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.

Snapshot of U.S. aid to Colombia right now

Thought I’d share a table of current aid to Colombia. Click it to expand it in a new window. In sum, it looks like Congress will once again refuse the deep aid cuts the Trump White House had requested for 2019. Aid will continue to follow the “Peace Colombia” framework that guided assistance in 2017 and 2018.

In a nutshell:

  • Economic Support Funds are economic aid administered by USAID. The table shows some ESF earmarked for specific purposes. The rest funds efforts to increase non-military state presence in post-conflict areas, aid to vulnerable populations, crop substitution, human rights, and similar priorities. The Trump administration sought to cut this from $187 million to $100 million; Congress disagreed.
  • International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement, administered by the State Department’s bureau of the same name, pays for “hard side” programs like coca eradication and drug interdiction, and for “soft side” programs, mostly assistance to Colombia’s judicial system.
  • The Nonproliferation, Anti-Terrorism, Demining, and Related Programs account, in Colombia, is devoted entirely to demining programs.
  • Foreign Military Financing, the State Department’s main non-drug military assistance program, is funding counternarcotics battalions, aviation support, and especially the Colombian armed forces’ involvement in post-conflict construction projects.
  • Defense Department Counter-Drug Support, from the Pentagon’s budget, pays for training, boats, mostly non-lethal equipment upgrades, computers and software, and much intelligence and reconnaissance support.
  • The additional assistance for Venezuelans in Colombia figures come from a July 18 State Department fact sheet. and an August 8 USAID press release.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

AFP photo at El Espectador (Colombia). Caption: “Del programa de sustitución voluntaria de cultivos actualmente hacen parte 124.745 familias de 14 departamentos del país.”

(Even more here)

August 21, 2018

Western Hemisphere Regional

California Gov. Jerry Brown said in an April letter authorizing the troops that they would not help detain immigrants or enforce immigration laws

The Commission concluded that the rights to family life and personal integrity as well as the right to identity of the children proposed as beneficiaries, are, in principle, at risk

The action to finalize regulations on the topic, revealed in a government database, comes after repeated attempts to change the Flores Settlement Agreement have been resoundingly rejected by a federal judge

Argentina, Venezuela

Macri said he would seek to refer socialist President Nicolas Maduro’s government “in the coming weeks”, and that he had the backing of the presidents of Colombia, Chile and Paraguay

Brazil

Mr. Bolsonaro, who is running for the tiny PSL party, has the largest social media following of any candidate and is leading the polls ahead of the October vote with about 20% support

Human rights groups have criticized the intervention, saying it’s disproportionately impacting people, particularly blacks, in poor neighborhoods

Colombia

El anuncio del ministro de Defensa, Guillermo Botero, sobre la inminente aplicación de una estrategia de erradicación forzada ocasionó incertidumbre entre las comunidades

El ministerio de Defensa confirmó que, aunque avanza en un acuerdo con el ELN para iniciar un proceso de entrega de las personas secuestradas, la operación humanitaria se realizará en Colombia y no hará parte del los diálogos

“El próximo 23 de agosto vamos a presentar al país una acción coordinada entre todos para prevenir esos hechos, buscar a los autores materiales de los crímenes y llevarlos a la justicia”

Mexico

La decisión de López Obrador de avalar las indagatorias del GIEI constituye también una reivindicación para el minucioso trabajo realizado en México por el grupo de expertos

Mexico is simply too vast and too diverse for centralised control of security policy to work

Nicaragua

No se trata de una denuncia sectaria sino razonada, que retoma valores clásicos de la izquierda latinoamericana —como la soberanía y la justicia— y los entrelaza con las premisas pluralistas de la democracia

“La circulación en el país se retomó pero no se puede decir que haya cesado la represión contra las personas que se han manifestado y expresado su opinión”, explicó María Claudia Pulido, secretaria ejecutiva adjunta

Peru

La reciente muerte de un suboficial de la FAP en el Vraem revela la intensa disputa territorial entre las Fuerzas Armadas y Sendero Luminoso. Cabecilla terrorista ‘Antonio’ busca posicionarse en zonas de producción de droga

Venezuela

Forced migration from the country might surpass the Syrian crisis

While the United States cannot easily force a political change in Caracas, it can at least do much more to help refu­gee Venezuelans and the nations hosting them

The day ahead: August 21, 2018

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

I’ve got a dentist appointment this morning and will be in the office, working the final draft of our next border report and putting together a Colombia update, all afternoon.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

(Even more here)

