Adam Isacson

Still trying to understand Latin America, my own country, and why so few consequences are intended. These views are not necessarily my employer’s.

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CBP provisions in the 2019 budget

(I wrote this a few hours ago, before we learned that Trump is going the national emergency route. Either way, this is what’s in the law that he’s going to sign.)

Hi from Tijuana. I’m between meetings again and looking over the text of the budget compromise that Congress will be voting on, and that President Trump must sign into law by tomorrow to keep the government from shutting down again.

I only have time to go over the section for Customs and Border Protection, which includes Border Patrol, CBP at the ports of entry, and CBP’s Air and Marine office. I’m going to have to leave before I can give a good look to the ICE section.

The language is mostly good on CBP: the Democrats got a lot of what they asked for.

Decent:

  • $58m for 600 new CBP officers at the official ports of entry. (While there are big downsides to increasing manpower of an agency with insufficient accountability, the ports of entry are overwhelmed, and this could help reduce border-crossing wait times, reduce “metering” of asylum-seekers, and interdict more opioids and other drugs.)
  • About $600m for new technology / scanning / canines at ports of entry. (Makes sense since well over 80% of all drugs except cannabis go through ports of entry.)
  • $1m for rescue beacons for migrants lost in the desert.
  • $192m for food and medical care for migrants in CBP custody: $128m for medical personnel, $40.2m for food, infant formula, and diapers; $24.5m for transportation between facilities. (This is fantastic. Democrats were shocked by what they’ve seen of detention conditions, and it’s great that they’re acting on it.)
  • Required briefing of committees about improvements in procedures for welfare of migrants in CBP custody. (Great. A public hearing would be even better.)
  • $192m for a new short-term CBP migrant processing facility in El Paso; $30m for improvements to the one in McAllen. Specifies that temperatures should be appropriate, no more chain-link cages, no more mylar blankets. (The famous facility with the “cages” in McAllen serves a purpose, as it can take up to 72 hours to place asylum-seeking kids and families. But the conditions in that facility are awful, mainly because of a super-stingy budget. These improvements are welcome.)
  • Urging, but not fully requiring, CPB to keep unaccompanied siblings together.
  • No increase in Border Patrol agents. (This is great, Border Patrol has quintupled in size since the 1990s. There are enough agents, but they’re poorly distributed geographically.)
  • Cuts to funds for recruitment and screening of new Border Patrol hires (to maintain current levels), and to Border Patrol agent relocation and retention. (This is less great. Good agents should get raises, it takes too long to hire replacements because of background-check backlogs, and it makes a lot more sense to relocate than to hire.)
  • Reporting on use of force allegations, drug seizures, checkpoint operations, roving patrol stops, deaths in custody, status of port of entry improvement projects, incident cameras. (Reporting is good. CBP needs to submit these reports on time.)

Not Great:

  • $1.375b for “pedestrian fencing”: 55 miles in the Rio Grande Valley sector of Texas. (Language does not specify that the “pedestrian fencing” must follow existing designs, so if Trump wants to make it look like a “wall,” he can. On the other hand, the White House was demanding $5.7b for 234 miles.)
  • $10m for additional border drone flight hours.

Mid-Visit Notes from the Border

(I wrote these notes earlier today, in the middle of “day 3” here at the border.)

Hello from a coffee shop in central Tijuana. I’m taking a moment between meetings to talk about what I’m seeing on my second visit here so far this year.

I’m interviewing experts, officials, and service providers on both sides of the border. In between, I’m pulling volunteer shifts with the coalition of local church and humanitarian groups providing brief shelter, food, and travel assistance to mostly Central American asylum-seeking family members whom ICE releases from custody into San Diego—several dozen every day.

Here are a few impressions, as of day three:

— The airline employees and TSA agents at the San Diego airport are really nice. I’ve guided several families through to their flights to where relatives await—Florida, Pennsylvania, Kansas, North Carolina, and elsewhere. (I’ve done some bus station runs too.) Flying isn’t easy when your ID is your ICE “release on recognizance” form, you’ve got an electronic GPS ankle monitor, you’ve got a small child or two, and (for everyone I’ve been with) you’ve never been inside an airport before. All the big airlines, though, have this figured out by now: if the flight is full, they bend over backwards to try to seat the parent and child together. I have no problem getting an “escort pass” to get to the gate. TSA agents, who have to pat everyone down, have all been patient and friendly. Some kids even got little gold “badge” stickers. Many of the other passengers have been cool. Good for you, San Diego Airport.

