“Soñemos un Bosque” by Aterciopelados (2018).
April 18, 2019
Western Hemisphere Regional
- Alicia A. Caldwell, “Yuma, Ariz., Declares State of Emergency Over Migrant Crisis” (The Wall Street Journal, April 18, 2019).
U.S. Border Patrol agents released nearly 1,300 migrants in Yuma, which has a population of about 100,000, in the past three weeks
- Dara Lind, “Attorney General Barr Just Handed Ice More Power to Keep Asylum Seekers in Detention” (Vox, April 18, 2019).
The ruling won’t address the heart of the current border crisis. Families make up a majority of people crossing into the US without papers
- Jason Lemon, “Bolivian Lawmakers Sent Letter to Donald Trump Asking Him to Intervene in Their Country’s Election” (Newsweek, April 18, 2019).
The group of 12 politicians asked Donald Trump to use Washington’s influence within the Organization of American States to prevent Bolivian President Evo Morales from running for another term
- Oliver Stuenkel, “How Bolsonaro’s Rivalry With His Vice President Is Shaping Brazilian Politics” (Americas Quarterly, April 18, 2019).
President Jair Bolsonaro’s government is at war with itself, and the president is increasingly unable to control the factions close to him jockeying for influence
- Venezuela Investigative Unit, “Guerrilla Groups Largest Employers at Colombia-Venezuela Border: Report” (InsightCrime, April 18, 2019).
The report explores how these recruits are funnelled into numerous lines of illegal work, including drug trafficking, micro-trafficking, fuel smuggling, illegal mining of gold, coltan and copper, or being employed as “gariteros”
- ““Condenamos Este Acto Que No Quedara Impune”: Ivan Duque Sobre Asesinato de Samuel David” (Semana (Colombia), April 18, 2019).
El presidente rechazó el atentado que sufrió la familia del excombatiente de las extintas Farc y en el que perdió la vida el menor de 7 meses
- “Bancada Alternativa Rechaza “Intromision de Embajador de Ee. Uu. En Colombia”” (El Espectador (Colombia), April 18, 2019).
Los congresistas se refieren, sin duda, a la reunión que sostuvo el embajador estadounidense con senadores y representantes en días previos a la votación de las objeciones presidenciales a la ley estatutaria de la Jurisdicción Especial para la Paz
- “Security Council Press Statement on Colombia” (UN Security Council, Mision de la ONU en Colombia, April 18, 2019).
They agreed with the Secretary-General’s assessment that the peace process stands today at a critical juncture
- “Drogas y Venezuela, los Temas de la Reunion de Duque Con Congresistas de Estados Unidos” (El Espectador (Colombia), April 18, 2019).
El representante Kevin McCarthy anunció que estarán este jueves en la frontera colombo-venezolana
- Karen Deyoung, “Trump Administration Announces New Measures Against Cuba” (The Washington Post, April 18, 2019).
U.S. citizens will now be allowed to sue any entity or person found to be “trafficking” in property that was expropriated from U.S. citizens after the 1959 revolution
- Nora Gamez Torres, “U.S. Restricts Travel, Remittances to Cuba as Part of a New Policy Under Trump” (The Miami Herald, April 18, 2019).
The re-tightened restrictions also could impact air travel because of a reduction of passengers
- “Guatemalan Presidential Candidate Charged With Conspiring to Import Cocaine Into the United States and Related Firearms Offense” (U.S. Department of Justice, April 18, 2019).
As alleged, Estrada and Gonzalez conspired to solicit Sinaloa Cartel money to finance a corrupt scheme to elect Estrada president of Guatemala
- Rafael Croda, “Denuncian Amenaza del Cartel de Sinaloa Contra Lideres Sociales Colombianos” (Proceso (Mexico), April 18, 2019).
