The stories that changed Latin America in 2022 | Migration News

The past twelve months have seen a number of important changes in Latin America, as 2022 brought elections, scandals and a major sporting triumph.

Politically, the leftward swing continues to shake governments across the region, with some experts calling the trend a new “pink tide.” Colombia elected its first left-wing leader and in neighboring Brazil, former union leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva defeated right-wing incumbent Jair Bolsonaro to become the country’s next president.

Meanwhile, myriad crises continue, with Haiti falling further into insecurity and El Salvador accused of widespread human rights abuses in its crackdown on deadly gang violence.

In the world of sports, there was at least one positive note to end the year with Argentina winning the World Cup championship – the first time a Latin American team has brought home the trophy in 20 years.

Here are the stories that defined 2022:

Lula defeated Bolsonaro in Brazil’s presidential election

Hailed as the “Phoenix” of his party, Lula saw a remarkable reversal of fortunes in 2022, winning a narrow victory in Brazil’s run-off election against incumbent right-wing President Bolsonaro.

The election comes just a year and a half after Brazil’s Supreme Court judges overturned all corruption charges against Lula, who spent 580 days in prison.

The leftist leader, who previously served as president from 2003 to 2011, promised Trump as an antidote to Bolsonaro, running on a platform of economic and social justice in response to widespread inequality and poverty in Brazil.

During a rousing reception at the United Nations’ COP27 climate conference in Egypt, Lula pledged to reassert Brazil, home to large swaths of the Amazon rainforest, as a global leader in environmentalism. He will be inaugurated on January 1.

The Haiti crisis has intensified

Overwhelming crises in Haiti have worsened over the past year, with the country’s top diplomat to the US openly appealing for controversial foreign intervention.

Since the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in July 2021, armed gangs have taken control of large areas of the country.

In November, Ulrika Richardson, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator in the country, told reporters that the groups were using sexual violence to “instill fear and punish and terrorize the local population.” He estimates that 60 percent of Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, is gang-dominated.

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Insecurity has undermined aid delivery to the country, where half the population faces severe food shortages and cholera cases spiked at the end of the year, according to the World Food Programme.

Chile says it does not want a new constitution

It was a progressive overhaul.

Leftist President Gabriel Boric argued that the proposed constitution would replace the current charter – adopted under the rule of military dictator Augusto Pinochet – with a document that places greater emphasis on social rights, the environment and gender equality.

But the new charter was strongly rejected by Chileans in September, with 61.9 percent voting against adoption and 38.1 percent in favor.

While many supported the concept of a new constitution, critics said September’s proposal lacked a clear structure and overlapped in key areas. In December, lawmakers from both the country’s left and right agreed to launch another effort.

The president of Peru was impeached and arrested

A quicksilver series of events on December 7th led to Peruvian President Pedro Castillo attempting to dissolve Congress, being impeached and ending up behind bars.

It was all over within hours, with Castillo’s former vice president, Dina Boluarte, being sworn in to the top job. In the process, Boluarte became Peru’s first female president.

Unrest quickly grew among Castillo’s supporters, sparking protests and clashes with police and the military that killed more than 20 people.

To diffuse tensions, Boluvarte petitioned Peru’s Congress to move the general elections from 2026 to 2023. The initial attempt failed to garner enough votes in the legislature, but on December 20, the opposition-led Congress tentatively approved constitutional reform. Elections can go ahead. The plan still needs to be approved by a two-thirds majority.

Mexico’s deadliest year for journalists in decades

The Associated Press estimates that at least 15 media workers will be killed in Mexico in 2022, the deadliest year for journalists in three decades.

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Mexico was second only to Ukraine in the number of journalists killed during the year, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), with observers citing the importance of criminal gangs, the complicity of local authorities and government inaction for the rise. .

The violence was punctuated in December by an attack on Ciro Gómez Leyva, one of Mexico’s leading radio and television reporters, according to CPJ. He survived the Mexico City attack with bulletproof armor on his vehicle.

Argentina won the World Cup

“I’m Argentinian! It’s a feeling I can’t stand,” sang in the country’s capital, Buenos Aires, after the national team led by superstar Lionel Messi defeated France to win the World Cup, the biggest game in international football.

Argentina took home the World Cup trophy since 1986 – and the first time in decades that any Latin American team had triumphed in the final.

Fans wearing the colors of Argentina’s blue-and-white flag descended on this year’s World Cup host, Qatar, underscoring the team’s unique international reach.

But it came down to a nailbiter as 23-year-old French striker Kylian Mbappe swept the championship with a Herculean hat-trick in the waning minutes of the match.

While France and Argentina tied with three goals apiece, the tournament champions were crowned via penalty kicks. But the trophy finally came to the house built by Argentine football legend Diego Maradona.

Colombia has elected its first left-wing leader

The leftist trend continued across Latin America with Gustavo Petro’s June presidential victory in Colombia.

Petro, a former rebel fighter who ran on a platform of deep social and economic change, became the country’s first leftist president to long shun the left for its perceived ties to years of armed conflict.

Meanwhile, Francia Márquez, a single mother and former domestic worker, became the country’s first Afro-Colombian female vice president.

El Salvador gang crackdown

In early December, residents of Soyapango, a densely populated municipality on the outskirts of San Salvador, woke up 10,000 police and military personnel on the streets.

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It is the latest move in President Nayeb Bukele’s controversial gang crackdown. In March, the government imposed a state of immunity that suspended some civil liberties and led to the mass incarceration of some 60,000 Salvadorans.

Rights groups have documented an array of abuses since the crackdown began, including due process violations, arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances and deaths in custody.

Argentina VP survives assassination attempt

In September, a shocking video captured a man brandishing a gun outside the Buenos Aires home of Argentina’s Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

The attacker pulled the trigger, but the gun did not fire. Fernandez de Kirchner, who was under investigation for corruption at the time, escaped unharmed. Meanwhile, the gunman has been arrested.

In early December, Fernández de Kirchner was sentenced to six years in prison for allegedly fraudulently awarding public work contracts to family friends in Patagonia, the stronghold of his political career.

He remains in office and has said he plans to appeal the conviction.

A surge in Darien Gap crossings

Panama’s National Migration Service said in October that 151,582 migrants and refugees had crossed the Darien Gap, an impassable stretch of mountainous jungle between Colombia and Panama, since January.

The number set a new record, surpassing the 133,726 crossings recorded in 2021, an increase attributed to the economic fallout from COVID-19 and an increase in people leaving Venezuela.

The 106km (66-mile) trek can take more than a week, with many bound for the US border. There, they often meet deportation under Title 42, a policy enacted under former US President Donald Trump that allows border agents to turn away more people crossing the border as a COVID-19 prevention.

In mid-December, Title 42 is set to expire. But in response to a plea from mainly Republican lawmakers, the US Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments on whether states can challenge ending the policy. It will remain in place until at least February when the case is scheduled.


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