Canadian Diplomats Hit by Cuba Illness Feel ‘Abandoned’

A group of Canadian diplomats who left the embassy in Cuba after suffering unusual health symptoms say their foreign ministry has abandoned them, the Globe and Mail newspaper reported on Monday.

Canada said in April it would remove the families of staff posted to Havana, where both Canadian and U.S. diplomats have complained of dizziness, headaches and nausea.

The diplomats complained that the foreign ministry — unlike

the U.S. State Department — had said very little about the matter in public and did not appear to be making their case a priority. Getting specialized medical care has been difficult, they added.

“We did not expect to be abandoned, or more precisely, sacrificed — that’s how we’re feeling now,” the paper quoted one of them as saying.

Several of those affected believe Ottawa has said little in public because it wants to maintain friendly relations with Cuba, the Globe added.

An official at the Canadian foreign ministry did not respond  directly when asked about the diplomats’ complaints that they had been abandoned, but said the situation was very difficult.

“It is really an unprecedented type of incident, which has a lot of uncertainty. Our response to it has evolved since we first became aware of it,” said the official, adding that Ottawa had done its best to make medical care available.

The official requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

U.S. and Cuban officials met at the State Department in September to discuss the mysterious health problems. The United States has reduced embassy staffing in Cuba from more than 50 to a maximum 18.

NBC News said in September that U.S. officials believe the health problems may have been caused by sophisticated electromagnetic weapons.

The Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers (PAFSO) — the union representing rank and file diplomats — said the initial government reaction had been inadequate, in part because no one had experience of such a problem.

“Everyone is worried because if you don’t know what something is, and it’s unpredictable, nobody can say for sure that (it) isn’t going to happen again,” PAFSO president Pamela Isfeld said in a phone interview. “I totally do not blame them for being very unhappy with this.”

Adam Austen, a spokesman for Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, said she was deeply troubled by the health problems the diplomats were experiencing.

US Closes Busiest Mexico Border Crossing for Several Hours

The United States closed off northbound traffic for several hours at the busiest border crossing with Mexico to install new security barriers on Monday, a day after hundreds of Tijuana residents protested against the presence of thousands of Central American migrants.

The U.S. also closed one of two pedestrian crossings at the San Ysidro crossing in a move apparently aimed at preventing any mass rush of migrants across the border.

The installation of movable, wire-topped barriers threatens to complicate life for Mexicans using San Ysidro, where about 110,000 people enter the U.S. every day in 40,000 vehicles.

Long lines backed up in Tijuana, where many people have to cross the border to work on the U.S. side.

Such inconveniences prompted by the arrival of the migrant caravan may have played a role in Sunday’s protests, when about 400 Tijuana residents waved Mexican flags, sang the Mexican national anthem and chanted “Out! Out!” referring to the migrant caravan that arrived in the border city last week.

Tensions have built as nearly 3,000 migrants from the caravan poured into Tijuana in recent days after more than a month on the road _ and with many more months likely ahead of them while they seek asylum in the U.S. The federal government estimates the number of migrants could soon swell to 10,000.

U.S. border inspectors are processing only about 100 asylum claims a day at Tijuana’s main crossing to San Diego. Asylum seekers register their names in a tattered notebook managed by migrants themselves that had more than 3,000 names even before the caravan arrived.

Some Tijuana residents supported the migrants, but others accused the migrants of being messy, ungrateful and a danger to Tijuana. They also complained about how the caravan forced its way into Mexico, calling it an “invasion.” And they voiced worries that their taxes might be spent to care for the group.

“We don’t want them in Tijuana,” protesters shouted.

Juana Rodriguez, a housewife, said the government needs to conduct background checks on the migrants to make sure they don’t have criminal records.

A block away, fewer than a dozen Tijuana residents stood with signs of support for the migrants. Keyla Zamarron, a 38-year-old teacher, said the protesters don’t represent her way of thinking as she held a sign saying: “Childhood has no borders.”

Most of the migrants who have reached Tijuana via caravan in recent days set out more than a month ago from Honduras, a country of 9 million people. Dozens of migrants in the caravan who have been interviewed by Associated Press reporters have said they left their country after death threats.

But the journey has been hard, and many have turned around.

Alden Rivera, the Honduran ambassador in Mexico,told the AP on Saturday that 1,800 Hondurans have returned to their country since the caravan first set out on Oct. 13, and that he hopes more will make that decision. “We want them to return to Honduras,” said Rivera.

