Response to Sending Cash Home: Ignorance or utter hatred?

Ethioobserver Editorial

Oct. 21 2008

Drought, famine, war, persecution, civil strife and conflict almost every kind of disaster known to humankind has affected our country Ethiopia . This has resulted in massive movements of the destitute and dispossessed people both within their own continent and across international borders. The refugee population of people of Ethiopian origin stands at almost two million across the globe. Most of us fled across the borders into Sudan , Djibouti , Kenya and the few lucky ones stayed abroad after their studies either in the West or in joining those from the former eastern bloc countries.

Nevertheless, the countries of neighboring region have shown great hospitality by keeping their doors open to refugees at the time of Mengestu’s military junta. Despite the hardships, our people endured back home some of us made a comfortable living in the diaspora. Some disgruntled groups campaigned against humanitarian aids to risk of great economic downward spiral. Ethiopia's economic problems are not going to be solved by politicking “Sending Cash Home.” But it is an attempt to starve our needy people. Those diehard diaspora are arc enemies of our Ethiopia. Their sole purpose is to damage our country in the economic, political, and social spheres. For them “after me the deluge” has been the guiding principles in all their ventures and aspirations. This is the type of bad politics that intends to keep Ethiopians apart. The politicization of “Sending cash Home” and the interpretation or “analysis” given by the good PhD holder is irrational and manifests his corrupt reasoning. His views is driven by parochial and insensitive drive. Our sharp criticism is not spiteful, it is simply calling "a spade a spade."

Such views based on hatred and narrow ethnic expressions hidden in a “well-written essay” is nothing but an extension or continuity of the entrenched mentality of the Derg era. Such desperate attempts have been tried several times by his likes to strangle Ethiopians and the Ethiopian economy. Frustrations born out of power mongering have never benefited the poor and starving population of Ethiopia. On the contrary, flow of remittances, investments, humanitarian and bilateral aid leads to extricate our people from centuries of poverty, backwardness, diseases and illiteracy as well as social and political malady. The people of Ethiopia , living in their Gojos and far away from the citadels of civilization need help in all aspects without somebody trying to thwart the development activities to bring the majority to the fore.

Many people in Ethiopia lack the necessities for their survival. What is wrong if we can choose to end that extreme poverty by sending money which is to feed or increase the buying power of some of our relatives and which is to trickle down to others. People like the good PhD holder are unaware or are wittingly forgetful of the daily struggles and fates of the vast numbers of people in our Ethiopia .They choose to make fuse of everything and politicize every humanitarian, charitable, and generous donation. They shamefully go on demonstrating against debt reductions or loans aimed to meliorate the situation for our country and people. They have totally neglected every positive step taken for our country just for the simple purpose of “scoring own political agenda”. However, such position from such spokespersons of the diaspora politics is becoming ludicrous. A $1.2 billions that the Ethiopian immigrants contribute is a tiny percentage of the total Ethiopian economy. It is sad to realize that over 2 million Ethiopian immigrants could only contribute little to support the families they left behind. Ten percent of Filipino workers account roughly 10% of the country’s gross domestic product. The country relies on manpower as its primary export and they are called “modern heroes”. They play a vital part in the micro and macroeconomic endeavor of their country (Anton Javier B. Dizon. BusinessWorld. Manila : Aug 29, 2008).

Remittance receipts enable a country to pay for imports and repay foreign debt as this is considered a source of hard currency. Case in point Lebanon was exposed to a balance of payments crisis because its foreign debt was five times the size of its exports. Yet, such unfortunate crisis did not materialize because the remittances sent by Lebanon ’s diaspora were as a big as Lebanon ’s exports about $2’4 billion in 2002 and 5.5 billion in 2007 (Tribune Business News. Aug 22, 2008). Such cash transfer can help the poor but are not likely to untie the poverty trap. Remittance and support to our people would have been one of the direct ways in which we the Ethiopian immigrants in the USA or elsewhere to influence our societies back home. Unlike foreign aid, it is a source of hard currency the country is in a continuous need.

To conclude the statement that remittance perpetuates a culture of economic dependency is simply humbug. Many studies suggest that remittances are s important factors in improving the well-being of nations and people. Examples from the Italian community in the US for the modernization and industrialization of Italy , the Turks in Europe and now both Indians and Chinese diasporas for the successful development of their respective countries are facts, which cannot be denied even by the most fanatical antagonist to the Ethiopian government and people. No one-man analysis wrapped up in ignorance or utter hatred can change the reality on the ground.