Tuesday, September 21, 2021

US ramps up Haitian deportations (Sept. 21, 2021)

News Briefs

  • The US ramped up efforts to expel thousands of Haitian migrants encamped on the Texas side of the border with Mexico, reports the Guardian. More than 6,000 had been removed from an encampment at Del Rio, Texas, US officials said yesterday, and Mexican officials said they began bussing migrants away from the area on their side of the border. (See yesterday's post)

  • The White House criticized images of US border patrol agents in Texas rounding up Haitian migrants on horseback with whips. “I have seen some of the footage. I don’t have the full context. I can’t imagine what context would make that appropriate,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki. (Guardian)
El Salvador
  • El Salvador’s vice minister of justice and Bureau of Prisons director, Osiris Luna, embezzled $1.6 million worth of food from a government program meant to feed Salvadorans during the pandemic, according to a criminal investigation led by ex-Attorney General Raúl Melara. The special task force handling the case was shut down after Melara was illegally removed from office on May 1 by the Legislative Assembly, controlled by President Nayib Bukele’s Party Nuevas Ideas, reports El Faro.

  • The details are stunning: Luna stole food from the Public Health Emergency Program and then, with the help of his own mother as negotiator, resold these goods to a merchant criminally accused twice of selling contraband. Two other cabinet members are implicated in the scheme, reports El Faro.

  • Bukele described himself yesterday as the country's "dictator" in his Twitter bio, a description that was later changed to "El Dictador más cool del mundo mundial." The moniker is apparently mocking citizens who protested against the government's increasing concentration of power in El Salvador, last week. (Associated Press, see last Friday's post.)

  • The last few days have seen the battle between Bukele and El Salvador's independent press escalate even further, after digital media site El Gato Encerrado revealed that the president was informed of a Constitutional Chamber decision permitting reelection before it was publicly announced. (El Salvador Perspectives)
Regional Relations
  • Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro kicked off the UN General Assembly speeches today with a 12-minute address, in which he touted unproven Covid remedies, denounced coronavirus containment measures and peddled a succession of distortions and outright lies about Brazilian politics and the environment. It did little to repair his country’s mangled international reputation, reports the Guardian.

  • Protests in New York against Bolsonaro accused him of leading destruction against the Amazon rainforest. (Folha de S. Paulo)

  • Even Bolsonaro's presence posed a challenge for an event expected to focus largely on the global response to the Covid-19 pandemic, as he is defiantly unvaccinated and apparently in violation of UN requirements that participants be fully vaccinated, reports the Washington Post.

  • Bolsonaro's vaccination status has also caused logistical problems when it comes to finding a place to eat in New York, where restaurants require that patrons show proof of vaccination for indoor seating. One of his ministers posted a photo of the president and several top aides eating pizza standing up on the street. (New York Times)
  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson plugged the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in a meeting with Bolsonaro, who laughed and insisted he won't get the jab yet. (Guardian)

  • "CELAC is an exaggerated and absurd example of the challenges that the Western Hemisphere has with integration," according to the Latin America Risk Report. (See yesterday's post.)
  • In the latest episode of The Venezuela Briefing, Geoff Ramsey and Kristen Martinez-Gugerli interview Daniel Cooper Bermúdez, a Venezuelan political scientist, human rights activist, and founder of Hearts on Venezuela. They discuss the latest in Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis, what’s on the table in political negotiations taking place in Mexico, and recent efforts to repress the work of NGOs in the country.
  • Belize could close a unique environmentally-friendly debt restructuring deal, to buy back a $526.5 million bond at a discount with money provided by the Nature Conservancy’s blue bond financing program, which will use private capital to help refinance nations’ public debt. (ReutersBloomberg, see today's Just Caribbean Updates)

  • But there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical about the proposal, warns Eurodad's Daniel Munevar on Twitter. "The proposed restructuring is unlikely to restore debt sustainability. ... The green component of the deal seems more like a "greenwashing" smoke screen to distract from the fact that this agreement fails to ensure Belize's debt sustainability while providing an easy exit to bondholders" (See today's Just Caribbean Updates)
  • A controversial bill that would provide Jamaicans with a national identity card while collecting their personal information and biometric data could be replicated across the Caribbean. Some activists fear the proposal poses unique dangers for the country's trans population. (Coda Story)
  • The Mexican government’s latest economic package falls short of the reforms needed for sustained growth, according to Americas Quarterly.

  • Furthermore, the austere economic proposal abandons the country's millennials, argues Viri Ríos in New York Times Español.
  • Uruguay has dismantled a group dedicated to bringing Cuban migrants illegally to the country, highlighting an increasingly popular human-smuggling route, reports InSight Crime.

  • Latin American leftist leaders have right-wing authoritarian tendencies, argues Diego Fonseca in New York Times Español.
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ... 

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