- The Washington Post’s Kevin Sieff published a photo-heavy look at how drug traffickers, often flying and abandoning expensive jets from Venezuela, have penetrated an ecologically fragile national park in Guatemala’s Petén region.
- “The Cruel Road North” is the result of a collaboration among numerous media outlets in several countries, under the umbrella of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. The multi-part, multimedia presentation explores the journey of extra-continental migrants across Latin America to the United States, and the attendant criminal, smuggling, and corruption networks.
- Another multi-part, multimedia presentation comes from the Colombian Commission of Jurists and the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective. “The Silence of the Flutes” lays bare the Colombian military’s responsibility for historically brutal paramilitary massacres that took place in the northern Montes de María region in 2000 and 2001.
- The International Crisis Group looks at El Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele’s curious success in curbing gang violence. “While the public celebrates” the authoritarian-trending leader’s “well-known ‘iron fist’ policies, the reasons for success might lie in quiet, informal understandings between gangs and the government.”
- Back to Guatemala: at Boston Review, Kirsten Weld tells the story of the police archive that became a crucial source of information about human rights abuses committed during the country’s 36-year civil war. Amid a hardline backlash and the Trump administration’s silence, access to the archive is now impossible.
July 10, 2020
Western Hemisphere Regional
- Ronny Rojas, “Latin America’s Lucrative People-Smuggling Networks” (Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, July 10, 2020).
Migrants travelling through Latin America usually start their journey in the region’s largest economy, Brazil, whose relatively loose refugee laws and visa requirements, as well as good flight connections, make it a natural landing place
- “The Cruel Road North” (Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, July 10, 2020).
OCCRP and our Latin American partner Centro Latinoamericano de Investigación Periodística (CLIP), along with 16 media outlets in 14 countries, worked together on the largest ever journalistic investigation into these little-known routes
- Hamed Aleaziz, Adolfo Flores, “The Trump Administration Told a Judge Ice Should Not Release Parents and Children Who’ve Been Detained Together” (BuzzFeed, July 10, 2020).
Immigrant advocates said the government’s filing sets up a potential separation of children from their parents in ICE custody
- Emily Kassie, Barbara Marcolini, “‘It Was Like a Time Bomb’: How Ice Helped Spread the Coronavirus” (The New York Times, July 10, 2020).
Even as lockdowns and other measures have been taken around the world to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, ICE has continued to detain people, move them from state to state and deport them
- Benedict Mander, “Violent Killing of Cristina Fernandez’s Former Aide Roils Argentina” (The Financial Times (UK), July 10, 2020).
Opposition demands answers after death of key witness in high-profile corruption inquiry
- Aldo Eyzaguirre, “Se Dispone el Ascenso Automatico en las Fuerzas Armadas de Bolivia” (Defensa.com (Spain), July 10, 2020).
Las Fuerzas Armadas han demandado a la Asamblea Legislativa Plurinacional que apruebe los ascensos de la gestión 2020, que se hallan paralizados desde el mes de enero del presente año
- Maria Silvia Trigo, Anatoly Kurmanaev, “Bolivia President, Jeanine Anez, Tests Positive for Coronavirus” (The New York Times, July 10, 2020).
Ms. Añez is the second Latin America leader this week, after President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, to disclose an infection
- Michael Stott, Gideon Long, “Colombia’s Guerrilla Leader Swaps Battle Fatigues for Bedtime Stories” (The Financial Times (UK), July 10, 2020).
Rodrigo Londoño, leader of what was Latin America’s biggest guerrilla army, claims to enjoy his new life as a father and politician
- “Comision de la Verdad Pide al Exministro Pinzon Retractarse por Acusaciones Que Ponen en Peligro Sus Vidas” (El Espectador (Colombia), July 10, 2020).
