Best columns: International
No longer so welcoming to immigrants
Everyone wants to come live in gorgeous, verdant New Zealand—and we’ve been letting them, said Vernon Small. This nation of fewer than 5 million people now welcomes 130,000 immigrants a year, a record high. At the same time, we’ve got 139,000 unemployed people, raising the question, “Why are we bringing in so many foreigners when there are so many out of work here?” The influx has strained our infrastructure and caused a housing shortage, particularly in Auckland, where many new arrivals settle. An “ugly casserole of prejudice, resentment, economic envy, and xenophobia” is beginning to stew. Our own populist nationalist, Winston Peters of the New Zealand First party, has been ranting about immigration rates for decades, but now mainstream parties are also addressing the issue. With an election looming in September, the ruling center-right National Party has announced a new policy to encourage higherpaid, better-skilled applicants and deter migrants who might take low-skilled jobs from Kiwis. But these tweaks “look to be more sizzle than sausage.” The opposition Labor Party, meanwhile, promises to simply slash immigration by tens of thousands of people. If the government doesn’t do more to address unbridled immigration or at least clearly explain why foreigners are needed to do jobs we won’t, we could see a populist surge.
Decades of shady dealings
Héctor de Mauleón
Another allegation of a suspicious cash payment, another denial, said Héctor de Mauleón. We’re getting used to hearing this story about leftist populist leader Andrés Manuel López Obrador. A video has surfaced of Veracruz state lawmaker Eva Cadena, a member of López Obrador’s Morena party, at a hotel accepting $26,500 allegedly intended for the party boss. It was a setup! cries López Obrador. He claims the main Mexican parties want to tarnish him because “Morena is growing a lot” and they are “scared to death” that he might win the 2018 presidential election. López Obrador may be right: Perhaps it was a setup. But nobody forced Cadena to “take the bait.” She could have “acted outraged, stood up, and left,” but instead she asked for a bag for the cash. It’s not the first time an associate of López Obrador’s has been caught in a bribery scandal: His former personal secretary, René Bejarano, served time in prison after being filmed taking stacks of cash from a businessman. In 2012, his former strategist, Luis Costa Bonino, was recorded asking businessmen to donate $6 million to his campaign—López Obrador denied any involvement in the matter. “The shadow of dirty money has pursued” him for years. Soliciting such cash appears to be his “constant method of doing politics.”