The migrants’ expected long stay in Tijuana has raised concerns about the ability of the border city of more than 1.6 million people to handle the influx.

Tijuana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum has called the migrants’ arrival an “avalanche” that the city is ill-prepared to handle, calculating that they will be in Tijuana for at least six months as they wait to file asylum claims.Gastelum has appealed to the federal government for more assistance to cope with the influx.

Tijuana officials converted a municipal gymnasium and recreational complex into a shelter to keep migrants out of public spaces. The city’s privately run shelters have a maximum capacity of 700. The municipal complex can hold up to 3,000.

At the municipal shelter, Josue Caseres, 24, expressed dismay at the protests against the caravan. “We are fleeing violence,” said the entertainer from Santa Barbara, Honduras. “How can they think we are going to come here to be violent?”

Elsewhere on Sunday, a group of 200 migrants headed north from El Salvador, determined to also find safety in numbers to reach the U.S.

Edwin Alexander Gomez, 20, told AP in San Salvador that he wants to work construction in New York, where he hears the wages are better and the city is safer.

U.S. President Donald Trump, who sought to make the caravan a campaign issue in the midterm elections, used Twitter on Sunday to voice support for the mayor of Tijuana and try to discourage the migrants from seeking entry to the U.S.

Trump wrote that like Tijuana, “the U.S. is ill-prepared for this invasion, and will not stand for it. They are causing crime and big problems in Mexico. Go home!”

He followed that tweet by writing: “Catch and Release is an obsolete term. It is now Catch and Detain. Illegal Immigrants trying to come into the U.S.A., often proudly flying the flag of their nation as they ask for U.S. Asylum, will be detained or turned away.”

Haiti Protesters Demand President’s Ouster

A national holiday meant to honor the 215th anniversary of the battle of Vertieres, a major victory for Haiti’s slaves in the war for independence against the French army, was marked by anti-corruption protests and calls for the president’s ouster Sunday. 

Thousands took to the streets in the capital, Port-au-Prince and marched all around town shouting slogans, burning tires and in some instances flying black and red flags – in defiance of the country’s official red and blue banner. The black and red flag was replaced in 1986 when Haiti’s first democratically-elected president, Jean Bertrand Aristide, took power. 

A young man in a dress shirt with a rosary wrapped around his wrist told VOA Creole, “The blue and red (flag) gave us insecurity. Under the red and blue flag we can’t go to school. Under the red and blue flag inflation is sky high. Under the red and blue flag I can’t go where I need to go because it’s not safe. The president must leave as soon as possible.”

“We’re asking for the departure of the president because he is incapable of governing so he has to go,” another protester marching downtown told VOA Creole.

“We want justice!” another chimed in. Those words are the principal theme of the PetroCaribe protest movement. Protesters are demanding transparency from the government regarding the alleged misuse of $3.8 billion. The money, due to Haiti under the PetroCaribe oil alliances signed between Venezuela and Caribbean nations starting in June 2005, had been earmarked for infrastructure and social and economic projects.

According to reports, two people died during the protest in the capital and several others were injured after gunmen in unmarked cars fired into the crowd. Several protesters alleged in interviews with VOA Creole that policemen had been behind the wheel. But Michel Ange Gedeon, general director of Haiti’s national police force (PNH) denied that. He said police had done their utmost to control their use of force against protesters and had investigated the circumstances of the two confirmed deaths finding police were not involved.

Protests were smaller in other major cities such as Jacmel, Gonaives, St. Marc, Jeremie and Cape Haitien, but the anger expressed was similar.

“We’re in the street today because November 18 is a symbolic day. It was a decisive day for our ancestors – with the help of the gods – where they succeeded in uprooting the French forces. But today the same situation exists because even though we’re not enslaved – per se – our rights are being violated – so we’re in the streets asking to end this system… I’m talking about the kind of slavery that is political, economic and even social,” a protester in Gonaives told VOA Creole.

President Jovenel Moise began the day with the first lady and members of his cabinet at an official ceremony commemorating the armed forces, and laying a wreath at a monument on the historic battle’s anniversary. Traditionally, heads of state have traveled to the city of Vertieres in the north, where the battle occurred to lead official ceremonies there as well. Moise did not do that. Instead, he addressed the nation and called on citizens to work together to resolve the country’s problems.

“My brothers and sisters, the time for fighting is over. Today, it’s time to cooperate. Meaning it’s time to put our heads together, to cooperate to break the cycle of blackouts, of poverty which has caused some of you to forget who you really are. It’s time to cooperate to make a better nation we can be proud of for our children and our grandchildren,” he said. “We won’t forget our past. We understand clearly where we are, we will not forget.”

