Thursday, May 3, 2018

Conflictive U.S. policies towards Lat Am (May 3, 2018)

  • Even as U.S. President Donald Trump continues to rail against a caravan of Central American migrants fleeing violence at home, the case actually demonstrates that immigration laws are quite strict and serve to deter would-be migrants from attempting to enter the U.S., argues a New York Times editorial. Most of the 1,200 participants chose to stay in Mexico, which has become a favored destination for Central American migrants. And would-be asylum applicants to the U.S. face tactics such as family separation and delays. (See Tuesday's post and yesterday's briefs.)
TPS for Hondurans
  • The Trump administration is set to announce tomorrow whether it will extend a program granting Hondurans a temporary reprieve from deportation due to perilous conditions at home. The move would affect 57,000 Hondurans who sought refuge in the wake of Hurricane Mitch in 1998, reports the Guardian. Advocates point to desperate conditions on the ground in Honduras, one of the world's most violent countries. TPS (Temporary Protected Status) has already been cancelled for nationals from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, Sudan, Liberia and Nepal. Most of the Hondurans who are shielded by TPS arrived illegally, but have been living and working legally in the U.S. for decades, notes the Miami Herald.
U.S. trade
  • The White House said it had reached preliminary agreements with Brazil, Argentina, and Australia to exempt the countries from new steel and aluminium tariffs. But Brazil's government said the Trump administration broke off negotiations last week and gave an ultimatum: tariffs or quotas. The disconnect echoes broader issues with U.S. trade negotiations, "which have been clouded by confusion, miscommunication and a general state of uncertainty over the rules of engagement," reports the New York Times.
  • The Trump administration in the U.S. is reverting many of its predecessor's policies towards Latin America, and has adopted a Cold War reminiscent style policy featuring fear of invading migrants in the place of Communists, argues Anita Issacs in a New York Times op-ed. In Guatemala the government of Jimmy Morales has sought to curry favor with the administration, even as he undermines U.S. supported efforts to battle entrenched political corruption, she writes. And warns how false rumors of Kremlin infiltration of the CICIG play into this dynamic. (See last Friday's post.)
News Briefs

Guatemala again
  • The Morales administration's onslaught against the CICIG covers a variety of fronts, InSight Crime reports on the many plot-lines. (See last Friday's post.)

  • Hashtag #Cuéntalo has been seized upon by hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans to denounce cases of gender violence, reports the Guardian. Many have used Twitter to tell the stories of women killed, clarifying that they shared the case because the victim could not. Latin America concentrates some of the most violent countries in the world for women, but gender violence goes beyond femicides, notes Erika Guevara-Rosas, Amnesty International’s Americas director, pointing to six countries with blanket bans on abortion.
  • Nicaragua's disparate opposition groups must band together in order to negotiate with the embattled Ortega administration and take advantage of the protest momentum, argues Inter-American Dialogue's Manuel Orozco in a New York Times op-ed. "Their aim should be to re-establish the rule of law through the strengthening of independent, democratic institutions. Their long-term goal should be the removal of Mr. Ortega — but through the ballot box."
  • The moment of opportunity is now, as the Ortega administration has alienated support from business sectors and the Catholic church, key members of his governing coalition, write Eric Mosinger and Kai Thaler in the Conversation.
Pink Tide
  • The Nicaraguan Spring is just the latest example of how Latin America's "pink tide" of leftist governments has receded as forcefully as it came onto the scene, argues Frida Ghitis in World Politics Review.
  • The gruesome killing of three film students whose bodies were then disolved in acid at the behest of a powerful drug cartel again raises questions about the Mexican government's ability to effectively investigate violent crime, and is reminiscent of the still unsolved enforced disappearance of 43 teachers college students in 2014, reports InSight Crime. (See last Thursday's briefs.) 
  • Chilean victims of a pedophile priest urged Pope Francis to take concrete steps to end sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church, after the pontiff met with them asked forgiveness for institutional stonewalling on the cases, reports the New York Times. The meeting came three months after the Pope made dismissive remarks about the victims' claims after a trip to Chile, reports the Wall Street Journal.
  • Venezuelans have gone from being some of the happiest people in the world to some of the most unhappy, writes Miguel Angel Latouche in the Conversation.
Cocaine Industry
  • Insight Crime features the work of photographer Carlos Villalon, capturing the cocaine industry from coca growers to traffickers to users.

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