Tag Archives: Mexico & Central America

Mexico News | Journalists

Murder in Playa del Carmen brings official count of journalist deaths to eight in Mexico
  • Ruben Pat, security reporter and founder of Facebook-based Playa News, was shot and killed outside of a bar in the Quintana Roo resort town after having received threats for the last six months.
  • Pat’s murder was the second involving Playa News staff, with another, Chan Dzib, having been shot less than a month earlier.
  • The deaths come amidst a 132% increase in homicides in the state of Quintana Roo in the first six months of 2018 vs. 2017.
Read

Two Mexican journalists killed in separate attacks” (Al Jazeera | July 2018)

Journalist shot dead in Mexican resort town of Playa del Carmen” (Reuters | July 2018)

Another Mexican Journalist Murdered As Violence Escalates” (teleSUR | July 2018)

Mexico News | Indigenous

Indigenous communities throughout Mexico protest presidential election, press for self-rule
  • Residents have banned political parties, destroyed protest signs, patrolled streets for campaign paraphernalia, and blocked ballot delivery throughout small towns in the western state of Michoacán as anti-government sentiment has grown.
  • Seven municipalities covering 16 towns and at least 50,000 voters have decided to opt out of the election, and Maya communities in Guerrero and Chiapas have begun mobilizing as well.
  • Although popular leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has advocated for Mexico’s indigenous communities in the past, historical and ongoing neglect by and corruption in the government has led many indigenous Mexicans to disengage and push for greater autonomy.
Read

Indigenous Mexicans spurn presidential vote with blockades, bulldozers” (Reuters | June 2018)

The Mexican indigenous community that ran politicians out of town” (The Guardian | April 2018)

Mexico’s Indigenous Council Continues Campaign Despite Violence” (teleSUR English | January 2018)

Panama News | Colombian, Venezuelan & Nicaraguan Immigrants

Panama announces plans to crack down on immigration from Colombia, Venezuela, and Nicaragua
  • Panamanian officials have announced new restrictions on immigration from the three countries, including conducting financial checks and shortening the duration of tourist permits from 180 days to 90 days.
  • Anti-immigration sentiment has grown over the last year, with Colombians and Venezuelans particularly targeted and maligned as connected to drug trafficking and other crime in the country.
  • Around 250,000 have immigrated to Panama from the three countries since 2010.
Read

Panama to Crack Down on Immigration, Colombians and Venezuelans” (teleSUR | May 2017)

Panama cuts stays for Colombians, Venezuelans, Nicaraguans” (The Associated Press via The Washington Post | May 2017)

Panama to tighten immigration policy for Colombia, Venezuela, Nicaragua” (Reuters | May 2017)

Mexico Feature | Afro-Mexicans

The Political Reemergence of Mexico’s “Invisible” Minority


Source: Fusion YouTube

Despite a half-millennium of life in Mexico, Afro-Mexicans have seen their political visibility decrease dramatically as the ideology of mestizaje (racial mixing) has become central to Mexican national identity. As in many parts of the Americas, how blackness is defined in Mexico is distinctive, unique to the convergence of circumstances that shaped identity through culture, economics, geography, ideology, and law. Today, the contemporary political landscape, with its interest in multiculturalism and the rectification of historical disadvantage, has pressed black Mexicans to seek greater administrative recognition. But with relatively small numbers and lacking a non-Spanish native language, Afro-Mexicans have been officially indistinct from either the majority non-indigenous and mestizo population or minority indigenous groups, unwilling to acknowledge the historical circumstances that have made recognition of Afro-Mexicans as a minority a priority and denying the financial and political support that such recognition would bring.

However, in 2015, an interim census allowed for respondents’ self-identification as “black”—itself a disputed term among Afro-Mexicans—for the first time, giving new visibility and coherence to the more than 1 million black Mexicans in the country. Mexican blackness—as defined historically, culturally, psychologically, and geographically—has joined the global stage of Afro-consciousness in the call for recognition and reparation of injustices against the community of African and Afro-descendent peoples. The official reemergence has attracted the attention of media outlets covering the renewed consciousness and political agency of Mexico’s “invisible minority.”

