Friday, September 24, 2021

Latin America Daily Briefing (Sept. 24, 2021)

News Briefs

  • The world’s largest fishing fleet is an armada of nearly 300 Chinese vessels that has raised hackles in recent years as it works in the waters around South America. The sheer size of the Chinese fleet has stirred fears that it could exhaust marine stocks. There’s also concern that in the absence of effective controls, illegal fishing will soar, reports the Associated Press, which found that many of the ships have a history of labor abuse accusations, past convictions for illegal fishing or showed signs of possibly violating maritime law.

  • "Collectively, these issues underscore how the open ocean around the Americas — where the U.S. has long dominated and China is jockeying for influence — have become a magnet for the seafood industry’s worst offenders," writes Joshua Goodman.

  • Adopting cryptocurrency as legal tender is a highly dubious idea – and likely to be economically dangerous for developing countries in particular, warns economist Jeffrey Frankel in the Guardian. Bitcoin is hardly the best way to reduce transaction costs for receiving remittances in El Salvador, as President Nayib Bukele promised. "And holding or transacting in such an unstable asset is a particularly bad idea for people with low incomes, who can ill afford to sustain price swings as large as 30% in a single day." (See Sept. 7's post.)
Regional Relations
  • The key to Latin America's success will be dodging zero-sum choices between China and the US, writes Shannon O'Neil in Bloomberg.

  • The U.S. is losing Latin America to China without putting up a fight, Ecuador’s ambassador to Washington told Axios.
  • The area around the Del Rio International Bridge in Texas looks like a war zone, in the aftermath of clashes between US officials and Haitian migrants. "Anyone still under the squalid bridge has now been rendered invisible to the outside world, locked down behind gates, fences and armed guards," reports the Guardian. (See yesterday's post.)

  • Thousands of migrants, most from Haiti, have been fenced in by authorities on one side or the other of the border, in what El País calls an open-air jail.

  • The US deployment of border agents on horseback against Haitian migrants stems from abusive and racially discriminatory immigration policies by the administration of President Joe Biden, Human Rights Watch said. (See yesterday's post.)

  • In the meantime, Mexico is reckoning with its own dilemma over what to do with the migrants massing on its side of the Rio Grande, reports the Washington Post.

  • The gathering of thousands of Haitians at the Texas-Mexico border this past week reflects a stark change in migration patterns to the U.S., driven by Covid-19. A far broader mix of nationalities is turning up at the border than in the past, reports the Wall Street Journal.
  • "Many Haitians have suggested that U.S. immigration policy should take into account Washington’s role in perpetuating the instability and violence that cause people to flee Haiti," writes Catherine Osborn in the Latin America Brief. A story in Haiti’s AyiboPost, for example, looked at the flow of U.S. guns to Haiti and how those weapons arm the country’s deadly gangs.

  • "The Haitians in Del Rio right now have circumnavigated the Western Hemisphere for a decade, trying to outrun chaos and severe uncertainty," writes Adam Isacson.
  • Venezuela's opposition parties are failing to unify behind candidates for regional elections in November, reports Reuters. In all 23 states plus the capital Caracas, at least two candidates calling themselves opposition leaders are expected to run against Socialist Party – strengthening the hand of President Nicolás Maduro’s allies.
  • Cuba expects to reach “full immunization” against Covid-19 with its own vaccines by the end of the year, President Miguel Díaz-Canel told the United Nations General Assembly yesterday. (New York Times)
  • The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has selected two biomedical centers in Argentina and Brazil as regional hubs to develop and produce mRNA-based vaccines to fight COVID-19 in Latin America, reports Reuters.
  • Mexico's military has historically held an influential and powerful position in the country's political structure -- in "Militarization a la AMLO: How Bad Can it Get?" Craig Deare explains how the policies of the current president have greatly expanded the military's role to include responsibilities it had not previously beyond the public security realm. (Wilson Center)
  • Peruvian authorities will cremate the body of Abimael Guzmán – the founder of the Shining Path rebel group -- ending a two week controversy over what to do with the body of one of Peru’s most reviled figures, reports Reuters.
  • An Italian medieval manuscript makes reference to Markland, the territory reached by Vikings in what is now Canada, and offers a tantalizing hint of port rumors that might have inspired Christopher Colombus' adventures. (Economist)
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ... 

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