- Some Latin American militaries have a particular clique, usually an academy graduating class, that rises to leadership and leaves a mark on the institution—often for the worse. At ProPublica, Melissa del Bosque identifies a ”tanda” in the U.S. Border Patrol: a group of agents who served in Douglas, Arizona in the 1990s and rose to top management, “leaving corruption, misconduct and a toxic culture in their wake.”
- In El Salvador last Sunday, popular populist President Nayib Bukele shocked the region by sending helmeted, rifle-bearing soldiers into the National Assembly’s chambers because legislators weren’t approving a loan fast enough. The best commentary I’ve seen on this huge step back for civil-military relations comes in an editorial from El Faro, in English and Spanish.
- Keegan Hamilton at Vice looks at the state of Mexican organized crime a year after “Chapo” Guzmán’s guilty verdict in a New York court. For me, the most interesting part is in the article’s second half, where we get a glimpse into the mindset of a veteran narcotics prosecutor who insists on staying the course with a policy that doesn’t seem to be getting anywhere. “Is there futility in what we do? Are we playing whack-a-mole?” she asked rhetorically. “I think it’s showing the strength of what our system does; there’s a purpose for it.”
- At Nieman Reports, Tim Rogers talks to independent journalists from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Bolivia, and Chile about how they’re staying a step ahead in this era of authoritarians, populists, Twitter warriors, and street protests.
- This exploration of the current state of democracy and civil-military relations in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, by Otto Argueta and Knut Walter at Contra Corriente, could use a bit of editorial tightening up—but it strikes some important and timely notes. “The greatest risk for democracy in these countries is the paradoxical combination of democratically elected governments that lack legitimacy, and the existence of powerful armed forces.…That combination in our contexts can wake the sleeping dragon, the one that leads to authoritarian and undemocratic solutions.”
Here’s a podcast recorded last Friday with Adriana Beltran and Austin Robles from WOLA’s Central America / Citizen Security program. We talk mostly about setbacks to the anti-corruption fight in Guatemala and Honduras. Good thing we didn’t talk about El Salvador too much, because two days after this conversation, President Nayib Bukele set everything on fire there by bringing armed soldiers into the legislative chamber with an aggressive display.
I learned a lot about what’s happening just by hosting this. Here’s a direct download link.
Here’s the blurb on WOLA’s website.
Adriana Beltrán and Austin Robles of WOLA’s Citizen Security Program discuss the beleaguered fight against corruption in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Their Central America Monitor tracks progress on eight indicators and closely watches over U.S. aid.
February 14, 2020
Bolivia, Chile, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Western Hemisphere Regional
- Tim Rogers, “How Independent Journalists in Latin America Are Finding New Ways to Hold Power to Account” (Nieman Reports, February 14, 2020).
Across the hemisphere, the combination of weak democracies, authoritarian creep, struggling economies, government retaliation against advertisers, and worsening levels of political and social violence are pinching journalists from all sides
- “Brazilian Journalist Slain on Lawless Paraguay Border” (Associated Press, Associated Press, February 14, 2020).
Léo Veras lived in the Paraguayan town of Pedro Juan Caballero and ran a local news website. He had recently been receiving threats for his investigative work into smuggling at the border
- Anthony Boadle, “Brazil’s Bolsonaro Militarizes His Inner Cabinet” (Reuters, Reuters, February 14, 2020).
The appointment of Braga, the second active-duty general in the Cabinet, raises to seven the number of military men in the 20-member Cabinet, not counting Vice President Hamilton Mourao, a retired general
- “Comunicado a la Opinion Publica Sobre la Version del General (R) Mario Montoya Uribe-Mario-Montoya-Uribe.aspx)” (Jurisdicción Especial para la Paz (Colombia), February 14, 2020).
La Sala estudiará la solicitud, por parte de las víctimas, de activar el procedimiento adversarial y enviar a Montoya Uribe a la Unidad de Investigación y Acusación (UIA) o de excluir al compareciente de la jurisdicción
- Laura Angelica Ospina, “Los Recelos Que Genera Nancy Patricia Gutierrez Como Consejera de Derechos Humanos” (El Espectador (Colombia), February 14, 2020).
