El Hispanic News Year in Review
By Carlos Zeta
January 6, 2018 - Washington State Attorney General, Bob Ferguson, files lawsuit against Motel 6 to halt its practice of disclosing guests information to Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents after similar patterns of practice were discovered in Arizona the previous September.
January 9, 2018 - S.F. U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup blocks Trump Administration from rescinding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program until court litigation in California and other States resolves.
March 22, 2018 - Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski resigns under political pressure after vote buying scandal is revealed.
April 1, 2018 - U.S. President Donald Trump tweets about ‘migrant caravans’ after Fox News broadcasts sensationalist story demonizing asylum seekers moving towards U.S.-Mexican border from Central America. The Trump Administration continues to spread unverified information on the supposed ‘danger’ of groups of mostly indigenous Central Americans traveling to U.S. in hopes of gaining asylum to escape the poverty and violence of destabilized Latin American nations.
April 6, 2018 - U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announces zero tolerance policy for illegal entry into the U.S. and imposes harsh family separation as punishment.
April 19, 2018 - Raul Castro, brother to revolutionary Cuban leader Fidel Castro, voluntarily resigns from position as President and Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez steps in.
June 17, 2018 - Portland, OR - Vigil for separated families on father's day at Portland's ICE offices 4310 SW Macadam Avenue, Portland, OR 97239 kicks off beginning of #OCCUPYICEPDX which leads to national movement and similar occupy ICE protests in at least 16 other major cities. #OCCUPYICEPDX uses message #ABOLISHICE which is picked up by Democratic Socialist Party candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York.
June 20, 2018 - U.S. President Donald Trump signs executive order ending controversial policy of family separation for illegal entry.
June 25, 2018 - ACLU files suit requesting national injunction halting family separation policy. Judge Dana Sabraw of U.S. District Court of Southern California issues preliminary injunction the next day.
July 1, 2018 - Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador wins election bid running on the Juntos Haremos Historia coalition ticket to secure the seat as Mexico's 58th President.
August 4, 2018 - Mysterious drones attacks Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro while he is giving a speech to Bolivian National Guard at Avenida Bolívar, Caracas.
August 28, 2018 - Puerto Rico's Hurricane Maria death toll revealed to be 2,975 up from original estimates of 64, making it the most deadly disaster in United States history.
October 6, 2018 - Haiti is hit with 5.9 magnitude earthquake, leaving 18 dead and 548 injured, in the largest magnitude earthquake to hit Haiti since the devastating 2010 7.0 magnitude earthquake left as many as 316,000 dead.
October 26, 2018 - U.S. Secretary of Defense, Jim Mattis, under the direction of President Donald Trump signs order deploying nearly 5,000 U.S. military troops to Mexican-American border in what many characterize as a political stunt to drum up support for Republican Party candidates a week prior to crucial U.S. midterm elections.
October 28, 2018 - Brasilia, Brazil - Far right candidate Jair Bolsonaro wins Brazilian Presidential Election and states he will eliminate Amazonian land reservations designated for pre-colonial indigenous tribal communities.
November 6, 2018 - Millennial Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wins House Seat in New York District 14 on a Democratic Socialist Party ticket.
November 6, 2018 - Salem, Oregon - Ballot initiative Measure 105 to repeal Oregon’s sanctuary status fails. The group that created this initiative, Oregonians for Immigration Reform, has been classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center with ties to larger national hate groups and funding sources.
November 26, 2018 - Sheridan, Oregon - Final ICE detainee being housed in the federal prison in Sheridan, Oregon is set to be moved to the private holding facility in Tacoma, Washington. Use of federal prisons to hold ICE detainees was tied to Jeff Sessions’ zero tolerance policy on unauthorized U.S. entry and found to be unconstitutional after a barrage of lawsuits on behalf of asylum-seeking detainees by rights groups such as American Civil Liberties Union and Innovation Law Lab of Portland.
November 30, 2018 - G20 Summit Argentina - U.S. President, Mexican President, and Canadian Prime Minister all sign USMCA deal to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement. Each country’s respective government will need to ratify the deal in 2019. Critics have called the agreement NAFTA 2.0 as it fails to very much from the deal brokered by the U.S. in 1994.
December 3, 2018 - Chile passes historic law protecting trans and nonbinary citizens. Under the Ley de Identidad de Genero - gender identity law, transgender and nonbinary people over the age of 14 years old can update their name and gender on legal documents
The issue of Central American immigration dominated U.S. headlines and the Latinx psyche in 2018. We heard sensationalized stories pitched from mainstream media sources and the White House, that continued to paint El Salvadorians, Guatemalans, and other Central Americans as a threat to the United States. What is missing from the year’s shallow news analysis, often offered up to justify the harsh treatment of asylum seekers from poverty-stricken regions of the Americas, is a recollection of our not so far off history of foreign intervention in the name of U.S. trade. With the death of George H.W. Bush it is inherently obvious that many Americans have no notion of the damage aggressive U.S. foreign policy, rooted in a masqueraded fear of socialism, can wreak on our global backyard. Right wing led nations throughout the Latin world continue to find support from the U.S. in hopes of keeping global trade markets open to U.S. business, but at what cost?!
The poverty driven violence Central Americans are fleeing in their home countries has escalated over decades as the U.S. continued to support tyrannical coups that our politicians knew would do business on a global level. Meddling in Latin America the U.S. rarely took the time to study the politics of the region before backing coups and ultimately leading to the creation of domestic policies that were business driven, not humanely driven. The exodus of the poor from these countries is a reflection of economic systems that continue to exploit the poorest of the poor. This practice has not subsided and continues to play out today. From Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal ‘drug war’ in the Philippines, a rhetorical line straight from the U.S. playbook on curbing domestic civil rights movements to Jair Bolsonaro’s intent to open up Amazonian indigenous reservations to commodification for extraction of natural resources to be sold on the global market, the U.S. continues to give the go-ahead to crippling environmental and humanitarian policy worldwide. Globalized capitalism is killing our future both at a human and environmental level.
We’ve watched this past year as U.S. corporations such as General Motors are fleeing to international labor and goods markets in hopes of returning greater profit margins at the cost of many Latin American nations’ dignity. Our domestic policies on immigration have set the bar well below a humanitarian standard and we can see other leading nations and their respective citizenry following suit; criminalizing immigration without addressing the very real ramifications of allowing profit first companies to exploit the resources in economically vulnerable nations.
There is hope, however. A new millennial generation, being the first to have had grown into a world with full access to the internet and knowing its incredible utilitarian power is finally coming to positioning within the U.S. electorate and shaping the cultural messaging of our future. We saw millennial led direct action protests such as #OCCUPYICE, #NODAPL, and #BLACKLIVESMATTER continuing to shift the collective mindset of future world citizens with memes and language that call into question the legitimacy of law enforcement and global borders. Millennials such as rising star democratic socialist, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, are willfully seizing the policy reigns from the dying hands of the old guard and calling to question the ethics of a state driven by capitalism and corporatism. As the global clock ticks closer to irreparable environmental destruction we have only the future to look to and the condition of Latin America is no doubt a glance into our global future for better or worse.