Today in Latin America
Top Story — The Mexican government asked a U.S. federal court this week to declare Arizona’s new immigration law unconstitutional, stating that Mexico’s interests and its citizens’ rights are at risk and that the law could damage bilateral relations.
The law requires police officers to check the immigration status of people they stop, if there is reason to suspect that they are undocumented immigrants. The law also restricts the hiring or transportation of day laborers, and allows for lawsuits against government agencies not enforcing immigration laws.
“Mexican citizens will be afraid to visit Arizona for work or pleasure out of concern that they will be subject to unlawful police scrutiny and detention,” said the brief filed by the Mexican government, according to the New York Daily News.
Mexico filed the arguments as a “friend of the court,” or amicus curiae, which means that it is offering a legal opinion, but is not a party in to the case. Mexico does however support the case brought by a group of civil rights organisations, which includes the National Immigration Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund.
Arizona’s law enjoys popular support throughout Arizona where some residents fear the growing influx of Mexicans across the border, but has been criticized by the Obama administration and governments throughout Latin America.
“Mexico has a duty to protect its citizens and ensure that their ethnic origin is not used as a basis for committing discriminatory acts,” the Mexican foreign ministry said in a statement, according to the BBC.
Just Published at the Latin America News Dispatch
- Arizona’s controversial immigration law could face a challenge as early as next week from the Obama administration. Find out more at Alison Bowen’s Beyond Borders blog.
- Peru has topped Colombia as the world’s largest producer of coca leaf, but Colombia remains the largest manufacturer of cocaine.
- Displacement of peasants by armed actors continues to plague Colombia, according to Marco Romero of the Consultancy for Human Rights and Displacement (CODHES). Mike Samras reports on Romero’s talk in Washington.
- Also, WOLA announced a second death threat from a Colombian paramilitarygroup for its work with displaced people.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- The United States and Mexico extended a moratorium on exploratory oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico for three years.
- The Obama administration asked Congress for $600 million in emergency funds to hire another 1,000 Border Patrol agents.
- Hurricane Celia re-strengthened to a Category 2 storm about 740 miles south of the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula.
- The U.S. State Department would not confirm when the extradition for a television producer accused of killing his wife in Mexico will begin.
- Puerto Rican Sen. Héctor Martínez Maldonado has been indicted for allegedly supporting legislation in favor of a private security company in exchange for a trip to Las Vegas.
- The Inter-American Development Bank has announced it will provide up to $2 million to help microfinance institutions in Haiti.
- The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, traveled to eastern Cuba on Wednesday to meet with local priests and visit Cuba’s patron saint.
- A state of emergency was declared in Honduras due to an outbreak in dengue fever that has already caused 10 deaths and and over 11,000 infections.
- El Salvador’s President Mauricio Funes inaugurated a new port in the town of La Unión on the Gulf of Fonseca.
- The Organization of American States (OAS) welcomed Nicaragua’s declaration that it is a landmine-free country, calling it “very good news.”
- Costa Rica “does not fully comply with [the United States’ Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act] minimum standards, but is making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards,” according to the U.S. State Department.
- Colombia could use the international debt market prior to President-elect Juan Manuel Santos inauguration as a way to finance its budget deficit in eight years.
- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavéz named nine new cabinet ministers and placed the nation’s troubled food distribution network under the vice president.
- Bolivian President Evo Morales accused USAID of infiltrating social movements to destabilize the government and said he would not hesitate to expel the organization from the country.
- Mayor Ana Lopes said the entire town of Branquinha (population 12,000) in northeastern Brazil will have to be moved following devastating rains and flooding that have left more than 50 dead and more than 100,000 homeless
- General Motors announed on Tuesday the creation of a new South American unit, to be based in São Paulo, Brazil, and will operation throughout the continent.
- Exiled Colombian ex-police officer Juan Carlos Meneses was questioned in Buenos Aires, after saying that Colombian President Álvaro Uribe’s brother led a right-wing paramilitary group in the 1990s.
- Chilean President Sebastián Piñera’s administration has the lowest approval rating at the start of a new administration since the country returned to democracy in 1990, according to a poll by Centro de Estudios de la Realidad Contempóranea released Wednesday.
- Creditors have agreed to exchange 66 percent of Argentina’s defaulted bonds for new ones in a debt swap deal worth $12.1 billion, the economy minister said Wednesday.
Image: Allen Ormond @ Flickr.