Su afirmación de que el Acuerdo de Paz de La Habana era “semifallido” preocupa a las organizaciones de víctimas, pues será ella quien coordine la política integral de derechos humanos en el país donde asesinan a líderes todos los días
- Sergio Saavedra, “Alerta por Graves Anuncios del Paro Armado en Putumayo” (Fundación Paz y Reconciliación (Colombia), February 14, 2020).
Hay una información que circula en Putumayo que tiene que ver con que las disidencias de las FARC se unirían al paro armado decretado por el ELN en los departamentos de Putumayo, Nariño y Cauca
Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela
- Steven Grattan, “Venezuelan Migrants Face Rising Xenophobia in Latin America” (The New Humanitarian, February 14, 2020).
UNHCR released a campaign last year called “Somos panas” (“We’re mates”) to remind Colombians they were helped by Venezuela when thousands fled the other way during Colombia’s 50-year civil war
- Brian Winter, “Q&A: Why el Salvador’s Crisis Is Different – and Worrying” (Americas Quarterly, February 14, 2020).
To make sense of these events, and the possibility of further contagion, I recently spoke with two of the United States’ most seasoned observers of Latin American affairs
- Rodrigo Baires Quezada, “Rebelion o Sedicion: La Delgada Linea Que Cruzo el Ejercito Salvadoreno” (Revista Factum (El Salvador), February 14, 2020).
El presidente Nayib Bukele violó al menos tres disposiciones constitucionales y varias leyes secundarias, según constitucionalistas
- Jose Miguel Vivanco, “President Bukele, Brute Force Is Not the Way Forward for el Salvador” (Human Rights Watch, The New York Times, February 14, 2020).
It was the most overt display of brute force since the end of the civil war in 1992. Yet the United States and the European Union have only issued mild rebukes
El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras
- Otto Argueta, Knut Walter, “El Norte Militar del Triangulo Centroamericano” (VOA Noticias, Contra Corriente, February 14, 2020).
Despierta una preocupación histórica en los tres países y que parece ser el despertar centroamericano del dragón dormido: la participación de los militares en la política
- Carlos Arturo Villagran, “Cuatro Alarmas: Los Primeros Pasos Hacia un Estado Policial (Analisis Legal de la Ley de Ong)” (Plaza Publica (Guatemala), February 14, 2020).
También están en riesgo la autonomía personal, la universitaria, la intimidad, y son los primeros pasos hacia un Estado policial
- “Guatemala Lawmakers Ok Controversial Ngo Regulations” (Associated Press, The New York Times, February 14, 2020).
Guatemalan lawmakers approved changes to laws on non-governmental organizations that would give the executive branch the authority to allow such groups to operate or shut them down if they are deemed disruptive
- “Gunmen Storm Court Building to Free Ms-13 Leader” (BBC (UK), February 14, 2020).
Heavily armed men dressed in military fatigues and police uniforms stormed a court building in north-west Honduras and freed a senior leader of the powerful MS-13 gang
- David C Adams, Jeff Ernst, “En Custodia el Testigo Clave en el Caso por Narcotrafico Contra el Hermano del Presidente Hondureno” (Univision, February 14, 2020).
Según documentos judiciales, Mauricio Hernández Pineda está acusado de conspiración para traficar cocaína junto con Tony Hernández, el hermano del presidente de Honduras
- Vicente Calderon, Daniel Angel Rubio, “En Tijuana, Paraiso del Cristal, Es Mas Facil Morir de Sobredosis a Que Caiga un Narcomenudista” (Vanguardia, SinEmbargo (Mexico), February 14, 2020).
Con el Nuevo Sistema de Justicia Penal, no se logrará dejar en prisión a nadie por el delito de comercio de drogas al menudeo
- Carli Pierson, “In Bone-Chilling Numbers, Femicides in Mexico Are a National Emergency” (National Catholic Reporter, February 14, 2020).
Official figures show that 3,142 women and girls were killed in 2019, and only 726 of those cases are being investigated as femicides. But women’s rights activists say that number is way too low
- Anna Giaritelli, “Trump to Host Dozens of Border Patrol Agents at White House on Friday” (The Washington Examiner, February 14, 2020).