The plea seems to have fallen on deaf ears – more anti-corruption protests are planned for Monday.

Yves Manuel in Port-au-Prince, Wilner Cherubin in Jacmel, Yvan Martin Jasmin in Cape Haitian, Exalus Mergenat in Gonaives and Makenson Charles in Jeremie contributed to this report.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Migrant Caravan Triggers Protests in Tijuana, Mexico

Hundreds of Tijuana residents congregated around a monument in an affluent section of the city south of California on Sunday to protest the thousands of Central American migrants who have arrived via caravan in hopes of a new life in the U.S.

Tensions have built as nearly 3,000 migrants from the caravan poured into Tijuana in recent days after more than a month on the road, and with many more months ahead of them while they seek asylum. The federal government estimates the number of migrants could soon swell to 10,000.

U.S. border inspectors are processing only about 100 asylum claims a day at Tijuana’s main crossing to San Diego. Asylum seekers register their names in a tattered notebook managed by migrants themselves that had more than 3,000 names even before the caravan arrived.

On Sunday, displeased Tijuana residents waved Mexican flags, sang the Mexican national anthem and chanted “Out! Out!” in front of a statue of the Aztec ruler Cuauhtemoc, 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) from the U.S. border. They accused the migrants of being messy, ungrateful and a danger to Tijuana. They also complained about how the caravan forced its way into Mexico, calling it an “invasion.” And they voiced worries that their taxes might be spent to care for the group.

“We don’t want them in Tijuana,” protesters shouted.   

Juana Rodriguez, a housewife, said the government needs to conduct background checks on the migrants to make sure they don’t have criminal records.

A woman who gave her name as Paloma lambasted the migrants, who she said came to Mexico in search of handouts. “Let their government take care of them,” she told video reporters covering the protest.

A block away, fewer than a dozen Tijuana residents stood with signs of support for the migrants. Keila Samarron, a 38-year-old teacher, said the protesters don’t represent her way of thinking as she held a sign saying: Childhood has no borders.  

Most of the migrants who have reached Tijuana via caravan in recent days set out more than a month ago from Honduras, a country of 9 million people. Dozens of migrants in the caravan who have been interviewed by Associated Press reporters have said they left their country after death threats.

 

But the journey has been hard, and many have turned around.

 

Alden Rivera, the Honduran ambassador in Mexico, told the AP on Saturday that 1,800 Hondurans have returned to their country since the caravan first set out on Oct. 13, and that he hopes more will make that decision. “We want them to return to Honduras,” said Rivera.

Honduras has a murder rate of 43 per 100,000 residents, similar to U.S. cities like New Orleans and Detroit. In addition to violence, migrants in the caravan have mentioned poor economic prospects as a motivator for their departures. Per capita income hovers around $120 a month in Honduras, where the World Bank says two out of three people live in poverty.

 

The migrants’ expected long stay in Tijuana has raised concerns about the ability of the border city of more than 1.6 million people to handle the influx.

 

While many in Tijuana are sympathetic to the migrants’ plight and trying to assist, some locals have shouted insults, hurled rocks and even thrown punches at them. The cold reception contrasts sharply with the warmth that accompanied the migrants in southern Mexico, where residents of small towns greeted them with hot food, campsites and even live music.

 

Tijuana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum has called the migrants’ arrival an “avalanche” that the city is ill-prepared to handle, calculating that they will be in Tijuana for at least six months as they wait to file asylum claims. Gastelum has appealed to the federal government for more assistance to cope with the influx.

 

Mexico’s Interior Ministry said Saturday that the federal government was flying in food and blankets for the migrants in Tijuana.

 

Tijuana officials converted a municipal gymnasium and recreational complex into a shelter to keep migrants out of public spaces. The city’s privately run shelters have a maximum capacity of 700. The municipal complex can hold up to 3,000.

 

At the municipal shelter, Josue Caseres, 24, expressed dismay at the protests against the caravan. “We are fleeing violence,” said the entertainer from Santa Barbara, Honduras. “How can they think we are going to come here to be violent?”  

 

Some from the caravan have diverted to other border cities, such as Mexicali, a few hours to the east of Tijuana.

 

U.S. President Donald Trump, who sought to make the caravan a campaign issue in the midterm elections, used Twitter on Sunday to voice support for the mayor of Tijuana and try to discourage the migrants from seeking entry to the U.S.

