Things That Matter

Guatemala’s Groundbreaking Decision To Allow U.S.- Based Citizens To Vote Could Change The Way We Cast Ballots In The Near Future

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Voting in every single election is a crucial part of voicing your concerns about how your country is run. It’s also the perfect time to dictate change, especially with presidential elections.

There’s so much corruption in Latin American — and in the U.S. — that the only way we can make a difference is by voting corruption out. That’s exactly what is taking place in Central America.

Elections are taking place in Guatemala and for the first time ever, 60,000 Guatemalans living in the U.S. will be able to cast their vote.

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“At least 60,000 were eligible to vote in Los Angeles, New York, Maryland and Washington, D.C., all home to large numbers of Guatemalan emigres,” the Associated Press is reporting.

Aside from voting for a new president, Guatemalans will be able to vote for a new vice-president, 158 congress members, and 340 mayors. Guatemalans living in the U.S. will only be able to vote for the president and vice president.

These elections are extremely important as the three previous presidents have been charged with corruption.

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“There is a belief that instead of advancing in these four years of government, we’ve gone backward,” Marco René Cuellar, 39, told the New York Times. “We’ve lost our way as a country, but we should not lose faith in the democratic process we have.”

Furthermore, the next president can help bring peace to the country and end the mass exodus that is going on in Guatemala.

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Since 2016, more than 90,000 Guatemalans have been deported from the U.S, NPR reports, and thousands more make the trek back due to lack of work, violence, and poverty.

While voting is taking place now, the second round of voting will happen in August.

Out of 19 presidential candidates including a former First Lady and an indigenous woman, it looks like Guatemala will have a female leader.

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According to the Times, “Sandra Torres had captured more than 22 percent of the vote, followed by four-time presidential candidate Alejandro Giammattei with 16 percent.” They also report none of the candidates will secure 50 percent of the votes or more so that 22 percent is looking really good for Torres.  

READ: Here’s How These Huaraches Are Helping Guatemala’s Mayans Fight Pollution

Mexico Tells The US There Will Be No ‘Safe Third Country’ Agreement And Here’s What That Means For Migrants

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Mexico Tells The US There Will Be No ‘Safe Third Country’ Agreement And Here’s What That Means For Migrants

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Over the summer, Trump came down hard on Mexico and other Central American nations in an effort to make his base happy by reducing migration to the US. He threatened to slap tariffs on billions of dollars worth of Mexican goods bound for the US unless Mexico did more to stem the flow of migrants making their way to the US border.

Mexico agreed and implemented several of their own inhumane policies targeting migrants and deployed a new national guard force to its southern border with Guatemala. Now, as apprehensions at the US-Mexico border have dropped, the US is still pushing for a ‘safe third country’ agreement with Mexico. And Mexico is saying no thank you!

Mexico’s Foreign Minister rejected calls for a ‘safe third country’ deal because other policies are already working.

Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said that Mexico doesn’t need to take any new measures to reduce the number of undocumented migrants bound for the U.S. because the current strategy is proving successful.

Ebrard said Mexico’s efforts have reduced undocumented migration from Central America by 70% and that he expects the trend to be irreversible. Ebrard said he also told Trump that a Safe Third Country agreement, which would make refugees apply for asylum in Mexico before the U.S. and has been sought by acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, doesn’t have support from Mexico’s Senate nor president.

The Foreign Minister led a Mexican delegation on Tuesday for meetings at the White House that included a brief conversation with President Donald Trump. Ebrard said that he explained the importance of the steps Mexico has taken since June, including the deployment of the National Guard, and also expressed concern about guns flowing south from the U.S.

Even Trump himself had praise for the ‘progress’ being made by Mexico.

Trump took to Twitter to tout the major decline in apprehensions at the Southern Border. Of course, in typical Trump fashion, he claimed credit for the decrease. Trump had threatened to slap tariffs on Mexican goods bound for the US back in June, unless Mexico played a more active role in preventing migrants from reaching the US border.

Since then, Mexico has bolstered its immigration enforcement, deploying newly formed National Guards units and other officials to its southern border with Guatemala. The government there has also worked with U.S. officials as the Trump administration expands the controversial “Remain in Mexico” program

A ‘safe third country’ agreement, like the ones agreed to by Guatemala and Honduras would put migrant’s lives at an even greater risk.

Although the two countries don’t have a safe third country agreement in place, Trump’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy is effectively the same thing.

A statement from Pence’s office after Tuesday’s meeting said the nations agreed to implement “to the fullest extent possible” the Migrant Protection Protocols, also known as “Remain in Mexico.” More than 42,000 non-Mexican migrants have been sent to Mexico to wait weeks or months for their U.S. legal processes since the program began in January, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Human rights advocates say this makes them vulnerable to the violence that plagues many of the cities on Mexico’s northern border.

And, meanwhile, the US court system has allowed the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy to resume for migrants who cross into New Mexico and Texas.

The Ninth Circuit court has temporarily lifted a nationwide injunction against President Donald Trump’s effort to deny asylum to immigrants who enter the U.S. after passing through another country.

The ruling basically lifted the injunction that was put in place blocking Trump’s expansion of the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy. Now, with this ruling, Trump can expand his policy to the border states outside the Ninth Circuit’s jurisdiction – New Mexico and Texas.

One of the central arguments against safe third country agreements, is that it creates extra pressures on governments already struggling to help refugees.

