Category Archives: Latin America

Headline of the day: Another Trump legacy?


From the London Daily Mail:

Mexico: We fear refugee camps along our border because Trump immigration crackdown will deport illegals to where they crossed into U.S.

  • New Department of Homeland Security laws say that migrants who cross illegally from Mexico will be deported  back there 
  • Until now illegals were deported to their country of origin – meaning those who were not Mexicans were not sent back across the border 
  • Mexicans say they fear huge numbers of illegals being dumped in their territory which could lead to ‘Other Than Mexicans’ camped on the border 
  • Tens of thousands of non-Mexicans come into the country to flood through to the U.S. illegally, often with people smugglers and drug cartels involved
  • Human rights center boss in Tijuana says Mexico could reject deportees one by one and create chaos for U.S. enforcement agents

Trump’s NAFTA stance sparks Mexico trade war


And the first commodity under attack is corn grown by farmers in the U.S.

From teleSUR English:

The foreign affairs commission at the Mexican Senate will introduce a bill this week that would make the country buy corn from Brazil and Argentina instead of the United States.

Mexico is one of the top buyers of U.S. corn and the move will be a tough blow to the U.S. agriculture industry, said the president of the commission Armando Ríos Piter from the leftist PRD party.

The bill is seen as a counter-attack to the protectionist threats made by U.S. President Donald Trump, who has threatened to kill the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, signed by Mexico, the United States and Canada in the early ’90s. Experts say such a bill would be very costly for U.S. farmers.

“If we do indeed see a trade war where Mexico starts buying from Brazil … we’re going to see it affect the corn market and ripple out to the rest of the agricultural economy,”  Darin Newsom, senior analyst at agricultural management firm DTN, said to CNN.

If approved, this bill would be one of the first signs of concrete action by the Mexican government after it has been directly targeted by Trump’s rhetoric and policies, particularly an executive order enabling construction of a border wall and the promise to make Mexico foot the bill.

However, to unions of Mexican farmers and academics, Trump’s pledge to end NAFTA will be a good opportunity to boost the agriculture sector in Mexico.

The treaty has helped to dismantle Mexico’s agricultural production system through neoliberal policies that have left millions of poor farmers without state support and made the country increasingly dependent on food from abroad.

And an update, also from teleSUR:

Mexico’s agriculture minister said on Thursday he will lead a business delegation to Argentina and Brazil to explore buying yellow corn, part of a drive to lessen Mexico’s U.S. dependence given uncertainty over President Donald Trump’s trade policies.

The trip will happen within the next 20 days, Agriculture Secretary Jose Calzada said, adding that the government could explore quotas and changing the tariff regime for imports from South America if needed.

Immigration: A campaign, protests, TrumpWall™


Following up on our previous post, the latest news on resistance to Trump’s anti-immigrant hysteria and the latest on Pussygrabber’s Erection alias The Wall.

A Mexican presidential candidate campaigns in U.S.

First, from teleSUR English, a Mexican presidential candidate takes the road in the U.S.:

Mexico’s left-wing presidential hopeful Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador launched a U.S. tour Sunday beginning in Los Angeles aimed at promoting and defending the rights of Mexican immigrants north of the border.

Lopez Obrador has been an outspoken critic of U.S. President Donald Trump’s anti-immigration policies and proposals — which include promises of millions of deportations and plans to build a massive wall along the border with Mexico — and has vowed to raise awareness in Mexico and the U.S. about the state of immigrants’ rights under Trump and the harrowing realities underlying migration.

The politician has also called for Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to file a complaint with the United Nations against the United States for violating human rights, particularly the rights of immigrants, Mexico’s La Jornada reported.

“Trump is inhumane and harms human rights,” Lopez Obrador said last month after announcing the U.S. tour, which he also said would be part of a growing movement against xenophobia.

Lopez Obrador, known in Mexico by his initials AMLO, launched his campaign in November for the 2018 elections in his third run for president — this time as a candidate for his left-wing Morena party and with a brand new platform focused on tackling inequality and corruption.

A mass protest in Mexico’s capital

Anger at Trump’s racist blather is growing South of the border, and the latest expression of TrumpRage™ came in a mass protest in Mexico City.

From the Associated Press:

About 20,000 people staged a march through Mexico’s capital Sunday demanding respect for their country and its migrants in the face of perceived hostility from the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump.

Many marchers carried Mexican flags and dressed in white as a sign of unity and to signal the non-political nature of the march. One of the banners read: “Gracias, Trump, for unifying Mexico!”

The marchers protested Trump’s plans for a border wall and increased deportations of migrants. Trump has also pressured U.S. corporations to provide jobs in the United States, not Mexico.

>snip<

The march also featured many signs supporting Mexican migrants living in the United States.

And Trump promises cheaper wall, billed to Uncle Sam

So much for that campaign promise to make foot the bill for The Donald’s wall.

From the Independent:

Donald Trump has said he will lower the cost of building a wall along the US-Mexico border by negotiating a bargain and using a cheap design.

Mr Trump said the price would drop “way down” once he became involved in the planning process, apparently suggesting the US would foot at least part of the bill.

