Friday, July 19, 2019

Advances in El Salvador's El Mozote case; DHS testimony (July 19, 2019)

News Briefs

  • During testimony yesterday before Congress, acting director of the Department of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan confirmed that the separation of migrant children from family members is still taking place (AP). He also asserted that authorities have recently registered a high number of incidents of migrants and asylum seekers crossing the border in large groups of over 100 people, although this is now reportedly declining. While under questioning, McAleenan also denied there was a lack of accountability and a general "dehumanizing culture" at Customs and Border Protection.  Review his full testimony here
  • Conditions are so inadequate at a Florida facility housing migrant children that Amnesty International recommends shutting the place down in a new report
  • Mexico migration authorities report detaining some 33,000 children and adolescents so far this year, a 132 percent increase from the same period last year. Of those detained, about half originated from Honduras; another 30 percent originated from Guatemala, with 11 percent originating from El Salvador (EFE). 
  • Mexico's ambassador to the U.S. affirmed that Mexico "is not ready" to sign a "safe third country" agreement with the United States—a deal that would force asylum seekers traveling northwards to apply first for asylum in Mexico (Reuters). Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard is scheduled to talk migration with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo this weekend—Mexico has until Monday, July 22, to show it has made "progress" in cutting migration levels, under the terms of a deal forged with the United States in order to avoid the imposition of punitive tariffs.
  • Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission has issued a formal complaint about overcrowded conditions in a migration detention center in Nuevo Leon state, where a Salvadoran migrant recently died in circumstances that remain unclear. 
  • PRI interviews a volunteer who searches for the remains of the disappeared in Mexico. 
  • An initiative in Mexico aims to support female volunteers who create free, open-source maps of underserved areas in Mexico (via Undark, a digital science magazine).
  • The European Union should use financial support and political pressure in order to help Colombia prioritize the implementation of crucial reforms under its historic 2016 peace deal, argues International Crisis Group.  
  • La Pulla, a videoblog published by Colombian newspaper El Espectador, examines Guatemala's presidential elections in its latest explainer (watch on YouTube). 
  • Venezuela opposition leader and National Assembly leader Juan Guaidó has called for protests on Tuesday July 23, to mark six months since he declared himself acting president (EFE). 
Central America
  • In an important advance for human rights and accountability in El Salvador, yesterday a judge ruled that 17 ex-members of the military will face charges for alleged crimes against humanity related to the 1981 El Mozote massacre (AP). As Al Jazeera notes, the ruling represents an important step towards seeking justice for the nearly 1,000 people killed at El Mozote and the families of victims.
  • "The government of El Salvador says that its official homicide data will now no longer include instances involving confrontations with security forces, a move that makes it difficult to analyze the country’s precarious security situation" (InSight Crime). 
  • WSJ examines questions related to the credibility of Brazil's justice system, following The Intercept's story (published last month) about how prosecutors schemed to keep the Workers’ Party from winning the 2018 presidential election by aggressively pushing corruption charges against former President "Lula" da Silva. Fallout from the story included tarnishing the reputation of President Bolsonaro's minister of justice, who previously presented himself as an anti-corruption crusader, the WSJ reports.
  • Accelerated deforestation rates in the Brazilian Amazon could threaten the regional trade deal reached last month with the European Union, as the agreement includes environmental commitments (Reuters).
  • PRI profiles Brazil's first transgender lawmaker, Erica Malunguinho.
  • "Bolsonaro’s victory cleared a path for Brazil’s left to regain its footing and recover its ability to set the political agenda. But that will require a change of vision" (Americas Quarterly with analysis on current political dynamics in the country).
  • Over the past 15 years, Brazil provided some 4 million people with new government housing, while also investing massively in renewing public spaces and building up public transportation systems. However, this wasn't always done successfully—by hiring private construction companies to build new and renovated buildings in favelas, "the result was quantity over quality," reports The Guardian
  • Ecuador registered its first-ever same sex marriage (AP). 
  • Bolivia has recorded a 7-year high in femicide killings, leading the government to declare addressing this issue a national priority (Reuters).
Southern Cone
  • Yesterday Argentina commemorated the 25th anniversary of its deadliest-ever terror attack, the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center. Argentina also marked the anniversary by designating Hezbollah a terrorist organization (Reuters). Argentina currently has a Jewish community of some 200,000 people, who are generally able to practice their faith peacefully, experts told Deutsche Welle, adding that while anti-Semitism isn't strongly prevalent in Latin American communities, the Internet is widely used in the region to spread anti-Semitic beliefs. 
  • Cuba has pardoned some 2,600 convicts, excluding those convicted of serious crimes such as homicide and favoring women and the elderly, state media reported (via Reuters). 
-- Elyssa Pachico

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