On June 18 the European Union (EU) Parliament passed guidelines that would allow member countries to hold immigrants in special detention centers for up to 18 months before being deported. The guidelines are meant to standardize the way EU members treat undocumented immigrants; currently France limits detention to 32 days, while seven countries, including the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, allow indefinite detention.
Bolivian president Evo Morales met with European ambassadors in La Paz to discuss the issue and propose alternatives. He told foreign correspondents that his government would lead a campaign against the new guidelines, and that he would bring the campaign up at a meeting of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) at Tucuman, Argentina, at the end of June. Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez went further, saying on June 19: “Our oil shouldn’t go to those countries” that adopt the guidelines. Venezuela is a minor supplier of oil to Europe, but some European companies, including France’s Total and Norway’s Statoil, operate in Venezuela. He warned that European companies could come under scrutiny if their countries locked up South Americans. “We aren’t going to take anyone prisoner, but the company would have to take its investments back there,” he said. (San Francisco Chronicle, June 19 from AP; Prensa Latina, June 21)
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, June 22