UNITED STATES: A memo published yesterday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that none of the 2,100 staff members working at a migrant detention center in Tornillo, Texas, went through FBI background checks, putting the safety of thousands of teens at risk. According to the memo, the Tornillo camp “is using checks conducted by a private contractor that has access to less comprehensive data, thereby heightening the risk that an individual with a criminal history could have direct access to children.” Furthermore, the memo asserts that the nonprofit running the facility is not being held to the federal mental health requirement of having one mental health clinician for every 12 children, instead having just one for every 100 children.
The camp, which was once a temporary shelter for 360 migrant children, has now become a permanent detention camp that houses 2,324 largely Central American teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17. Since the end of October, more than 1,300 teens have been brought to the camp in Tornillo. There are more people being detained in Tornillo than in all but one of the United States’ 204 federal prisons.
HEADLINES FROM THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE
THE U.S.-MEXICO BORDER: Tension endures at the border in Tijuana, where a school located close to the sports complex that houses about 5,000 Central American migrants closed yesterday. Local parents who feared for their children’s’ safety bought their own lock and chain, closed the school’s gates and posted a sign that read that the school would be closed until further notice. Some parents asked for the school’s relocation after migrants allegedly approached school grounds to ask kids for money and use of their bathrooms. Parents also alleged that migrants had smoked marijuana around the institution.
MEXICO: Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto announced he will award Jared Kushner with Mexico’s highest honor for foreigners next Thursday. Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, will receive the Order of the Aztec for his work in coordinating relations between the United States and Mexico since President Trump took office, resulting in the renegotiation of NAFTA and the establishment of the USMCA. Bestowing the honor on Kushner during the G20 in Buenos Aires will be one of President Peña Nieto’s last acts as Mexico’s leader before Andrés Manuel López Obrador becomes president on Saturday.
JAMAICA: The University of West Indies (UWI) and the University of Glasgow are working on an agreement after it was discovered that, between 1809 and 1937, slave owners extracted that value from Jamaica and donated it to the Scottish institution. According to the Jamaica Gleaner Newspaper,UWI could receive over $250 million as reparation.
COSTA RICA: Same-sex marriage will become a reality in Costa Rica starting May 26, 2020, thanks to a ruling yesterday by the Constitutional Chamber. Legislators have until then to issue the laws that will make same-sex marriage possible. Otherwise, the judge’s ruling will be annulled. Costa Rica pronounced the ruling after the Inter-American Court for Human Rights advised all the countries in the region to legislate in favor of same-sex marriage.
NICARAGUA: The U.S. government announced sanctions yesterday against the First Lady of Nicaragua, Rosario Murillo, and the National Security Counselor, Néstor Moncada. The measure was taken by the Treasury Department in response to human rights violations in the country. Murillo and Moncada are banned from entering the United States, and all their assets in the country will be frozen.
ECUADOR: The attorney general opened an investigation yesterday in response to accusations that Vice President María Alejandra Vicuña accepted bribes for jobs when she was a lawmaker. A former advisor to Vicuña who allegedly paid a bribe said that Vicuña had “indicated that it was a mandatory contribution for the Alianza Bolivariana Alfarista movement.” Vicuña said the accusations are a distraction maneuver.
VENEZUELA: The United Nations sent $9.2 million in emergency aid to Venezuela Monday despite President Nicolás Maduro’s insistence that the country does not need outside aid. The money will be used to buy food and medicine for Venezuelans as the political and economic crisis continues. The aid marks a change in the United Nations’ usual policy, as the organization generally does not send money from the Central Emergency Relief Fund to countries without permission from that country’s government.
ARGENTINA: Argentine authorities are considering possible charges of war crimes and torture against Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia as he prepares to attend the G-20 summit meeting in Buenos Aires this week. The possible charges represent the most significant international test for Prince Mohammed after the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October. Officials in Argentina, however, said it is extremely unlikely the prince will be arrested before the summit meeting begins Friday.
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