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Latin America Daily Briefing: The border after Title 42 (May 22, 2023)

Latin America Daily Briefing: The border after Title 42
Latin America Daily Briefing

U.S. border officials have been quietly releasing migrants into the U.S. to while their immigration claims are processed, alleviating crowding in detention facilities following the elimination of Title 42. Since the policy ended ten days ago, roughly 21,000 migrants have been released by the U.S. Border Patrol, according to the Washington Post.

While the number of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border has fallen this month, crossings into Mexico continue unabated, reports the Los Angeles Times. With the end of Title 42, migrants say, Mexican authorities stopped issuing temporary safe conduct passes. “Mexican authorities appear to have shifted tactics,” migrants are being stopped at internal checkpoints and bused to points in the Mexican interior, where “it is unclear if they will ultimately be allowed to continue to the U.S. or face deportation or detention in Mexico.”

The death of an 8-year-old girl in U.S. border custody last week “is at the heart of concerns about the government’s policy of detaining children for any period of time and particularly in crowded settings,” reports the New York Times.

The girl’s mother requested medical aid at least three times the day her sick daughter was pronounced dead at a Texas hospital, reports CBS.

“Our southwestern frontier is not simply a geographic region; it’s a concept into which we stuff all our trepidation and disingenuousness about immigration, asylum and the economic future,” writes Megan Stack in a New York Times opinion piece. “We dress those complicated questions in stories of smuggling and encounters with migrants, illustrate them with images of exhausted foreigners and agents with badges.”

More Migration

  • More than 3,600 Afghans have traveled an agonizingly difficult path from their home country through South America — across the Darien Gap — in an attempt to obtain refuge in the U.S. since 2021, reports the New York Times.

  • A small but steady trickle of Venezuelans who emigrated are returning to their home country — pushed by xenophobia and and tightening immigration restrictions in the region, reports El País.


  • Brazilian federal police brought criminal charges against the former head of the country’s Indigenous protection agency for indirectly contributing to the murders of Bruno Pereira and Dom Phillips in the Amazon last year, by failing take steps to protect the agency’s workers, reports the Guardian. The indictment will be looked at by federal prosecutors who will decide whether to file charges in court, reports the Washington Post.

  • The Lula administration’s commitment to protect Brazil’s rainforest will be tested in the upcoming “peak burning season, where political signals must give way to concrete outcomes on the ground,” reports the Guardian.

  • “The next deadly virus that spreads around the world could easily come from a bat” in the Amazon — Reuters reports on scientists’ struggle to find a needle in a haystack.

  • Brazilian soap-operas have historically been dominated by white actors — but now the three prime-time telenovelas on the country’s dominant TV network feature prominent Black protagonists, reports the Guardian.

  • In the unique “recovering persons” prison model in Brazil, run by the Association for Protection and Assistance of Convicts, inmates oversee security and discipline, make their own food and wear their own clothes, reports Al Jazeera.

Regional Relations

  • Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said a planned meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Japan, fell through because Zelenskyy was late. (Reuters)

  • Cuba will allow Russian investors to lease land for 30 years. The preferencial treatment is an unprecedented step for the islands Communist government, and a clear sign of the growing alliance between the two countries, reports the Miami Herald.

  • U.S. President Joe Biden nominated Dennis Hankins, a career diplomat with nearly four decades of experience in some of the world’s toughest postings, to be U.S. ambassador in Haiti, 19 months after the last ambassador left the post, reports the Miami Herald.

  • U.S. supply-side efforts to stem the fentanyl crisis faces geopolitical obstacles from China or Mexico, where most of the world’s fentanyl and its precursor chemicals come from, and whose current policies and priorities make effective control of the drug’s production very difficult, writes Vanda Felbab-Brown in Foreign Affairs.


  • Gunmen shot 19 people, killing at least 10 people, on Saturday, at an off-roading event in the Mexican state of Baja California. (Washington Post)

  • More than 14,000 people have signed a letter protesting the approval of a new science law in Mexico on 29 April. Researchers say that the legislation — the General Law on Humanities, Sciences, Technologies and Innovation — consolidates power over science with the government and ignores the wishes of the research community, reports Nature.

  • Mexico’s government took over part of a railway in southern Mexico operated by a unit of Grupo Mexico, on Friday. (Reuters)


  • Ecuador’s snap elections, called last week by President Guillermo Lasso, could pave the way for President Rafael Correa’s allies to make a comeback, argues Will Freeman in Americas Quarterly.

  • Leftist and Indigenous groups, who had previously promised to protest Lasso’s dissolution of the National Assembly, have urged followers to remain calm, and believe that elections, “held in the wake of a deeply unpopular right-wing administration dissolving the government, will allow them to regain majority control,” according to Joshua Collins at Pirate Wire Services.

El Salvador

  • At least 12 people died and more than 100 were injured in a stampede in a football stadium in El Salvador, Saturday. It was not immediately clear what caused the crowd crush, but police said a ticketing problem could have caused an accumulation of people trying to get in. (New York TimesGuardian)


  • Six months into negotiations between the Colombian government and the ELN, talks face an uncertain future. “While there has been some progress, continued attacks against Colombian security forces, a rise in child recruitment, and an inability to reach a ceasefire threaten to capsize President Gustavo Petro’s ambitious plan for “Total Peace,” reports InSight Crime.

  • Indigenous activists say a recent plane crash in the Amazon was no surprise, accusing airline companies operating in the area of chasing profits and the Colombian government of failing to uphold safety standards. Indigenous inhabitants of the rainforests have few safe travel options, they said. (CNN)

  • Former paramilitary leader Salvatore Mancuso told Colombia’s peace tribunal that state institutions “were not only complicit in the expansion of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) but actively coordinated with them, giving orders to wipe out anyone suspected of aligning with communist rebels,” reports the Guardian. (See Friday’s briefs.)


  • Bolivian Finance Minister Marcelo Montenegro was praised for an impressive pandemic recovery, “but his recent missteps may have exacerbated Bolivia’s crisis of uncertainty,” argues Rich Brown in Americas Quarterly.


  • Scott MacDonald analyzes the Chilean “Boric administration’s proposed lithium plan, which “is based on greater state control over the national lithium sector, following an approach of state guidance and participation in the extraction and processing of lithium for export,” in Global Americans.

  • Chilean state miner Codelco, the world’s largest copper producer, said on Friday it had created two subsidiaries to run a newly mandated lithium business, reports Reuters.


  • The largest oil union in Argentina began an indefinite strike on Sunday to demand labor improvements after a series of accidents that injured workers, reports Reuters.


  • “Once a quiet paradise and a top tourism and cruise ship destination, Margarita Island, the “Pearl of the Caribbean,” is now a run-down reminder of Venezuela’s collapsed tourism industry.” — Wilson Center

Jordana Timerman / Latin America Daily Briefing

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