrants around the world who represent no more than 3 percent of the world population to begin to talk about the right to human movement.”
And he added that one cannot speak of “complete, comprehensive and fair globalization” if it only includes the free circulation of merchandise, services and capital, but rather one must also include the free circulation of people.
Samper said that via Unasur, the region was able to ensure that three million South Americans can work in any part of the region due to the Mercosur residence permit.
“We have to continue demanding the rights of the 40 million South Americans who live outside South America, of whom half are in the US,” he said regarding the xenophobic actions and pronouncements of US President Donald Trump.
Samper is one of the former presidents attending the La Paz conference, in which Spanish ex-Premier Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and Ecuadorian ex-President Rafael Correa will also participate.
Bolivian President Evo Morales said on Monday that attending the conference will be 700 international delegates and 1,500 citizens, including representatives of indigenous organizations and social movements from Bolivia and a number of other countries.
A similar conference with social sectors to debate climate change was held in Tiquipaya in 2010, and in 2014 yet another meeting was held there to discuss how to save the planet from capitalism.