A través de un trino, el exministro de Defensa Juan Carlos Pinzón, los acusó de estar relacionados con grupos armados y de tener una visión sesgada
- Sebastian Forero Rueda, “La Marcha por la Dignidad Llega a Bogota para Exigir Proteccion a la Vida” (El Espectador (Colombia), July 10, 2020).
Desde el 25 de junio, un grupo de líderes indígenas, afrodescendientes, campesinos y excombatientes partió desde Popayán con destino a la capital del país para denunciar la grave situación de seguridad del Cauca
- “Colombia: Preliminary Report on the Plan of Action for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders at Risk” (ABA Center for Human Rights, American Bar Association, July 10, 2020).
Efforts to implement the agreements, including initiatives to address the root causes of the conflict by fulfilling the needs of historically marginalized communities, have stalled in part because leaders of these communities have faced unprecedented levels of threats and violence
- “El Silencio de las Gaitas” (Comision Colombiana de Juristas (Colombia), July 10, 2020).
Agentes estatales de la Brigada Primera de Infantería de Marina (BRIPRIMA), bajo la comandancia del entonces Contraalmirante Rodrigo Quiñones Cárdenas, actuaron conjuntamente o con aquiescencia y complicidad, bajo la expresión de una política de Estado de apoyo a la consolidación del paramilitarismo
- Jose David Escobar Moreno, “Los Tentaculos “Invisibles” de las Agc en Bogota” (El Espectador (Colombia), July 10, 2020).
Dos recientes allanamientos en BogotÃ¡ pusieron al descubierto cuÃ¡les son los lazos de su poder en la capital. Algunos de los pactos criminales son los mismos que tuvieron los bloques Capital y Centauros de las Auc.
- Ariel Ávila, “Cabal la Defensora de los “Terceros de Buena Fe”” (Semana (Colombia), July 10, 2020).
Lo que dicen es que ellos no sabían que la tierra estaba manchada de sangre y, por ende, son inocentes
- David Fernando Correal, Andres Palencia, Ana Cristina Restrepo, Jorge Restrepo, “Monitor de Violencia Politica en Colombia” (CERAC (Colombia), July 10, 2020).
En el primer semestre del año se registró un aumento del 55%, en el número de muertes por violencia política frente al mismo periodo de 2019, al pasar de 60 a 93
- “The Dominican Republic Changes Its Ruling Party” (The Economist (Uk), July 10, 2020).
Mr Abinader’s victory unseats the Dominican Liberation Party (pld), which has ruled for 20 of the past 24 years. Although power transfers in the country are rare, they do not necessarily bring change
- “En Quito, Militares Con Armas Disuasivas Rondan para Hacer Respetar el Toque de Queda” (El Universo (Ecuador), July 10, 2020).
Militares realizan patrullajes con armas neumáticas que disparan municiones de pintura con talco
- Gabriel Labrador, “Juicio Jesuitas: Testigos Vinculan a Cristiani, Parker y Agentes del Fbi” (El Faro (El Salvador), July 10, 2020).
Testimonios revelaron una conspiración para encubrir el crimen en la que habrían participado el diputado Rodolfo Parker y agentes del gobierno de Estados Unidos
- Kirsten Weld, “No Democracy Without Archives” (Boston Review, July 10, 2020).
Fifteen years old this week, Guatemala’s National Police archive has helped prosecute numerous officials for their roles in the country’s civil war. Now shuttered by a Trump-backed government, its dramatic history illustrates the crucial role of state archives in protecting democracy
- Lorena Baires, “Honduras Fights Maritime Narcotrafficking With High Tech” (Dialogo (U.S. Southern Command), July 10, 2020).
“In 2019, we conducted 1,882 intelligence exchanges with strategic partners, including the Drug Enforcement Administration and Joint Interagency Task Force South, both from the United States”
- Jon Lee Anderson, “Why Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador Went to Dinner With Donald Trump” (The New Yorker, July 10, 2020).
