Demonstrators block the streets as they take part in a rally against migrants and delinquency after a truck driver was killed by migrants, according to local media, in Iquique, Chile. Feb. 11, 2022. (REUTERS/Alex Diaz)
This Week in Latin America

Chilean truckers rally against Venezuelan migration

February 13, 2022 By Staff

THIS WEEK IN LATIN AMERICA

CHILE: Truckers in the north of Chile on Friday set up roadblocks to protest insecurity they attribute to undocumented migration in the region. The truckers’ union cut off access to main roads around major cities near the Bolivian border, over which migrants – particularly Venezuelans – entering Chile are known to cross. More than 30 flights to and from the city of Iquique were canceled because the road to the airport was blocked.

The protests were sparked by the death of a 22-year-old trucker on Thursday during an alleged altercation with Venezuelan migrants. Police reports stated that the trucker fell from a bridge. Three migrant suspects have been arrested.

There have been ongoing tensions over migration in northern Chile, with occasional reports of attacks on ad-hoc migrant camps in Iquique in recent months. There have also been reports of violent confrontations involving law enforcement, migrants, and residents.

SOUTHERN CONE

PARAGUAY: The last ex-combatant of the Chaco War between Paraguay and Bolivia died on Thursday at the age of 107. Lorenzo Troche fought against Bolivian troops in the closing stages of South America’s longest-lasting territorial dispute (1932 to 1935) over the Gran Chaco region. 

In 2012, Paraguay awarded Troche the Cruz del Defensor, a medal given to Paraguayan heroes of the Chaco War. Paraguay won the majority of the disputed territory that today forms the vast Chaco region of western Paraguay. 

Troche passed away in Ñemby, the city where he was born, in the Greater Metropolitan region of Asunción.

ANDES

BOLIVIA: Ex-interim president of Bolivia, Jeanine Áñez, declared a hunger strike Wednesday, one day ahead of the scheduled start of her trial related to her de facto assumption of the presidency in November 2019. The trial began virtually on Thursday, but was postponed due to a technical complaint made by the defense. 

Áñez, detained since March of 2021, is accused of acting against the constitution when she proclaimed herself president of Bolivia two days after the controversial resignation of former president Evo Morales. In a separate case, Áñez is accused of acts of sedition, conspiracy and terrorism carried out during her presidency. Áñez suffers from depression, according to her doctors, and denounces the accusations against her as politically motivated. 

COLOMBIA: More than 150 activists and academics wrote to President Ivan Duque on Tuesday to demand action against deforestation in the Amazon. Environmental groups point to a sharp increase in fires recently as forests are cleared to make way for coca fields, cattle ranching, and illegal mining.

Burning has been most severe in the southeastern provinces of Caquetá, Meta and Guaviare, known as the arc of deforestation, where burning occurs annually during the dry season. In a January memo, the country’s environmental ministry reported the highest number of heat spots in the Colombian Amazon in a decade. While exact data has not been released, The Foundation for Conservation and Sustainable Development detected more than 1,800 fires in January alone, up from 65 recorded last January. 

CARIBBEAN 

HAITI: Factory workers at an industrial park began a strike on Wednesday to demand that their current wage of 500 gourdes (US$5) per day be raised to 1500 gourdes (US$15).

Police fired tear gas at protestors on Wednesday and Thursday. Some demonstrators blocked a main road in the country’s capital with burning tires.

A source quoted by the Associated Press stated that factory workers’ salaries have not increased in three years. Statistics from Haiti’s central bank show that inflation has risen significantly in recent months.

JAMAICA: The Jamaican Government announced on Thursday that it would lobby the U.S. administration to exonerate Marcus Garvey, the early 20th century Pan-Africanist leader, of 1923 mail fraud charges. The push also has the support of the Opposition.  

A movement to pardon Garvey has gained steam in recent months. Supporters include the Organization for Eastern Caribbean States, which agreed to sign a letter petitioning the U.S. President Joe Biden to pardon Garvey. U.S. Congresswoman Yvette Clarke released a statement of support on Feb.1.

Jamaica-born Garvey was a leader of the Black Nationalist movement in the U.S. and founded the short-lived Black Star Line to take Black people in the Americas to Africa. Many have asserted that his arrest was politically-motivated.

CENTRAL AMERICA

EL SALVADOR: The government on Wednesday released a 38 year-old woman identified as Elsy, who served 10 out of a 30-year prison sentence on murder charges for allegedly aborting her pregnancy.   

Elsy is among El Salvador’s 181 women who suffered obstetric emergencies in the past 20 years that the government has prosecuted

President Nayib Bukele’s government recently released three women in December and one this year in January; however, the country remains one of the strictest nations that bans abortions even if there is life-threatening risks for the mother and in cases of rape. 

The non-profit Citizen Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion led by Morena Herrera has been responsible for freeing 61 women since 2009. 

GUATEMALA:  After the Thursday arrest of Guatemalan lawyer, Leidy Indira Santizo Rodas, the European Union and the U.S. voiced their concerns on Friday about Guatemala’s legal measures against public officials known to participate in anti-corruption efforts. 

Santizo was accused of obstruction of justice in connection with the Odebrecht case, but details of her arrest remain under seal by the Attorney General’s office.  

The EU expressed its “utmost concern” noting that there is a “social media campaign” against former staff of the Guatemalan Special Prosecution Office against Impunity.  Brian Nichols, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, tweeted on Friday that there’s a continued “pattern of intimidation and revenge” against officials in Guatemala fighting impunity.

NORTH AMERICA

MEXICO: In anticipation of an increase in migrant arrivals to Mexico this year, U.N. refugee representative in Mexico Giovani Lepri on Friday said that Mexico should consider alternatives to detention and asylum for immigrants. 

Now, a top host nation for asylum-seekers, Mexico has over 130,000 asylum cases of mostly U.S. bound migrants originating from Latin America and the Caribbean. Lepri proposed alternatives that would allow asylum seekers to remain legally and obtain employment in the country.

Many civil and human rights organizations throughout Mexico and the U.S. expressed concern over the seriousness of human rights abuses against migrants as a result of the “Remain in Mexico” policy started by the Trump administration and upheld by Biden’s.

US/MEXICO: U.S. climate envoy John Kerry visited Mexico City on Wednesday to encourage further climate collaboration and clean energy discussions with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and other Mexican officials. 

They discussed furthering both country’s economies and lowering energy costs for Mexican people and businesses, and reducing carbon pollution.

López Obrador insists on favoring Mexico’s energy self-sufficiency – a move supported by Kerry who offered U.S. financial support and technology to improve renewable energy. 

The two sides agreed to continue dialogue for the implementation of their energy goals through the formation of a U.S.-Mexico Climate and Clean Energy Working Group.