VENEZUELA-BRAZIL-ECUADOR-PERU: The residents of a Brazilian border town with Venezuela, in the northern state of Roraima, attacked squatter camps of Venezuelan migrants over the weekend. As many as 1,200 Venezuelans rushed back to their country fearing for their safety after their camps were set on fire and rocks were flung at them. The attack began when an assault on a local store owner who was robbed, stabbed and beaten was blamed on four Venezuelans. The Brazilian Public Security Ministry plans to send at least 60 soldiers of the elite National Force to Pacaraima, a town of only 12,000 where in recent weeks as many as 800 Venezuelans have arrived each day. The Roraima state government estimates that more than 50,000 Venezuelans have crossed the border, an influx nearly equal to 10 percent of the state’s population that has caused a crisis leading state authorities to try to limit services to Venezuelans and to shut the border, but the federal government and high courts have stopped these attempts.
Hundreds of Venezuelan migrants were stranded on Saturday in the border between Colombia and Ecuador when Ecuador suddenly brought in new rules requiring them to have valid passports rather than just identity cards. Passports have grown increasingly difficult to obtain in Venezuela. Ecuador later said that children under 18 could still cross without passports if traveling with their parents. Colombian authorities immediately criticized the decision fearing a bottleneck at the Rumichaca International Bridge connecting the two countries. Peru’s government has announced that passport requirements for Venezuelans will begin on 25 August. Officials estimate over 4,000 Venezuelans crossed from Colombia into Ecuador each day over the bridge earlier this month and more than 5,000 entered Peru on a recent single day. One of the last acts of the administration of former Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos was to provide legal status to 442,000 Venezuelans who participated in a registry for migrants without valid documents.
HEADLINES FROM THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE
MEXICO: Legislators in the state of Guerrero passed a bill on Friday proposing the legalization of opium production for pharmaceutical use, the bill will now need to pass through the Mexican Senate since it would require changes to federal health and penal codes. The mountainous state, south of Mexico City on the Pacific coast, produces most of the heroin consumed in the United States and has one of the highest murder rates in Mexico, with 71 homicides per 100,000 residents last year. Incoming Interior Minister Olga Sánchez has expressed support for the nationwide legalization of opium production for medical purposes.
MEXICO: Authorities said on Friday they found and destroyed a record 50 tons of methamphetamine a day earlier in the northern state of Sinaloa. A statement by the Navy Ministry said marines received a tip that led them to a major narcotics lab in the mountains near the town of Alcoyonqui, east of the state capital of Culiacán, where they destroyed everything at the scene due to its remote location. There was no mention of any arrests.
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO: Judges in London dismissed an attempt by the chief justice of Trinidad and Tobago, Ivor Archie, to halt a legal investigation into his private life and alleged business dealings over accusations of corruption. The Caribbean nation is one of few countries that use the United Kingdom’s Judicial Committee of the privy Council as an ultimate court of appeal. Archie is accused of using his office to lobby for state housing for a man named Dillian Johnson. Press reports have accused Archie, who is married, of having an intimate relationship with Johnson, who is openly gay. Homosexuality remains punishable by up to 25 years in prison in Trinidad and Tobago law. Johnson fled to the United Kingdom after surviving a shooting last December and has accused Archie of knowing about the attack before it happened.
NICARAGUA-COSTA RICA: Forty-four people were arrested in San José, the capital of the Costa Rica, during a protest against Nicaraguan immigrants where Nazi imagery and homemade bombs were used.Hundreds of people participated in the protest that took place in a city park that the Nicaraguan community in Costa Rica, which is about 400,000 people strong, uses as a meeting place. About 23,000 Nicaraguans have asked for refuge in their southern neighbor since the political crisis in their country began in April, and tensions heightened after Costa Rican authorities accused a Nicaraguan undocumented immigrant of attacking and killing a Spanish tourist two weeks ago.
ECUADOR-COLOMBIA: A bus traveling from Colombia to Ecuador that had a grisly traffic accident last Tuesday where 24 of its occupants died and 14 were injured, was found to have been carrying almost 200 pounds of cocaine and 1,300 pounds of marihuana. Residents of poor neighborhoods of the Colombian southwestern city of Cali were offered a free trip to visit tourist spots in Ecuador and Peru in what seems to have been a ruse to disguise the drug shipment. Ecuadorean president Lenín Moreno had already ordered the destitution of transit authorities that allowed the bus to pass the border without proper inspection.
BRAZIL: The United Nations human rights committee ruled on Friday that Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva cannot be disqualified from the upcoming presidential elections because his legal appeals are still ongoing. The Geneva-based committee issued the finding in response to an urgent request filed by Lula’s lawyers on three issues: that he be immediately freed from jail, that he be granted access to the media as an official candidate and that he be allowed to run in the election. The panel rejected the first request and sided with Lula on the other two. Because Brazil has ratified the international covenant on civil and political rights, which the committee monitors, it is technically obligated to abide by its findings.
CHILE: A Chilean man, allegedly angry over an airline not returning his suitcase, was arrested on Friday over the wave of bomb threats that disrupted flights the day before. Eleven phone calls received by a ticket counter and aviation authorities in Chile and an operations center in Colombia threatened the same number of airline flights: one flight had to make an emergency landing, two were turned back, six were on the ground and underwent safety procedures and two did not exist.
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