Guatemala close to third country agreement, former officials file for injunction (July 12, 2019)
Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales will travel to Washington next week, where he will meet with his U.S. counterpart, Donald Trump, to discuss migration, among other issues. They are expected to sign a safe third country agreement, though details are still being finalized, reports Reuters.
"Every week it's closer," said an administration official, according to CNN. Other versions are less certain. A senior Guatemalan official said Morales isn’t planning to sign any such agreement during his visit, reports the Wall Street Journal.
An agreement of this kind would oblige migrants planning to seek humanitarian asylum in the U.S. to apply in Guatemala if they pass through there on their way. Migrants from Honduras and El Salvador heading to the U.S.-Mexican border overland usually cross into Mexico via Guatemala. The agreement has been rumored for about a month, though Guatemalan officials were reportedly not on the same page as their U.S. counterparts, originally. (See June 17's post)
Experts criticize the plan, saying that Guatemala does not have the capacity to process this level of asylum claims, nor underlying conditions to guarantee their safety. Forcing asylum seekers to stay in Guatemala would likely present grave risks to their security and run afoul of international law, writes Eric Schwartz, president of Refugees International and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration.The United States currently only has a safe third country agreement with Canada.
In fact, three former Guatemalan foreign ministers asked the country's Constitutional Court to bar the potential agreement. They say the decision is incompatible with Guatemala's internal and international responsibilities. National human rights Ombudsman Jordan Rodas called on the president to respect migrant rights and said such an agreement would be harmful for Guatemala and its residents given the country's institutional precarity, poverty and other social problems. (Prensa Libre, La Hora, Associated Press) Former Transparency International Guatemala head Manfredo Marroquín also request for an injunction against such a policy, yesterday.
In the first five months of this year, Guatemala received just 172 asylum requests, according to the United Nations refugee agency, and has received about 1,300 since 2002. By comparison, some 259,000 people applied for asylum in the U.S. in 2017, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Nearly 74,000 of them were from Honduras and El Salvador. (Wall Street Journal)
Giovanni Filippo Bassu, the regional representative for the U.N. High Commission for Refugees said in June that Guatemala had a long way to go before it would be safe for asylum-seekers fleeing neighboring countries, reports Voice of America.
The U.S. Trump administration's lawyers defended its policy of forcing migrants back into Mexico to await their U.S. asylum hearings in court. They argued that advocates seeking an injunction against the Migrant Protection Protocols are intruding "on the Executive Branch’s ability to conduct foreign policy.” Rights groups, including the ACLU, say violates federal and international laws by sending migrants to Mexican cities where they are exposed to violence and lack access to lawyers, reports the Washington Post. (See June 28's briefs.)
The survivors of the horrific La Saline massacre in Haiti last year have no state support, medical services or psychological counseling available, reports AFP.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen will visit Haiti this weekend, part of a diplomatic tour aimed at shoring up Taiwan's few remaining allies in the region, reports the Miami Herald.
Civil society organizations led by victims and their families, as well as the international human rights community, succeeded in preventing Salvadoran lawmakers from voting on an amnesty bill earlier this year. But human rights advocates and the international community must remain watchful of ongoing attempts to legislate impunity, warns the Due Process of Law Foundation.
A Brazilian judge ruled that the mining giant Vale was financially liable for damages caused by a burst tailings dam in January that killed at least 247 people. It's the first decision by a court to formally hold the company responsible for the disaster, reports the New York Times. (See Wednesday's briefs.)
U.S. journalist Glenn Greenwald is at the center of an explosive press freedom debate in Brazil, reports the Associated Press. (See July 4's post.)
President Jair Bolsonaro nominated his son, lawmaker Eduardo Bolsonaro, to be Brazil's ambassador to Washington. (BBC)
The International Committee of the Red Cross said Colombia's humanitarian situation has worsened, and that conflicts in the country are ongoing. The U.N. Security Council gathered in Bogotá yesterday to assess the implementation of the 2016 peace deal with the FARC. The U.N. has voiced concern over the killing of at least 123 former guerrilla fighters since they laid down arms. (Associated Press)
The 15 Security Council member states and officials from the UN General Secretariat will begin a four day agenda with a meeting with President Iván Duque today, reports EFE.
The abrupt resignation of Mexico's finance secretary this week will be difficult for the López Obrador administration to bounce back from, according to the Economist.
The third round of Norway mediated talks between Venezuela's government and opposition ended Wednesday -- both sides said advances were made towards breaking the country's political stalemate, reports the Associated Press. (See yesterday's briefs.)
The United States imposed sanctions against Venezuela’s military counterintelligence agency following the death of navy captain Rafael Acosta Arévalo in custody. (Reuters)
Venezuelan authorities are seeking the extradition from Spain of a man accused of burning another man to death during anti-government protests in Caracas in May 2017. (Guardian)
Bolivian President Evo Morales said hydrocarbons and lithium are two areas he would like to develop in collaboration with Russia. (EFE)
The Latin American Photo Festival in the Bronx features 10 photographers from eight Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Most use innovative visual approaches for their work on intimate facets of social issues. (New York Times, Guardian)
I will be off next week -- Elyssa Pachico will be keeping you all up to date on Lat Am news in the meantime.