Planet Watch
refugee camp

Number forcibly displaced worldwide 110 million: UN

The United Nations released the Global Trend Report 2022, on refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced and stateless people worldwide. It finds that the number of forcibly displaced people stands at 108.4 million, with 29.4 million falling under the protection of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Both figures are at an historic high. The increase in forcible displacement within a single year is also the largest since UNHCR started tracking these statistics in 1975. In light of the continuing significant increase, the report says forcible displacement likely exceeds 110 million as of May 2023. (Photo: Afghan refugee camp in Shinkiari, Pakistan, via Pixabay)

North America
border wall

As Title 42 ends, US troops to Mexican border

President Joe Biden is deploying 1,500 soldiers to the US-Mexico border ahead of the end of a pandemic-era entry restriction known as Title 42. The soldiers are to perform administrative tasks, but critics say the move sends the message that migration is a threat. Tens of thousands of asylum seekers and migrants currently stranded in dire living conditions in northern Mexican border cities by US policies are growing increasingly desperate and frustrated. More than 15,000 people–mostly from Venezuela–crossed the border in the vicinity of Brownsville late last month, overwhelming shelter capacity. And in El Paso, nearly 2,000 people who recently crossed the border are sleeping on sidewalks in the city center. The Biden administration has introduced a number of policies aimed at extending asylum restrictions at the border, having reached a deal with Mexico that for the first time allows the US to deport non-Mexicans who enter the country irregularly back across the border. (Photo: Savitri Arvey, The Conversation)

New York City
lower-east-side

New York City mayor: ‘no room’ for migrants

New York Mayor Eric Adams traveled to the US-Mexico border and declared that “there is no room” for migrants in his city. At a press conference with El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser, Adams called on the US government to help cities manage unprecedented levels of immigration, and claimed that the influx of migrants could cost New York City up to $2 billion. “The federal government should pick up the entire cost,” Adams said. “[W]e need a real leadership moment from FEMA. This is a national crisis.” He also criticized the governors of Texas and Colorado for contributing to a “humanitarian crisis that was created by man,” citing busloads of migrants sent to New York and other northern cities. But New York City comptroller Brad Lander dissented from Adams’ Texas trip, stating that it “reinforces a harmful narrative that new migrants themselves are a problem.” (Photo via TripAdvisor)

North America
border wall

Biden admin to expand Title 42 expulsions

President Joe Biden announced that the US is to extend a parole program previously offered only to migrants from Venezuela to those from Cuba, Nicaragua and Haiti, allowing them to apply for residency—but reiterated that his administration will continue to enforce Title 42, in compliance with a recent order from the Supreme Court. In fact, under his new policy, Title 42 expulsions are to increase, with Mexico agreeing to accept expelled Cubans, Nicaraguans and Haitians. A provision of the Public Health Service Act allowing for summary expulsion of migrants at the southern border, Title 42 is in effect pursuant to a Centers for Disease Control order of March 2020 as a COVID-19 emergency measure. The policy shifts as litigation over Title 42 has been batted back and forth in the US courts has led to confusion in cities on both sides of the border. Squalid encampments have sprung up in Matamoros, Reynosa and other Mexican border towns as migrants await entry to the US. (Photo via FWS)

The Andes
venezuela

Venezuela: oil sanctions eased, Chevron pleased

Negotiations barely got started in Mexico between representatives of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and his political opposition before the United States announced the loosening of oil sanctions imposed on the regime. The move, allowing Chevron to begin pumping oil again, comes amid global energy shortages following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Chevron is also to take operational control of the Petropiar refinery near Barcelona in northeast Venezuela. But profits are to go to Venezuela’s creditors in the US, not the state oil company, PDVSA. Social programs funded through PDVSA have been a cornerstone of Maduro’s support. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library)

The Amazon
Trujillo Arana

Indigenous leader slain in Venezuelan Amazon

A Venezuelan indigenous leader who fought against incursions by Colombian armed groups and outlaw gold miners into the country’s southern rainforest was shot dead in Puerto Ayacucho municipality, capital of Amazonas state. Virgilio Trujillo Arana, a member of the Uwottujja people, was the leading force in creation of the Sipapo Territorial Guards in Autana municipality, Amazonas. The Territorial Guard patrols were launched with support from the Amazonas Indigenous Peoples’ Regional Organization (ORPIA). (Photo: SOS Orinoco)