Una organización campesina del sureño municipio colombiano de Piamonte denunció este miércoles que grupos armados, entre los cuales se menciona al Cártel de Sinaloa, amenazaron de muerte a varios dirigentes sociales de la zona
- Sergio Ocampo Arista, “Advierten en Guerrero Que Derribaran Helicopteros Que Fumigan Amapola” (La Jornada (Mexico), April 18, 2019).
“No nos oponemos a eso, pero que lo hagan por tierra, y que además nos traigan proyectos productivos”, dijo uno de los comisarios
- Elena Reina, “La Frontera Sur de Mexico Es una Olla a Presion” (El Pais (Spain), April 18, 2019).
Miles de cubanos, congoleños, angoleños, haitianos y centroamericanos se acumulan en la frontera sur de México tras la orden del Gobierno de López Obrador de suspender en Tapachula los trámites migratorios para quienes se dirigen a EE UU
- Fernanda Echavarri, “For Some Asylum Seekers, Trump’s “Messed Up” Policies Have Made Settling in Mexico Their Only Option” (Mother Jones, April 18, 2019).
When their names were finally called, they were detained for three days in extremely cold cells and then released back into Tijuana as part of the Trump policy known as Remain in Mexico
- “Gente Nueva… El Ejercito de 5 Mil Hombres Que Surgio para Proteger a ‘el Chapo’ Guzman y Ahora Es un Brazo Armado del Cartel de Sinaloa” (Vanguardia (Saltillo Mexico), April 18, 2019).
Ambas organizaciones, “La Línea” y “Gente Nueva”, han protagonizado sanguinarios enfrentamientos que ha aumentado la violencia principalmente en Chihuahua
- Adam Taylor, Simeon Tegel, “Former Peruvian President Dead; Shot Himself as Police Attempted to Make Arrest” (The Washington Post, April 18, 2019).
Alan García, the former two-time president of Peru, died Wednesday morning after shooting himself as police attempted to arrest him in the wide-ranging corruption scandal that has implicated scores of leaders
- Andrea Zarate, Nicholas Casey, “Alan Garcia, Ex-President of Peru, Is Dead After Shooting Himself During Arrest” (The New York Times, April 18, 2019).
When the authorities arrived at the home of the former president, Alan García, with an arrest warrant, he locked himself into his bedroom, shot himself and was rushed to a hospital
- Jonah Shepp, “Venezuela’s Maduro Doesn’t Appear to Be Going Anywhere. What Now?” (New York, April 18, 2019).
The U.S. strategy of sanctions and isolation has yet to show any concrete wins — and in some ways, may even be backfiring
I should be reachable much of the day. (How to contact me)
I’m in the office, and will be finishing a big-picture article, for a Latin American publication, about current U.S. policy toward the region. Also adding new information to my database. I’m off tomorrow, Good Friday/Passover.
“Nonbeliever” by Lucy Dacus (2018).
I keep up-to-date a big PDF file full of stats and graphics about security and migration issues at the U.S.-Mexico border. Right now, it’s 2.2 megabytes and 36 pages long, and you can download it here or, more memorably, at the shortcut bit.ly/2019wolaborder.
It covers migration, Border Patrol staffing, the immigration court backlog, and security measures like terrorism, drugs, and so-called “spillover” violence (which doesn’t happen).
I just updated it again, with the March migration data that CBP released last week, while I was traveling at the border. Incidentally, I’ve screenshot every instance of that monthly report since it was first released in May 2014.
April 17, 2019
Western Hemisphere Regional
- Katie Benner, Michael D. Shear, “In New Effort to Deter Migrants, Barr Withholds Bail to Asylum Seekers” (The New York Times, April 17, 2019).
Mr. Barr’s decision does not affect unaccompanied children or families who cross into the United States illegally. A longstanding settlement in a previous court case says that the government cannot detain children or families for longer than 20 days
- “House Judiciary Requests Information on Reported Pardon Offer for Cbp Head” (CNN, April 17, 2019).
