Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Hurricanes could contribute to a migration surge (Nov. 25, 2020)

Massive hurricane destruction this month in Central America has compounded economic devastation from the pandemic and long droughts. The situation expected to spur many vulnerable populations to seek alternatives elsewhere. Tens of thousands of Central Americans remain in shelters after the Eta-Iota destruction of their communities, but those along the migration route have already started to see storm victims begin to trickle north, reports the Associated Press.

Felipe Del Cid, Americas chief of operations for the Red Cross, described a “triple emergency” in countries like Honduras and Guatemala, referring to Eta, the pandemic and the years-long drought that has made even subsistence agriculture impossible across a long swath of the region. He said the Red Cross was preparing for internal displacement, as well as migration to other countries.

U.S. president-elect Joe Biden's promise to reverse many of the current Trump administration's most controversial measures could add to a potential mass migration, according to some experts. "There are very real risks that sudden changes in policy could generate a surge of unauthorized migration," warned Andrew Selee of the Migration Policy Institute in an Americas Quarterly piece last week.

"Absent a short-term fix, the region is likely to see more migration as damage from the hurricanes makes a difficult region in which to live yet more uninhabitable," warns a Los Angeles Times editorial. Even before this month's storms, some experts were warning that a potential migration surge could be an early test for the incoming Biden administration. (See Oct. 29's briefs.)

Because of this, experts don't believe Biden will take drastic measures right off the bat. They also warn that policies in Mexico and Guatemala to stop migrant caravans are unlikely to change immediately. "It is likely that the new U.S. administration will have to maintain the CDC order for summary expulsions, at least for a few weeks or months, while also relying on the Mexican and Central American governments to limit the movement of caravans through their territory – but they must immediately begin to construct a new regional architecture for managing migration," writes Seele.

More Migration
  • The U.S. Trump administration expelled 33 children who came to the country without a parent back to Guatemala after a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction blocking the controversial practice last week, reports Buzzfeed.
  • "Although deep reporting of the family separation policy and Central American exodus has helped shed light on the complex problems pushing people to take perilous journeys, much of the major coverage of Central Americans and their homelands remains shallow or sensationalized. And Central American stories and geographies that fall outside limited migration narratives often don’t make the news at all." The latest issue of the NACLA Report, "reflects on Central America’s past, present, and uncertain future. Migration is interwoven in these stories, and many authors offer incisive analysis that can enrich understandings of why Central Americans leave their homes."

News Briefs

Brazil
  • The deadly beating of a Black man, Joao Alberto Silveira Freitas, by white guards in Brazil last week exemplifies "the persistent structural discrimination and racism" faced by Afro-Brazilians, according to the U.N. rights office. (AFP, see Monday's briefs.)
  • Black political participation is surging in Brazil, especially in local government. Afro-Brazilian women won 14% of city council seats nationwide in this month's municipal elections, compared to 3.9% four years ago. Black women still hit a hard glass ceiling when aiming for higher office, though, writes Gladys Mitchell-Walthour in the Conversation. (See Nov. 13's briefs.)
  • Rio de Janeiro councillor Marielle Franco's 2018 assassination "could have had a chilling effect upon Black candidates, it instead inspired a wave of Black candidacies," wrote Dalila Fernandes de Negreiros in NACLA recently.
Venezuela
  • WOLA has a new podcast -- The Venezuela Briefing -- which will explore various aspects of Venezuela’s political, humanitarian, and migratory crises, and the prospects for change. In the first episode Geoff Ramsey and Kristen Martinez-Gugerli interview Feliciano Reyna, founder and executive president of Acción Solidaria, a humanitarian organization that advocates a peaceful and negotiated political solution to Venezuela's crisis.
Guatemala
  • Massive protests against a budget proposal in Guatemala last weekend build on the country's recent history of political activism, which ousted a president in 2015 and attempted to push back against the dismantling of the country's anti-corruption efforts. But anger has grown over the years, and the latest protests were more motivated outrage and ire against establishment politicians, writes Plaza Pública's Enrique Naveda in the Post Opinión. (See Monday's post.)
Bolivia
  • Bolivian President Luis Arce should resist the temptation to engage in revenge justice against his predecessor's questionable government and instead initiate broad reforms. Prosecutors should of course investigate evidence of corruption or other crimes. But Arce should stop any witch hunt, argue Human Rights Watch's José Miguel Vivanco and César Muñoz Acebes in Americas Quarterly.
Colombia
  • Four years after a landmark peace deal, the security situation in several parts of Colombia -- particularly Cauca -- has deteriorated notably, reports Al Jazeera. Demobilized fighters and human rights defenders have been systematically killed, threatened, or attacked and dissident groups and other armed actors vying for illicit economies in former FARC territories.
Mexico
  • Mexican security forces have arrested local drug cartel boss Roberto González Montes, nicknamed El Mudo, implicated in the 2019 massacre of 9 women and children from a remote Mormon community. Montes is allegedly the leader of a local section of La Línea, which is considered the armed wing of the Juárez cartel and is accused of running extortion rackets in the region, among other illegal activities. (Guardian)
  • A new national survey suggests a third of businesses have experienced corruption in the past year, reports the Latin America Risk Report.
Haiti
  • FIFA, has banned the president of the Haitian Football Federation (FHF), Yves Jean-Bart, from the sport for life, following an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment and abuse, reports CNN. The decision should be followed by swift action to sanction other abusers and their accomplices, criminal prosecutions in Haiti and other jurisdictions, and ongoing therapeutic support for survivors, argues Human Rights Watch.
Regional
  • The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the Office of the Special Rapporteur on Economic, Social, Cultural, and Economic Rights (OSRESCER) have published a thematic report on trans and gender-diverse people and their economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights.
Argentina
  • Argentina's women are held up to untenable standards of motherhood under a "patriarchal" judicial system, writes María Florencia Alcaraz in the Post Opinión. On the International Day of Elimination of Violence against Women she holds up the case of María Ramona Ovando, an impoverished victim of systematic poverty and machismo who was first imprisoned after one of her daughters died of malnutrition and has now been jailed again for failing to prevent sexual abuse suffered by two of her daughters. "The presumption of innocence doesn't exist when it comes to situations related to conception, pregnancy, birth, and maternity."
  • Argentina's largest criminal group, Los Monos, seems to be behind a wave of violence in Rosario, part of a territorial war with rival clans contesting control of microtrafficking, reports InSight Crime.

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

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