The President has previously insisted Mexico will pay for work on the 2,000-mile-long “impassable physical barrier”. Mexico has refused to fund it.

Fact checkers and engineers have estimated the cost of building the wall will far exceed the $12bn (£9.6bn) estimate given by Mr Trump. According to a leaked Department of Homeland Security report, the barrier could cost as much as $21bn and take more than three years to construct.

Panama Papers law firm founders arrested


Once in a while a single event provides a juncture between two ongoing stories we’ve been following.

First up, the legislative coup that ousted Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and the subsequent criminal indictments filed against the coup participants as the result of a massive bribery investigation.

The second story is the Panama Papers leaks, the documents proving the existence of and participants in a vast network of “black flag” operation concealing a great deal of the planet’s wealth.

From teleSUR English:

The two founders of Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca were arrested on Saturday, the attorney general’s office said, after both were indicted on charges of money-laundering in a case allegedly tied to a wide-ranging corruption scandal in Brazil.

Firm founders Jurgen Mossack and Ramon Fonseca were detained because of the risk they might try to flee the country.

Attorney General Kenia Porcell told reporters on Saturday that the information collected so far “allegedly identifies the Panamanian firm as a criminal organization that is dedicated to hiding assets or money from suspicious origins.”

Mossack Fonseca is also at the center of a separate case known as the Panama Papers, which involved millions of documents stolen from the firm and leaked to the media in April 2016.

The fallout from the leaks provoked a global scandal after numerous documents detailed how the rich and powerful used offshore corporations to hide money and potentially evade taxes.

Fonseca, a former presidential adviser in Panama, has previously denied that the firm had any connection to Brazilian engineering company Odebrecht, which has admitted to bribing officials in Panama and other countries to obtain government contracts in the region between 2010 and 2014.

Trump’s pick for #2 at State has a very dirty past


Our new, Congressionally sanctioned Secretary of State last ran one of the world’s biggest oil companies, a key player in an industry notorious for turning to Uncle Sam whenever foreign governments threaten the bottom line.

Now comes word that his number two will very likely be an old hand at dirty tricks abroad.

From teleSUR English:

Elliott Abrams is believed to be U.S. President Donald Trump’s leading candidate for deputy secretary of state, Reuters reported Tuesday. While Abrams is known for having foreign policy roles with two other Republican administrations, he also has a checkered history in Latin America, linked to killings, disappearances and counterinsurgency across the region.

The 69-year-old last served under George W. Bush’s administration, but his work with Ronald Reagan’s administration is the most alarming. Abrams was a key figure in Reagan’s anti-communist intervention in Nicaragua, otherwise known as the Contra Wars.

During the 1980s, the U.S. funded right-wing paramilitary groups against the leftist Sandinista forces in the country. Contra forces commonly used terror tactics and committed a number of human rights abuses. It is estimated that at least 30,000 people died in the fighting, which also displaced many.

The Reagan administration was later found guilty of violating international law in their support of the Contras and mining Nicaragua’s harbors. Similar abuses with U.S. backing also occurred and were covered up in Guatemala and El Salvador. Abrams was known for downplaying the El Mozote massacre — where a U.S.-trained Salvadoran death squad killed over 1,000 civilians — as communist propaganda.

Around the same time, the U.S. supported brutal right-wing dictatorships in Argentina and Chile to squash the possibility of communist uprising during the Cold War with a counterinsurgency strategy referred to as Operation Condor. During the 17-year rule of Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet, thousands are thought to have been killed, disappeared and tortured.

Argentina’s, so-called Dirty War is estimated to have left up to 30,000 killed or disappeared after military dictator Jorge Videla came to power in a 1976 coup against left-wing President Isabel Peron and again received U.S. backing.

Fox censors Super Bowl ad featuring Trump’s wall


When it comes to television commercials, the one day that reigns supreme in the advertising world.

You might even call it the Super Bowl of the Madison Avenue set.

And, oh yeah, it’s the real Super Bowl, the one day of the year when television spots become the news, the objects of the most lavish and controversial efforts of the Mad Man.

There’s always controversy, but this year the furor was over what didn’t air.

The problem, you see, is that the annual pigskin extravaganza airs on Fox, which also happens to be the same company that owns Fox News, the Official Propaganda Network of the Trump-a-palooza™.

And Fox wasn’t about to allow anything that they thought might besmirch the alleged honor of Herr Pussygrabber.

So when 84 Lumber, a family owned chain, wanted to air an ad honoring America’s undocumented immigrants from South of the border, Fox decided they weren’t having it, at least as long as the ad contained images of Pussygrabber’s proudest erection-in-the-making,

From 84 Lumber, here’s the ad you didn’t see:

84 Lumber Super Bowl Commercial – The Journey Begins


Program notes:

The full, uncut 84 Lumber Super Bowl promotional film. See a mother and daughter’s symbolic migrant journey towards becoming legal American citizens. Contains content deemed too controversial for the original ad and banned from broadcast.

And here’s the ad Fox finally allowed, the one without that material “too controversial” :

So what’s most notable thing missing from the ad?

Maybe a wall?

And why wouldn’t Fox air the ad?

