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Conditions In Tijuana Are Getting Worse For Those Waiting To Claim Asylum

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Things boiled over Sunday when groups of Central American asylum seekers in Tijuana, Mexico rushed the U.S border. U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents responded by firing tear gas into the crowd of women and children. The asylum seekers had spent weeks in Tijuana as a last stop on their march to the U.S. border. The mayor of Tijuana declared the situation a humanitarian crisis and asked the United Nations for aid to deal with the approximately 5,000 Central American migrants.

Thousands of Central American migrants remain in Tijuana as they continue to try to seek asylum in the U.S.

Due to the large influx of asylum applicants, they may be there for months. Many are seeking asylum in the U.S. while others are seeking asylum in Mexico. The group of asylum seekers are fleeing economic instability and increasing violence in their home countries.

The San Ysidro entry point between Tijuana and San Diego is the busiest border crossing point in the world, yet agents at the facility can only process 100 applications a day. This has led Juan Manuel Gastelum, mayor of Tijuana, to declare the situation a humanitarian crisis. He says he won’t commit the city’s public resources to assisting the migrants and has asked for assistance from the United Nations.

According to the San Diego Tribune, the government of Baja California has treated 818 respiratory infections and provided 1,286 general medical consultations to asylum seekers.

There has reportedly been a pending agreement between both U.S. and Mexican governments that would force asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while the U.S. processes their claims.

According to the Washington Post, the Trump administration had made a deal with Mexico’s incoming president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, to implement a policy that would have migrants stay in Mexico. This means that asylum seekers will wait in Mexico during the time it takes to apply for protection in the U.S.

While Mexico denied the report on Saturday, the news came out after a meeting between Mexico’s incoming foreign secretary, Marcelo Ebrard, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and other U.S. and Mexican officials. This could mean an agreement is still in the talks or can be modified in some way. The incoming Mexican administration will assume office December 1 which is critical in terms of timing when it comes to the situation at the border.

Applying for asylum is a legal process and the U.S. has been condemned for “unlawful policies” directed at the migrants.

Louis DeSipio, a professor of political science at University of California, Irvine, says that every migrant is legally allowed to apply for asylum, but it doesn’t mean they have the right to be accepted.

“The migrants have every right to seek asylum but what’s new and dangerous is the Trump administration trying to limit and make it harder for them to apply,” DeSipio said.

He says the tear gas incident over the weekend will only embolden the Trump administration to push forward with more stringent measures. Migrant caravans are nothing new but the issue has become a political talking point mainly because of the president’s constant attack on them. He has made baseless claims saying there are criminals in the caravan and even threatening to shut down the U.S.-Mexico border.

“This is all fitting into the president’s plan and will use it as evidence to justify sending troops to the Mexican border,” DeSipio said. “But closing down the border would have major implications going forward with Mexico in terms of legal entry and setting precedent.”

What’s next for the migrants waiting for their asylum claim?

After Sunday’s border clash, a number of migrants have opted to leave the caravan fearing their chances of seeking asylum are slim to none. DeSipio says many will stay and ride the process out considering they have no other options.

“These folks have no other option and it shows if they are willing to travel so many miles just to apply for asylum,” DeSipio says. “However long it’s going to take many will wait and some may risk their lives in the process.”

A new Mexican government and Democrats controlling the House of Representatives in the U.S. could complicate an already tense situation. President Trump continues to call for a border wall on the southern border and freshmen Democratic representatives ran their campaigns against the president’s tough line immigration stances.

“With the incoming [Mexican] administration and Democrats in control of the House, we’re going to see a showdown for funding for a border wall and the president doesn’t look like he’ll compromise,” DeSipio said. “At the end of the day what gets lost here is a tragedy. Many of these folks have a right to claim asylum but the president has essentially made that meaningless.”

This is a developing story. Check back with mitú for updates.


READ: Immigration Agents Launch Tear Gas Canisters At Asylum Seekers At US-Mexico Border

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11 Of The Deadliest Natural Disasters in Latin America

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11 Of The Deadliest Natural Disasters in Latin America

Violent natural disasters have claimed lives around the world since the dawn of time. Latin America is far from an exception, as natural disasters have caused profound human loss, as well as environmental destruction and financial loss. Events that cause the highest death tolls are geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, landslides, avalanches, volcanic eruptions, mudslides, floods, storms, extreme temperatures, fires and droughts. From the oldest to the most recent events on record, here are the deadliest disasters to strike Latin America:

1. 1906 Valparaiso earthquake in Chile

Twitter @VergaraLautaro

At 8.6 on the Richter scale, the 1906 earthquake that hit Chile’s port of Valparaiso claimed 20,000 lives. This photograph depicts the immense damage at a church called Iglesia La Merced.

Twitter @VergaraLautaro

This old photograph called Valparaiso despues del Terremoto (Valparaiso after the earthquake) shows the decimation of a busy market in wake of the disaster. 

