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5 things to know from Latin America and the Caribbean

La Niña, whichworsens hurricanes and drought, is gone

After three nasty years, the La Niña weather phenomenon that increases Atlantic hurricane activity and worsens western drought is gone, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said last week.

This particular La Niña started in September 2020, the Associated Press reported. However, it is considered three years old because it affected three different winters – making it the longest La Niña on record. It took a brief break in 2021 but came roaring back with record intensity.

When there’s a La Niña, there are more storms in the Atlantic during hurricane season because it removes conditions that suppress storm formation. Neutral or El Niño conditions make it harder for storms to get going, but not impossible, scientists said.

La Niña has also slightly dampened global average temperatures, keeping warming from breaking annual temperature records, while El Niño slightly turbocharges those temperatures often setting records, scientists said.

To read the full AP story, visit: https://bit.ly/APEndlanina

Agents stop crowd at Texas border crossing amid asylum woes

A large group of migrants in Mexico were poised to barge into the U.S. over the weekend, the AP reported. The group was blocked from crossing a bridge leading from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, to El Paso, Texas, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman said.

Videos of the scene at the Paso Del Norte bridge on Sunday showed hundreds of migrants brush past Mexican National Guard officers on the Mexican side, some carrying children on their shoulders. Many appeared to be Venezuelan, by their accents.

Along the border, there has been frustration with the U.S. government’s CBPOne mobile app for making appointments to apply for asylum, which has been overloaded since the Biden administration introduced it Jan. 12. New appointments are available each day at 6 a.m., but migrants find themselves stymied by error messages.

Also causing frustration is a pandemic rule, scheduled to end May 11, that denies migrants a chance to seek asylum on grounds of preventing the spread of COVID-19. Under the public health rule, known as Title 42, Mexico recently began taking back Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans who crossed.

To read the full story, visit: https://bit.ly/APMexicoUSBorder

Women’s Daymeasures in Brazil take aim at setbacks

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva Lula presented a package of over 25 measures on International Women’s Day March 8 that are aimed at decreasing gender inequality, the AP reported. The most significant of these is a bill that would guarantee equal pay for women and men who perform the same jobs.

Several of Lula’s announced measures can be carried out by presidential decree. However, others require congressional approval and it is difficult to gauge whether he will have enough votes because Lula’s legislative base has yet to be consolidated.

Lula da Silva blamed previous president Jair Bolsonaro for policy decisions that harmed Brazilian women. Advocates say the policies of Bolsonaro’s administration dovetailed with the spread of extremism in Brazil, which together contributed to the deterioration of gender equality. Others say that the loosening of gun controls spurred domestic violence. 

Among campaigners and civil society, there is also an expectation that Lula will restart policies and programs that worked in the past but were affected by budget cuts. That includes revitalization of the national hotline for domestic violence victims, which lost funding during the Bolsonaro government.

To read the full AP story, visit: https://bit.ly/APBrazilWomensday

Nicaragua proposes suspending Vatican ties

Nicaragua’s government said Sunday it has proposed suspending relations with the Vatican, the AP reported. The announcement came a few days after Pope Francis called the government under President Daniel Ortega a “rude dictatorship” led by an “unbalanced” president in an interview with Argentinian news outlet Infobae.

Relations between the church and the Nicaraguan government have been deteriorating since 2018, when authorities violently repressed anti-government protests. Some Catholic leaders gave protesters shelter in their churches and the church later tried to act as a mediator between the regime and the opposition.

Dozens of religious figures were arrested or fled the country. Two congregations of nuns – including from the Missionaries of Charity order founded by Mother Teresa – were expelled last year, and prominent Catholic Bishop Rolando Álvarez was sentenced to 26 years in prison last month after he refused to board an airplane that would have flown him to exile in the United States. He was also stripped of his Nicaraguan citizenship.

Pope Francis has expressed concern over Nicaragua, but has largely remained silent. However, he used strong terms to refer to the political situation. In Nicaragua “we have a bishop in prison, a very serious and capable man, who wanted to give his testimony and did not accept exile,” Francis said, referring to Álvarez. “It is something from outside of what we are living, as if it were a communist dictatorship in 1917 or a Hitlerian one in 1935.”

To read the full AP story, visit: https://bit.ly/APNicaraguaPopeFrancis

Puerto Rico breaks world record asbaseball fans go blond

Puerto Rico broke the Guinness World record for the most hair dyed on Friday, with 192 men going blond to support the team that is vying to win the World Baseball Classic after finishing twice as runner-up, the AP reported

The team’s players first dyed their hair blond ahead of the 2017 World Baseball Classic as a joke, unexpectedly unleashing a dyeing craze in Puerto Rico that left pharmacies and beauty supply stores bereft of hair dye.

The tournament is usually held every four years, but the pandemic delayed it by two years. So, after six years of no dye jobs and no “Team Rubio!” cheers, many Puerto Ricans were eager to see if the trend would continue.

The players obliged and repeated the tradition this year, and people in the island of overwhelmingly dark hair once again responded via platinum blond, dirty blond and even burnt orange locks and beards to show their support.

To read the full story, visit: https://bit.ly/APPRTeamRubio


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