After the President left the room, agents sought further advice from their leaders, who told them they were not giving them that direction and if they did what the President said they would take on personal liability. You have to follow the law, they were told
- “Duque Pone a Prueba su Discurso de Mano Suave Con Bases de Farc” (La Silla Vacia (Colombia), April 17, 2019).
El 15 de agosto se acaba la figura que creó los espacios territoriales en los que viven casi 3.500 excombatientes
- “La Retaguardia Disidente” (Semana (Colombia), April 17, 2019).
Ni los jefes de las antiguas Farc se sienten seguros en los llanos, donde tuvieron su fortín. Al escenario, dominado por las disidencias de Gentil Duarte, se suman grupos posparamilitares y se asoman los elenos
- Nelson Ricardo Matta Colorado, “Las Huellas de Isis y Hezbola en Colombia” (El Colombiano (Medellin Colombia), April 17, 2019).
Esta conversación, registrada el 3 de febrero de 2018, es una de las pruebas que tiene la Fiscalía en el proceso penal por terrorismo y concierto para delinquir en contra del cubano
- Ethan Bronner, Ezra Fieser, “Mercenaries, Spies, and Double Agents Gather en Masse in Bogota” (Bloomberg, April 17, 2019).
In the Casablanca of the Andes, seemingly everyone’s plotting—or counterplotting—for control of neighboring Venezuela
- Ariel Ávila, Juan Gomez Tobon, “El Ejercito Antirrestitucion y la Guerra Contra los Reclamantes” (Fundacion Paz y Reconciliacion, El Espectador (Colombia), April 17, 2019).
El ataque a una comisión de la Unidad de Restitución de Tierras, el pasado 11 de abril, habría sido perpetrado por una organización cuyo objetivo es “exterminar” a todo campesino que reclame tierra o verdad
- “¿Que Esta Pasando Con la Seguridad?” (Semana (Colombia), April 17, 2019).
Resulta desconcertante que aun cuando los capturaron cometiendo el delito, el 95 por ciento de ellos quedaron en libertad, según cifras de la Fiscalía y la Policía
- Javier AlexÁnder MacÍas, “En Bojaya y el Atrato la Guerra No Cesa, se Agudiza” (El Colombiano (Medellin Colombia), April 17, 2019).
Leiner Palacios, líder social de ese territorio chocoano y sobreviviente de la masacre de Bojayá, aseguró a EL COLOMBIANO que puede presentarse no solo una masacre como la que el presenció, sino otras incluso más fuertes
- Matt Spetalnick, Sarah Marsh, “In Major Shift, Trump to Allow Lawsuits Against Foreign Firms in Cuba” (Reuters, April 17, 2019).
The major policy shift, which will be announced on Wednesday, could expose U.S., European and Canadian companies to legal action and deal a blow to Cuba’s efforts to attract more foreign investment
- Molly o’toole, “Internal Memos Say Trump Officials to Resume Forcing Asylum Seekers to Wait in Mexico” (The Los Angeles Times, April 17, 2019).
Under the policy, which then-Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen announced in December, authorities have forcibly returned more than 1,000 asylum seekers
- Arturo Angel, “Gobierno Si Propuso Que Estados Paguen por la Guardia Nacional; Ahora Buscan Dar Marcha Atras” (Animal Politico (Mexico), April 17, 2019).
La Presidencia informó a Animal Político que el gobierno buscará dar marcha atrás a su propia propuesta y que este requisito se elimine
- Jose Raul Linares, “Rodriguez Bucio Fue Critico “del Empleo Rutinario” del Ejercito en Funciones de Seguridad Publica” (Proceso (Mexico), April 17, 2019).
Rodríguez Bucio se pregunta: ¿cuáles fueron los principales problemas externos e internos que enfrentaron las Fuerzas Armadas Mexicanas (FAMs) con motivo de su participación en la estrategia mencionada?
- Mathieu Tourliere, “La Guardia Nacional Tambien Actuara Como “Migra”” (Proceso (Mexico), April 17, 2019).
