New migrant caravan sets out from Honduras (Jan. 16, 2020)
Hundreds of Hondurans set off from San Pedro Sula yesterday towards the Guatemalan border, forming a new migrant caravan aiming, ultimately, to reach the United States. The caravan format has been used for years, as traveling in large groups protects migrants from violence and extortion on the way. However in recent years the groups have attracted the ire of U.S. President Donald Trump, who has pressured countries in the region to stop migrant flows towards the U.S. (New York Times)
The vanguard of the newest caravan -- about 400 people of an estimated 1,000 -- clashed with Honduran police at the Guatemalan border yesterday after they refused to register with the migration services and forced their way through a line of border police to the Guatemalan side. Honduran police fired tear gas, and Guatemalan police later detained and sent back 15 people. (Reuters)
Guatemala's new president, Alejandro Giammattei said his government would honor Central American migration agreements that permitted Hondurans to enter Guatemala as long as they had proper identification. Mexican authorities will not let the caravan pass, however, he said. (AFP, Guardian) In response to U.S. pressure, Mexico has increasingly worked to stop migrants traveling north through the country. (See yesterday's briefs, for example.)
But the chances that caravan migrants will actually manage to enter the U.S. are low, reports the Guardian. The Trump administration has made it increasingly difficult to apply for asylum. The U.S. has signed asylum agreements with Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, permitting it to send asylum seekers there from the U.S. border. The Guatemala agreement is the only one that has been implemented so far. Those who can still apply for asylum in the U.S. are made to wait months in dangerous Mexican border cities. (See yesterday's post and briefs.)
A gay man who said he was turned away by Guatemala after being sent there by the U.S. to seek asylum is challenging the Trump administration's agreement with Guatemala in U.S. court, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Thousands of asylum seekers, the vast majority entering the U.S. along border with Mexico, have been turned away under the Trump administration's "Remain in Mexico" policy, reports the Guardian.
Opposition lawmakers attacked en route to National Assembly building
The latest battle to control Venezuela's National Assembly was again physical: government security forces and Maduro-loyal militias blocked access to the parliamentary building, preventing opposition lawmakers from holding a session, yesterday. Two SUVs carrying an advance guard of lawmakers were attacked by people on the street dressed in civilian clothes and gunshots were heard. They struck the rear window of one, shattering it. Several journalists covering the episode were also attacked by armed civilians: bottles, eggs, tomatoes and feces and urine were thrown at them. (Video)
However, National Assembly leader Juan Guaidó led an end run around the blockade, and instead held a session with 92 lawmakers in an amphitheater in the El Hatillo suburb of Caracas. He said the blockade of the National Assembly building was an ambush. Nicolás Maduro's government has targeted the opposition-led National Assembly since the beginning of the year -- physically blocking opposition lawmakers from entering and attempting to instal friendly authorities in their stead, a move that has been broadly condemned internationally.
National Constituent Assembly leader Diosdado Cabello said, yesterday, that the pro-Maduro supra-congressional body would start to hold commission meetings in the National Assembly building. The government wants to force Guaidó to hold parallel operations outside the national assembly building as a way of undermining his leadership legitimacy, Luis Vicente León told the Washington Post.
Yesterday, Colombia's government condemned the attacks against lawmakers trying to get to the National Assembly building and that security forces permitted armed civilians to fight with impunity.
(Efecto Cocuyo, Associated Press, EFE, EFE, EFE, Infobae, Al Jazeera)
During yesterday's session, lawmakers formed a commission to reorganize the multi-state Telesur news agency, reports Efecto Cocuyo.
Rio de Janeiro residents are complaining about murky and foul smelling public water supplies. In the midst of summer, many say they have felt ill after consuming the water, which the city’s publicly-owned water company insists is safe to drink. (Guardian)
Argentine economy minister Martín Guzmán will meet with International Monetary Fund head Kristalina Georgieva at a Vatican organized seminar on Feb. 5 that will serve as a sort of neutral meeting ground for the two to discuss Argentina's massive (many argue unpayable) debt to the international lender. (La Nación)
The Netflix documentary series on Alberto Nisman's death, five years ago this week, puts together a complicated jigsaw puzzle that also encompasses the still unsolved AMIA Jewish center bombing that killed 85 people in 1994. More broadly, it paints an "unflattering portrait of Argentina's judiciary: inefficient, with the sombre influence of intelligence services inherited from the dictatorship and profoundly contaminated by the political interests of the president of the day, who have changed their versions according to convenience," writes Sylvia Colombo in a New York Times Español op-ed.
The main factor behind Mexico City's perennially broken subway escalators? Urine. (Associated Press)
Note: in a headline yesterday I said Colombian activists were being systematically killed, but the U.N. report I cited didn't use the term "systematically," but rather refers to the "staggering number" of human rights defenders assassinated in 2019.