Friday, February 3, 2017

Mexicans increasingly angry at Trump (Feb. 3, 2017)

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto came under pressure yesterday to reveal details of a phone conversation last week with U.S. President Donald Trump after media reports say Trump criticized the efficacy of Mexico's drug cartel crackdown, reports the Wall Street Journal. (See yesterday's post.)

Media reports said Trump offered or threatened to send U.S. troops to assist in the fight against illegal organizations. The criticisms have not sat well with the Mexican public, which is sensitive to incursions on their country's sovereignty, reports the WSJ. Several groups have called for a march next week, in repudiation of the U.S. actions against Mexico, reports Animal Político.

Though officials in both governments denied the media versions of the conversation, several Mexican senators called on Peña Nieto to disclose the details of the call to several senate committees.

Yesterday Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray admitted the U.S. offered military assistance to combat drug trafficking in the phone call, reports Animal Político, though he continues to affirm it was a positive conversation.

For those lost in the trail of affirmations and denials in the diplomatic kerfuffle, Animal Político has a summary.

Some Mexicans are celebrating Trump's threats to pull out of NAFTA though, groups including peasant organizations and unions who have long argued that the free trade agreement hurts them, reports Al Jazeera.

And each insult tossed by Trump at Mexico strengthens the hand of 2018 presidential election front runner, leftist Andrés Manuel López Obrador, reports Bloomberg.

News Briefs
  • As Trump continues to hammer away at Mexico, Latin American leadership has failed to show a united front, or really much of a reaction at all, criticizes Martín Caparrós in a New York Times Español op-ed. He suggests they remember the famous Bertol Brecht quote about how people stayed quiet as the Nazi party attacked different minorities. Rather regional leaders should stand behind Mexico he says. 
  • On Buzzfeed, Karla Zabludovsky has an opposing view, arguing that the region is in fact united, and pointing to Colombian, Peruvian and Venezuelan statements of support towards Mexico in light of Trump bullying. "Despite the complexities of the region, with left-wing populist leaders holding on to power despite eroding approval ratings, and a handful of pro-business presidents settling in across their borders, the diplomatic overtures have come from across the political spectrum."
  • The Caparrós piece notes in particular that far from criticizing Trump, Argentine President Mauricio Macri is emulating him with modifications to the immigration code that aim to combat crime rather than terrorism. Uki Goñi also notes the similarities between Trump and Macri's stance on migrants in the Guardian. The measure has been criticized by rights groups -- CELS and Amnesty International -- for making all migrants suspect and facilitating their deportation, reports Página 12. (See Wednesday's briefs.) And neighboring governments have taken offense to the Argentine Security Minister's linking of Paraguayan, Peruvian and Bolivian migrants to drug trafficking, reports Página 12.
  • Florida state Governor Rick Scott has threatened to withdraw state funding from ports working with Cuba, leading two to immediately cancel memorandums of understanding with visiting Cuban officials, reports the Guardian.
  • Uruguay's government announced it's committed to reaching a free trade agreement with China, reports EFE.
  • Honduran politician Gladis Aurora López is denying allegations by watchdog Global Witness report, linking her husband to corruption and violence against environmental activists, reports the Associated Press. (See Wednesday's post.)
  • Though slightly delayed, the demobilization of about 6,300 FARC fighters is well underway, and they are expected to have handed over weapons by May 31, reports the Guardian. (See Wednesday's and Tuesday's briefs.)
  • In the meantime, Colombia's second largest guerrilla group, the ELN, released a key hostage, clearing the way for peace talks with the government, reports the Miami Herald.
  • Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Edson Fachin was chosen yesterday to supervise cases in the high court related to the Operation Car Wash investigation into corruption at Petrobras. His predecessor died two weeks ago in a plane crash at a sensitive time for the probe, prosecutors say a massive plea testimony deal will likely double the amount of people under scrutiny, reports the Wall Street Journal. (See yesterday's briefs.)
  • President Michel Temer elevated his infrastructure investment secretary to a ministry-level position, granting a close confident a degree of legal protection and public support after he was implicated in accusations of illegal fundraising, reports Reuters.
  • A Temer ally was ratified to lead the lower house of congress, giving Temer support in both chambers, reports Bloomberg.
  • State officials in Brazil's Rio Grande do Norte state are still trying to regain control of the Alcaçuz prison where riot killed 26 inmates last month, reports the Associated Press. Though the situation at that prison is particularly bad -- inmate gangs have controlled cell blocks for years and drastically outnumber the guards meant to control -- the situation there is representative of the wider prison problem faced in the country, where massive overcrowding and poor infrastructure make for a combustible situation, according to the piece. (See post for Jan. 17.)
  • A yellow fever outbreak in Brazil is headed to major population centers and is moving towards areas of the country where its not traditionally found, despite government efforts to ramp up vaccination, reports the Guardian.
  • The Bolivian government recently inaugurated a $7 million museum in President Evo Morales' hometown of Orinoca in the country's altiplano. Officially the Museum of the Democratic and Cultural Revolution critics are questioning its costs and say its dedicated to a personality cult of the president, reports the Associated Press.

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