Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

New Mexicans call on the state to dump millions invested in weapons manufacturer

Protestors say the Boeing Company is a key contributor to Israel’s War on Gaza.

They want state lawmakers to divest more than $6.8 million of state taxpayer dollars that goes to a job training program monitored by the New Mexico Economic Development Department.

Public records show Boeing has for at least four years used public funds from the state of New Mexico to cover the costs of training workers at its facility near Balloon Fiesta Park.

Boeing is an American multinational corporation that makes planes, helicopters, rockets, satellites, telecommunications equipment and missiles. In 2022, it was the third largest war contractor for the U.S. government, according to ExecutiveGov. It is also a contractor for the Israeli government, according to Haaretz.

An hour before the facility was set to close on Nov. 27, protesters gathered at the visitor entrance and placed white shrouds visually representing the Palestinians killed by Israel. A Palestinian flag lay next to a large paper puppet depicting a missile system produced by Boeing.

“Where’s all of our money going, Boeing?” asked organizer and Albuquerque resident Tionnie Sanchez, her voice amplified by a loudspeaker. “It’s coming here. It’s not coming to our streets. It’s not coming to us, the people.”

A Boeing security guard asked the protesters to leave. When they refused, she called the Albuquerque Police Department, who arrived and watched the peaceful rally and march.

Boeing did not respond to a written request for comment.

Millions awarded to Boeing unused

The New Mexico Economic Development Department’s Job Training Incentive Program (JTIP) is one of two programs it uses to attract businesses to the state. Companies use the money to train New Mexicans in job skills “they can use not only with the company they are currently working with, but future companies as they move through their career path,” said Bruce Krasnow, an agency spokesperson.

Since 2019, the economic development department has awarded Boeing nearly $6.8 million to pay for a total of 220 trainees, according to data on its website.

While the program has existed for half a century, the NM economic development department only has data on the project dating back to 2019, Krasnow said.

Boeing has used less than half of the money the state granted them, according to the department. Since 2019, the state’s economic development department reimbursed Boeing $2.8 million from funds for 111 JTIP trainees, Krasnow said.

Many businesses apply for JTIP money expecting to hire a certain number of and type of workers, Krasnow said. Businesses often have been unable to fill all their positions so some of the money goes unclaimed, he said.

New Mexico’s Economic Development Department has a focus on “economic base industries that grow the economy,” meaning those that bring money into New Mexico from outside the state, according to Krasnow.

“That is the only way to increase (Gross Domestic Product) and create jobs,” Krasnow said. “Whereas providing assistance to help someone start a coffee shop doesn’t do that, it merely moves the dollars around.”

Protesters on Monday said state officials should pull the money from Boeing and use it instead for investigating missing and murdered Indigenous women and relatives, affordable housing subsidies, providing access to mental health and addiction treatment services, education, public parks, senior services, public transit or community centers.

Even if the money had created hundreds of thousands of jobs, “we reject jobs that create weapons to kill people domestically and abroad,” said Malaya Peixinho, a massage therapist in Albuquerque and a survivor of a shooting in September in Española.

“We refuse to use our state’s talents and our money to make weapons of war,” she said.

Monday’s protest was part of a yearslong nonviolent struggle for Palestinian freedom, justice and self-determination which formally began on July 9, 2005 when the majority of Palestinian civil society groups issued the Call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law.

“We need public divestment from New Mexico’s giant military industrial complex, including Boeing,” she said. “We cannot let our politicians be influenced by war money. Why is money involved in politics? Why can they be bought? They are supposed to represent us, the people.”

Krasnow said the state is not going to comment on divestment.

“That is up to the Legislature,” Krasnow said. “We can’t favor or exclude companies based on whether they agree or disagree with administration policies. That usually doesn’t work out so well.”

Krasnow said he was not able to find any evidence showing whether the state’s economic development department provides any other public funds to Boeing other than through the jobs training program.

“Our New Mexico Legislature is subsidizing Boeing all for the sake of sending weapons to Gaza — to other places where war is ruining lives,” said Libby Schrobe, an organizer in Albuquerque.

Krasnow said the jobs training money comes from the state’s General Fund, but appears in budget documents as a special appropriation. The General Fund is the biggest pot of money used by the state government, and pays for agencies’ regular annual budgets. A “special appropriation” is an expense outside an agency’s regular budget for what should be a one-time expense.

Krasnow said his department and the Legislative Finance Committee, the agency that independently analyzes bills and advises lawmakers and state officials on the state government’s budget, “are working to move the program to the recurring budget, so we don’t have to go in and justify it every year.”

Myrriah Gómez, an author from the Pojoaque Valley and assistant professor in the Honors College at the University of New Mexico, said Indigenous homelands in the state have been colonized during multiple periods of settler colonialism, and now the state government is complicit in the settler colonialism in Palestinians’ Indigenous homelands. (Photo by Austin Fisher / Source NM)

Complicity in settler colonialism

In October, Boeing sped up delivery to Israel of as many as 1,800 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) kits that turn bombs into “smart” GPS-equipped guided bombs, according to Bloomberg.

“Boeing makes weapons to kill people more efficiently,” Peixinho said. “As New Mexicans, we condemn you, Boeing, and we demand that you stop selling weapons to fuel Israeli genocide.”

Myrriah Gómez, an author from the Pojoaque Valley and assistant professor in the Honors College at the University of New Mexico, said Indigenous homelands in the state have been colonized during multiple periods of settler colonialism, and now the state government is complicit in the settler colonialism in Palestinians’ Indigenous homelands.

Gómez said national laboratories and Boeing are the common denominators between nuclear colonialism and the war crimes being committed by Israel as they relate to New Mexico.

“New Mexico is complicit in settler colonialism and genocide in Gaza,” she said. “How can our representatives stand up for Indigenous people here in New Mexico and speak against settler colonialism, and participate in the settler colonialism and genocide in Gaza?”

Gómez said Boeing helps maintain the U.S. nuclear arsenal through its Minuteman Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, and has for years partnered with Los Alamos National Laboratory in Northern New Mexico and Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque.

For example, a Cold War-era nuclear missile called the B6112 has a tail kit assembly built by Boeing, Gómez said. The 12th generation of the missile has been built at Sandia, she said.

Boeing’s Apache helicopters have been used by the Israeli Air Force since 1990, according to the independent Who Profits Research Center. The company has also sold to Israel F-15 fighter jets, Hellfire missiles, MK-84 2000-pound bombs, MK-82 500-pound bombs.

Though Israel and Hamas had reached a four-day pause on Nov. 24, protesters on Monday reiterated calls for an immediate, permanent ceasefire. That would be a small step toward ending Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories, Peixinho said.

“New Mexico needs to divest from Boeing,” Gómez said. “Stop using our tax dollars for the genocide of Palestinians. Get out of New Mexico. Stop making nuclear weapons. Support this ceasefire. Support the end of this war, and let’s shame Boeing for doing all of this.”

Protesters rallied and marched outside the Boeing facility in Albuquerque on Nov. 27, 2023. (Photo by Austin Fisher / Source NM)

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