— A large number of the families I’ve encountered are from rural Guatemala and coastal Honduras. Nearly all are with children under five or six years old, and often with babies under one. Nobody has more than one or two small backpacks of belongings, and these are full of clothes donated by the community. Nobody I’ve accompanied has a mobile phone. Some of those arriving now had a less brutal journey across Mexico, because the new Mexican government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador briefly provided humanitarian visas to new arrivals from Central America. Many of these chose to stay in Mexico—but with a legal identity document, those who wanted to move on to the United States could at least take a bus instead of traveling in the shadows with smugglers.

— Most arrived by hopping the fence or crossing the border in a rural area, rather than presenting their asylum request to U.S. officials at an official land crossing (“port of entry”). Requesting asylum at the port of entry would be far better: it’s the safest way, because you don’t have to run a gauntlet of Mexican organized crime to get to un-fenced border areas. It’s technically the more legal way too, since crossing improperly is a misdemeanor. But the port of entry between Tijuana and San Diego—the busiest border crossing in the hemisphere, if not the world—is only accepting about 40-60 asylum seekers on a typical day. U.S. Customs and Border Protection calls this “metering.” Whatever you call it, there are at least 2,500 people on an improvised waiting list in Tijuana, awaiting their turns to approach the border crossing. The wait stretches about six weeks in uncertain, often unsafe conditions in Tijuana, a city in the midst of a record homicide wave. This creates a perverse incentive to take the risky route to a more rural area, climb the fence or hike through rugged terrain, then wait for Border Patrol to apprehend you and your kids.

— Now, even after waiting those six weeks, some asylum-seekers are getting sent back into Mexico to await their day in immigration court. The Trump administration is sending a couple of dozen Central Americans back into Mexico each day, under a unilateral program that they call “Migrant Protection Protocols” but we call “Remain in Mexico.” Under very heavy pressure from Washington, Mexico agreed to this, in principle, just before Christmas. But it has pushed back somewhat. For now, the Mexican government is only taking back asylum-seekers over the age of 18—no families—and only from Central America’s “northern triangle” countries. Still, every day now a group of exhausted-looking adult asylum-seekers crosses back in to Mexico, where they must find legal help to make their cases: many weeks from now, they’ll be admitted back across the border to appear before U.S. immigration judges.

— You don’t see it if you live in San Diego, unless you work for a federal agency, for one of the airlines or bus companies, or for a local service provider. But there’s a quiet humanitarian crisis going on, here and elsewhere at the border. Of every migrant whom Border Patrol is apprehending right now, 3 out of 5 are kids, or parents with kids. That’s never happened before: in 2012, it reached 1 in 10 for the first time. The San Diego Rapid Response Network’s respite center, which helps the new arrivals, needs all the resources it can get. Amid gang violence, rampant extortion, drought and extreme poverty, Central Americans are placing their hope in the U.S. asylum system.

— Some will qualify, some won’t. But the Trump administration’s response couldn’t be worse. That response is symbolized, for me, by barbed wire. There’s concertina wire everywhere along this border. It surrounds the “Mexico” sign as you enter into Tijuana. It tops the border fence that extends from the beach about 100 yards into the Pacific. It’s coiled along the barrier near the paved-over Tijuana River, where border agents used tear gas in November to disperse “caravan” participants, including women and children. It was put there by an ongoing deployment of active-duty military troops to the border, a use of active (not reserve or National Guard) troops that has very few modern precedents on U.S. soil.

— The Central American migrants I’ve met are hopeful and palpably relieved, even though much lies ahead of them. Their kids pay close attention when I point out a jet taking off, follow the route on my rental car’s GPS app, or read “Where the Wild Things Are” in Spanish. After spending time with them, it’s jarring to hear the lies and scare tactics coming from the White House and congressional hardliners, and repeated on Fox News and social media. We need the federal government to make the work of the service providers here easier, not harder. Until we get that, we need firm allies in Congress who’ll do good oversight and who’ll refuse to fund more walls or barbed wire.

Latin America-related events in Washington this week

Monday, February 11, 2019

  • 2:30–3:30 at the Heritage Foundation: Venezuela at a Tipping Point (RSVP required).
  • 5:30–7:30 at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies: Foreign Policy in Bolsonaro’s Brazil (RSVP required).

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Thursday, February 14, 2019

  • 12:30–2:00 at Georgetown University: Public Policies for Early Childhood in Brazil (1988–2016) (RSVP required).
  • 4:15–5:30 in the Ronald Reagan Building: President Iván Duque Márquez: Colombia’s Domestic and Regional Opportunities and Challenges (RSVP required).

