Afghan families traverse most of Latin America to seek asylum at the US border

class=”MuiTypography-root-142 MuiTypography-h1-147″>Afghan families traverse most of Latin America to seek asylum at the US border

The US government changed the rules governing how people can seek asylum at the US-Mexico border last week, as a pandemic-era policy called Title 42 expired. Although it may become more difficult, thousands of people are still making their way from South America to the US border, including migrants from all over the world. Some are making their way through the Darien Gap, a dangerous jungle that separates Colombia and Panama.

The WorldMay 17, 2023 · 2:15 PM EDT

Three families from Afghanistan prepare to board a boat in Necocli, Colombia, that will take them towards the border with Panama.

Manuel Rueda/The World

Abdul Bais hung a leather briefcase over his shoulder, as he got ready to board a speedboat in Necocli, a town near Colombia’s border with Panama. It stood out among the other migrants around him, who mostly carried worn-out backpacks.

Inside the neatly arranged briefcase, he kept diplomatic passports and letters that showed he came from Afghanistan, and had worked as a diplomat for the government that was removed by the Taliban in 2021.

Bais hoped that the documents could help him to show immigration officers in the United States that he was running away from the Taliban regime, had a credible fear of returning to his country, and could qualify for asylum.

Abdul Bais, a former diplomat for Afghanistan, leads a group of migrant families. As he gets ready to board a speedboat in Necocli, Colombia, he carries his documents in a leather briefcase.


Manuel Rueda/The World

 But to get to the southern border, he still had to cross all of Central America and Mexico, and before that, trek through the Darien Gap — a dense and roadless swath of jungle that stands between Colombia and Panama.

“In this world, no one has helped us,” said Bais, who traveled with his wife, three children and two other Afghan families fleeing the Taliban regime.

None of them had ever been in a rainforest before, or gone on a trek that can last several days. But, Bais said, they had run out of options.

“We are trying our best to reach somewhere that is safe, especially for our families.”

Abdul Bais, Afghan refugee

“We are trying our best to reach somewhere that is safe, especially for our families.”

Thousands of people from South America, Africa and Asia are making their way to the US border, following the expiration of Title 42, a public health policy that was used to block hundreds of thousands of asylum requests during the pandemic.

According to Panamanian authorities, more than 3,000 refugees from Afghanistan have crossed the Darien Gap since the Taliban regime took over in 2021. These refugees have been unable to get visas that will enable them to fly to the US.


Manuel Rueda/The World

The journey across countries like Colombia, Panama and Mexico is difficult for Afghans, especially because they don’t speak Spanish and are unfamiliar with local customs.

Many of them saved up thousands of dollars to make the trip — having been doctors, NGO workers, politicians or media workers back home.

But their connections and relatively high income levels have now also turned them into targets for criminal groups in Latin America, according to Rafael Velasquez, the Mexico country director for the International Rescue Committee.

“We know of at least a dozen cases of Afghan people being detained by organized crime [in Mexico] and money being asked for ransom,” he said. “Unfortunately, their profile has become of interest for organized crime.”

He added that Afghans are also targeted by corrupt police officers, who seek bribes to let them continue on their journeys.

Stripped of diplomatic status

Bais worked for Afghanistan’s Embassy in Iran in 2021 when the Taliban came into power, and it wasn’t possible for him to return to the capital, Kabul. 

So, along with most of the Embassy staff, he stayed in Iran and continued to work there, representing Afghanistan’s toppled democratic government. 

But in February, Iran handed the Afghan Embassy in Tehran over to the Taliban regime. Bais was stripped of his diplomatic status, and his visa was canceled, even though it was still supposed to be valid for several more months. 

Abdul Bais displays his diplomatic passport, as he gets ready to board a speedboat in Necocli Colombia. Bais worked for Afghanistan's embassy in Iran before the Taliban took over the government.


Manuel Rueda/The World

“They took our passport and canceled our residency,” he said. “And they told us that in one week, we had to leave” Iran.

With little clarity of where he could go next, Bais sought help at numerous embassies, and was able to secure a humanitarian visa to fly to Brazil. 

But after getting there he decided to reach the United States, where he has relatives. 

“In Brazil there was no motivation” he said. “All we could do there was sleep at a shelter and eat.” 

