TPS eliminated for Salvadorans (Jan. 9, 2018)
The U.S. government confirmed the elimination of a program granting Salvadoran migrants provisional residency in the U.S. The decision to end Temporary Protection Status for migrants from El Salvador affects approximately 200,000 people, who have been living in the country since at least 2001, reports the Washington Post. (See yesterday's briefs.)
The Intercept phrases it more strongly: "Once implemented, the cancellation could see waves of people who have lived in the U.S. for generations deposited in one of the most dangerous places on Earth." Deportees will be returning to a country with one of the highest murder rates in the world. Salvadoran officials have appealed to the U.S., saying that the decision will wreak havoc on the country's economy. El Salvador receives billions of dollars in remittances from the U.S. Returnees will also destabilize the job market there, potentially displacing other people who will in turn be forced to seek alternatives such as migration to the U.S.
In fact,Trump's elimination of TPS for Salvadorans runs counter to the U.S. goal of improving stability and prosperity in Central America, and will likely worsen the factors pushing people to immigrate to the U.S. in the first place, argues Ishaan Tharoor in the Washington Post's Monkey Cage. "... Under Trump, the tacit understandings that governed federal policy on immigration and foreign policy are being shaken. His politics are built on an image of the United States as a passive victim of foreign menace, exploited, hoodwinked and infiltrated by all sorts of dangerous outside actors. "America first" demands that he ignore the pleas of Salvadoran officials ... As was the case with Trump's series of attempted bans on arrivals from certain Muslim-majority countries, the move here seems anchored less in any substantive policy than mere mean-spirited ideology."
But though the potential impact of the policy change is grave Salvadoran officials say the 18 month grace period accorded to TPS recipients is an opportunity to find a permanent protection against deportation, according to the WP.
El Salvador is the fourth country in four months to lose protection under the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program, which since 1990 has offered deportation relief to people from regions experiencing armed conflict and natural disasters, notes the Guardian.
A report last year found 51 percent of Salvadorans with TPS have lived in the US for more than 20 years and 34 percent have homes with mortgages. They live mostly in California, Texas, New York and Washington DC.
A cease-fire between Colombia's ELN guerrillas and the government ends today, even as the two sides aim to continue peace negotiations. Yesterday they launched their fifth round of talks in Ecuador, reports DPA. Human rights organizations have called for an extension to the ceasefire, though critics say the ELN has used the respite to recruit and train fighters, reports Deutsche Welle. Negotiations with the ELN have been ongoing for nearly a year, but are proceeding with difficulty, reports the Guardian. In the meantime, FARC demobilization has given the smaller guerrilla group opportunity for expansion, along with paramilitary and criminal organizations.
Mexico's Chihuahua state governor Javier Corrales accused the Peña Nieto administration of withholding funding in order to quash an investigation against illegal campaign financing by the ruling PRI party, reports the Guardian. State prosecutors in Chihuahua are examining the alleged embezzlement of more than $10 million in public funds used to finance the campaigns of candidates from President Enrique Peña Nieto's political party, reports the New York Times. In a news conference yesterday, Corrales said the finance minister said Chihuahua would not receive funding aimed at covering a budget short fall unless state officials told the minister more about the investigation.
A reader commented that yesterday's post on U.S. National Security Adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster's allegations of potential Russian intervention in Mexico's election merits a more skeptical read and should be backed with evidence. Nor is potential Russian intervention the only threat to free and fair elections in Mexico. It's worth noting the impact of media bias in previous elections against front-runner Andrés Manuel López Obrador. A study from the University of Texas found that biased coverage against AMLO significantly impacted voters -- enough to swing a close election. Indeed, AMLO lost the 2006 election by a tiny margin, and there were numerous allegations of irregularities in the election, explained Mark Weisbrot in the Guardian several years ago. And AMLO could indeed be perceived as a problem for the U.S.: "We are not going to fight with the U.S government. What we will do is demand our sovereignty – sovereignty with respect," he said at a Wilson Center event last year.
Omar Barboza was elected the new National Assembly president in Venezuela, replacing Julio Borges. On Friday he pushed the opposition-dominated Congress to reach a deal with the government, reports the Associated Press. He also told legislators that ensuring a fair presidential election this year should be a top priority. Barboza acknowledged the opposition had made mistakes since winning a majority in congress in 2015 while also accusing the government of purposely trying to create mistrust among Maduro’s foes.
Inflation last year in Venezuela was 2,616 percent, according to the National Assembly. Their estimates put December's inflation rate at 85 percent, well past the 50 percent that determines hyperinflation, reports Reuters.
Some in Venezuela's political opposition are now calling for military intervention in their efforts to oust President Nicolás Maduro -- following a year of intense street protests and electoral campaigns that nonetheless failed to end the government. But a mutually beneficial alliance between the government and the military makes a coup unlikely, reports the Guardian."Amid the country’s worst economic crisis in modern history and polls showing that the vast majority of Venezuelans want the president to go, they say the armed forces have helped keep Maduro in office in exchange for a growing list of economic perks."
The criminal profile of Brazil's Congress only grows: A man sentenced for sexual exploitation of underaged girls will take a seat as a lawmaker, provoking anger among many in the country, reports the Guardian.
It's time for a stronger #MeToo (#YoTambién) campaign in the region, argues Ilan Stavens in a New York Times Español op-ed. "We must put machismo on the defendants bench. And confront the elite combating the impunity that protects the powerful. It will not be easy because the crimes of the upper classes tend to remain unpunished; not to try would be a form of complicity."
Women's rights groups in Chile are concerned about what the upcoming presidency of conservative Sebastián Piñera could mean for newly earned abortion rights. (See post for Aug. 22, 2017.) A new law legalized abortion in exceptional circumstances last year, but rights groups are concerned that the newly elected president, who has opposed abortion rights in the past, will not fully implement the new regulations or add onerous requirements, reports Al Jazeera.
Pope Francis has promised to declassify Vatican documents pertaining to Uruguay's military dictatorship, reports TeleSUR.
Argentine President Mauricio Macri was elected two years ago on a platform promising to upend a culture of political corruption. A recent spate of detentions of former officials and private sector allies would appear to back his promises: except for the fact that only his political opponents have been targeted, notes the New York Times. Critics say the government is using the judiciary to neutralize its political opposition, and even supporters question the timing of detentions. The situation has many in Argentina calling for a wholesale overhaul of the penal code and the judiciary, a proposal that faces stiff opposition from many judges themselves. (On that subject, see an interesting New York Times Español op-ed by José Natanson from December, discussing why the executive branch is loathe to challenge the entrenched interests of the judicial sector.)
In a New York Times Español op-ed, Argentine investigative journalist Hugo Alconada Mon calls for better legal tools to assist judicial cases against corruption. He points to the successes of Operation Car Wash in Brazil, particularly prosecutor's use of plea bargains -- though he concludes that nothing will work without magistrate commitment to the cause.
Netflix is promoting a boom in Latin American stand-up comedy, an unusual genre in the region, writes Hanna' Tameez in Americas Quarterly.