Trump's wall causes rift with Mexico, again (Feb. 26, 2018)
An upcoming White House visit by Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has been postponed after a tense phone call with U.S. President Donald Trump over his perennially conflictive border wall proposal. The Washington Post reports the two leaders spoke for nearly an hour last Tuesday, and that discussion regarding the wall consumed most of that time. Peña Nieto was planning an official White House visit this month or in March, but sought for Trump to publicly affirm Mexico’s position that it would not fund construction of a border wall.
According to the Washington Post, a Mexican official said Trump had lost his temper, while U.S. officials said he was exasperated and frustrated that Peña Nieto insisted he back away from his electoral promise to make Mexico pay for the wall. Its worth noting that Mexicans are profoundly opposed to the unilateral proposal.
(The official White House release makes no mention of the spat.)
According to sources, Peña Nieto sought assurance that he would not be publicly embarrassed during the visit with a reference to the proposal. Mexicans vote for president in July, and a diplomatic failure by Peña Nieto would likely further damage prospects for the ruling PRI party at the ballot box.
Just over a year ago, days after Trump assumed office, Peña Nieto called of another official White House visit after a conflictive phone call about the border wall.
Which leads to the question the Washington Post reports is on many Mexican's minds: why did Peña Nieto think a visit with Trump could ever be a good idea?
The wall proposal has become a sticking point in efforts to extend the Dreamer program which shields from deportation people who migrated illegally to the U.S. as children, notes Reuters.
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Anti-establishment discourse has led former Bogotá mayor Gustavo Petro to shoot up in opinion polls for the upcoming presidential vote in Colombia, reports El País.
Panama has made some headway in rolling back its money laundering friendly legislation, but a new study by the Latin America Financial Action Task Force found the country's legislation continue to appeal to people seeking to hide illicit revenue. "The GAFILAT concluded that Panama is more vulnerable to foreign illicit revenue streams than domestic ones. The group also found that drug trafficking, contraband and other illicit activities related to organized crime provide key sources of illicit revenue entering the country’s financial system," reports InSight Crime.
The massacre of United Fruit Company workers in 1928 in some ways laid the groundwork for decades of strife in Colombia. The Observer visits banana farming communities in the new post-conflict paradigm, but finds that many have little faith in the demobilized guerrillas, and also mistrust the government.
Washington Edison Prado, known as the "Pablo Escobar of Ecuador," was extradited by Colombian authorities to the U.S. He is accused of shipping more than 200 tonnes of cocaine to the U.S., reports the Associated Press. Prado tried unsuccessfully to avoid extradition by claiming membership to the FARC.