Friday, February 15, 2019

  • 12:45–2:00 at the Wilson Center: The USMCA and the Future of Mexico’s Trade Policy under AMLO (RSVP required).

6:30 in the morning in San Diego

And I’ve already helped 2 Honduran moms, their kids, and their ankle bracelets make their way through airport security and onto their flights. Going to be a good day, I think.

Back in San Diego

I just landed in San Diego. I’ll be here and in Tijuana all week. I’ve got a reasonably full—but not crammed—agenda and a long and evolving list of research questions (reproduced below).

This is an unusual trip for me, for at least four reasons.

First, I’m by myself all week, not with any colleagues. That almost never happens on research trips. This has its disadvantages—I have some blind spots. But it also makes the schedule more flexible and lets me dig deep on the subjects I want to investigate more.

Second, I’ll be spending about two-thirds of the time in “non-interview” settings. I’ll be pulling volunteer shifts at the migrant shelter that local organizations have thrown together to attend to asylum-seekers released by ICE with a court date. I’ll be lingering in the park by the gate in Tijuana where asylum-seekers inscribe themselves in a “notebook” to wait their turn to ask U.S. Customs and Border Protection guards for protection, and where those forced to “remain in Mexico” are returned under a new Trump administration initiative. I’ll be sitting in the federal courthouse watching how California implements “zero tolerance” on those who cross between ports of entry.

I’ll also be meeting with shelter personnel, lawyers, journalists, local government officials, and advocates. Unfortunately I’ve had no luck so far getting meetings with CBP or Border Patrol; I haven’t spoken to the San Diego Sector in a few years.

Third, this is my second time here in five weeks. With the border work, I was starting to feel like one of those “experts” who parachutes into a sector every year or two and pumps everyone for information. Not a great look. With a historic humanitarian (but not security) crisis involving a tide of asylum-seekers, people here are busy. I want to do more accompaniment, and less making them sit across a table fro me while I pepper them with questions. The plan is to spend approximately a week here per month during the first months of the year. I was here January 8-11 and, well, here I am again.

Fourth, a five-day trip is so much better than our norm of two to four. I don’t feel rushed. I can spend time with people without having to run off. I can take lots of notes and process them as I go.

Fifth, my wife and daughter will be joining me at the weekend. Washington’s schools are closed all of next week, and my daughter has a community service requirement. So they’ll be helping out in the migrant shelter too.

Here’s the list of research questions I made. Subject to change.

I. How are asylum-seeking migrants handling “metering” at the port of entry?

A. How does the “notebook” work? What are the system’s flaws?
B. Where are migrants coming from now?
C. Why did migrants go to Tijuana, as opposed to other border crossings? (Caravan made a considered decision)
D. How are migrants arriving? How often do they have humanitarian or other visas?
E. What do migrants say about what they’re fleeing?
F. What do migrants say that their plans are? How do they regard their asylum prospects? Do they seem well informed?
G. What are smugglers telling or offering migrants?
H. How are shelter personnel dealing with this vastly changed population? What is their capacity?
I. Would migrants advise relatives in Central America to attempt the same journey?

II. “Remain in Mexico”

A. How is Remain in Mexico being applied?
B. How many people per day are being returned?
C. What happens to those people while they wait in Mexico? Are shelters able to accommodate them?
D. What do shelters and Tijuana-based officials fear is going to happen?

III. How is the U.S. government performing?

A. What happens to asylum-seekers upon arrival at ports of entry?
B. How many are coming every day, approximately? How many are being let in?
C. What happens with those who are crossing between ports of entry?
D. How is “dumping” occurring with asylum-seeking families in the sector?
E. Is the San Diego sector still #1 or #2 in seizures of heroin, fentanyl, meth, and cocaine?
F. What does the U.S. military deployment look like now? How do stakeholders evaluate it?
G. How do migrants (both regular asylum-seekers and RIM deportees) describe their treatment at the hands of U.S. officials?
H. What are the main use of force issues? Which agencies?

IV. What happens to the Mexican deportee population?

V. How is the Mexican government performing?

A. How is it dealing with “metering?” Are Mexican officials “pre-metering?” How is the humanitarian visa process going?
B. How is the Mexican government pushing back on “Remain in Mexico?”
C. Are Mexican agencies or officials cooperating with U.S. counterparts? Are they doing so in a way that affects migrants’ rights?
D. What is the humanitarian visa issue like right now?
E. What is the Mexican government paying for right now?
F. What do migrants say their experience with the Mexican government has been? Different agencies?
G. Is corruption an issue in Tijuana? How does it manifest with migrants?
H. Are there use-of-force issues with Mexican agencies?