President Trump will host dozens of Border Patrol agents at the White House Friday afternoon in what is expected to be a celebration of union President Brandon Judd’s reelection
- Lara Seligman, “Trump to Raid Pentagon’s War Account to Build Border Wall” (Foreign Policy, February 14, 2020).
This year, a significant chunk of those dollars will be funneled from a war account known as the Overseas Contingency Operations fund, according to a Feb. 13 reprogramming action
- Paul Ingram, “2 Arizona Bases May See Cuts as Pentagon Siphons $3.8b to Border Wall” (The Tucson Sentinel (Tucson Arizona), February 14, 2020).
Arizona Democrats said that President Donald Trump is “trying to steal money” from the military to “pay for his vanity wall,” while the ACLU said it would continue to pursue a lawsuit
- Paul Sonne, Nick Miroff, “Pentagon to Divert $3.8 Billion From Its Budget to Build More of Trump’s Border Barrier” (The Washington Post, February 14, 2020).
According to budget documents reviewed by The Washington Post, the Pentagon is pulling the funding from two F-35 fighter jets and two Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft for the Marine Corps; one P-8A reconnaissance aircraft for the Navy; and four C-130J transport planes and eight MQ-9 Reaper drones for the Air Force
- Elliot Spagat, “Holding-Cell Stats Raise Questions About Trump Asylum Policy” (Associated Press, Associated Press, February 14, 2020).
On March 14, according to one daily snapshot, 672 people were in custody at all 24 crossings, a 57% occupancy rate
- Sofia Nederr, “Maduro Insiste en Dar Mayor Protagonismo a la Milicia Con Primer Ejercicio de 2020” (Tal Cual (Venezuela), February 14, 2020).
La Fuerza Armada Nacional (FAN), por instrucciones de Nicolás Maduro, realizará los días 15 y 16 de febrero las primeras maniobras militares de este año, bautizadas como “Escudo Bolivariano 2020”
- “Venezuela: De Que Tipo Son y por Que Estaban Alli los Misiles Desplegados por el Ejercito Cuando Juan Guaido Regreso al Pais” (BBC Mundo, La Prensa (Nicaragua), February 14, 2020).
Unos grandes vehículos lanzamisiles aparecieron estacionados en la carretera que conecta Caracas con su aeropuerto, bloqueada por efectivos militares coincidiendo con el regreso del líder opositor Juan Guaidó al país
- Rob Crilly, “Politics or Principle? Inside Trump’s Venezuela Push” (The Washington Examiner, February 14, 2020).
“He’s no fan of foreign deployments,” said a senior administration official. “It’s absolutely clear that he has a very different view of our hemisphere”
The Trump administration will be taking $7.2 billion out of the Defense Department’s budget this year to pay for building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. (Very little of that money will get spent if he loses in November.) He’s been able to move some of that money into his wall—even though Congress never approved it—by declaring a “national emergency” and outlasting congressional efforts to disapprove that emergency (they need a two-thirds majority and only muster a simple majority).
Much of the Defense fund transfers, though, don’t even require an emergency declaration. The money can be moved under existing law. That’s what’s happening with the $3.8 billion that the Pentagon notified Congress this week would be moved from Defense into wall-building.
Here’s the notification PDF. The Trump administration is taking money out of the Joint Strike Fighter and other aircraft and weapons programs to pay for the wall, something that has even Republicans on the Armed Services Committee unhappy.
How can Trump do this? First, the Defense appropriations law allows the president to move up to $4 billion each year from one account to another. That’s Section 8005 of the annual appropriation. Here, he’s moving money from these weapons programs to the Pentagon’s counter-drug account. This vector was also used in 2019, applied to $2.5 billion in wall-building money. It shows up in yellow on this flowchart.
Second, now that it is “counter-drug” money, Trump can transfer it to the Homeland Security department to build a “counter-drug” wall. This is thanks to the nearly magical flexibility of the Defense Department’s counter-drug account, the product of a 1990 law. Let’s look at this law for a moment.
