Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Migrant briefs (Oct. 31, 2018)

  • As the "original" migrant caravan moves north through Mexico, thousands of migrants face the difficulties of literally walking across thousands of miles without dependable sources of food, water and equipment. Theft and losing track of relatives are other major concerns, reports the Washington Post, which accompanied the group on one 28-mile portion of the trek.
  • Safety in numbers is proving to be a good bet, explains Oscar Martínez in a New York Times Español op-ed. Between 4,000 and 7,000 migrants successfully crossed Chiapas -- one of the most dangerous parts of the journey, where migrants often pay a violent toll -- and are now pushing through Oaxaca. The exodus shows the violence, misery, and desperation faced by people living in Central America, he writes.
  • The U.S. is preparing to receive the migrants, so to speak, with Operation Faithful Patriot -- 5,200 armed troops, helicopters, heavy equipment, and miles and miles of razor wire. According to the Washington Post, it's the largest peacetime mobilization at the border since the Mexican Revolution. The U.S. Trump administration is reportedly considering some form of legal ban to stop the migrants from crossing, but it's unlikely to significantly dent numbers of people attempting to enter the U.S.
  • The issue is only becoming more pressing, a smaller caravan of about 1,000 people crossed into Mexico yesterday and is following the other caravan north. (Wall Street Journal)
  • U.S. President Donald Trump's reaction seems to have more to do with domestic politics than any real threat posed by the migrants themselves. (Washington Post)
  • Trump's anger has contrasted with the welcome and assistance the migrants have received in Mexican towns, many dealing with their own significant problems of poverty. The Guardian writes about how the town of Niltepec, devastated by an earthquake last year, did its best to shelter the migrants for a night.
  • Central American migrants are pushed by a range of factors, but high up on the list are rampant crime and violence; broken institutions and impunity; and high level corruption. (InSight Crime)
  • A good portion of the migrant caravan moving through Mexico are minors -- UNICEF estimated that 2,300 children crossed the Mexico-Guatemala border last week. The Washington Post profiles a few who ran away from home to join the group.
News Briefs

  • Observers expect that Brazilian president-elect Jair Bolsonaro's fiery campaign ideology will be somewhat tempered by the realities of pushing legislation through Congress. But other key measures -- like reading material for school children or enforcement of environmental regulations -- can be determined more unilaterally by the executive, reports the Washington Post.
  • Bolsonaro spent decades on Brazil's political fringe, but was catapulted to the presidency by a crisis of faith towards the graft-tainted political establishment. But his discourse harkens back to Brazil's military past, reports the Washington Post.
  • "Bolsonaro surfed a tsunami of popular anger and despair that swept away the entire Brazilian political system, along with the old party leaders. He was able to do so because of the people’s growing suspicion that representative democracy is incapable of delivering what they need," explains former Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso. (Washington Post)
  • Leftists who accuse Bolsonaro of fascism are themselves fascists, said the president-elect in an interview yesterday, in which he compared himself to Churchill. (Guardian)
  • Bolsonaro urged the current administration to pass a controversial pension reform before he assumes office in January. (Wall Street Journal)
  • The election will transform local politics, but also Brazilian foreign policy, writes Robert Muggah in IPI Global Observatory.
  • Mexican president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador has promised to cancel a massive airport construction project following a citizen consultation that had a one percent participation rate. Though his stance is in keeping with campaign promises and long-time concerns with the project, the cancellation will still cost Mexico $5 billion and comes at a significant business cost, reports the Washington Post. Analysts look at the case as an indicator of AMLO's economic policies, and some observers are concerned the direct democracy experiment will make policies erratic and unpredictable. (See yesterday's post.)
  • The decision forms part of a long string of "uncharacteristically ham-fisted choices" over the course of AMLO's long transition period since his election several months ago, writes León Krauze at Slate. The problem was not the referendum itself, he argues, but the "the shocking untidiness of the procedure." (See yesterday's post.)
  • AMLO's transition team promised a commission to discuss the impact of the cancelled project with contractors and investors, aimed at calming the waters. (Animal Político)
  • In the meantime, there's no environmental impact study to the proposed alternative to the new airport, a project to create complimentary runways in Santa Lucia. (Animal Político)
  • A project to green Mexico City and possibly clean up its infamous air pollution seems to have been more about greenwashing. (Guardian)
  • Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil are among the countries with the worst record of solving crimes against journalists. The Committee to Protect Journalists’ (CPJ) 2018 Global Impunity Index found that 48 cases of reporters killed over the past decade remain unsolved in those countries -- 20 percent of all cases in the index. All three countries have or will soon have new governments, and none of the incoming leaders has given the issue much importance, notes InSight Crime.
  • Chavismo generally seems monolithic, but Efecto Cocuyo takes a closer look at the different currents coexisting under the umbrella.
  • Venezuelan authorities say Caracas homicides are down 35 percent, but there's little reason to believe them. (InSight Crime)
  • José Domingo Pérez, the young prosecutor investigating Popular Force leader Keiko Fujimori, has become an overnight sensation in Peru. (EFE)
  • WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been sheltered in Ecuador's London embassy since 2012, must follow new rules imposed by his host country, determined an Ecuadorean judge. (Guardian)
  • A new Jamaican music hit criticizes people of African descent who look down on those with darker skin -- colorism. (Washington Post)
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...Latin America Daily Briefing

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