Since the beginning of last year, Brazil has granted humanitarian visas to 9,000  refugees from Afghanistan who were stuck in Iran and other countries.

Afghans who arrive in the country on  humanitarian visas can apply for work permits, social security numbers and residency. But it’s a lengthy process, and many struggle with language barriers and red tape, said Miguel Couy, a volunteer for the Frente Afega, an organization that helps Afghans arriving at Sao Paulo’s airport.  He said that the vast majority of Afghans that his group has helped have decided to head to the United States after staying in Brazil for a few weeks.

“These are people that were linked to US affairs in Afghanistan,” Couy said. “And they have the conception that in America, they will rebuild their life more easily and quicker, because the US has more jobs and the jobs pay more.”

Crossing the Darien Gap

After arriving at Sao Paulo’s airport in March, Bais and his family made their way to Necocli the following month, where they started to make plans to cross the Darien Gap.

“We have rented horses,” Bais explained as he stood on the pier in Necocli. “They will carry our children and luggage while the rest of us walk.” 

Bais paid smugglers $1,000 to lead his family across the Darien Gap on a boat, horses and on foot, until they reached a migrant camp in Panama where buses were available to continue across Central America.

A speed boat gets ready to set out for Capurgana, near Colombia's border with Panama.


Manuel Rueda/The World

He’s not the only Afghan undertaking this dangerous route.

According to Panama’s immigration authority, more than 3,000 refugees from Afghanistan have crossed the Darien jungle since the Taliban takeover in August 2021, trying to reach the United States.

But it’s a journey that is costly and is fraught with risks.

When Bais and his family arrived in Guatemala, the group was stopped by police, who took them to a station and said they couldn’t continue their journey without proper documentation.

Bais said the police officers took three cellphones from them and more than $1,000 in cash before allowing them to continue.

Abdul Bais said he is worried for his daughter's future: "Everyone knows that schools and unversities have closed [for women] in Afghanistan. I don't want my daughter to be uneducated."


Manuel Rueda/The World

He then had to pay a smuggler to get a letter from Mexican immigration officials that would enable the group to reach the US border. Now the three Afghan families are in Mexico City, where they’re planning to catch a flight to Tijuana.

The journey has been costly and dangerous, but Bais said he will not desist from reaching the US where his family plans to turn themselves in to border patrol agents and test their luck with the new immigration policies.

“We don’t have any second option,” he said in a recent phone call. He added that his family has long passed the point of no return.

Related: 'I survived a green hell': More Venezuelans are crossing the dangerous Darién Gap

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Sign up for The Top of the World, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning.

Email AddressEmail AddressSubscribeI have read and agree to your Privacy Policy.Related ContentMore migrants cross US-Mexico border days before restrictions end  ‘That news hit us like a bomb’: Asylum-seekers still in limbo after ruling to keep Title 42 intactAmid immigration crackdown, Colombia revokes national IDs for thousands of Venezuelans without warningUS’ indefinite ban on Iranians drafted into Iran’s Revolutionary Guard continues to separate families

‘It’s really hard here’: Migrants heading north from Latin America face barriers at the US-Mexico border

class=”MuiTypography-root-142 MuiTypography-h1-147″>'It's really hard here': Migrants heading north from Latin America face barriers at the US-Mexico border

Migrants from as far south as Chile are walking north to the United States, hoping for a better life. But before they make it to that border, they must make it across Mexico's southern border.

The WorldApril 10, 2023 · 3:45 PM EDT

Migrants are walking north to the United States, hoping for a better life. But before they make it to that border, they must make it across Mexico's southern border, which is getting more and more difficult.

Michael Fox/The World

Hundreds of migrants walk in the midday heat on the shoulder of a dry, two-lane highway in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas. Most of the people in this group are Venezuelan.  

Xon Bravo is one of them. He’s been traveling for the last month — through the jungle from South America and across Central America. And he's not alone. 

"There are so many people,” he said. "Thousands and thousands. From every country. Colombia, Haiti. China. Venezuela. Ecuador. Peru." 

Migrants from across Latin America are trying to reach the US-Mexico border. Many are making the journey on foot.


