Friday, August 27, 2021

Migrants in Mexico (Aug. 27, 2021)

 Mexico received 124 Afghan refugees this week, including a group of New York Times journalists and members of an all-female robotics team. While the U.S. immigration system has struggled to react quickly to the current crisis, Mexican officials led by foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard were able to cut through red tape in order to provide immediate protection for evacuees, reports the New York Times (and also here).

But many observers have contrasted Mexico's welcome of Afghan refugees with the dangers faced by Central American asylum seekers in the country. Mexico has bussed thousands of migrants deported from the U.S. to El Ceibo, a remote Guatemalan outpost, where up to 600 people arrive each day to the settlement that has no migrant infrastructure nor health protocols to protect against the spread of Covid-19. (See Tuesday's briefs.)

And a new report by Human Rights First documented 6,356 kidnappings and other attacks, including rape, human trafficking, and violent armed assaults, against asylum seekers and migrants expelled to or blocked at the U.S.-Mexico border since President Biden took office in January 2021. (CBS News)

The U.S. has urged Mexico to clear ad-hoc camps housing thousands of migrants in border cities, reports Reuters. U.S. officials are concerned that camps in Reynosa and Tijuana -- each housing 2,500 people -- could jeopardize security if migrants make a rush for the border. The camps attract criminal gangs, say U.S. officials. 

The request comes the same week the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the Biden administration to resume a criticized program that forces asylum seekers to await their cases' adjudication in Mexico. (See Wednesday's post.)

Yesterday Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Mexico will continue helping the United States on immigration. But he noted “it can’t go on forever,” reports the Associated Press.

News Briefs

  • Democracy is quickly eroding in many Central American countries -- El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras -- warns the Economist. "Poor governance has led to insecurity, economic stagnation and shoddy public services. Institutions that ought to uphold the rule of law, such as the courts and UN-backed bodies, have been co-opted or dismantled, allowing corruption to increase. The pandemic has added to these problems."
  • Nicaragua's government is advancing towards an agreement with Russia to cooperate on information security -- a move that digital security experts say could be used as another tool to persecute political opponents, reports El Confidencial.
  • The Ortega government's war against NGO's has affected dozens of organizations of civil society, including many that carried out health programs for vulnerable populations, reports Connectas.
  • There are more than 52,000 unidentified cadavers in Mexico, where states on average identify just 20 percent of the bodies they receive according to a new report. (El País)
  • The search for missing members of Mexico’s Yaqui Indigenous community has become a rallying cry for activists pointing to the shocking number of disappearances in Mexico's Sonora state, reports InSight Crime.
  • Two week's after the magnitude-7.2 earthquake that devastated southern Haiti, affected communities are fending for themselves amid the wreckage, as rain, gangs and political crises complicate aid delivery, reports the Guardian. "Despite the hellish outlook, Haitians’ famous resilience is plain to see."
  • Haiti is a prime example of how U.S. efforts at reconstruction in other nations fail, argues Pedro Brieger in Nodal.
  • Peru's Congress is currently debating President Pedro Castillo's cabinet, and is expected to vote on whether to accept it today. If the Cabinet is rejected by the center-right coalition that runs Peru's Congress, Castillo will have to present a new Cabinet led by a new prime minister. (La Mula, Reuters)
  • Ecuadorean President Guillermo Lasso has one of the region's highest approval ratings, in part due to ramped up vaccinations, but also because he "has also been careful to reach out to different ideological camps—both inside Ecuador and through diplomacy with other world leaders—and has taken conciliatory positions on several key issues," explains Catherine Osborn in the Latin America Brief.
  • Chile's Constitutional Convention is finalizing the procedures that will guide the actual drafting of a new magna charter. Several key points delegates have agreed on include several instances of popular consultation for the creation of the new constitution -- ranging from plebiscite for popular feedback on clauses that do not obtain a two-thirds majority but do garner more than three-fifths in two votes. But the consultation process could be legally challenged by right-wing opponents before Chile's Supreme Court. (La Bot Constituyente)
  • Argentine President Alberto Fernández is battling the fallout of pictures portraying an illicit birthday gathering for the First Lady during last year's coronavirus lockdown -- the scandal has put the government on the defensive ahead of midterm election primaries next month, reports the Financial Times.
  • Argentine environmental activists rejected a pork production agreement with China they say will lead to destructive megafactories -- Nodal.
  • Paraguay's level of deforestation is outpacing some of its much larger neighbors – especially in the destruction of protected land, reports InSight Crime.
  • Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro suggested that  everyone should buy a rifle, in response to critics of his efforts to expand gun ownership in the country. (Reuters)
  • Recife's very young mayor, João Campos, is  betting on innovation to build a name for himself in Brazil's most unequal capital, reports Americas Quarterly.
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ... Latin America Daily Briefing

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