I’m mostly reachable, with a few meetings scattered throughout the day. (How to contact me)
Getting a late start, as I was up quite late working on a WOLA article about the border. It’s still really just an outline with bits of prose hanging off of it, so there’s hours to go. I’ll keep working on that all day, intermittently, into the evening. I’d like to get the draft off of my desk before the day ends.
My kid has a doctor checkup, and I’m in a border coalition meeting and an interview with a journalist. Otherwise, I’ll be at my desk writing all day.
The announcement — which was not sent out to media outlets, a break in the usual protocol — replaced an agency statement that ICE publicly announced in March, when it said it would “adjust its enforcement posture.”
Almendares, a freelancer who used social media to criticize the government of President Juan Orlando Hernandez, had repeatedly complained to police and the country’s National Protection System over receiving death threats
SeguridadSinGuerra agregó: “el uso extraordinario y acotado de las fuerzas armadas hasta 2024 es un elemento fundamental de la reforma y una obligación internacional del Estado, fijado por la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos e inscrito en nuestra Constitución”
At Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, border agents have forcefully broken up protests by members of the O’odham Nation attempting to block the bulldozers near ancestral burial sites and a fragile desert oasis
The task too great to undertake alone, the Donald J. Trump administration should instead work multilaterally, redoubling its efforts to harmonize policy with the European Union and to develop a carrot-and-stick approach
If you saw last night’s presidential debate, you probably share my regret for having stayed up late to watch it. What a poor use of scarce time.
Today I’m getting a slightly late start, but the plan is to finish drafting an article for WOLA about the border. I’ve got an internal meeting mid-day and an outdoor coffee with a reporter in early afternoon, but should otherwise be mostly reachable.
I was eating a quick between-meeting lunch in a cheap Bogotá restaurant one afternoon in the early 2000s, probably during Álvaro Uribe’s first term. The TV under which I was sitting started playing a treacly theme song, and on came the opening sequence of Padres e Hijos, a long-running soap opera that was dominating Colombia’s daytime ratings at the time. It looked like this 2004 version posted to YouTube:
I stared at this sequence, open-mouthed. I found it so jarring that I remember it today. I’d just sat through several meetings with security experts and human rights activists, hearing of untold horror in Colombia’s countryside, and I would be hearing more before my day’s agenda wrapped up. Did the cultural artifact on the screen above me really come from the same country? A country that, at that moment, was grinding through the most intense period of one of Latin America’s longest armed conflicts?
As the intro indicates, Padres e Hijos focused on an upper-middle-class, dominant-ethnicity Bogotá family. Though they undergo soap-opera tribulations, the Franco family is an Uribe-era Colombian take on the American Dream, and the country’s armed conflict doesn’t seem to be much of a factor in their lives.
I dwelled on this memory while reading this very good, much-shared September 26 essay by Indi Samarajiva, a wealthy young Sri Lankan who lived alongside the brutal denouement of his country’s long civil war.
I moved back to Sri Lanka in my twenties, just as the ceasefire fell apart. Do you know what it was like for me? Quite normal. I went to work, I went out, I dated. This is what Americans don’t understand. They’re waiting to get personally punched in the face while ash falls from the sky. That’s not how it happens.
Samarajiva is writing for a U.S. audience fearful that America as we know it is about to disintegrate. His message is: it’s already happening, but most people are lucky enough not to feel it.
Even as he turned out lights for air raids, waited on gas lines, and saw smoke rising from bombing sites in Colombo, Samarajiva went to concerts, went out dancing, and played Scrabble with friends. There is no moment at which the conflict defined his life. What he calls “collapse” (also the name of a grim but very popular Reddit group) is always there in the background, a steady horror, but he can tune it out.
Samarajiva argues that the United States in 2020 has collapsed, though many of us haven’t noticed it yet. COVID-19 is killing 1,000 people per day. There are mass shootings and protests, crackdowns on dissent, and very long lines at food pantries.
A thousand families are grieving tonight. A thousand more join them every day. The pain doesn’t go away, it just becomes a furniture of bones, in a thousand homes. But that’s exactly how collapse feels. This is how I felt. This is how millions of people have felt, including many immigrants in your midst. We’re trying to tell you as loud as we can. You can get out of it, but you have to understand where you are to even turn around. This, I fear, is one of many things Americans do not understand. You tell yourself American collapse is impossible. Meanwhile, look around.
The science-fiction writer William Gibson famously said, “The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.” The same goes for armed conflict or social collapse.
