The Washington Post reports this morning on a story that others wrote about a few weeks ago, saying fewer Mexicans are migrating to the U.S. as well as sending money back to Mexico. A lack of work in the U.S. is cited as the primary reason for the migration slowdown. The WaPo says 186,000 fewer Mexicans left for other countries in 2008, compared with the previous year, a 22 percent drop, according to the National Institute of Statistics and Geography. Those Mexican immigrants already in the U.S., however, seem to be sticking it out with hopes that the economy soon turns around. Interestingly, prices charged by immigrant smugglers, known as coyotes, have increased with the sputtering demand and increased difficulty of sneaking into the U.S. “The going rate for a coyote is $2,000 from Nuevo Laredo to San Antonio, and $3,500 to go all the way to Houston. Last year, the fare was $1,500 maximum to either city,” says a Catholic priest at a migrant assistance center in Nuevo Laredo.
From the Miami Herald and New York Times a series of Venezuela stories this morning. The MH leads on its site with words from Mario Vargas Llosa, in Caracas with his son, Alvaro, and others for a forum organized by conservative think tank Cedice. The Peruvian writer said Venezuela is headed toward a Cuba-style dictatorship under President Hugo Chavez. “There's still space for criticism,” but “the threat of a blackout in the area of liberties, freedom of expression and the press, has increased significantly,” he said at the Thursday forum. Also in MH, Venezuelan prosecutors said Thursday they will arraign the Guillermo Zuloaga, president of opposition television station Globovision, on charges related to alleged “irregularities” in his car dealership business. And in the NYT, a four-day marathon of “Alo Presidente” was kicked off by President Chávez to mark the show’s 10-year anniversary. “We're starting in the sunshine. We'll probably have a program in the rain. We might have an episode at midnight, in the early morning. Keep an eye out,” Chávez said from the state of Zulia Thursday. He also hyped three books on day 1 of the telecast: Social Movements in the 21st Century, Culturecide: a history of Argentine education 1966-2004, and Empire's Spider Web, a critique of US foreign policy. About 2.5 million copies of the books were distributed by the government in Caracas.
In the LA Times a piece on the passing of famous Haitian priest, Rev. Gerard Jean-Juste. Jean-Juste was born in Cavaillon, Haiti, and came to the U.S. as a young man. He founded the Haitian Refugee Center in Miami in the late 1970s. When the U.S. government began to systematically deport Haitian immigrants, he fought to ensure that they received due process for asylum consideration. Jean-Juste returned to Haiti in the early 1990s and was a prominent supporter of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, ousted in a 2004 coup. Fr. Jean-Juste was 62.
And, from the Financial Times, the paper reports that international oil companies will be invited to bid for concessions in Brazil’s enormous “pre-salt” oil fields as early as next year. The government has working on new regulations for the area because it presents enormous operational challenges. However, the chances of finding large quantities of high quality crude are much greater than in other Brazilian oil fields, says the FT. “After more than 50 years of dominance, Mexico and Venezuela are in danger of losing their positions as the continent’s most important oil exporters,” writes the paper. China and the U.S. are apparently less interested in Mexico because of its restrictive financial terms and are being put off by Venezuela after years of bruising contract renegotiations.
And just one opinion this morning. In the WaPo, an editorial argues Colombian President Alvaro Uribe ought not seek a third consecutive term. First gushing praise on President Uribe, the paper says his success “threatens to become his undoing.” And not missing their chance to take a shot at Venezuela, the WaPo writes: “The most compelling reason for his retirement…is to strengthen Colombia's democratic institutions. With its vibrant press, independent courts and active civil society, the country stands out as an alternative to the populist autocracy established in neighboring Venezuela.”