El gobierno de Andrés Manuel López Obrador pretende dotar a la Guardia Nacional de facultades para revisar documentos y arrestar a migrantes que transiten por territorio mexicano y custodiar los centros de detención migratoria
- J. Jesus Esquivel, “Mexico-Eu: “Compromisos” Migratorios en Sigilo” (Proceso (Mexico), April 17, 2019).
Este semanario revela los pormenores de esos acuerdos, que son trastocados una y otra vez por la ira de Trump
- Jorge Ramos, “El Presidente No Es el Jefe de los Periodistas” (The New York Times, April 17, 2019).
López Obrador ha utilizado sistemáticamente ese espacio para desacreditar a reporteros, columnistas y a medios de comunicación que lo critican
- , Toby Stirling Hill, “Nicaragua: One Year After Protests Erupt, Ortega Clings to Power” (The Guardian (Uk), April 17, 2019).
Opposition calls for a return to the streets as talks between government and civil society leaders stall
- Karen Deyoung, Mary Beth Sheridan, “Venezuela’s Military, Despite U.S. Expectations, Has Not Turned on Maduro” (The Washington Post, April 17, 2019).
Some express anger at what they see as ineffectual U.S. bluster and are calling colleagues still inside, telling them to stay put
Colombia, Honduras, Venezuela
- Diana Castrillon, Natalie Gallon, Nick Paton Walsh, “Corruption in Venezuela Has Created a Cocaine Superhighway to the Us” (CNN, April 17, 2019).
US and other regional officials say it’s Venezuela’s own military and political elite who are facilitating the passage of drugs in and out of the country on hundreds of tiny, unmarked planes
- Ana Vanessa Herrero, Anatoly Kurmanaev, “After Years of Denial, Venezuela’s President Allows Aid to Enter” (The New York Times, April 17, 2019).
After denying for years that Venezuelans were suffering a humanitarian crisis, the government allowed the Red Cross to send in 24 tons of medical equipment
- Barbara Starr, Ryan Browne, Zachary Cohen, “Pentagon Developing Military Options to Deter Russian, Chinese Influence in Venezuela” (CNN, April 17, 2019).
Several Pentagon officials continue to say there is no appetite at the Department of Defense for using US military force against the Venezuelan regime to try to force it from power
I should be reachable much of the day. (How to contact me)
Holy week is setting in, with Congress out of session and much of Latin America on vacation. Other than a long-ish phone interview with a reporter, I’m going to be in the office all day, catching up on tasks left undone because of last week’s travels, including updating my security database and our border statistics.
“I Will Be Waiting” by Let’s Eat Grandma (2018).
I’m reachable in late morning and late afternoon, and that’s about it. (How to contact me)
This is my first day back in the office since April 5, after a week of travel and a day off yesterday. (I paid my taxes on the deadline, and I’m not one of the multi-millionaires to whom Trump gave a cut.) I’ve filled up today with an internal meeting regarding Colombia work, lunch with a European diplomat, a meeting with lawyers working on border issues, and an in-depth interview with a journalist. In the moments when I’m not doing that, I’ll be following up on last week’s trip and putting together a panel discussion for late May.
“All I Want” by Broken Social Scene (2019).
There’s my wife and (now-teenage) daughter in 2010, one of two times I actually got invited to give a talk in France. Looking at one of my favorite buildings in the world, which was horribly damaged in a fire today.
I hope they rebuild it, even if it takes another 200 years. The 21st century is seeing too many historic landmarks destroyed, and not enough created.
I’m out today. (How to contact me)
I’m taking a personal day today, to recover physically from traveling and a month of 60-plus-hour weeks. Also I need to finish doing my taxes, as today is the deadline in the United States.