Read:
Afro-Mexicans: No longer ‘erased’” (The Daily Kos, April 2016)
The black people ‘erased from history’” (BBC, April 2016)
Now Counted By Their Country, Afro-Mexicans Grab Unprecedented Spotlight” (NPR, February 2016)
Mexico Finally Recognized Its Black Citizens, But That’s Just The Beginning” (The Huffington Post, January 2016)

Also:
The secret lives of Afro-Mexicans in America” (Fusion, February 2016)
México Negro A.C.

Central America Feature | Women & Girls

Young Central American Women’s Fight to Flee

The situation for girls and young women in the “Northern Triangle” of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras has perhaps never been more dire. The persistence of organized crime, with its emphasis on patriarchy and the subjugation of women, has forced many women and girls from their homes, fueling a migration crisis in Mexico and the U.S. From education disruption to sexual slavery, young women have found their prospects circumscribed by a culture of entitlement, intimidation, and violence that severely limits women’s agency in the region. The Guardian investigates the conditions young women face in the region and

Read:
‘It’s a crime to be young and pretty’: girls flee predatory Central America gangs” (The Guardian)

Additional:
Central America’s rampant violence fuels an invisible refugee crisis” (The Guardian)

(Image Credit: via The Guardian)

Mexico News | LGBT

Mexican congressional committee rejects proposal to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples
  • President Enrique Peña Nieto’s office had asked for an amendment to the constitution to allow couples to marry irrespective of gender or sexual orientation.
  • The constitutional committee voted 19-8 (with one abstention) against allowing the proposal to proceed.
  • While same-sex marriage is permitted in several Mexican states and a judicial ruling declared marriage bans unconstitutional, the executive proposal was an attempt to secure marriage rights nationwide.

Read more:
Mexican congressional committee rejects Pena Nieto’s bid to legalize gay marriage” (Reuters)
Los diputados fulminan la propuesta de Peña Nieto de avalar el matrimonio igualitario” (El País, in Spanish)
Diputados desechan iniciativa de matrimonios gay” (El Universal, in Spanish)

Mexico News | Haitian Migrants

End of special immigration protections diminishes hopes of Haitians looking to cross into U.S. from Mexico
  • Thousands of Haitians have become trapped in Mexico as an ongoing migration crisis has been exacerbated by the recent destruction wrought by Hurricane Matthew in their home country.
  • The U.S. recently ended special protections for Haitian migrants in the country in place since the 2010 earthquake that killed more than 200,000, though activists have begun pressuring the government to renew them in light of the most recent natural disaster.
  • Monitors estimate as many as 40,000—many coming from an economically distraught Brazil—may be en route throughout the Americas as they pay upwards of thousands of dollars to pass through the most legally treacherous parts.

Read more:
Far from Hurricane Matthew, a Haitian crisis flares in Tijuana” (Reuters)
Haitians, After Perilous Journey, Find Door to U.S. Abruptly Shut” (The New York Times)
Haitians throng at U.S.-Mexico border despite deportation policy” (AP via CBS News)

(Image Credit: Adam Ferguson/The New York Times)

Costa Rica News | Haitian Migrants

Haitian migrants in Costa Rica seeking passage to U.S. pose as West African to avoid deportation
  • The ongoing migration bottleneck in Costa Rica continues to pile up, with 100 to 150 new arrivals each day adding to the 2,500 already stranded in the overwhelmed country.
  • The majority of undocumented migrants are Haitian, many coming from Brazil with some posing as West African in an attempt to avoid deportation, deprioritized for those from distant countries because of the high cost.
  • Haitians point to ongoing economic destitution in their home country, poor prospects in host countries like Brazil and Ecuador, and what they perceive as a double standard of preferential treatment for certain migrants as motivation for migrating and the tactical deception.

