Thursday, June 28, 2018

Central American parents struggle to reunite with kids (June 28, 2018)

Despite yesterday's federal court ruling mandating that the U.S. government reunite migrant parents who were separated from their children at the border within 30 days, it seems unlikely that efforts to do so will proceed in a timely or orderly manner (Vox). In one example of how the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy continues to place children in vulnerable or potentially traumatic situations, lawyers in two states and D.C. are reporting that toddlers have been ordered to appear in court for their own deportation proceedings (Texas Tribune). 

Several reports shed light on the experiences of migrant parents who have been separated from their children and in some cases deported. “There’s no structure in place, no legal structure in place to actually reunify the parents who’ve already been deported,” one attorney told Reuters in a profile of a deported Honduran man whose 12-year-old daughter remains in Los Angeles. Similar stories have been reported by The Guardianthe APWashington Post, and Time. For a sense of the bureaucracy that parents must deal with when searching for their children, see the LA Times; for a sense of what children and employees at detention centers are experiencing, see Pro Publica

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of Homeland Security Kristjen Nielsen are expected to discuss migration issues when meeting tonight with Central American leaders in Guatemala. Adriana Beltrán at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) argues that instead of pushing Northern Triangle nations to tighten their borders, the U.S. should be pressuring them to address the root causes of migration: corruption, impunity, and violence

"They should see this meeting as an opportunity to reaffirm U.S. support for anti-corruption initiatives," writes Beltrán. "Most importantly, they need to underscore that the lack of willingness on behalf of these nations to tackle corruption, impunity, and violence is what is causing their citizens to flee their borders." [Disclosure: I work as a communications consultant at WOLA]. 

For a harsh critique of the implications of Pence's meeting with Central American leaders, see Martin Rodriguez's column at Nomada

Colombia Congress rules on peace tribunals 

Colombia's Congress approved the law that essentially allows its transitional justice tribunals to become fully effective. However, critics of the peace deal—aka, the "Uribista" bloc—got what they wanted: first, the creation of a separate chamber that will hear testimony from members of the military about their participation in Colombia's conflict; and second, a rule that prevents the peace tribunals from presenting evidence in extradition cases

The extradition rule could have implications should more FARC guerrilla commanders suddenly become embroiled in drug trafficking cases (see the April 10, 2018 brief). 

As La Silla Vacia notes, while members of the military—or other powerful elites who backed Colombia's violent paramilitary groups—can still voluntarily testify before the UN-backed Truth Commission, they aren't mandated to provide testimony as they would if they were fully participating in the transitional justice system (Justicia Especial Para la Paz, JEP).

"Without the pressure of the JEP, it is less likely that members of the military and third parties reveal what they know," the article says, adding: 

"This helps Uribismo reinforce the narrative that what Colombia experienced was criminal terrorism, not an armed conflict; and it will also help prevent the emergence of any other information that could put Uribe government officials or their allies in a tight spot."  

  • Mexico City police seized millions of dollars of cash in briefcases reportedly destined to the ruling political party's headquarters (Animal Politico). 
  • According to a survey by a civil society group, a third of respondents said they'd experienced vote-buying efforts (EFE).
  • Bloomberg has the scoop on a failed military coup attempt which helps explain the Maduro government's crackdown on the military. 
  • 11 state oil company employees were arrested for committing "irregularities" that affected oil production (Reuters). The Venezuelan Attorney General's Office said said 90 state oil company employees have been prosecuted so far as part of the corruption probe, including 23 executives. 
Central America 
  • Today is the ninth anniversary of Honduras' military coup, which Radio Progreso uses as an opportunity to critique international support for President Juan Orlando Hernandez following last year's highly controversial elections.   
  • Honduras' Congress is supposed to vote today to select an attorney general. Pulso has brief profiles of the final five candidates. InSight Crime argues that given the number of Members of Congress currently under investigation for corruption, this further comprises the integrity of the selection process
  • In El Salvador, protestors have been demonstrating against a proposed law that critics say could lead to water privatization. The bishop of San Salvador told EFE that he believed the proposed law went against citizens' rights to fair water access. 
  • Nicaragua will hold a march for those killed as a result of violence linked to political unrest this Saturday. The march had originally been planned for the previous weekend, but was called off due to fears over potential state repression, Confidencial reports
  • Coalition group the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders criticized the threats and lack of protection experienced by human rights activists in Peru (EFE), where some 119 activists have been killed in the past seven years. Following an observation mission, the group said that Peruvian media and political officials frequently referred to activists as "defenders of terrorism," creating an environment in which they are more vulnerable to threats. 
Elyssa Pachico

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