Americas Brief newsletter: 10-16 April
This version of the Americas Brief newsletter examined anti-government protests in Nicaragua, flight cancellations announced by airline Avianca Brasil, and a proliferation of cyberattacks in Ecuador.
United States & Canada
- United States - Southwest and American announce new flight cancellations
- United States & China - Chinese entities included in US's unverified list
- United States & Mexico - Border agents redeployed to key Texas crossing
- Regional - New migrant caravan departs, increasing border risks
- Nicaragua - Opposition groups set to protest, heightening travel risk
- Brazil - Avianca Brasil cancels 179 flights after aircraft repossessions
- Brazil - Farmers rallies heighten risk of travel disruption
- Colombia - IED attack damages oil pipeline in south-western department
- Ecuador - Proliferation of cyberattacks following Assange arrest
United States & Canada
United States ' Southwest and American announce new flight cancellations UNITED STATES ' Travel risk: Medium
11 & 14 April: Southwest Airlines announced that it is removing flights on Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft from its schedule until early August. The announcement means that 160 flights per day which were scheduled to use Max 8 aircraft will now be cancelled. On 14 April, American Airlines announced that it was removing flights on the Max 8 model from its schedule until 19 August. The measure impacts approximately 115 flights per day.
Why it matters: The cancellations follow two deadly crashes of the Max 8 model in five months, after which multiple airlines and national aviation authorities ordered the grounding of the aircraft. In light of the announcements, individuals planning to fly with Southwest or American in the coming months are advised to re-confirm their flight status.
United States & China ' Chinese entities included in US's 'unverified' list UNITED STATES ' Political risk: Low CHINA ' Political risk: Medium
10 April: The US Department of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) added 37 Chinese companies and educational institutions to its Unverified List (UVL) of entities that US companies should treat with caution. These include Chinese schools and companies operating in automotive manufacturing, screen technology, aviation, optics, electronics, and machine tools. The updated list took effect on 11 April.
Why it matters: The addition of an entity to the UVL constitutes a de facto embargo, due to the licence-related complications involved with suppliers engaging with the entities on the list. A2 Global advises companies to factor the revisions into their operational and logistical planning, and assess the impact they will have on their supply chain. Companies should also factor the revisions into their compliance- and third-party due diligence procedures when engaging with Chinese organisations. They can be found on the Federal Register website. For guidance on the UVL, consult the BIS website.
United States & Mexico ' Border agents redeployed to key Texas crossing MEXICO ' Travel risk: High UNITED STATES ' Travel risk: Medium
11 April: US congresswoman Veronica Escobar, who represents a district containing the border city of El Paso, Texas, announced that US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the country's main border control agency, will send an additional 100 agents to the El Paso-Ciudad Ju'rez crossing in an effort to reduce delays at the border. Escobar also announced that agents could be deployed to crossings in the Rio Grande Valley. These would likely include the Reynosa-McAllen and Matamoros-Brownsville crossings.
Why it matters: Routine border crossings have slowed considerably at numerous crossings in the past two weeks, after approximately 750 border agents were transferred to immigration duties amid a sharp increase in people seeking asylum in the US. The delays also coincide with US President Donald Trump's repeated threats to close the border over a perceived lack of action from Mexico and Central American countries El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala to counter migrants' travel to the US's southern border. While yesterday's announcement is likely to cut wait times at the El Paso-Ciudad Ju'rez crossing, disruption is set to continue at other important crossings, such as the San Ysidro and Otay Mesa crossings in California.
Mexico, Central America & Caribbean
Regional ' New migrant caravan departs, increasing border risks REGIONAL
9 April: A new migrant caravan consisting of approximately 1,000 people departed the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula on buses towards the country's border with Guatemala. The caravan's members are seeking to travel via Guatemala and Mexico to the US, and in many cases are fleeing violence, poverty and organised criminality. The caravan firstly travelled to the Agua Caliente border crossing, before entering Mexico. The migrants are then set to travel north until reaching the US border. Baja California and Tamaulipas states, on Mexico's Pacific and Gulf of Mexico coastlines respectively, are likely locations for attempting to cross into the US.
Why it matters: While the caravan is large, it is smaller than one which sought to reach the US border in October 2018, which contained around 3,000 people. The caravan is likely to lead to disruption at border crossings and along Federal Highway 200, a key Pacific Coast route, if it enters Mexico. A2 Global advises firms which regularly move goods across the borders and within Mexico, particularly in Chiapas, Oaxaca, and Puebla states, to monitor the caravan's progress and factor possible disruption into operational planning in the one-month outlook.
Nicaragua ' Opposition groups set to protest, heightening travel risk NICARAGUA ' Travel risk: High
16 April: A large rally organised by the National Blue and White Unity (UNAB) opposition coalition will take place in the capital Managua on 17 April to mark a year since the inception of an anti-government protest movement. Protesters will gather at 1400 local time at the Rotonda Centroam'rica, a large roundabout in the Distrito 1 area, before marching 1.5km north-west to the Alexis Arg'ello monument. Why it matters: Large anti-government demonstrations have been ongoing since April 2018, when President Daniel Ortega's administration presented a botched pension reform, sparking protests from opposition groups. The protests developed into a wider movement against Ortega's government, and led to months of violent confrontations between protesters and security services, who were supported by sympathetic paramilitary groups. Over 300 people were killed. Individuals in Managua should monitor updates, exercise heightened vigilance, anticipate a large security presence, and avoid the march as a precaution. Allow additional time for travel.