Things That Matter

Australia Plans To Welcome Thousands Of Latin American Refugees Since The US Has Failed Them

Australia is known for its tough immigration policies (hey, when President Donald Trump praises your tough antics you know you are not necessarily on the right side of history, right?). Even if a key element of the political discourse for decades has been border protection when it comes to illegal immigration, Australia has also been welcoming to people from all around the world in its refugee and humanitarian programs. The problem is that neighboring regions have faced terrible cases of genocide and suffering, and people in dire situations have tried to reach Australia by boat. 

So the fact that the nation is now taking Latin American refugees from crisis zones such as Venezuela and Central America is a welcome development on Australia’s geopolitical stance on migration. 

Australia is currently governed by a conservative party that has used fear of illegal migration as a political tool.

The Liberal Party, led by the current Prime Minister Scott Morrison, has long held a tough stance on illegal migration coming from South East Asian countries such as Vietnam and Indonesia, and from Middle Eastern war-ravaged countries. The government has spent millions in advertising campaigns in Australia and overseas. The intake of legal migrants is high if we take into account that the country has less than 30 million people. However, the processes are increasingly complicated. 

Getting to Australia illegally is almost impossible for refugees: if they are caught they are sent to offshore detention centers.

Credit: APP

The only ways to migrate to Australia illegally are through boat or by overstaying a visa. The country is facing increasing international criticisms over its handling of undocumented migrants and refugees, as most of them are sent to the offshore detention centers of Naru and Manus island in the Pacific. These detention centers have been deemed as inhumane by human rights advocates. 

Most of the Latin American community in the country has migrated legally.

This has been done either by applying for a permanent residency from their home country or once they are in Australia as students or professional workers. There was a big wave of South American refugees in the 1970s, who were escaping totalitarian regimes in countries such as Chile and Argentina. In fact, the migrant group with the highest level of educational degrees is Mexicans, as most arrived in Australia to do a Masters degree or a PhD. 

Latin America is facing crises on many fronts, so Australia will be accepting refugees on a humanitarian basis.

As part of its humanitarian program, Australia will welcome refugees from conflict zones in Latin America in its 2020 intake. This was revealed by executive director of the New South Wales Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Survivors of Trauma and Torture (STARTTS), Jorge Aroche, who is Uruguayan-Australian and told SBS News: “I understand that we will have people from Latin America through the refugee program. We still don’t know where they are going to come from if they go to NSW or other parts of Australia”. The Australian refugee program places incomers in particular areas depending on the socioeconomic needs of each place. 

Australia takes in over 18,750 refugees a year and in 2020 this figure will include an increased number of Latin Americans.

Aroche painted a dire situation in the continent, not only in Venezuela but also in countries such as Brazil and Colombia, where right-wing governments are crushing dissent. He said: “There are situations that are very worrying, as is the case in Brazil where there is a president who has publicly talked about torture as something positive and that the process of persecution and state terror that took place in Brazil has to be celebrated. We have also seen worrisome things in Colombia for quite some time and in Venezuela, the situation has deteriorated and there have been a lot of human rights violations and possible cases of torture”. In recent years most refugees come from Central Africa, Myanmar, the Middle East and the Horn of Africa. 

The hot spot: Central America.

Credit: APP

We have discussed widely on the humanitarian crisis faced by millions of Central Americans today, and that will also be a priority of the humanitarian program, as Aroche says: “”In Central America, there are a lot of human rights violations, both at the state level and in armed groups, often associated with drug trafficking or gangs, who exercise power through terror”. Once in Australia, refugees enter the public health system (yes, there is healthcare for all permanent residents and citizens) and those who are survivors of severe trauma after being tortured or experiencing a war situation receive psychological care. 

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These Were The Moments That Defined Latin America In 2020 That Weren’t About COVID-19

Things That Matter

These Were The Moments That Defined Latin America In 2020 That Weren’t About COVID-19

PEDRO PARDO/AFP via Getty Images

2020 will easily go down in manny of our memories as the year that just wouldn’t stop. As the year started, it all seemed to be sort of fine as the world came together to battle record-breaking Australian bushfires and worked to hopefully contain an outbreak of a strange new virus in China.

However, as the year comes to a close things have gone de mal a peor for the world in general, but for the Latino population in the United States and Latin America as a region in particular. Though it’s hard to realize just how much we all witnessed and experienced since so much of what happened seems like it was a lifetime ago.

Here’s a look back at some the defining moments from 2020 across Latin America.

Jennifer Lopez and Shakira kicked off the year hopeful with a history-making performance at the Super Bowl.

Yes, believe it or not, this happened in 2020. The pair put on what many have called the best half time show in Super Bowl history. They were also joined by J Balvin and Bad Bunny.

Bolivia’s Evo Morales was forced into exile, only to return to the country in November.

After being forced into exile at the end of 2019 for attempting to illegally run in upcoming presidential elections, Morales spent a year abroad – first in Mexico and then in Argentina.