Are you a U.S. resident with the free time to be reading this? Do you have the means to do so over a broadband connection? Are you reading the screen of one of a few internet-capable devices in your home? If so, then it’s likely that you—like the Franco family in Bogotá—aren’t bearing the brunt of the breakdown already underway here at home.
But first, back to Colombia. The late 1990s and early 2000s, when I was gaping over my sandwich at Padres e Hijos, was the most intense period of Colombia’s conflict. The data show it: this plotting of massacres, kidnappings, homicides, disappearances, and displacements, from the 2013 report of the Colombian government’s Center for Historical Memory, illustrates how badly the country was going off the rails at the turn of the century. That’s when everything peaks:
This was a bloody period, punctuated by paramilitary massacres and guerrilla mass kidnappings that still haunt the country today. About 1 percent of the population was being forcibly displaced each year. A peace process limped along for three years then failed. U.S. intelligence analysts were worrying about Colombia becoming a failed state.
For many Colombians, though—probably the majority, especially in cities—life went on. Even as displaced families begged at busy intersections and the possibility of visiting other cities by land grew too risky, life was, by and large, pretty normal.
Colombia’s economy, which rarely goes into recession, grew at a sluggish 0.6 percent rate in 1998 and dipped into a -4.2 percent slump in 1999. But then it recovered to 2.9 percent growth in 2000 and remained in positive territory; by 2004 it, and the local stock index, were booming. Cars had to be checked by bomb-sniffing dogs at shopping malls’ entrances, but the malls had lots of customers and few empty storefronts. In Bogotá, where mayors Antanas Mockus and Enrique Peñalosa were building parks and opening (in December 2000) the TransMilenio rapid transit system, homicide rates fell sharply. Mockus deployed an army of mimes to busy intersections to shame traffic violators and jaywalkers.
Even as paramilitaries massacred communities in Tibú, the Alto Naya, Chengue, and El Salado, Yo Soy Betty la Fea—which ABC would later adapt for a U.S. audience as Ugly Betty—ran on RCN from 1999 to 2001. Even as the FARC kidnapped Ingrid Betancourt and 12 local legislators in Cali, Juanes released his debut album, Fíjate Bien (2000), and followed it up with Un Día Normal (2002). Even as Plan Colombia vastly expanded aerial herbicide fumigation, Shakira released Dónde Están los Ladrones? (1998) and her first English album, Laundry Service (2001), while Aterciopelados produced Caribe Atómico (1998) and Gozo Poderoso (2000). Even as peace talks with the FARC veered toward collapse, Colombia successfully hosted, and won, the 2001 Copa América soccer tournament.
Here in the United States, we’re not going to have a traditional armed conflict or civil war, with organized armed groups controlling territory and fighting pitched battles against the security forces. Instead, as a 2017 New Yorkeroverview put it after the Charlottesville violence, we may face “low-intensity conflicts with episodic violence in constantly moving locales. [Diplomat Keith] Mines’s definition of a civil war is large-scale violence that includes a rejection of traditional political authority and requires the National Guard to deal with it.”
“Collapse” is even less dramatic than that. Right now, I can step out my front door in central Washington DC and, within a few blocks, see the boarded-up fronts of shops that existed before March, a growing number of tents sheltering homeless people in a park, anti-police graffiti, lines of people at public kitchens during mealtime, and a construction project to counter chronic flooding. Turn on the television or Twitter and it’s lone gunmen, police killings, and protests with some violent elements seeking confrontations that the police are quick to escalate. Out-of-control open-carry militias. Profiles of people, some of them insured, forced into bankruptcy by medical bills. Evictions, cruel immigration detentions, and parents unable to feed their families. Climate events exacerbating all of it.
All of this will keep happening, even if Donald Trump loses on or after November 3, and even if the transfer of power is peaceful. Desperation won’t ease right away, and polarization won’t stop giving way to violence. But the violence won’t be everywhere. As was the case even during the worst years of Colombia’s armed conflict, for most of us it will only be something we see on TV or in our social feeds.
We’ll still have hundreds of new hit streaming shows, reality shows, and movies each year. Especially after the virus fades, there will be thriving hipper-than-thou music scenes. People will obsess over college football, new social apps, and celebrity gossip. Books about how to declutter your house and lose weight will remain on bestseller lists. Art galleries, theaters, and opera houses will be open. There will still be pumpkin spice at Starbucks.
