Monday, July 06, 2009

Colonial generosity

Japanese print of American Warship, c. Commodore Perry, 1854.

At GlobalPost is an article about "Okinawa, Bolivia", the Japanese colony established half a century ago in rural Santa Cruz and still thriving. The impotence for this group of immigrants to come to Bolivia (among many who came to Bolivia after WWII):
At the close of World War II, the U.S. Army constructed a military base on Japan’s Okinawa Island. In part as compensation for land confiscated to build the base, the U.S. offered some families attractive 124-acre parcels in Bolivia.
Now wasn't that nice of the United States to offer up "free land" in Bolivia as compensation for their annexation of Okinawa. Really, it was only fitting that the US offer up one its neocolonial possessions for one of Japan's colonial possessions; as the real reason post-war Japan offered up Okinawa to house the principle US military base in the defeated nation were the prejudices held by mainland Japanese towards the island (officially a colony until 1879) whose people to this day face the sentiment of not really being "Japanese".

The US base in Okinawa is best described by scholar Chalmers Johnson, "Okinawa is still essentially a military colony of the Pentagon’s, a huge safe house where Green Berets and the Defense Intelligence Agency, not to mention the air force and Marine Corps, can do things they would not dare do in the United States.” It covers 10 percent of the island. Locals hold the presence of the 30,000 military personel with contempt, regularly staging protests demanding their removal, fed up with more than half a century of sexual assualts and rapes by soldiers.

Japanese immigrants to Bolivia today are, as the article states, "among the super-rich in impoverished Bolivia", having had the good fortune of settling at the start of a US financed agricultural export-boom in eastern Bolivia. The foundations of the elite wealth behind the "Media Luna", the September coup attempt, and what Roger Burbach calls "Food Fascim".

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