Monday, August 5, 2019

Mexico says El Paso shooting was an act of terrorism (Aug. 5, 2019)

Mexico is exploring legal actions after a U.S. shooting killed 20 people -- eight of them Mexican citizens. The suspected attacker in this weekend's El Paso shooting is has been linked to a hateful anti-immigrant manifesto posted online that refers to the "hispanic invasion of Texas." The online post is filled with white supremacist language and racist hatred aimed at immigrants and Latinos. Twenty-six people were wounded -- seven of them Mexican citizens.

Mexican foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard called the attack "an act of terrorism against the Mexican-American community and Mexican nationals in the United States." He said that the country could pursue terrorism charges, extradition of the gunman, and legal action against the person or firm who sold the assault weapon used in the attack. Mexico will ask the U.S. for access to its investigation into the attack. 

Ebrard also said Mexico's government would formally ask the United States to take a clear position against hate crimes. "The president has instructed me to ensure that Mexico’s indignation translates into ... efficient, prompt, expeditious and forceful legal actions for Mexico to take a role and demand that conditions are established that protect ... Mexicans in the United States," Ebrard said. Mexico will consult with its U.S. consults to expand care and protection protocols for Mexican nationals. Mexico is planning to convene a conference with other Spanish-speaking countries that have immigrant communities in the United States to promote their defense, Ebrard said.

“The intentionality of the attack against the Mexicans and the Latino community in El Paso is frightening. NO to hate speech. NO to xenophobic discourse,” tweeted Martha Bárcena, Mexico’s ambassador in Washington.

The targeted Walmart is close to the Mexican border, and is a hub for shoppers from Ciudad Juárez. And the attack strikes at a city where people living on both sides of the border lead interconnected lives. "This Anglo man came here to kill Hispanics," said El Paso County Sheriff Richard Wiles in a Facebook post. "I'm outraged and you should be too."

Many Mexicans were indignant about the attack in the U.S. -- which warns its own citizens of cartel violence in Mexico. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has pushed for the U.S. to intervene in arms flows to Mexico, where weapons fuel criminal organization related violence. AMLO said today that the episode could lead to a change in U.S. gun laws.

Speaking yesterday, AMLO did not blame his U.S. counterpart's vitriolic discourse for the attack, instead  saying the attack was "a product of [societal] decomposition, of problems certain people have. It’s not a generalized issue." He also said he would not get involved in other countries' internal affairs.

Many in the U.S. -- including Democratic presidential candidates -- are linking President Donald Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric with the attack, however.

News Briefs

  • U.S. iron-fist migration policies have resulted in a massive increase in deportations to Mexico, where detention centers are overflowing and migrants are sometimes subjected to inhumane conditions that include extreme temperatures, bedbugs, inadequate sanitation, and lack of access to health care, reports the New York Times.
  • Cuban migrants, accustomed to preferential treatment with the U.S., are among those stuck in Mexico attempting to obtain U.S. asylum, and in Guatemala attempting to receive visas permitting them to trek across Mexico. Migration from Cuba has spiked in part due to Trump administration sanctions that have worsened living conditions on the island, reports the Wall Street Journal.
  • Even as the U.S. cracks down on migration in general, the Trump administration will likely implement protections for thousands of Venezuelans already in the U.S., reports NPR. The policy could either be Temporary Protected Status or a different program called Deferred Enforced Departure.
  • The Trump administration is ending a program that allowed thousands of green-card eligible Haitians to live in the U.S. while the process was adjudicated, reports the Miami Herald.
  • Colombia granted citizenship to more than 24,000 children born to Venezuelan migrants on its territory since 2015. Babies born for the next two years are also covered by the measure that seeks to address a byproduct of the Venezuelan refugee crisis: undocumented children, reports the Washington Post.
  • Journalist Jorge Ruiz Vázquez, a reporter with the Gráfico de Xalapa newspaper, was killed Friday -- the third journalist killed in just a week in Mexico. He was supposed to have received protection from state security forces but this was missing on the night of the killing, reports the Guardian. Mexican officials said the investigation would examine why procedures to protect him failed. (Agencies)
  • President Daniel Ortega's government is throttling independent media in Nicaragua -- La Prensa, one of the countries most venerable newspapers hasn't been allowed to import paper and ink since last year, and could be forced to shut-down as a result, reports the Washington Post.
  • Economist Francisco Rodríguez explains how U.S. sanctions have impacted Venezuelan oil production and the electricity crisis at Venezuelan Politics and Human Rights. "The bottom line is that, regardless of the causes, the country is neither producing nor importing the food needed for 26 million persons to survive.  The risk of an outright famine is significant."
  • At least half a dozen Venezuelans linked to either Maduro or his predecessor, dictator Hugo Chavez, purchased Trump condos in New York City and South Florida prior to Trump becoming president, according to Politico.
  • Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro sacked the head of a government agency that tracks deforestation. The move was protested by public employees and environmental activists. Physicist Ricardo Galvão was fired from the respected National Space Research Agency, known as Inpe, after official figures showed a steep increase in Amazon deforestation. Bolsonaro cast doubt on the figures and said they were released "with the objective of harming the name of Brazil and its government." (Wall Street JournalNew York Times)
  • Brazilian prisons are a perfect storm of policy failures -- overcrowding and organized crime control have lead to increasingly common violent massacres, like the riot in which 58 prisoners were killed last week in a Para state prison, reports the Washington Post.
  • A Brazilian gang leader attempted to break out of jail disguised as his teenage daughter, but he was (literally) unmasked by prison guards who saw through the ruse. (GuardianWashington Post)
  • Brazil has boasted the highest number of trans murders, every single year, since 2009, reports Ms.
  • Last week Bolsonaro appointed two members of the armed forces to a commission investigating deaths and disappearances during the brutal 1964-81 military dictatorship, reports AFP.
  • U.S. prosecutors accused Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández of conspiring with his brother and other top politicians to protect drug traffickers, reports the Wall Street Journal. Court documents released Friday include allegations that about $1.5 million in drug proceeds were used to support Hernández’s 2013 presidential election.
  • Venezuelan artist Carlos Cruz-Diez -- a leading figure in the 1960's op-art movement -- died at 95 in Paris. He focused on color, which he believed was widely misunderstood as static, when it actually"evolves continuously in time and space." (Obits: New York TimesGuardianEconomist.)

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

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