Tuesday, December 18, 2018

A Marshall Plan for Central America? (Dec. 18, 2018)

Over the past two years, the United States provided about $1.3 billion in aid to Central America, mainly to Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. The funding was aimed at development, with hopes of putting a dent in migration. But though there is evidence that conditions are improving, its not enough to tackle the systemic problems pushing migrants to move, write Maya Averbuch and Sarah Kinosian in Foreign Policy.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador envisions doubling down on aid, with a sort of Marshall Plan for Central America: $30 billion over five years in job-creating economic development assistance. He's trying to convince the U.S. to sign on, and could offer to keep Central American migrants in Mexico while they await asylum in the U.S. in exchange. It's a great idea, argues Washington Post editorial board.

It is in many ways the opposite of the Trump administration's crackdown approach, but is aimed at avoiding confrontation with the U.S., reports the New York Times. Should it fail, Mexican officials plan to use the threat of Chinese influence in the region as leverage, playing off another growing theme in Latin American international policy. They will seek to avoid handing the U.S. the win of accepting asylum seekers without anything in exchange.

News Briefs

More Migration
  • Over 49,000 unaccompanied minors have been apprehended at the U.S. border so far this year. Though they come from some of the most dangerous countries in the world, the journey from Central America to the U.S. border exposes them to new risks, including rape, murder, kidnapping and robbery. With increasingly long wait times to apply for asylum, they are spending longer in dangerous environments at the border. (Guardian)
  • While the U.S. considers Central American migrants to be a security threat, many Hondurans making the trek consider the journey to be a form of civil disobedience, writes Crystal Vance Guerra in Yes Magazine.
More from Mexico
  • Mexico’s wage commission plans to increase the national minimum wage about 16 percent, to about $5 a day. AMLO promised to tie further increases to inflation, reports Reuters.
  • Devaluation of Haiti's gourde has been devastating this year for the country's poorest, as well as the shrinking middle class. And the stress is likely to fuel further unrest, reports AFP.
El Salvador
  • Imelda Cortez was freed from jail after being found not guilty of attempted murder in a case that provoked international outrage regarding El Salvador's draconian anti-abortion laws. Cortez faced 20 years in prison after giving birth to a baby girl in a latrine, the result of sexual abuse by her step father. Cortez said she didn't know she was pregnant, but prosecutors charged her with attempted murder, reports the Guardian. (See Nov. 13's briefs.)
Mano Dura
  • Forty percent of the world's homicides occur in Latin America, where governments often opt for failed mano dura security policies. Success cases demonstrate the need to understand, and empathize the roots of violence, write José Luis Pardo Veiras y Alejandra Sánchez Inzunza of Dromómanos in a New York Times Español op-ed.
  • A Brazilian indigenous leader asked EU to impose sanctions on Brazil in order to protect its environment and indigenous communities. Sônia Guajajara, the leader of Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Brasil(APBI) which represents more than 300 Brazilian indigenous groups, said they are concerned about a social genocide under president-elect Jair Bolsonaro, who has promised to roll back environmental regulations and called his opponents terrorists. (Guardian)
  • For example, Bolsonaro has said the 9.6 million hectare Yanomami reserve, which at 9.6m hectares was too big for its indigenous population. The Guardian explores the historic threats the isolated tribe has faced, including a road carved through their land by the 1970s military dictatorship, and the 1980s invasion of illegal miners.
  • Rio de Janeiro police foiled a paramilitary plan to assassinate state lawmaker Marcelo Freixas this past weekend. The lawmaker presided over an investigative commission about militia activities ten years ago, and since then, he has received multiple death threats, which required him to have police protection at all times, reports Folha de S. Paulo. Marielle Franco, a Rio city councilor who was killed earlier this year had worked with him. But El País notes that these cases are just the tip of the iceberg in what is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for rights defenders, especially those focused on the environment.
  • Rio State authorities said Franco's assassination in March was likely ordered by a militia seeking to protect control over land in Rio de Janeiro's favelas, reports AFP.
  • Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro warned potential military interventionists that foreign invaders will not make it out alive if they encroach on Venezuela’s "sacred soil." Ludicrous though it may seem, the speech to Venezuela's Bolivarian militia comes in the midst of rising tensions and rhetoric in the region, reports the Guardian. Last week  Russia landed two nuclear-capable bombers in Caracas in support of Maduro, while the U.S. labeled Venezuela part of a Latin America “troika of terror."
  • El Nacional's decision to end its print edition is just the latest in hits to press freedom in Venezuela. At least 30 papers have stopped circulating so far this year, writes Alberto Barrera Tyszka in a New York Times Español op-ed.
  • A group of creditors has demanded payment on a $1.5 billion Venezuelan bond that is in default. The move could kick off a showdown between international investors and Venezuela's government, reports Reuters.
  • Caracas, once a thriving cosmopolitan city, is on the brink of collapse in the midst of Venezuela's crushing crisis. (Guardian)
  • Uruguay has presidential elections in October of next year. Though the country is far more stable and tranquil than many others in the region, the dynamics of corruption and increased crime could augur a turn to the right, writes Laurence Blair in World Politics Review.
  • A Colombian court ordered the government to suspend new mining licenses until it establishes protected areas. The government said it would appeal the decision, reports Reuters.
  • Remedios Loza, Bolivia's first female Aymara lawmaker, died of cancer. She was honored by officials and supporters who remembered her as the first lawmaker to wear the traditional Aymara pollera in the country's Legislative Assembly, reports EFE.
El Chapo
  • The hottest ticket in New York is the ongoing trial against Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán. Full of salacious details and cocaine smuggling facts, narco-tourists are standing in line for hours to get a coveted spot. (New York Times)

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

1 comment:

  1. Keep your money USA and build your wall. Central America is black hole for money because of the rife corruption. The best way for Central America is to grow is to leave that place alone. That means no more CIA coups or pentagon invasions.