Trump wrote that like Tijuana, “the U.S. is ill-prepared for this invasion, and will not stand for it. They are causing crime and big problems in Mexico. Go home!”

He followed that tweet by writing: “Catch and Release is an obsolete term. It is now Catch and Detain. Illegal Immigrants trying to come into the U.S.A., often proudly flying the flag of their nation as they ask for U.S. Asylum, will be detained or turned away.”

 

 

Peru: Ex-President Has Sought Asylum in Uruguay

Former Peruvian President Alan Garcia has sought asylum in Uruguay’s diplomatic mission hours after a judge retained his passport as part of a corruption probe, Peru’s Foreign Ministry announced Sunday.

 

The ministry said it was informed by Uruguay’s ambassador that Garcia entered his residence Saturday night seeking protection. It vowed to provide unspecified information to Uruguay as it evaluates Garcia’s request.

Late Saturday, a judge in Lima granted prosecutors’ request that Garcia be banned from leaving Peru for 18 months as investigators probe allegations he received illegal payment from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht.

Odebrecht is at the center of Latin America’s biggest corruption scandal after admitting in a 2016 plea agreement with the U.S. Justice Department that it paid corrupt officials across Latin America nearly $800 million in exchange for major infrastructure contracts.

The scandal has led to the jailing of numerous senior politicians across the region, especially in Brazil and Peru, where former President Pedro Pablo Kucyznski was forced to resign for hiding his past work as a consultant to Odebrecht and Garcia as well as two other former presidents, Ollanta Humala and Alejandro Toledo, are under investigation for allegedly taking illegal payments.

Garcia, who splits his time between Madrid and Peru, downplayed the threat of arrest when he arrived home on Thursday.

“For me it’s not a punishment to be confined 18 months to my homeland,” he said on Twitter while denying that he had ever received money from Odebrecht.

President Martin Vizcarra, who has made tackling corruption the focus of his administration since taking over from Kuczynski, rejected Garcia’s claims the case against him was built on false testimony.

“Political persecution doesn’t exist in Peru, and all of us Peruvians must obey justice, without exceptions,” he wrote on Twitter shortly after news of Garcia’s asylum request.

Garcia is under investigation for bribes allegedly paid during the construction of Lima’s metro during his 2006-2011 government.

Garcia, 69, was a populist firebrand whose erratic first presidency in the 1980s was marked by hyperinflation, rampant corruption and the rise of the Shining Path guerrilla movement.

When he returned to power two decades later he ran a more conservative government, helping usher in a commodities-led investment boom in which Odebrecht played a major supporting role.

This is the second time Garcia has sought to flee to another country amid corruption charges. Following the end of his first government he spent nine years in exile in neighboring Colombia and then France after his successor, Alberto Fujimori, raided his house and reopened a corruption probe.

 

Migrants Get Cool Reception in Mexican Border Town

Many of the nearly 3,000 Central American migrants who have reached the Mexican border with California via caravan said Saturday that they didn’t feel welcome in Tijuana, where hundreds more migrants were headed after more than a month on the road. 

The vast majority were camped at an outdoor sports complex, sleeping on a dirt baseball field and under bleachers with a view of the steel walls topped by barbed wire at the newly reinforced U.S.-Mexico border. The city opened the complex after other shelters were filled. Church groups provided portable showers, bathrooms and sinks. The federal government estimated the migrant crowd in Tijuana could swell to 10,000. 

Tijuana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum has called the migrants’ arrival an “avalanche” that the city is ill-prepared to handle, calculating that they will be in Tijuana for at least six months as they wait to file asylum claims. U.S. border inspectors are processing only about 100 asylum claims a day at Tijuana’s main crossing to San Diego. Asylum-seekers register their names in a tattered notebook managed by migrants themselves that had more than 3,000 names even before the caravan arrived. 

While many in Tijuana are sympathetic to the migrants’ plight and are trying to assist, some locals have shouted insults, hurled rocks and even thrown punches at the migrants. 

It’s a stark contrast to the many Mexican communities that welcomed the caravan with signs, music and donations of clothing after it entered Mexico nearly a month ago. Countless residents of rural areas pressed fruit and bags of water into the migrants’ hands as they passed through southern Mexico, wishing them safe journeys. 

Alden Rivera, the Honduran ambassador in Mexico, visited the outdoor sports complex Saturday. Rivera expects the migrants will need to be sheltered for eight months or more, and said he was working with Mexico to get more funds to feed and care for them. He expects the migrant numbers in Tijuana to reach 3,400 over the weekend, with another 1,200 migrants having made it to Mexicali, another border city a few hours east of Tijuana. An additional 1,500 migrants plan to reach the U.S. border region next week. 