Whenever Trump has mentioned amlo, he has tended to speak favorably of him, and amlo has gone out of his way to thank Trump for his kind words
- Rene Kladzyk, “El Paso Border Patrol Agent Runs Over Migrant With Vehicle” (El Paso Matters, July 10, 2020).
The American Civil Liberties Union said the incident raises questions about the Border Patrol’s commitment to thorough investigations and transparency
- Nick Miroff, “Arrests Along Mexico Border Jumped 40% Last Month, Despite Trump Administration’s Immigration Crackdown” (The Washington Post, July 10, 2020).
U.S. border authorities made 32,512 arrests and detentions along the southern border in June, double the number recorded in April
- Sarah Kinosian, “Venezuelan Socialist Party Leader Diosdado Cabello Tests Positive for Covid-19” (Reuters, Reuters, July 10, 2020).
President Nicolas Maduro said on state television Cabello would need several days of treatment and recovery, but that “he is already resting, he is fine”
- “Pompeo Dice Que Sera el Pueblo de Venezuela, No ee.uu., el Que Restaure la Democracia” (Agence France Presse, El Comercio (Peru), July 10, 2020).
El jefe de la diplomacia estadounidense, Mike Pompeo dijo que el gobierno de Trump continuará haciendo “todo lo que podamos hacer” para propiciar la salida del poder de Nicolás Maduro
U.S. Customs and Border Protection did its monthly data dump yesterday, reporting on how many people the agency, which includes Border Patrol, apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border last month. As the Washington Post noted, the most notable trend was a 40% increase, over May, in the number of undocumented migrants that Border Patrol encountered—even as the border is mostly shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A year ago, the big story at the border was children and families from Central America seeking asylum. The Trump administration has illegally ended asylum at the border for nearly everyone, so numbers of kids and parents have dropped sharply.
Instead, graphing the data out shows that all of the increase is in single adults, mainly from Mexico. Adults are blue in the charts below.
Keep in mind that adults are less likely to be seeking asylum. This means they’re probably trying to avoid being apprehended by Border Patrol. That in turn means many are probably migrating through some of the remotest, most treacherous parts of the border—at the very height of summer, when the desert heat is at its worst. As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, there may be a spike in migrant deaths on U.S. soil, from dehydration and exposure, as a result of the COVID-19 border crackdown. Already, official Border Patrol Twitter feeds are full of accounts of rescues.
These graphics, and a few dozen others, are always available as a big PDF file at http://bit.ly/wola_border. Also of interest there are the ones showing a pretty big June jump in drug seizures, again “despite the pandemic.”
I’m most reachable in the morning and early afternoon. (How to contact me)
I’ve got a couple of border-related calls in the afternoon, but am otherwise at my desk researching, writing, and updating websites.
“Cameo” by Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever (2020).
The House of Representatives’ Appropriations Committee finished work on the 2021 State Department and Foreign Operations bill on July 9. In addition to offering some language very supportive of peace accord implementation, the narrative report accompanying the bill provides a table explaining how the House appropriators (or at least, their strong Democratic Party majority) would require that this money be spent.
The table above shows how the House would spend the 2021 aid money, and how it fits in with what the Trump White House requested, and what aid has looked like since 2016, the year before before the outgoing Obama administration’s “Peace Colombia” aid package went into effect.
If the House were to get its way, less than $200 million of the $458 million in 2021 U.S. aid to Colombia would go to the country’s police and military forces. However, the bill must still go through the Republican-majority Senate, whose bill may reflect somewhat more “drug war” priorities. A final bill is unlikely to pass both houses of Congress until after Election Day.
