Tuesday, October 13, 2020

U.S border agents deported Honduran migrants in Guatemala (Oct. 13, 2020)

 A group of U.S. border agents stationed in Guatemala detained Honduran migrants headed to the U.S. border and returned them to Honduras in an unauthorized operation last January, according to a review by Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The agents were posted to help train local police in counter narcotics and other efforts and are strictly prohibited by the State Department from conducting direct enforcement operations in countries abroad. The episode is the first in which U.S. agents were known to be involved in the physical deportation of migrants from a foreign country, reports the Wall Street Journal. The findings corroborate press reports in January, in which Guatemalan police said the United States paid for buses used to return migrants. (Guardian)

“It raises questions about whether the U.S. should be doing active immigration enforcement inside a sovereign country,” said Andrew Selee, president of the Migration Policy Institute, a Washington-based nonpartisan think tank. “One thing is to advise, the other is to be operationally involved in enforcement.”

News Briefs

More Migration
  • U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has promised to revert Trump administration immigration policies. But "the historical arc of immigration policy, the pandemic, entrenched agency cultures, and the limitations of executive lawmaking point to modest progress by a would-be Biden Administration," write Dennis Stinchcomb and Jayesh Rathod at the Aula Blog.
  • InSight Crime has an in-depth investigation on the dynamics of timber trafficking in Colombia, Honduras, Mexico and Peru, carried out with American University's Center for Latin American & Latino Studies. Illegal logging has become one of Latin America’s most frequent yet under-reported criminal economies. The corruption of public officials, the complicity of police forces and the weakness of protection mechanisms have contributed to the systematic plunder of the region’s forests.
  • The Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) denounced the arbitrary detention of the parliamentary candidate, Brenda Segovia, in Santa Cruz yesterday. (Telesur)
  • MAS party authorities also said a "second coup" is underway and voiced concerns about transparency in the rapid vote count in next Sunday's presidential election redo. (Nodal)
  • Bolivia's presidential election redo next Sunday is an opportunity for the country to finally tackle a laundry list of human rights violations that have remained impune, argues Amnesty International researcher María José Veramendi Villa in the Post Opinión.
  • Ecuador’s largest indigenous organisation, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), has filed a lawsuit against President Lenin Moreno and other officials for alleged crimes against humanity committed during protests last October that left 10 people dead. (Al Jazeera)
  • Guatemalan women's rights activists demanded justice in protests around the country related to a recent femicide, just one of 200 victims so far this year. The overwhelming majority of the cases remain unsolved, reports Al Jazeera.
El Salvador
  •  A Salvadoran judge investigating the army’s 1981 slaughter of a thousand people was blocked yesterday from entering a military installation in pursuit of files relating to the El Mozote massacre. It was the second time in less than a month that the military acted to obstruct the probe, reports EFE. (See briefs for Sept. 23.) President Nayib Bukele, who promised victims justice in his 2019 campaign, said recently that most of the military files from the period were destroyed. (Reuters)
Costa Rica
  • Hundreds of Costa Ricans protested yesterday against new taxes included in an agreement the government plans to present to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The march came after two weeks of road blockades in various parts of the country against a proposal to increase taxes as part of the negotiation to reach an agreement for $1.75 billion from the IMF, reports the AFP.
  • The twin cities of Nogales -- in Mexico and the U.S. -- share an 80-year-old drainage system that has been a boon for drug traffickers who have riddled it with tunnels, reports the Washington Post.
  • Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's move to dissolve public trusts that finance scientific research and arts will alienate many of his activist supporters, argues Ana Paula Ordorica in the Post Opinión.
  • Ahead of the referendum on whether to rewrite Chile's constitution, a new survey found the country's elite drastically underestimates the gap between their socio-economic reality and that of the middle and lower classes. (El Mercurio)
  • An anonymous witness said Peruvian President Martín Vizcarra accepted $280,000 in payoffs from a construction company involved in a public works project before he became president. Vizcarra denied the allegations and suggested that the complaints were a reprisal after he increased the pace of investigations of the “construction club” of engineering companies with links to government infrastructure projects. (Al Jazeera)
  • Analysts say Argentina is heading towards its seventh currency devaluation in 20 years, reports the Financial Times. The gap between the official dollar exchange rate and the black market price is more than 100 percent, a record. Options include a simple devaluation, or a formalized dual exchange rate system, with many operations moved to a new weaker exchange rate, but a much narrower gap between the two rates than exists today.
  • The International Monetary Fund said it had productive meetings with Argentine authorities during an in-person visit last week and will return in mid-November to initiate discussions on a new IMF-supported program. (Reuters)
  • A Japanese tourist got to visit Machu Picchu after a seven month wait due to coronavirus restrictions. He was the first tourist allowed to visit the UNESCO world heritage site, a nod by Peruvian authorities to his patient wait. The stone ruins will be reopened for national and foreign tourists in November, 30% of its normal capacity of 675 people a day will be permitted. (New York Times, Guardian)
I hope you're all staying safe and as sane as possible, given the circumstances ... Comments and critiques welcome, always.


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