El Salvador is not quite ready for asylum seekers (Dec. 17, 2019)
El Salvador is not ready to take in asylum seekers from third countries deflected from the U.S., said President Nayib Bukele in a 60 Minutes interview this weekend. "We don't have asylum capacities, but we can build them," he said, in an interview in which he said Central American countries would have to be safer to comply with the asylum agreements signed earlier this year with the U.S. “The reality is that our whole economy is in shatters, nothing works,” he said, mentioning youth unemployment and gang violence. (CBS)
The piece depicts the September asylum agreement between the U.S. and El Salvador (see Sept. 28's post) as a maneuver for the smaller country to stay in the larger one's graces. "It's already paid off. The White House released $51 million of aid it was holding back. And despite all the violence, the state department lowered the threat level for Americans traveling to El Salvador. It was in the same category as the Congo and Sudan."
On the issue of the asylum agreements -- the Los Angeles Times reports that the September agreement between the U.S. and Honduras would not give asylum seekers a second shot at the U.S. That is to say, asylum seekers rejected in Honduras (after being sent there from the U.S. border) would not be given the opportunity to apply in the U.S. Previously, the administration had suggested that if, say, a Guatemalan were forcibly sent to Honduras and denied asylum there, she might get another chance in the United States.
Immigrant advocates say the Trump administration could use the Honduran agreement to send Guatemalan asylum seekers there starting next month. Honduras is “a narco-state that is every bit as unprepared to participate as the other partner nations of Guatemala and El Salvador," said U.S. Rep. Norma Torres. “These agreements are anything but safe – the Trump administration is rejecting our moral obligations and shipping asylum seekers to the very same danger zones that they are fleeing.”
Trump administration migration policies this year have drastically changed the landscape for Central Americans fleeing violence and poverty in their home countries, but have done nothing to change the push factors that keep motivating their journeys, reports the Associated Press.
More El Salvador
A Salvadoran court sentenced 373 convicted members of the notorious Mara Salvatrucha gang to prison terms of up to 74 years for crimes ranging from murder and arms trafficking to terrorist association. It was a mass trial, historic because of the number of defendants, reports the Associated Press.
Survivors of the brutal El Mozote massacre are still waiting on promised reparations, 38 years after Salvadoran soldiers murdered most of the town -- Al Jazeera.
A Guatemalan congressional commission investigating the CICIG is undermining the work the U.N.-sponsored anti-graft commission carried out for 12 years, before being terminated earlier this year, reports the Associated Press. The so-called "Truth Commission" appears to confirm human rights groups' concerns about a backlash against investigators who carried out corruption investigations.
Colombia’s special justice tribunal (the JEP) has begun to exhume bodies from a cemetery as part of an investigation into as many as 50 possible extrajudicial killings (false positives) allegedly committed by the army. The Defense Ministry said in a statement late on Saturday that members of the military are cooperating with the JEP. (Reuters)
Colombia's ongoing strikes are the largest in recent memory, and they might only be possible because of the 2016 FARC peace deal, writes Miguel Salazar in The Nation.
Bipartisan leaders in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives announced an appropriations deal, yesterday, that that rejects the use of force in Venezuela and endorses a negotiated solution to the country’s crisis. It is "a clear message that Washington is finally recognizing the reality: Venezuela’s crisis will be resolved through a combination of smart engagement and multilateral, targeted diplomatic pressure," said Geoff Ramsey, Assistant Director for Venezuela at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA).
At the start of 2019 it seemed as if Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro might be ousted during the course of the year. But heading into 2020, many of the factors keeping him in power remain relevant, according to the Latin America Risk Report. His eventual removal is contingent on a change of three, interrelated, factors, writes James Bosworth: cash flow, international alliances, and the views of his inner circle and security forces.
U.S. and Mexican negotiators smoothed over a last-minute dispute over labor inspectors that threatened to derail the trilateral trade agreement between Mexico, the U.S. and Canada. Under the trade deal, only an independent panel chosen by both countries can visit factories to investigate alleged mistreatment of workers. U.S. negotiators assured their Mexican counterparts that new labor attaches at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City will not be inspectors and cannot conduct factory inspections, reports the Washington Post. (See yesterday's post.)
Mexico raised its national minimum wage by 20 percent, yesterday, but it remains under $1 an hour, reports the Associated Press.
Mexican indigenous groups and social organizations -- such as the Zapatista National Liberation Army -- are gearing up to oppose President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's ambitious Mayan Train megaproject, writes Laura Castellanos in a Post Opinión piece.
Mexico's tourism board, the Fondo Nacional de Fomento al Turismo (FONATUR), has estimated the project will cost between $6 to 8 billion and will bring more than three million visitors a year to the region. But environmentalists are concerned over the impact to delicate ecosystems, reports Al Jazeera.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador hasn't had major catastrophes yet, but his administration is just cruising, writes Jorge Castañeda in a New York Times op-ed.Crime, economic stagnation and erratic government decisions signal a long and bumpy ride for his presidency — and his country.
AMLO is rhetorically against big business, but behind the scenes he is far more accommodating, reports Reuters.
2019 will be remembered as the year that citizens took to the streets across Latin America to voice frustration at their governments and lack of satisfaction, writes Patricia Janot in Post Opinión.
But, "rather than turning in any clear direction, political winds in the region appear to be blowing in all sorts of directions, with the only discernible underlying pattern being anti-incumbent votes following periods of economic crisis or economic downturns," write Santiago Anria and Gabriel Vommaro at the AULA blog.
Americas Quarterly has a special on the region's armed forces. In one piece, Roberto Simon analyzes the enduring, and dangerous-for-democracy, myth that the military is a "non-corrupt" alternative to politics. "Like in all areas of government in the region, corruption is a critical challenge for the armed forces. The notion that civilian areas of government are more corrupt than the military throughout Latin America is not supported by the available evidence."
Chile's ongoing mobilization, the "tsunami of unrest," continues, and has the country "suspended between hopes of progress, and frustration over an elusive political solution," reports the Guardian.
A push to arrest energy executives in Haiti -- including the widow of late president René Préval -- is illegal harassment, according to lawyers. The case "has raised a number of questions about what is legal and what isn’t in Haiti’s already dysfunctional, and usually slow-moving judicial system," reports the Miami Herald.
Chile defended its international climate change negotiation leadership, and said that four big polluting countries got in the way of a stronger deal, reports Reuters.
Brazil is part of the problem, rather than the solution in international climate negotiations, according to some Brazilians who formed part of previous negotiations. (Associated Press)
A Portuguese-language Christmas special on Netflix that depicts Jesus as a gay man has caused anger in Brazil, where almost two million people signed a petition calling on the streaming service to remove the show. Critics include lawmaker Eduardo Bolsonaro, the son of President Jair Bolsonaro. (Guardian, Washington Post)
Argentina’s government will send a bill to Congress today including an array of proposals to increase taxes, including on overseas transactions and personal property. The goal is to raise funds desperately needed to to bolster social spending amid recession and rising poverty, reports Reuters.
Menta Comunicación mapped the twitter interactions of the incoming Congress.
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...
Latin America Daily Briefing