Monday, November 5, 2018

Migration briefs (Nov. 5, 2018)

  • The main migrant caravan from Honduras is in Mexico's Veracruz state. It is currently composed of approximately four to five thousand people. Veracruz governor Miguel Angel Yunes promised them buses to reach the U.S. border, but backed down, possibly in an attempt to avoid forcing a clash at the border ahead of tomorrow's midterm elections in the U.S. The cancelation was criticized by the U.N. human rights office for leaving migrants in a dangerous position. (Washington PostAnimal Político, and Los Angeles Times)
  • In Mexico City advocates are preparing to receive about 5,000 migrants. They started trickling in over the weekend and the numbers are expected to swell over the next few days. (Animal Político and El País)
  • A third caravan crossed from Guatemala to Mexico on Friday, wading across the Suchiate River after Mexican authorities tried to break up the group in order to process their documents. (Guardian)
  • Dozens of migrants are hoping to cross from Ciudad Juárez to El Paso ahead of the migrant caravan. (Miami Herald)
  • At least four caravans are making their way from Central America towards the U.S. -- leading many experts to to predict the system could become a mainstay along the traditional migration route. Though its cheaper and safer for migrants who travel for free and protect each other from threats, the method is challenging the region's international relations and aid groups assisting the caravans. (Washington Post)
  • U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to cut aid to governments in the region that do not act to stop the migrants. He said that the money "is probably just stolen" by corrupt leaders. "They don't do a damned thing, they don't do a damned thing for us," Trump said at a rally Sunday. (Washington Examiner)
  • But, so far funding for USAID programs in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras has remained steady, reports the New York Times.
  • In part Central American migrants are pushed gangs that use extortion as an economic tool. In El Salvador the problem is particularly acute: gangs earn about $20 million a year from extortion, and MS-13 and Barrio 18 may be the country's largest employers, reports the Wall Street Journal.
  • Venezuelan migrants in Colombia are taxing resources there, but could also become a long-term economic asset for their host country, according to a new World Bank report. The study notes that the benefit will come only if Colombia moves to quickly integrate refugees and mitigates potential poverty traps. (Miami Herald)
  • Ecuador will subscribe to a new protocol targeting migrant families and children, particularly those from Venezuela, in conjunction with UNICEF. (Efecto Cocuyo)
News Briefs

  • co-founder Joseph Poliszuk, will receive the 2018 Knight International Journalism Award from the International Center for Journalists. (Miami Herald)
  • With Jair Bolsonaro's victory in Brazil, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro is increasingly surrounded by hostile governments. Only five countries in the region can still be called allies: Nicaragua, Bolivia, El Salvador, Cuba, and Trinidad and Tobago. (Efecto Cocuyo)
  • Maduro's is egregiously corrupt and has headed severe human rights violations -- belying Mexican president-elect Andres Manuel López Obrador's efforts at neutrality when it comes to inviting the Venezuelan leader to his upcoming inauguration, argues Alberto Barrera Tyzska in a New York Times Español op-ed.
  • Last week the Guatemalan government rejected a request to renew Iván Velásquez's visa. The Colombian head of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) was prevented from returning to Guatemala in September, and has continued to head the U.N. backed anti-graft organism from abroad. Though a Constitutional Court decision in September determined the government cannot prohibit Velásquez's entry, the Morales administration has continued its battle against the CICIG. (Prensa Libre and Nómada)
  • In October the Guatemalan government also refused to renew the visa of 11 foreign CICIG officials. President Jimmy Morales and foreign minister Sandra Jovel said the refusals were related to officials' criminal record, a dubious allegation according to Nómada, which notes that the lead investigator against Morales' FCN party was one of the rejected visas.
  • The CICIG recently presented an investigation into opposition lawmaker Nineth Montenegro, head of Encuentro por Guatemala, and asked for her to be removed from Congress. The request hits at a CICIG ally -- Encuentro por Guatemala is one of the parties behind former attorney general Thelma Aldana's potential presidential run. (Nómada)
  • Brazilian president-elect Jair Bolsonaro and allies propose cracking down hard on alleged criminals in order to stop record homicide rates in the country -- critics say it would be a bloodbath. (Guardian)
  • Operation Car Wash Judge Sérgio Moro will become the new administration's justice minister. The move is aimed at strengthening anti-corruption policies, but comes at a cost for the landmark corruption investigation, argues Brian Winter at Americas Quarterly. (See Friday's post.)
  • Bolsonaro has promised to loosen environmental regulations in favor of productivity, but new research shows that strict environmental laws have actually helped Amazonian farmers, writes Rachael Garrett in the Conversation.
  • New measures aimed at curbing illicit drug production in Colombia -- such as limiting gasoline sales and access to energy -- might impact residents more than criminal groups, warns InSight Crime.
  • Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán goes on trial in New York today. The hundreds of thousands of pages of evidence compiled by prosecutors paint the picture of the Sinaloa Cartel leader's mythical rise, but also of how frictions between internal factions led to the organization's fall from primacy, reports the Guardian.
  • Extortion is one of Mexico's most common crimes, but extreme underreporting makes it a difficult phenomenon for authorities to target -- a common issue throughout the region, reports InSight Crime.
  • About 15 percent of Latin America's alcohol is sold illicitly, though the percentage climes to nearly 43 percent in Mexico. (InSight Crime)
  • Latin American voters are increasingly less ideological and more pragmatic, according to the latest Latinobárometro poll, which found that support for democracy is eroding. (El País)
  • Energy is cheap and abundant in Paraguay -- a fact an increasing number of cryptocurrency entrepreneurs are exploiting to mine Bitcoins and Ethereum. (Guardian)
  • As usual, the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly voted an annual resolution calling on the U.S. to lift its embargo on Cuba. This time the U.S. attempted to shift the focus by introducing amendments critical of Cuba's human rights and civil freedoms record, but they were rejected by the vast majority of the General Assembly. (Miami Herald)
  • The U.S. is considering permitting Cuban Americans to sue foreign companies owning real estate in Cuba that was originally seized by the government. (Miami Herald)
  • Conservationists and architects are exploring traditional building methods for stabilizing structures in earthquakes. (New York Times)
Foodie corner
  • Refettorio Gastromotiva in Rio de Janeiro deploys "social gastronomy" as a tool for inclusion. (Guardian)
  • Top Andean chefs hunt caimans and food novelties in the Amazon -- jungle to table. (New York Times)
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...

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