I’m back from my third visit to the San Diego-Tijuana border so far this year. I spent much of Monday with U.S. authorities, CBP and Border Patrol. Tuesday was an excellent day-long meeting with non-governmental groups from all four border states. I went to Tijuana on Wednesday, and on Thursday met with civic leaders and experts in San Diego.
On Monday, an agent took me the entire length of the border wall between San Diego and Tijuana. Here, since the 2000s there’s been a double fence for much of the 14 miles from the Pacific Ocean to where the fence stops east of Tijuana, for a couple of miles, due to difficult terrain. I saw a lot of construction, as they’re replacing old fence very quickly, using money from the 2018 Homeland Security appropriation.
In one of the most densely populated areas of the entire U.S.-Mexico border, the need to spend minutes climbing a fence deters those border-crossers who’d want to avoid capture and disappear into San Diego’s southern suburbs. It doesn’t, however, deter asylum-seekers who do want to be apprehended, like thousands of children and parents from Central America. If your intention is to stand on U.S. soil, in the no-man’s land between the two rows of fencing, the outer fence is just a speed bump. The Border Patrol agent accompanying me said that the other day, a mother climbed over the 14-foot fence with a 1-year-old slung to her back.
The concertina wire that Trump’s military deployment put up can also be defeated. In this photo, it’s all tangled and pushed down by asylum-seekers climbing over. They shield themselves from the sharp edges by laying carpet over the wire, or simply risk cutting themselves.
The agent showed me the area where the fence ends, just east of the Nido de las Águilas neighborhood on Tijuana’s eastern periphery. Many asylum-seeking families come here too, but others have told me that this area is tightly controlled by organized crime, and migrants must pay a fee to access it.
I went back to the Tijuana side of the San Ysidro port of entry, first thing Wednesday morning, around 7:00 AM when migrants gather to find out whether their numbers will be called from a notebook in which they’d inscribed themselves several weeks earlier. (Another line of newly arrived migrants waits to add their names.) The number denotes their turn to seek asylum the “proper” way, by entering the U.S. port of entry and presenting to a CBP officer. Last Wednesday, CBP allowed only 50 migrants to do this, which is a pretty typical number for San Ysidro.
Most asylum-seekers, though, are crossing elsewhere and turning themselves in to Border Patrol. After they process them and give them notices to appear before an asylum officer, CBP and ICE release asylum-seeking families into San Diego, where a network of charities (the San Diego Rapid Response Network) has set up a shelter to provide a short-term stay, meals, showers, clothing, and help arranging travel to where relatives or other contacts await them. (Those destinations, incidentally, tend to be agricultural areas and zones with a lot of construction—only sometimes the “sanctuary cities” where president Trump proposes to leave them.)
I pulled a few volunteer shifts with the San Diego shelter, mainly helping families get from the airport curb to their gates. The shelter was running low earlier in the week, with about 50 guests, but it had reached 300 the previous week, and by Thursday it was back up to 150. Nobody could explain the fluctuation.
I visited two Tijuana shelters, one run by a Catholic order and one by an NGO. Both were busy, but not full to capacity. Of the nine sectors into which Border Patrol divides the border, San Diego is fourth in arrivals of families and fifth in unaccompanied children. Despite news of “caravans” in Tijuana, far more kids and parents are coming right now to El Paso, south Texas, and Yuma, Arizona.
After three visits to the same area in four months, the border feels much more familiar. I still don’t really understand much of what goes on here, though. I don’t have a feel for the rhythms of work and life. I don’t understand how some residents are totally binational while others rarely even think about the other country in plain view on the other side.
Like a lot of northeastern cities—Washington included—this place combines a transient and diverse population, vast differences in wealth, and a big security presence. But it’s starker here: this is a place where semi-skilled people on one side of the line make $8.80 per day, and those on the other side make at least that in an hour. Where 14 people were killed in one April day one one side of the line, but it took two months last year to reach that total on the other side. The photos help, but it’s still really hard to describe this place to people here in Washington.
“The Omen” by Camp Cope (2018).