August 20, 2018

Western Hemisphere Regional

CBP is a paramilitary organization that has grown too large, too quickly with too little oversight

Argentina

El acto, realizado en la localidad de Huacalera, Jujuy, ofició como inicio formal del operativo Fronteras Protegidas y fue una oportunidad para que el mandatario exhiba la nueva doctrina de seguridad

Brazil

The measure put thousands of soldiers in the streets and increased operations against drug-trafficking gangs that largely operate in poor areas. But some say it has not helped to address underlying issues

Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela

Thousands of Venezuelans fleeing the economic and humanitarian crisis roiling their homeland are facing increasing hostility from their South American neighbors

Brazil, Venezuela

At one point, some protesters, with bullhorns in hand, began chanting against Venezuelans, and a peaceful protest devolved into an impromptu assault on the migrants’ dwellings

Colombia

Seven or eight of the crop dusters that had worked the coca fields here remain in Colombia. In a few months, U.S. officials say, they could become operational again

Desde hace dos semanas no aparecen cuatro exmandos importantes de las Farc: Iván Márquez, El Paisa, Romaña y el Zarco

La bancada del Centro Democrático propone hacer trizas todo el Sistema Integral de Verdad, Justicia, Reparación y No Repetición. La posición presidencial al respecto no es clara

Army Master Sgt. Daniel Gould, assigned to the 7th Special Forces Group, was arrested after Drug Enforcement Administration agents found 40 kilograms of cocaine in two backpacks on a military airplane in Colombia

Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela

The exodus appears to have accelerated in recent weeks with almost 43,000 Venezuelans streaming into Tulcán over Rumichaca Bridge in the first 14 days of August alone

Es como si todos los habitantes de Pasto, la capital nariñense, se hubieran ido en lo que va del año

Colombia, Venezuela

Mattis would not say when the USNS Comfort would arrive off the coast of Colombia, but it apparently will not be in the next few weeks. Dana W. White, the chief Pentagon spokeswoman, said it would be “in the fall”

Cuba

Morán’s case reflects the challenges Cubans now face seeking refuge in the United States. Less than two years ago, Moran simply could have arrived at the border and he would have been welcomed

Dominican Republic, Haiti

El incidente ocurrió el sábado, cuando presuntamente militares dominicanos trataron de impedir el paso de un cargamento de cemento de contrabando desde República Dominicana a Haití

Guatemala

The killings have probably been orchestrated by more powerful political and financial interests, with links to the drug trade and the military

Mexico

It cannot be, Judge Milan D. Smith Jr. wrote, that guards standing on American soil in Arizona may be sued for cross-border killings but that ones standing in Texas cannot

Guerrero state legislator Ricardo Mejia said an estimated 120,000 people cultivate poppy in poor, isolated communities across the state. A legal channel to sell sticky poppy sap could offer growers more stable incomes, he argues

Peru

En los circuitos del traslado de insumos químicos y en los puntos de transporte de la droga, la hoja alcanzó el precio más alto de estos últimos años

Venezuela

The measures, they say, can only be superficial as long as the central bank continues to print money to cover government spending

Considering previous reports of torture and other crimes against humanity documented by the OAS, one can only imagine the type of treatment that Requesens is receiving

The day ahead: August 20, 2018

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

Other than a morning staff meeting and check-ins, I’ll be in the office all day. In addition to several small items I owe colleagues at other organizations, I’ll be doing some writing about Colombia, particularly the state of U.S. assistance (I’ll post something here).

On a personal note, my daughter starts high school this morning. I am so very old.

The week ahead

It’s late August. Much of Washington is on vacation (not the Senate, but they’re not working on anything relevant to Latin America this week). There are no public events on my calendar, and just a handful of meetings.

This will be my last week with a relatively quiet schedule. Three of us are headed to Colombia at the end of next week for a research trip. In addition to setting that up, during this week I hope to make lots of progress on—and in some cases finish—a report on the border, a book chapter on crime and corruption in Colombia, and an article about U.S. policy for a Colombian publication.