Many of us will be outraged at “collapse” and its causes, and will dedicate our lives to fixing it. We may even succeed. But many of us—perhaps most—won’t bother. As societies all around the world have done, we’ll go through our reasonably prosperous lives while tuning out the human suffering in our vicinity.
How so many of us manage to do that—to tune it out and stay comfortable—is a mystery of human nature that I find baffling, just as I was perplexed by Padres e Hijos during my brief early-2000s Bogotá lunch. Whatever it is, it’s not resilience, and it’s not quite apathy, either. It may, I suspect, be a form of grieving.
There may be a sort of sordid comfort in dwelling on overt and purposeful transgressions. These are desecrations of the American project, you can reassure yourself, and not mere manifestations of its intrinsic character
La campaña presidencial del demócrata Joe Biden lanzó este lunes una aguerrida defensa del récord del exvicepresidente frente a Colombia, acusando a Donald Trump de querer recortar los recursos para el país
If countries are judged not to be trying hard enough, the US must cut off aid to that country, unless the continuation of aid is in the US national security interest. Who is trying hard enough is always a political question
En informe multipartidista sobre el diagnóstico al problema de las drogas ilícitas, 14 congresistas de partidos de oposición e independientes le piden al Gobierno dejar la aspersión aérea como última opc
El Gobierno debe cumplir integralmente, sin demora y de buena fe la tutela de la Corte Suprema de Justicia (CSJ), que protege el derecho a la protesta pacífica y busca evitar los gravísimos abusos policiales
El presidente de la República aseguró la noche de este 24 de septiembre que el Ministerio de Hacienda, que desde julio somete a El Faro a una auditoría, está tratando de construir un caso de lavado de dinero contra el periódico
La mayor parte del tráfico de droga en Honduras se hace vía marítima, pero también es importante el tráfico aéreo ya que generalmente la droga que pasa de Colombia a Venezuela, y de una comunidad de Venezuela que se llama Apure, viene a dar directamente a La Mosquitia
Tomás Zerón de Lucio, quien fue responsable de indagar la desaparición de los 43 estudiantes de Ayotzinapa el sexenio pasado, robó mil millones de pesos del presupuesto de la entonces Procuraduría General de la República
Under its provisions, “true” citizens would be differentiated from “foreign agents”. The proposal would suspend the latter’s political rights and allow the confiscation of their goods and patrimonial rights
60 Minutes reports on the construction firm that earned billions of dollars in government contracts after working with a conservative fundraising campaign accused of fraud to build sections of the border wall on private land that engineers say will likely fail
Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema confronted the acting head of Homeland Security Wednesday over border wall construction she said has ignored the needs of local communities and bypassed environmental assessment reports
A federal appeals court handed a win to the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday, saying the Democratic-led chamber could proceed with a lawsuit challenging President Donald Trump’s diversion of funds
The legislation, which is being proposed by Sens. Robert Menendez, Patrick Leahy and Tim Kaine, would give Congress the ability to point to specific human rights abuses as a reason to disapprove of arms sales to certain countries
The House Oversight Committee has found that ICE detainees died after receiving inadequate medical care and that jail staff “falsified records to cover up” issues, according to a report released on Thursday
Con su resistencia a acatar lealmente el fallo, el ministro Trujillo envía una nueva señal de que el gobierno de Iván Duque ha optado, ahora sí, por jugársela de frente por galvanizar la base más conservadora y uribista
Ha pasado la hora en que todos los colombianos y en particular sus políticos –de cualquier índole ideológica o bandera partidista y aún los de doble nacionalidad– dejen de participar en la política electoral estadounidense
El nuevo emplazamiento a Bukele ocurre menos de dos semanas después de que congresistas demócratas dijeran estar alarmados por los ataques del Gobierno a periodistas y medios de comuncación independientes
El capitán hondureño Santos Rodríguez Orellana enfrentó este jueves dos querellas en los tribunales de la Corte Suprema de Justicia (CSJ) por denunciar que en las Fuerzas Armadas de Honduras (FFAA) se ha estado traficando droga
They look like an attempt to silence critical voices in the Mexican media by a populist president who has already hobbled previously independent institutions such as the Supreme Court and regulatory agencies
The European Union has sent a mission to Venezuela in the run-up to parliamentary election scheduled for December, the EU said on Thursday, as the country prepares for a vote that will likely be boycotted
Quickly establishing public order and reinstating the rule of law would be crucial for [U.S.] support to be effective. And only after it has revived institutions to credibly deliver security and dispense justice could Venezuela restore democratic governance
In case you missed it, three shocking reports released between September 14 and September 24 document abuse, neglect, and dehumanization in ICE’s network of mostly privately run migrant detention centers.