Sources for most of these numbers:
- 2016: the 2018 State Department Congressional Budget Justification for Foreign Operations
- 2017: page 1607 of the explanatory statement for the 2017 Omnibus Appropriation, and the 2019 CBJ for Foreign Operations
- 2018: page 1803 of the explanatory statement for the 2018 Omnibus Appropriation, and the 2020 CBJ for Foreign Operations
- 2019: page H908 of the explanatory statement for the 2019 Omnibus Appropriation, and the 2021 CBJ for Foreign Operations
- 2020: Page 53 of Division G of the explanatory statement for the 2020 Omnibus Appropriation
- 2021: The 2021 aid request to Congress from the White House
- 2021 House: The House Appropriations Committee’s July 9, 2020 narrative report
- Defense Department aid 2016-17: Congressional Research Service 2017.
- Defense Department aid 2018: Congressional Research Service 2019.
- 2020 transfer of aid from Central America: we’ve heard it from legislative staff, but the only document we can cite right now is coverage of an October 2019 announcement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Colombia’s El Tiempo.
Not reflected here is assistance to Colombia to manage flows of Venezuelan refugees.
July 9, 2020
Western Hemisphere Regional
- Julia Ainsley, Jacob Soboroff, “Nearly 130 Staff at Arizona Ice Facility Tested Positive for Covid-19” (NBC News, July 9, 2020).
CoreCivic, the company contracted to run the Eloy Detention Center in Arizona, said 127 of about 300 total CoreCivic employees at Eloy have tested positive since the start of the pandemic, although some have recovered
- Anakwa Dwamena, “How Jair Bolsonaro and the Coronavirus Put Brazil’s Systemic Racism on Display” (The New Yorker, July 9, 2020).
As infection rates have risen in Brazil, a clearer picture has emerged of which lives the President apparently deems disposable
- Lisandra Paraguassu, “Brazil’s Bolsonaro Vetoes Plans to Offer Covid-19 Support to Indigenous People” (Reuters, Reuters, July 9, 2020).
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro on Wednesday vetoed provisions of a law that obligated the federal government to provide drinking water, disinfectants and a guarantee of hospital beds to indigenous communities
- “Los Espacios de Reincorporacion de las Farc Con Mas Amenazas” (El Espectador (Colombia), July 9, 2020).
Buenos Aires (Cauca), Puerto Asís (Putumayo), Ituango (Antioquia) y Mesetas (Meta) son las cuatro zonas donde la Jurisdicción Especial para la Paz evaluará si debe emitir una medida cautelar
- “Gobierno Establece Nueva Ruta para Sometimiento de Grupos Ilegales” (Semana (Colombia), July 9, 2020).
El Gobierno expidió un decreto que establece la nueva ruta para el sometimiento de miembros de los Grupos Armados Organizados (GAO), quienes en caso de dejar las armas y reincorporarse a la sociedad civil podrían recibir beneficios jurídicos y económicos
- “Mafias Pagan 5 Millones de Pesos por Hectarea Deforestada en el Meta” (Semana (Colombia), July 9, 2020).
El gobernador, Juan Guillermo Zuluaga, denunció que las disidencias impusieron a cada campesino tumbar dos hectáreas de bosque para sembrar coca y a los presidentes de las juntas comunales, cobrar vacunas
- “Miracle or Mirage? Gangs and Plunging Violence in el Salvador” (International Crisis Group, July 9, 2020).
The murder rate in El Salvador, once the world’s highest, is falling fast. President Nayib Bukele attributes the good news to his harsh anti-gang crackdown, but other factors are likely also salient. The government should explore policing and socio-economic reforms
- Office of Rep. Albio Sires (D-New Jersey), “Chairman Sires, Ranking Member Rooney Call for Transparent Selection of Judges in Guatemala” (U.S. House of Representatives, July 9, 2020).
The Guatemalan Congress’ ability to select an independent judiciary is a measure of its commitment to democracy, respect for the rule of law, and standing in the country’s fight against corruption
- Christine Murray, “Mexican Authorities Misreport Migrant Trafficking Numbers” (Reuters, Reuters, July 9, 2020).
