• Fair-Trade can reduce mass migration


    THOUSANDS of migrants are risking their lives trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to reach the mainland of Europe in a frantic bid to escape the poverty and hunger and war in their homelands. There have been 1,300 deaths in April alone, making it the deadliest month on record. That is twenty times more than in 2014. They died when the people smuggler’s boats capsized. Many women and children are among those drowned .The Mediterranean has become a watery graveyard for the poor and displaced people of this world.

    Are they migrants, asylum seekers or refugees? They are all of the above and the one thing that drives them away from their homelands is the injustice, poverty, hunger and violence. While poverty has been greatly reduced in the past decade worldwide for the first time in history there is still a great challenge for all to make this a peaceful, just and fair world for all. Most refugees and displaced person in camps in Jordan want to go home to their own homes if only there were peace, freedom and justice.

    The lack of trade justice, which means the absence of social justice, peace and fair wages, humane working conditions and a life of happiness is what is behind the massive migration of the poor, hungry and movement of displaced people. As many as 38 million people have been displaced in the past few years according to the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Internal Displacement Monitoring Center report published last week. More than 11 million have been displaced from their homes and farms and places of business in 2014 alone.

    The people from Africa are fleeing poverty and social injustice and many readers of this column will be asking what’s behind it all. How can the roots of poverty be addressed?, they ask. They may ask also, What can a fairly prosperous person in a developed country do to help these poor people?

    How can they help the poor stay happily with their families in their own land and homes content with their livelihoods and culture?

    The one truth that is clear if the developed countries want to stop migration and help the poor, is that they have to address greed, trade justice issues and runaway unregulated multinational corporations that cause so much poverty and injustice in the world.

    The rich with insatiable greed and love of luxury and power are preying on the poor.

    The poor see and hear about the luxurious life in America and European countries and see them as the place to get high paying jobs and support their hungry families back home. More than 11 million Filipinos have fled poverty to a better life abroad, although many are exploited there too.

    They have a greater sense of their own rights and dignity as human beings and are not content to be continually struggling to live on a dollar or two a day with children to feed and medicines to buy to struggle to stay alive and healthy.

    Fair-Trade is one strong successful way to bring more justice to the poor. It is a movement that began sixty years ago to provide ordinary people in rich countries products that were produced under fair humane conditions so the producers, small farmers and crafts people had a decent livelihood.

    The pioneers of Fair-Trade were motivated by understanding, compassion and empathy with the people living in poverty. During their travels in the developing world they experienced firsthand the hard unjust life in African countries and South America and Asia. The Fair-Trade pioneers are people of conscience and have a deep sense and love of justice and are committed to human rights and dignity. They challenge and confront the unjust world trade system that exploits and subjugates the poor.

    They believe in helping people to help themselves so that the poor can be less poor and enjoy some economic empowerment. This they achieved by setting up fair-trade importing companies and world shops all over Europe, mostly in Germany, Austria and the Netherlands but now fair-trade is widespread in the United Kingdom with Fair-traded products in most supermarkets.

    Good people with a sense of justice are willing to pay a just price for products that are produced in dignity and fairness. This is the guiding light for sustainability and self-support. This they realized could only be done by buying their products at prices that guaranteed the small-scale producers a living wage.

    Over the years the burden of fairness moved from the buyer to the producer. The producers have to prove that they are deserving poor and implement stringent rules and regulations to prove they are doing Fair-trade and following fair-trade criteria laid down on the poor by a corporate money making labeling organization. The poor cannot meet all these stringent rules and their products are excluded.

    This May 2015 the descendents of the truly honest Fair-trade pioneers gather in Milan under the banner of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO). Here the true standards Fair-trade will be upheld with integrity and lighter regulations of fair-trade. This will allow no small producer to be excluded from the fair-trade movement or market place.

    The WFTO label will guarantee that the products are made in just and fair conditions. Customers can use the buying power to change the unfair economic system. Buying truly fairly traded products is the one sure way to make this a more just and fair world and reduce the number of economic migrants risking life for a place in a fairer world.



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    1 Comment

    1. Gloria M. Kuizon on

      I like the Fair-Trade idea. I just wonder if all the PR you are doing for it really results in quantifiable changes in the economies of the poor countries that will result in those countries’ poor millions becoming prosperous enough to stop taking the risk of dying when they board boats to illegally enter the richer EU countries.
      Will you kindly write a column with concrete statistics, Fr. Cullen.
      Otherwise, I–and I think many others–will continue to think that Fair Trade is just one of those feel good things full of hot air and nothing more.