Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

Monday Memo: Mexican Same-Sex Marriage—Haitian Deportation—U.S. and Venezuela Meeting—Nicaraguan Protest—ELN Leader Death

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This week’s likely news stories: Dominican Republic set to deport individuals of Haitian descent; Mexican high court paves way for full marriage equality;  U.S. and Venezuelan officials meet in Haiti, address strained relations; Nicaraguans protest Chinese-funded canal project; top ELN commander killed in Colombia

Dominican Republic to Deport Dominicans of Haitian Descent: The Dominican Republic will proceed as planned on Wednesday with the mass deportation of over 200,000 Dominicans of Haitian descent who have not been regularized under the Plan Nacional de Regularización (National Regularization Plan). These individuals, many of whom were born in the Dominican Republic and have never been to Haiti, will be rendered stateless. According to the Nation, police trucks have begun nightly limpiezas (cleanings) in poorer neighborhoods, detaining “Haitian[s] or dark-skinned Dominicans with Haitian facial features.” Created following the passage of Sentencia 168-13 in September 2013, the Plan Nacional retracts citizenship from anyone born to undocumented parents residing in the country.  It has received widespread criticism and has failed in the eyes of human rights organizations—many have been unable to register due to the government’s failure to provide residents with the necessary government identification documents to apply.

Mexico’s Supreme Court Deems State Laws Banning Same-Sex Marriage Unconstitutional: Mexico’s Supreme Court quietly opened to the door to the nation-wide legalization of same-sex marriage on Friday. The court ordered the publication of a jurisprudential thesis in which it declares that any state-level law that defines marriage’s purpose as “procreation, and/or defines [marriage] as being celebrated between a man and a woman is unconstitutional.”  The finding does not overturn state laws, but obligates the country’s district judges to grant injunctions to individual couples claiming that their marriage rights have been denied. “What has to happen is that the state laws have to be reformed so that couples have the same rights and they don’t have to spend time and money,” said José Luis Caballero, a constitutional scholar at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City. “A couple with resources can get married. A couple without resources can’t.”

High-level U.S. and Venezuelan Officials Meet in Haiti: Top officials from the U.S. and Venezuela held talks in Haiti over the weekend, potentially signaling improving relations between the two countries after a diplomatic row earlier this year. Haitian President Michel Martelly hosted the two delegations, led by Thomas Shannon, counselor to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, and Diosdado Cabello, president of Venezuela’s national assembly. Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez, who also attended the meeting, tweeted that it was a step toward “normalizing relations” between the countries. To date, the Venezuelan government made no further comment. Meanwhile, a State Department spokesperson called the talks “positive and productive.”

Nicaraguans Protest against Atlantic-Pacific Canal Project: On Saturday, thousands took to the streets of the central Nicaraguan city of Juigalpa to protest the construction of a $50 billion canal linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The canal, which is being built by Chinese firm Hong Kong Nicaragua Canal Development (HKND) Group is expected to be more than three times as long as the Panama Canal. While the Nicaraguan government led by President Daniel Ortega has argued that the canal will bring vital investment to the country, demonstrators claim that the project will negatively affect the environment and force thousands off their lands including poor farmers, Afro-descendent and indigenous peoples. In a BBC interview on March 18, 2015, Wang Jing, HKND Group’s chairman and CEO, told the broadcast’s China editor Carrie Gracie that the canal will “transform [Nicaragua’s] economy and people’s lives.” Initial site work began last December and the project is scheduled to be completed by 2019.

Colombian Guerilla Commander Killed: The head commander of the Ejército de Liberación Nacional (National Liberation Army—ELN) José Amín Hernández Manrique, alias Marquitos, was killed during a military operation in Antioquia, Colombia this weekend. Marquitos was wanted for hijacking an Avianca flight carrying 46 passengers in 1999, and his death has been heralded as a critical hit to the ELN, Colombia’s second-largest insurgent group after the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—FARC). Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos congratulated the armed forces via his Twitter account. While the ELN began talks with the government in January 2014, they have not entered into official peace negotiations, unlike the FARC, which began peace talks with the Colombian government in Havana in 2012.

Tags: Dominican Republic-Haiti relations, Ejército de Liberación Nacional, John Kerry, Nicaragua Canal, Same-Sex Marriage
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