Monday, November 26, 2018

Migrants tear gassed at U.S. border (Nov. 26, 2018)

U.S. authorities threw tear gas at a group of Central American migrants who attempted to push past Mexican police and border fences to illegally cross into the U.S. Authorities temporarily shut down the San Ysidro border crossing between Tijuana and San Diego after a group of a few hundred migrants -- many with children -- protesting the slow pace of asylum request processing tried to rush the fence between the two countries. Some migrants believed that they would be granted asylum if they managed to reach U.S. soil, reports Animal Político. (Video at New York Times, pictures at the Guardian.)

Though the group represented just a tiny fraction of the thousands of migrants gathering in Tijuana to request asylum, its an escalation of the ongoing crisis started by the Central American migrant caravans that initially attracted U.S. President Donald Trump's ire a month ago. U.S. Homeland Security said Customs and Border Protection officials were targeted by projectiles thrown by migrants and the images of the scuffle yesterday could provide ammunition for Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric, warns the New York Times. Authorities responded to criticism of their use of tear gas saying that migrants pushed women and children to the front of the group, reports the Guardian.

Tijuana police detained 39 migrants involved in the incident, and Mexico will deport them back to their home countries, reports Animal Político separately. The Interior Ministry announced that a total of 500 migrants will be deported in relation to the incident, according to the Guardian. Forty-two migrants were detained on the U.S. side of the border.

An estimated 8,200 migrants have gathered in Tijuana and Mexicali. City authorities are overwhelmed by the number and lack resources to meet needs and many of the migrants could be waiting months for asylum appointments. U.S. authorities have been processing asylum seekers at a maximum rate of 100 per day, but often far less, reports the Washington Post.

The shelter run by Tijuana authorities is far beyond capacity, and migrants say living conditions there are unsustainable. This weekend Tijuana mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum declared a humanitarian crisis in the city and said he'd ask the U.N. for help in dealing with the thousands of migrants. (Associated Press)

The Trump administration is angling to have Mexico host asylum seekers until they obtain a hearing before a U.S. judge, a process that can take years, reports the New York Times. But incoming Interior Minister Olga Sánchez denied having reached such an agreement, according to the Associated Press. The move would represent a sharp change in current rules, under which asylum seekers are generally permitted to stay and work in the U.S. while awaiting their hearings -- a practise derided as a “catch and release” by Trump. A talk with Mexico's incoming administration officials on Sunday was reportedly derailed by the protest. 

More on migration
  • A 26-year-old Honduran killed last month when a migrant caravan tried to push past Guatemalan police at Mexico's southern border may have been hit by a powerful projectile launched by Mexican authorities, not intended for use in crowd control, reports the Los Angeles Times.
  • The Guardian profiles the families of the caravan traveling with children with disabilities.
  • Political violence in Honduras, which has contributed to an exodus of migrants, was sometimes carried out with U.S.-made weapons used by the government’s paramilitary force, reports the Miami Herald.

Haitian protests intensify

Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Henry Ceant promised a program to create jobs and loans for the country's poor youths, after a week of protests against corruption intensified into persistent calls for President Jovenel Moïse's resignation. Public works programs to clean canals, build roads and pick up trash will begin today said Ceant in a speech posted on Facebook on Saturday. (AFP)

On Friday thousands of protesters in Port-au-Prince culminated a week of unrest clashing with riot police, reports the New York Times. Though protests began targeting government corruption in relation to a Venezuelan development program, it has rapidly evolved to broader demonstrations against Haiti's economic doldrums and against Moïse.

(See last Thursday's post.)

In an unrelated incident, six people -- four customs officers and two civilians -- were killed in an argument on the Haitian border with the Dominican Republic. (Associated Press)

News Briefs

  • Mexican president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador asked the army to support his plan to create a National Guard for public security, even as the proposal comes under fire from organizations opposed to the militarization of internal security. (Animal Político)
  • Just days away from the end of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto's mandate, there has been not a single conviction in the emblematic case of the 43 disappeared Ayotzinapa students, notes Animal Político.
  • Mexico's Procuraduría General de la República refused to divulge facts about the ongoing investigation into Odebrecht bribes in the country, in response to an information request by Animal Político.
  • Former Venezuelan official Andrés Andrade is expected to be sentenced this week in a U.S. money laundering case. (See last Wednesday's briefs.) The example of the opulent lifestyle led by the former bodyguard to Hugo Chávez and his family is an example of how a small group of officials and connected business leaders have made a fortune, and arguably laid the groundwork for Venezuela's current humanitarian crisis, reports the New York Times.
  • Russian oil company Rosneft  head, Igor Sechin, met with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in Caracas to complain over delayed oil shipments designed to repay loans, according to Reuters.
  • Juan Antonio “Tony” Hernández, brother of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández, was detained by U.S. federal agents on drug and weapons charges, reports the Miami Herald.
Gender violence
  • Women around the world marched against gender violence yesterday, commemorating the U.N.-designated International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, reports the New York Times.
  • In the Dominican Republic, thousands marched calling for the end to the country’s total abortion ban, which includes cases when a pregnancy is life-threatening, unviable, or the result of rape. A recent Human Rights Watch report details how the criminalization of abortion affects women's health in the DR.
  • In Mexico demonstrators called for protection against femicides. (Animal Político)
  • In Bolivia demonstrators commemorated women killed in acts of gender violence demanded policies to target the phenomenon. (EFE)
  • Deforestation figures for the past year in Brazil are the worst in a decade, and environmentalists fear the situation will only get worst under incoming president Jair Bolsonaro, reports the Guardian.
  • The killing of a young Mapuche man by a Chilean anti-terrorism police squad dubbed the "Jungle Commando" has focused criticism of security forces' treatment of indigenous communities in southern Chile, reports the New York Times.
  • The focus of this week's G-20 meeting in Buenos Aires is supposed to be development, infrastructure and food security -- the real themes will likely be trade disputes between the U.S. and China and the signing of the new North American free trade deal, reports the Associated Press. While, Argentina had hoped for the meeting to be an opportunity to showcase economic transformation -- instead it will be a moment to plead for international aid. 
  • A highly anticipated final between Argentine fútbol rivals Boca and River was postponed on Saturday after a violent attack on the visiting team's bus as players arrived for the match. (New York TimesGuardianGuardian again, and Washington Post) Though the incident was largely contained, it reflects poorly on Argentine security less than a week ahead of the G-20 meeting, which will be held close to the River Stadium where local and national authorities failed to guarantee order on Saturday. La Política Online susses out the many political links.
  • "In a country where many see their soccer team as the principle source of their identity, where far too many feel they have little else to live for, and where the economy is struggling and inflation rampant, [the intense focus on winning] can have much more serious consequences for fans," writes Rory Smith in the New York Times. (More here in another piece by Smith.
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...

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