Mexican police arrested for migrant massacre (Feb. 4, 2021)
Mexican authorities arrested a dozen Tamaulipas state police officers in relation to the massacre of 19 people, including several Central American migrants. Mexico's interior minister said the incident was part of a larger pattern of migrant abuse at the hands of government agents. (New York Times)
The victims were killed Jan. 22 in Camargo, close to the Texas border. The bodies were found in a pickup truck, so badly burned that they could not be identified. Thirteen of the victims appear to be Guatemalans who were on their way to the U.S. The 12 officers have been detained on homicide charges. It remains unclear why the police would kill the migrants, or if the Guatemalans were mistakenly targeted.
The massacre underscores not only the risks that migrants confront to enter the United States, but the destabilizing role that Mexico’s security forces sometimes play along the border, according to the Washington Post. The episode will once again face profound questions about the security forces’ role in violence and human rights abuses -- but also regarding U.S. pressure on Mexico to use its military and police to deter migration.
"Such killings form part of a larger picture of daily assaults on migrants in Mexico, enabled by a continuing climate of impunity for these crimes," said WOLA in a statement last week.
Mexico's government has stopped taking back Central American families “expelled” at the U.S. border under a Trump-era emergency health order related to the coronavirus. The shift, which has not been publicly disclosed, has prompted U.S. Customs and Border Protection to release more parents and children into the U.S. interior, reports the Washington Post. “Mexico is only accepting single adults now, not families or children,” said one U.S. official.
Hundreds of U.S.-bound migrants are stranded on a beach as the border between Colombia and Panama remains closed, reports Vice. Some estimates say there are 1,200 migrants, waiting to cross the Darien Gap. Most are Haitian citizens and others come from Cuba, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Congo, Guinea, Somalia, and Yemen.
El Faro reconstructs what is known so far of the shooting attack that killed two FMLN party sympathizers last weekend, an episode of violence that has shaken the country ahead of elections to be held later this month. It is not clear how one of the attackers was wounded, but the attorney general's office ordered the release of FMLN activists who were part of the attacked group, having found no evidence they were responsible. The attackers were employees of the Ministry of Health and investigators found traces of heroin in the car used in the attack. (See Monday's post.)
Haiti's government has unveiled multiple proposed changes to overhaul the country’s Constitution. Public meetings are scheduled to be held across Haiti for the next three weeks, ahead of the April 25 constitutional referendum, which would be the first one held in more than 30 years, reports the Associated Press. (See yesterday's post.)
Colombia will boost military operations against the criminal groups responsible for assassinating human rights activists, announced President Iván Duque yesterday. The government will also end more judges to remote areas where social leaders have been major targets of violence in recent years, reports Reuters. Local organization of civil society Indepaz reported 310 such killings for 2020.
Brazil's prominent anti-corruption "Car Wash" investigative unit was formally disbanded yesterday. It is the end of a landmark task force that was initially praised for targeting corruption at Brazil's highest political levels, but later came under fire for allegations of bias, reports the Associated Press.
The new heads of Brazil’s lower house and senate pledged to work on key economic reforms and additional Covid-19 assistance, reports Bloomberg.
Alejandro Mayorkas was sworn in yesterday as U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, the first Latino and the first immigrant to hold the position. (New York Times)
U.S. President Joe Biden’s cabinet, if confirmed as is, would have four Latinos to head the departments of Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, Education, and the Small Business Administration. AS/COA dives into some key nominations as they pertain to the region.
Two major November hurricanes slammed into the same part of Nicaraguan coast, laying waste to the Miskito village of Haulover. Faced with a future of intensifying storms, the residents must now consider whether to abandon their way of life by the ocean and move inland -- New York Times Video.
A new collection of essays edited by Global Americans seeks to "identify the causes of corruption in the Caribbean, while determining how it influences the region’s socioeconomic environment and pointing to what is needed to foster better governance going forward." The chapters look specifically at Suriname, Haiti, the Caribbean, and comparative perspectives.
The best protected parts of the Reserva de la Biósfera Maya are those that are given in concession to community organizations, that extract forest products and carry out ecotourism activities, in exchange for preserving those tracts. The Carmelita cooperative is a pioneer in the model, the group sustainably extracts wood used for Gibson guitars, and serves as a deterrent to illegal loggers seeking to exploit the area, reports Plaza Pública.
Ecuador’s sovereign bonds are being pummeled by fears that next Sunday’s election outcome could derail ties with the International Monetary Fund and trigger another debt crisis, reports Reuters.
Latin America has long been the most unequal region in the world -- and the Covid-19 vaccine panorama fits the pattern. Many of Latin America's middle-income countries are in limbo: neither rich enough to negotiate favorably with pharmaceutical companies, nor poor enough to receive Covax donations. Russia and China will fill the void in many cases, and "syringe diplomacy" could shape a new political order in the region, argues Agus Morales in New York Times Español.
A study of students who form part of the Young Lives project led by the University of Oxford, that includes people in Peru, paints a devastating picture of the economic and social impact of Covid-19 on young lives. Their experiences raise fears that lockdowns and restrictions not only threaten to halt progress made over the past two generations, but could also reverse life chances and entrench inequalities for many young people, hitting those living in poor communities hardest, reports the Guardian.
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ... Latin America Daily Briefing