Michael Fox/The World 

Migrants like Bravo are walking north to the United States, hoping for a better life. But before they make it to that border, they must make it across Mexico's southern border, which is getting more and more difficult.

"When we are on the other side, it’ll be worth it,” Bravo said. "Every sacrifice has its reward.” 

But those rewards aren’t guaranteed.  

Various migrant groups can usually be found congregating in the downtown square of Tapachula, Mexico.


Michael Fox/The World


Tapachula is the primary hub in Mexico for migrants arriving from Central America. It’s a bustling, gritty city of 350,000 people. Most cross into the country illegally from Guatemala. Once here, people try to get official papers that allow them to travel north across the country. And scrape together money for the journey.  

The main square downtown is packed around the clock, mainly with Haitian migrants. They change money, give haircuts and sell phone SIM cards. 

Migrant Renes Casalez hawked bottled water and soda out of a large trash can that he pushed on a wheelbarrow. 

Tapachula is the primary hub in Mexico for migrants arriving from Central America. It’s a bustling, gritty city of 350,000 people. 


Michael Fox/The World

“It’s really hard here,” he said. "There’s no work. I was up at 6 a.m. But I haven’t sold anything. If I could leave Tapachula now, I’d do it in a heartbeat." 

Casalez and his wife walked here from Chile, where they’d lived before. They’ve been here for 11 days. But officials tell them it’ll be at least three months before they can get papers. That's the average wait for most Haitians who want to legalize their status in Mexico. 

With the constant arrival of new migrants, housing is a problem. A small tent city spills out in front of the main shelter, which cannot handle the demand. People are camped across the city in public parks, riverbanks and the streets. 

Venezuelan migrant Eidimar Rocillo with her two small children in Tapachula, Mexico.


Michael Fox/The World

One of those camping out is Eidimar Rocillo. She’s a single mother and pregnant. Rocillo is from Venezuela and traveled with her two children to get here. She arrived two days ago. 

“The trip has been really hard. But not impossible with the help of God,” she said. “We’ve faced humiliations. Disrespect. We’ve been robbed. It’s been terrible." 

Like many Venezuelan migrants, she’s hoping to acquire a transit visa to get across the state of Chiapas. Usually, it can take less than a week, but now, she said, Tapachula’s immigrant agency is backlogged. 

It’s not surprising. Thousands of transit and humanitarian visas are processed in this city every month.  

Mexico’s Refugee Aid Commission, COMAR, is the office where people apply for refugee status. 

COMAR’s Tapachula office director, Daladier Anzueto, said that 60% to 70% of Mexico's refugee requests go to his office, and that the numbers are growing.  

"Since 2018, with the beginning of the caravans, the flow of the people arriving has been increasing,” he said. “2022 was a huge year with a massive arrival of people, and it looks like this year, we are going to surpass all previous records." 

He said that in the first three months of 2023, 20,000 people had already requested refugee status — and that's just through COMAR’s Tapachula office. 

Haitians lead the way, followed by Hondurans, Venezuelans and Cubans, while hundreds come from Afghanistan

People from Haiti, Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua are encouraged by US President Joe Biden’s new policy to prioritize migrants from their countries. 

Migrants frequent bustling food and supply markets in Tapachula, Mexico. Credit: Michael Fox/The World

“They tell me it’s a little easier for those four countries,” Casalez, the street vendor, said. “A little better.” 

Biden has promised to welcome 30,000 migrants a month from Haiti, Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua, but only if they cross into the US legally. Others will be deported right back to Mexico. 

No one is certain they’ll be able to make it across the US border, but many are hopeful.  

“There's a lot of people suffering here,” said Jean, a Haitian migrant who asked that his full name not be used.

 He lived for many years in Brazil before trekking northward, hoping to join family in New York.

“And everyone has the same idea. Everyone’s dreaming of the United States." 

And those dreams are all that many migrants here have to hold on to. 

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Sign up for The Top of the World, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning.

Email AddressEmail AddressSubscribeI have read and agree to your Privacy Policy.Related Content'We have to fight': Venezuelan women lead migration to Brazil Migrant farmworkers in Spain living in makeshift encampments have little hope for formal workNew York City struggles to accommodate new migrantsWhat's behind the exodus of Cubans?