Read more:
IOM Reports Growing Number of Irregular Migrants Stranded in Costa Rica” (International Organization for Migration, via ReliefWeb)
95% de los migrantes irregulares son haitianos ‘disfrazados’ de africanos” (La Nación, in Spanish)
Flood of ‘Muhammad Alis’ Highlights New Migration Toward U.S.” (Bloomberg)

(Image Credit: José Cordero/La Nación)

Mexico News | LGBT

At least 5 dead following May shooting in Mexico gay bar
  • On May 22, gunmen entered La Madame in Xalapa, Veracruz, and opened fire, with reports indicating between five and seven dead and 12 to 14 injured.
  • Reports indicate that six men entered the bar and began firing on patrons, with at least one witness reporting the attackers targeted a group of men before firing randomly on those present.
  • Security officials blamed the shooting on a territorial dispute by drug cartels, while LGBT activists argued police were downplaying the homophobic nature of the crime.

Read more:
Cae presunto implicado en ataque al bar ‘Madame’” (El Universal, in Spanish)
Ataque en bar de Xalapa fue contra ocupantes de una mesa: testigo” (Milenio.com, in Spanish)
The Massacre at a Mexican Gay Bar That No One Talked About” (teleSUR English)
7 people were killed in a Mexico gay bar, but it’s not big news” (PinkNews)

(Image Credit: El Universal)

International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia

The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia

Commemorating the day when homosexuality was de-pathologized by the World Health Organization in 1990, the 13th-annual International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia (IDAHOT) stands as an occasion for global mobilization towards LGBT visibility and security. The day, like many global celebrations, is also one many governments choose to speak out on global human rights and minority security, announcing initiatives to support their LGBT citizens and international projects.

Even today, ongoing disagreements between nations over LGBT rights have prompted diplomatic rows and roadblocks to international cooperation, including the recent objection of 51 Muslim countries to the participation of LGBT groups in a U.N. AIDS forum in June. The push to extinguish homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia at all geographic levels remains important to the global mobility of LGBT people worldwide.

Here are highlights from IDAHOT 2016:

Africa & the Middle East


Video Credit: Collectif Arc-en-Ciel

LGBT Nigerians have continued wrestling with conflicting legal messages, with the recent passage of the landmark HIV Anti-Discrimination Act doing little to undo the effects of a 2014 anti-homosexuality law.

While a moratorium on LGBT criminalization is officially in place in Malawi, individuals are subject to entrenched marginalization and stigmatization in healthcare services, with a national referendum on LGBT rights having stalled.

The Gay and Lesbians Association of Zimbabwe (GALZ) organized events for IDAHOT in Bulawayo, focusing on mental health as ongoing social and healthcare difficulties plague the community.

Though homosexuality remains criminalized in Tunisia, activists have achieved increased visibility and pushed for legal reform amidst ongoing discrimination.

Israel reaffirmed its commitment to LGBT Israelis, announcing funding to support an emergency shelter for LGBT youth and a hostel for trans people who have recently undergone gender confirmation surgery.

Days before IDAHOT, activists staged a sit-in outside of a Beirut gendarmerie, protesting Lebanon‘s anti-homosexuality legal holdovers from French occupation.  Similarly, the Lebanese Medical Association for Sexual Health (LebMASH) issued an appeal to the Lebanese government to decriminalize same-sex relations, arguing for recognition of homosexuality’s presence within the natural variation of human sexuality.

The Americas


Video Credit: teleSUR

U.S. President Barack Obama released a statement of support as his administration lended its voice to a national debate over the bathroom rights of trans people.

In Canada, PM Justin Trudeau announced an anti-discrimination bill protecting trans security as advocates organized a demonstration for trans healthcare rights following the firebombing of a trans health clinic.

Across Latin America, important gains in same-sex partnership and family rights and gender identity healthcare and legal protections have heartened LGBT Latin Americans, but the region continues to have some of the highest reported rates of violence against the LGBT community in the world.

LGBT organizations held cultural and political events throughout Argentina to highlight conditions facing the Argentine LGBT community, call for an anti-discrimination law, and press for federal recognition of the International Day Against Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination, as the day is known.

Cuba celebrated the day fresh off Pride events in Havana, where Mariela Castro, daughter of President Raúl Castro, led a parade of thousands through the city streets.