Rivera said 1,800 Hondurans have returned to their country since the caravan first set out on Oct. 13, and that he hoped more would make that decision. 

“We want them to return to Honduras,” Rivera said, adding that each migrant must weigh whether to go home, appeal for asylum in Mexico or wait in line to apply for asylum in the U.S. 

The Mexican Interior Ministry said Friday that 2,697 Central American migrants had requested asylum in Mexico under a program that the country launched on Oct. 26 to more quickly get them credentials needed to live, work and study in southern Mexico. 

Ivis Munoz, 26, has considered returning to Honduras. The coffee farmer called his father in Atima, Honduras, on Saturday to consult on his next move a few days after being attacked on a beach by locals in Tijuana. His father told him to stick it out. 

Munoz has a bullet in his leg. A gang member shot him a year ago in Honduras and threatened to kill him if he saw him again. Munoz said he found out later his girlfriend had been cheating on him with the gang member. 

He’s afraid to go home but feels unwelcome in Tijuana. 

Munoz was asleep on a beach in Tijuana with about two dozen other migrants when rocks came raining down on them around 2 a.m. Wednesday. He heard a man shout in the darkness: “We don’t want you here! Go back to your country!”  

Munoz and the others got up and ran for cover, heading toward residential streets nearby. As the sun rose, they hitched a ride on a passing truck to Tijuana’s downtown. Now he is staying at the sports complex. 

“I don’t know what to do,” said Munoz. He fears the U.S. won’t grant him asylum, and that he’ll get deported if he tries to cross into the country without authorization. 

Carlos Padilla, 57, a migrant from Progreso, Honduras, said a Tijuana resident shouted “migrants are pigs” as he passed on the street recently. He did not respond.  

“We didn’t come here to cause problems, we came here with love and with the intention to ask for asylum,” Padilla said. “But they treat us like animals here.” 

Padilla said he would most likely return to Honduras if the U.S. rejected his asylum request. 

The migrants’ expected long stay in Tijuana has raised concerns about the ability of the border city of more than 1.6 million to handle the influx. 

Tijuana officials said they converted the municipal gymnasium and recreational complex into a shelter to keep migrants out of public spaces. The city’s privately run shelters have a maximum capacity of 700. The municipal complex can hold up to 3,000; as of Friday night, there were 2,397 migrants there. 

Some business owners near the shelter complained Saturday of migrants panhandling and stealing. 

Francisco Lopez, 50, owns a furniture store nearby. He said a group of migrants took food from a small grocery a few doors down, and he worries that crime in the area will rise the longer the migrants stay at the shelter. 

Other neighbors expressed empathy. 

“These poor people have left their country and they’re in an unfamiliar place,” said Maria de Jesus Izarraga, 68, who lives two blocks from complex. 

As Izarraga spoke from her home’s front door, a man interrupted to ask for money to buy a plate of beans. He said he came with the caravan and had blisters on his feet. She gave him some pesos, and continued speaking: “I hope this all works out in the best possible way.” 

Outside the complex, lines of migrants snaked along the street to receive donations of clothes and coolers full of bottled water being dropped off by charity groups and others looking to help the migrants. 

Felipe Garza, 55, acknowledged that many in his hometown don’t want to help as he and other volunteers from his church handed migrants coffee and rolls at the impromptu municipal shelter. “It’s uncomfortable to receive such a big multitude of people, but it’s a reality that we have to deal with,” he said. 

Garza surmised that if the Central Americans behave, Tijuana will embrace them just as it did thousands of Haitians in 2016. Those Haitians have since opened restaurants and hair salons and enrolled in local universities. 

Police officer Victor Coronel agreed but wondered how much more the city can take. “The only thing we can do is hope that President [Donald] Trump opens his heart a little,” said Coronel. 

Trump, who sought to make the caravan a campaign issue in last week’s elections, took to Twitter on Friday to aim new criticism at the migrants. 

“Isn’t it ironic that large Caravans of people are marching to our border wanting U.S.A. asylum because they are fearful of being in their country — yet they are proudly waving … their country’s flag. Can this be possible? Yes, because it is all a BIG CON, and the American taxpayer is paying for it,” Trump said in a pair of tweets. 

