Central America

Juan Karita / AP

COMMENTARY

Tuesday night the Trump Administration made the surprising if not stunning announcement that, for the first time ever, the U.S. is nominating an American to head the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). For many if not most Latin American and Caribbean governments, the news was more jarring than hearing a gringo tourist order dinner in Spanish.

Ministerio de Salud de Costa Rica

Like so many doctors around the world, pediatric surgeon Roberto Herrera was exposed to the new coronavirus back in early March.

“Of course I was scared at first,” says Herrera. That's in no small part because he was also at-risk: he’s 61 and asthmatic. But Herrera insists he was never panicked. After all, he says, he lives in Costa Rica – which has reported only seven COVID-19 deaths and fewer than 800 cases.

El Salvador's president authorized the country's police and military to use lethal force against gang members, who over the weekend were allegedly responsible for the murders of dozens of people. Along with the emergency orders, President Nayib Bukele put all incarcerated gang members on a 24-hour shutdown.

Bukele says the gangs are taking advantage of the police focus on enforcing the coronavirus lockdown instead of battling criminal elements. Lethal force can be used in self-defense or to protect the lives of Salvadorans, he says.

Presidencia de Honduras

COMMENTARY

While visiting Honduras this year, acting U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf called President Juan Orlando Hernández “a valued and proven partner” for “promoting security” in Central America.

So forgive me if I looked a tad confused this week when U.S. prosecutors in New York alleged that seven years ago a Honduran drug kingpin bribed Hernández, then a presidential candidate, to protect his cocaine business if Hernández were elected.

Priorities USA via Twitter

Last week, the Democratic Super PAC Priorities U.S.A. launched a social media ad campaign that's created a lot of buzz in South Florida.

Heavily armed police and soldiers in El Salvador briefly occupied the country's parliament building on Sunday in a literal show of force supporting legislation to better equip them.

The Armed Forces and National Civil Police troops, carrying rifles and dressed in battle fatigues and tactical gear, entered the building after President Nayib Bukele failed to push through approval of a $109 million equipment loan.

Rodrigo Abd / AP

It's hard to wrap your arms around everything that happened 2019 in Latin America and the Caribbean. It's even harder to find any good news — from the violent political unrest that rocked capitals from La Paz to Port-au-Prince, to a record number of fires that ravaged the Amazon rainforest.

Christian Chavez / AP

COMMENTARY

I'm profoundly sad to say I’m not surprised – horrified, but hardly surprised – by Tuesday’s brutal massacre of innocent women and children by drug cartel gunmen on a road in northern Mexico.

I’ve been watching Mexico’s savage narco-insurgency escalate for three decades. When I wrote a cover story for TIME about its horrors eight years ago, I naively assumed it couldn’t get worse. Hombre, I could not have been more wrong.  Even infants were among the nine people murdered in Tuesday's ambush. There is no bottom to the gangland homicide plague south of the border, which keeps reaching record numbers.

Presidencia de Honduras

COMMENTARY

Last Sunday a Honduran immigrant on my middle-aged soccer team asked me about an issue before our weekly game. And it didn’t involve Bengay for a pulled muscle.

“Honestly,” he said, “do you think the president of Honduras is involved with drug traffickers?”

Dieu Nalio Chery / AP

COMMENTARY

Right now the western hemisphere – believe it or not, America – is dealing with behavior by federal politicians that's more outrageous than President Trump’s alleged Ukrainian shenanigans. This week the dubious prize goes to Haitian Senator Ralph Fethiere – who repeatedly fired a gun outside the legislature in Port-au-Prince on Monday, wounding two people, including an AP photographer.

Updated 8:05 p.m. ET

Hours after a federal judge on the East Coast refused to block a Trump administration rule requiring most asylum-seekers to ask for protection in another country before they try to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, a judge on the West Coast put a stop to the new policy.

U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar in San Francisco issued a preliminary injunction against the controversial rule unveiled by the White House and applied on a "pilot" basis last week.

You Tube

When Silvia Sarmiento saw the photo of drowned Salvadoran migrants Oscar Martínez and his toddler daughter Valeria, she gasped and recalled how close she'd come to their fate.

Department of Homeland Security

COMMENTARY

Border Patrol clowns on Facebook to the right of me. Open-border jokers at Democratic debates to the left. Here I am, America, stuck in the middle with you on the Fourth of July.

Wilfredo Lee / AP

Miami is often called the capital of Latin America. So when 20 Democratic presidential candidates gathered for debates in Miami last week, WLRN’s Americas editor Tim Padgett thought he'd hear more about Latin America policy. But as Padgett told WLRN’s Luis Hernandez, he and a lot of other South Floridians were disappointed.

Several dozen Central American migrants crossed the U.S.-Mexico border again, this time escorted by federal agents to an El Paso, Texas, courtroom as part of an unprecedented effort by the Trump administration to control migration.

During a hearing last week, the judge asked the migrants one by one if they had a lawyer. Nearly all of them said, "No."

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