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50 people died attempting to enter U.S.
(June 28, 2022)
Forty-six people were found dead in a truck in the U.S., near the Mexican border, in Texas, yesterday. Sixteen others were hospitalized, in what may be one of the deadliest of many tragic attempts by migrants to cross the U.S.-Mexican border, reports the Guardian.
This morning Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the death toll had risen to 50. He said 22 of the dead were Mexican nationals, while seven were from Guatemala and two from Honduras. The nationalities of the remaining 19 people had yet to be confirmed. (NBC)
A San Antonio city worker heard a cry for help from the truck yesterday evening and discovered a gruesome scene, reports the Associated Press. A city fire department official said they found “stacks of bodies” and no signs of water in the truck. All of the victims were believed to have crossed into the United States illegally and been brought north. The closest border crossing is roughly 140 miles away.
Migration advocates say tough U.S. border policies push desperate people to seek increasingly dangerous routes. The United States has been carrying out a public health emergency policy that permits authorities to rapidly deport migrants. In May, agents apprehended more than 239,000 migrants along the border, an all-time high, including people who had already attempted to enter before, reports the New York Times.
The policy, known as Title 42, has had the unintended effect of encouraging people to enter the country illegally more than once, reports the New York Times. Migrants are swiftly expelled, without the chance to apply for asylum, and without facing criminal penalties or detention, which leads some to repeatedly try to cross the border.
At least 650 people died last year as they attempted to cross the US-Mexico border – the highest figure on record since the International Organization for Migration began documenting deaths in 2014.
U.S. officials in Caracas
Senior U.S. officials, including Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens and Ambassador Jimmy Story, traveled to Caracas yesterday to discuss “the welfare and safety of U.S. nationals in Venezuela,” reports the Miami Herald. It was the second visit of its kind since March, when they secured the release of two U.S. citizens detained by Venezuelan authorities. Eight U.S. citizens remain imprisoned in Venezuela.
President Nicolás Maduro confirmed the visit during televised remarks, saying the delegation would meet with a trusted ally, National Assembly President Jorge Rodríguez, to “give continuity to the bilateral agenda between the government of the United States and the government of Venezuela.”
The full list of U.S. objectives in Venezuela is not known officially, but the agenda likely includes U.S. oil sanctions against the Maduro government and supporting stalled Mexico City-negotiations between Maduro and members of the opposition, reports the Associated Press.
Maduro alluded yesterday to remarks from an official close to French President Emmanuel Macron urging the U.S. to ease sanctions on Venezuela and Iran to offset the international spike in oil prices.
Upon arrival in Caracas, Story reportedly met for two hours with Juan Guaidó, the opposition leader the U.S. recognizes as Venezuela’s legitimate president.
A report by a private phone company confirmed long-held suspicions of wiretapping by the Venezuelan government. More than a million Venezuelan users have been surveilled in the past year, according to a report published by Telefónica, one of the country’s three major mobile telephone providers in Venezuela. (Washington Post)
Forty-nine inmates died in a prison fire in the Colombian city of Tuluá. Thirty more were wounded in the conflagration, which may have been related to an attempted prison riot or escape (Reuters, Associated Press)
Prison violence “obliges the complete re-imagining of prisons policy toward a humanization of jail and dignity for the prisoner”, said Colombian president-elect Gustavo Petro. “The Colombian state has viewed prison as a space for revenge and not for rehabilitation,” he added. (Reuters, New York Times)
Newly released intelligence documents show the United States believed that the Colombian military was behind a wave of assassinations of leftist activists in the 1980s, and yet spent the next two decades deepening its relationship with the Colombian armed forces, reports the New York Times.
Today a truth commission in Colombia will release a long-awaited report that attempts to build an extensive history of the nation’s decades-long internal conflict, in which at least 260,000 people died. And among pieces of evidence used to write Tuesday’s report are thousands of declassified U.S. documents gathered and organized by the National Security Archive. (New York Times)
Ecuador’s main Indigenous group, the Conaie and government representatives met yesterday in an effort to reach an agreement on demands for gas price reductions and tighter limits on oil and mining development after two weeks of protests. At least seven people have died in connection with the marches and the country's oil output has been halved, reports Reuters. (See yesterday’s post.)
Ecuadorean lawmakers are set to continue debating, today, a motion to oust President Guillermo Lasso, presented by the opposition party associated with former president Rafael Correa. (EFE)
The U.S. State Department asked El Salvador’s government to "immediately" extradite leaders of the international criminal gang MS-13 to be put on trial in the United States, on Friday. Authorities in El Salvador, who did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment, have declined to provide details on the whereabouts of the gang members, reports Reuters.
Draconian regulations against abortion in El Salvador have led to significant jail sentences for women who suffered obstetric complications, a harbinger of what might happen in the U.S. (BBC)
Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei arrived in the U.S. yesterday for a two-day working tour. Relations between the two countries are strained, as the U.S. has protested Guatemalan persecution of anti-corruption officials, and Giammattei chose to skip the Summit of the Americas earlier this month. (Reuters)