Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Mexico cites 'progress' on migration enforcement (July 23, 2019)

News Briefs

  • Mexico says migration to its northern border has dropped some 36 percent since June 7 (EFE), after the U.S.-Mexico agreement that came about thanks to President Trump's aggressive threats of tariffs. It's unclear how many of those detained and/or deported by Mexico were asylum seekers who were not given the opportunity to formally petition for protection. (According to BBC Mundo, Mexico's asylum agency has received some 35,000 petitions so far this year, compared to 28,000 registered in all of 2018). Nonetheless, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo only had positive words for Mexico after yesterday's meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs Marcelo Ebrard (AP).
  • As part of the U.S.-Mexico deal, Mexico has another 45 days to continue demonstrating commitment to addressing migration, under the terms set by the Trump administration. Notably, Ebrard reasserted that Mexico remains unwilling to establish a "safe third country" agreement with the United States (Reuters), which would force asylum seekers traveling to the U.S. to first apply for protection in Mexico (which just registered a new record in homicides for the first half of 2019, AP reports). 
  • The Trump administration is poised to fast-track the deportation of those who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border and who do not yet have a pending asylum or immigration court date; the federal rule is effective as of today, although it's likely to face challenges in court, reports Reuters. Given that fast-track deportation procedures in the U.S. are already seriously flawed, the new rule will make thousands of more people vulnerable to an opaque, abuse-prone process, Human Rights Watch stated. The Washington Post estimates that some 300,000 immigrants in the U.S. could face deportation as a result of this change in policy. 

  • Another outcome of Pompeo's Mexico visit is a new agreement of combatting arms trafficking (AP). 
  • Animal Politico has a more detailed breakdown in the increase in homicides across the country, with 18 of Mexico's 32 states (more than half) registering an uptick in violence. 

Central America
  • Pompeo described El Salvador as a potential "model on migration" after meeting with President President Nayib Bukele (Washington Post). 
  • Nicaragua's Vice President Rosario Murillo is increasingly concentrating power in her hands and in her inner circle, reports Confidencial. Meanwhile, the leading coalition of opposition groups criticized President Daniel Ortega's recent rejection of calls for dialogue.
  • President Trump threatened "Tariffs, Remittance Fees, or all of the above" against Guatemala, after the country's Constitutional Court blocked President Morales from moving forward with a "safe third country" deal. 

  • NYTimes op-ed coauthored by Noam Chomsky calls the recent release of Venezuelan judge María Lourdes Afiuni—who spent 10 years in prison without a trial, after facing charges of corruption—as "a step in the right direction." However, an estimated 590 political prisoners remain in detention in Venezuela, the op-ed states.  
  • Colombia's foreign minister confirmed he'll be attending the August 6 summit on Venezuela's crisis in Lima, asserting that one of the main goals of the summit is to drum up more international support for opposition leader Juan Guaido. The Peruvian government has invited some 100 countries to participate, including China and Russia (EFE). 
  • BBC Mundo profiles a young couple who met and fell in love while they were locked up in El Helicoide, the offices for Venezuela's state intelligence service and a detention site for political prisoners. 

  • The Committee to Protect Journalists with an in-depth look at the killing of a radio journalist in the southwestern department of Nariño, a hub for violence and drug trafficking. The report highlights the failure of local authorities to vigorously investigate the killing of those who speak out against drug-fueled violence in their local communities. 
  • The Colombian government wants the country's long-running civil conflict to be officially redefined as a "complex situation" (compleja situación)—that's according to a draft of suggested modifications to Colombia's official agreement with the UN human rights office, viewed by El Espectador (via Colombia Reports). 
  • Friday will see another "March for Life" across Colombia, to draw attention to the critical situation facing human rights defenders and social leaders in the country. The Ombudsman's Office is set to release a report showing that some 486 social leaders have been killed across the country since January 1, 2016 (Semana). 

  • A decree by President Bolsonaro halves the size of the civil society-led council meant to advice Congress and the executive branch on drug policy issues. An expert who'd formerly been involved with the council told the AP that this could seriously impact the future of how drug policy is formulated in Brazil. 
  • Former President Michel Temer (2016-2018) said he rated the Bolsonaro administration "very positively" in an interview with BBC Brasil

  • Presidential campaign season has kicked off in Bolivia. President Evo Morales, running for his fourth term in office, has an 11-point lead over rival candidate Carlos Mesa, according to a local poll (EFE). 
  • What comes next in Peru's fight against corruption? It's arguably time to stop depending on the Supreme Court to bring about a new era of accountability, and start taking to the streets, argues Peruvian journalist Gabriela Wiener in an op-ed for NYTimes en Español.

  • Haiti's prime minister has resigned, paving the way for President Jovenel Moïse to nominate a political unknown for the post. This will be Haiti's fourth prime minister since Moïse took office in February last year; it remains to be seen whether Parliament will confirm the nomination (Miami Herald). 

-- Elyssa Pachico 

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