A growing number of clerical sexual abuse survivors are coming forward in Latin America

class=”MuiTypography-root-134 MuiTypography-h1-139″>A growing number of clerical sexual abuse survivors are coming forward in Latin America

Latin America may become the next region to expose childhood clerical sexual abuse. Some victims have spent decades without coming forward because of the importance given to clergy in the community. But a growing number of people are creating support networks for survivors.

The WorldApril 25, 2022 · 12:30 PM EDT

Eneas Espinoza says he was sexually abused multiple times when he was a child, by several catholic priests in Chile. He became an activist and founded Chile’s Survivors Network.

Courtesy of Juan Pablo Barrientos

It has been two decades since widespread child abuse in the Catholic Church was first exposed in the United States. Similar scandals have erupted since in North America, Oceania and, most recently, in Europe.

Now, a growing number of survivors from Latin America — home to the world’s largest Catholic population — are coming forward and taking legal action against Catholic bishops and priests.

One of them is Eneas Espinoza, a 49-year-old activist from Chile.

He was 5 years old when he started attending a Catholic school run by Marist Brothers in Santiago, the capital of Chile. Shortly after, he said one of the priests named Adolfo Fuentes Corral molested him. That was the first of a series of abuses that continued over the course of three years, until Fuentes Corral was transferred to another school in a different city.

"These priests were seen as respected, powerful, even divine people within my family."

Eneas Espinoza, sexual abuse victim and activist from Chile

“I was so confused,” he said. “Because these priests were seen as respected, powerful, even divine people within my family. They didn’t look like traditional abusers,” he said.

Related: Gruesome boarding school discovery forces Canada to reckon with its cultural genocide history

Eneas Espinoza is a 49-year-old activist from Chile who experienced clerical sexual abuse as a child.


Courtesy of Juan Pablo Barrientos

Espinoza did not share his experience with anyone at that time, and continued to attend the school for seven more years. But three years later, he was sexually abused again by another priest named Cristian Precht.

It took Espinoza four decades to come forward and tell his story.

“It was when I learned that I would be the dad of a baby boy. That [struck] me, and I knew I couldn’t contain this secret anymore.”

Espinoza said that the taboo around speaking out against child sexual abuse, especially if it involves the church, is a huge barrier for survivors in Latin America.

“My mom used to work as a volunteer for the Marist brothers,” he said. “So, I would keep hearing the name of the abuser at home, even after I finished school, he would call my mom and send greetings to me.”

Espinoza founded Chile's Survivors Network to support others who have experienced child sexual abuse by Chilean institutions, including the Catholic Church.

Members of this group met with Pope Francis in 2018 when he visited the country. The Argentinian Pope apologized to the victims and promised a formal investigation, but no one has been held to account so far.

Espinoza said his abusers are all free.

Cristian Pretch was expelled from the church by the Pope in 2018, but he has not been prosecuted. Adolfo Fuentes Corral continued to be a Catholic priest, and eventually was transferred to Peru, he said.

Moving a priest to a different city or country has been a common practice used by the Catholic Church to conceal this type of crime, according to Victor Sande, campaign coordinator for the Child Rights International Network in the United Kingdom. The group published a report that documents over 1,000 cases across 19 countries in Latin America.

Related: What the debate over Biden receiving Communion may mean for the world

It’s difficult to estimate the scale of the problem, according to Sande, because many cases go unreported. He said there are huge barriers for survivors in Latin America to come forward and find justice.

"Government decisions might be influenced by not wanting to create any tension between the church and the state.”

Victor Sande, campaign coordinator, Child Rights International Network in the UK

“The separation between the church and the state doesn't exist so much in Latin America,” he said. “So, government decisions might be influenced by not wanting to create any tension between the church and the state.”

Sande said another big obstacle for survivors of childhood sexual abuse in accessing justice in Latin America is the statutes of limitations for these types of crimes. In Venezuela, they must be reported within 10 years.

That was a problem for José Leonardo Araujo, 33.

He is among the first survivors of clerical sexual abuse in Venezuela to speak publicly about his experience. After dealing with major depression for years, he finally felt emotionally ready to take legal action — 17 years after the abuse took place. But the time had expired for him to seek justice.

