Colombia criticises US move to end ‘net neutrality’
December 18, 2017
Mexico: On 14 December, a Mexican government delegation led by Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray Caso and Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong attended a second meeting on the Mexico-US Strategic Dialogue on Disrupting Transnational Criminal Organisations held in Washington DC. During the meeting the Mexican delegation met with US government officials including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and the newly designated Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen. In a joint press conference after the meeting, the officials revealed that they had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) under which the US authorities are to share information about the criminal history of any Mexican nationals deported from the US back to their home country. Secretary Nielsen explained that via the Criminal History Information Sharing Program, “US Immigration and Customs and Customs Enforcement will be able to provide Mexico with US criminal history of repatriated Mexicans”. Secretary Nielsen added that the plan is for the MOU to eventually translate into a “biometric-based platform” that will allow the US authorities to share biometric data and the convictions and any known gang affiliations of individuals with their Mexican counterparts. “By sharing information and resources and increasing detection and interdiction of illegal goods we are combatting the TCOs [Transnational Criminal Organisations] that threaten the security of our communities”, Nielsen concluded.
Colombia: On 14 December, Colombia’s communications & information technology minister, David Luna, criticised the decision by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to repeal the so-called ‘net neutrality regulations’ that prevented internet service providers (ISPs) from blocking certain sites, charging more for higher-quality service (including for business customers), or for access to certain content. The controversial decision means that the US government will no longer regulate high-speed internet delivery as if it were a public service and allow greater liberalisation of the market. The FCC argues that this will help ISPs increase their profits so that they can reinvest them in the sector to the benefit of the economy. But the move has been criticised in some quarters that believe that it would lead to less internet content being openly available to the public; and that it would harm start-up internet businesses by making it harder to for these to reach their intended audiences. The FCC’s decision would also affect internet businesses in Latin America and around the world, as these could suddenly face restricted access to US internet audiences. Minister Luna rejected the FCC’s decision on the grounds that it would affect the free and equal access to the internet. “Internet access must be free and equal to all consumers…and what this decision pretends to do is to benefit those that have the capacity to pay more to receive faster connections and better content”, Luna said, adding that “Colombia will continue to insist that net neutrality becomes a legal principle in order to protect, consumers, users, and of course, competition”.
Cuba: On 11 December, the US and Cuba held the 31st biannual Migration Talks in Washington, DC. US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs John Creamer and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Ed Ramotowski led the US delegation. The Cuban delegation was led by Josefina Vidal, Cuba’s foreign ministry’s director general for US affairs. A US State Department press release noted that the delegations discussed the significant reduction in irregular migration from Cuba to the US since the implementation of the January 2017 Joint Statement agreement. According to the US State Department, apprehensions of Cuban migrants at US ports of entry were down by 64% from fiscal year 2016 to 2017, while maritime interdictions of Cuban migrants decreased by 71%. The US confirmed it met its annual commitment in fiscal year 2017 to facilitate legal migration by issuing a minimum of 20,000 documents under the Migration Accords to Cubans to immigrate to the US. The press release also notes that the US delegation raised the need for increased Cuban cooperation in the return of Cubans with final orders of removal from the US. The Migration Talks, which began in 1995, provide a forum for the US and Cuba to review and coordinate efforts to ensure safe, legal, and orderly migration between Cuba and the US.
Argentina: On 12 December, delegates from Argentina called on the US to reinstate preferential trade tariffs during the IX World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial meeting held in Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires. This was the main take-away from a meeting between Argentina’s foreign minister, Jorge Faurie, Argentina’s production minister, Francisco Cabrera, and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. The call to strengthen bilateral trade comes after US President Donald Trump vetoed the previous zero-tariffs agreement between the US and Argentina when he first came to power on 20 January. Notably, the US also imposed countervailing duties on biofuel imports from Argentina in August, and Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri said he would appeal the measure before the WTO. However, delegates did not broach the issue of biofuels directly during their meeting in Buenos Aires.
Latin American Newsletters (LatinNews) was founded in London in 1967 to provide expert political, economic, and security analysis on Latin America and the Caribbean. For nearly 50 years, it has been acknowledged as the foremost authority on the region.