Five links from the past week

Western Hemisphere Regional

Crossing the Rio Grande has had certain procedural advantages. Immigrants who enter the country illegally are generally eligible to be released on bond, while those who present themselves at the bridges stay in detention

Haiti

The bungling of the investigation in Haiti didn’t even come to light until two veteran DEA agents filed whistleblower complaints that have triggered a U.S. Justice Department investigation into the effectiveness of the DEA’s drug-fighting efforts

Mexico

Las madres agraviadas manifiestan su desconcierto sobre el tema de la amnistía y el perdón a los criminales. Así lo expresaron en los dos primeros foros realizados la semana pasada

AMLO and his advisers have proposed sending drug war-fighting soldiers back to their barracks, pardoning nonviolent drug offenders, and boosting social programs

Colombia

La principal es es cómo armar los protocolos del mecanismo de verificación y veeduría del cese

Nicaragua and Latin America’s “rancid” left

Some unnamed Nicaraguan student protest leaders, interviewed by Plaza Pública while on a visit to Guatemala, have run out of patience with the moldy 20th-century Latin American leftists who—out of misplaced “solidarity”—won’t speak out against Daniel Ortega’s abuses.

Plaza Pública: You define yourselves as leftists, but the Ortega government holds up the flag of the left and the Sandinista revolution.

Student protesters: They are left-leaning in their discourse. In the 1980s that discourse agreed with their actions. Nowadays, or since 2007, when Ortega took power, the discourse does not agree with the actions he has undertaken. He’s the biggest capitalist in the country. That “left” that they proclaim is not representative. This is not a problem only in Nicaragua, it’s in all of Central America and Latin America. Mel Zelaya defending Ortega, Sánchez Cerén defending Ortega … We feel abandoned.

We prefer to believe in other non-institutionalized processes, and not in this rancid left whose sole aim to which it aspires is to reach power, control everything and enrich itself. It’s another form of neoliberalism.

The left has always been afraid to criticize the left.

I think it’s regrettable to see comments like those of the Sao Paulo Forum, it’s a total shame, with Maduro at the helm. As if being a friend of human rights violators were the left’s new fashion. Or the FMLN or, right here the URNG, defending Ortega, while what we’re living through are counterinsurgency operations.

Latin American civil-military relations: links from the past month

Western Hemisphere Regional

the administration has an opening this week to demonstrate commitment to our core principles by stating its opposition to the militarization of law enforcement, which represents a challenge to liberal democracy across much of Latin America

Argentina

Las nuevas amenazas afectan especialmente algunas vulnerabilidades del Estado, ya sean estas deficiencias en los controles migratorios, la indulgencia ante tráficos ilegales, o la complicidad con actores violentos. Y ellas no se neutralizan con una fuerza armada

La primera cuestión que debe definirse con precisión, ya que el decreto no la aborda, es qué significado y alcance tiene el concepto de “apoyo logístico” provisto por las Fuerzas Armadas a las fuerzas de seguridad

“We know that this transformation won’t be easy,” Macri said. “Profound changes are never easy. But this is the first step to build the modern, professional and equipped armed forces that Argentina needs”

Como parte de los nuevos roles, tendrán también como misión la participación en la “custodia y protección de los objetivos estratégicos”

Brazil

Last year, Mourao controversially expressed support for a military intervention into politics in order to clean up Brazil’s mounting social problems

A intervenção federal na Segurança Pública do Rio de Janeiro deve ir até 31 de dezembro, mas os militares já planejam a transição para o que virá depois

If the ballot box does not bring change quickly enough, some prominent former generals warn that military leaders may feel compelled to step in and reboot the political system by force###

Colombia

En una decisión sin precedentes, Fernando Carrillo decidió abrir procesos contra tres altos oficiales, en medio del escándalo de desvío de fondos reservados y el presunto espionaje ilegal al interior del Comando de las Fuerzas Militares

Guatemala

The court rejected the defense attorneys’ claims that the court was acting on the basis of ideological biases, and/or hatred of or feelings of revenge toward the armed forces

Mexico

El ingeniero Francisco Herrera fue interceptado cuando conducía a su trabajo, en la ciudad de Tampico, Tamaulipas, en 2015; sus teléfonos registraron actividad en coordenadas que corresponden exactamente con la ubicación del Campo Militar Número 1

Venezuela

The military dissidents declined to participate. They found the civilians unprofessional and weren’t interested in killing Maduro. Their goal was to capture him and put him on trial

“Maduro is facing a divorce with the armed forces, which is apparent in the various rebellions that have taken place in recent months,” Borges said

Saab identified the two detained officers as Col. Pedro Zambrano Hernandez and Gen. Alejandro Perez Gamez of the National Guard

Some articles I found interesting this morning

(Even more here)

August 17, 2018

Western Hemisphere Regional

Yes, CBP considers that it acted “to protect families and children” by separating families who turned themselves in to Border Patrol agents to seek protection in the United States

Crossing the Rio Grande has had certain procedural advantages. Immigrants who enter the country illegally are generally eligible to be released on bond, while those who present themselves at the bridges stay in detention