The National Migration Institute (INM) said in January that it had supported 601 trafficking and smuggling victims between December 2018 and November 2019. Yet data obtained by the Thomson Reuters Foundation revealed the true figure was 167
- Juan Montes, Jose De Cordoba, “Brutal Gang Rises as Mexico’s Top Security Threat” (The Wall Street Journal, July 9, 2020).
The Jalisco New Generation Cartel has become Mexico’s most powerful criminal organization, dominating the trade in fentanyl and methamphetamines and protecting its business by attacking Mexican security forces and public servants directly
- Alejandro Hope, “¿Como Explicar Guanajuato?” (El Universal (Mexico), July 9, 2020).
Guanajuato no está en una zona de producción de cultivos ilícitos ni en una ruta tradicional de trasiego de drogas. Es, además, un estado que ha experimentado un acelerado crecimiento industrial desde hace 25 años
- Leon Krauze, “Lopez Obrador’s Diplomacy of Subservience at the White House” (The Washington Post, July 9, 2020).
López Obrador leaves Washington empty-handed, having praised the most actively anti-Mexican U.S. president in recent memory
- “Remarks by President Trump and President Lopez Obrador of the United Mexican States in Signing of a Joint Declaration” (The White House, July 9, 2020).
You have not tried to treat us as a colony; on the contrary, you have honored our condition as an independent nation. That’s why I’m here to express to the people of the United States that their President has behaved with us with kindness and respect
- Alberto Pradilla, “De Equipararlo Con Hitler a Callar Ante el Muro: Asi Cambio el Discurso de Amlo Hacia Trump” (Animal Politico (Mexico), July 9, 2020).
Cuando López Obrador era candidato a la presidencia fue muy crítico con su actual socio en Washington, promovió demandas ante la ONU y la CIDH en su contra, e incluso escribió un libro, “Oye Trump”
- Michelle Hackman, “Trump Administration Proposes Denying Asylum to People Who Travel From Countries Where Contagious Disease Is Widespread” (The Wall Street Journal, July 9, 2020).
The new rules, posted by the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security on Wednesday, would make migrants ineligible for asylum if they come from or pass through a country where a widespread infectious disease, such as Covid-19, is present
- Thiany Rodriguez, “La Fuerza Armada Nacional Bolivariana Derriba un Hawker 800 Con Matricula de Eeuu” (Defensa.com (Spain), July 9, 2020).
El Raytheon Hawker 800 habría realizado un vuelo el martes en la tarde sobre la península de Yucatán, entre Ciudad del Carmen y Comuzel. Autoridades venezolanas aseguraron que es una ruta habitual del narcotráfico con destino a Estados Unidos
- Manuel Tomillo C., “Padrino Lopez Ministro de Defensa Con Mas Tiempo en el Cargo” (Efecto Cocuyo (Venezuela), July 9, 2020).
El anuncio lo hizo durante el acto de graduación conjunta de Oficiales Comando y Técnicos egresados de la Universidad Militar Bolivariana y pase a Reserva Activa de la promoción de 1987, misma promoción en la que se graduó Diosdado Cabello, gran ausente en este acto
- “Options Narrowing for Venezuela’s Opposition” (Associated Press, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, July 9, 2020).
A string of recent court rulings dismantling three influential opposition parties along with growing citizen disillusionment — not to mention the coronavirus pandemic — have thrown a new wrench in the opposition’s efforts to oust Maduro
- “Voces de la Sociedad Civil Respaldan Que los Acuerdos Politicos Son Indispensables” (Observatorio Electoral Venezolano, July 9, 2020).
Más de 250 voces, que incluye 105 organizaciones de la sociedad civil y de defensa de Derechos Humanos además de 152 ciudadanos, respaldaron a través de un comunicado conjunto la necesidad de un acuerdo nacional que garantice, entre otros, atender la situación política, económica y social
“Hard Life” by Sault (2020).
July 8, 2020
Western Hemisphere Regional
- Abraham Mahshie, “Southcom Commander Describes Chinese and Russian Threats in the Americas” (The Washington Examiner, July 8, 2020).
