Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for Central America

Newsline: US began construction of three new consulates in Mexico

The United States is investing more than US $1.5 billion to build a new embassy and several consulates in Mexico including three whose construction started last month. Diplomatic staff and officials from the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations held groundbreaking ceremonies during May at sites in Guadalajara, Jalisco; Hermosillo, Sonora; and Nogales, Sonora. (https://mexiconewsdaily.com/news/us-began-construction-of-three-new-consulates/) Construction of the new $374-million four-story, energy-efficient consulate in Guadalajara began in the middle of the month. Consul General Robin Matthewman said the facility in the west of the Jalisco capital will have the capacity to attend to 2,000 people per day. The $230-million consulate in Hermosillo and the $211-million facility in Nogales are both expected to be completed in 2022. Their construction will generate 750 jobs for local workers. All three new consulates will be high-security facilities equipped with cutting-edge technology. Commencement of the three new projects follows the beginning of construction in February last year of a new embassy in the Mexico City neighborhood of Nuevo Polanco. It is also expected to open in 2022.

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Newsline: Mexican ambassador to the US explains Trump’s claim of a new agricultural deal

Mexico’s ambassador to the United States, Martha Bárcena Coqui, worked to clarify elements of the recent US-Mexico immigration agreement that staved off tariffs on Mexican goods on June 9. (https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/6/9/18658768/mexico-us-trade-tariffs-ambassador-coqui-trump-agricultural-deal) As part to the deal, Mexico has agreed to station 6,000 members of the National Guard around the country, most at the Mexico-Guatemala border. The tariffs would have placed a 5 percent tax on all Mexican goods starting Monday; that tax would have risen at regular intervals to 25 percent. Trump said the threat of tariffs was necessary to push Mexico to increase its efforts to reduce the flow of South American immigrants and asylum seekers traveling to the US-Mexico border. The deal was announced by President Donald Trump on June 7, but tweets he sent, as well as reporting that showed the National Guard agreement had actually first been made in March, led to some confusion about the compact.

Newsline: Fire burns US Embassy entrance in Honduras amid privatization protests

The main entrance of the US Embassy in the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa was left charred on May 31 after demonstrators set fire to tires and objects in front of the building. The fire was extinguished by mid-afternoon, and a State Department spokesperson later said no embassy personnel were injured in the incident. (https://edition.cnn.com/2019/05/31/americas/us-embassy-honduras-fire/index.html) The fire came amid days of protests by education and medical professionals, who are urging the government not to privatize their sectors. The US Embassy had previously instructed the families of US government employees to remain home during the protests.It was not immediately clear whether the embassy was the intended target of the demonstrators. A senior State Department official told CNN the incident did not appear to be serious and that staffers were seeking more information from the scene. The State Department spokesperson for Western Hemisphere Affairs later called the fire an “unacceptable” act of “violence,” and said the embassy was working “closely” with Honduran authorities.

Newsline: Guatemala’s Ambassador to Mexico Injured in Traffic Accident

Guatemala’s ambassador to Mexico, Nelson Olivero, was injured in a traffic accident in Mexico City, along with several others from the embassy, the Guatemalan foreign ministry said in a statement on May 25. (https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2019-05-25/guatemalas-ambassador-to-mexico-injured-in-traffic-accident) It was not immediately clear how many people were injured in May 25 accident. Olivero was transferred to hospital, the statement said.

Newsline: US embassy reports gunfire near Haiti mission

The US embassy in Haiti reported gunfire on Apr. 29 near its diplomatic compound as it urged bystanders to take cover. In a travel alert, the US State Department said that gunfire had come from the “rear entrance to the embassy” in Port-au-Prince. It said the staff had taken shelter inside the embassy. “If you are traveling to the embassy, find a safe area to shelter,” it wrote on Twitter. (https://www.france24.com/en/20190429-us-embassy-reports-gunfire-near-haiti-mission) State Department officials did not immediately have further details on the incident, including whether it was ongoing. Haiti, one of the world’s poorest countries, witnessed widespread riots in February when thousands of people took to the streets demanding better living conditions. Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise earlier this month appointed a new prime minister to tackle mounting problems, including insecurity in the capital.

Newsline: Venezuela withdraws diplomatic credential from Costa Rican diplomat

Venezuela withdrew the diplomatic credential from the Costa Rican chargé d’affaires in retaliation for the country’s acceptance of Juan Guaidó’s diplomat as Venezuelan ambassador in San José. “The Bolivarian Government of Venezuela has decided to withdraw the diplomatic credential to Mr. Danilo González Ramírez, who was in charge of business affairs for the Republic of Costa Rica in Venezuela,” the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry announced in a statement. The ministry also warned that it reserves the possibility of applying other reciprocal measures “to compensate this unacceptable aggression against the personnel and premises of the diplomatic mission.” (https://ticotimes.net/2019/04/17/venezuela-withdraws-diplomatic-credential-from-costa-rican-diplomat) The three officials who made up the diplomatic mission of the government of Nicolás Maduro recently left the Venezuelan embassy in Costa Rica, which recognizes Guaidó as interim president along with some 50 more countries. On Feb. 15, Costa Rica had given the Maduro-appointed diplomats 60 days to leave the embassy, which was occupied on Tuesday by Maria Faría, designated by Guaidó and accredited in San José. In February, Faría tried to enter by force the Venezuelan embassy accompanied by dozens of Venezuelans. The incident generated an immediate response from the Costa Rican government, which asked her to withdraw from the headquarters.

Newsline: Hackers release documents stolen from Mexico’s embassy in Guatemala

A hacker stole thousands of documents from Mexico’s embassy in Guatemala and posted them online. The hacker, who goes by the online handle @0x55Taylor, tweeted a link to the data earlier this week. The data is no longer available for download after the cloud host pulled the data offline, but the hacker shared the document dump with TechCrunch to verify its contents. The hacker told TechCrunch in a message: “A vulnerable server in Guatemala related to the Mexican embassy was compromised and I downloaded all the documents and databases.” He said he contacted Mexican officials but he was ignored. (https://techcrunch.com/2019/04/19/mexican-embassy-hack/) In previous correspondence with the hacker, he said he tries to report problems and has received bounty payouts for his discoveries. “But when I don’t get a reply, then it’s going public,” he said. More than 4,800 documents were stolen, most of which related to the inner workings of the Mexican embassy in the Guatemalan capital, including its consular activities, such as recognizing births and deaths, dealing with Mexican citizens who have been incarcerated or jailed and the issuing of travel documents.