Thursday, November 1, 2018

Migrants drawn to caravans (Nov. 1, 2018)

Would-be-migrants have been inspired by an attention-grabbing caravan pushing its way through Mexico and several others that have followed in its wake. Another migrant caravan has left from El Salvador, as people anxious to flee gang violence and poverty latch onto the system that allows for safety in numbers and bypasses the expensive services of human traffickers. Migrants also benefit from an outpouring of aid from local groups and governments. 

But, the attention the groups are attracting doesn't mean that more people are migrating, say advocates, just that their methodologies are evolving and they are receiving more notice. (Guardian and New York Times)

Nonetheless, migrants' treks are arousing considerable enmity in the U.S., where migration has become a hot-button mid-term campaign issue. Yesterday U.S. President Donald Trump said he is prepared to send up to 15,000 troops to the border with Mexico to head off migrants.  "Nobody’s coming in. We’re not allowing people to come in." (Guardian)

The main migrant caravan is heading towards Mexico's Veracruz state, a detour aimed at obtaining hospital care for sick children, reports Animal Político.

Though the U.S. administration is treating the caravans as a potential invasion, there aren't enough people in Central America to actually create a sustained migration surge, according to the Huffington Post.
Those fleeing are pushed by a combination of factors, including gang violence, poverty, and disabilities. (Al Jazeera)

News Briefs

  • A senior aide to Brazilian president-elect Jair Bolsonaro confirmed plans to merge the environmental and agriculture ministries, a move conservationists fear will jeopardize protection policies. (Guardian)
  • Bolsonaro adroitly interpreted tendencies that preceded his rise in Brazilian politics, especially voter anger at the traditional political class and rampant insecurity. "In the frame of a Brazil affected by a permanent sensation of insecurity, disillusioned by evidence of corruption, with traditional hierarchies in check, impoverished and stagnant, Bolsonaro offers a retro novelty: the promise to return to a lost normalcy, return to an idealized past, recover soothing order under the form of a "reactionary utopia" which harkens to a biblical classic of paradise lost," writes José Natanson in Nueva Sociedad.
  • Crusading Judge Sergio Moro, who has led the Operation Carwash investigation that tainted most of Brazil's established political parties from across the spectrum, said he would consider joining the Bolsonaro administration if invited. Bolsonaro floated the possibility of naming him justice minister. Other rumors point to a possible Supreme Court nomination. (Associated Press and Bloomberg)
  • From outside of Brazil, it might be hard to understand why the Whatsapp messaging application proved such a potent vehicle for fake news during the country's heated election season. The privacy afforded by the medium is one reason, but another is the dependence of Brazilians on the single application for just about all communication needs. (Slate)
  • The sister of assassinated Rio de Janeiro councillor Marielle Franco warned that minorities face grave danger under the incoming Bolsonaro administration, pointing to an uptick in political violence. (AFP)
  • The draconian security policies Bolsonaro espoused on the campaign trail have been employed in Rio de Janeiro since the beginning of the year, where military control of public security has led to a 45 percent increase in deaths at the hands of security forces, reports the New York Times.
  • A Peruvian judge sent opposition leader Keiko Fujimori back to jail, granting prosecutors' request to hold her in preventive detention for up to three years while they investigate charges that she ran a criminal network to launder illicit campaign donations. She was jailed for a week last month in relation to the case (see Oct. 11's post). Yesterday Judge Richard Concepción ruled she had sought to obstruct investigation into the Odebrecht case and considered her a flight risk. (GuardianReuters and La República)
  • Army General Manuel Cristopher took over Venezuela's state intelligence agency. The switch up in the Sebin occurs a few weeks after an opposition councillor in custody died in what authorities said was a suicide, but critics say was a murder, reports Reuters. (See Oct. 9's post.)
  • A former finance chief for Venezuela's state oil firm, Pdvsa, pleaded guilty to participating in an alleged $1.2 billion embezzlement scheme in a Miami federal court. (Associated Press)
  • U.S. national security advisor John Bolton is expected to give details about the Trump administration's Cuba and Venezuela policies in a speech in Miami today. (Reuters)
  • Salvadoran President Salvador Sánchez Cerén arrived in China for a week-long state visit. The first ever visit by a Salvadoran leader marks the recent reestablishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries, reports EFE. (See Aug. 24's post.)
  • Mexico's Supreme Court determined that two complainants must be permitted to use recreational marijuana, a decision that ratifies previous rulings in recent years. (See post for Nov. 5, 2015.) The ruling does not legalize recreational use, but through precedent, found that a blanket prohibition on marijuana use is unconstitutional. The decision could force Congress to regulate recreational marijuana, according to México Unido Contra la Delincuencia. (Associated and Animal Político) The incoming government has indicated it might seek to legalize marijuana. (See Oct. 25's briefs.)
  • A Colombian government move to raise taxes on certain staple goods could end President Iván Duque's honeymoon period. (Bloomberg)
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ... 

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