Mexico’s President AMLO made his first trip abroad to visit Donald Trump at the White House.

Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is a staunch populist and has long said his primary focus is domestic policy within Mexico. Therefore, despite two years in office, AMLO hadn’t left Mexico once. So it came as a surprise when his first trip abroad was a visit to the U.S. leader who had long disparaged Mexico, the government, and Mexicans – not to mention his trip came in the middle of a global pandemic.

Migrant caravans continued to make their way towards the U.S. despite interference from Mexico and Covid-19.

Migrants attempting to make their way to the U.S. isn’t unique to 2020. For decades, migrants have long banded together for safety in numbers along the treacherous journey to the north. However, they became larger and better organized in 2020, perhaps owing to the new dangers of Mexican interference.

Mexico’s AMLO vowed to stop migrants from reaching the U.S.-Mexico border, adhering to Trump’s request. It was also noteworthy because the caravans continued despite the Covid-19 crisis, which has hit the region particularly hard.

Peru saw three presidents in the span of a few weeks after massive protests.

Peru is facing one of the greatest crises the nation has faced. Just as the country seemed to be emerging from the worst of its battle against the Covid-19 pandemic, the country has entered a severe political crisis.

The country’s elected president, Martin Vizcarra, was impeached and removed from office. His predecessor responded with a heavy hand to the protests that ensued resulting in his resignation less than 24 hours later. The government then had to find someone willing to take the job which proved to be a tough sell.

In fact, massive protests swept across Latin America.

From Mexico in the north to Cuba in the Caribbean and Chile in the south, protests were seen all across the region. Although each movement had it’s own stated goal and objectives, many were largely borne out of the same purpose: to fight back against corruption.

Brazil’s President Jaír Bolsonaro tested positive for Covid-19 but it did nothing to change his approach to the pandemic.

Jaír Bolsonaro has long been compared to Donald Trump, with many calling him the Donald Trump of South America. The two were also strongly aligned in their responses to the Coronavirus pandemic, with the pair largely downplaying the severity of the crisis.

Then, Bolsonaro became infected with the virus and many hoped it would change his view on the crisis. It didn’t.

A growing feminist movement developed in Mexico, demanding protection from a shocking rise in violence against women.

Mexico has long been battling endemic violence and the country has continued to see record-setting rates of homicides. But it was the growing rate of violence against women, particularly femicide, that gained national attention.

Women banded together and started large nationwide protests. Over the summer, women in the capital of Mexico City occupied government buildings and destroyed many of the city’s most popular monuments to hopefully get their message across. Although the movement has gained more recognition by Mexicans, the government has still failed to address their concerns. Let’s hope things are different in 2021.

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In A Post-Covid World, Here Is Where You All Said Want To Travel

Culture

In A Post-Covid World, Here Is Where You All Said Want To Travel

©Marco Bottigelli / Getty Images

Covid put a stop to our travel plans for 2020. After almost a year in lockdown, we have had time to plan fantasy trips and explore the world. We asked you where you wanted to visit and here are some of the places you all can’t wait to see.

Argentina

Argentina offers something for everyone. As on of the southernmost countries in the world, Argentina offers natural sights that will make nature lovers swoon. Into architecture? Cities like Mendoza offers a look at the art-deco style that will make you feel like you are back in time. Don’t forget to try to make a trip down to Ushuaia, the End of the World for a spectacular view.

Cuba

Cuba is a tricky one but a beautiful place to see. The country is filled with old buildings and cars that make it feel like a time capsule. Now, the island is old because they are oppressed and don’t have much. But you can always find ways to make sure that you help people of the island instead of giving the money to government approved businesses.

Costa Rica

This is about as wild and wondrous as it gets. Costa Rica will give everyone a chance to really be one with nature. The Central American country is a rainforest oasis with nature everywhere you look. The country prides itself on how development is not encroaching on nature and has even outlawed zoos and aquariums.

Honduras

Honduras is an underestimated place to visit. The food and people are warm and inviting. There has been some unrest in the country in recent years and a series of hurricanes has devastated the population. Tourism is a great way to bring money into a place the needs it. Just don’t take advantage of them while you are there.

Mexico

Mexico is a country filled with wonders new and old. You can experience the ruins of some of the oldest civilizations and bask in the modernity of Mexico City. The food is as diverse and vibrant as the people with delicious moles in Oaxaca and experimental fusions in Mexico City. Valle de Guadalupe is home to some farm to table restaurants and exquisite wineries. It truly is a journey of the sense if you take time to see the country.

Colombia

Colombia is one of South America’s gems. After years of internal conflict, the nation is growing and quickly becoming a destination. Bogotá and Medellín are great but make it a point to visit Cali. The city is one of the place everyone should visit if they make their way to Colombia.

READ: Mexico Announces 11 New Pueblos Mágicos And It’s The Post-COVID Travel Lust We All Need Right Now

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