U.S. extends TPS for Salvadorans, sort of (Oct. 29, 2019)
The United States extended protections for about 265,000 Salvadoran migrants who live in the country under the aegis of the Temporary Protected Status program, which shields them from deportation and allows them to work legally. TPS work permits will be extended until 2021. Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele is touting the deal as a significant achievement -- but it's not immediately clear to what extent migrants will actually gain extra time.
The current permits were set to expire in January 2020, but litigation is ongoing regarding the U.S. Trump administration's decision to terminate TPS for nationals of several countries, including El Salvador. Even if TPS termination is upheld, the administration had committed to granting migrants a wind-down period of time. It's not clear whether the year extension announced yesterday is part of that wind-down time or would be in addition.
Yesterday, Bukele and the U.S. ambassador to El Salvador spoke of an "extension" for Salvadoran TPS recipients. But Acting US Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli said in a tweet that the move is not a formal extension of TPS, just that work permits will be extended for a year after the end of litigation.
(Vox, Associated Press, Washington Post)
Bukele is hard pressed to show advances after a controversial deal he reached with the U.S., which would force El Salvador to take asylum seekers from third countries. He announced the deal yesterday on Twitter: "We knew our allies wouldn't abandon us." In a press conference he said Salvadoran migrants would be granted more time than those of other nationalities whose TPS was revoked. (El Faro) The U.S. ambassador to El Salvador, Ronald Johnson, said the agreement was "an acknowledgement of the achievements and the good work" of Bukele's government. (Voice of America) Salvadoran Foreign Minister Alexandra Hill Tinoco told reporters in Washington that the agreement gives Salvadoran community more time to lobby for a law that would permanently grant naturalization to the TPS holders.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security also cited migration concerns in the announcement of the decision: "the sudden inflow of 250,000 individuals to El Salvador could spark another mass migration to the U.S. and reinvigorate the crisis at the southern border."
Vox explains that officially extending TPS would require justifying that conditions in El Salvador remain too unsafe for migrants to return, which would clash with the U.S. administration's move to send asylum seekers there -- a move that would be illegal if the country is considered unsafe. Indeed, migration advocates argue that El Salvador -- and Honduras and Guatemala, which have also reached similar agreements with the U.S. -- are neither prepared to protect returning migrants nor grant adequate conditions of asylum seekers from third countries.
The Trump administration is moving forward with an agreement that would allow the U.S. to send asylum seekers to Guatemala if they transited through there on their route to the U.S. The Washington Post reports that the deal could be finalized this week. The U.S and Guatemala agreed to the move in July, but the deal was challenged in Guatemalan courts. The Guatemalan constitutional court has since allowed outgoing President Jimmy Morales to implement the deal without legislative approval.
The American Civil Liberties Union said last week that the Trump administration separated 1,556 more immigrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border than has previously been disclosed to the public. This is in addition to the more than 2,700 children known to have been separated last year. The ACLU is trying to track down all the families to see if they have been reunited. (Washington Post)
A separate U.S. policy sends asylum seekers to Mexico to await their court dates -- but Mexican authorities are sorely underprepared to receive them. The Texas Tribune and the Pulitzer Center report on quickly deteriorating conditions in a makeshift Matamoros camp, by the border with Texas.
Haitian President Jovenel Moïse asked the U.S. government for humanitarian assistance, in the midst of the seventh week of protests demanding his ouster that have paralyzed the country. (Associated Press)
Turf wars between guerrilla groups and criminal organizations along the Venezuela-Guyana border are already spilling over, and could intensify if foreign powers intervene to topple Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro -- according to a new International Crisis Group report.
Tensions between Venezuela and Colombia have hit new heights. A planned military clash seems unlikely, but the uncontrolled stretch along the two countries' border is rife with illicit activity and groups, which could create a trigger incident. At Venezuelan Politics and Human Rights, WOLA expert Adam Isaacson argues that border incidents are in fact frequent. "Most of those probably involved organized crime, and not any state forces. But, the fear is that one of these gets out of hand and Venezuelan forces actually do something that results in loss of life on the Colombian side. Or people who want a conflict actually manage to invent something, whether it happened in reality or not."