Trump Defends Deployment of US Troops Sent to Southern Border

U.S. President Donald Trump again defended sending U.S. troops to the southern border with Mexico, questioning the migrants’ motives for making the perilous journey, citing a strong U.S. economy.

Speaking with reporters at the White House House Saturday morning before departing for California to tour the devastation from wildfires burning in the state, the president said, “Yeah, we have a tremendous military force in the south, on the border, on the southern border. We have large numbers of people trying to get into our country. I must say the reason it’s increased so much is because we’re doing so well as opposed to the rest of the world. And if you look at south of our border, it’s not doing so well.

“But regardless, we have millions of people on line to get into our country legally, and those people have preference. They have to have preference. They’ve been waiting for a long time, they’ve done it legally.”

 

Trump continued, “They’re coming up and they’re talking about, oh, their great fear, oh, their problems with their country, but they’re all waving their country’s flag. What is that all about? If they have such fear and such problems and they hate their country, why do we see all the flags being waved for Guatemala, for Honduras, for El Salvador? We’re seeing flags all over the place. Why are they waving flags? This has nothing to do with asylum, this has to do with getting into our country illegally. And we have to know who wants to come into our country.”

The number of U.S. troops on the border with Mexico has reached its upper limit, top Pentagon officials said earlier this week.  

More than 5,800 active duty and 2,100 National Guard troops are currently deployed to help U.S. Customs and Border Protection strengthen barriers, build housing, operate aircraft and other activities intended to help the U.S. Border Patrol.  Earlier this week, President Trump said the force might be larger.   

“We’re pretty much peaked in terms of the number of people that are down there,” Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan told reporters at the Pentagon.

The troops were sent to the U.S. southern border at the request of the Department of Homeland Security. Shanahan said the troops may stay through Dec. 15. The military is legally prohibited from domestic law enforcement, such as arresting migrants crossing the border. 

 

In the meantime, several hundred Central American migrants arrived midweek in the Mexican border city of Tijuana after a month of traveling away from poverty and violence at home, in hopes of entering the United States.

About 800 migrants are now in Tijuana. Many said they would stay there and wait for the rest of their caravan to arrive and for leaders to advise them of their options for seeking asylum in the United States.Some of the early arrivals went to the border fence to celebrate.

The migrants in Tijuana got a generally warm greeting from locals, but some were met with hostility from an upper middle-class beach neighborhood.

Residents shouted, “You’re not welcome!” and “Get out!” to a group of about 100 Central Americans. Police kept the two sides apart. One protester said the hostility had nothing to do with race, but with safety.

A Tijuana city official said the city is not prepared for such a large number of arrivals. Most migrant shelters are already full. The official said she hopes the Mexican federal government will offer the migrants asylum and jobs.

The bulk of the migrant caravan of about 4,000 people, mostly Honduras, is making its way through the state of Sonora and is expected to arrive soon in Tijuana.

The San Ysidro port linking Tijuana to the U.S. city of San Diego, is the busiest crossing on the border. But it only processes about 100 asylum claims per day, meaning those in the caravan who seek that route face a long wait.

Trump has sharply criticized the caravans, casting them as a “national emergency.”He signed a proclamation last week declaring migrants who enter the country illegally ineligible for asylum.That goes against federal laws stating anyone is eligible for asylum, no matter how he or she entered the country.

The American Civil Liberties Union and other groups quickly filed a legal challenge and sought an injunction against the new rules while the case makes its way through the courts.A federal judge has set a hearing on the injunction for Nov. 19.

In addition to the caravan at or nearing the border, two others have made their way to Mexico City with more than 2,000 people.

Mexico said last week it had issued about 2,700 temporary visas to individuals and families, allowing them to work while their refugee applications proceed.

VOA Pentagon Correspondent Carla Babb contributed to this story.

Argentina: Submarine Missing a Year Found Deep in Atlantic

Argentina’s navy announced early Saturday that searchers found the missing submarine ARA San Juan deep in the Atlantic a year after it disappeared with 44 crewmen aboard.

The vessel was detected 800 meters (2,625 feet) deep in waters off the Valdes Peninsula in Argentine Patagonia, the statement said.

The navy said a “positive identification” had been made by a remote-operated submersible from the American ship Ocean Infinity, which was hired for the latest search for the missing vessel.

The discovery was announced just two days after families of the missing sailors held a commemoration one year after the sub disappeared, Nov. 15, 2017.

​Commitment to find the truth

On Thursday, on the anniversary of the disappearance, President Mauricio Macri said the families of the submariners should not feel alone and delivered an “absolute and non-negotiable commitment” to find “the truth.”

