Apr 8, 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: Dangerous journey leaves children stranded

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Girls thrown off the border wall and boys abandoned in the desert: Dozens of children have had to be rescued after being left stranded mid-trip to try to reunite with relatives already in the U.S.

The big picture: Smugglers are pouncing on the desperation of people in Central America and South America. The smugglers promote their services on Facebook with fake promises of safe trips and easy immigration processes.

  • Almost 19,000 unaccompanied minors, a record, were picked up by authorities during March, the highest monthly number on record, according to official data.
  • Many people are desperate to leave for the U.S., or to send their children, to escape growing poverty, famine, violence and the devastation of two hurricanes that hit Central America in November.
  • “Here there was nothing but [government] neglect and hunger,” the aunt of the two girls coyotes threw from the wall said to Noticias Telemundo from Ecuador. “Maybe if there had been food they wouldn’t have had to go there.”
  • Girls have accounted for around 70% of the children in Department of Health and Human Services shelters during the past weeks.

Between the lines: The Department of Homeland Security also announced yesterday it’s investigating 5,600 additional cases of children possibly separated from their parents under the “zero tolerance” policy of the previous administration.

  • The Biden White House has yet to reunite any of the hundreds of kids who are already known to have been separated.
  • On a call about immigration with Vice President Kamala Harris this Wednesday, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said a goal is to "combine efforts to combat human trafficking and to protect the human rights of boys and girls especially".

With the U.S. immediately expelling adults who cross illegally, a record 22,000 people have instead requested asylum in Mexico.

2. Military campaign displaces thousands
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Map: Axios Visuals

Venezuela has launched an unexpected assault near its border with Colombia, presumably to attack armed groups and dissident guerrillas that push drugs and contraband in the area, but civilians have been forced to flee and some have reportedly been killed.

  • The sudden military strikes in Apure state come after years of President Nicolás Maduro’s regime being hands-off in the border region.

Why it matters: Millions of Venezuelans have left their country in reccent years due to unprecedented levels of hunger, hyperinflation and political uncertainty.

The other side: Venezuela Vice President Delcy Rodríguez recently claimed the actions against the armed groups are in response to supposed U.S. meddling. “Narcoterrorists are carrying out imperial plans,” he said.

3. Likelier to die and at younger ages

Ricardo "El Profe" Castorena, right, of the non-profit Binational of Central California, gives a mask to a farmworker in the fields of Selma last December. Photo: Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Working-age and young Latinos face disproportionately high COVID-19 death rates as states move toward reopening. Foreign-born Latinos who work essential or front-line jobs are especially in peril.

The bottom line: The imbalances highlight the urgent need for vaccination campaigns to directly reach a population that is overrepresented in industries many depend on, like agriculture and food processing.

  • Organizations like Planned Parenthood and United Farm Workers have launched grassroots projects to vaccinate people of color who are front-line workers.
4. Una rosa by any other name

The Public Theater and WNYC Studios recently debuted a bilingual audio adaptation of "Romeo and Juliet" — "Romeo y Julieta" — starring Mexican-born Lupita Nyong’o and Colombian-born Juan Castano.

A new bilingual Shakespeare production offers a refreshing take on a classic, at a time when theater companies are also broadening their casting.

  • The Public Theater and WNYC Studios recently debuted a bilingual audio adaptation of "Romeo and Juliet" — "Romeo y Julieta" — starring Mexican-born Lupita Nyong’o and Colombian-born Juan Castano.

Why it matters: Providing a new approach to canonical works and diversifying who is seen on stage broadens who becomes interested in those texts and their political resonance, and lets those texts be reexamined with greater nuance, scholars say.

What they’re saying: “The number of bilingual people is significant, but there is rarely an offering like this in any cultural space”, playwright Ricardo Pérez González told Noticias Telemundo. “This is for those of us who live in between languages, in between cultures; it’s a ‘Romeo y Julieta’ that inhabits that place in the middle”.

Go deeper: A racial reckoning in theater

5. Voting where disinterest is winning

Presidential candidate Yonhy Lescano, who at 12% leads in the polls, during a rally in Lima, Peru. Photo: Alberto Salgado/Getty Images

“Undecided” is the leading presidential candidate as Peru heads to the polls this Sunday amid a coronavirus third wave and growing political disenchantment.

Why it matters: Years of political turmoil in one of the biggest economies in Latin America (and 47th largest in the world) has undermined public trust in democracy to the point that no candidate would get close to the 50% vote threshold necessary to avoid a run-off.

  • Peruvians have to vote or pay a fine, so handing in a blank ballot is a form of protest.
  • As the country contends with one of the worst COVID-19 death rates, candidates include a politician that claims saltwater mouth rinses cure coronavirus and three others who have recently tested positive.

The big picture: The South American country has had five presidents in the past decade, three of them just in the last year, and most of its recent leaders have a rap sheet.

Ecuador also has a presidential run-off this week. It’s a tight contest between former banker Guillermo Lasso and Andrés Arauz, heir apparent of convicted former president Rafael Correa (accused of corruption but who claims the charges are fabricated and is exiled in Belgium).

6. Progress that has been wiped out

A woman looks on as the head of Kissimmee-Poinciana Homeless Outreach donates essentials to jobless people living in a motel in Kissimmee, Fla. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

What little recovery there has been in employment numbers is not reaching Black and Hispanic women. The latter’s jobless rates in comparison to early 2020 are 3.3% greater than those of white women, according to the latest jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Why it matters: Half of Latinas in the U.S. say they’ve had trouble paying for basic necessities like food, housing or childcare in the past year, and almost half also say their savings are less than $300 dollars, an inequity that predates the pandemic but grew during it, per a recent survey.

  • The current situation has already undone four years of women’s labor gains in OECD countries.
  • In Latin America, between 25% and 31% of women have no income of their own and have been sidelined into dependency, according to U.N. statistics.
  • Women historically struggle much more to return to a job after economic crises while also carrying the burden of unpaid domestic work and childcare.

Go deeper: How a ‘she-cession’ threatens overall economic recovery

7. 1 smile to go: Muralistic intervention

Credit: Noticias Telemundo

A Honduran town has just been reinvented by a group of muralists hailing from across Latin America and even Switzerland.

La Arada, a municipality in the south of the Central American country, held a “guancasco,” in reference to a typical dance of the Lenca indigenous people, but this event was for art.

The front of the town’s buildings were adorned with paintings representing its inhabitants, agricultural tradition and fauna.

Hasta la próxima semana, have a safe one.