VI. What is the security situation in Tijuana in general?

A. What explains the spike in homicides?
B. How does the security situation impact migrants in Baja California? Have migrants encountered threats or abuse? Do they feel safe? Is the greater threat from common crime or organized crime?
C. Clearly the Sinaloa “Pax Mafiosa” has ended. What is the current configuration of violent groups?
D. How does corruption in the security forces contribute to violence? Which forces are alleged to have the deepest institutional weaknesses?

The day ahead: February 8, 2019

I’ll be around mid-day. (How to contact me)

This is my last day in the office until Thursday the 21st—I go to San Diego/Tijuana on Sunday. This morning I’ll be doing VOA’s “Foro Interamericano” show and talking to a Colombia-based reporter. In the afternoon I’ve got an all-hands meeting at WOLA and a call with a colleague. In between I’ll be driving as hard as I can to finish a memo about Colombia.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Photo from Animal Político (Mexico). Caption: “Una de las caravanas recibe atención en Coahuila.”

(Even more here)

February 6, 2019

Western Hemisphere Regional

“I reject the federal contention that there exists an overwhelming national security crisis at the southern border, along which are some of the safest communities in the country,” Lujan Grisham said

Trump would probably not be willing to sign a joint resolution to reject his own emergency declaration, so that means that Congress would need to override him with a two-thirds majority in each chamber

Trump has chained himself to the wall so completely that it’s no longer possible for anyone to tell where it ends and his presidency begins

Brazil

Bolsonaro recebeu o convite oficial de Trump para visitar os Estados Unidos no dia seguinte ao de sua posse. A mensagem foi entregue pelo secretário de Estado americano, Mike Pompeo

Colombia

Franklin Castañeda, delegado de la Coordinación Colombia-Europa-Estados Unidos, explica los reparos al Plan de Acción Oportuna de Protección a líderes del Gobierno Nacional. Se oponen a la vinculación en el programa del cuestionado general Leonardo Barrero

Zonas Estratégicas de Intervención Integral (ZEII), espacios territoriales donde se concentran altos índices de criminalidad, necesidades básicas insatisfechas, pobreza extrema y población en condición de vulnerabilidad

Emilio Archila aseguró que el Gobierno solucionará los problemas de vivienda de miles de excombatientes que aún están concentrados en los ETCR. Además, dijo que trabajan en un esquema especial de protección para el partido de la Farc durante la campaña electoral

Un informe del programa Somos Defensores, el Cinep, la Universidad Nacional de Colombia, la Comisión Colombiana de Juristas y el portal Verdad Abierta, investigó qué está pasando

Colombia, Venezuela

One shelter counted about 1,200 migrants passing through in one day this month, nearly twice what they counted weekly in early December

El Salvador

It is consequential for El Salvador and the hemisphere for several reasons, ranging from the U.S. migration issue to the rise of populism and the health of democracy to the tide of anger over corruption to the relevance of social media On Sunday, 37 year-old anti-establishment candidate Nayib Bukele won the presidency of El Salvador. What does it mean?

Superficial proposals, along with a lack of alliances in the country’s legislative assembly, could make it difficult for Bukele to bring about real change

Just who is who in the fight is blurring, and many police are more willing to use any means necessary to beat back an enemy they think the government hasn’t the will to do so

The United States can help by extending the temporary residence in this country of Salvadorans obliged to settle here after another of their country’s occasional disasters: a 2001 earthquake

Guatemala

Guatemala’s conservative president, himself an evangelical Christian, has succeeded in shattering the political consensus, forging alliances with a coalition of U.S. conservatives

Mexico

“If anyone tries to cross the border illegally, they’ll be arrested,” Maverick County Sheriff Tom Schmerber said

El presidente de la República, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, reveló el viernes la estrategia para disminuir el índice delictivo en Tijuana, la cual consta de contar con más presencia de elementos militares y Policía Federal en tareas preventivas

Starting about two years ago, traffickers began offering less and less, and rumors circulated that the price drop was due to competition from a new synthetic drug, manufactured in China and also in some fentanyl-producing laboratories detected in other parts of Mexico

The area of Mexico that illegally farms opium poppies grew by more than one-fifth last year, to an area the size of Philadelphia, according to a U.N.-backed study published in November

Dos caravanas migrantes, conformadas por cerca de 5,500 personas, recorren actualmente territorio mexicano, una en Chiapas y otra entre Coahuila y Nuevo León

“Why did they pick us out of the whole group? There were 47 of us that entered into a room, and 11 were sent back. Why?”

