Axios Latino

Red wooden block with Latino in colors engraved on it.

¡Muy buen jueves!

💉Situational awareness: U.S. to ship at least 6 million COVID vaccine doses to Latin America and the Caribbean.

  • And Daniel Ortega’s battle against the Nicaraguan opposition continues, with the arrest of Cristiana Chamorro on money laundering charges. She was set to run against him in November.

This week’s Axios Latino newsletter is 1,507 words, about a 5.5-minute read.

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1 big thing: An undercount of Latinos killed by police

Data: UnidosUS and U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Over 2,600 Latinos have died at the hands of police since 2014, more than double what had been known, according to an ongoing study.

Why it matters: A year after George Floyd’s death, data on Latinos killed by police or while in police custody remain scarce.

  • A Latino ethnicity is not plainly visible since Hispanics can be of any race. Researchers say victims often get lumped into “other” or “unknown” categories.
  • The Raza Database Project, based on data from scholars, activists, lawyers and demographers, dug into the undercounting of Latino victims by also looking at a person’s last name and other characteristics.

Between the lines: The lack of standardized data from police departments, either for causes of death or ethnicity, makes it unreliable and inaccurate, researchers say. Reported causes of death include shootings, use of physical restraints, stun guns, and “medical emergencies” suffered while in custody or during arrest.

  • The death of 27-year-old Carlos Ingram López, in April 2020, was registered as likely due to cardiac arrest. But a video showed three Tucson police officers had held him face down while he said he couldn’t breathe.

The intrigue: Houston’s mayor and police formally apologized this week to the family of Joe Campos Torres, a Mexican American man who was beaten to death by officers in 1977 and whose killing sparked riots and massive reforms. It was a case that defined police excessive force against Latinos in the 1970s.

The big picture: The Raza Database has so far documented over 32,000 police-related killings since 2000, 20% of them Black people and 17% Latinos.

  • The results are similar to a Washington Post analysis examining police shootings since 2015, which found that Latinos are killed at a rate 55% higher than white non-Hispanics and that Black Americans are killed by police at more than twice the rate of white Americans.

What they’re saying: “The numbers of Latinos and African-Americans killed from police actions since 2000 are somewhat similar. The difference is that Latinos are rarely mentioned when discussing violent police treatment,” Roberto Rodríguez, Raza Database Project’s director, told Axios Latino.

2. Latinas are more likely to die of breast cancer

Illustration of a caduceus with uneven wings
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths for U.S. Latinas, per the journal Cancer Control, yet they don’t get exams or mammograms at the same rate as their non-Hispanic counterparts, Axios' Oriana Gonzalez writes.

Why it matters: Latinas diagnosed with breast cancer are 20% more likely than white non-Hispanic women to die from the disease, partly because lack of insurance and testing makes early treatment harder to come by.

  • Latinas have the second-highest prevalence of the breast cancer genes BRCA1 and BRCA2.
  • Breast cancer affects the Latino community differently depending on ethnicity, with women of Puerto Rican or Mexican ancestry more likely to die from it.

What they’re saying: "Unless we can gain momentum [with] more research into specific causes and prevention of breast cancer in Hispanics, the mortality rate could soon surpass that of non-Hispanic whites," said Susan Love, founder of the Dr. Susan Love Foundation for breast cancer research.

Driving the news: The National Cancer Institute has just unveiled a $9.8 million grant for medical researchers in Miami and San Antonio to look into why Hispanic cancer patients and survivors are more likely to suffer from fatigue, depression and poorer quality of life.

Go deeper.

3. Guatemala corruption in focus before Harris visit

A couple at a protest stands in front of a sign in Spanish in front of a colonial church in Guatemala City.
A protest in December against budget cuts and Congress members accused of corruption, in Guatemala City. Photo: Josué Decavele/Getty Images

As Vice President Kamala Harris prepares for her first foreign trip, the country that will welcome her has become mired in debates over corruption.

  • Guatemala’s Congress just confirmed judges who are under investigation to the Constitutional Court.
  • And President Alejando Giammattei criticized members of the country’s special prosecutor who oversees corruption cases yesterday.

Why it matters: The controversies show the pervasive nature of corruption in the region and the obstacles the White House faces as it attempts to address the root causes of emigration.

Details: Congress confirmed judges Néstor Vásquez and Dina Ochoa to the court that decides electoral, political and constitutional issues.

  • Both have been questioned in relation to a case in which brothers Gustavo and Felipe Alejos allegedly bribed members of Congress and judicial bodies to name favorable judges. The brothers were recently sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department.
  • Yet the same Congress rejected a nominee in April, arguing she was under investigation. Gloria Porras, a renowned anti-corruption magistrate, is being sued for purported “judicial activism.”