Asia Pacific


Video Credit: Out for Australia

As the country continues contentious battles including the push for marriage equality and erasure of “gay panic” legal defenses, rainbow flags and celebrations appeared across Australia, including over police stations in Canberra, in the streets of Brisbane, and in the senior-care facilities of Tasmania. In Victoria, officials announced a retreat for Aboriginal gender minorities to be held later in the year.

In China, a study conducted by the U.N. Development Programme, Peking University, and the Beijing LGBT Center, the largest of its kind to date, was released revealing that only 5% of LGBTI Chinese are fully out at school and work, but also showed encouraging levels of acceptance of LGBTI people among China’s youth. The head of Hong Kong’s Equal Opportunities Commission expressed support for anti-discrimination legislation at IDAHOT festivities in the city.

In Fiji, former President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau joined festivities at the French Ambassador’s residence to celebrate the island’s LGBTQI community.

Advocates took to op-ed columns in India to confront ongoing transphobia, reflect on gay representation in film, and highlight everyday homophobia in urban life.

A tug-of-war over LGBT rights between Islamic fundamentalists and pro-diversity moderates in Indonesia has led to mixed messages about LGBT security in the nation, spurring anti-discrimination protests.

A recent Human Rights Watch report on anti-LGBT bullying in Japan served as a reminder of the purpose of the day, highlighting rampant anti-LGBT sentiment even as the government has initiated broad efforts to combat bullying in schools.

Europe & Eurasia


Video Credit: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

The divergent prospects for LGBTI people across Europe, from Western Europe’s distinctive commitment to the protection of gender diversity to ongoing persecution in the East, was further confirmed through a UNESCO report highlighting anti-LGBT violence in schools released as global education ministers met in Paris.

Rainbow colors appeared in the shopping district of Cyprus‘s capital as 22 organizations came together to organize events to launch the country’s third Pride Festival, focusing on the need to increase legal recognition of both sexual and gender minorities in the country.

In Gibraltar, organizers canceled event plans in support of action on marriage equality legislation currently under consideration, arguing that holding a rally in front of the Parliament as uncertainty prevails would undermine pressure on MPs.

Kosovo‘s first Pride march brought out hundreds from the LGBT community to Pristina, including the U.S. and U.K. ambassadors.

Organizations in Luxembourg planned a silent march to call attention to the plight of LGBTI individuals worldwide and call for increased international protections (including asylum).

Organizers in Serbia took the day to announce the date of this year’s Pride parade (September 18) and address concerns of homophobia as right-wing parliamentary representation has increased.

Advocates, allies, and diplomats gathered around the rainbow flag raised at the US Embassy in Latvia.

On the island of Gozo in Malta, NGO leaders celebrated gender diversity in the country.

After advocates scrapped plans for IDAHOT activities in Georgia due to security concerns, a group of activists were arrested for painting pro-LGBT graffiti on administrative buildings. A “Family Day” protest against LGBT rights and visibility, the third such anti-LGBT demonstration, brought together members of Georgia’s conservative Orthodox community and international religious groups.

In the U.K., London’s new mayor promised to make the city a more just place for its LGBT residents as a rainbow flag flew over the Mayor’s Office.

(Image Credit: EPA, via The Straits Times)

Costa Rica News | African Migrants

Costa Rica looks to deport hundreds of African migrants
  • An estimated 600 African migrants have become stranded in the country in an attempt to reach the U.S., and the Costa Rican government is attempting to deport them despite the high costs of repatriation or resettlement in a third country.
  • The country is dealing with an ongoing crisis involving thousands of stranded Cubans, who because of border closures have found themselves unable to continue on their trek to the U.S.
  • The government has reportedly received around 200 applications for asylum since late March and denied all of them.