The Andes
paramilitaries

Podcast: the forgotten war in Colombia

In Episode 128 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg provides an in-depth analysis of the under-reported multi-sided armed conflict and deepening human rights crisis in Colombia on the eve of an historic run-off election that poses two “outsider” candidates for the presidency: Gustavo Petro, an ex-guerilla and Colombia’s first leftist presidential contender, versus Rodolfo Hernández, a far-right construction magnate whose pugnacious swagger inevitably invites comparison to Donald Trump. This turning point comes as Colombia has entered a new “partnership” with NATO, in response to Venezuela’s deepening ties with Russia. Yet Colombia’s armed forces continue to collaborate with the paramilitary groups that terrorize campesino and indigenous communities. If elected, Petro will face the challenge of breaking the state-paramilitary nexus, and charting a course independent of the Great Powers. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: Contagio Radio)

The Andes
Arauca

Multi-sided warfare across Colombia

Despite a peace process that has faltered under President Ivan Duque, the internal war in Colombia continues nearly across the country—now involving multiple armed actors: remnant guerilla groups, resurgent paramilitary forces, regional cartels, and the official security forces. Thousands have been displaced in recent months, as campesino and indigenous communities are either caught in the crossfire or explicitly targeted. (Photo: INDEPAZ via Contagio Radio)

The Andes
Partnership of the Americas 2009

Colombia joins ‘new partnership’ with NATO

President Joe Biden issued an executive order designating Colombia a Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA) of the United States. The designation facilitates further weapons transfers from the US to Colombia, and increased military cooperation between the two countries. Colombia is the third MNNA in Latin America, after Brazil and Argentina. Weeks earlier, a delegation of NATO staff visited Colombia to discuss the South American country’s participation in the alliance’s Defense Education Enhancement Program (DEEP). Colombia became NATO’s newest “global partner” in 2018, but this relationship was reinforced last December, when it became a member of the NATO Individually Tailored Partnership Program (ITPP). (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The Caucasus
georgia

South Ossetia suspends referendum to join Russia

The de facto president of South Ossetia, Alan Gagloev, suspended a planned referendum to determine whether the breakaway region of Georgia should join the Russian Federation. The referendum, scheduled for July, had been ordered by decree of Gagloev’s predecessor Anatoly Bibilov, and was widely seen as a play to cement his grip on power. However, Bibilov lost his bid for reelection, bringing his rival Gagloev to the presidency. In calling off the vote, Gagloev said that the Kremlin must be consulted on “issues related to the further integration of South Ossetia and the Russian Federation.” Georgian officials had denounced any moves by South Ossetia to join Russia as “unacceptable.” (Map: PLC)

The Andes
paramilitaries

Colombia: inactive guerillas join active paras off US terror list

The US State Department announced that Colombia’s disbanded FARC guerilla army has been removed from the list of “Foreign Terrorist Organizations.” The statement acknowledged that the FARC “no longer exists as a unified organization.” In fact, the de-listing came on the fifth anniversary of the peace agreement under which the FARC agreed to demobilize. However, the right-wing paramilitary groups now active across the country are still not listed by the State Department. These paramilitary forces are overwhelmingly behind the ongoing campaign of assassinations of social leaders across Colombia.  (Photo via Contagio Radio)

Central America
Darién

Danger grows on Darién Gap migrant route

The DariĂ©n Gap, a dangerous jungle route used by a growing number of migrants trying to reach the United States from South America, has become even deadlier, according to Panama’s Forensic Sciences Institute. It reports over 50 migrant deaths to date in 2021, although the figure is believed to be far higher. Towns on the Colombian side of the border are swelling with migrants waiting to cross the Gap—mostly Haitians, Cubans and Venezuelans, but some from as far as Afghanistan and Burkina Faso. Colombian authorities say 67,000 migrants have passed through the border zone so far this year, more than 15 times the number in 2020. Former paramilitaries operating in the area are now preying on the migrants, who face rape, armed violence and extortion. (Photo: David González/TNH)