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Spurred by reopening, more migrants head for U.S.-Mexico border

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November 7, 2021

By Lizbeth Diaz

TIJUANA (Reuters) – Emboldened by news that the United States and Mexico will reopen shared land-border crossings, hundreds of migrants have arrived at Mexican border cities like Tijuana, hoping the reset will make it easier to cross and seek U.S. asylum.

Starting on Monday, the nearly 2,000-mile (3,200-km) border will be open again to non-essential travel after a 20-month closure aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19. Both countries have succeeded in lowering new infections and vaccinating border communities.

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Another drive to enter the United States could increase pressure on Washington to tighten the border after a jump in migrants this year from troubled areas of Central America and the Caribbean tested President Joe Biden.

“I’m going to try. We want to get across the border. I can’t be in Mexico anymore. There’s a lot of violence here,” said Andrea Morales, a Guatemalan who has been living in a makeshift camp for a month next to Tijuana’s El Chaparral border crossing.

“Four days ago, the government took away our lights and fenced us in like animals. I put my faith in God so I can cross and give my kids a better life,” Morales said as she stood nursing her baby amid dozens of tents.

    Local authorities angered migrants last week when they threw away tents and other belongings that had been left in the camp they have occupied since February.

‘MISINFORMATION’

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Migrant advocates say many people have been misled about what the border restart means for their asylum prospects.

“There’s a lot of misinformation. We have explained to them that the reopening of the border is for people who have papers, a visa, to cross and it’s not a reopening for people to cross and ask for asylum and humanitarian aid,” said Jose Garcia, head of migrant shelter Movimiento Juventud 2000 in Tijuana.

“They haven’t listened to us and they don’t want to wait,” he added, saying the number of migrants in the shelter had risen by a third since the reopening was announced on Oct. 15.

Mexicans are also arriving.

Many migrants in Tijuana said they were fleeing violence in Mexican states such as Michoacan and Guerrero, and aimed to cross on Monday to ask for asylum.

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In 2020, 9,700 Mexicans were displaced by violence, a jump of over a third from the previous year, according to the Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre.

The pandemic, along with a surge in U.S. asylum requests, has meant thousands of migrants spend months in Mexico waiting for a response to their petitions or just a chance to file them.

    “I never left with the intention of staying in Mexico. It’s like Honduras,” said Augusto Martinez, a Honduran who arrived in Tijuana three weeks ago with his wife and five children. “We’re definitely going to try and cross.”

(Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz; Editing by Dave Graham and Peter Cooney)

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Russian court remands mine director, inspectors in custody after deadly accident

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November 27, 2021

MOSCOW (Reuters) – A court in Siberia on Saturday remanded five people in custody for two months to face charges related to a mining accident that killed more than 50 people this week.

Three managers of the Listvyazhnaya mine, including its director, were ordered to remain in custody until late January for flouting industrial safety standards, a spokesperson for the regional prosecutor’s office said.

The court also ordered two safety inspectors, who had issued a certificate for the mine this month but had not actually checked the facility, to remain in custody until late January.

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The accident, which regional authorities say was likely caused by a methane explosion, claimed the lives of 51 people, including five rescuers who were sent to bring out dozens of men stuck deep underground.

The health ministry said on Saturday that 60 people were being treated in hospital for injuries sustained at the mine, TASS news agency reported.

The accident at the mine, located some 3,500 km (2,200 miles) east of Moscow in the Kemerovo region, was Russia’s worst since 2010 when explosions killed 91 people at the Raspadskaya mine in the same region.

(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Christina Fincher)

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Russia spy chief says Ukraine invasion plan ‘malicious’ U.S. propaganda

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November 27, 2021

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia has no plans to invade Ukraine and suggestions to the contrary are malicious U.S. propaganda, Moscow’s foreign intelligence chief said on Saturday.

U.S., NATO and Ukrainian officials have raised the alarm in recent weeks over what they say are unusual Russian troop movements near the border with Ukraine, suggesting that Moscow may be poised to launch an attack.

Russia has repeatedly said it is free to move its troops on its own territory and that such movements should not be a cause for concern.

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“I need to reassure everyone. Nothing like this is going to happen,” Sergei Naryshkin, head of Russia’s foreign intelligence agency, said in an interview broadcast on state television, referring to comments on Russia’s alleged invasion plans.

“Everything that is happening around this topic right now is of course malicious propaganda by the U.S. State Department.”

Naryshkin spoke a day after the State Department’s top U.S. diplomat for European affairs said all options were on the table in how to respond to Russia’s troop buildup near Ukraine’s border and that NATO would decide on the next move after consultations next week.

While U.S. officials have voiced concerns about a possible Russian attack on Ukraine, Moscow has accused Washington, Kyiv and NATO of provocative and irresponsible behaviour near its borders.

(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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Spanish police march in Madrid to protest against ‘Gag Law’ reform

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November 27, 2021

By Miguel Gutierrez and Marco Trujillo

MADRID (Reuters) – Thousands of Spanish police officers marched through Madrid on Saturday to protest against a proposed reform of a security law which they say will hamper their ability to do their work.

Politicians from Spain’s three main conservative parties joined police officers in the protest against proposed changes to the 2015 Citizens Security Law, which critics say violates the right to protest and limits free expression.

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Dubbed the “Gag Law” by those who oppose it, the legislation allows authorities to fine media organisations for distributing unauthorised images of police, strictly limits demonstrations and imposes heavy fines for offenders.

Spain’s leftist government has proposed reforms including no longer classifying the taking of photographs or making of recordings of police at demonstrations as a serious offence.

Under the changes, police will also have to use less harmful materials at protests after a number of people were seriously injured by rubber bullets fired by officers.

The time that suspects who are arrested at protests can be held in custody will be cut from six hours to two and fines will be proportional to how much offenders earn.

“They should either leave the current law as it is or make it better for the police and for the citizens,” Civil Guard officer Vanessa Gonzalez told Reuters.

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Ivan Espinosa de los Monteros, of the far-right Vox party, said: “There is strong opposition against (the reform) of this law. It is against our police and we will not let it happen.”

However, Isa Serra, spokeswoman for the far-left Unidas Podemos party, said at a rally in Cantabria in northern Spain that the law had done a “lot of damage to Spanish democracy”.

Organisers said 150,000 people took part in the Madrid demonstration but the government put the figure at 20,000.

(Reporting by Graham Keeley, Miguel Gutierrez and Marco Trujillo; Editing by Alexander Smith)

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