The great power threats that exist in the Western Hemisphere look different than those in other parts of the globe, U.S. Southern Command’s Adm. Craig Faller told the Washington Examiner
- “Brazil Starts Producing Swedish Gripen Jets” (DefenseNews, July 8, 2020).
Saab Aeronáutica Montagens, a new manufacturing plant located near Sao Paulo, has begun producing Gripen E/F aerostructures, including the tail cone and front fuselage for the single-seat Gripen E version of the jet
- Tom Phillips, “Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro Tests Positive for Coronavirus” (The Guardian, July 8, 2020).
“It came back positive,” a mask-wearing Bolsonaro told a hand-picked group of reporters
- Felipe Araujo, “Brazil Must Address Its Own Racist Police Violence” (Foreign Policy, July 8, 2020).
Brazilian police are among the world’s deadliest, and Rio’s are the country’s most lethal
Caribbean Regional, Western Hemisphere Regional
- Sam Lagrone, “Destroyers Continue to Prowl 4th Fleet as Coast Guard, Navy Rack Up $1b in Drug Seizures” (USNI News, July 8, 2020).
The Navy has had more warships operating in the Caribbean and the Eastern Pacific in the last three months than it has in the last five years
- Ricardo Monsalve Gaviria, “Briceno, Piloto de Proyectos de Paz Que Aun No Cuajan” (El Colombiano (Medellin Colombia), July 8, 2020).
Han pasado cinco años de esos anuncios para un municipio que fue escenario de guerra y después pasó a ser llamado “el laboratorio de la paz”, y parece que todo se hubiera derrumbado
- “United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia Report of the Secretary-General” (UN, July 8, 2020).
The report covers the period from 27 March to 26 June 2020
- “Gobierno Le Dice No a Propuesta del Eln para Cese al Fuego Bilateral” (Semana (Colombia), July 8, 2020).
La propuesta de esa guerrilla era “crear un clima de distensión humanitaria” para reiniciar los diálogos de paz, pero no hizo mención alguna a la posibilidad de liberar secuestrados o algún otro gesto humanitario
- Jose David Escobar Moreno, “El Mapa de las Denuncias Contra la Fuerza Publica por Violencia Sexual” (El Espectador (Colombia), July 8, 2020).
La ONG Temblores armó, con base en datos de Medicina Legal, un extenso listado sobre víctimas que denunciaron haber sido violadas por policías o militares entre 2017 y 2019
- Efren Lemus, Carlos Martinez, Oscar Martinez, “Nueva Informacion de la Reunion Entre Mario Duran y Renuente de la Ms-13” (El Faro (El Salvador), July 8, 2020).
En diciembre de 2015 el actual ministro de Gobernación y pre candidato a alcalde de San Salvador por Nuevas Ideas, Mario Durán, se reunió en persona con uno de los más influyentes líderes de la Mara Salvatrucha-13
- Alex Papadovassilakis, Hector Silva Avalos, “Attack on Top Court Threatens Constitutional Crisis in Guatemala” (InsightCrime, July 8, 2020).
The attempt to strip immunity from the Constitutional Court judges is the latest salvo by Guatemala’s elites and their political allies in their assault on independent bodies that have taken on corruption investigations
- Charles Call, “Fleeting Success: The Legacy of Honduras’ International Anti-Corruption Mission” (SSRN, July 8, 2020).
This report draws conclusions about the legacy and lessons of MACCIH, analyzing the political, juridical, social, and institutional impact of the OAS Mission
- Julieta Pelcastre, “Honduras Shuts Spaces to Venezuelan Narcotrafficking” (Dialogo (U.S. Southern Command), July 8, 2020).
