Jun 10, 2021

Axios Latino

¡Muy buen jueves!

Situational awareness: U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced he’ll head to Mexico early next week to discuss “areas of mutual interest,” most likely border security and immigration.

This week’s Axios Latino newsletter is 1,280 words, about a 5-minute read.

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1 big thing: The booming, dangerous migration by sea

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Maritime smuggling of people to the U.S. is on the rise toward California and Florida, with two recent capsized boats near San Diego and Key West showing the deadly consequences.

Why it matters: Experts stress that for several years toughened security has not decreased migration, just made adult migrants seek other, more dangerous paths.

  • The Coast Guard reports a 50% rise in people trying to migrate by sea, with over 7,500 detained trying to do so during the 2020 fiscal year.
    • Border officials say sea interdictions have gone up 80% in the Caribbean and 92% in the Pacific.
  • Drowning and presumed drowning were among the top causes of death recorded by the International Organization for Migration in the Americas region during 2020.
  • This May four migrants died in two separate incidents near the San Diego coast when the smuggling boats overturned
  • Two Cuban migrants died and 10 others were lost at sea near Florida late last month.
  • Smugglers use outdated vessels that lack safety equipment or potable water. They often sail at night, when tides are higher and patrols are fewer, officials say.

Between the lines: Families pay up to $16,000 to sea coyotes for trips on dinghies or fishing vessels, Noticias Telemundo reports.

The big picture: Crossings on foot are becoming deadlier. A record number of people died in 2020 going through remote areas of the U.S.-Mexico border.

  • Immigrating through legal channels can take 2 to 24 years with no assured outcome.
  • Requesting asylum has also become more difficult. The former administration ruled victims of domestic and gang violence, for example, were ineligible for asylum, despite evidence of significant and ongoing trauma, per a report from UCLA and Physicians for Human Rights.
2. New efforts to stem corruption and smuggling

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, with interpreters, before a Rivera mural in Mexico’s National Palace on June 8. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Vice President Kamala Harris’ visit to Guatemala and Mexico ended with the promise to create groups to combat corruption in the Northern Triangle and to renew efforts against human trafficking and human smuggling organizations.

Details: The U.S. will send prosecutors to work with regional attorneys and to investigate and pursue cases with American links. The aim is to decrease migration in the long term by fostering better governance and accountability.

  • Various U.S. agencies are also set to provide $48 million to develop housing and agribusiness devastated by recent hurricanes in Guatemala, and to support that country’s entrepreneurs, especially young women, in regions of high emigration.
  • A bilateral plan with Mexico also promises to establish an FBI partnership to help solve over 82,000 cases of people who are missing or forcibly disappeared in that country.

Mexican and U.S. law enforcement will also increase collaboration against smugglers and improve the exchange of information to combat transnational criminal organizations that are responsible for “homicides and drug-related deaths on both sides of the border.”

Driving the news: Harris drew criticism in the U.S for traveling to the countries that people emigrate from before she visited the border, where unaccompanied minors are still arriving and being held.

  • Politicians like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) spoke out against the vice president’s “do not come” message aimed at Central Americans, which the administration has sent through its embassies as well.
  • That message, AOC tweeted, seemingly ignores that seeking asylum in the U.S. is legal, and that many do so because of instability fostered by past American governments that supported restrictive regimes ousted in civil wars.
3. “In The Heights” bursts onto the screen

A scene from the film adaptation of “In The Heights,” directed by John Chu, which took over a decade to develop. Photo: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

The long-awaited film adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical about life in Washington Heights, a Dominican neighborhood in New York, finally arrives at cinemas and on HBO Max today, and to rave reviews.

What they’re saying: “The people who are in the margins of other people's stories so much of the time in mainstream Hollywood or mainstream Broadway, they get the spotlight," Miranda tells NBC Latino.

The big picture: As U.S. cinemas hope for a summer film rebound, many are eager to see whether a Latino movie will make bank and pave the way towards greater diversity and inclusion in the film industry (with some paciencia y fe).

  • Based on Miranda’s Tony Award-winning musical, the story includes Latino characters from different cultures, and it is about their dreams, aspirations and love towards their barrio, without stereotyping them.
  • The film is directed by John Chu, who also directed “Crazy Rich Asians.”

By the numbers: On average only 4.5% of speaking or named film roles had Latin actors and only 3% were leads or co-leads, according to a study from the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative of 1,200 films released across a decade in the U.S.

Yet Latinos have had the highest per capita rates of movie-going for years, per industry reports.

4. Stories of orgullo and struggle

Sylvia Rivera was honored with a giant puppet in last years’ march commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising. Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images.

As Pride is commemorated this month, activists are highlighting the contributions of Latinos to the demonstrations that started the modern LGBTQ civil rights movement in the U.S.

Why it matters: Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans played key roles in the protests and riots around the country that most famously came to a head at the Stonewall Inn in June 1969.

  • Ten years earlier, Mexican American writer John Rechy, whose work partly inspired the film “My Own Private Idaho,” participated in the riot that broke out during a police raid of L.A.’s Cooper’s Donuts, a gay hangout.
  • Sylvia Rivera, of Puerto Rican and Venezuelan roots, participated in Stonewall and later founded STAR with Marsha P. Johnson to help homeless and transgender youth.

Go deeper.

5. HIV prevention and care still lags for Latinos
Expand chart
Data: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Chart: Axios Visuals

The incidence of HIV across the U.S. has gone down 73% since the first cases were reported here four decades ago, but the virus continues to ravage Latino and Black populations.

By the numbers: The Latino communities face four times the rates of HIV infection than white non-Hispanics in the U.S., per the CDC.

  • Latino gay men and Latina heterosexual women are the second and sixth groups most affected, according to CDC data on new diagnoses.
  • Incidence rates among 25-to-34-year-old Latino men have gone up 10% since 2014.

The bottom line: Hispanics and Latinos have lower viral suppression rates than the overall HIV-positive population in the U.S., which indicates they are facing barriers to care and not receiving antiretroviral treatments as needed.

  • They also have lower prescription access to PrEP, which helps prevent infection.
6. Stories we’re watching

Pedro Castillo of the Perú Libre party waves to supporters June 8 after declaring himself the winner of the presidential vote. Photo: Gian Masko/AFP via Getty Images

  • Peru’s Pedro Castillo has declared himself the winner of Sunday’s presidential election, and rival Keiko Fujimori is crying fraud, with the official count not yet over.
  • El Salvador’s Nayib Bukele has just made Bittcoin a legal tender, the first country to do so, despite it having the second worst internet connectivity in the hemisphere.
  • Daniel Ortega’s regime in Nicaragua faces more U.S. sanctions over a “dictatorial” push to eliminate all competition for the November elections after ordering the arrest of four candidates.
  • Mexico's ruling party, Morena, lost its supermajority in Congress and several Mexico City districts in Sunday’s election.
7. 🎼 1 smile to go: International fame at age 8

Axel Bastian Rosales plays classical guitar, flamenco guitar and piano. Photos: Noticias Telemundo

Mexican Axel Bastian Rosales is only 8 years old, but his nimble fingered playing of the guitar and piano has drawn international attention.

Details: The young musician won a classical guitar competition in Ukraine this spring, and received an honorary mention in the 2020 Latin American Piano contest last December.

  • He says he’d now love to record an album and give concerts.

Hasta la próxima semana, have a safe one.