Araujo’s abuser was not held accountable and was transferred to Mexico where, he said, he continued to sexually abuse other people.

Related: COVID downward spiral in Latin America disrupts life-saving services

Araujo said that in Venezuela, there is not enough support for victims of child sexual abuse.

“All I found was an organization that helps victims of domestic violence, but that wasn’t exactly my case, so I felt like I didn’t quite fit in there," he said.

He is hoping that more victims mobilize and come forward.

José Leonardo Araujo is among the first survivors of clerical sexual abuse in Venezuela to speak publicly about his experience. He moved to Mexico where he found a better support system for victims.


Courtesy of José Leonardo Araujo

“In Venezuela, people have been dealing with other urgent problems like food shortages, hyperinflation and political repression,” he said. “So, conversations about sexual abuse or domestic violence have not been a priority for politicians.”

Araujo moved to Mexico, one of the few countries where authorities are finally discussing whether a statute of limitations should continue to apply to cases of child sexual abuse.

He is in contact with other victims of the same abuser, and they are all hoping to find justice. But with so many obstacles, some are skeptical that cases will ever be prosecuted.

“Something that often happens is that the church will announce its own commission of inquiry,” Sande, the campaign coordinator, said. “This is a tactic arguably to deflect attention from inquiries by a government or a law firm. And it's also a way of keeping control of the discussion and the facts.”

For Sande, international media could be instrumental in exposing the truth, because they help influence the national coverage in different countries.

Related: Chile has a growing Muslim community — but few know about it

“You often have news organizations in Latin America, which for whatever reason, whether it's [a] lack of resources or not wanting to challenge the church, won't investigate clerical abuse cases in depth.”

Last month, the Spanish newspaper El Pais announced the first-ever investigation into claims of abuse within the Catholic Church in Latin America.

It created an email address for survivors to send their claims. So far, they are digging into more than 1,000 allegations.

The incentive is giving some hope to survivors like Eneas Espinoza, who think Latin America could become the next region globally to witness mass revelations of clerical sexual abuse.

“It’s the tip of the iceberg,” he said.

The Foreign Ministry accused the West of blackmailing Latin America because of Russia

MFA: West puts pressure on Latin American countries, hindering cooperation with Russia alt=”The Foreign Ministry accused the West of blackmailing Latin America because of Russia” />

View of the building of the Russian Foreign Ministry

Russia is ready to cooperate with Latin America after the departure of American and European companies, but the West is putting pressure on countries region. This was stated by the director of the Latin American Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Alexander Shchetinin, in an interview with RIA Novosti.

“Latin Americans are under powerful pressure from the collective West, which uses the entire arsenal of means for this, and political influence, and economic messages, and blackmail»,— said the diplomat.

Schetinin noted that the authorities of Western countries do not take into account the socio-economic consequences of sanctions against Russia in the energy, financial and food sectors.

On March 5, American officials held talks with representatives of Venezuela. As sources told The New York Times, they tried to urge the country's leadership to distance themselves from Russia against the background of the military operation in Ukraine.

Later, a group of US senators sent a letter to US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken urging Russia to be stripped of its permanent observer status with the Organization of American States (OAS) in connection with the situation in Ukraine. The OAS includes the countries of North and South America, with the exception of Cuba and Venezuela. About 70 countries act as observers in the organization, including Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Georgia and others.

Read on RBC Pro Pro The fallen giant: how the new CEO revives Intel after ten years of mistakes takes root in Russia Articles Pro Will developers save preferential mortgages and buy their shares Forecasts Pro The conflict in Ukraine will hit the wheat market. Which stocks to choose Articles Pro “The bomb is ticking louder.” Should I Buy Fertilizer Stocks Predictions Pro x The Economist What happened in Sri Lanka: how the country is mired in debt and crisis Articles

Then the Russian ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, said that the senators were trying to sow discord between Russia and the countries of Latin America. Their proposal was a manifestation of the Monroe Doctrine, the official said. According to Antonov, it is based on US neglect of the interests of Latin American states and the desire to impose its will.

The “Monroe Doctrine” formulated by the fifth President of the United States, James Monroe, in a message to Congress in 1823. The main idea— inadmissibility of involvement of the countries of the Western Hemisphere in the conflicts of European states.


