Argentina hosted the Group of 20 Summit this weekend and promised to turn Buenos Aires into an armored city to ensure the safety of world leaders. Protests lined streets days before the Summit began, and officials arrested 12 people in connection to two homemade bomb attacks just two weeks ago.
After a 13-hour debate, Argentina’s Senate approved an austerity budget for 2019 that will cut social spending and increase debt payments. The budget was passed to meet requirements from the International Monetary Fund for the $56 billion bailout agreed upon earlier this year. President Mauricio Macri welcomed the new budget, while unions and civil groups protested the spending cuts.
The incoming Jair Bolsonaro administration withdrew its offer to host the 2019 United Nations climate talks due to “fiscal and budget restraints.” As the 7th largest emitter of greenhouse gasses and home to the largest rainforest in the world, Brazil is a major player in world efforts to combat climate change. There is significant concern this is the first demonstration of how Bolsonaro will handle international and climate issues during his presidency.
Colombia opened its first tent camp for Venezuelan migrants living on the streets of Bogota. The tent camp was intended to house the nearly 500 Venezuelans living on the streets next to the city’s main bus station. Similar camps exist in Brazil and on the Ecuador-Peru border, but its presence was met by protest from many Colombians neighboring the tent camp. Last week, a violent protest broke out within the camp over food rationing, leading to the the expulsion and deportation of 16 migrants.
Cuba has begun pulling 8,300 doctors out of Brazil after president-elect Jair Bolsonaro demanded contract changes to the program More Doctors, which places Cuban doctors in towns throughout Brazil that do not have resident doctors. Bolsonaro criticized the program by calling the doctors “slaves” to the Cuban government and threatened to break off diplomatic relations. Many Brazilians worry the removal of Cuban doctors will leave up to 30 million people without healthcare, but the government has promised that Brazilian doctors will replace the departing Cuban doctors.
Around 4,000 people were ordered to evacuate their homes as Guatemala’s Fuego Volcano erupted for the second time this year. The June eruption left nearly 200 dead and destroyed almost 8,500 hectares of crops. The evacuations were largely resident-led after the National Coordination for Disaster Reduction of Guatemala (CONRED) began advising residents of a possible eruption. Many residents have lost their livelihoods due to the volcanic eruptions and some do not wish to return to their homes.
Haitians took to the streets throughout the country to protest their discontent with government corruption and calling for President Jovenel Moïse to resign. Protests began after allegations that a Venezuela-sponsored oil program, PetroCaribe, misappropriated billions of dollars intended for disaster relief after the 2010 earthquake. Strikes closed businesses and schools, and many stay off the streets to avoid the violence, which has killed at least 10 people so far. Moïse spoke out in response to the protests, affirming he would not resign and calling for peace and democracy.
Seven men have been convicted of killing internationally-renowned Honduran environmental activist Berta Cáceres, whose murder became an international symbol of the dangers for environmental activists in Latin America. The 2016 killing was orchestrated by executives of the Desarrollos Energéticos (Desa), which was commissioned to build a dam on the Gualcarque River and was opposed by Cáceres. Desa president David Castillo is believed to be the mastermind behind the murder and will be tried separately. Four of the men guilty of killing Cáceres were also convicted for the attempted murder of Mexican environmentalist Gustavo Castro, who was shot in the same attack but survived by pretending to be dead.
Over 5,000 Central American migrants are living in Tijuana, Mexico as they wait to apply for asylum in the United States. Most migrants are living in an encampment inside a baseball stadium, while others were moved to a shelter further from the US-Mexico border. The Mexican government sent federal police to monitor the stadium and protect the migrants in one of Mexico’s most violent towns, as the number of migrants causes tension in Tijuana and along the border. Tijuana residents rallied against the migrants, calling them terrorists and shouting “No to the invasion!” Migrants were also met with tear gas by US border patrol agents when they broke through a police blockade and ran towards the US border. The unrest has caused some migrants to decide to make the return journey home, but most remain hopeful they will receive asylum even though it could take months.
The United States has imposed sanctions on Nicaragua’s Vice President and First Lady Rosario Murillo de Ortega and top aide Nestor Moncada Lau. The two government officials are believed to be responsible for violent crackdowns against government opponents, which has left over 320 dead since protests began in April. The sanctions block the two politicians’ access to the US financial system and freezes their US assets. The intention is to prevent the Nicaraguan government from profiting “at the expense of the Nicaraguan people.”
A federal judge in San Francisco blocked President Donald Trump’s proclamation banning immigrants from applying for asylum if they cross into the United States illegally. The lawsuit was started by advocacy groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and Southern Poverty Law Center to protect laws passed by Congress that protect people fleeing persecution in their home countries. The Trump administration has said it will appeal the decision, calling Judge Jon Tigar, who made the ruling against the asylum ban, an “Obama judge.” The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has also requested the civilian law enforcement officers be deployed to the southern border to assist Customs and Border Patrol as migrants line up to request asylum. The DHS memo went out to numerous government departments, and was accompanied by a request to extend the deployment of active-duty troops through the end of January. Even though the number of active-duty troops at the border is expected to decrease by almost 2,000, the Pentagon has concerns about financing the deployment.