Here’s What Central American Media Is Saying About Family Separation

Local issues are more likely to be the top story, not Trump’s zero tolerance policy.

By Josue Moreno & Laura RiceJune 21, 2018 7:01 am| ,

Many American media outlets – along with UK Prime Minister Theresa May, Pope Francis, and even far-right French leader Marine Le Pen – have all criticized the separation of families at the U.S.-Mexico border. Josue Moreno is a bilingual journalist working at the Texas Standard this summer, and he’s looked into how Central American media are responding to the crisis.

In Mexico, media outlets such as El Informador and El Universal – two of the largest newspapers in the country – have been focusing on Mexico’s upcoming presidential election. But in a deeply Catholic country, the Pope’s recent comments calling the zero tolerance policy inhumane did garner considerable attention. Still, Moreno says child separation at the border hasn’t been as much of a top story as it’s been in the U.S.

“It is getting buried a bit underneath that election and, of course, underneath Mexico’s current World Cup campaign,” Moreno says.

In Honduras, one of the main stories this week has been their president’s visit to Washington. Juan Orlando Hernández went to D.C. initially to lobby for temporary protected status of Hondurans in the U.S., but recent news at the border turned the trip into a means to boost his image back in Honduras.

“Mr. Hernández is suffering a bit of a domestic political crisis at the moment, a crisis of legitimacy, allegations about humans rights violations there,” Moreno says. “He’s really taken this opportunity to point the finger at the Trump administration and shore up his domestic political situation.”

Guatemala’s President Jimmy Morales has an eerily similar background to Donald Trump – he’s a former reality TV star turned right-wing populist who defeated a former First Lady in a presidential election. While there has been some outrage over child separation in Guatemalan newspapers, Morales has remained mostly mum on the topic, saying that he respects the the sovereignty of the United States and their laws.

“He’s really been accused of being a lapdog of the Trump administration,” Moreno says. “When Trump announced that the U.S. is moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, in Israel, one of the first world leaders to back him up on that was Jimmy Morales.”

In Nicaragua there has hardly been any media discussion of child separation at the U.S.-Mexico border. According to Moreno, Nicaraguan citizens are too unhappy with their own president, Daniel Ortega, to think too much about what Trump is doing.

“It’s kind of a tragic cycle if you think about it,” Moreno says. “So you’ve got domestic instability in some of these countries that causes migrant flows to the United States. The United States responds with harsh measures, but the instability that caused those migrant flows in the first place obscures coverage of those American policies, so the migrants just keep coming.”

Written by Kevin Wheeler.