Venezuela

“Nuestro armamento ha mostrado su valía, tanto en Venezuela como en países cercanos como Perú y Brasil, y haremos todo lo posible para mantener su capacidad combativa. Este es nuestro objetivo principal”, dijo el funcionario ruso

Two documents illustrate the erosion of the armed forces

While Russian officials have publicly ruled out talks with the opposition, contacts are likely taking place behind the scenes, according to analysts in Moscow

Getting the aid into Venezuela, past Mr. Maduro’s security forces and into the right hands will be a critical test of the opposition’s ability to rally the nation and establish an interim government

The U.S. officials said trucks carrying the humanitarian aid were headed to Cucuta and would arrive later this week at the request of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido

The Venezuelan military had used a tanker truck and a cargo container to block access to the Tienditas bridge which links Cucuta, Colombia to Urena, Venezuela

The day ahead: February 6, 2019

I’ll be around mid-afternoon. (How to contact me)

This morning I’ve got (yet another) internal planning meeting, a sit-down with colleagues who work at the border, a meeting with a UN agency representative, some time this afternoon to prep my next border trip and do some documentary research, and an interview with some grad students doing a Latin America defense project.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Jonathan Clark photo at Nogales International. Caption: “A school bus rolls past the concertina wire-covered fence at East International and Nelson streets on Monday morning.”

(Even more here)

February 5, 2019

Western Hemisphere Regional

Since Trump’s election, the proportion of Americans wanting to increase immigration levels has grown — from 21% in June 2016 to a record-high 30% now

A number of Republican lawmakers are wary about that approach for various reasons, including the precedent that would be set for a future Democratic president and the possibility that they might have to vote on a disapproval resolution

By proceeding under an emergency order, the president opens the door to public use and necessity challenges that would probably not be otherwise available to landowners

Amid calls from local officials to remove the existing concertina wire attached to the border fence, U.S. Army troops on Saturday installed new rows of wire

Mr. McConnell told Mr. Trump that he would have no choice but to schedule a floor vote on the measure within 15 days, and Republican aides have estimated that between three and 10 Republicans would side with the chamber’s Democrats against Mr. Trump

But in recent months, Trump administration policies have slowed the flow of asylum-seekers into the U.S., leaving many migrants stranded far from home, vulnerable to violence in dangerous border cities and unable to request asylum

Some may have been, for example, friends or neighbors who were asked by families to bring children with them on the journey north to protect them from violence

This mischaracterization is part of a cynical strategy that uses trafficking to bolster arguments for harsh immigration policies and also makes it more difficult for non-citizen victims to remain safely in the U.S.

“The Trump administration’s response is a shocking concession that it can’t easily find thousands of children it ripped from parents, and doesn’t even think it’s worth the time to locate each of them”

Brazil

According to publicly available information, 126 gender-based murders of women and 67 attempts have been reported so far in 2019

Colombia

Ya son al menos cinco los disidentes caídos de la plana mayor. Hay tres a la espera de la extradición y aún están activos Gentil Duarte, el máximo jefe, y Jhon 40, el del poder financiero

Cinco días después del escándalo que estalló por cuenta del entorpecedor proceso que llevó a cabo el gobierno para entregar la solicitud al Departamento de Justicia en Washington, la Sección de Revisión, con cuatro votos a favor y uno en contra, acordó ampliar el plazo

Colombia, Venezuela

También estará sobre la mesa la agenda de la visita del presidente Iván Duque a Washington la semana del 13 de febrero para hablar con su par estadounidense, Donald Trump, sobre la situación de Venezuela

Mexico

Militares y agentes municipales colocaron retenes en diferentes puntos de la ciudad para hacer revisiones aleatorias en automóviles. También hicieron rondines en las zonas más conflictivas

Mexico, Western Hemisphere Regional

The “revelations” that these witnesses have brought forward aren’t revelatory—they merely confirm what we’ve always known. I’ve been writing about the Mexican drug world for two decades, and I’ve heard credible accounts of these bribes and payoffs continually from day one

Mexico

The government estimates more than 40,000 people have gone missing in Mexico, and there are about 26,000 unidentified bodies in the forensic system

El cartel les ofreció un trabajo con engaños, pero los esclavizó y los retiene a la fuerza. Hoy forman parte de los ejércitos del crimen organizado. Están vivos, pero están desaparecidos

At one point in Ecatepec, a city of two million people, ten times more women had been murdered than in Ciudad Juárez, the city in northern Mexico once considered the deadliest city in the world

