Apr 15, 2021

Axios Latino

¡Buenos días! ¿O tardes ya? Axios Latino focuses on the stories that affect the U.S. Latino and Latin American communities.

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1 big thing: Migrants cite Mexican law as incentive for heading north

Monitored by a caretaker, young unaccompanied immigrants, ages 3-9, in a playpen at a Homeland Security holding facility in Donna, Texas, last month. Photo: Dario Lopez-Mills - Pool/Getty Images

A Mexican law against the detention of minors who are headed to the U.S. border may unintentionally be encouraging more attempts by children to cross over.

  • Teenagers from Honduras told Reuters they decided to cross to the U.S. through Mexico because of the law, which gives them temporary protection from deportation, as they felt safer making the attempt.
  • The law came into force in late January, before a record number of children crossing from Mexico were intercepted by U.S. border authorities in March.

Why it matters: Both the U.S. and Mexican governments are trying to lessen the hardships for unaccompanied minors who see migrating as their best choice, but are struggling to handle the influx.

Between the lines: Some of those children are being affected by the dangers along the way. In the recent case of a boy rescued in the desert by himself, his mother was kidnapped in Mexico, so he tried to cross alone.

What’s next: Vice President Kamala Harris said she’ll be visiting Mexico and Guatemala soon, while Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador will travel to his country’s southern border to talk to local politicians about ways to combat smuggling that affects children.

  • The Biden administration also faces a possible increase in crossings because of lawsuits against immigration measures, including a Trump policy of quickly expelling adults who crossed over illegally.
2. Afro-Latino lives, uncounted
A screenshot from bodycam footage showing U.S. Army Lt. Caron Nazario during the traffic stop in December, when he was pepper-sprayed.

Caron Nazario, a Black and Latino lieutenant in the U.S. Army, was threatened and pepper-sprayed during a traffic stop that is now under investigation by the Virginia attorney general's office for being “dangerous, unnecessary, unacceptable and avoidable.”

Why it matters: Nazario’s resulting lawsuit against the Windsor, Va., police department has brought attention to police treatment of Afro-Latinos, and the lack of data about it despite a growing reckoning over abuses from law enforcement.

By the numbers: Out of the 40 states that report arrests, prison population and parolees data according to race, only 15 do it according to Latino or other ethnicities, according to a 2016 study.

  • Experts warn that keeps the extent of the criminal justice issues Latinos face hidden, and sometimes counting them as white also masks disparities of the system overall.
  • One in every four Latinos in the U.S. identified themselves as Afro-Latino or afrocaribeño in a Pew Research survey.
3. Mexican marines are the main suspects

Mothers of missing people in the states of Nuevo Leon, Coahuila and Tamaulipas protest in Monterrey, Mexico, in 2017. Photo: Julio Aguilar/AFP via Getty Images

Thirty members of the Mexican navy were turned over to civilian authorities this week to face charges related to forced disappearances in the border city of Nuevo Laredo.

Why it matters: The Mexican marines for years had the mission of combating drug-trafficking and transnational criminal organizations, for which they received U.S. training and financing.

  • It was during those years that they were accused of over 20 extrajudicial killings and of the forced disappearances of people who did not have any apparent involvement with criminality.
  • At least 47 men, women and children went missing in 2018, last seen after being dragged away in official vehicles of an elite navy unit. So far only one of the criminal cases filed by family members has made it to court.
4. The YouTube edge for the Latino vote

Illustration by Budrul Chukrut/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Republicans and other conservative groups made inroads via YouTube in 2020 with low-information Latino voters often ignored by Democrats, a deep new analysis of U.S. voters shows.

The big picture: Research found that 64% of registered Latino voters — and 74% of Hispanic voters in Florida — got election information from YouTube.

Preliminary findings by research firm Equis, reviewed by Axios, found that YouTube played a major role in convincing Latino voters to support Trump in higher percentages than expected.

  • Republicans, organically and through official campaigns, created quick, shareable YouTube bilingual videos that appeared as newscasts, to attack Joe Biden and promote Trump's economic plans.
  • Democrats did not match the intensity.