Ashore, his past positions include commander of Navy Recruiting Command and director of operations, U.S. Central Command. He has been senior military assistant to the defense secretary since January 2017

Argentina

The last U.S. secretary of defense to visit Argentina was Donald H. Rumsfeld in 2005

Brazil

There were 3,479 murders in the state, up nearly 5 percent compared with the same period last year

Colombia

En una decisión sin precedentes, Fernando Carrillo decidió abrir procesos contra tres altos oficiales, en medio del escándalo de desvío de fondos reservados y el presunto espionaje ilegal al interior del Comando de las Fuerzas Militares

Desde abril de este año, la Dirección Antinarcóticos de la Policía abrió un proceso para contratar la prestación de servicios de aspersión de cultivos ilícitos, en desarrollo de una prueba piloto, a través de equipos teledirigidos a baja altura

“En estos momentos ellos no se encuentran allí y en mi caso personal no sé dónde se encuentran”

Tumbó las inhabilidades pactadas a última hora para ser magistrado de esta justicia e hizo precisiones sobre terceros y la participación en política

Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela

Venezuelans entering Ecuador and Peru will soon be required to show their passports, rather than national identity cards

Guatemala

The move has quelled doubts about Porras’ independence and further isolated Guatemala’s embattled president

The Pérez Molina and Baldetti government clearly understood that in order to be in politics and make money in Guatemala, corrupt politicians and businessmen use what they call “quotas of power,” or favors, which open doors to contracts and government benefits

Haiti

The bungling of the investigation in Haiti didn’t even come to light until two veteran DEA agents filed whistleblower complaints that have triggered a U.S. Justice Department investigation into the effectiveness of the DEA’s drug-fighting efforts

Mexico

En los últimos ocho años, la dependencia inició o atrajo la investigación de más de 400 homicidios en el país, pero en ese mismo plazo solo cerró dos casos con sentencias condenatorias

Venezuela

The military dissidents declined to participate. They found the civilians unprofessional and weren’t interested in killing Maduro. Their goal was to capture him and put him on trial

The day ahead: August 17, 2018

I’ll probably be most reachable mid-morning and mid-afternoon. (How to contact me)

I’m having early lunch with a congressional staffer, and ending the day early because it’s my daughter’s birthday. Otherwise in the office, writing about Colombia.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

(Even more here)

August 16, 2018

Brazil

Members of the tribe say his death was the result of a fierce conflict provoked by the incursion of loggers into their land

Brazil, Venezuela

A Brazilian border state’s difficulties welcoming Venezuelans underscore a frequent challenge: communities hosting vulnerable refugees are often among their country’s neediest, too

Colombia

El enfoque territorial se quedó en el discurso, mientras que la acción institucional adoptó un enfoque familiar de corto plazo, tal y como ha ocurrido con otros programas en el marco del Plan Colombia y el Plan Consolidación

Cuba

The change to the “standard tour of duty” puts Cuba in league with countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan and South Sudan

El Salvador

Su confesión es una ventana a estructuras de corrupción que van más allá de su presidencia y sus lujos, y debe dar lugar a investigaciones que lleguen mucho más lejos

El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras

For migrant children and families, reintegrating safely back into their communities is more complicated than simply being sent home

Mexico

Mexico’s deputy attorney general also told a joint news conference Wednesday that one priority is to capture the leader of the increasingly powerful Jalisco New Generation Cartel

“Gangs and cartels go hand-in-hand,” Anthony Williams, the DEA’s chief of operations, told reporters. “They use each other in an effort to expand their independent business enterprises”

Familiares reclaman la falta de atención e incluso acoso de autoridades

Una célula de presuntos integrantes del Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) fue desmantelada hoy aquí, con la detención de 20 de ellos en Ciudad Cuauhtémoc, en los límites de México y Guatemala

Lo anunciado por López Obrador me deja con la sospecha de que no ha pensado mucho en el tema de seguridad, no le interesa demasiado y, por ahora, no planea grandes cambios

Alfonso Durazo Montaño, futuro secretario de Seguridad Pública, anunció que no será creada la Guardia Nacional, y en cambio será prioridad el combate a las finanzas del crimen organizado

Las madres agraviadas manifiestan su desconcierto sobre el tema de la amnistía y el perdón a los criminales. Así lo expresaron en los dos primeros foros realizados la semana pasada

Western Hemisphere Regional

There are reasons for optimism that the recent increases in overdose deaths will not continue

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