Read more:
600 US-bound Africans stranded in Costa Rica after officials block route” (The Guardian)
Deporting 600 migrants back to Africa could be expensive, and impossible” (The Tico Times)
Deportation Will Be The Final Solution For African Migrants Who Re-enter Costa Rica IllegallyDeportation Will Be The Final Solution For African Migrants Who Re-enter Costa Rica Illegally” (QCostaRica)

(Image Credit: Public Security Ministry, via The Tico Times)

Interregional News | Cuban Migrants

Surge in Cuban emigration spurs resentment in U.S. and bottleneck throughout Central America
  • Taking advantage of Cuba’s 2012 removal of exit visas, more than 43,500 Cubans arrived in 2015, a 78% increase over 2014 and nearly six times as many as in 2011.
  • Following an airlift of Cuban migrants traveling to the U.S. through Central America stuck at a closed Nicaraguan border, Costa Rica closed its borders to Cuban migrants, trapping thousands across its border with Panama in towns like Paso Canoas and Puerto Obaldia.
  • With the reestablishment of U.S.-Cuba diplomatic relations, some have begun calling for a revision of the immigration policy that fast-tracks permanent residency for Cuban immigrants over others, including those from violence-riddled Central America.

Read more:
Cuban migration to US continues to swell on fears of losing privileges” (AP via The Guardian)
Bound for U.S., Cuban migrants are stuck in Central America” (CNN)
Cuban immigrants face resentment in Texas over ‘preferential treatment’” (The Guardian)

(Image Credit: Ilana Panich-Linsman/New York Times/Redux/eyevine, via The Guardian)

Honduras News | Indigenous Activists

Indigenous activist murdered days after famous campaigner in Honduras
  • Nelson García, member of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), was gunned down on his way to his family home.
  • His murder follows that of fellow activist Berta Cáceres, the co-founder of COPINH killed in her home after having received threats from police and anonymous individuals.
  • The deaths come as government officials have subjected COPINH affiliates to illegal surveillance and coercive detention, part of an anti-environmentalist environment in Honduras that saw more than 100 killed between 2010 and 2014.

Read more:
Fellow Honduran activist Nelson García murdered days after Berta Cáceres” (The Guardian)
Another Member of Berta Caceres’ Group Assassinated in Honduras” (teleSUR English)
Berta Cáceres, Honduran human rights and environment activist, murdered” (The Guardian)

(Image Credit: Orlando Sierra/AFP/Getty Images, via The Guardian)

Mexico News | Journalists

Sharp uptick in attacks on journalists in Mexico in 2015
  • There were 397 attacks against journalists reported in Mexico in 2015, a 22% increase over 2014 and the most violent year on record, according to a report by an international media advocacy group.
  • Most prevalent in Mexico city and the southern state of Veracruz, the attacks, which included seven murders, involved public officials 41.5% of the time.
  • The year was also a record for attacks on women journailsts, with 84 incidents having been reported.

Read more:
A Mexican Journalist Is Attacked Every 22 Hours: Report” (teleSUR English)
Mexico’s Media Faced a Record Number of Violent Attacks in 2015” (VICE News)
Media group: Attacks on Mexico journalists up 22 pct in 2015” (AP via Yahoo! News)

(Image Credit: Reuters, via teleSUR English)

Central America News | Cuban Migrants

Cuban asylum-seekers bound for U.S. stranded in Costa Rica and Panama as Nicaragua refuses entry
  • As the influx of Cuban asylum-seekers increases to levels not seen since 1994’s “raft exodus,” more than 6,000 have found themselves stranded in Costa Rica and Panama for the last six weeks after having been refused entry to Nicaragua, whose government is allied with Raúl Castro’s.
  • As Costa Rica has reversed its open transit policy for Cuban migrants, the Central American Integration System has arranged a massive airlift to El Salvador, allowing refugees to bypass Nicaragua, although thousands who began their journey in Ecuador are unaccounted for.
  • Emigrant Cubans, fearing a revision of the U.S.’s “wet foot, dry foot” immigration policy allowing Cubans who land in the U.S. a path to permanent residency, have taken to Central American land routes in addition to well-known routes by sea.

Read more:
Central American countries agree airlift of Cuban migrants seeking to enter US” (The Guardian)
Central American nations announce deal on Cuban migrants” (Miami Herald)
Costa Rica deports Cubans amid ‘transit crisis’” (Deutsche Welle)

(Image Credit: Marcelino Rosario/EPA, via the Guardian)