The migrants — of whom about 1,300 are from Honduras, 200 are from Guatemala and 400-500 are from El Salvador — were being transported by state authorities from Saltillo, Mexico to Piedras Negras

Venezuela

Beijing has invested more than $62 billion in Venezuela, mostly through loans, since 2007. Last year, it imported 3.6 percent of its oil supply from the country, down from just over 5 percent in 2017

“En enero circuló una disposición de la GNB que señalaba a 3 mil personas sujetas a deserción. Es revelador que están perdiendo pie de fuerza para la represión, y desesperadamente está inventando y llamando a la Milicia”

En una declaración suscrita por 11 de sus 14 integrantes, el Grupo de Lima abogó por un cambio de gobierno en Venezuela, “sin uso de la fuerza”, y llamó a los militares a desconocer a Maduro y reconocer a Guaidó

“This is an absolute disaster,” said Luis Hernández, an oil union leader. “There’s almost no way to move the oil”

The day ahead: February 5, 2019

I’m most reachable in the morning. (How to contact me)

My afternoon is spent in a meeting with a senior colleague whom I haven’t seen in a while, a conversation with an intern, and a coalition meeting on Colombia. In the morning I’ll be scrambling to do some writing on Colombia and continue setting up my trip to the border next week.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

(Even more here)

February 4, 2019

Western Hemisphere Regional

Two days later after a defense official testified before the House Armed Services Committee, committee chairman Rep. Adam Smith criticized department officials for not disclosing the increase in troops or providing estimates

“The razor wire was way more aggressive than anything we had seen, which scared me. It felt like it was out of our hands as a border community. You feel powerless, like your voices aren’t heard”

GOP senators would have to decide between going on record in favor of a presidential declaration of a national emergency for something that everyone knows is based on false pretenses, a move that would be opposed by two-thirds of the country, or opposing it and possibly forcing a Trump veto

Colombia

SEMANA habló con el nuevo jefe de la Misión de la ONU sobre su papel en la verificación del acuerdo, el estado de la implementación y sobre cómo sorteará los crecientes tropiezos que sufre la construcción de la paz

Los problemas que se están presentando en los territorios tienen que ver con dinámicas de acumulación de rentas, de poderes, de gente que se acostumbró a la guerra

Varios informes de inteligencia militar señalaban a “Rodrigo Cadete” como el enlace de las disidencias del Bloque Oriental de las Farc con las del resto del país, en un esfuerzo por trabajar de forma articulada

Without significant investment in the social dimensions of post-conflict interventions — such as dialogue, documentation, memorialization and trauma healing — broader reconstruction efforts, including foreign-funded infrastructure and development assistance, will not be effective

Tanto en términos territoriales como en términos ideológicos, la segunda generación de dirigentes ha consolidado al ELN. Esta generación tiene un discurso radical

Ahora, su apuesta es por el historiador antioqueño Darío Acevedo, cuyo currículo está en la Función Pública para observaciones ciudadanas. Si pasa este requisito podría ser el nuevo director

Desde hace más de cuarenta días las autoridades no registran homicidios en el puerto, que es el principal cultivador de coca del mundo

  • Ariel Ávila, Esteban Salazar, Como en la Epoca Paramilitar (Fundacion Paz y Reconciliacion, El Espectador (Colombia), February 4, 2019).

Todo parece indicar que el país se está incendiando porque no hay voluntad de paz, pero tampoco hay decisión para detener la violencia

Colombia, Venezuela

Informes de inteligencia de al menos tres países aseguran que esa organización ilegal, a cambio de refugio, también está entrenando a las células insurgentes que defenderían el régimen de Nicolás Maduro, en caso de que su eventual salida del poder tenga un desenlace violento

Desde septiembre del año pasado, y en medio del sigilo, Colombia, la oposición venezolana y varios gobiernos gestaron el plan que hoy tiene a Nicolás Maduro con un pie fuera de Miraflores

Nunca habíamos estado tan cerca de una guerra con Venezuela, como ahora

Colombia, Cuba

No solo se quedarían con el chicharrón, sino que correrían el riesgo de volver a figurar en la lista de países que patrocinan el terrorismo

El Salvador

Salvadorans were looking for a new option after major corruption scandals and what many voters see as a lack of progress in tackling crime

He spent little time traveling the country, did not turn up for candidate debates and avoided interviews with journalists who might challenge him, leading critics to suggest that he was intolerant

El Salvador, Guatemala

Thelma Aldana, precandidata a la presidencia de Guatemala, busca la sintonía con el nuevo gobernante salvadoreño, a quien acompañó en su celebración