It was created at the height of the crack plague and the war on drugs. The George H.W. Bush administration and a Democratic-majority Congress had just made the U.S. military the “single lead agency” for interdicting cocaine overseas, and were clarifying what that meant. They agreed to give the Pentagon a bunch of new powers, including the ability to support U.S. law enforcement on U.S. soil if it was for the drug war. (The original law was Section 1004 of the 1991 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). It had to be renewed every few years. But the 2017 NDAA made the law permanent, as Section 284 of Title 10, U.S. Code.)
- Ever since, a military component called Joint Task Force-North, operating from Fort Bliss outside El Paso, has been carrying out domestic support missions, mainly for CBP.
- It gave the Defense Department the legal authority to spend its giant budget to build border barriers—as long as such barriers can be justified as “counter-drug.”
- This same provision also allows the Defense Department to provide several types of counter-drug assistance to “foreign law enforcement agencies.” As a result, for the last 30 years, Latin American militaries and police forces have received billions of dollars in equipment upgrades, base facilities construction, training, and “intelligence analysis” services from the Defense Department.
This Defense Department’s counter-drug account—listed at the Security Assistance Monitor as “Section 1004 Counter-Drug Assistance”—quickly became the second-largest source of military and police aid to Latin America. It was a big component of Plan Colombia and of the Mérida Initiative in Mexico.
The Special Forces teams that trained many thousands of Colombian troops at the outset of Plan Colombia? The maritime bases built along Honduras’s northern coast? The drone imagery shared with Mexican forces hunting for drug kingpins? The “Interagency Task Forces” operating along Guatemala’s border with Mexico, with the jeeps famously used to intimidate the CICIG? That’s been largely Defense money, not foreign aid budget money.
It flows independently of the State Department and foreign aid budget, with poor visibility over how it’s spent. We always have a very hard time learning how much Defense counter-drug money went as aid to which countries’ security forces in the previous year.
Now, that same legal provision is authorizing the building of border walls. Money gets taken from weapons systems, transferred to the counter-drug budget, then transferred to the Homeland Security Department budget to be used for wall-building. And there’s little Congress can do about it.
The process is under challenge in the courts. Last July, though, the Supreme Court allowed this “counter-drug” money to keep flowing while lower courts slowly deliberated.
Meanwhile, this move pits the military-industrial complex (all those fighter jets, Osprey aircraft, Humvees and other equipment being cut) against the border security-industrial complex (wall construction and related technology). These are mostly different contracting companies, bringing money and employment to different congressional districts. While I don’t have a dog in this fight at all, it’ll be interesting to watch the wrangling.
I should be reachable from late morning to end of day. (How to contact me)
This morning I’ll be recording an episode of “Foro Interamericano” at the Voice of America. Then I’ll be in the office the rest of the day. I’ll be working on our Colombia website overhaul—the first feature is nearly ready to be added, though the site will continue to have the same “look and feel” for a while. Other than a few check-ins with staff, I should be reachable.
This will be my last day in the office until next Thursday; Monday is a holiday and we’re taking a couple of extra days to visit relatives in Florida.
“Gretel” by (Sandy) Alex G (2019).
February 13, 2020
- David Fernando Correal, Andres Palencia, Ana Cristina Restrepo, Jorge Restrepo, “Monitor de Violencia Politica en Colombia” (CERAC (Colombia), February 13, 2020).
Persiste el riesgo en las actividades políticas, pese a una sustancial reducción en las muertes por violencia política en 2019
- ““Hare Uso de Mi Derecho a Guardar Silencio”: General (R) Montoya en la Jep” (El Espectador (Colombia), February 13, 2020).
Tanto el general (r) como su defensor dejaron saber que contestarían solo de manera general y sin afectar el derecho del oficial en retiro a no autoincriminarse
- “¿la Linea de Defensa del General Montoya Lo Podria Dejar Sin los Beneficios de la Jep?” (Semana (Colombia), February 13, 2020).
La batalla que emprendieron decenas de familias para evitar que el caso del excomandante del Ejército terminara en manos de la JEP volvió a tomar forma
- Joshua Goodman, “Warren Buffett’s Son Helps Colombia Kick Cocaine Curse” (Associated Press, The New York Times, February 13, 2020).