WHO approves vaccine launched in Latin America

The World Health Organization (WHO) has approved for emergency use the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is licensed jointly produced by Argentina and Mexico.

An international organization first approved a drug for coronavirus, which is produced in Latin America. The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said this on Twitter.

“Adding it to the WHO emergency list will increase the availability of vaccines during a pandemic,” & mdash; said in a statement by PAHO.

The British-Swedish vaccine AstraZeneca is licensed by the Argentinean pharmaceutical company mAbxience. The Mexican Laboratorios Liomont is engaged in the packaging of the drug. The vaccine is being used in Latin America and the Caribbean. & Nbsp;

'International support [from WHO] shows that Latin America and the Caribbean can contribute to the global supply of vaccines, which is key moment in bridging existing gaps in access to immunization '', & mdash; said PAHO director Carissa Etienne.

Earlier it became known that Argentina donated 1 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine to Bolivia.


Discussion: Children’s mental health during COVID

class=”MuiTypography-root-228 MuiTypography-h1-233″>Discussion: Children's mental health during COVIDNovember 24, 2021 · 1:45 PM EST Updated on Nov. 24, 2021 · 1:45 PM EST

Children play with a therapist in the pediatric unit of the Robert Debre hospital, in Paris, France, March 2, 2021.

Christophe Ena/AP/File photo

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on populations across the globe. And for children, the past two years have been a significant part of their young lives, affecting everything from their social interactions to their physical and mental wellbeing.

UNICEF did an analysis of various studies on the mental health of tens of thousands of children and adolescents across 22 mostly high and upper middle-income countries — between November 2019 and November 2020 — and found “higher levels of depression, fear, anxiety, anger, irritability, negativity, conduct disorder, alcohol and substance use and sedentary behaviors, compared with pre-pandemic rates.”

Certain coping strategies, including having daily routines and regular physical activity, have helped buffer against depression and were associated with better moods. Good communication with loved ones also helped manage pandemic stressors and lockdowns.

Related discussion:A deepening coronavirus crisis in Latin America

Another factor that’s contributed to mental health pressures on households is financial insecurity. “Millions more families have been pushed into poverty, unable to make ends meet," UNICEF revealed in its own report published in October. "Child labor, abuse and gender-based violence are on the rise,” while investment in necessary resources “remains negligible.”

The report added that the coronavirus pandemic "has created serious concerns about the mental health of children and their families during lockdowns, and it has illustrated in the starkest light how events in the wider world can affect the world inside our heads," as well as highlighting "the fragility of support systems for mental health in many countries, and it has – once again – underlined how these hardships fall disproportionately on the most disadvantaged communities." It went on to add that the specific impacts of the pandemic on mental health could take years to be fully assessed.

Related discussion: A deepening coronavirus crisis in Brazil

An information sign is displayed as a child arrives with her parent to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children 5 to 11-years-old at London Middle School in Wheeling, Ill., Nov. 17, 2021.


Nam Y. Huh/AP/File photo

In the US, parents, teachers and other caretakers have tried to find creative ways to address the needs of children.

More than 20 public school districts have extended their Thanksgiving holiday breaks to include "wellness days" for their students and staff, giving them a chance to reconnect and recharge.

Earlier this month, on Nov. 2, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved the COVID-19 vaccine, produced by Pfizer-BioNTech, for children in the US between the ages of 5 and 11. The move allowed for more flexibility for kids to safely resume school and social activities.

Some American schools even used the windfall of federal coronavirus relief money to expand their capacity to address students’ mental health struggles, including problems like absenteeism, behavioral issues, and quieter signs of distress.

As part of The World's regular series of conversations about the pandemic, reporter Elana Gordon will moderate a discussion with Karestan Koenen, Professor of Psychiatric Epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health on Monday, Nov. 29 at 12 p.m. Eastern time, to discuss these efforts and the challenges surrounding the mental health impacts of the pandemic on children.

Send in your questions for the discussion to [email protected]

The AP contributed to this report.

EU may ban US travelers; Latin America sees COVID-19 surge; Palestinian officials call for probe into killing of youth

EU may ban US travelers; Latin America sees COVID-19 surge; Palestinian officials call for probe into killing of youth

The World staff

A man sits on his rickshaw waiting for clients, as Spain officially reopens the borders amid the coronavirus outbreak, in Barcelona, Spain, June 21, 2020.


