The number of undocumented immigrants crossing from Mexico to the U.S. declined by 40 percent from January to February, according to U.S. authorities, reports Reuters. Homeland Security chief John Kelly said the "change in trends" was a result of Donald Trump's tough policies, reports the BBC.
(Interesting note: While Republicans overwhelmingly support Trump's plan to build a wall separating the two countries, those who live closer to the border are less likely to favor the plan than those living further away, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.)
The Trump era's bluster has provoked the "Mexican resistance," in which the traditionally subservient country is taking on a more defiant stance towards its northern neighbor and promises to focus more on development initiatives in the region and diversifying trade with other countries around the world, argues Luis Gómez Romero in the Conversation.
U.S. police officers have attacked 405 Mexican nationals over the past eight years on U.S. soil -- and none have faced jail time according to statistics released by the Mexican Secretary of Foreign Relations, reports Animal Político.
Mexico cancelled sugar export permits to the U.S. in a trade dispute over the pace of shipments permitted by the U.S., reports Reuters. The situation was partly blamed on unfilled positions in the U.S. Department of Commerce which have left Mexican authorities with no counterparts to negotiate with.
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross says NAFTA needs fixing. He expects talks to begin later this year and wrap up within another years time, reports Bloomberg.
- At least 22 girls were killed in a fire at a public institution for abused children near Guatemala City, reports Reuters. The blaze was apparently set by a group of residents who lit mattresses on fire in an escape attempt. The shelter had an official capacity of 500, but housed over 800 minors. But even before the fire, there were reports of rampant abuse in the Virgen de la Asunción home for children, according to the New York Times. Allegations of sexual abuse by staff and complaints to the national human rights commission prompted a court order to close down the institution a month ago. President Jimmy Morales declared three days of national mourning, reports the BBC.
- Thousands of campesinos -- many indigenous -- protested in Guatemala City, calling for Morales' resignation and for investigations into allegations that over 100 lawmakers took Odebrecht bribes, reports EFE. Comité de Desarrollo Campesino (Codeca) coordinator Thelma Cabrera emphasized that Morales was elected on an anti-corruption platform, but has failed to follow through meaningfully, pointing to his lack of support for the CICIG, among other "contradictions," reports Plaza Pública.
- Reforms to Honduras' penal code punish apology and incitation of terrorism, but define the offenses ambiguously, which could "lead to sanctions over conducts which do not correspond to the seriousness and nature of the criminal offence of terrorism. The adoption of too broad definitions of terrorism may bring deliberate distortions of the term, which can be used in order to sanction reinvidications and social movements or the work of human rights defenders," said the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, its Special Rapporteurship for Freedom of Expression and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Honduras in a joint expression of concern.
- U.N. Secretary General António Guterres will announce new measures to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse by the organization's peacekeepers. The organization has been dogged by allegations of sexual abuse in countries where troops are deployed. However the U.N. cannot investigate the allegations, which are up to the peacekeepers' home countries. Guterres will propose to stop payment to countries that fail to investigate claims against their troops, instead using those funds for victims, reports the New York Times. He will also announce plans to appoint victims' advocates in the four countries with the most reports of abuse, including Haiti.
- Footage of a transgender woman's abuse and torture before being killed has horrified Brazilians. Dandara dos Santos was killed in Fortaleza last month, but the video is circulating now on social media. Advocates say cases of violence against transgender people are increasing, reports the New York Times.
- Brazilian President Michel Temer drew ire yesterday with an International Women's Day speech emphasizing their domestic and child-raising roles, reports El País. "Nobody is more capable to pointing out the unbalances in, let's say, supermarket prices than women," Temer said, according to CNN. "Nobody is more capable of detecting eventual economic fluctuation than women, since they monitor the increases and decreases of their home's budgets."
- Brazilian soccer team Cruzeiro wore shirts yesterday using player numbers to highlight challenges faced by women in the country, such as "A rape every 11 minutes," and "Of every ten youths, 8 will suffer harassment," reports the Guardian.
- An Ecuadoran association of domestic workers has been uniquely successful at winning protections for women employed in households, reports TeleSUR.
- Mexico's government still hasn't ratified an ILO convention aiming at providing domestic employees with legal securities, reports Animal Político.
- As Colombia advances in implementing the FARC peace deal, slow set up of transition zones for demobilizing guerrillas have set off concerns about the government's ability to follow through on other parts of the agreement. The Huffington Post visits the Icononzo camp, where 280 former fighters and 7 children are setting up a village largely from scratch.
- A drive to cut government costs in Brazil is forcing Temer's administration to rethink everything from civil servant transport (cutting fleets of official chauffeured cars) and renegotiating energy and pharmaceutical contracts, reports Reuters.
- A new centralized timber database in Brazil will allow authorities to electronically track individual trees sold legally, reports Reuters.