Friday, October 19, 2018

Mexico pressured to stop migrant caravan (Oct. 19, 2018)

The migrant caravan that set out from Honduras towards the U.S. last week has grown to about 4,000 people, who were gathering near the Guatemalan border with Mexico this morning. Yesterday, about 300 police in anti-riot gear were sent to the Mexican side of the border. Some migrants already crossed over illegally yesterday and were in temporary shelters. (New York Times)

The Mexican government asked the United Nations Refugee Agency for help in assisting migrants filing for refugee protection. Mexico said anybody can file for asylum, but will have to wait at a migratory station for up to 45 business days. This is a change from previous policies in which migrants were offered transit visas. (Wall Street JournalCNN)

U.S. President Donald Trump, who has been focusing on the caravan's progress all week -- and threatening governments along the way that do not stop the migrants -- thanked the Mexican government for its efforts. (Animal Político)
Mexico is under intense pressure from the U.S. to stop the caravan. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in Mexico today. The caravan is on the agenda for his meetings with President Enrique Peña Nieto, Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray, and Foreign Secretary-designate Marcelo Ebrard. Nonetheless, Mexican officials have emphasized that they will focus on protecting the migrants' human rights, reports the Wall Street Journal.

The case catches Mexico at a strange time, notes the BBC, at the end of the Peña Nieto administration. Human rights groups have criticised the US and Mexican response to the caravan. Erika Guevara-Rosas of Amnesty International said in a statement: "Mexican authorities should not take a Trump approach treating people like a security threat."

A migration activist protesting in favor of the caravan in Mexico was detained by authorities on charges of damaging federal property, reports Animal Político.
The caravan in photos -- Huffington Post.
Trump's focus on the caravan is likely related to the upcoming midterm elections in the U.S., reports the Miami Herald. The New York Times analyzes the presidential obsession a bit more.

Many members of the caravan, in turn, blame Trump for fomenting conditions in Honduras that have pushed them to leave, including backing President Juan Orlando Hernández's questioned reelection last year. (AFP) The reasons for migrating are varied, but include fleeing gangs, finding stability, and searching for economic opportunities, reports the New York Times.

News Briefs

  • Venezuelan migration is also reshaping the region's diplomatic relations. Yesterday Ecuador ejected Venezuela's ambassador to that country, after Venezuelan Communications Minister Jorge Rodríguez accused Ecuadorean President Lenín Moreno of lying about the amount of Venezuelans who have left the country. The United Nations says more than 2.3 million Venezuelans are now living abroad, but Venezuelan officials insist the numbers are inflated. (Miami Herald)
  • Trump has called for international attention to Venezuela's humanitarian crisis, but in practice hasn't acted to ease the country's suffering -- and certainly isn't taking in more refugees, writes Marco Aponte-Moreno in the Conversation.
  • Catholic charity Cáritas released data showing that in some places in the country 53% of households recur to non-traditional sources, such as begging and the garbage, and 39% have had to sell assets to buy food. 48% of pregnant women show signs of severe malnutrition. -- David Smilde's Venezuela Weekly.
  • Far-right presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro is on course to win Brazil's presidency -- and he's gotten an illegal boost from a group of business leaders who have financed a multimillion-dollar “anti-Workers’ party campaign” of fake news on WhatsApp, reports Folha de S. Paulo. Bolsonaro denied any connection to the campaign, reports the Guardian.
  • Fake news has been a huge issue in this election season, and successful fact checking efforts on Facebook and Google seem to have pushed the phenomenon towards Whatsapp, warn Cristina Tardáguila, Fabrício Benevenuto and Pablo Ortellado in a New York Times op-ed. They analyze the different types of misinformation circulating on social media, and suggestions to limit their impact.
  • Among the many disasters observers are predicting for a Bolsonaro presidency is a "potential war on the environment," reports the Washington Post.
  • How dire is it? Well, the Economist considers his leftist opponent Fernando Haddad a relatively "reassuring figure," and characterizes Bolsonaro as a threat to the country's democracy. But it's probably too late for Haddad to convince an electorate that has rejected the Workers' Party.
Trade War
  • U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he warned President Juan Carlos Varela of Panama about doing business with China. (New York Times)
  • Canada's legalization of pot this week is unlikely to have a major impact on Latin America's marijuana black market, reports InSight Crime -- but hopefully it will lead to a shift in international drug policies.
  • Mexican president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador will poll voters over what to do about Mexico City's half-constructed new airport next week. For the Economist it's a dubious example of direct democracy.
  • Marbella Ibarra, a promoter of women's football in Mexico, was found dead this week near Tijuana. She had disappeared last month. (BBC)
  • COPINH analyzes the flaws in Berta Cáceres' trial thus far.
  • Last week Honduran authorities arrested National Police Commissioner Lorgio Oquelí Mejía Tinoco and another 15 police officials. Several of the officers in question were supposed to have been let go already due to corruption, a sign of the ongoing challenges the country's police purge process faces, reports InSight Crime.
  • Americas Quarterly's latest issue focuses on the region's "Urban Visionaries" -- and the policies they're implementing to policies make cities more sustainable, resilient and better prepared for tomorrow’s jobs.
  • Uruguay and Chile are at the forefront of the Southern Cone's transition to non-conventional, renewable energy resources, writes Thomas Andrew O’Keefe at the AULA Blog.
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ... 

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