Monday, September 27, 2021

Chilean protesters set fire to migrant camp (Sept. 27, 2021)

Over 3,000 people marched Saturday the Chilean city of Iquique to protest the presence of undocumented Venezuelans. Some demonstrators scuffled with migrants and others set fire to an empty immigrant camp, burning people's meager belongings, including tents, mattresses, bags, blankets and toys.

The demonstration took place a day after police evacuated a migrant camp that had existed for a year in the town square. Carabineros clashed with migrants, several of whom were detained. Most of the migrants, poor and undocumented, are stranded in the city, surviving on odd jobs with no way to reach the capital.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the UN rapporteur for migrant peoples' rights expressed concern after the attack and called on the Piñera government to protect vulnerable populations.

News Briefs

  • The escalating rivalry between the U.S. and China could help create a more environmentally healthy and socially equitable hemisphere if the two countries compete to accelerate the transition to a green economy in Latin America, as well as other low- and middle-income regions, write Pedro Abramovay and Heloisa Griggs in Americas Quarterly. "What if adaptation to climate change becomes one of the main battlefields in the Great Power competition of the 21st century?" they ask.

  • The U.S. should pivot to include social and justice issues into the Biden administration's climate diplomacy, they write. "A climate justice foreign policy would make the U.S. more attractive than China for low- and middle-income countries facing accelerating climate impacts. Democracy, with all its imperfections, equips nations to grapple with and engage diverging viewpoints, and to struggle to give voice and power to marginalized populations bearing the brunt of climate impacts."

  • Droughts in South America are slamming the region's farmers, and spiking prices for everything from coffee to electricity, reports the Washington Post. Though the causes of multiyear water shortages vary from country to country, "for much of the region, the droughts are moving up the calendar on climate change — offering a taste of the challenges ahead in securing an increasingly precious commodity: water."

  • A severe drought that began in late 2019 continues to punish the region and experts say climate change and deforestation may be intensifying the phenomenon, reports the Guardian.

  • Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley expressed frustration at international inaction on climate change in her UN General Assembly speech last week. She highlighted the inequality of the climate crisis and the resources available to resolve it. “If we do not control this fire, it will burn us all down,” she said, in reference to global warming. (PassBlue)

  • Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso suggested the U.S. and other wealthy countries use their share of $650 billion of funds recently distributed by the International Monetary Fund for environmental causes. (Bloomberg)

  • Mexico's government will reduce funds targeting climate change, reports El Economista.

  • The Latin America Advisor analyzes the potential impact of the High-Level Economic Dialogue between Mexico and the U.S., relaunched after a four year hiatus.

  • El Salvador's President Nayib Bukele has pivoted toward China as he grows isolated from the rest of the international community, reports El Faro.

  • Latin Americans lying beneath unmarked tombstones and in mass graves across the region are recovering their names, decades after the conflicts that took their lives. -- Axios
  • David Smilde traces the evolution of Venezuela’s chavismo from its beginnings as a version of left populism based on the charisma of former President Hugo Chávez, to its turn toward socialism, to its current authoritarian incarnation under Nicolás Maduro in a new Wilson Center report. Smilde argues that a “starting assumption in analyzing such an authoritarian context should be stability, not change. However, there are still spaces and resources that provide opportunities for working for a return to democracy.”

  • The latest round of negotiations between Venezuela’s government and the country’s opposition were suspended Friday when the government’s delegates failed to appear in Mexico City. (Associated PressTelesur reported, however, that the talks started yesterday after a delay in the government delegation's arrival in Mexico.

  • The Maduro delegation's delay was possibly related to anger over the Norwegian prime minister's UN speech last week, which highlighted human rights violations in Venezuela. Norway is a key mediator in the negotiations. (AFP)

  • Venezuela has agreed to a key contract to swap its heavy oil for Iranian condensate that it can use to improve the quality of its tar-like crude, with the first cargos due this week, reports Reuters.
More Migration
  • U.S. officials said no migrants remained at the makeshift encampment in Texas as of Friday. (Associated Press, see last Thursday's post)

  • Many of the people deported to Haiti left the country years ago, and many of their children were born in other countries in the region and lack Haitian citizenship. Many migrated to South America after a major earthquake in 2010, but were forced to migrate again due to coronavirus economic downturns in their host countries, reports the Guardian.

  • U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas defended the country's Border Patrol, after widespread criticism of officers' treatment of Haitian migrants in Texas. Of the 15,000 migrants who arrived at the border recently, Mayorkas said, 2,000 were returned to Haiti on 17 flights under the policy called Title 42, which was invoked at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and allows the administration to expel migrants swiftly. (NBC)

  • He said removals were justified because of the coronavirus pandemic, a point disputed by advocates and public health experts, reports the Guardian.

  • "U.S. interests have long been intertwined with Haiti — usually in ways that work to most Haitians’ detriment," writes Jonathan Katz in a Washington Post opinion piece.

  • Ecuadorians affected by Covid-19 crisis, economic downturn and corruption are also increasingly embarking on dangerous journeys to the U.S., reports Al Jazeera.
  • Colombia
    • Five years after Colombia's peace accord with the FARC, implementation of the broad deal has foundered, reports El País. There have been concrete advances -- namely the demobilization of most FARC guerrilla fighters, and the creation of a transitional justice mechanism to judge crimes committed during the country's decades long conflict.

    • But government promises to develop Colombia's rural regions, to reduce the poverty and inequality that fuelled the conflict, have fallen short, reports the New York Times. "Many scholars and security experts warn that the transformation of the long-neglected countryside — the heart of the deal — is perilously stalled. By failing to gain the trust of rural people, experts say, the government is allowing violent groups, old and new, to move in and perpetuate new cycles of violence."
    • Honduras’s national elections are two months away, and the political panorama is particularly tense, reports the Latin America Risk Report. "Threats and acts of violence, alleged bribery, and widespread disillusionment with the country’s political system point towards an election cycle that is unlikely to be accepted by much of the country as free and fair."
    • Thousands of people marched through Mexico City yesterday, marking seven years since 43 students from Ayotzinapa disappeared and demanding clarity over the emblematic case. (EFE)

    • Mexico’s scientific community has reacted with outrage after the country’s chief prosecutor requested arrest warrants for 31 scientists, researchers and academics on accusations of organised crime, money laundering and embezzlement, reports the Guardian. Scientists say the charges are an attempt by Mexico’s president to silence them.
    Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ... 

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