Monday, February 13, 2017

Mexican protesters reject Trump, Peña Nieto (Feb. 13, 2017)

Protesters in Mexico City and other cities around the country rejected U.S. President Donald Trump's stance towards their country. But they also criticized Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and demanded concrete policies against corruption and impunity, reports Animal Político. It was a rare display of unity across parties, reports Reuters.

While Trump's hostile stance towards Mexican migrants and exports have created a nationalist rallying point for Mexicans, they haven't managed to boost Peña Nieto's low approval rating. (See last Friday's and Wednesday's briefs.)

About 20,000 people participated under the hashtag Vibra Mexico in Mexico City, rejecting Trump's threat to make them pay for a border wall between the two countries, according to Animal Político. About 30,000 estimated marchers between Mexico City and Guadalajara, according to Reuters.

The protests in 19 cities around the country were organized by a coalition of nonprofits, media outlets and university groups, reports the Wall Street Journal.

In Los Angeles this weekend, Mexican leftist presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador rallied supporters with a similar battlecry against Trump's border wall and against Mexico's ruling party, reports Reuters. But he also praised California as a refuge for immigrants and said he had faith in American resistance to Trump's policies.

AMLO, as he is called, is a perpetual candidate, but has turned into a front-runner for the 2018 elections riding a wave of discontent with the country’s economic underperformance and rejection of the political elite, reports the Guardian. The former Mexico City mayor is gaining momentum on the backlash against Trump and Peña Nieto expressed in this weekend's protests, reports the Wall Street Journal.

In the meantime, Trump promised to bring down the "great border wall's" estimated costs, after reports last week found that estimates were significantly higher than numbers touted in the presidential campaign, reports Reuters. An internal report by the Department of Homeland Security that estimated the price of a wall along the entire border at $21.6 billion.

News Briefs
  • A new review of the investigation into 43 missing students in Mexico essentially clears officials of wrongdoing and leaves the much questioned government version of events intact, reports the New York Times. The final version found that investigators committed a few technical violations -- a far cry from an earlier report that described such serious wrongdoing that the legal basis for the case were under question. The internal review was in response to outside experts who questioned the handling of the investigation, pointing to serious flaws in evidence gathering and human rights abuses of suspects. The final report in particular absolves the former director in charge of the investigation, Tomás Zerón, notes Proceso.
  • Reports of immigrant sweeps in at least four U.S. states last week sparked concern among migrant advocates, reports Reuters. A New York Times editorial highlights the case of Guadalupe García de Rayos, a 35-year-old mother of two American born children. "What was always most alarming about Mr. Trump’s posturing on immigration wasn’t the wall, which will never be built in the way he describes it. It is instead the prospect of ramped-up enforcement that promises to increase misery on both sides of the border. The criminalizing of law-abiding immigrants who have lived in the United States for years, and of the migrants from Central America who arrive desperate for refuge. The households sundered, the jobs lost, the brutal idiocy of it all."
  • Migrant advocates are pushing a strategy of legally challenging deportations in the U.S. though it means risking detention and long court battles, reports the Wall Street Journal. Former Mexican foreign minister Jorge Castañeda is among those pushing for the Mexican government to underwrite the legal struggle they hope will overwhelm the U.S. immigration courts and bring deportations to a halt.Though the government hasn't backed the strategy,  recently budgeted about $50 million to the country’s 50 consulates to help pay the costs of defending migrants facing deportation.
  • Though the U.S. remains the ultimate destination for Latin American migrants fleeing everything from violence to poverty, but with entry increasingly difficult, many are settling legally and illegally in Mexico, reports the New York Times. Last year, more than 8,100 foreigners applied for asylum, nearly three times as many as in 2015, and more than 15 times as many as five years ago. Mexico's asylum process has improved, thanks to pressure from migrant advocates. Most applicants have been from Honduras and El Salvador in recent years. The upward trend in asylum requests is also related to the U.S. backed increase in border patrol along Mexico's southern border, leading more undocumented migrants to be detained there along their journey to the U.S.
  • A few hundred of the striking military police in Brazil's Espirito Santo state returned to duty this weekend, joining more than 300 federal troops called in to quell a wave of violence over the past week. But the strike over pay, which precipitated a homicide spike and looting, is not yet over, reports the Associated Press. More than 4,000 soldiers and elite federal police arrived over the weekend to bolster the initial 1,200 federal troops sent over the week, reports Reuters. And authorities indicted more than 700 striking military police officers, reports the Guardian. In fact the strike has been led by police families, the BBC reports.
  • A Guatemalan court rejected dismissing charges against former dictator José Efraín Ríos Montt in relation to the 1982 Dos Erres massacre, but did not determine whether the case will be heard using the special procedures outlined in Guatemalan law for individuals like Ríos Montt, who suffer mental incompetence, reports the International Justice Monitor. (See last Thursday's briefs.)
  • Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski said he asked Trump to consider deporting former President Alejandro Toledo. Last week a Peruvian judge ordered preventive detention for Toledo in a corruption case, but the former leader said he was not given the right to a fair trial, reports Reuters. Peruvian authorities have offered a $30,000 reward for the former president's capture, reports the Wall Street Journal. (See Friday's briefs.)
  • Toledo's plight is part of the newest stage in the Odebrecht corruption scandal, which has taken Brazilian politics by storm (part of the bigger Operation Car Wash investigation into Petrobras related graft), reports the Washington Post. The piece looks at other regional ramifications of revelations that the Brazilian construction giant paid $788 million in bribes around the region. The trail of cash is threatening leaders from Peru to Panama, reports the Guardian. (See last Wednesday's post.)
  • Panamanian prosecutors said they formally arrested the Mossack-Fonseca partners. The charges related to Odebrecht revelations, but the law firm became internationally prominent last year in the "Panama Papers" leak detailing off-shore dealings of the international rich and famous, reports the Associated Press. (See Friday's briefs.)
  • Venezuelan officials barred a new Sony Pictures series based on Hugo Chávez's life, which premiered in Latin America earlier this month. But repression only increased interest for Venezuelans who sought illegal links and Youtube streaming options to watch anyway, reports the Washington Post.
  • Hotspot policing has allowed Bogotá to reduce crime by 20 percent in those areas, despite having a relatively small police force, reports El Tiempo.
  • Spyware discovered on the phones of Mexican advocates of the country's 2014 sugar tax on soft drinks raises questions over how cyber spying tools are deployed in a largely unregulated international market, reports the New York Times
  • The Daily Beast reports on the reign of Peruvian druglord Marco Antonio Estrada González in Buenos Aires' Villa 1-11-14. "Marcos" as he is known, was arrested by authorities in December, but has wrangled his way out of previous convictions for drug trafficking. "In Villa 1-11-14 Marcos has an army of up to 300 “soldiers” to carry out his orders, including torturing and killing those who cross him. Armed with AK-47s and Uzis, Marcos’s gang rules a stretch of up to 15 blocks where the police don’t dare enter. This has allowed Marcos to expand his operations to production, running an estimated 10 cocaine labs in the neighborhood. The business has come at a human cost for those in Villa 1-11-14. Drug addiction plagues the neighborhood and residents live in fear of sporadic shoot-outs."
  • A Dominican Republic newspaper accidentally ran a picture of actor Alec Baldwin dressed up as Trump for Saturday Night Live in lieu of the real U.S. president, reports the BBC.

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