Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Trump cracks down on migrant families (May 9, 2018)

Refugees from Central America crossing Mexico in the caravan singled out by Trump. Edgard Garrido/Reuters​

News Briefs

  • The U.S. Trump administration announced a plan to increase criminal prosecutions of migrants illegally crossing into the country, and will place their children in separate detention facilities, reports Reuters. Advocates say family separations have been happening for months, and the ACLU filed a lawsuit in February challenging the practise.
  • The Guardian has a photo-essay by Reuters photographer Edgard Garrido following the Viacrucis Migrante caravan of refugees that crossed Mexico.
  • More than 50,000 Venezuelans have fled their country's crisis to Brazil so far, but doing so puts them at risk for exploitation akin to slavery by ranchers, miners, and traffickers, writes Chris Feliciano Arnold in a New York Times op-ed. "At least 10 Venezuelans have been rescued from slavery in the past year. Yet the abuse of refugees at the hands of powerful businessmen and landowners is but another stunning example of how crime pays in Brazil."
  • The BBC profiles members of the Venezuelan indigenous Warao tribe who have taken refuge in Brazil.
  • While opposition supporters debate whether to participate in presidential elections later this month, citizens who intend to vote for President Nicolás Maduro's reelection are motivated by the lack of a credible alternative and the desperate need for basic supplies handed out by the government, writes Yesman Utrera in Venezuelan Politics and Human Rights. "The lack of clear direction from an opposition that seems to invite supporters to abstain from participating and offers no clear strategy for the day after May 20, is working well for the government."
  • Maduro claimed a great national dialogue including opposition sectors would open up after May 20, but Dominican Republic President Danilo Medina -- who served as a mediator in previous instances -- said he was unaware of any such initiative, reports El País.
  • The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, called for regime change in Venezuela yesterday, saying it's time for Maduro to go, reports the Miami Herald.
    • Families of the Ayotzinapa 43 fear the Peña Nieto administration is trying to prematurely close the case before leaving office later this year, reports Animal Político.
    • A group of clowns marched in Acapulco to protest a wave of violence in the resort city that has complicated their livelihoods, reports the BBC.
    • Marta Lamas criticizes independent presidential candidate Margarita Zavala's appeal to women to vote based on gender sympathies in a New York Times Español op-ed.
    • The ruling PRI party is lagging in opinion polls, but the clientelist system it created will likely live on, argues Shannon O'Neill in Bloomberg.
    • AMLO's would-be foreign relations minister said the front-runner's government would seek to strengthen internal policies before getting involved in regional politics, reports El País.
    • Brazil's October presidential elections remain unpredictable. This week the former Supreme Court chief justice, Joaquim Barbosa, said he would not run, disappointing centrist voters who liked his socially progressive views and anti-corruption credentials, reports the New York Times. The front-runner remains former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who will likely be barred from running due to a corruption conviction, for which he is serving a prison sentence. 
    • Argentina's government asked for an emergency line of credit from the IMF, an attempt to avoid a financial crash as the peso suddenly lost value against the dollar over the past week, part of a long slide over the past few months. The devaluation, coupled with inflation, and poor economic indicators, is provoking panicked memories of December, 2001, reports the Guardian. The talks with the IMF will be the first since the 2001 sovereign debt default, that many blame on IMF policies, notes the BBC. It will be the first IMF financial support package for the country since 2003. Critics said it shows government weakness, reports the Wall Street Journal.
    Costa Rica
    • Newly sworn in President Carlos Alvarado promised an inclusive government yesterday, reports El País.
    • He has sworn in a multi-party cabinet, a promising sign as he will have to govern a politically polarized country and with a minority in the legislature. His other main challenge will be boosting economic growth and lowering the national deficit without increasing inequality, writes Joseph Stiglitz in an admiring Guardian opinion piece.
    • Authorities are investigating what appear to be over 1,000 cases of suspected sham marriages between Chinese and Costa Rican citizens, run by Costa Rican criminal networks, reports the BBC.
    • Centuries after Jesuit missionaries arrived in what would become Bolivia, their baroque music tradition lives on in the jungle, reports the New York Times.

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