Macri promised a full investigation after the submarine was lost. Federal police raided naval bases and other buildings last January as part of the probe, soon after the government dismissed the head of the navy.

The San Juan was returning to its base in the coastal city of Mar del Plata when contact was lost.

Argentina gave up hope of finding survivors after an intense search aided by 18 countries, but the navy has continued searching for the vessel.

Retrofitted submarine

The German-built diesel-electric TR-1700 class submarine was commissioned in the mid-1980s and was most recently refitted between 2008 and 2014. During the $12 million retrofitting, the vessel was cut in half and its engines and batteries were replaced. Experts said refits can be difficult because they involve integrating systems produced by different manufacturers, and even the tiniest mistake during the cutting phase can put the safety of the ship and crew at risk.

The navy said previously the captain reported Nov. 15 that water entered the snorkel and caused one of the sub’s batteries to short-circuit. The captain later communicated that it had been contained.

Some hours later, an explosion was detected near the time and place where the San Juan was last heard from. The navy said the blast could have been caused by a “concentration of hydrogen” triggered by the battery problem reported by the captain.

Canada’s Trudeau Uses Trump Card to Attack Main Political Rival

Donald Trump is so unpopular in Canada that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is using the spectre of the U.S. president to attack his conservative rival ahead of a national election set for next year.

Trudeau, whose ruling Liberals have a 12-seat majority in the 338-seat parliament, calls Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer a climate change “ideologue” who stokes “fear and division” on immigration.

Only 25 percent of Canadians have confidence in Trump, a fraction of the 83 percent garnered by former President Barack Obama two years ago, according to a Pew Research Center survey published last month.

Trudeau and Trump have traded barbs. The U.S. president tweeted in June that the Canadian leader was “very dishonest and weak” and later threatened to impose tariffs on Canadian-made cars that he said would be the “ruination” of Canada’s economy.

Liberals gain ground

The Conservatives led in the polls in March, but the Liberals drew ahead in July after Trudeau’s spat with Trump and now hold a one-point lead in the latest survey by Ipsos Public Affairs.

“It’s political manna from heaven (for Trudeau) to have a fight with Donald Trump,” said a source familiar with the thinking of the Conservative leadership. Party officials are concerned that comparisons with Trump could turn off supporters, the source said.

Scheer, still relatively unknown to voters after taking over as party leader last year, is choosing his words carefully on issues like climate change and immigration, while Trudeau is attacking his rival’s position on the environment as being tantamount to Trump’s.

The U.S. government announced last year that it intended to formally withdraw from the 2015 Paris climate accord. Canada, a major oil and gas producer, remains committed to the agreement.

Trudeau, 46, portrays Scheer as someone — like Trump — who denies climate change is man-made. Polls show Canadians overwhelmingly agree climate change is real and must be tackled.

Trudeau plans to tax carbon emissions, a measure which Scheer opposes on the grounds it will force “suburban moms and dads” to spend a lot more money on gas.

Speaking in Ottawa’s National Gallery in front of a wall-sized picture of an old-growth forest on Oct. 29, Trudeau said Scheer’s criticism shows the Conservatives want to “make pollution free again.”

Scheer doesn’t deny climate change

The phrase mimicking Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan has since been repeatedly used by Liberal ministers and legislators.

Scheer, 39, does not deny climate change and has said he will present his own strategy to combat carbon emissions without raising taxes by the time Canadians are due to vote on Oct. 21, 2019.

While the Conservative source said the attempts to link Scheer to Trump were calculated, an official close to Trudeau declined to comment.

The official said Trudeau’s characterization of Scheer’s position on climate change is “very factual.”

Pressure on immigration

Ipsos pollster Darrell Bricker said the Liberal strategy to paint Scheer as a northern Trump could work in the ruling party’s favor given Canadians’ “very poor view” of the U.S. leader.

Scheer is also under Liberal pressure on immigration.

In July, the Conservative Party withdrew an ad that had been posted on its Twitter feed showing a black asylum seeker entering Canada through a broken fence while walking over the text of a 2017 Trudeau tweet that read: “Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength.”

The ad alleged that Trudeau’s tweet lured thousands of people into Canada from the United States to file refugee claims. Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said the Conservatives were “peddling false information to stoke fear.”

Bannon appearance draw protests

Canadians’ view of Trump, who has adopted hard-line policies on immigration, was highlighted earlier this month when the mere presence of former Trump strategist Steve Bannon at a Toronto debate drew hundreds of protesters, resulting in 12 arrests.

