Thursday, June 21, 2018

More furor over U.S. migration policy (June 21, 2018)

  • President Trump's executive order "replaces the cruelty of family separation with the cruelty of family detention," according to human rights advocacy group the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA). [Disclosure: I work as a communications consultant with WOLA]
  • Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández met yesterday with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, and, according to Hernandez, issued strong words about U.S. migration policy and its implications for Hondurans. 
  • The top Salvadoran official who handles migration affairs issued a harsh critique of conditions at shelters for migrant children in the U.S., and warned Salvadorans against attempting to migrate northwards. (Washington Post)
  • Guatemala has reversed its previous timid position on the U.S. family separation policy: the spokesperson who said that Guatemala "respected" the Trump administration's approach to immigration has been fired, and the government has since published various statements criticizing the U.S. on this issue.
  • The AP reports on how some migrant families were separated by U.S. immigration authorities prior to the official implementation of the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy, profiling a Guatemalan father who petitioned for asylum at a port of entry along the U.S.-Mexico border, and who nonetheless was separated from his two-year-old daughter even though he was not prosecuted for illegal entry into the U.S.
  • The Washington Post profiles a Mexican couple's attempts to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, noting that despite the Trump administration's harsh rhetoric, the president "has not managed to shut down the vast smuggling networks that funnel people across the border." 
  • The Trump administration's border and immigration policies will strengthen organized crime networks, says InSight Crime's Steve Dudley
  • Court documents reveal that teenage immigrants—many of them youths who had attempted to cross the U.S.-Mexico border alone—were severely beaten and abused by guards at a juvenile detention facility in Virginia (AP). Some reported being left naked in solitary confinement for prolonged periods of time as punishment for minor infractions, others  “sustained significant injuries, both physical and psychological" as a result of “malicious and sadistic applications of force,” according to a lawsuit filed by a civil rights group. 

  • A Washington Post profile of Andrés Manuel López Obrador notes that "at this stage of the campaign, the candidate appears to be embracing a kind of centrism," even though some election observers still perceive him to be an "erratic populist, with proposals that could lead to economic turbulence."

Central America
  • Nicaragua will allow international human rights observers into the country, a point of negotiation that contributed to the breakdown of talks between the Ortega government and Church leaders (AP). The observers will likely include the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, and the European Union. 
  • After additional reports emerged regarding alleged sexual abuse committed by Guatemala's President Jimmy Morales (Prensa Grafica), he went on a tangent while delivering a speech on cybersecurity in order to complain about "fake news" in the country. He made several incorrect and false statements while doing so (elPeriodico). 
  • A court acquitted Gleisi Hoffmann, president of Brazil's Workers' Party, of corruption and money laundering charges in connection to the massive "Car Wash" graft probe. (AP
  • There is a chance that Lula could be released from prison next week (BBC Brazil). In the meantime, Uruguay's former President Jose "Pepe" Mujica will pay Lula a visit (EFE). 
  • President Maduro announced he is raising the minimum wage, the fourth wage hike so far this year according to Caracas Chronicles. According to the black market exchange rate, this means the Venezuelan minimum wage is now equivalent to about $2 a month. The announcement was made amid reports of further economic decline: Reuters reported that so far this month, oil exports have dropped 32 percent compared with May. Meanwhile, the government deployed the military to over 100 food markets to ensure that sellers weren't overcharging for price-controlled items (BBC). 
  • Ecuador has committed to setting up temporary shelters for migrant Venezuelans (El Comercio).  
  • WOLA's Venezuela Politics and Human Rights blog analyzes the government's release of political prisoners, noting that some have "supported the releases as a pragmatic way to get rid of a distraction and focus on winning the 'economic war' the government claims is being waged by imperialist forces abroad."
  • Despite World Cup fever, Peruvians have few public parks where they can play pickup soccer games thanks to poor urban planning (AP). In working class neighborhoods, many have resorted to kicking a ball around on pre-colonial archaeological sites. 
  • State media controls are loosening somewhat under Cuba's new president, with the government recently implementing a new policy aimed at "giving state media more ability to report news like their colleagues do in other countries" (AP).  The policy was first approved when Miguel Díaz-Canel was still serving as vice president (and hence responsible for communications policy in the country), and just recently went into effect. 

  • The Reuters Institute's annual Digital News Report—which surveyed 74,000 consumers of online news in 37 countries—found that smartphones are by more the most popular means of accessing the news in Brazil, Mexico, Chile, and Argentina. Facebook is the top platform for reading the news in the four Latin American countries included in the survey. Among this group, Argentine respondents were the least likely to trust the news and Brazil the most likely.  
  • Piggish male fans are a bad look for Latin America at this year's World Cup (AP). Videos showing sexist and offensive behavior at soccer matches in Moscow have been widely circulated on social media and are attracting widespread condemnation, a possible sign that tolerance for boorish behavior at sporting events is changing. 
  • A giant oil find could make Guyana rich (WSJ). 
  • Some carnivorous (known popularly as "vampire") bats have found a home in a Mayan temple in Mexico's southern tropics  (National Geographic). 
Elyssa Pachico

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