Guatemala

To say that the Trump Administration’s approach toward Guatemala has taken some bizarre turns in recent months is something of an understatement

Honduras

La Policía Nacional de Honduras manejó para el mes de enero de 2018 como cifra de cierre 326 homicidios, mientras que en enero de este año, las estadísticas presentan una reducción de 63 casos pues se reportan 263

La encargada de Negocios, Heide Fulton, se retirará nuevamente de Honduras de manera momentánea para atender su misión de reservista del ejército de su país

Mexico

Unnerved by the continued violence in Mexico, some area residents contend that a wall is the only solution, and a few ranchers say they are willing to donate land for the effort

All four report being detained by Mexican immigration authorities while trying to enter the country, and eventually being turned back because the authorities said their passports had been flagged

Despite Mexico’s objections, the new rules will extend to multiple border crossings and apply to families “very soon,” officials say

Mexico, Venezuela

México y Uruguay han intentado mediar en el conflicto, sin tomar partido, pero el político, en entrevista con Proceso, rechaza tal mediación y le pide a López Obrador nada más que apoyo

Nicaragua

Morales dejó ver que la inteligencia policial y la militar realizan actividades de espionaje político, expresamente prohibidas por el artículo 96 de la Constitución Política de Nicaragua

Venezuela

There is deep concern in Beijing about why its Venezuelan venture backfired and how it can salvage its investment

The Venezuelan military now features more than 3,000 generals and admirals, said Andres Bello Catholic University professor Carlos Calatrava. By contrast, the much larger U.S. military has only 920

Yanez claims that “90 percent of the armed forces are not with the dictator”

Según estimaciones de la Asamblea Nacional, actualmente hay casi 160 militares detenidos

El jefe de Estado venezolano indicó entonces que la Guardia Nacional Bolivariana (GNB) está incorporando entre 20.000 y 30.000 hombres y mujeres a cada rango y ordenó al cuerpo castrense

Army experts and government critics say that the aid shipments will be a test of allegiance for rank-and-file armed force members who are also suffering from the country’s economic woes

Since Jan. 23, when Guaido proclaimed himself interim president and when protests against Maduro’s rule broke out, CANTV has blocked access to social media sites at least four times

Spain, Portugal, France, the U.K., Austria, Denmark, Lithuania, Latvia, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Germany were among the governments that said Monday they consider Mr. Guaidó to be the country’s president

Sources briefed on the matter said that the 14-nation Lima Group looked set, though, to hold off imposing further sanctions on the Maduro government when it meets in Ottawa

El bloque conformado por 14 países rechazó la intervención militar para un posible gobierno de transición en Venezuela y abogó por la vía diplomática, “mientras que los Estados Unidos sí la piden”

In the first eight months of 2018, imports from the US rose 76% to 125,000 barrels a day

By dawn, the FAES unit had killed as many as 10 people, leaving with their bodies and about a dozen hooded detainees

The security forces’ passivity in the face of mass protests yesterday is an unprecedented show of weakness for the regime

The young lawmaker Juan Guaidó, in perpetual motion as he fields calls from world leaders and visits ordinary Venezuelans, sees a clear, if daunting, path to ousting Nicolás Maduro

Venezuela, Western Hemisphere Regional

Más allá de las posturas de los gobiernos no alineados ni con Washington ni con Maduro, el hecho es que todas las izquierdas encuentran argumentos para defender sus posiciones frente a Venezuela

A twisty riverbank explains why a wall won’t stop 60 percent of today’s migrants

Here’s Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) during last week’s House-Senate Conference Committee meeting on the 2019 federal budget, which hinges on President Trump’s demand for a border wall. Cuellar is pointing to a map of the U.S.-Mexico border in his district.

“We have a river that doesn’t run straight,” he says, reminding his colleagues that past fencing built in the area has often had to get put up as much as a mile inland from the actual border. It’s impossible to build a sinuous fence following the contours of the river’s bank, right in the middle of an active floodplain.

Remember this map anytime someone tries to tell you that a border wall will stop Central Americans, or anyone else, from crossing onto U.S. soil to petition for asylum. In South Texas, there’s no way to keep people from rafting across and setting foot on U.S. soil, where they can await the arrival of Border Patrol agents and ask to apply for asylum. If you’re between the river and the wall, you’re still on U.S. soil, and no “metering” can steer you away.

“Congress has already funded 33 miles (53 kilometers) of new barrier construction here” in south Texas the AP’s Nomaan Merchant reported in late January. “But much of that new barrier will be built north of the Rio Grande, which carves a natural boundary between the U.S. and Mexico. That means migrants will still be able to reach American soil in front of the newly constructed barrier and request asylum.”

