Trump uses MS-13 violence to justify anti-immigrant policies

The street gang Mara Salvatrucha or MS-13 is US president Donald Trump's rhetorical ISIS for the Americas.   Trump uses the spectre of MS-13 gang violence to generate fear of every migrant from a region just as he uses the spectre of ISIS to generate fear of Muslims and migrants from the Middle East.  Trump and his attorney general Jeff Sessions have frequently referred to the Central American gang as the reason the US must build a southern border wall and must increase immigration enforcement and deportations.

Jeff Sessions being interviewed on FoxNews played the MS-13 card hard:
 Attorney General Jeff Sessions vowed Tuesday to "devastate" the Central American gang MS-13, calling the group "one of the most violent gangs in the history of our country, no doubt about it."  Sessions spoke to Fox News' "Tucker Carlson Tonight" hours after President Trump blamed what he called "the weak illegal immigration polices" of the Obama administratio…

Uber may be coming to San Salvador

The ride-sharing service Uber may be coming soon to San Salvador.   According to a report in LPG's El Economista, Uber has begun taking applications from potential drivers in the country at the website

Persons interested in becoming drivers will need to have their own car with liability insurance, and a certified clean driving record.  

Since the Uber app requires that customers of the service have a credit card to enroll, this will be a service useful only to the middle and upper classes in the country.  It will also be interesting to see if the app can acquire acceptance in El Salvador with its high crime rate, and where in my experience most people have a prior relationship with the drivers and taxis they might hire.    The cash free transactions of Uber may be attractive to drivers and passengers alike.

Re-branding El Salvador and this blog

El Salvador has developed a new logo to brand itself when it goes out to seek foreign tourists and investors.   The new logo was designed by the consulting firm Interbrand who explains the concept:
The new brand strategy is based on a previous study conducted by the El Salvador Government and further research carried out by Interbrand. It looks to “put El Salvador on the map as one of the new destinations and growing global economies,” says Interbrand.  A new visual identity also aims to increase international awareness of El Salvador and promote investment, exports and tourism in the country.  The logo centres on the letter “V” within El Salvador’s name and sees a “kaleidoscope” of colourful graphic icons related to the country – including a volcano, birds and waves – bursting out of it.  The logo also includes a tagline beneath the country’s name that reads: “Great like our people”.

Indigo blue has been chosen as the main colour throughout the identity due to its historic associati…

El Salvador freezes OceanaGold assets

When the gold mining company OceanaGold lost its international arbitration with the government of El Salvador, it was ordered to pay $8 million in legal fees incurred by El Salvador to defend the case. Yet so far, the company has not honored its obligation to pay those fees.
This week El Salvador took the step of freezing OceanaGold's assets in the country as a way to gain some of that payment.   From Reuters:
El Salvador froze bank accounts and assets belonging to OceanaGold Corp after the mining company refused to pay the country $8 million as mandated by an international court, the Attorney General's Office said on Tuesday. Last year, El Salvador won an arbitration at the World Bank's International Center for Settlements of Investment Disputes (ICSID) against the Australian-Canadian mining firm, which sought $250 million from the Central American nation for revoking an extraction permit....  The asset freeze was authorized by the Supreme Court to ensure payment complian…

Statistics on migration to the US

Number of El Salvador born migrants living in US
Good data is important to good understanding for policy decisions, and  this is especially true when it comes to understanding migrant and refugee flows across borders.   My go-to source for documented and credible migration data is the Migration Policy Institute ("MPI").   
Recently, MPI released a spotlight report on Central American migrants in the United States.  Among such migrants, those from El Salvador make up the largest share at 40% of the total:

The MPI report provides a wealth of other statistics which you can sort and filter on such things as education level, age, workforce participation, healthcare coverage, English language proficiency and more.
For example, MPI lets you see, down to the county level, the locations where Salvadorans and other migrants have settled within the US:

Bookmark the MPI site for when you need migration data in the future.

El Salvador's fiscal mess

The government of El Salvador is failing to get its financial house in order, and that failure is having significant repercussions.   The government failed to make payments on certain pension related debt last week, and this prompted major downgrades from all the global credit rating agencies.  As S&P explains, the problem is political stalemate:

El Salvador's Congress recently failed to approve a budgetary allocation that was needed to cover payment of financial commitments for pension-related debt. As a result, the government missed payments on financial obligations coming from the Certificates for Pension Investments (CIPs) due between April 7 and April 10, 2017, adding up to $28.8 million....  Political polarization has heightened over the last year, resulting in an uncertain policy environment, including diminished willingness and capability to maintain timely debt payments. This deteriorating political environment continues to erode El Salvador's credit quality. The go…

Tough talk has driven down undocumented migration

Apprehensions of undocumented migrants at the southwest US border have dropped dramatically since president Trump has taken office.  Apprehensions have dropped from 58,000 in December to 43,000 in January, 24,000 in February and 17,000 in March.
Within the drop in migrants noted above, there has been an even greater drop of 93% in the numbers of mothers with children being apprehended.  A Reuters story today titled Separate mothers and children: How a Trump threat deterred illegal migrants, argues that it is Trump's threats and tough talk about how he will handle families crossing the border, more than any actual policy actions, which have deterred migrants from making the dangerous journey north. According to Reuters:   The policies targeting women and children have their roots in a working group consisting of Capitol Hill staffers and others called together by Trump’s transition team in the weeks after the Nov. 8 election.  The group was asked to develop policies to discourage …