2. Chile’s most deadly quake hits in 1939

Twitter @Disaster Times

Sadly, Chile’s most deadly earthquake was yet to come. While it was a slightly smaller quake at 8.3 magnitude on the Richter scale, the 1939 earthquake in Chile’s capital Santiago left 28,000 people dead and many more maimed.

Twitter @HiAsHec

This photograph depicts an article published in a Santiago newspaper just 2 days after the quake. The death toll was still being counted.

3. 1949 Ambato earthquake in Ecuador

Reddit: u/marquis_of_chaos

The earthquake that shook Ecuador on August 5th, 1949, was the largest to strike the Western Hemisphere in over 5 years. Although it’s commonly referred to as the Ambato earthquake, it actually hit a village called Pelileo in the Tungurahua Province southeast of its capital Ambato, claiming 5,050 lives. This photo shows the ruins of a church called Santa Rosa after the quake as children stand in the rubble.

Disaster Strikes Ecuador. Life magazine August 22, 1949

At 7.5 magnitude on the Richter scale, this disaster killed more than 5,000 people and left many more homeless. Life Magazine reported in its August 22nd, 1949 issue: “The subterranean shock flattened villages and towns in a 1,500-mile area along the eastern Andes.”

4. Hurricane Flora Hammers the Caribbean Islands in 1963

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On October 4th, 1963, Hurricane Flora became the 7th deadliest-ever hurricane to hit the Atlantic, resulting in more than 6,000 fatalities in the Caribbean. Haiti and Cuba were hit the hardest. 

Twitter @philklotzbach

As a category 4 storm, Flora caused structural damage on a catastrophic scale.

5. The Great Peruvian Earthquake of 1970

Twitter @NixonLibrary

The most catastrophic disaster in Peru’s history happened when the Ancash earthquake struck on May 31st, 1970, killing 66,000 people. At 7.8 magnitude on the Richter scale, the quake levelled northern Peru and left over 800,000 citizens homeless. This photo was snapped as Peru’s First Lady and U.S. First Lady Pat Nixon inspected the earthquake’s damage.

Twitter @NixonLibrary

The earthquake triggered landslides and avalanches that caused the death toll to skyrocket after the quake itself was over. One landslide traveled 16.5 kilometers, buried the towns of Yungay and Ranrahirca, and claimed 22,000 casualties on its own.

6. Guatemala’s Earthquake of 1976

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On February 4th, 1976, an earthquake rocked Guatemala, causing widespread damage, including in its capital Guatemala City. This picture was a photographer’s depiction of Guatemala’s Hotel Terminal after the wreckage.

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Pinterest @reallybigtl

With a magnitude of 7.5, Guatemala’s earthquake left around 27,000 people dead, caused massive structural damage and rendered millions of people homeless. This photograph shows a bridge that collapsed from the quake.

7. 1985 Mexico City Earthquake

Pinterest, TIME

In the wee early hours of September 19th, 1985, Mexico City was shaken up by an 8.1 magnitude earthquake, killing 9,500 citizens in and around the city. It made the cover of Time Magazine on September 30th, 1985.

Wikipedia, Public Domain

This photograph shows the devastating collapse of Mexico City’s General Hospital.

8. Nevado del Ruiz Volcano

Twitter @AFP

On November 13, 1985, Columbia’s Nevado del Ruiz volcano erupted and buried the neighboring town of Armero, resulting in about 25,000 deaths. The eruption triggered a deadly landslide from the Andes Mountains, where this photo was taken.

Twitter @jaimessincioco

The lava rushing from the volcano wreaked havoc on structures and homes, as you can see in this scene from the disaster.

9. Hurricane Mitch

Pinterest, Project Leap

In October of 1998, Hurricane Mitch tore through several countries of Central America, including Honduras and Nicaragua. This photo reveals the devastation seen in the town of Morolica in Honduras.

Twitter: @weather_history

The category 5 storm reached peak winds of 290 kph, destroying homes in its wake. It also  Around 9,000 people lost their lives in Hurricane Mitch, making it the second-deadliest Atlantic hurricane on record.

10. Venezuela Mudslides of 1999

Twitter: @dejanirasilveira

On December 15, 1999, flash floods from torrential rains sparked mudslides in the coastal state of Vargas, causing around 30,000 deaths–about 10 percent of the population in Vargas. Debris swept through the cities, causing damage for days after the mudslides began.

Twitter: @kvijayavel

The avalanches of mud, rock and debris that swept down from hillsides swept up thousands of people and even buried entire neighborhoods. Many were stranded on rooftops as the mud veered around their apartment buildings, and unfortunately, there was no organized rescue effort.

11. Hurricane Maria

Instagram: @roadsandkingdoms

Not long ago on September 20th, 2017, Hurricane Maria brutally charged through Puerto Rico and left behind a massive death toll that climbed to 3,000. After Hurricane Irma hit just weeks earlier, Hurricane Maria made landfall as a category 4 storm with high winds and storm surge.

Pinterest: Jeff H

Maria struck down cell towers and power lines, some of which were never repaired, causing millions of citizens to live without power. The death toll rose due to an extended lack of power in hospitals and other places where people depended on electricity. 

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