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.

What 2017’s Migration Statistics Tell Us About Border Security

Border Patrol apprehended 303,916 undocumented migrants near the U.S.-Mexico border in fiscal year 2017. That was the lowest annual total since 1972. This is part of a long-term trend of declining apprehensions at the border. In 13 of the last 16 years (and 9 of the last 10), the annual number of migrants apprehended by Border Patrol has consistently ranked lower than the previous three-year average. And according to CBP’s best estimates, the number of migrants who evade apprehension has also been shrinking. This year saw 26 percent fewer migrants than 2016. The drop began after Donald Trump’s inauguration: February, March, and April saw the fewest monthly apprehensions since at least 2000, when Border Patrol makes monthly records available, and probably since the 1970s.

Amid criticism, Mexico is on track to strengthen military’s role in fighting crime

Proponents say the law would resolve potential legal problems surrounding the deployment of the military for domestic crime-fighting. Mexico’s constitution limits the use of the military in domestic situations in peacetime. But the forces are needed to fight crime because of local police forces’ incompetence and corruption, supporters say. Opponents fear the new measure will risk militarization of the country, weaken civilian oversight and offer fewer incentives for local politicians to fix their police forces. Critics include Mexican opposition politicians and the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein, who recently called the legislation “deeply worrying.”

Study reveals racial inequality in Mexico, disproving its ‘race-blind’ rhetoric

In Mexico, inequality, though rampant, has long been viewed as a problem related to ethnicity or socioeconomic status, not race. Our new report suggests that assumption is wrong. Published in November, “Is Mexico a Post-Racial Country?” reveals that in Mexico darker skin is strongly associated with decreased wealth and less schooling. Indeed, race is the single most important determinant of a Mexican citizen’s economic and educational attainment, our results show.

Guatemalan women take on Canada’s mining giants over ‘horrific human rights abuses’

The lawsuits may offer a legal means of addressing a longstanding obstacle for human rights campaigners: the perceived legal disconnect between multinationals and the local subsidiaries who carry out their operations abroad. “These are some of the first attempts in Canadian legal history to try and bring some accountability to a Canadian mining company for horrific human rights abuses in another country,” said Cory Wanless of Klippensteins Barristers and Solicitors, the Toronto law firm representing the women. The novel approach scored its first victory in 2013, when a court in Ontario dismissed an application by Hudbay to throw out the case. The decision marked the first time in Canada that foreign claimants had been granted access to the courts in order to pursue Canadian companies for alleged human rights abuses abroad.

‘My Only Friend Is My Conscience’: Face to Face With El Salvador’s Cold Killer

In the courts, justice moves slowly, and the case against Ochoa languished. Godoy and her team are undeterred by the delay, in part because they have plenty to do in the meantime. Some of the best information about crimes committed during the civil war comes from the American government, precisely because, as Ochoa had feared, it carefully kept tabs on the machinations of its allies. The center has been receiving requests from Salvadoran human rights workers looking to corroborate victims’ accounts of civil war-era atrocities; it has amassed troves of government cables that highlight not just the part played by Ochoa in the war, but also those played by other ex-members of the Salvadoran military.

Honduran Gives International Observers Evidence of Election “Fraud”

Opposition presidential candidate Salvador Nasralla met on Tuesday with observers from the OAS and European Union to present what he said was evidence of fraud in the Nov. 26 Honduran elections. The candidate handed over a USB drive containing 14,364 tally sheets to delegations from the EU and the Organization of American States. The OAS and EU representatives can bear witness to “the brazen fraud” perpetrated on the Honduran people, Nasralla told a press conference in Tegucigalpa. Both Nasralla, a well-known former sportscaster, and right-wing incumbent Juan Orlando Hernandez claimed victory hours after the polls closed on Nov. 26. While the first partial results issued by the TSE electoral court showed Nasralla in the lead, the latest official count gives Hernandez 42.95 percent of the vote compared with 41.42 percent for his main challenger.

Honduras Holds Democracy Hostage

Whatever the TSE’s proclamations and whatever the “official” results—even if the fair choice for president is denied by a corrupt government—the Honduran people have already won in many ways. The resonance and overwhelming success of Nasralla as a coalition candidate in itself was a victory. The robust participation, especially among traditionally marginalized communities on voting day and their subsequent mobilization to defy an illegal curfew law are most remarkable. Even if the TSE’s count is a lie, the majority that voted for Nasralla are emboldened by the fact that he was the true winner, while revealing the fraudulent activities of Juan Orlando Hernández and the Nationalist Party to the world.

The Inescapable Poet of Nicaragua

“For me Darío is a Nicaraguan artist in the maximum sense,” Mr. Rodríguez said as we walked around the theater. “He gave us our cultural identity, something that was ours that we could then project out into the world instead of copying what had already been done.”

The Heroes of Burial Road

For the past decade, the team has come to collect the abandoned dead and bury them in a distant cemetery. There aren’t any headstones. But St. Luke is trying to offer a modicum of dignity — a funeral pall, a coffin, a grave, some uplifting hymns and solemn prayers. Before the burial team stepped in, the jumbled bodies were dumped in the desert, into giant pits or just out in the open.

Rescuing Colombia’s Post-Conflict Transitional Justice System

However, we are deeply troubled by the Constitutional Court’s and the legislature’s actions. They deform some of the key tenets of the peace accord. They risk allowing too many top human rights violators to avoid accountability, and denying too many conflict victims their right to truth and dignity. And they may set Colombia on a collision course with the International Criminal Court. The process is not over yet. The Constitutional Court must review this law’s constitutionality. The International Criminal Court may act if it appears that the JEP will allow war criminals to avoid punishment. So might the Inter-American human rights system.

Evo for ever? Bolivia scraps term limits as critics blast ‘coup’ to keep Morales in power

This week, the country’s highest court overruled the constitution, scrapping term limits altogether for every office. Morales can now run for a fourth term in 2019 – and for every election thereafter. Morales, 58 – an Aymara former coca grower – was elected in 2006. The country’s first indigenous president, his 2009 constitution refounded Bolivia as a “plurinational state”. A partial nationalisation of Bolivia’s oil and gas helped create a middle class from scratch. Bolivia is Latin America’s fastest-growing economy; 53% of its legislators are women and a fifth are under 30.

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