A commission including representatives from Honduras, the United States, and Venezuela’s interim government traveled to Gracias a Dios department to assess the modus operandi of the Cartel of the Suns
- Kirk Semple, Paulina Villegas, Natalie Kitroeff, “Years After 43 Mexican Students Vanished, a Victim’s Remains Are Found” (The New York Times, July 8, 2020).
The identification of one victim’s remains is the first sign of progress in years in a case that traumatized Mexico and became a symbol of corruption and injustice
- Natalie Kitroeff, “‘a Colossal Error’: Mexican Leader Under Fire for Plan to Visit Trump” (The New York Times, July 8, 2020).
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador will meet in the White House this week with President Trump, and he said he planned to praise the administration for its “respectful treatment” of Mexicans
- Azam Ahmed, Michael Crowley, “Mexico’s Leader Sought Harmony With Trump. He Got a Lopsided Relationship.” (The New York Times, July 8, 2020).
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, visiting the White House Wednesday, has avoided fighting the Trump administration. Critics say he is too willing to bend to the American president’s will
Mexico, U.S.-Mexico Border
- Suzanne Gamboa, “Latino Lawmakers, Group Blast Trump White House Meeting With Mexico’s Lopez Obrador” (NBC News, July 8, 2020).
Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” asylum policies have put migrants at risk of cartel violence and human trafficking and coronavirus infection, Castro said
- Murat Oztaskin, ““Usa v Scott” and the Fight to Prove That Humanitarian Aid Is Not a Crime” (The New Yorker, July 8, 2020).
Ora DeKornfeld and Isabel Castro’s short documentary “USA v Scott” highlights the moral questions facing an Arizona community when Scott Warren was prosecuted for bringing water to migrants in the desert
- Christina Leza, “What Is the U.S.-Mexico Border to Indigenous Peoples Who Have Lived There?” (Yes! Magazine, July 8, 2020).
Indigenous peoples tend to understand and talk about the U.S.-Mexico border in different terms from those who understand the border to be an agreement between governments, often describing the border as artificial or “imaginary”
- Jill Biden, Julissa Reynoso, “E Pluribus Unum Is on the Ballot This November” (The Washington Post, July 8, 2020).
Joe Biden is deeply committed to fair treatment for those who have made the painful decision of leaving their countries behind in hopes of finding the American Dream. As president, he will restore asylum protections and make sure that children are kept safe with their families
- Luisa Quintero, “Maduro Ratifica a su Ministro de Defensa Vladimir Padrino y Renueva la Cupula Militar” (EFE, El Comercio (Peru), July 8, 2020).
Padrino desató esta semana las críticas de la oposición, que le tildó de “cobarde”, “indigno” y “violador de la Constitución”
- Vivian Sequera, “Venezuela Poverty Rate Surges Amid Economic Collapse, Inflation – Study” (Reuters, Reuters, July 8, 2020).
When measured solely by income levels, some 96% of the population lives in poverty, a figure unmatched elsewhere in the region and comparable to poor African countries like Nigeria or Chad
- “La Oposicion Venezolana Ante un Callejon Sin Salida: Ir a Elecciones o Quedarse Sin Nada” (EFE, El Comercio (Peru), July 8, 2020).
Los opositores a Nicolás Maduro todavía no deciden si participarán en las elecciones para la Asamblea Nacional del próximo 6 de diciembre, con el cuestionado Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE) como árbitro
I’m most reachable in the morning and mid-day. (How to contact me)
With several co-workers on vacation this week, a couple of regular internal meetings are not happening today, so I’ve got a stretch of uninterrupted work time before getting on a couple of calls with researchers and border groups.
I want to spend it doing updates to features of our Colombia Peace website, which were just too painful for me to do in June after I broke my wrist. (Lots of writing and—even harder—selecting lots of text with a mouse.) Sections of that site are falling behind and will take several days to catch up.
I’ve also got an eye on the House Appropriations Committee’s drafting of 2021 budget bills, though we probably won’t get to see the details in the relevant explanatory reports until at least tomorrow.
“Printer’s Devil” by Ratboys (2020).
