Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Migrant caravan pushes on, despite Trump (Oct. 17, 2018)

Members of an Honduran migrant caravan traveling towards the U.S. hit the road again this morning in transit through Guatemala, reports the Associated Press. Hundreds hitched rides along the route, and received food and shelter from Guatemalan Catholic and Evangelical groups yesterday, reports El Periódico.

The estimated 1,600 to 3,000 people have attracted the ire of U.S. President Donald Trump, who yesterday threatened to cut aid funding to Honduras if it does not somehow recall its citizens who are attempting the trek north. He also said Guatemala and El Salvador would suffer financial consequences if they let the migrants cross through their territories, reports the BBC. (See yesterday's post.)

Caravan organizer and former Honduran lawmaker Bartolo Fuentes was detained in Guatemala yesterday and was to be deported to Honduras. And the Honduran government called on its citizens not to join the group. Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández said some would-be migrants had returned home and would receive government support. (Reuters)

Mexico has promised to stop the caravan from entering its territory, reports the Washington Post.

The group, traveling together for safety along the dangerous trek, is expected to continue to grow as it continues towards the U.S. In April a similar caravan became an international spectacle thanks to Trump's focus on that group of migrants. (See April 4's post.) Similar caravans have been organized in recent years, mostly without attracting much attention, notes the Los Angeles Times. Many migrants plan to stay in Mexico rather than attempt asylum applications in the U.S.

Honduran activists blamed Donald Trump and the United States for the situation forcing thousands to flee Honduras -- noting U.S. recognition of Hernandez's controversial reelection last year despite broadly reported irregularities, reports Al Jazeera.

The Honduran migrant caravan defying Trump -- photos at the Guardian

News Briefs

  • Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales survived a third attempt to lift his immunity from prosecution. A congressional commission yesterday determined there wasn't enough evidence to start a criminal case against Morales, who is accused of accepting illicit campaign contributions for his 2015 campaign. (Associated Press and Nómada)
  • More bad news for the fight against corruption: the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) confirmed that several officials had their visas revoked or denied -- including Colombian lawyer Luis Fernando Orozco, who is investigating Morales in the alleged illicit campaign financing case. (Associated Press)(See yesterday's briefs.)
  • Four former Guatemalan Public Ministry officials rejected accusations from the current attorney general, Consuelo Porras, of improprieties under the administration of her predecessor in the post, Thelma Aldana, reports El Periódico. (See yesterday's briefs.)
  • Haiti is gearing up for massive protests today in relation to alleged fraud and mismanagement in the $2 billion Venezuela-financed Petrocaribe program. CEPR explains the anger that has fueled the anti-corruption protests, fueled by a social media campaign using the hashtags #PetrocaribeChallenge and #KotKobPetwoKaribea (“where is the Petrocaribe money?”).
  • Brazilian police asked prosecutors to charge President Michel Temer and ten close associates, including his daughter, with corruption, money-laundering and racketeering, reports Al Jazeera. The investigation is in relation to whether Temer took bribes to issue a decree in May 2017 to benefit companies in the port sector.
  • Infighting between leftist candidates in Brazil is hindering efforts at a grand coalition against far-right front-runner Jair Bolsonaro, reports Reuters. (See yesterday's briefs.)
  • The stakes for democracy are pretty high according to many commentators -- but the elections will also be key for the future of the Amazon and Brazilian environmental protections. Bolsonaro has promised to eliminate the Environmental ministry, and lump those concerns into the Agriculture ministry, which would favor farmers over conservationists, reports the New York Times.
  • Bolsonaro did however reject an impromptu endorsement from David Duke, the former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. (New York Times)
  • Bolsonaro, who is leading in polls ahead of Oct. 28's second round election, plans a drastic change in the country's foreign policy, and would follow Trump's lead in the U.S. He has promised to rethink membership in developing nation blocs Mercosur and BRICS and move the country’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. (Reuters)
  • There are mounting reports of political violence in Brazil -- including attacks on journalists, reports the Intercept. (See last Friday's briefs.)
  • Bolsonaro will not participate in debates or campaign rallies ahead of the runoff vote, due to ongoing health problems after an assassination attempt last month. Congressman Onyx Lorenzoni, slated to become presidential chief of staff if Jair Bolsonaro wins the election, said the debates were pointless anyway, reports Reuters.
  • Yesterday Bolsonaro traded barbs on social media with his opponent, leftist Fernando Haddad, who he called a "puppet guided by a drunkard." (Associated Press)
  • The United States launched a campaign called “Jailed for What?” at the United Nations to highlight the plight of an estimated 130 Cuban political prisoners. (Miami Herald)
  • "Paraguay’s public schools suffer from mismanagement, corruption and rural-urban inequality, but observers doubt that the new government is serious about addressing these issues," reports World Politics Review.
More migration
  • Most Venezuelan migrants are ending up in South American cities (see Oct. 4's briefs), but some are finding refuge in tiny rural communities such as remote Peruvian town of Iñapari in the Amazon. (Miami Herald)
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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