September 14: a whistleblower at the Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Georgia, run by LaSalle Corrections, filed a complaint alleging inadequate medical care, poor COVID-19 protections, and—most shockingly, though not as clearly documented—hysterectomies or other non-consensual medical procedures performed on women. Project South, an advocacy group, compiled and submitted the complaint from Dawn Wooten, a nurse who worked at the facility.
September 21: The House of Representatives’ Homeland Security Committee published a staff report based on visits to eight ICE facilities and interviews with 400 detainees over a year. It finds deficient medical care, abuse of solitary confinement as a form of retaliation, difficulty accessing legal and translation services, and unsanitary conditions.
September 24: The House of Representatives’ Oversight and Reform Committee published a staff report based on a 14-month investigation of for-profit contractors operating ICE detention centers. Among its horrifying findings: “several detainees died after receiving inadequate medical care, including issues that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and detention contractors had previously identified.”
Though activists will tell you “it’s always been like this,” these reports reinforce the sense that our country is slipping into a new age of barbarism. Thanks to these official and non-governmental investigators for their unflinching look into ICE’s opaque and mostly unnecessary network of privatized human suffering.
This morning I’m doing a couple of interviews with researchers and journalists. From mid-afternoon to end of day I’ll be recording, editing, and posting a podcast. In the middle, doing some long-overdue planning and writing.
The individuals we met didn’t leave the only homes they’d ever known by choice. They fled to avoid rape, injury, or death at the hands of violent gangs, in hopes of finding better economic opportunities and safety
Chile no está ajeno a amenazas como el narcotráfico, el terrorismo, la proliferación de armas de destrucción masiva o el crimen organizado. Lamentablemente, las amenazas a la infraestructura crítica tampoco son una excepción
Frente a la orden de que pidiera perdón por los abusos policiales cometidos en las marchas del año pasado, sencillamente se rehusó, lo que podría convertirse en una falta disciplinaria, como lo señaló el Procurador General
El director de Migración Colombia, Juan Francisco Espinoza, aseguró que están estudiando abrir la frontera con Venezuela el mes próximo y se espera que muchos venezolanos aprovechen la oportunidad para ingresar y quedarse o seguir el tránsito
The Treasury Department modified the embargo regulations on Cuba to prohibit imports of rum and tobacco, as well as lodging in hotels or properties controlled by the Cuban government, government officials and the Communist Party
El ministro de la Defensa, René Merino Monroy, declaró que el Gobierno ha entregado toda la información requerida sobre los archivos militares de los ochenta y que el presidente Bukele ha cumplido su promesa de abrir los expedientes
El agricultor Jaime Torres confirmó que efectivos de la Guardia Nacional (GN) dispararon contra él y su esposa, Jéssica Silva Zamarripa, cuando regresaban a su casa después de participar en la toma de la presa La Boquilla
En 2019 se cometieron 36 mil 476 homicidios en el país y por primera vez en los últimos cinco años se presenta una disminución anual de las muertes violentas al registrarse 209 asesinatos menos que en el año anterior
Los expolicías federales denunciaron discriminación al ingresar a la Guardia Nacional, debido a que no se les fue respetado su cargo y sus condecoraciones como sí sucedió con los militares que también ingresaron
This is the first day in a while with only one meeting on the schedule, and I need to get organized and do some writing. I’ll be reachable while doing the first but may have message apps off for some of the time while doing the sedond.
La Sala de Casación Civil de la Corte Suprema de Justicia aceptó una tutela presentada por varios ciudadanos que consideran que de parte del Gobierno y del Esmad ha habido “sistemáticas agresiones” que amenazan su derecho a manifestarse
Así lo asegura en entrevista con EL TIEMPO María Victoria Llorente, directora de la Fundación Ideas para la Paz, quien analiza cuáles son los factores que siguen motivando la protesta, pero además, cuáles son los problemas que hay dentro de la Policía
El juez de Instrucción de San Francisco Gotera dio cinco días al presidente de la República y a su ministro de Defensa para que informen si la negativa a abrir los archivos militares de la masacre es una postura oficial
For five hours Monday in the blistering heat of the Sonoran Desert, they prayed, chanted and burned sage to protest the Trump administration’s efforts to put up a 30-foot wall through the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
A band of the Kumeyaay Nation whose native land spans both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against the Trump administration seeking an injunction to stop further construction of the border wall