He is focusing on Tibu, heart of the remote, notoriously lawless Catatumbo region bordering Venezuela where Buffett accompanied President Iván Duque
- Carlos Dada, “El Salvador Necesita Mas Democracia, No Golpes Ni Dictaduras” (The New York Times, February 13, 2020).
Es el momento más ominoso de una jornada marcada ya en la historia nacional: 9 de febrero de 2020
- Jody Garcia, “Abogado de los Casos Hogar Seguro y Molina Theissen Ha Recibido 31 Amenazas en Dos Anos” (Nomada (Guatemala), February 13, 2020).
Desde 2018 ha recibido amenazas, llamadas, vigilancia, ha sido víctima de allanamientos ilegales y más recientemente, de un intento de robo en su residencia
- Enrique Garcia, “Presentan Acciones Legales Ante la Cc por Aprobacion de Reformas a la Ley de Ong” (ElPeriodico (Guatemala), February 13, 2020).
Varias organizaciones sociales y Acción Ciudadana (AC) presentaron ayer ante la Corte de Constitucionalidad (CC) un amparo en contra de las reformas a la Ley de Organizaciones no Gubernamentales (ONG) aprobadas el martes pasado de forma apresurada en el Congreso
- Gloria Leticia DÍaz, “Cndh Abre Queja de Oficio por Presuntas Violaciones a Derechos de Migrantes en Tabasco” (Proceso (Mexico), February 13, 2020).
Entre esas violaciones destaca la aplicación de descargas eléctricas por parte de efectivos de la Guardia Nacional y la Policía Federal
Mexico, U.S.-Mexico Border
- Neldy San Martin, “Ebrard Presume Reduccion de 74.5% de Flujo Migratorio y Niega Abusos de la Gn” (Proceso (Mexico), February 13, 2020).
Ebrard aseguró que la Guardia Nacional no ha recibido ni una sola recomendación de la Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos (CNDH) por su actuación para detener los flujos migratorios
- NoÉ Zavaleta, “Policias Me Golpearon y Amenazaron de Muerte: Periodista Veracruzano” (Proceso (Mexico), February 13, 2020).
Beto Carmona, reportero de El Piñero de la Cuenca que cubrió el enfrentamiento entre pobladores de Isla y Loma Bonita con la Fuerza Civil y la Policía Federal, expuso que fue amenazado por policías estatales, mientras estuvo retenido por varias horas
- Juan Montes, “A Cry for Help: Vigilantes Enlist Children to Fight Mexican Cartels” (The Wall Street Journal, February 13, 2020).
Bernardino Sánchez, the founder of the local vigilante force, said the children were enlisted in part to draw public attention to the violence and helplessness of their communities
Mexico, U.S.-Mexico Border
- “Over 110 House Democrats Call for Immediate End of Remain in Mexico Policy” (Congressional Hispanic Caucus, U.S. House of Representatives, February 13, 2020).
This policy has led to multiple human and civil rights violations at our border, while also causing the mass suffering of tens of thousands of migrants and asylum seekers
- Lizbeth Diaz, Mica Rosenberg, Julio-Cesar Chavez, “Mexico Says U.S. Returning Sharply Fewer Migrants Under ‘Remain in Mexico’” (Reuters, Reuters, February 13, 2020).
Mexico’s foreign ministry said about 2,000 migrants were sent to Mexico under the program in January, down from a peak of around 12,000 in August last year
- Nadia Sanders, “Mexico se Olvida de la Crisis Migrante en la Frontera Con Estados Unidos” (The Washington Post, February 13, 2020).
Los funcionarios del gobierno federal que decidieron cortar el presupuesto para las organizaciones civiles deberían ir a los albergues por unos días, despertar a las 5:00 de la mañana para darles un café y un pan a los migrantes que se van a trabajar
- Dylan Baddour, “A Refugee Camp Grows on the Us-Mexico Border” (Al Jazeera, February 13, 2020).
In Mexico’s Matamoros, thousands of asylum seekers wait in an encampment for their asylum cases to be heard in the US
- Rafael Carranza, “One Month Into ‘Remain in Mexico,’ Nogales Struggles to Support Returned Asylum Seekers” (The Arizona Republic, February 13, 2020).
