Other than a long morning staff meeting and check-ins with colleagues at WOLA, I should be reachable today. Other than some brief writing about Colombia, my main goal is to make big progress on a project, involving creation of a web resource, that will focus and strengthen my work on the border.
My streak of sending out weekly e-mail newsletters now stands at 13. Here’s the latest one. I resolved at the new year to be more regular at these. So that means this horrible year is already 13 weeks old.
You can read it and subscribe there, or just subscribe at the bottom of this very page.
If coronavirus wasn’t putting a halt to such things, this week the U.S. government would’ve sent back to Colombia one of the maximum leaders of the AUC paramilitary group, Salvatore Mancuso, who was extradited to face drug trafficking charges in 2008. In a detailed piece at Canada’s National Post, Brian Fitzpatrick tells the story of Mancuso, the AUC, and its “Justice and Peace” demobilization process. He also talks to AUC victims exiled in Canada. (Also noteworthy this week: an El Espectadorprofile of Carlos Mario Jiménez alias “Macaco,” a much-feared AUC leader who the U.S. government sent back to Colombia last July.)
The Friedrich Ebert Foundation’s security program published a brilliant overview of security, defense, U.S. policy, great-power influence, multilateralism, globalism, and the crisis of democracy in Latin America, by Argentine-Spanish analyst Mariano Aguirre, former Obama administration defense official Rebecca Bill Chavez, and former Bachelet administration defense official Marcos Robledo. (The paper is dated January 2020, but was just released this week.)
In the New York Review of Books, veteran Brazil correspondent Vincent Bevins portrays the country’s politics, economy, and human rights situation just over a year into the Bolsonaro administration—within the context of the archconservative president’s unhinged coronavirus denialism.
Another populist president in the region, Mexico’s Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has also come under fire for his slow response to the virus. Alex Ward at Vox wrote a nuanced but dire explanation of what’s happening there.
At the New York Times, Nathaniel Popper and Ana Vanessa Herrero profile Gabriel Jiménez, the twentysomething coder whose belief in the liberating power of cryptocurrencies led him to create the Maduro government’s “Petro.” Jiménez now lives in exile in the United States; his account is rich with details about the Maduro regime. Don’t miss the part where Maduro asks Vice President Tareck El Aissami to fix his air conditioner by banging on it.
Top Trump administration officials grew angry with Matt Albence, the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, after he announced that immigration authorities would halt most enforcement efforts during the coronavirus outbreak
Due to the restrictions imposed to contain the pandemic, state protection measures have been weakened, they can no longer keep moving from one location to another for their safety, and their attackers know that public security forces are focusing on issues related to the pandemic
“Cuba offers its international medical missions to those afflicted with #COVID?19 only to make up the money it lost when countries stopped participating in the abusive program,” tweeted an account for the US State Department Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
The undersigned organizations call on the U.S. government to issue a time-bound suspension of sanctions on Cuba to facilitate the flow of desperately needed humanitarian and medical supplies to the Cuban people as they cope with the global COVID-19 pandemic
El ingreso de un grupo de deportados salvadoreños este martes 24 ocurrió apenas un día después de que el Departamento de Seguridad Nacional (DHS, por sus siglas en inglés) presionara a los gobiernos del Triángulo Norte de Centroamérica para que levantaran sus cuarentenas en los aeropuertos
President Trump recently announced strict new border controls, citing concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. Officials will now turn away most migrants entering the country from the U.S.-Mexico border — including people coming legally and fleeing violence. Jean Guerrero of KPBS spoke to families stuck in limbo at the country’s busiest land border crossing, just south of San Diego in Tijuana
An indictment, unveiled at a video news conference in Washington, D.C., accuses Maduro and other current and former officials in his socialist regime of conspiring with the U.S.-designated terrorist group known as the FARC, so that Venezuela could be used as a base for narcotics shipments
Whatever incentive these key power brokers might have had to support a transition has been wiped out. They are each more likely to decide that they’re better off sticking with Maduro, even if it means going down with the ship
I’m recording podcasts with people at 10 and 3. Otherwise I should be at my desk working on an analysis of Latin America’s militaries and the powers and roles they’re being given during this crisis, as well as some border work.
