Latin America in the News October 22
By Brennan Albrecht
This week’s news in Central America:
Guatemala. “Hundreds of migrants in U.S.-bound caravan cross Mexico-Guatemala border”. CBS News, Oct 20, 2018.
A caravan of more than 3,000 Central American migrants bound for the US crossed from Guatemala into Mexico this morning. Although some crossed legally into Mexico, hundreds attempted crossing illegally and have been met with fierce resistance from Mexican police. Many are applying for refugee status, signifying that at least a good portion may be from Nicaragua escaping the political crisis there. President Trump has declared that any members of the caravan who arrive to the US will not be admitted unless they have legal visas or passports.
Mexico. “Mexico will not permit violent entry, says Pena Nieto about the caravan”. El Informador, Oct 20, 2018.
As the caravan has crossed into Mexico, President Pena Nieto issued a warning stating that Mexico will not tolerate violence in border crossing attempts. Although he stated that Mexico will aid migrants, it will not permit illegal entry or violent behavior at crossing points, as that would put migrants and Mexican law enforcement at risk.
Mexico. “Mexico vows to meet challenge of migrant caravan heading to U.S.”. Reuters. Oct 19, 2018.
Mexican officials met with US Secretary Pompeo and agreed to handle as much of the migrant caravan as it can before it reaches the US. As Donald Trump has stepped up its rhetoric against the caravan and vowed to stop it from entering the US, this move could be politically convenient for Trump, who would like to avoid another border crisis as the one he was criticized for earlier this year.
Guatemala. “Honduras, Guatemala move to stop migrant caravan after Trump threats”. Reuters. Oct 16, 2018.
After the formation of a large migrant caravan headed for the US, President Trump called on Central American governments to put a stop to the caravan before it could cross into Mexico. Although the governments did act and detained several organizers, they were unable to stop the procession from moving forward. The Trump administration threatened to cancel all aid going to Central American countries if the demands were not met, and it remains to be seen how it will play out.
Economics and Trade:
Panama. “Mike Pompeo warns Panama against doing business with China”. New York Times, Oct 19, 2018.
As China has continued expanding its influence in the international economy, Secretary Pompeo met with Panamanian leaders warning them against expanding Chinese access and usage of the Panama Canal. This comes on the heels of protests against Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega’s allowance of China building its own canal through Nicaragua, which has been placed on hold due to financial and political issues within Nicaragua. It remains to be seen how China will exert its influence over Central America, where many leaders share some values of the Chinese government.
Mexico. “Mexico and US agree on work agenda for December (Translated)”. Noticeros Televisa, Oct 20, 2018.
US Secretary Pompeo has met with Mexican officials to decide on a path forward for future jobs and work negotiations between Mexico and the US. As the Mexican Administration changes hands, the planning stages are moving forward to renegotiate many of the trade and labor deals between the two countries. The recent renegotiations of NAFTA were only the beginning.
Mexico. “Mexican firms to pay $3 million reparations over Venezuela food aid program”. Reuters. Oct 18, 2018.
The UN Refugee Agency demanded reparations from Mexican companies who overpriced basic food packages distributed to Venezuela for food aid. The Venezuelan government used the program to address the shortage of basic goods in the country. Other countries, such as the US and Colombia, previously accused the program of inciting fraud and corruption. Those fears were confirmed as the UN called out companies for price gouging. The companies have agreed to pay the fines imposed by the Mexico Attorney General’s Office.
Mexico. “Two police officers murdered in Ciudad Juarez”. El Debate. Oct 18, 2018.
In a culmination of violence against police in Chihuahua, two police officers were found dead after struggles with organized crime in the city. This comes at the end of a resurgence of cartel violence in Mexico that surrounded many local elections throughout the country.
Mexico. “Survey Shows Common Crime Rose in Mexico in 2017”. The Wall Street Journal. September 25, 2018.
A national survey of Mexico found that petty crimes and misdemeanors rose from last year, and that the total economic losses rose to over 1% of the country’s GDP. The survey did not account for violent crimes such as homicides or trafficking crimes. It found that only ten percent of crimes are reported to the police, and only two-thirds of those are actually investigated. This damning report comes as the new Mexican president Lopez Obrador has promised to take measures to cut back on crime.
El Salvador. “Pope confers sainthood on Pope Paul VI and El Salvador’s Oscar Romero”. LA Times, Oct 14, 2018.
Pope Francis has declared sainthood of the late Archbishop of San Salvador, El Salvador, who was assassinated on March 24, 1980, after denouncing political violence at the start of the El Salvador Civil War that took place during the 1980’s and early ‘90’s. This move has gained some controversy among more conservative Catholic leaders in Central America who suggest that this could potentially embolden the revolutions and violence taking place right now.