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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Some articles I found interesting this morning

Nelvin C. Cepeda photo at the San Diego Union-Tribune. Caption: “Central American migrant caravan Day-2 along the U.S. Mexico border in Playas de Tijuana.”

(Even more here)

November 15, 2018

Western Hemisphere Regional

  • Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis, En Route Southwest Border Press Gaggle by Secretary Mattis (U.S. Department of Defense, November 15, 2018).

    DOD — the Department of Defense missions do not involve military personnel, at this time, directly participating in any law enforcement. Law enforcement is left in the hands of the customs and border police

Central America Regional, Mexico

  • Sandra Dibble, Central American Migrants Stir Sympathy, Fears in Tijuana (The San Diego Union-Tribune, November 15, 2018).

    An unknown number of the caravan members are expected to present themselves at the San Ysidro Port of Entry and petition for asylum, but there are already some 2,500 people — mainly Mexicans and Central Americans — who are already on a waiting list managed by the migrants themselves

Colombia

  • Alfredo Molano Jimeno, Lorena Arboleda Zarate, Ruta de Proteccion a Lideres Sociales (El Espectador (Colombia), November 15, 2018).

    El Gobierno creará una instancia de coordinación institucional para hacer efectiva la política de protección a dirigentes populares y expidió un decreto para enfrentar amenazas y homicidios

Cuba

Mexico

  • Alejandro Hope, Un Plan Sin Razones para la Tranquilidad y el Optimismo (El Universal (Mexico), November 15, 2018).

    El plan apuesta por una salida abiertamente militar a los dilemas de seguridad pública. Se plantea la creación de un cuerpo militar (la Guardia Nacional), ubicado administrativamente en la SEDENA, para atender de manera permanente asuntos de policía

  • Elliot Spagat, Maria Verza, Migrants Meet Some Local Resistance as They Continue to Stream Into Tijuana (Associated Press, Time, November 15, 2018).

    About 100 migrants declined offers of rides to shelters and had camped out late Wednesday by the steel border fence at Tijuana’s beach area, when a similar number of local residents marched up to the group shouting, “You’re not welcome,” and, “Get out!”

Uruguay

  • Uruguay’s Senate Oks Law for Entry of Us Planes, Personnel (Associated Press, The Washington Post, November 15, 2018).

    Uruguay’s Senate approved a law Thursday allowing U.S. aircraft, military personnel and civilians into the South American country to help provide security for a Group of 20 summit of world leaders in neighboring Argentina

Venezuela

The day ahead: November 15, 2018

I’ll only be around for some of the morning and late in the day. (How to contact me)

I’m bringing the visiting head of Colombia’s Truth Commission to a meeting on Capitol Hill, then I have to leave that small group behind and participate in an all-afternoon planning session for WOLA’s border work. I plan to stay late in the office this evening catching up on other work.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

(Even more here)

November 14, 2018

Western Hemisphere Regional

Brazil

Central America Regional, Mexico

  • Maggie Haberman, Mark Landler, A Week After the Midterms, Trump Seems to Forget the Caravan (The New York Times, November 14, 2018).

    Other former military officers said the soldiers were well aware of the political motivation behind their mission. Lacking much else to do, they will quickly pick up on Mr. Trump’s loss of interest in the caravan

Colombia

Colombia, Venezuela

  • , Venezuela Investigative Unit, Eln Now Present in Half of Venezuela (InsightCrime, November 14, 2018).

    The ELN could have a presence in the states of Táchira, Zulia, Apure, Trujillo, Anzoátegui, Lara Falcón, Amazonas, Barinas, Portuguesa, Guárico and Bolívar

  • Christine Armario, Colombia Opens Camp for Venezuela Migrants as Exodus Swells (Associated Press **, November 14, 2018).

    Authorities fear camps could become permanent fixtures and hinder Venezuelans from integrating into society. But with over 1 million Venezuelans now living in Colombia, officials said they had no choice

El Salvador

  • Jessica Avalos, Estas Son las Razones para Dejar el Salvador (La Prensa Grafica (El Salvador), November 14, 2018).

    La violencia aparece como el segundo factor, pero el principal es el económico, según un estudio realizado por el Observatorio de Desplazamiento Interno con datos de Migración. El 40 % de retornados teme volver a su comunidad

Guatemala

Mexico

  • Adolfo Flores, Hamed Aleaziz, The Us Is Making It Harder to Cross the Border at Tijuana (BuzzFeed, November 14, 2018).

    Three of the 17 lanes of traffic at San Ysidro will be shut down, while one of the dozen lanes at Otay Mesa will be closed as troops and border agents make the preparations

Mexico, Venezuela

  • Patrick Duddy, Looking for an Off Ramp for Venezuela (Council on Foreign Relations, November 14, 2018).

