Friday, September 3, 2021

Mexico violently blocks migrant march (Sept. 3, 2021)

Mexico's National Guard violently dispersed the third, and last, of a series of migrant caravans that marched towards Mexico City to protest the country's slow asylum system. Several people were wounded and an indeterminate number were detained in what turned into a manhunt through fields and buildings. (El PaísAnimal PolíticoAl JazeeraEl País, see last Friday's post)

Hundreds of migrants and asylum seekers from Central America and the Caribbean departed from Tapachula on Saturday, hoping to obtain expedited asylum proceedings. Under Mexican law, migrants must remain in the state where they sought asylum until their cases are resolved, a process that can take months or years.

Human rights organizations, and the U.N., condemned images of of abuse, including security agents kicking a Haitian migrant. "These painful images confirm the Mexican government’s turn into full-on immigration deterrence at the behest of the U.S. government," writes León Krauze in a Washington Post opinion piece. "Mexico’s National Guard seems intent on blocking asylum seekers from leaving Mexico’s poor south, even if it threatens the stability of the region or, worse, might produce a xenophobic and racist eruption."

Mexico is increasingly under migration pressure on both sides of the country, as thousands of migrants continue to cross its southern border, while the United States sends thousands more back from the north, notes the Associated Press. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said he will send a letter to his U.S. counterpart, Joe Biden, to press for policies that attend to the root causes of "forced migration."

Central America and Mexico are facing “unprecedented pressure” as the number of people seeking international protection rises and access to asylum and territory is being limited through troubling new border restrictions, the UN Refugee Agency said yesterday. 

News Briefs

More Migration
  • A U.S. federal judge ruled that the government's practice of denying migrants a chance to apply for asylum on the Mexican border until space opens up to process claims is unconstitutional, reports the Associated Press. (See Aug. 25's post, on a Supreme Court decision reinstating the Migrant Protection Protocols.)
  • Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has drastically revamped the country's welfare system by increasing spending and targeting more recipients. But development experts say the new programs overlook some of the country’s neediest families, reports the Wall Street Journal.
  • Mexico’s poverty rate has also increased during his presidency to 43.9% last year, but cash stipends to poor families have helped AMLO maintain his popularity, reports the Washington Post.
  • InSight Crime sat down with Robert J. Bunker and John P. Sullivan, founders of Small Wars Journal-El Centro to discuss how Mexico's criminal groups have adopted an increasingly militarized approach to their tactics, weaponry and training.
  • Remittances to Latin American and Caribbean countries declined less than originally predicted during the Covid-19 pandemic because many migrants are in essential jobs and industries benefiting from U.S. income-protection measures, writes Gabriel Cabañas at the AULA blog.
  • Argentina is hosting a virtual regional climate summit next week, an unlikely move that many chalk up to U.S. climate diplomacy. "For Argentina, speaking up on climate carries the potential not only to build ties with the United States but also to deepen regional relationships and seek investment for green initiatives," writes Catherine Osborn in the Latin America Brief. Activists say the Argentine government's climate discourse hasn't had significant policy effects yet, and hope to leverage the summit and upcoming midterm elections into opportunities for more concrete action.
  • After months of isolation, Nicaragua's government permitted at least 20 political prisoners to receive a visit from relatives. (Confidencial)
  • Chile's Constitutional Convention is hashing out bylaws to govern over the drafting of a new constitution, but there has been conflict in how to get there -- La Bot Constituyente delves into the particulars. The issue of citizen participation, which could include plebiscites on certain constitutional articles, will be determined by the full assembly. (See Chile 2021 update from Monday.)
  • The Mu Covid-19 variant, first identified in Colombia, has the potential to evade immunity provided by vaccines and antibodies, according to the World Health Organization. (New York Times)
  • Cuba has deployed Chinese-made Covid-19 vaccines, in addition to the nationally developed jabs. While the Miami Herald reported the move could respond to inefficacy in Cuba-developed vaccines, Reuters reports that it is likely related to limited supplies of Cuban vaccines. Cuban officials have said that national production of vaccines has been made more difficult by U.S. sanctions. (See Wednesday's briefs.)
  • "The Abdala vaccine received emergency use authorization from the Cuban regulatory authority on July 9. Abdala achieved 92 percent efficacy in Phase III clinical trials, while the Soberana vaccine achieved 91 percent and is also close to receiving emergency-use authorisation," writes BioCubaFarma officials in Al Jazeera. "At the current rate, the entire population could be vaccinated by October or November. Difficulties in the rollout, including imports of vital vaccine ingredients, are due primarily to the financial squeeze of US sanctions."
  •  Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro signed off on a law allowing for vaccine and medication patents to be broken in a public emergency, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, reports Reuters.

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

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