Mexican Commissioner of Migration Francisco Garduño in 2018. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Today in Latin America

Mexican Officials Aren’t Reporting COVID-19 Cases in Migrant Detention Centers

December 2, 2020 By Staff

TODAY IN LATIN AMERICA

MEXICO: Documents obtained by Animal Político from freedom of information requests show that 52 detained migrants tested positive for COVID-19 between June 15 and Oct. 21. Mexico’s National Immigration Institute (INM) has dodged questions regarding the number of COVID-19 cases at its detention facilities. The documents also show that the virus has been spreading in migrant detention centers since June, when INM Director Francisco Garduño was denying the existence of any cases. 

According to the documents, the INM only performed 78 tests on detainees in that period, meaning there is a 70% positivity rate in the detention centers. Mexico has one of the highest test positivity rates in the world at 62%, according to Bloomberg. Over 40,000 people passed through migrant detention in Mexico between April and September. The largest number of positive cases, 18, were detected at a detention center in Acayucan, Veracruz, while 10 others were detected in the Siglo XXI detention center in Tapachula, the largest detention facility in the country.

Headlines from the western Hemisphere

SOUTHERN CONE

ARGENTINA: Congress began debating an anti-abortion bill this week after thousands of Argentinians across the country protested the government-supported measure last weekend. The protests were organized by 150 organizations, with the largest group gathering in front of the Palacio Nacional in Buenos Aires. In 2018, Congress rejected an abortion legalization bill. This is the ninth time that the Argentine Congress has debated a bill to legalize abortion, but the first time the bill has been proposed by the president. The bill would legalize abortions up to the 14th week of pregnancy, and beyond that, would uphold the current law that allows abortion only in the case or danger of rape. 

BRAZIL: Dozens of gunmen took control of the southern Brazilian city Criciúma Monday night in a well-planned bank robbery. The bank robbers launched their attack just after midnight on Tuesday, taking civilian hostages, using explosives to bomb the Banco do Brasil and preventing police reinforcements by blocking access to the city with burning vehicles. There were 10 cars and nearly 30 attackers carrying military-grade weapons involved in the operation, which lasted about two hours. During that time, gunshots sounded through the city and a security guard and police officer were injured. Mayor Clésio Salvaro warned residents that the city was “under siege” and to stay home in a tweet published early Tuesday morning. The Banco do Brasil has not said how much money was stolen.

ANDES

ECUADOR: Mayors from cities across Ecuador marched in protest of budget cuts Tuesday. The protest was organized by the Association of Ecuadorian Municipalities (AME) in response to the Ministry of Finance’s announcement that funds allocated to mayoral offices would be cut by $691 million. With participants from 211 municipalities, the march began around midday and moved towards the Palacio de Carondelet, the seat of the Ecuadorian government, to demand a conversation with President Lenín Moreno.

CARIBBEAN

CUBA: After protests persisted in the country following the arrest of rapper Denis Solís, the Cuban government took unprecedented moves to arrange a meeting between protestors and the official government. Following a demonstration at the Ministry of Culture, activists were promised a dialogue about the freedom of expression in the country by the vice minister of culture, Fernando Rojas. However, at a large pro-government rally, President Miguel Díaz-Canel said the protests were a “farce”. He also accused the United States of motivating the movement. The police cited a COVID-19 violation after breaking up a group of artists, academics and journalists who had gathered outside the building for days. A meeting is currently scheduled for Thursday between the San Isidro Movement, the larger movement of artists leading the protests and the culture minister.

HAITI: Guyler Delva, a prominent Haitian journalist, has gone missing. Delva worked for the news media for decades and served as Haiti’s minister of Culture and Communication in 2018. He was currently working as the head of the organization SOS Journalists, which defends the freedom of the press. Delva has also written for several international news agencies such as Reuters and the BBC. He also co-hosts local radio show Martin Caraïbes. Police and family are left wondering whether or not Delva is the latest victim in the current rise of high-profile kidnappings. However, there is no ransom demand for his return. 

PUERTO RICO: The previously damaged radio telescope at the Arecibo Observatory collapsed unexpectedly on Tuesday. The National Science Foundation said it was like “a helpless giant in a splash of metal and wire.” U.S. officials announced the closure of the site in August after an auxiliary cable snapped, causing damage to the dish as well as receiver platform and suspending the structure on a mountaintop. Following the closure, many were concerned of an impending collapse. The telescope was, until recently, the largest radio telescope in the world. Over the last century, it played a key role in several astronomical discoveries. Many scientists who worked at the site were stunned and saddened at its collapse.

CENTRAL AMERICA

NICARAGUA: Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Oscar Mojica said Nicaragua had fully restored their main road network after extensive hurricane damage. However, around 1,300 families are still in shelters after their homes were destroyed and access cut off. Some shelters don’t have enough food to give the families, leading one group of evacuees from the BICU shelter to walk from the site to the regional government to demonstrate their disapproval of the handling of the emergency aid. Amid hurricane devastation, COVID-19 cases are beginning to rise again, which officials see as an approaching second wave. Following the hurricanes, many people moved to shelters and did so without taking social distancing measures, according to Pan-American Health Organization officials.

NORTH AMERICA

BORDER: The manager of a water district in El Paso has threatened to sue to prevent construction of a stretch of the border wall that he says could prevent water district crews from working. El Paso County Water District 1 General Manager Jesus Reyes says that the 30-foot barrier, on which contractors for Border Patrol have already started work, would block access to the American canal, which serves an important role in disposing of storm water and preventing flooding. Reyes said that he initially parked a dump truck near the canal to block the Border Patrol construction crew. According to the Border Report, Federal agencies are planning to meet with water district representatives to figure out a solution.

MEXICO: An anonymous witness told prosecutors that an Army colonel was on the payroll of a drug gang thought to be involved in the 2014 disappearance of 43 students from the Ayotzinapa teachers college in Iguala, Guerrero, according to court documents. The witness, identified as “Juan,” said the colonel’s surname was Rodríguez, which could correspond to Colonel José Rodríguez who was stationed near Iguala when the disappearances took place. The documents were related to the prosecution of former Captain José Martínez Crespo, a subordinate of Colonel Rodríguez who has been in jail since Nov. 11 on suspicion of involvement in the disappearances.

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