    It is possible AMLO’s independent streak may position him to play a decisive part in bringing this agonizing chapter of Venezuelan history to an end

The day ahead: November 14, 2018

I’m around much of the afternoon. (How to contact me)

Other than two internal WOLA meetings (this morning and mid-afternoon), I’m in the office today. My father is in town, so I’ll be breaking a bit early. Otherwise, I’ll be here writing a Colombia update.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Flickr-Policía photo at Verdad Abierta (Colombia). Caption:“Durante 2017 se erradicaron forzadamente más de 50 mil hectáreas.”

(Even more here)

November 13, 2018

Western Hemisphere Regional

  • Rafael Croda, Ni Izquierda Ni Derecha, en 2018 America Latina Giro a la Ultraderecha (Proceso (Mexico), November 13, 2018).

    Los grandes polos ideológicos de la región serán México y Brasil, con López Obrador y Bolsonaro. Pero la capacidad de estos dos líderes de conducir la política latinoamericana estará determinada por las alianzas que logren hacer con el bloque de centroderecha

Brazil

  • Rights Commission Expresses Deep Concern About Brazil (Associated Press, ABC News, November 13, 2018).

    “Killings committed by security forces must end. They must protect people, not kill them,” the commission’s president, Margarette May Macaulay, said at news conference

Brazil, Uruguay

  • Andrea Barretto, Brazil Donates 25 Armored Tanks to the Uruguayan Army (Revista Dialogo (U.S. Southern Command), November 13, 2018).

    The M-41C vehicles that the Brazilian Army used through 2009 will be part of the Uruguayan Army’s 13th Armored Infantry Battalion Brazil purchased the M-41 armored vehicles from the United States in the 1960s. EB used the vehicles equipped with cannons for almost five decades for training purposes

Central America Regional, Mexico

Chile

Colombia

  • Olga Patricia Rendon, “No Estan los Recursos para el Posconflicto”: Archila (El Colombiano (Medellin Colombia), November 13, 2018).

    El alto consejero asegura que hubo una mala interpretación de la cifra de $170 billones para financiar el posconflicto en los próximos 15 años, por lo que destacó que la cifra establecida es de $129,5 billones

  • Programa de Sustitucion Voluntaria de Hoja de Coca, en Estado Critico (Verdad Abierta (Colombia), November 13, 2018).

    Aunque el alto funcionario pide “paciencia”, las deudas en materia de desarrollo son de larga data y las demoras en la implementación han empezado a deteriorar la confianza que las comunidades depositaron en el Acuerdo de Paz

  • Juan Camilo Montoya, Ataques Alejan el Dialogo Con el Eln (El Colombiano (Medellin Colombia), November 13, 2018).

    Según información de Ecopetrol, este año van 79 atentados contra la infraestructura petrolera del país, lo cual representa en promedio uno cada cuatro días

Dominican Republic, Haiti

  • Jonathan M. Katz, What Happened When a Nation Erased Birthright Citizenship (New America, The Atlantic, November 13, 2018).

    As Dominicans have ably shown, the most extreme rhetoric has a way of becoming real. And the consequences of inciting millions of people against vulnerable groups of immigrants are impossible to control

Honduras

Mexico

  • Ezequiel Flores Contreras, Grupo Armado Toma Poblado en la Sierra Amapolera de Guerrero (Proceso (Mexico), November 13, 2018).

    Ahora, aunque ese precursor de la heroína está a la baja, la zona sigue siendo un territorio que se disputan los grupos del crimen organizado, pues además de la droga controlan la producción minera y la explotación forestal

Nicaragua

Venezuela

The day ahead: November 13, 2018

I’ll be in and out all day, a bit hard to reach. (How to contact me)

Yesterday was a holiday here in the United States, which gave me time to add edits, photos, footnotes and other touches to a monster-sized forthcoming report on Colombia, based on our early September research trip. That is out of my hands for now, I’m happy to say, as colleagues here add their parts to it. I’m pleased with how it’s turned out.

I’m in and out today. I have an on-camera interview this morning here in the office, a lunch with a visiting Colombian colleague, and a visit from some Bogotá-based U.S. officials. This evening, the president of Colombia’s Truth Commission arrives in Washington, where he’ll be for the rest of the week, and I’ll brief him about his visit.

In between, I hope to post items here.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Even more here)

November 12, 2018

Western Hemisphere Regional

Brazil

  • Andres Schipani, Joe Leahy, Brazil’s Generals Vow to Stay Out of Politics (The Financial Times (UK), November 12, 2018).

    General Villas Bôas said the country was “politically mature” with strong institutions. “Brazil will not turn into a fascist country. That’s not in our nature,” he said

Central America Regional, Mexico

  • Alberto Pradilla, Caravana Migrante: Frio y Tos en Medio de la Nada en Queretaro (Plaza Publica (Guatemala), November 12, 2018).