With little to no support from the federal government, nonprofits and migrant aid groups in Nogales like the Kino Border Initiative are doing the bulk of the work but are still struggling to care for migrants sent back under the program
- Sarah Kinosian, Deisy Buitrago, Vivian Sequera, Brian Ellsworth, “Venezuela Detains Opposition Leader Guaido’s Uncle” (Reuters, Reuters, February 13, 2020).
“He’s detained, not forcibly disappeared, he’s detained for bringing prohibited substances onto a flight,” said Cabello
I’ll be reachable in the middle and the very end of the day, and that’s about it. (How to contact me)
I’ll have an eye on this morning’s House hearing about security assistance to Mexico, but can’t attend because we’re interviewing candidates for a new assistant today. I’ll also be on calls with groups working on the border, and with a colleague from a rights organization expanding its Latin America work. Otherwise I’ll be in the office continuing work on a website-building project.
“I Hate Alternative Rock” by Beach Slang (2019).
February 12, 2020
- Robert Muggah, Pedro Augusto Pereira, “Brazil’s Risky Bet on Tech to Fight Crime” (Igarape Institute, Americas Quarterly, February 12, 2020).
From drones to facial recognition, police across the region are adopting digital tools. But some worry about abuse
- Olga Patricia Rendon M., “Ninos Siguen Llegando a las Filas de los Ilegales” (El Colombiano (Medellin Colombia), February 12, 2020).
De acuerdo con el Observatorio de Niñez y Conflicto Armado (ONCA), en el primer semestre de 2019 se registraron 33 eventos de reclutamiento de niños y adolescentes por grupos posdesmovilización
- “General (R) Mario Montoya Rinde Version Ante la Jep-Mario-Montoya-rinde-versi%C3%B3n-ante-la-JEP.aspx)” (Jurisdicción Especial para la Paz (Colombia), February 12, 2020).
La versión, que se llevará acabo entre el 12 y el 14 de febrero, será reservada y contará con la participación y presencia de 41 víctimas y 15 representantes judiciales
- Nelson Ricardo Matta Colorado, “Agamenon: Deudas y Aciertos en Lucha Contra el “Clan”” (El Colombiano (Medellin Colombia), February 12, 2020).
EL COLOMBIANO analiza los cinco logros y los cinco asuntos pendientes de la Operación Agamenón, el esfuerzo institucional más grande contra el crimen organizado en los últimos tiempos
- The Costs of Restarting Aerial Coca Spraying in Colombia, “The Costs of Restarting Aerial Coca Spraying in Colombia” (Adam Isacson, Washington Office on Latin America, February 12, 2020).
Instead of aerial spraying, a better mix of policies would rely on building state presence, promoting equitable economic development that allows small farmers to develop other sources of income, and putting more effort into drug interdiction and curbing illicit financial flows
El Salvador, Western Hemisphere Regional
- Anna-Catherine Brigida, Mary Beth Sheridan, “Showdown in el Salvador Illustrates Growing Role of Military in Latin American Democracies” (The Washington Post, February 12, 2020).
In a region that long suffered from military dictatorships, the assertiveness by the armed forces is raising fears that democracy is taking a step backward
- Roberto Valencia, “Las Consecuencias del Falso Golpe de Estado en el Salvador” (The Washington Post, February 12, 2020).
Tanto la Fuerza Armada como la Policía Nacional Civil (PNC) —ambas instituciones claves en un país que apenas en 1992 estaba en guerra civil— se prestaron a seguir el juego al presidente de turno, sentando un peligroso precedente
- “El Salvador Parliament Denounces ‘Attempted Coup’” (BBC (UK), February 12, 2020).
Mr Bukele has dismissed the criticism saying that “if I was a dictator, I would have taken control of everything”
- Gerson Chavez, “Director de la Pnc a Diputado: “Necesitamos la Llave del Salon Azul, de Lo Contrario Vamos a Tumbar las Puertas”” (El Mundo (El Salvador), February 12, 2020).
Además de diputado y directivo de la Asamblea Legislativa, Reynaldo López Cardoza es el encargado de seguridad del recinto que ocupa este poder del Estado. En esta entrevista revela cómo perdió el control de la seguridad durante siete horas
El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico
- “No Way Out: Msf Report Shows Damaging Health Impacts of Us-Mexico Migration Policies” (Doctors Without Borders, February 12, 2020).