What’s next: Harris arrives in Guatemala on Sunday, then flies to Mexico, where she will meet President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Tuesday.

4. Report on sex abuse in schools roils Mexico

Empty desks in a classroom are photographed through a small window in a door.
A classroom in Mexico City, where most of the schools facing allegations are. Photo: Pedro Pardo/AFP via Getty Images.

There's been a pattern of institutional sexual abuse against children as young as 3 years old in schools in central and southeast Mexico, according to a report.

  • It was written by lawyers of a civic group who have litigated cases against education employees.

Why it matters: The allegations have surfaced days before public and private schools in most Mexican states are set to return to in-person classes.

  • The report details cases with hundreds of victims from 18 schools and childcare centers showing "similar abuse tactics."
  • These include making tied up or gagged kids touch adults wearing cartoon masks and forcing students to watch the abuse of other children.
  • In some cases the schoolchildren spoke of being recorded, suggesting exploitation for pornography.

In response, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is promising child protective measures. He has spoken in favor of using his party’s majority in Congress to make sure sex crimes against minors have no statute of limitation.

  • Polls for this Sunday’s midterm elections estimate Morena will keep control of Congress, albeit with fewer seats, and of many key governorships.

5. Fútbol thrives as COVID-19 ravages South America

A funeral at a cemetery in Lima, Peru.
A Peruvian COVID victim is buried in Lima, June 1. Peru is running out of cemetery space. Photo: Angela Ponce/Getty Images

Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil and Peru currently have some of the highest coronavirus infection and death rates per capita in the world.

Why it matters: Vaccine access has been uneven in the region, which has mostly depended on Russian and Chinese vaccines. Just under 20% of the area’s population has been immunized.

  • Officials also acknowledge a lack of PCR tests and an undercount of COVID-related deaths.
  • Economic circumstances, like living day to day and a lack of stimulus checks like those in the U.S., have meant many Latin Americans must still leave home to work.

Between the lines: Despite the high number of COVID cases, Brazil is set to host the Copa América tournament in two weeks.

  • “I regret the deaths, but we have to live,” said Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, about hosting the tournament.
  • Brazil is averaging around 2,000 lives lost to coronavirus daily. The variants first detected in Brazil, now named Gamma and Zeta, have torn through South America.

Driving the news: Peru revised its fatality figures upward this week, almost tripling the previous number. It now has the highest global per capita death rate.

  • The country will hold presidential elections this Sunday; candidates are neck and neck in polls.
  • Coronavirus has barely made a blip in the campaigns, which are more focused on socioeconomic inequalities and corruption.

6. Wanted: DNA samples to identify Argentina’s disappeared

An form for a blood sample to help identify the remains of the formerly disappeared in Argentina.
An intake sample kit for the campaign to collect DNA samples, which is being promoted with the hashtag #ArgentinaTeBusca (Argentina is looking for you). Photo: Juan Mabromata/AFP via Getty Images

An extensive international campaign is underway through Argentine embassies and consulates to obtain genetic samples that could link families to people who were "disappeared" during the country’s last dictatorship.

Why it matters: The government, a specialized forensic team and the Grandmothers and Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo movements are hoping to find missing grandchildren.

  • The children would have been sent abroad to elude kidnapping or taken to another country by military men who illegally adopted the babies of women killed for their suspected opposition to the government.
  • The EAAF team has recovered over 1,400 bodies from unmarked mass graves since 1984 and has already identified 800 people.
  • The project is looking to find genetic matches for the missing 600.
  • The remains will then be returned to families, and they’ll be given financial reparations.

The bottom line: 30,000 people, most of them civilians and known as los desaparecidos, were systematically taken to clandestine sites and killed by the military junta that came into power in 1976, aided by a CIA operation. It ruled until 1983.

7. 🖼️ 1 smile to go: Art advocating zero waste

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A zoom into "Plastic Nature" and a peek at Eduardo Srur’s other projects. Photos: Noticias Telemundo

Pieces by Van Gogh, Cézanne, Monet, Picasso or Da Vinci are being recreated in Brazil to send a message about pollution — but not with brush strokes or even paint.

  • The series “Plastic Nature” uses plastic bags picked up from riverbanks. The name in Portuguese, natureza plástica, is a play on that language’s term for still life.

What they’re saying: “The idea is to redefine the waste, to create new energy out of trash that would otherwise accumulate,” artist Eduardo Srur told Noticias Telemundo.

  • Srur has done other public space installations around São Paulo to highlight plastic waste pollution. This one will include auctions to raise funds for clean-up projects.

Hasta la próxima semana, have a safe one.