Nearly 60 percent of everyone whom Border Patrol is apprehending right now are children and families, most of them asking for protection. In Texas, a wall wouldn’t change that at all.

Latin America-related events in Washington this week

Monday, February 4

  • 2:30-5:00 at the Inter-American Dialogue: “Venezuela: Between Hope and Uncertainty” (RSVP required).

Tuesday, February 5

  • 8:30-11:00 at the Inter-American Dialogue: “Corruption Prosecutions in the Americas: A Comparative Analysis” (RSVP required).
  • 12:30-2:00 at Georgetown University: “U.S Foreign Policy for South America 2003 to 2015” (RSVP required).

Wednesday, February 6

  • 10:15 in Room SH-216, Hart Senate Office Building: Hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on “Worldwide Threats.”

Thursday, February 7

The day ahead: February 4, 2019

I’ll be reachable in the early afternoon. (How to contact me)

My day is punctuated by an NGO meeting at the Homeland Security Department, a weekly staff meeting, and a planning meeting for our border project. I go back to the border (San Diego/Tijuana) on Sunday, so what free time I have, I’ll spend planning that trip and doing documentary research.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

(Even more here)

February 1, 2019

Western Hemisphere Regional

Democrats offered further details of their border security plan Thursday, unveiling a measure that would provide no wall funds

Whitaker inserted himself in the case of a Mexican man whose father was threatened by la Familia Michoacána, a drug cartel in the Mexican state of Michoacán

Colombia, Cuba

El ministro de Estado alemán, Michael Roth, manifestó su desacuerdo frente a la postura del presidente Iván Duque de desconocer los protocolos con el Eln, ante una eventual ruptura de los diálogos

Colombia

En esa instancia, que no se reunía desde julio pasado, durante el gobierno del expresidente Juan Manuel Santos, tienen asiento representantes del Estado encargados de la política para desarticular la organizaciones ilegales que atacan a excombatientes, líderes sociales y comunidades

El Salvador

The real debate in the US over border security should be about support for ways to reduce corruption in Central America. The best “wall” against migration is found in candidates like Bukele

InSight Crime looks at the security platforms proposed by the three most viable candidates

Honduras, Mexico

On January 29, Mexican officials reported a cumulative total under the special policy of 15,552 humanitarian visa applicants, nearly a fifth of whom are children and teenagers

Mexico

The plan includes a lead role for the military, and involves patrolling neighborhoods, detaining suspects and investigating crimes

Venezuela

While military leaders do consider their material interests, that’s not the only factor in deciding where to throw their support. Here are four major factors

Mr. Jazairy, urged all countries to avoid applying sanctions unless approved by the Security Council, as required by the UN Charter

Anti-government demonstrations are planned for Caracas on Saturday, and with discontent growing, new groups are taking to the streets, including those who were once staunch supporters of Mr. Maduro and his predecessor

“Tenemos mucha presión, no les voy a decir de quién, pero se lo pueden imaginar, para que votemos en contra de la creación de este grupo”, admitió el ministro de Exteriores, Josep Borrell, en el Congreso. Aludía al grupo de la UE para propiciar el diálogo

Amnesty provisions that grant impunity to those who bear the greatest responsibility for serious human rights crimes contradict states’ obligation to ensure accountability for such violations

Guaidó worries about being arrested — or worse. There are currently over 350 political prisoners in Venezuela, including his mentor and former leader of his Popular Will party Leopoldo Lopez

The events in Venezuela have understandably raised some concerns of echoes of ill-fated military coups and U.S. intervention in Latin America. But a closer look at what is happening in Venezuela and the region shows it is anything but

“How are you Jimmy?,” Maduro said in broken English on state TV Monday night as he welcomed back to Caracas a group of Venezuelan diplomats he had recalled from the U.S. “I Bolivarian President Maduro. I’m still here, in Miraflores Palace, Jimmy”

The comments suggest the administration intends to stick by its use of soft power, at least for now

Asked about a note he appeared with suggesting 5,000 US troops could be deployed to neighboring Colombia, Bolton laughed, reiterating that all options were on the table

Some are concerned that governments who joined the U.S. in recognizing Guaidó may rethink their support of the United States strategy now. They said the administration should have waited until either Maduro retaliated or coordinated something with the international community

Although the United States could easily overpower the smaller Venezuelan combatant forces, the tactics, techniques, and procedures that U.S. combatant units employed in other battlefield scenarios and environments may fall flat in Venezuela and unnecessarily prolong combatant and stabilization operations

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