The high levels of violence in the Northern Triangle of Central America (NTCA) is comparable to that in war zones where MSF has been working for decades—and is a major factor fueling migration north to Mexico and the US
- Ed Vulliamy, “‘Why Did She Have to Die?’ Mexico’s War on Women Claims Young Artist” (The Guardian (Uk), February 12, 2020).
“In a machista city, she was occupying the streets with art, she was riding her bicycle home alone at night, she was subversive of patriarchal culture. She joined us to fight patriarchal violence in our own ways, her own way”
- “Enfrentamiento Entre Policias y Manifestantes en Veracruz Deja 2 Oficiales Heridos y 12 Detenidos” (SinEmbargo (Mexico), February 12, 2020).
Alrededor de 200 habitantes de diversos municipios veracruzanos realizaron una protesta frente a cuarteles de la Guardia Civil, Policía Federal y la Guardia Nacional en reclamo por presuntos abusos de autoridad cometidos por uniformados
- Keegan Hamilton, “El Chapo’s Conviction Changed Everything and Nothing About the War on Drugs” (VICE, February 12, 2020).
Ray Donovan, who oversaw the hunt for Chapo as the former chief of the DEA’s Special Operations Division, told me the botched Ovidio arrest is “indicative of the fact that the Sinaloa cartel is still there
- Ryan Dube, Kejal Vyas, “Opposition Leader Juan Guaido Returns to Venezuela” (The Wall Street Journal, February 12, 2020).
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó returned to Caracas Tuesday after he slipped out of the country last month in defiance of a travel ban
- Manuel Rueda, “Venezuelan Military Defectors Struggle to Get by While Maduro Holds Onto Power” (The World, Public Radio International, February 12, 2020).
Among those affected are an estimated 1,400 soldiers who defected from Venezuela’s military last year. Most now stay in Colombia, where they struggle to make a living
I’m around in the morning and the late afternoon. (How to contact me)
I’m deep into a website-building project, and hope to be adding the first of several new features to our insufficiently active colombiapeace.org site by the end of the week or the weekend. I’ll be working on that today, when not in mid-day meetings with a researcher/journalist and a class at Johns Hopkins SAIS, and in a phone interview with a Brazilian reporter. Other than that, I should be reachable.
Sometime this year, Colombia is likely to reverse 5 years of policy progress and restore a program that sprays herbicides, from aircraft, over many of the more than 119,500 rural households that live in areas so neglected and abandoned that people grow coca to earn a modest living.
This makes me sad and angry, because Colombia’s 2016 peace accord held so much promise of bringing government, for the the first time, into these forgotten territories that I’ve visited—and been moved by—on many visits to the country. Instead of governing, Iván Duque’s government will be sending contract pilots and police helicopter escorts to fly overhead, spraying the highly questioned chemical glyphosate, with the U.S. government footing much of the bill.
Here’s my latest writing about this, based on a contribution I added to documents submitted by Colombian organizations seeking to challenge the policy in the country’s judicial system. It points out that fumigation may bring short-term reductions in coca growing, but does nothing in the long term but bring high costs, environmental and health risks, a high likelihood of social unrest, and danger to the pilots and other personnel.
I wish they wouldn’t do this: there’s no substitute for governing your own territory and serving your own people.
“Drowning feat. Robokid” by Jai Wolf (2019).
Customs and Border Protection just released its migrant apprehension data for January 2020, and a bunch of new year-end data covering all of Fiscal Year 2019. I got to work and updated the collection of infographics that we maintain and always share at bit.ly/wola_border. Download all 35 of them there as a 1.5 MB .pdf file.
February 11, 2020
- Luis Jaime Acosta, “Colombia Aims to Eradicate 130,000 Hectares of Coca in 2020” (Reuters, Reuters, February 11, 2020).
The goal for coca eradication in 2020 is 30% higher than the previous year
- “Informe Anual 2019: Callar y Fingir, la Censura de Siempre” (Fundación para la Libertad de Prensa (Colombia), February 11, 2020).
