Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Judge shuts down Roraima border (Aug. 7, 2018)

A Brazilian judge has blocked Venezuelans from entering the border state of Roraima. Judge Helder Barreto said he had suspended the entry of Venezuelan immigrants until the conditions for a “humanitarian reception” are created, reports the Guardian. The judge suspended the entry of Venezuelans into Roraima until the state can reach an equilibrium between the arrival of migrants and their transfer to other parts of Brazil, reports Reuters

Sunday's decision was not implemented until late yesterday, due to legal challenges from the national government, which is opposed to the decision. (Deutsche Welle) As of this morning at least a hundred Venezuelans were prevented from crossing the border, reports G1. An estimated 500 people enter Brazil each day through Roraima. In the first half of this year 16,000 people requested asylum in the state.

Barreto's decision comes in a case challenging a new Roraima state decree ordering Venezuelans to show passports before accessing health and security services and directing police to deport any migrants who committed crimes. Brazil’s Public Defense Office challenged the move, saying it effectively banned refugees from accessing health services, and creates a risk of epidemics in the area. Barreto suspended the passport clause, and the deportations -- and also ordered incoming Venezuelans to receive vaccinations.

The move comes as state authorities seek to stem the flow of migrants fleeing Venezuela's crisis. Roraima's state governor has asked the Supreme Court to close the border and for the federal government to reimburse the state for $49 million spent on refugees. Yesterday the Supreme Court rejected the request to close the border, reports El País.

More from Brazil
  • Brazil's Workers' Party will back former São Paulo mayor Fernando Haddad for president if their main candidate, former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, is blocked from running. Haddad has little political support of his own, and will drop out of the race if Lula's candidacy is permitted despite his corruption conviction, which supporters say is politically motivated. (Guardian)
  • The Intercept excoriates PSDB candidate Geraldo Alckmin, and the mainstream press' support for his candidacy. " ... He’s been around politics for decades, funded by and serving corporate interests, inoffensively occupying every conceivable office, comfortably resting in and feeding off of the sleaze and neoliberal corruption that greases the wheels of Brazil’s political class. He’s the ultimate guardian of the status quo and the prevailing order. A candidate so uniquely uncharasmatic on all levels that he’s most often compared to a cucumber ..."
News Briefs

  • Venezuela's deep economic crisis is well documented. Some are now wondering not how President Nicolás Maduro has clung on despite the hardships his citizens face, but rather because of them, reports the New York Times. The piece cites WOLA's David Smilde, who says "there’s an area between democracy and outright dictatorship in which economic crises can actually help the leader consolidate power."
  • The fallout from the failed drone attack against Maduro will likely hurt the embattled president, who looked weak, argues Mike McCarthy in Axios. (See yesterday's post.)
  • Maduro said the material authors of the attack fled to Colombia, reports Efecto Cocuyo. He promised to present proof of Colombian involvement in the alleged assassination attempt. (Al Jazeera)
  • Nicaragua's political crisis has entered a new phase dominated by fear of repression after three months of clashes between protesters and security forces, reports the New York Times.
  • Outgoing president Juan Manuel Santos asked his successor, Iván Duque, to defend the 2016 peace accord with the FARC. (El País
  • The peace deal will be one of the main challenges facing Duque, who will become the country's youngest democratically elected president today, reports the Associated Press. A key question for Colombians is whether Duque will carve his own path or remain loyal to his mentor, former president Álvaro Uribe.
  • Fake news played an important role in Mexico's recent elections -- a telling experience as companies like Twitter, Google, and Facebook seek to address the spread of false information, writes Mia Armstrong at Slate. The piece notes the efforts of fact-checking organization Verificado. Despite concerns of Russian meddling in the election, analysis shows that most false stories came from within Mexico and revolved around the eventual winner, Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Verificado actually identified websites and social media accounts as generators of false information.
  • What are the chances of success of Mexican president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador's security policies? InSight Crime ranks the proposals.
  • Remittances from the U.S. have become essential to Central American countries' economies, reports the Wall Street Journal. Restricting migration could cause more economic hardship, ironically creating conditions for further migration.
  • Extortion is one of the main factors driving Hondurans to flee their country -- affecting both victims and perpetrators who want out, reports InSight Crime.
  • Journalists in Honduras face legal and physical threats restricting their ability to work, reports Inter Press Service.
Central America
  • A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers asked the Trump administration to determine if six individuals from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico meet the criteria to be sanctioned under the Global Magnitsky Act. (InSight Crime)
  • Cuba's government invited exiled nationals to comment and send suggestions on a draft constitution. (Miami Herald)
  • Uruguayans are concerned over a 66 percent increase in homicides this year -- a total of 218 so far. Though authorities blame organized criminal groups, InSight Crime argues the factors behind the trend are more complicated. 
  • A proposed change to Argentina's penal code could decriminalize possession of "small amounts" of illicit drugs. The reform aims to bring legislation in line with a Supreme Court ruling that leads to the dismissal of most possession cases. But the change could also help focus the government's anti-narcotics policies towards more significant targets, reports InSight Crime.
  • Argentina's "Cuadernos de la Corrupción" bribery scandal took a new twist yesterday, when President Mauricio Macri's cousin voluntarily presented himself to testify in a case involving a vast alleged public works corruption scheme under the previous administration. (El País)
  • Argentina's Senate will vote tomorrow on a bill that would legalize abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. The landmark bill passed the lower chamber in June. The "no" camp is in the lead, but the vote is close. (La Nación) Religious activists in the largely rural interior of the country have campaigned strongly against the measure, and have put pressure on senators who aspire to lead provincial governments, reports Reuters.
  • The bill, which would allow for free abortions in public hospitals, would be a sign of change in a region where the vast majority of women are governed by highly restrictive abortion laws, reports the Wall Street Journal.
  • Activism in favor of the bill has been massive and ubiquitous. Yesterday, #YoAborté became a trending topic on Twitter, where hundreds of women -- including a national legislator -- admitted to clandestine abortions. (La Nación)
  • Amnesty International took out a full page ad on the back of the International New York Times. The page is green and features a coat hanger -- symbol of clandestine abortions -- under the headline "Adiós." The brief text tells Argentine senators that the world is watching. (Página 12) Argentine Amnesty International executive directo Mariela Belski calls the law a test for the country in a Washington Post opinion piece.
  • In the Conversation, Verónica Giménez Béliveau, writes about how the Catholic Church, which is opposed to the bill, has had to moderate its tone (though not its stance) due to widespread popular support for the measure.
  • Meanwhile, Brazil's Supreme Court held its second day of hearings on a challenge to the country's restrictive abortion laws. Fifty-three people spoke yesterday, 33 presenting perspectives in favor of legalizing abortion, reports El País. Tensions have flared over the issue. Polls show opinions are shifting towards legalization, though most Brazilians remain opposed. Opinions have also shifted against punishing women who abort with jail-time, reports the Washington Post.


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