Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Six dead in violent Haiti protests (Nov. 20, 2018)

At least six people were killed in demonstrations across Haiti on Sunday -- though some estimates put the death toll at 11. Anti-corruption marches around the country protested allegations of embezzlement from a Venezuelan aid program, reports the Associated Press. But the Petrocaribe protests also turned into a referendum on President Jovenel Moïse and his failure to lead Haiti out of its current political and economic crisis, according to the Miami Herald.

Protesters called for Moïse's resignation and a probe into of $3.8 billion Haiti received as part of the regional Petrocaribe program, through which Venezuela provided subsidized oil to be used for development programs. A Haitian Senate investigation has alleged embezzlement by at least 14 former officials - all members of the current ruling party - but no legal proceedings have followed.

Some of the gun deaths from Sunday may be unrelated to protests, according to some accounts, reports AFP. Armed gangs exchanged gunfire with police in some parts of the capital, reports the Miami Herald.

Trump's asylum regulations blocked by judge

A U.S. federal judge temporarily blocked a Trump administration rule requiring asylum seekers to enter the U.S. through a legal port of entry. Judge Jon Tigar's decision orders the government to resume accepting asylum claims from migrants no matter where or how they entered the United States, reports the New York Times

Earlier this month, the Trump administration announced new rules, couched in national security concerns, that permit the government to deny asylum to virtually all seekers who cross the border illegally. (See Nov. 9's post.) The new regulations were immediately challenged by advocates, including the Southern Poverty Law Center and the ACLU, who called it a virtual asylum ban. The order suspends the Trump administration rule until the case is decided by court. 

Tigar said legislation clearly permits any foreigner arriving in the U.S. to apply for asylum, regardless of point of entry. He also said the administration misused its authority to issue emergency regulations and waive a 30-day waiting period to consider comments on the policy change, reports the Guardian.

The Justice Department argued yesterday that there is a “crushing strain” of migrants attempting to cross the border illegally and asking for asylum as a way to stay indefinitely, reports the Washington Post. Experts say the case could reach the Supreme Court.

Official border crossings often have long waiting periods, forcing would-be asylum seekers to wait in shelters or outdoor camps on the Mexican side of the border.

The administration issued the new rule as Central American migrants increasingly group in caravans to trek to the U.S. border -- though many of those are gathering in Tijuana and are requesting asylum interviews at the legal crossing there. About 3,000 are already on a waiting list, and 10,000 are expected in total, reports the Guardian.  (See yesterday's briefs.)

The US temporarily closed the San Ysidro border crossing yesterday to boost security. (BBC)

And Politico reports that the 5,800 troops deployed to the border to save the U.S. from migrants ahead of this month's mid-term elections will be home by Christmas.

News Briefs

  • Brazilian people don't know what it is to truly suffer dictatorship, said Brazil's military government admiring president-elect Jair Bolsonaro. "The Brazilian people still do not know what dictatorship is, do not know what it is to suffer at the hands of these people," he said after a phone conversation with Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban. Hungary "is a country that has suffered a lot with communism in the past, a people that knows what dictatorship is," Bolsonaro said. (Guardian)
More migration
  • More than 40,000 Venezuelans have fled to Trinidad and Tobago. More than 7,000 have applied for asylum or refugee status, but that still leaves them vulnerable to deportation, reports the Miami Herald.
  • About 150 Salvadorans set out in a new migrant caravan to the U.S. (Reuters)
  • OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro called on the ICC to investigate Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in a Washington Post opinion piece.
  • Efecto Cocuyo's Luz Mely Reyes discusses freedom of the press, digital media, and politics in Venezuela in a chat with WOLA.
  • El Salvador has the highest rate of femicides in Latin America and the Caribbean for last year, with more than 10 killings for every 100,000 women -- 468 in total. Brazil had a higher absolute number of femicides, with 1,133 in 2017, according to the latest ECLAC statistics. (TeleSUR)
  • 180 women were killed the Mexican locality of Ecatepec in this first eight months of the year. Sixty-four of the homicides were classified as femicides. The effect has been a generalized anxiety, reports the Los Angeles Times.
  • The latest Ibero-American Summit concluded in Guatemala last week with 20 agreements covering migration, climate change and transparency. Prensa Libre reports sparring between Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. Though corruption was a theme, the CICIG issue was notably absent. Nicaraguan foreign minister Denis Moncada said his country is one of the safest in the region.
  • Former Peruvian president Alan García has requested asylum at the Uruguayan embassy after after a judge retained his passport as part of a corruption investigation. (BBC and Associated Press)
  • Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel visited Russia, North Korea, China, Vietnam and Laos in a recent foreign tour, but returned home without immediate economic aid, reports the Miami Herald.
  • Canadian diplomats posted in Havana complain of abandonment by their government after suffering mysterious health symptoms, ascribed to a "sonic attack" by some, including U.S. authorities. (Guardian)
  • Two senior Chilean police officers resigned after the discovery that they destroyed a video showing the shooting of a young Mapuche man. Thousands of people attended Saturday’s funeral of 24-year-old Camilo Catrillanca, who was killed last week. (Associated Press)
  • Argentina's uncritical embrace of the "West" in foreign relations has proved unsuccessful at relaunching the country's economy and is based on an antiquated world vision. Rather President Mauricio Macri should seek a savvier approach between Washington and China, seeking regional allies and using the giants' trade war to Latin American advantage, argues José Natanson in a New York Times Español op-ed.
  • Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has been hired as a security advisor for Uruguay. (Mercopress)
  • Aruban Prime Minister Evelyn Wever-Croes is the country's first female leader -- but many women also hold important positions in the government, reports the New York Times.
  • Almost 4,000 people have been evacuated from the slopes of the Fuego volcano in Guatemala, five months after another eruption killed almost 200 people. (BBC)
  • Mexican novelist Fernando del Paso, winner of the Miguel de Cervantes Prize, died this week at 83. (New York Times)
  • Aldyr Schlee, who designed the Brazilian football team’s iconic jersey, died this week. (New York Times)

Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...

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