Latinamerica Press 2/6/2017
Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama
By means of a necessity and urgency decree issued on Jan. 30, the President of Argentina Mauricio Macri modified the Migrations Law, imposing stricter controls to prevent the entry into the country of people with criminal records and to quicken the expulsion of those who have committed crimes in the country. The measure was taken due to the increase in criminal activity allegedly perpetrated by foreigners. The decree states that the number of foreigners imprisoned in the country “has increased in the last few years, now reaching 21.3 percent of the total imprisoned population,” particularly for drug trafficking offenses. Amnesty International expressed alarm at the measure that introduces impediments for the entry and permanence of immigrants in the country and reduces the migration problem to “a debate on national security that ties the migrant with the criminal.”
Police in Chile informed on Jan. 29 that 43 people have been arrested as suspects of causing the worst forest fires ever in the history of the country. Since mid-January there have been 118 fires break out, 59 of which are being fought at the moment, 51 have been brought under control and eight have been extinguished. This forest catastrophe has affected seven regions in the center and south of the country, with O’Higgings, Maule and Bio-Bío taking the brunt. According to authorities, 90 percent of the fires were caused by human action, but the fires were fed further by high temperatures, strong winds, and the drought that has been present for the last eight years. The fires have destroyed 351,000 hectares of forest, leaving 3,000 people affected and at least 11 fatal casualties. The large spreads of pine and eucalyptus trees for the production of cellulose in the affected regions contribute to the propagation of the fires, as they are species rich in flammable oils, according to experts.
The Mexican Federal Police arrested in Tamaulipas one of the suspects involved in the murder in Honduras of ecologist Berta Cáceres on Mar. 2, 2016. With the capture on Jan.12 of former Honduran military member Henry Javier Hernández Rodríguez, now eight people have been arrested in relation to this case. According to the investigations, the murder was ordered by Sergio Ramón Rodríguez Orellana, manager of the Honduran company Desarrollos Energéticos S.A. (DESA), the company in charge of the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project, located in the Gualcarque River, a river considered sacred by the Lenca indigenous peoples. The paid assassin who fired on Cáceres is thought to be Edilson Duarte, who was paid some US$2,200. Cáceres’ family and Mexican environmentalist Gustavo Castro, survivor of the attack, have demanded the arrest of DESA’s senior management. According to Global Witness, 114 environmental activists have been killed in Honduras in the last 10 years alone.
The tarahumara indigenous leader Isidro Baldenegro was killed in Mexico this past Jan. 15 in the indigenous community of Coloradas de la Virgen, in the municipality of Guadalupe y Calvo, in the northern state of Chihuahua, where he had taken refuge after receiving death threats. Baldenegro opposed illegal logging and the deforestation of mountains in the Western Sierra Madre, the very same reason why his father was killed in 1986. The indigenous leader was awarded in 2005 with the Goldman Award for his fight against illegal logging. The day after the death of Baldenegro, ecologist Laura Vásquez was shot multiple times in Guatemala for her participation in the peaceful resistance movement against the San Rafael mining project. On Jan. 17, the criminalization of social struggle took a new victim: afro-descendant activist Emilsen Manyoma was murdered in Buenaventura, Colombia, for defending food sovereignty and biodiversity, and for her fight against the harassment of paramilitary and drug trafficking gangs.
Ten people were accused in Panama of migrant smuggling, including two officers of the National Migration Service. The Prosecutor´s Office in Panama reported on Jan. 30 that these people are members of a ring that smuggled migrants from Colombia, a ring that was broken up by the police. “There are so far 20 victims related to this case, seven of which have already been rescued by the authorities, including a six-year-old child,” said Public Prosecutor Marcelino Aguilar, who did not discard the notion that the victims could number over one hundred. According to the government’s National Commission against Human Trafficking, 14 criminal organizations have been disbanded since 2015, bringing 24 traffickers and eight ring leaders of these networks in front of the authorities, with 130 victims having been rescued. Human trafficking is punishable with prison sentences of between 15 and 20 years. Compartir