The protesters “were calling the audience fascists and taking their pictures and threatening to put them online,” Bannon said in an interview. “It was a tough audience. They hated Trump.”

Migrants Streaming Into Tijuana, but now Face Long Stay

About 2,000 Central American migrants had already reached the Mexican border city of Tijuana and another 1,200 from a second caravan set out from Mexico City toward the border Friday.

With shelters already full, authorities in Tijuana opened a gymnasium and gated sport complex for up to 1,000 migrants, with a potential to expand to 3,000.

But at least that many migrants were still on the road or trickling into the city aboard buses, and a third caravan was still waiting in Mexico City. Tijuana faced a potential influx of as many as 10,000 in all. The city’s privately run shelters are meant to have a capacity of 700.

With U.S. border inspectors processing only about 100 asylum claims a day at the main border crossing with San Diego, prospects grew that migrants would be stuck waiting in Tijuana for months. Concerns continued about what the Central Americans will do, or how they will support themselves in the meantime.

On Thursday, migrants napped on mattresses at the gymnasium in Tijuana while men played soccer and exchanged banter on a crowded, adjoining courtyard. A woman dabbed her crying, naked toddler with a moist cloth.

Francisco Rueda, the top deputy to Baja California state Gov. Francisco Vega de la Madrid, said “This is not a crisis,” but agreed that “this is an extraordinary situation.”

Rueda said the state has 7,000 jobs available for its “Central American migrant brothers” who obtain legal residence status in Mexico.

“Today in Baja California there is an employment opportunity for those who request it, but it order for this to happen, it has to regulate migrant status,” he said.

The thriving factories in the city of 1.6 million are always looking for workers, and several thousand Haitian migrants who were turned away at the U.S. border have found jobs and settled in Tijuana the last two years.

Police made their presence known in a city that is suffering an all-time-high homicide rate. A group of about 50 migrants, mostly women and children, walked through downtown streets Thursday from the city shelter to a breakfast hall under police escort.

As buses from western and central Mexico trickled in, some families camped inside the bus terminal and waited for word on where they could find a safe place to sleep.

Oscar Zapata, 31, reached the Tijuana bus station at 2 a.m. Thursday from Guadalajara with his wife and their three children, ages 4, 5 and 12, and headed to the breakfast hall, where migrants were served free beef and potatoes.

Back home in La Ceiba, Honduras, he sold pirated CDs and DVDs in the street and two gangs demanding “protection” money threatened to kidnap his daughter and force her into prostitution if he didn’t pay. When he heard about the caravan on the TV news last month, he didn’t think twice.

“It was the opportunity to get out,” Zapata said.

Zapata said he hopes to join a brother in Los Angeles but has not yet decided on his next move. Like many others, he plans to wait in Tijuana for others in the caravan to arrive and gather more information before seeking asylum in the United States.

Byron Jose Blandino, a 27-year-old bricklayer from Nicaragua who slept in the converted gymnasium, said he wanted to request asylum but not until he could speak with someone well-versed in U.S. law and asylum procedures.

“The first thing is to wait,” Blandino said. “I do not want to break the laws of any country. If I could enter in a peaceful manner, that would be good.

To claim asylum in San Diego, migrants enter their names in a tattered notebook held together by duct tape and managed by the migrants in a plaza outside the entry to the main border crossing. On Thursday, migrants who registered six weeks ago were getting their names called. The waiting list has grown to more than 3,000 names and stands to become much longer with the new arrivals.

Dozens of gay and transgender migrants in the caravan were already lining up Thursday to submit asylum claims, though it was unclear how soon they would be able to do so.

Rueda, the governor’s deputy, said that if all migrants from the caravan currently in Tijuana were to register to seek asylum in the U.S., they would likely have to wait four months at current processing rates. For that reason, the state has asked Mexican federal authorities to encourage people in other caravans to go to other border cities.

The caravan has fragmented somewhat in recent days in a final push to the border, with some migrants moving rapidly in buses and others falling behind.

On Thursday, hundreds were stranded for most of the day at a gas station in Navojoa, some 750 miles (1,200 kilometers) from Tijuana.

“We were dropped here at midnight … in the middle of nowhere, where supposedly some buses were going to come pick us up, but nothing,” Alejandra Grisel Rodriguez of Honduras told The Associated Press by phone. “We are without water, without food.”

After about 12 hours, seven buses began arriving to collect the migrants, Rodriguez said, but they quickly filled up.

“We would need at least 40 or 50,” she said.