Many experts say that Guatemala and Mexico lack the resources to handle so many asylum claims and point to State Department warnings that asylum seekers are at risk of violence in both countries. Many also say that such agreements don’t address the root causes that push people to flee and may just encourage them to find different routes to the United States.

Crimes against migrants largely go unsolved and unpunished.

The State Department’s own advisory for Tamaulipas (a state where migrants are returned to under the ‘Remain in Mexico policy) warns against all travel here. “Federal and state security forces have limited capability to respond to violence in many parts of the state,” it says.

“For us, for everyone, it’s very dangerous,” agreed Pastor Aarón Méndez Ruiz, who runs the Casa del Migrante Amar, a shelter in Nuevo Laredo.

Migrants have long been frequent targets of crime here. The risks are high enough that rather than let Mexican deportees walk from the border bridge to the state migrant reception center nearby, officials transport them in vans.

Criminals were making such easy prey of migrants coming and going from one migrant shelter that the federal police posted a permanent, round-the-clock sentry across the street.

Here Are The Businesses Supporting A Trump 2020 Reelection

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Here Are The Businesses Supporting A Trump 2020 Reelection

Here in America, capitalism gives us all the opportunity to vote with our dollars. That means individuals can make an impact on seemingly untouchable issues, like animal testing (buy cruelty-free), funding immigrant detention camps (stop buying Microsoft), gay rights (adiós Chik-Fil-A), and another four years of Trump in power. If the connections between these issues and their consequent direct action seem random, por favor, read on.

Whether we’re aware of it or not, we’re constantly voting with our dollars. For example, folks who signed up for SoulCycle classes and Equinox memberships didn’t understand the significance of how the companies’ owner would spend his profits. Stephen M. Ross, the billionaire owner of Equinox and SoulCycle hosted a major fundraiser for Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign at his mansion in the Hamptons. Spokespersons for these wealthy Trump supporters will tell you that the company profits itself are not used to fund politicians. While the corporation itself will not make contributions to Trump 2020 in the company’s name, the company does issue the largest paychecks to its CEOs. Board members and owners of these companies would not attain the power and wealth to influence campaign elections without every single individual’s choice to funnel their dollars through their companies.

Individuals can do whatever they want their money. Ross can donate to Trump 2020. But you don’t have to direct your hard-earned money towards someone who will create a society you don’t want to live in. If you don’t want Trump 2020 to happen, boycott these companies:

1. Estée Lauder (& its subsidiaries)

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Estée Lauder’s board member Ronald Lauder donated $100,000 to the Trump Victory committee in 2017. Estée Lauder also owns Aveda, Origins, Bobbi Brown, Jo Malone London, M.A.C. Cosmetics, Smashbox, and other subsidiaries. Boycotting Estée Lauder and its subsidiaries is a win for animals, too! The company continues to sell its products in China where they are legally required to subject rabbits and other small animals to painful chemical tests.

2. The Home Depot

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Bernie Marcus and Ken Langone co-founded The Home Depot and have collectively donated over $7 million to PACs seeking Trump’s reelection. Another $100k went directly to Trump’s inaugural committee straight from the founders’ pockets. We also can’t shop at Hobby Lobby anymore because its CEO David Green actually urged Americans to support Donald Trump.

3. CVS Pharmacy

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The Boston-based drugstore chain donated in the company’s name to help get Trump reelected. CVS Health Corp. donated $35,000 to Trump’s Victory PAC and $500,000 to America First Policies, a nonprofit that promotes anti-immigration rhetoric and policies. Once word got out that an official from America First Policies’ had spewed (surprise!) racist and sexist rhetoric, CVS said they would no longer contribute to that particular group. 

4. Las Vegas Sands Group (The Venetian, The Sands, and Marina Bay Sands hotels)

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The biggest donor to Trump’s inauguration was Sheldon Adelson, owner of Las Vegas Sands, which owns The Venetian, The Sands, and Marina Bay Sands hotel resorts in Las Vegas. Adelson donated $5 million to the inaugural fund. He donated $25 million in “soft money” to Super PACS dedicated to getting Trump elected, which are immune to election finance laws that limit the max donation to $360,000.

5. Facebook, Instagram, WhatsAPP, Spotify, Lyft and Airbnb

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Besides the obvious lack of action from Facebook to prevent Russia from fear-mongering and influencing American votes, Facebook board member Peter Theil has donated $250,000 to Trump 2020 and is Trump’s 7th largest donor. Oh, and Theil’s tech company, Palintir, has a $1.5 billion contract to protect ICE’s surveillance network. 

6. Taco Bell

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We all have an opinion on Taco Bell, and apparently Taco Bell franchise owners are highly opinionated, too. Together, they donate to a TACO PAC, which donated $53,625 to Republicans this year alone. According to Food and Wine, t also donated $5,000 to Trump’s re-election bid so far.

7. Marvel Entertainment

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Former CEO and now Chairman of Marvel Entertainment, Isaac Perlmutter, is a long-time friend of Donald Trump. Perlmutter donated $360,000 to Trump’s victory committee in 2017. He wrote another $360,000 check last month that went directly to Trump 2020. That’s not even the half of it. Perlmutter donated $5 million to a Super PAC whose mission it is to re-elect Trump and his comrades.

READ: In A Seriously Awkward Announcement, Vice President Pence Went To Florida To Launch A ‘Latinos For Trump’ Coalition