The News Roundup is a regular section of the blog, featuring news articles from various sources around the web, with the goal of providing an overview of the weekly conversation about the countries where MCC works in the region. Quotes in italics are drawn directly from sources and do not necessarily reflect the position of MCC.
An estimated 120,000 people are deported to Mexico from the U.S. each year without at least some of their most vital belongings, including cash, identification, and cell phones, according to the Migration Policy Institute. And advocates say it’s putting migrants at grave risk. Without basic necessities or the ability to contact their families, the newly deported face greater risk of harassment, extortion, kidnapping and sexual assault by organized crime, advocates say. The Marshall Project’s John Carlos Frey traveled to Nogales, Mexico, to report on this little-known threat facing migrants.
Currently, due to strict naturalization laws, more than 27,000 Guatemalans throughout Mexico remain stateless. In turn, many Guatemalan refugees have migrated to the U.S., only to face similarly draconian policies. In 2007, I began a photo-documentary project with my brother Manuel Gil, a professional photographer. Our aim was to learn about the challenges these people face as stateless refugees for more than 30 years, and the impact immigration policies have on their families. Here’s what we found.
And yet, by any measure, graft in Mexico has reached stunning new highs this year. Over the past five months, three state governors have been arrested abroad while trying to escape justice, and fully eleven of the country’s 32 total governors are currently under investigation or fighting prosecution for corruption. Today, nearly 90% of Mexicans see the state and federal government as deeply corrupt, according to the Mexican National Institute of Statistics and Geography. Citizens regard corruption as the second most important problem facing the country, after crime and violence.
Guatemala’s president is seeking the removal of the head of a U.N.-backed anti-corruption body. The president, Jimmy Morales, is facing a graft scandal involving his brother and a son.
Despite decreasing murder rates, Honduras faces significant security challenges, as evidenced by the fact that even the projected decrease in the homicide rate would still place Honduras far above the regional average of about 23 per 100,000. But the recent arrests of Barralaga and his alleged accomplices are another indication of authorities’ commitment to tackling criminality at high levels of law enforcement. Operation Perseus took place against the backdrop of an ongoing “purge” of the police, led by a commission set up in April 2016 to address deep-rooted corruption in law enforcement. The process has been fraught with obstacles and setbacks, but by starting its work focusing on the top echelons of the force, it has arguably gone further than any of its predecessors. The commission’s mandate was renewed earlier this year until January 2018.
This, of course, assumes that we know what works in preventing crime and improving justice sector processes, particularly in fragile countries. A number of efforts underway rigorously seek to monitor and evaluate interventions related to security and justice. Empowering government and civil society actors to develop and implement pilot policies that use advanced methods of impact evaluation is our preferred path. We don’t know what will demonstrate success. But absent public policy experimentation — accompanied by strong monitoring and evaluation plans — the horrific state of Salvadoran prisons is likely to persist. If things do not change, we are not only condemning detainees to such conditions, but also likely ensuring detainees’ recidivism once released. The best approach to ending cycles of violence is to develop a set of pilot interventions that, if successful, can be subsequently scaled up. The security and human rights challenges in Central America are profound. Experimentation and data-driven approaches to citizen security and justice have the potential to materially change the quality of life for the region’s most vulnerable.
According to the Honduran Armed Forces, there are long-term operations to fight petty crime and organized crime in those sectors, and they confirm that communication channels with Nicaraguan service members remain open. “There is always an exchange of information and experiences to be more effective,” Lt. Col. Nolasco indicated. “These renewed efforts have had good results for controlling criminal gangs that are looking to operate in that sector and for guarding against contraband and tax fraud. Success in that region is owed to the high degree of cooperation and coordination between our two nations.”Honduras keeps joint task forces on its borders with El Salvador and Guatemala. Col. Cerrato did not rule out the possibility of one day establishing a task force with Nicaragua similar to the Lenca-Sumpul or Maya-Chortí task forces that already exist.
Four years after the Dominican Republic began cracking down on undocumented Haitian workers following a decision by one of its courts to retroactively strip Dominicans of Haitian descent of their citizenship, tens of thousands of Haitians like Ceant have ended up in Haiti after being expelled or forced to flee. Their arrival, mostly ignored by Haitian authorities, has burdened humanitarian organizations that have struggled to help amid deep budget cuts and indifference. Now the prospect that thousands of Haitians temporarily living in the United States could soon find themselves in a similar situation should the Trump administration end their special immigration status, worries humanitarians and U.S.-based activists, who have watched with trepidation at the Haitian government’s inability to absorb the influx from the neighboring Dominican Republic.
A number of factors have led to the rise in activist killings since the signing of the deal. After half a century of conflict, the country’s justice institutions are overloaded, and impunity is rampant. There is rarely a consequence for killing a human rights defender. Additionally, the persistence of paramilitary structures means land rights activists and those working on peace education are still facing armed resistance to their work. And while authorities are beginning to recognize the critical role human rights defenders play in building a stable Colombia, smear campaigns from public authorities still jeopardize activists’ reputations within their communities, which in turn erodes networks of local protection.
Quinoa: Harvesting Bolivia’s ‘superfood’ (photo essay)
A staple food in the diet of millions throughout the Andean states, quinoa has 36 percent more protein and 73 percent more fiber than wheat. Its protein content covers all eight essential amino acids and it has high levels of iron, magnesium and zinc, as well as B vitamins riboflavin and folic acid. According to Food and Agriculture Organization Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva, quinoa could help “fight against hunger and food insecurity”. The UN declared 2013 the International Year of Quinoa. But four years on, Bolivian quinoa has suffered some setbacks. Prices have fallen dramatically as new competitors, such as Peruvian farmers who, with the aid of synthetic fertilisers, produce two harvests a year instead of the one harvest in Bolivia, where synthetic fertilisers aren’t used, enter the market. In 2016, the department of Oruro, the region that produces 51 percent of all Bolivian quinoa destined for export and in which Salinas de Garci Mendoza is located, suffered a 20 percent decrease in production due to drought.