    Cientos de migrantes centroamericanos pasaron la noche del sábado 10 de noviembre al raso en el exterior del estadio Corregidora, en Querétaro. Están enfermos. Todo el mundo tose

Colombia

  • Edinson Arley Bolanos, Viaje a los Archivos de Inteligencia del Das (El Espectador (Colombia), November 12, 2018).

    Reposan en más de 12.000 cajas. ¿Cómo llegaron ahí? ¿Por qué la Jurisdicción Especial para la Paz (JEP) dice que los archivos están en riesgo? ¿Por qué este tribunal transicional pide su custodia? ¿Están completos? ¿Qué dicen?

Cuba

  • Adam Entous, Jon Lee Anderson, The Mystery of the Havana Syndrome (The New Yorker, November 12, 2018).

    After the State Department’s presence was diminished, what remained of the C.I.A. station was closed down, on Pompeo’s orders

Mexico

  • Alejandra Guillen, Mago Torres, Marcela Turati, El Pais de las 2 Mil Fosas (A Donde Van los Desaparecidos (Mexico), November 12, 2018).

    En México 37 mil 485 personas están reportadas como desaparecidas entre diciembre de 2006 y octubre pasado, según los registros oficiales. Se desconoce cuántas de ellas están en fosas

Nicaragua

The day ahead: November 9, 2018

I should be reachable from late morning to the end of the day. (How to contact me)

I have less on the schedule today: attending a discussion with a visiting Colombian official first thing in the morning, then I’ll be in the office. I need to catch up on correspondence, especially from yesterday when I wasn’t near a keyboard at all. I’ll probably help with WOLA’s response to Trump’s rule, being released today, illegally rolling back access to asylum. I’ll give a thorough revision to our draft report on Colombia, based on fieldwork done two months ago.

Also I’d like to post here several things that we’ve produced over the last few weeks—writing, podcasts, graphics—that I haven’t shared here because it’s just been too busy.

The day ahead: November 8, 2018

I’m hard to reach today. (How to contact me)

I’ve got six events on the calendar today, including two speaking events. I’m guest-teaching a class of visiting Latin American officials at the National Defense University’s Perry Center, talking about U.S. security aid programs. I’m talking at a small event about Colombia at WOLA. Then a couple of meetings with a scholar and an activist. Then seeing Colombia’s peace commissioner, who is in town, at the country’s embassy. Finally, a dinner meeting with WOLA supporters.

So I don’t expect to be posting here, or really even able to answer the phone.

The End of One-Party Rule is the End of Trump’s Border Wall

Sorry, but no.

Even before the Democratic Party won majority control of the House of Representatives, it wasn’t clear how Donald Trump was going to be able to get his border wall through Congress, which must approve the funding for it. Senate rules make it possible to block big budget outlays—like $25 billion for a wall—if 60 senators don’t first allow a vote to proceed. The Senate’s Republicans were (and still are) well short of that “filibuster-proof majority,” and Trump had been threatening to shut down the government to try to break the inevitable logjam of opposition.

His bargaining position just got far weaker. With the result of Tuesday’s midterm elections, Trump’s border wall has hit a wall of its own. With a Democratic majority, there is no way that a piece of legislation with border-wall money can pass the House of Representatives. Full stop.

Democrats will now write the first draft of all funding legislation. The Homeland Security appropriations bill will be drafted by a subcommittee headed by Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard of California, who strongly opposes Trump’s wall. “I am acutely aware of America’s security funding priorities,” she said in January. “We will not address our security needs by building this wall.” In July 2017, when the appropriations subcommittee that she will now preside met to approve the 2018 Homeland Security budget bill, Rep. Roybal-Allard introduced an amendment that would have cut Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Border Assets and Infrastructure funding by $1,571,239,000—the exact cost of the border wall—and to use it for other purposes. The amendment failed by a party-line vote of 22 to 30.

Democrats will also decide ahead of time which bills and amendments may be considered on the floor of the House of Representatives. Because there are so many representatives, the House has a Rules Committee that acts as a gatekeeper. It meets before any major legislation comes to the House floor, to decide which bills and amendments will be “in order”—that is, permitted to be considered—during the next day’s debate. Republicans have used the Rules Committee to prevent much legislation and amendments from coming to the floor, ruling it “out of order.” As of January, though, this powerful committee will be chaired by Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Massachusetts), a longtime advocate of human rights in Latin America.

It is very hard to imagine a scenario in which President Trump gets his border wall through this House of Representatives. And if it doesn’t get through the House, it doesn’t get through Congress, and it doesn’t get funded.