Chilean President Sebastián Piñera replaced eight cabinet members -- including the ministers of interior and finance -- and welcomed a team of United Nations human rights investigators yesterday. But protesters remained on the streets and critics note that the ministers of education, health and transportation -- flash-points in the protests -- remain. (BioBio) In Santiago, protesters lit bonfires on Alameda Avenue and clashed with riot police. There were reports of looting and mayhem in cities throughout Chile, reports the Guardian. Protesters marched under the slogan: "It's not over yet." (El Mostrador) Human rights activists demonstrated outside the Supreme Court and demanded better regulation for security forces' crowd control tactics.
The National Institute of Human Rights tallied 3,535 people detained, as of yesterday evening, of which 375 are minors.The group also counts 1,132 wounded in hospitals, including hundreds with bullet, birdseed and balin wounds. A group of lawyers has complained that police are blocking access to registries of detainees, which are public according to Chile's constitution. (Cooperativa)
Nodal has a round up of more local coverage of the Chilean protests, including a report that 43 minors have been wounded or mistreated by security forces.
Protests against Bolivia's official election results -- which give incumbent Evo Morales a razor thin outright win -- entered their sixth day yesterday. Yesterday Morales said he "doesn't understand" those who don't recognize his victory -- Infobae.
Vice-president Alvaro García Linera blamed runner up Carlos Mesa for protest violence. (La Razón)
The Trump administration announced that it will cut U.S. flights to most Cuban airports -- except the main Havana international airport -- in December. The move was announced last week and is in keeping with the administration's policy towards the island, according to the State Department. (New York Times)
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega aims only to stay in power, and has two paths for doing so, writes Carlos F. Chamorro in El Faro: He could attempt to reform the constitution and extend his mandate beyond 2021, or carry out non-competitive elections in 2021. His greatest risk, however, is total international isolation if he does so.
Peronist Alberto Fernández may have won Argentina's presidential elections -- but the president-elect now faces far greater challenges, including negotiations with the IMF, reports the Wall Street Journal.
A number of regional leaders congratulated Fernández after his win. But the soon-to-be administration is already on a collision course with traditional-ally and neighbor Brazil: President Jair Bolsonaro lamented Fernández’s victory, saying he won’t congratulate the president-elect but won’t turn against him either (yet) -- Buenos Aires Times.
Fernández's victory is just one of a series of rejections of neo-liberal economic policies in the region, according to the Washington Post, which cites Ecuadorean and Chilean protests and suggests that Brazil's Bolsonaro could also face angry backlash.
Bolsonaro was elected on an anti-corruption platform -- but he and his family "are now subsumed by multiple corruption scandals suggesting serious criminality," writes Brazilian lawmaker David Miranda in the Guardian. The most serious allegations link Bolsonaro's eldest son, Flavio, to shadowy Rio de Janeiro paramilitary militias.
A Mexican judge released 27 of 31 suspected drug cartel members arrested last week, a high-profile blow for the government's anti-narcotics efforts according to Reuters.
Day of the Dead
Don't confuse Day of the Dead for a south-of-the-border version of Halloween -- the holiday can be traced back to the native peoples of central and southern Mexico, writes anthropologist Kirby Farah in the Conversation. Spanish conquistadores, unable to convince natives to give up rituals honoring death goddess Mictecihuatl, compromised by moving the festivities to coincide with Allhallowtide – the three-day Christian observance of All Saints’ Eve, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. "With this move, the holiday was nominally connected to Catholicism. But many practices and beliefs associated with the worship of the dead remained deeply indigenous."
It's funny because it's true
Americas Quarterly profiles five Latin American satirists are using humor to shape the political conversation and hold the powerful to account. The pieces look at: María Paulina Baena, one of the original hosts of Colombia's "La Pulla;" Nicaraguan cartoonist Pedro X. Molina, the winner of the 2019 Maria Moors Cabot Award for Journalism; Venezuela's José Rafael Briceño; Brazilian Gregório Duvivier and Argentine feminist Malena Pichot.
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...