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Trump’s Threat of Tarrifs on Mexico Prompts Outcry

The United States would begin imposing an escalating tax on imports from Mexico

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Trump's, Threat, Tarrifs, Mexico
FILE - A Central American migrant is detained by Mexican immigration agents on the highway to Pijijiapan, Mexico, April 22, 2019. VOA

Mexico’s foreign minister says he has starting negotiating with U.S. officials after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to impose tariffs on Mexican products related to the migrant surge at the border.

Marcelo Ebrard said on Twitter Friday that he had spoken to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo by phone and said face-to-face talks between the two would take place Wednesday in Washington.

“The summit to resolve the U.S. dispute with our country will be on Wednesday in Washington,” Ebrard said. “We will be firm and defend the dignity of Mexico.”

Earlier Friday, Mexico’s president responded to the U.S. tariff threats with caution urging “dialogue” over “coercive measures.”

Trump's, Threat, Tarrifs, Mexico
FILE – Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador attends a news conference at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, May 31, 2019. VOA

“I want to reiterate that we are not going to fall into any provocation; but we are going to be prudent, and we are going to respect the authorities of the United States and President Donald Trump,” said Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

His statement Friday morning followed a two-page letter to Trump made public late Thursday, similar in tone, responding to Trump’s announcement on Twitter earlier in the day that the United States would begin imposing an escalating tax on imports from Mexico.

“On June 10th, the United States will impose a 5% Tariff on all goods coming into our Country from Mexico, until such time as illegal migrants coming through Mexico, and into our Country, STOP,” Trump tweeted. Until “the illegal immigration problem is remedied” tariffs will continue to rise monthly, going as high as 25% by October 1.

U.S. border agents have apprehended an increasing number of people, largely from Central America, who crossed the southern U.S. border without authorization in recent months.

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In contrast to previous spikes in arrivals, recent groups have included a large number of children, prompting U.S. officials to scramble to support families and children traveling without parents, some of whom are seeking asylum.

In an indication of the pressing demands at the border, U.S. Customs and Border Protection solicited bids for the purchase of tens of thousands of baby diapers, wipes and bottles this past week, according to documents reviewed by VOA on a government contracting website.

Mexico has the “absolute ability and authority to do a lot more than they’re doing,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters Friday.

Reaction from Mexico

Lopez Obrador posted a letter to Twitter after Trump’s announcement that said, “Social problems are not resolved with taxes or coercive measures.”

Trump's, Threat, Tarrifs, Mexico
FILE – A group of Central American migrants surrenders to U.S. Border Patrol Agents south of the U.S.-Mexico border fence in El Paso, Texas, March 6, 2019. VOA

Trump’s announcement of the new tariffs came on the same day Mexico began the formal process of ratifying the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (US MCA) on trade.

Mexico’s deputy foreign minister for North America, Jesus Seade, says such tariffs would be disastrous, expressing more alarm than the Mexican president.

“If this threat is carried out, it would be extremely serious,” he told reporters. “If this is put in place, we must respond vigorously.”

For one trade expert, who previously served as Mexico’s ambassador to China, a top trading partner for that country and the U.S., the timing of Trump’s tariff statement raises questions about the future of the US MCA.

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“By mixing two things — immigration and now just lately drug flow with trade — I think it confuses the issue,” said Jorge Guajardo, a senior director at the Washington-based international trade consulting firm McLarty Associates.

The trade deal “was a triumph for all three countries, and now of course, that all comes into doubt,” Guajardo added.

Marking progress

Some Republican members of Congress but no Democrats were consulted about White House plan, according to acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.

Asked in a hastily arranged conference call with reporters about benchmarks Mexico would need to achieve to have the tariffs lifted, Mulvaney said there needs to be significant and substantial reductions in arrivals from Central America crossing into the United States.

“We’re going to take this and look at it on a day-to-day and week-to-week basis,” Mulvaney said. “We are interested in seeing the Mexican government act tonight, tomorrow.”

Trump has repeatedly accused Mexico of not doing enough to stop Central American migrants from traveling through the country on their way to the United States.

The U.S. system, however, is not infallible. While the country has increased its apprehension rate at the border in recent years, U.S. border agents stop an estimated 65% to 80% of people crossing into the country without authorization, according to a 2018 DHS report. (VOA)

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Mosquitoes Pose Threat to More Than Half the World’s Population

Many species of mosquito feed on the blood of various hosts and ingest pathogens, meaning their bites can transfer diseases directly

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Mosquitoes, Threat, World
Below are 10 ways that the mosquito — Spanish for "little fly" — has affected humans and methods to mitigate the risks. VOA

A warmer climate, travel and trade are helping to spread mosquito-borne diseases as a deadly beast smaller than a paper clip poses a threat to more than half the world’s population.

World Mosquito Day on Tuesday commemorated the discovery in 1897 by British doctor Ronald Ross that female mosquitoes transmit malaria between humans, but the World Health Organization (WHO) warns progress against malaria is stalling.

Below are 10 ways that the mosquito — Spanish for “little fly” — has affected humans and methods to mitigate the risks:

1. Many species of mosquito feed on the blood of various hosts and ingest pathogens, meaning their bites can transfer diseases directly into the blood of hosts. This has made mosquitoes one of the deadliest animals in the world.

Mosquitoes, Threat, World
A warmer climate, travel and trade are helping to spread mosquito-borne diseases as a deadly beast smaller than a paper clip poses a threat to more than half the world’s population. Pixabay

2. Mosquito bites result in the deaths of more than one million people every year with the majority due to malaria, and the WHO warns nearly half of the world population is at risk. In 2017, malaria caused over 435,000 deaths.

3. About 90% of all malaria deaths occur in Africa. Currently in Burundi, more than half the population is infected with malaria.

4. Malaria cases continue to spread in countries including Uganda, where the Ministry of Health this week announced a 40% increase in instances of the disease this year to 1.4 million.

5. Dengue fever is a viral disease widely spread in tropical regions that 2.5 billion people are at risk of contracting. Up to 100 million new infections are estimated to occur annually in more than 100 countries.

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6. Most mosquitoes only fly an average of 400 meters. It is often humans, not mosquitoes, that carry a disease across communities and countries. The mosquito blamed for transmitting the Zika virus breeds in car tires, tin cans, dog bowls and cemetery flower vases.

7. After Zika spread to the United States in 2016, experts warned that more life-threatening diseases could be carried from the tropics.

8. Up to one billion additional people, including those in the United States and Europe, could be exposed to mosquito-carried viruses by 2080 if the climate continues to warm, according to U.S. research released earlier this year.

Mosquitoes, Threat, World
World Mosquito Day on Tuesday commemorated the discovery in 1897 by British doctor Ronald Ross that female mosquitoes transmit malaria between humans. Pixabay

9. If you have ever wondered why mosquitoes are more attracted to certain people, research published in the PNAS scientific journal demonstrated that some people are able to emit masking odors that can naturally repel mosquitoes.

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10. Hitting mosquitoes where it hurts — their eggs — is one way of controlling pesticide-resistant insects. North and Central American scientists in 2016 came up with a trap to trap eggs using two pieces of an old tire. (VOA)