Unless: if the president really wants his border wall, Democrats might be open to a deal if it includes big concessions to their agenda. President Trump would have to give the Democratic Party something very big to win their approval for his wall. That “something” would probably have to do with immigration policy.

In 2017, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-New York) reportedly offered not to filibuster a package of border-wall money if the White House and Senate Republicans supported legislation allowing “Dreamers” to stay in the United States. That deal fell through, and now that judicial decisions have preserved Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) for now, the Democrats would probably demand much more for border-wall funding. Their demands would probably extend to preserving access to asylum, strict limits on family detention and separation, non-deportation of migrants with Temporary Protected Status, reforms to CBP and ICE, and probably other demands that strike at the heart of Donald Trump and Stephen Miller’s anti-immigrant crusade.

If the White House isn’t willing to concede a lot on immigration—and after the over-the-top campaign rhetoric we’ve just heard, it probably isn’t—then Trump’s border wall is dead and done with. We are now “beyond the wall.”

The day ahead: November 7, 2018

I’m most reachable in the latter part of the afternoon. (How to contact me)

I was up way too late last night watching election returns. I’m not at my cognitive best, but I’m delighted that one house of the U.S. Congress will be run by some people whose views of U.S. policy toward Latin America at least sometimes resemble mine. And that there will now be a meaningful check on presidential power. Let’s just enjoy that for a moment.

Otherwise, I’ve got meetings this morning with a journalist and some European diplomats, and an after-lunch strategy/debrief meeting with staff here at WOLA. When not there, I’ll be at my desk, fighting sleepiness and catching up with news and correspondence. Also, a bit of writing: yesterday, I finished a first draft of a behemoth report on Colombia (19,000 words! 171 footnotes!), and now it’s time to tighten up the prose.

Live updates of my House vote spreadsheet

I’ll keep updating this all night. Keep refreshing this page, or better yet, the Google Sheets page is here.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

John Moore/Getty Images photo at The Texas Tribune.

(Even more here)

November 6, 2018

Western Hemisphere Regional

  • Alberto Manguel, Colm Toibin, Deborah Eisenberg, Et Al., Maaza Mengiste, Margaret Atwood, Concentration Camps for Kids: An Open Letter (The New York Review of Books, November 6, 2018).

    This generation will be remembered for having allowed for concentration camps for children to be built on “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” This is happening here and now, but not in our names

  • Kate Morrissey, Ice Moves to Silence Detention Center Volunteer Visitors (The San Diego Union-Tribune, November 6, 2018).

    The confidentiality sections of the new forms require volunteers to agree not to share information they learn inside without written permission from the warden

Central America Regional, Mexico

  • Mariano v. Osnaya, Monica Wise Robles, Mustafa Khalili, Tom Silverstone, Video: La Caravana: On the Road With the Migrant Caravan (The Guardian (Uk), November 6, 2018).

    Thousands of migrants from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala head north hoping to find work and a better life in the US. The largest Central American caravan in decades keeps growing as thousands more join this journey – but when they reach Mexico, the migrant caravan starts taking different directions

  • and Maria Verza, Mark Stevenson, Sonia Perez D., Migrants Straggle Into Mexico City to Shelter at Stadium (Associated Press, ABC News, November 6, 2018).

    Authorities counted more than 2,000 migrants entering the Jesus Martinez stadium by midafternoon Monday, and a steady flow continued into the night

Colombia

  • Duro Pulso en el Congreso para Cambiar Acuerdo de Paz (El Tiempo (Colombia), November 6, 2018).

    Ya no se creará la sala especial para los militares que proponía Paloma, sino que habrá 14 magistrados más en la JEP elegidos por instancias como la Judicatura y el Procurador, entre otros

El Salvador

  • Molly o’toole, Can Megachurches Save el Salvador? (The New Republic, November 6, 2018).

    Gang bosses are increasingly granting those under their command desistance—a status change from “active” to “calmado,” meaning “calmed down”—if they convert to evangelicalism

Guatemala

  • Ricardo Barrientos, Presupuesto 2019: Quitarle a la Justicia para Darle al Ejercito (Plaza Publica (Guatemala), November 6, 2018).

    Pese a una reducción del techo presupuestario global, el Ejército estaría recibiendo en 2019 casi 800 millones de quetzales más a costa de recortes al sector justicia y al gasto social

Mexico

The day ahead: November 6, 2018

I’m reachable anytime except mid-day. (How to contact me)

I voted early, and my kid’s school is closed, so I’m working at home this morning. Mainly preparing a talk I’ll be giving to a class of Latin American officials at the National Defense University on Thursday. Then I’m off for some mid-day parent-teacher conferences, after which I’ll spend the rest of the day in the office. I expect to draft several more pages of a big Colombia report (almost done, I can almost taste it), then go home this evening, where I’ll anxiously watch the midterm election returns on at least three screens at once.

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