More than 60,000 people have disappeared in Mexico since 2006. As a March 23 WOLA commentary by Maureen Meyer and Gina Hinojosa notes, the current government is taking some initial steps to address the crisis. A great deal, however, remains to be done, and victims’ groups trying to locate the disappeared continue to work very much on their own.
To discuss the crisis and Mexico’s incipient efforts to address it, Meyer and Hinojosa are joined by two guests from the frontlines of Mexico’s fight to locate and identify the disappeared. Mariano Machain is the international advocacy coordinator at SERAPAZ Mexico, a non-governmental organization working for peace and positive transformation of social conflicts. Lucy Díaz (seen in a December 2019 ABC News Nightline feature) is a leader of Colectivo Solecito, a group of mothers searching for the disappeared in Veracruz state; her son Luis disappeared in 2013.
After many years of accumulating home office-type gadgets, working at home is tolerable.
In the frame: Mac Mini with dual monitors, MacBook Air, sheet-fed scanner, podcasting mic, HD camera, blu-ray burner, printer, mechanical keyboard, mouse, Hue lamp, amp, LED lighting, speakers, turntable, headphones.
If you find this horrifying, I totally understand. If it’s any consolation, there’s a washer/dryer and a litterbox behind me.
Law-and-order strategies that “stuff” Brazil’s crowded prisons with new inmates may actually exacerbate the problem, given that the PCC has effectively converted the country’s prisons into logistical hubs and training centers of illicit activity
El consejero para la Estabilización, Emilio Archila, resaltó la importancia del trabajo de los campesinos que han dado el paso a la legalidad y a través del Programa han sustituido 41 mil 370 hectáreas
Con el operativo militar, que fue concertado con el Gobierno nacional, el alcalde espera enfrentar dos grandes crisis que vive el municipio: la situación sanitaria por el COVID-19 y el aumento de la migración venezolana
“People expressed fear of contracting the COVID-19 virus and announced their intention to start a hunger strike if they were not released,” the rights groups said. National Guard and INM officers deployed poles, water hoses, pepper spray and Tasers
Por redes sociales o a través de mensajes por WhatsApp, diversos grupos en el Estado de México, Oaxaca y Puebla han hecho llamados para realizar saqueos en tiendas departamentales por las noches o en la madrugada
La banda delictiva de Tlacotepec que dirige Onésimo Marquina Chapa, alias El Necho, irrumpió en las comunidades de Tepozonalco y El Naranjo para desplazar al grupo denominado Cártel del Sur, que encabeza Isaac Navarrete Celis, El Señor de la I
The protesters demanded greater controls and screenings on southbound traffic at the U.S.-Mexico border out of concern that travelers from the U.S. could import new cases of the coronavirus into Mexico
The threat against Avila, who is now in hiding but spoke with Reuters by telephone, is one of at least seven recent episodes in which Venezuelan authorities have sought to arrest critics of the government’s preparedness for the coronavirus
The new computer is set up and working well. It’s a gigantic improvement.
Lots of virtual meetings today: I’m on a conference call about human rights defenders in Colombia, recording a podcast about Mexico, and guest-teaching a George Washington University class. I’ll edit and post that podcast, and try to book some new ones. In any extra time, I plan to start building an online resource for the border work.
Explainers, the new section, is a series of brief articles offering plain-language, fact-filled explanations of persistent, evergreen topics. Each looks at an aspect of Colombia’s conflict, peace effort, human rights challenges, or U.S. policy. The format is inspired by—but less ambitious than—the “card stacks” that Vox.com used when it first launched, but later abandoned.
These Explainers are never “finished.” We’ll edit and update them as new information emerges or situations change. Months from now, some may look quite different than they do now.
I’ve completed three Explainers so far, and plan to add approximately one per week between now and June. Right now, you can find Explainers about:
Coca Cultivation and Eradication: An overview of the bush used to make cocaine, the criminal activity that has grown up around it, its relation to the conflict, and unsuccessful efforts to eradicate it.