Well,  the network isn’t saying.

Banned from a an event celebrating the GOP

More on the story from the Washington Post:

Perhaps more than any other time in history, politics appear to be playing a larger role than ever in the Super Bowl. Bill O’Reilly interviewed President Trump in an interview that aired before the game; former president George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara, did the coin toss; and some of the ads have tackled controversial social issues such as immigration.

One such ad was imagined by the family-owned company 84 Lumber, which decided to tackle the subject in its first Super Bowl ad. It wasn’t exactly how the company originally planned it, however.

In the ad’s initial iteration, a Mexican mother and daughter, who appear to be on their way to the United States, come across a depiction of an imposing border wall, reminiscent of the one Trump has touted will eventually divide the country from Mexico.

“Ignoring the border wall and the conversation around immigration that’s taking place in the media and at every kitchen table in America just didn’t seem right,” said Rob Shapiro, the chief client officer at Brunner, the agency that worked with 84 Lumber to come up with the ad. “If everyone else is trying to avoid controversy, isn’t that the time when brands should take a stand for what they believe in?”

But while 84 Lumber believed in its message, Fox, which aired Sunday’s game, thought it was a little too controversial.

“Fox would not let us air ‘the wall,’ ” Schapiro said. 

And another border wall makes the news

The Trump border wall wasn’t the only barrier making news this weekend.

Another border blocker was also in the news, this time a barrier much further to the south.

Ftom teleSUR English:

Bolivian President Evo Morales spoke out Thursday against a proposed wall by Argentina’s Mauricio Macri government alongside its shared northern border with Bolivia and Paraguay.

“We are countries of the Patria Grande (Latin America) and we cannot follow the North and its policies, building walls to divide us,” Morales tweeted on Thursday.

Earlier this week, right-wing Argentine congressman Alfredo Olmedo proposed legislation promoting the construction of a wall in an effort to curb immigration.

“I agree 100% with Trump,” Olmedo said, according to The Guardian.

“I know that border very well, and a wall is the solution. We have to build a wall.”

Olmedo was born and raised in Argentina’s northern Rosario de la Frontera province, which shares a border with both Bolivia and Paraguay.

Morales also criticized President Macri’s recent executive order on immigration. Last Monday, the right-wing head of state signed a decree amending the country’s immigration laws in order to speed up the deportation of foreigners who have committed crimes. The decree also prohibits the entry of foreign citizens into the South American country if they have prior criminal convictions.

“Discriminatory policies that condemn and criminalize migration are a shameful retreat to rights conquered by our peoples,” Morales tweeted on Friday morning, adding that the Bolivian government is urging the international community to take action.

Protesters win Mexican gas price hike delay


Following privatization of large parts of the state-owned national oil company, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto gave his people a New Year’s present — a twenty percent hike in the price of gasoline.

First, some background.

Big Oil is still smarting over the 18 March 1938 decision of Mexican President Lázaro Cárdenas to nationalize foreign oil company holdings in the midst of a sometimes violent strike by Mexicans employed by U.S. and Anglo-Dutch oil companies.

The result was the creation of Petróleos Mexicanos, better known as Pemex.

In recent decades, as the neoliberal ideology metastasized, aging infrastructure and politically backed corruption took their toll, as new corporate extraction technologies and aging oil fields caught Pemex in a double bind.

Neoliberalism dictated the solution: Privatize.

So in 2014 Peña won congressional backing to sell off the rights to all new oil fields, leaving Pemex with the aging existing fields and those rapidly obsolescing pipelines and refineries.

Stuck with the increasingly costly side of the deal, Peña ordered the price hike.

The gasolinazo [gasoline punch], which now meant a tank of gas cost more than a minimum wage worker’s daily pay, sent Mexicans pouring into the streets, blocking off roads, barricading the U.S. border, and engaging in violent, sometimes lethal, confrontations with police and the military.

And now their actions have borne fruit.

From teleSUR English:

The Mexican government announced late Friday that it would postpone a second scheduled hike in gas prices, known as the ‘gasolinazo’, in response to the massive protests which have taken place since the first price hike at the start of January.

The Secretariat of Finance and Public credit declared that for the next two weeks the maximum prices for both regular gasoline and diesel fuel will remain the same since prices here hiked upwards of 20 percent on Jan. 1 2017.

The announcement came after protests continued to rock Mexico this week over the massive spike in gas prices which has crippled much of Mexico’s economy and led to massive social upheaval.

Since the Jan. 1 ending of fuel subsidies which led to the price hike, more than 500 people have been arrested throughout the country during protests which saw tens of thousands of people taking the streets, hundreds of gas stations closed, and a reported 250 stores looted.

Protests continued Friday and more were expected for Saturday in anticipation of the hike.

“The austerity measures already announced by the Government of the Republic, as well as the recent evolution of the exchange rate and the international price of gasoline, have created the conditions to keep the maximum prices unchanged during the indicated period,” the secretariat said in a statement release on Friday.

Critics have accused Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto and other government officials of ransacking Mexico’s state oil company, Pemex, which has undergone a gradual privatization process in recent years that has broken up the longstanding monopoly.