Between the lines: University of Texas-El Paso communications professor Richard D. Pineda said YouTube uses algorithms that target Latinos based on search history.

  • "All it took was for them to view one political video," he said. "Others would follow."

Go deeper.

5. For sale: Protected Amazonian rainforest
The red dots show areas of deforestation in the Amazon. Screenshot of map via TerraBrasilis

Indigenous groups on protected lands in the Amazon are being pushed by the Brazilian government to accept mining and agribusiness, after companies have been granted permits to operate there despite a constitutional prohibition.

Why it matters: Deforestation of the largest tropical rainforest in the world, dubbed the “lung of the planet” for its generation of oxygen, is at a 10-year high.

Amazonian plots are even being sold on Facebook Marketplace despite their protected status, a BBC investigation found.

  • The illegal sell-off is mostly to cattle ranchers who raze the land and push indigenous people out, then get formal property titles by arguing the area no longer needs to be protected because it is no longer forest.
6. Rappers and artists throw Cuban government for a loop
A group of young intellectuals and artists demonstrate at the doors of the Ministry of Culture in Havana on Nov. 27. Photo: Yamil Lage/AFP via Getty Images

Public protests have become more frequent in Cuba, right as Raúl Castro is set to retire from an active role in the ruling Communist Party.

  • They are spearheaded mostly by the young Havana artists and scholars group San Isidro Movement, and are popular enough that, in a recent mobilization, regular Cubans stood their ground to help a dissident rapper avoid arrest after he had already been partly handcuffed.

The big picture: Protests in Cuba are usually verboten by the communist government; they’re only possible with permits, and those are given out rarely and for apolitical reasons (like an animal-rights march in 2019).

  • Dissidents who congregate are usually called anti-revolutionaries and arrested on the spot.
  • In the most recent San Isidro protest, some chanting Havana residents called President Miguel Díaz-Canel a singao (a bastard).

Between the lines: Frustrations are boiling over from regular problems in Cuba, such as food shortages and the economy, which is in dire straits due to reduced tourism, on top of the U.S. embargo and sanctions.

  • The Biden administration has stated it’ll undo restrictions on remittances from Cuban Americans to family members in the island, but for the moment will not propose a thaw like former President Obama sought during his term.

The other side: The island’s government has branded the artists as “soft coup instigators” and will focus its annual party congress, starting this Friday, on how to respond to “political and ideological subversion” through social media.

7. A border town enjoys a pandemic boom

A cowboy works at an international cattle crossing in Santa Teresa, N.M., along the U.S.-Mexico border. Photo: Russell Contreras/Axios.

A New Mexico town on the border saw record cargo crossings last year and is thriving despite the fallout from the pandemic and increased immigration from Central America.

Why it matters: The explosive growth of Santa Teresa shows how international trade demand remains strong at the U.S.-Mexico border even as retail businesses in border cities have struggled because of COVID-19.

  • The industrial enclave just west of El Paso, Texas, experienced a slowdown at the beginning of the pandemic — but by last July, Santa Teresa was seeing unparalleled levels of truck traffic coming from south of the border.

Between the lines: The small Santa Teresa port of entry is in need of major renovations to keep up with demand.

  • "What happens to us is that you now have to take a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer that's clearing cargo and merchandise off the line to process those asylum seekers," Jerry Pacheco, president and CEO of the Border Industrial Association, tells Axios.

By the numbers: Santa Teresa's industrial base of 6,000 workers now accounts for 60% of New Mexico's global exports, surpassing Albuquerque, a city of 560,000 people, according to state data.

Go deeper.

8. Mayan devils with a swing

Credit: Noticias Telemundo

In southern Mexico, a group of indigenous women leave behind their traditional roles of housewives every week to score home runs. All while honoring other traditions, like running barefoot, cheering in Mayan and having a huipil as their uniform.

  • They are the softball team Diablitas of Hondzonot, near the tourist hub Tulum.

“We’re here to prove that, despite any and all obstacles, we can play sports, and do so as we want to,” says one of the players to Noticias Telemundo.

Hasta la próxima semana, have a safe one.