ST. LUCIA: On Tuesday, a cruise ship was quarantined off the coast of St. Lucia with 300 people aboard after a case of measles was confirmed. St. Lucia officials and the Pan American Health Organization banned anyone from disembarking the Freewinds ship, which is owned and operated by the Church of Scientology for religious retreats, until yesterday.
Dr. Merlene Fredericks James, the island’s chief medical officer, cited the measles crisis in the United States as a driving factor behind the quarantine decision. The ship got to the island on Tuesday and was scheduled to be at Dominica today, but it is unknown when it will depart the shores of St. Lucia and where it will go. However, island officials are not holding the ship in place.
HEADLINES FROM THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE
UNITED STATES: According to court documents, the Department of Homeland Security has violated its own protocols by sending migrants to Mexico to await responses from U.S. immigration courts for their asylum claims. The awaiting asylum applicants include at least two pregnant women and a 4-year-old girl with a neurological disorder. The Trump administration started the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program to send asylum seekers back to Mexico instead of having them wait in the United States. According to the guidelines of MPP, the government should not send asylum seekers who have a health issue or mental disorder back to Mexico. Approximately 1,600 asylum seekers have been sent back to Mexico through MPP, according to DHS officials.
U.S.-MEXICO BORDER: A 10-month-old baby was found dead yesterday and three others are missing after their makeshift raft overturned trying to cross the Rio Grande the previous night. The raft was carrying a total of nine people attempting to cross the Mexico-U.S. border. The three individuals missing include two children of approximately 7 years old and one adult man. This past week, Border Patrol agents saved 10 people from a sinking raft in the same area.
MEXICO: On Wednesday, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador signed a labor bill that gave workers the right to organize real labor unions. Under the new USMCA trade deal being negotiated between the United States, Mexico and Canada, Mexico was required to overhaul its labor laws. Up until recently, Mexico was the only country in Latin America that did not give workers the freedom to organize and engage in collective bargaining. The new law gives Mexican workers similar rights to those of organized workers in the United States.
HAITI/DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Over 1,500 Haitians were deported from the Dominican Republic during migratory controls conducted in April by the Dominican Republic’s General Directorate of Migration (GDM). Operations were carried out in 10 provinces across the Dominican Republic during which 1,911 Haitians were detained and 1,510 were found to hold an irregular migration status and were deported to Haiti. These deportations are part of the massive repatriation campaign taken on by the GDM across the Dominican Republic during which 23,941 Haitians were deported during the first quarter of 2019.
HONDURAS: On Tuesday, the Honduran Congress suspended the ratification of the health and education reforms that led thousands to take to the streets to protest, leaving three wounded and several burned buildings. Hondurans protested the two bills passed by Congress that would restructure the health and education sectors, citing that they would lead to privatization and the loss of jobs. Government officials have denied that the bills would have such outcomes and have called for dialogue between the government and the health and teaching associations.
VENEZUELA: Yesterday, President Nicolás Maduro spoke to soldiers at a military base in the capital of Caracas just two days after opposition leader Juan Guaidó called for a military uprising. Maduro told the soldiers to “defeat any coup plotter.” The opposition leader’s call did not cause troops to rebel but was followed by protests in cities across the country. At least four people were killed and 200 wounded in the two-day conflict between protesters and government forces, according to human rights group Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict.
BOLIVIA: On Tuesday, a landslide in the capital of La Paz left hundreds homeless and dozens of buildings destroyed. According to city officials, 46 homes collapsed and 18 more suffered damage after heavy rains. La Paz Mayor Luis Revilla said in a press conference on Wednesday that 380 people were evacuated and in need of aid. He went on to say that the location of the affected neighborhood of San Jorge Kantutani on a former landfill contributed to the crisis.
BRAZIL: Yesterday, the Brazilian military said that the number of migrants crossing the border from Venezuela rose this week. In the northern state of Roraima, 1,418 Venezuelans registered with authorities on Tuesday and Wednesday, nearly three times as many reported a week earlier. The increase in crossings comes the same week opposition leader and self-declared interim President Juan Guaidó led an unsuccessful uprising against President Nicolás Maduro.