by Maria Assaf
This is a compilation of the most important news stories reported by Latin American media in Canada, during Dec. and Jan.
Harper meets up with ethnic media in Toronto (Dec. 12, 2013)
On Nov. 28, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his wife Laureen organized a reception for immigrant media outlets. The event took place at the International Plaza Hotel in Toronto. El Centro News said the PM spoke about the role of ethnic media and spent some time over lunch discussing issues pertaining to each community.
The PM held a similar meeting, infamously known as the “secret ethnic media meeting,” in Vancouver early in Jan. 2014. Tim Harper, in a column for the Toronto Star, bashed ethnic media outlets in attendance for not challenging the PM on matters such as the Senate scandal, unemployment rates and Harper’s overall unpopularity.
Mexican woman dies in custody in Vancouver (Jan. 29, 2014)
A Mexican woman who attempted suicide while in a holding cell at Vancouver international airport, in the custody of border patrol, died on Dec. 28.
The Canadian Border Service Agency (CBSA) had arrested Lucia Vega Jimenez in Vancouver on Dec. 1 after she was wanted for immigration violations.
The agency kept her in detention for three weeks while authorities processed her deportation back to her native country. She attempted to kill herself on Dec. 20 and died in a hospital bed eight days later.
Noticias Montreal reported Ms. Vega, 42, had requested refugee status, which was denied in 2010.
She was fearful of returning to Mexico due to what she described as a “domestic situation” back home.
Reports stated Ms. Vega was working illegally in Canada as a hotel cleaner and sent all her wages to her ailing mother in Mexico. While in custody, someone stole all her savings.
The Mexican consulate in Vancouver said they had arranged a temporary house for Vega upon her return to Mexico City. Officials who had spoken to her earlier said notice of her death came as a surprise.
There has been controversy surrounding CBSA’s publishing of Ms. Vega’s death a month after the fact. The agency says they were not trying to keep information secret.
The RCMP investigated the matter at the time and confirmed her death was not the result of a crime.
The CBSA has declined public interviews, but said in a public release “the health and security of those under our watch is a priority. We take this responsibility very seriously and we think it is important to determine the circumstances surrounding the loss of a life.”
This incident has generated some international tension. Mexican officials say they are anxiously waiting for accountability from Canadian authorities.
“We are angered by what happened and we expect answers from the authorities that have jurisdiction in this case,” says Claudia Franco Hijuelos, Consul-General of Mexico.
Air Canada suspends ticket sales in Venezuela (Jan. 25, 2014)
Air Canada joined various international airlines Jan. 24 halting ticket sales throughout Venezuela for several hours.
The airlines were protesting the Nicolas Maduro government decision to devalue the bolivar (Venezuela’s national currency).
While this move makes flying abroad more expensive for Venezuelans, the amount that airlines collect from ticket sales in Venezuela diminished dramatically.
The companies shut down their doors to all customers while they adjusted the prices in their systems to avoid losing money.
Airlines who joined the suspension included United, Delta, Copa and American Airlines, among others.
Megan McCarthy, a spokesperson for United, said: “When the exchange rate was updated, we had to hold selling [tickets].”
The carriers have been battling the Venezuelan government, claiming it owes them $3.3 billion (U.S.).
The airlines are asking the government for bonds, cash and jet fuel in order to get even.
Sales for tickets reopened on Jan. 25, but the battle continues between international airlines and the Maduro government.
Celebrations kick off for Peruvian-Canadian Chamber of Commerce awards (Jan. 29)
On Jan. 22, the Peruvian-Canadian Chamber of Commerce recognized the achievements of some of its most prominent members.
Scotiabank was named the business of the year. The annual award was given to Dieter W. Jentsch, head of International Banking at the bank.
The ceremony, conducted by Cesar Sanguinetti, took place at the National Club. Jim Louttit, the Chamber’s president talked about major investment, imports and exports between the two nations in the last few years.
Commerce between the two countries is centered on minerals such as gold, zinc and cooper.
Woman who faced domestic abuse is being deported from Canada
Ivonne Angelina Hernandez was captured by a border patrol On Jan. 22
She was released three days later after reaching an agreement with the authorities that cost her $4,000 and some time in parole.
Now she is waiting to be deported back to her native country, Mexico. The date is uncertain.
Ms. Hernandez took her one-year-old son with her to an abused women shelter after a fight with her partner on Dec. 11, 2013. Her now ex-partner proceeded to denounce her to the authorities, who then arrested her.
She requested asylum when she arrived in Canada in 2009, but her application was denied in 2011. Since then, Ms. Hernandez has remained in Canada without papers.
Because of her denied-asylum status, a court gave Ms. Hernandez’s ex-partner custody of her son.
She asked for a re-opening of her case in November citing humanitarian concerns. She said she was trying to protect her son.
An American-based NGO called “Solidarity without Frontiers,” says there is little possibility that Hernandez will be allowed to remain in Canada.
“Even though Mexico has one of the most elevated domestic abuse rates in the world, the Canadian government still considers it a safe country,” stated the group.
New app targets Mexican diaspora
MiConsulmex is a new app designed to provide access to consular services for Mexicans residing or travelling through Canada.
Sergio Alcocer Martinez de Castroy, the North American sub-secretary for the Mexican embassy in Ottawa, presented the app along with Ambassador Francisco Suarez Davila. The launch coincides with the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Canada and Mexico.
The app is free and available for Apple and Android devices through these links:
The software is designed to ease access to services such as obtaining protection or scheduling appointments at one of Mexico’s five consulates in Canada as well as at the Mexican embassy in Ottawa.
According to Mexican authorities in Canada, there are more than 150,000 Mexican nationals working or studying in Canada. Mexico is the second most popular touristic destination for Canadians.
While the app targets those of Mexican origin, it is also accessible to anyone requiring services from the Mexican government.