Every couple of weeks, we get another alert that someone has been killed in Colombia by security forces carrying out coca eradication operations. Those operations are happening under U.S. pressure to go faster, and with lots of U.S. funding, even in the pandemic. And they’re getting more aggressive and violent.
Last Friday, someone else was killed in Putumayo. That appears to be the sixth civilian death since the COVID-19 lockdown began. So I wrote and distributed this commentary on WOLA’s Colombia Peace site.
That dramatic expansion is being helped along by a quarter of a billion dollars in 2020 U.S. assistance for drug interdiction and eradication: $125 million in this year’s foreign aid appropriation, and another $124 million that the Trump administration slashed from aid originally appropriated for Central America, and delivered to Colombia last October. The strategy is being reinforced by a large deployment of military trainers who arrived in the country in early June.
While we don’t have visibility over what is happening inside the Colombian security forces’ eradication teams, it is quite possible that their increased aggressiveness this year is tied to their rapid, U.S.-backed expansion. It’s difficult for any organization to expand this quickly without experiencing managerial issues or slippages in training—including use-of-force training.
July 7, 2020
- “Argentina – Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicles” (Defense Security Cooperation Agency, July 7, 2020).
The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Argentina of twenty-seven (27) M1126 Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicles and related equipment for an estimated cost of $100 million
- “Brazil President Due to Receive Coronavirus Test Results Tuesday” (Voice of America, July 7, 2020).
Bolsanaro has previously downplayed the risks posed by the coronavirus, once telling supporters because of his history of athleticism, he would not worry if he became infected
- Raphael Tsavkko Garcia, “Bolsonaro’s Social Media War With the Press Keeps Bleeding Into the Real World” (Slate, July 7, 2020).
The Brazilian president’s supporters are more than ready to turn his words into action
- Valerie Cortes, “Enganos y Bots, la Cruzada Digital en Contra de la Jep (I)” (El Espectador (Colombia), July 7, 2020).
Una campaña de desinformación a través de Twitter se viene desarrollando en contra de la Jurisdicción Especial para la Paz
- Gerardo Reyes, “Attorney for Alex Saab in Colombia Approved Deals With Corrupt Policeman Who Tipped Off Plan to Arrest His Client” (Univision, July 7, 2020).
Saab’s capture was thwarted in Colombia in 2018 after an attorney for the office of his lawyer, Abelardo de la Espriella, and an assistant to Saab, secretely received information about the imminent arrest
- Eduardo Guerrero GutiÉrrez, “La Violencia en Guanajuato: Mentiras, Negligencia e Ineptitud” (El Financiero (Mexico), July 7, 2020).
Cuando las peores expresiones de violencia criminal se instalan de forma sistemática en una entidad federativa, lo que suele haber es una profunda negligencia, y muy probablemente complicidad, de las autoridades estatales y municipales
- Ioan Grillo, “How Mexico’s Drug Cartels Are Profiting From the Pandemic” (The New York Times, July 7, 2020).
Lockdown exacerbated addiction in the U.S., while in Mexico, cartels dig into their turfs with charity and curfews, and put violent pressure on a vulnerable government
- Jennifer Jacobs, Eric Martin, “Trump to Host Mexican President, Ceos at White House Dinner” (Bloomberg, July 7, 2020).
The Wednesday night event will be the closest thing to a state dinner that can be organized during the Covid-19 outbreak
- “Nicaragua Ha Sido Victima del Terrorismo, Dice Delegado de Ortega” (Nicaragua Investiga, July 7, 2020).
El Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional, está en la mira como una estructura terrorista que quedó descubierta para el estallido social de 2018
I’ve got a few scattered calls/meetings, but should be mostly reachable. (How to contact me)
I’m at the desk at home all day today, the first time that’s been true in a week. I’ve got an interview and an internal meeting in the morning, and a coalition meeting of border groups in the mid-afternoon.