Nacho Doce/Reuters


Top of The World — our morning news round up written by editors at The World. Subscribe here.

Backpacking through Europe will likely not be an option for US travelers this summer. As the European Union looks to reopen in July, the bloc is working to prevent additional outbreaks of the novel coronavirus by blocking entry from countries that have had unsuccessful or haphazard responses to the pandemic — including the US. Visitors from China, however, are likely to be welcomed.

Travel bans have become synonymous with the Trump administration. The president sparked ire in March after announcing a ban against most European travelers, though that move did not prevent the US from becoming an epicenter of the virus, with more than 2.3 million cases reported.   

On the EU’s draft list of banned travelers, the US keeps company with Brazil and Russia, which are also deemed unsafe by the EU’s epidemiological criteria. In all three of these countries, leadership downplayed the virus and responses have been chaotic. This week, a Brazilian judge ordered President Jair Bolsonaro, known for his blasé attitude about COVID-19, to wear a mask in Brasília or risk fines, reminding the president that he is not above the law. 

What The World is following

The novel coronavirus is accelerating in Latin America and the Caribbean; official deaths surpassed 100,000 Tuesday, though the true number is likely much higher. The virus is plunging millions into poverty, and criminal corruption scandals are threatening more lives. And as the virus surges in impoverised regions, aid agencies are scrambling to deliver a lifesaving resource: oxygen

Palestinian officials have called for an international probe into the killing of Ahmed Erekat after Israeli soldiers shot the 27-year-old man and prevented medical aid from reaching him for more than an hour. Israeli officials say they suspected Erekat to be involved in a car-ramming attack. His family disputes the allegations, and human rights groups have condemned Israel’s excessive use of force.

Tennis star Novak Djokovic tested positive for the coronavirus after organizing a tournament in Croatia. And, Major League Baseball announced plans to open the 2020 season in late July. 

From The WorldAmid global protests, Jamaicans confront their own problems with policing

People hold posters as they take part in a demonstration against the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, at the Emancipation Park in Kingston, Jamaica, June 6, 2020.


Gilbert Bellamy/Reuters 

Jamaica shares the United States’ history of colonialism and slavery, and now has one of the highest rates of fatal police shootings. Activists there are thinking about what the global moment of police accountability could mean for their country.

The World is hosting a Facebook Live on the Latino conservative vote titled. “The Latino Republican: Issues and influence in the 2020 election.”


Graphic by Maria Elena Romero/The World

In the 2018 midterm election, about 30% of Latinos in the US backed a Republican candidate. But conservative Latinos are not a monolithic group, and they do not vote as a bloc. 

The World’s Daisy Contreras will moderate a Facebook Live conversation on Latino conservatives today, June 24 at noon Eastern time. Join us for the discussion: “The Latino Republican: Issues and influence in the 2020 election.”

Morning meme

Yesterday, we noted that in Spain, plants filled an opera house. In France? Minions take to the cinema. We assume Kevin, Stuart and Bob are watching “Despicable Me.”

Minions toys are seen on cinema chairs to maintain social distancing between spectators at a MK2 cinema in Paris as Paris’ cinemas reopen doors to the public following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in France, June 22, 2020. 


Benoit Tessier/Reuters

In case you missed itListen: Trump celebrates the border wall

US President Donald Trump arrives aboard Air Force One to visit a nearby US-Mexico border wall site in Yuma, Arizona, June 23, 2020.


Carlos Barria/Reuters

President Donald Trump visits Arizona on Tuesday where he will make a stop in Yuma to celebrate the 200th mile of construction of the US-Mexico border wall. Most of the construction has been replacement segments. And, a monument to Winston Churchill in central London has become a flashpoint between Black Lives Matter demonstrators and far-right protesters. Also, after three months of darkness, the stage lights at a Barcelona opera house were flipped back on, suggesting a return to normalcy. But as musicians took the stage for a live concert, they looked out at an audience filled with potted plants.

Don’t forget to subscribe to The World’s Latest Edition podcast using your favorite podcast player: RadioPublicApple PodcastsStitcherSoundcloudRSS.