Colombia, de nuevo, terminó un año enterrando a periodistas
- Rosalinda Hernandez C, “Muertos Seis Presuntos Integrantes de los “Rastrojos” en Frontera Venezolana” (El Colombiano (Medellin Colombia), February 11, 2020).
Al momento del enfrentamiento con cuerpos de seguridad venezolanos, los hombres portaban prendas militares con características similares a las usadas por los “Rastrojos”, asegura el parte militar
- “Sin Dios Ni Ley, un Informe de la Violencia en la Frontera” (Fundación Paz y Reconciliación (Colombia), February 11, 2020).
Actualmente en la zona fronteriza hacen presencia 28 Estructuras armadas Ilegales
- Jacobo Garcia, ““Si Fuera un Dictador Habria Tomado el Control de Todo el Gobierno Anoche”” (El Pais (Spain), February 11, 2020).
Bukele da una semana de margen a la bancada opositora para que apruebe el crédito e insiste en que cuenta con todos los apoyos para tomar “el control de todo”
- Christine J. Wade, “In el Salvador, President Bukele Plays a Dangerous Game” (Washington College, The Globe Post, February 11, 2020).
There is no greater threat to the future of El Salvador’s democratic institutions than the politicization of the military
- Valeria Guzman, Nelson Rauda, Jimmy Alvarado, “Bukele Mete al Ejercito en la Asamblea y Amenaza Con Disolverla Dentro de una Semana” (El Faro (El Salvador), February 11, 2020).
Este fin de semana fue la primera vez que Nayib Bukele desplegó a la Fuerza Armada para impulsar su agenda política. Y el resultado es un escenario complejo
- “Corte Suprema Pone Freno a Bukele en el Salvador” (Associated Press, El Heraldo (Honduras), February 11, 2020).
En una resolución difundida en Twitter, el organismo ordena a Bukele que se abstenga de hacer uso de la fuerza armada en actividades contrarias a los fines constitucionales
Guatemala, U.S.-Mexico Border
- Hamed Aleaziz, “Two Gay Immigrants Left Everything for Safety in the Us. Instead, They Were Sent to Guatemala.” (BuzzFeed, February 11, 2020).
He said he tried to explain to the officer that he had not only already traveled through Guatemala on his way to the US but had faced harassment there. He told the officer he didn’t want to go back
- Diego Ore, “Mexico Prepares to Unveil Less Ambitious Justice Reform: Sources” (Reuters, The New York Times, February 11, 2020).
Mexico has scaled back a planned judicial reform that alarmed rights defenders and caused a backlash within President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s cabinet
- Eduardo Guerrero GutiÉrrez, “Pacificacion Incipiente (en Algunos Estados del Pais)” (El Financiero (Mexico), February 11, 2020).
Al parecer, como ocurría antes con las Fuerzas Armadas y con la Policía Federal, la Guardia Nacional es como un departamento de bomberos. Su trabajo es apagar incendios, no construir la paz
- Nick Valencia, Priscilla Alvarez, “Private Group Wants to Build Border Wall on Us Government Land and Donate It” (CNN, February 11, 2020).
Kolfage claims his group’s latest endeavor will be built on federal land and then given to the federal government. But such a move would require the controversial group to meet a slew of rules and regulations, and possibly require the government to ask for bids
- Sofia Nederr, “Zonas Economicas Militares Fueron Formalizadas en Ley Castrense de la Anc” (Tal Cual (Venezuela), February 11, 2020).
“La experiencia de los militares en zonas económicas ha sido nefasta y allí está el ejemplo del Arco Minero que ha devenido en una apropiación indebida de grandes minerales, daños ambientales y la activación de muchos delitos”
- Walter Russell Mead, “The Cold War Over Venezuela” (The Wall Street Journal, February 11, 2020).
What keeps Mr. Maduro afloat and Russia engaged, insiders say, is the commercial value of Venezuelan oil shipments
- Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida), “Putin’s Russia Is Propping Up the Maduro Dictatorship in Venezuela” (The Hill, February 11, 2020).
The U.S. must be clear-eyed about the situation at hand: Putin will support the Maduro regime at nearly any cost, so long as it thwarts Venezuela’s return to democracy