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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Weekly border update: March 5, 2021

With this series of weekly updates, WOLA seeks to cover the most important developments at the U.S.-Mexico border. You can get these in your e-mail each week by joining WOLA’s “Beyond the Wall” mailing list.

DHS builds up capacity for protection-seeking migrants as numbers rise

Right now the vast majority of migrants apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border, including many who would ask for asylum or other forms of  protection, are being swiftly expelled under a Trump-era pandemic measure known as Title 42. The Biden administration has been taking steps, though, to increase capacity to process apprehended migrants who seek protection.

“Processing” means background checks, health screenings, and filing of asylum request paperwork. When Title 42 isn’t expelling them, most single adult asylum seekers get placed in ICE detention to await hearings in the immigration court system. Families with children, though, are usually enrolled in “alternatives to detention” programs and released into the U.S. interior to await hearing dates. This process should take less than 72 hours, especially when children are involved, but Customs and Border Protection (CBP)’s capacity is often limited by the space and personnel available at ports of entry and Border Patrol stations.

The Department of Homeland Security is boosting asylum seekers’ processing by:

  • Building temporary facilities—called “soft-sided” because much of the infrastructure is tents—at Donna, in south Texas’s Rio Grande Valley (where a large processing facility, built in 2014 and famed for its chain-link fencing “cages,” is undergoing renovation); and soon at Eagle Pass, on the border in south-central Texas; and then at four or more additional sites across the border.
  • Repurposing two controversial ICE family detention facilities that opened during the Obama administration in Dilley and Karnes, Texas, which migrant rights advocates have long derided as “baby jails.” Instead of holding them until they can see an available asylum officer for a credible fear interview (or even longer), asylum-seeking families will be taken to Dilley (2,400 beds) and Karnes (839 beds) for rapid processing, then released to await screening and/or hearings. “The goal is to process and release 100 families per day,” according to plans seen by the Washington Post. If those centers fill up, an ICE contractor will transport families to hotels.
  • Hiring 300 Border Patrol processing coordinators, with a three-year goal of hiring 1,200, who will carry out most duties at these processing centers, freeing up “regular” agents whose training is in law enforcement, not asylum processing.

(These processing improvements are distinct from the opening of temporary shelters for unaccompanied children, discussed below. By the time they reach the shelters, unaccompanied kids have already been processed.)

“A detention center is not where a family belongs,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told NBC News on Thursday, adding, “I believe asylum seekers, individuals who claim credible fear by reason of their membership in a particular social group, should have the opportunity to present those claims to U.S. authorities. And they should be able to present those claims in an orderly, efficient, and safe way.”

We may be seeing the outlines of a different vision for handling the border’s changed reality of asylum-seeking, mostly child-and-family, migration—which in many years since 2014 has accounted for over a third, or even a majority, of all apprehended migrants. With sufficient capacity, migrants who fear for their lives could present at a border port of entry rather than cross the Rio Grande or climb a fence. They could then be taken to processing centers, screened for credible fear, placed into alternatives to detention, and have their cases adjudicated as quickly as due process allows.

That vision is far off right now, as most migrants continue to be expelled under the Title 42 pandemic order. For the moment, only three categories of asylum-seeking migrants stand a reasonable chance of being released into the United States to await their hearings:

  1. Unaccompanied children from non-contiguous countries. (The Trump administration sought to expel unaccompanied children, but a court order had prohibited that during Trump’s last two months in office.)
  2. Family units (parents with children) who ask for protection, from countries to where Title 42 expulsions are difficult, like Cuba and Venezuela. (The Trump administration had been applying the now-suspended “Remain in Mexico” policy to these families, sending them to Mexican border towns.)
  3. A small number of Central American families with young children, whom authorities in Tamaulipas, Mexico, have not permitted to be expelled back across the border.

A fourth category is the tightly controlled flow of asylum seekers subject to the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP, or “Remain in Mexico”) program, who since February 19 have begun entering the United States. Technically, these individuals were “processed” the moment they enrolled in the program, which in some cases was nearly two years ago. As of March 2, 862 people subject to MPP had been allowed to cross into the United States to await their asylum hearings.

Everyone else is subject to Title 42 expulsion. “They need to wait. It takes time to rebuild the system from scratch,” Mayorkas said on March 1. “We are not saying, ‘Don’t come.’ We are saying, ‘Don’t come now because we will be able to deliver a safe and orderly process to them as quickly as possible.’”

Adjustments underway to handle increased arrivals of unaccompanied minors

Those getting a lot of media attention are migrants in category (1) above: children arriving without parents. A 2008 law requires that unaccompanied children not from Mexico or Canada be delivered quickly to custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), which runs a network of shelters. Children in these shelters are then placed with relatives or other sponsors in the United States. Pandemic measures, though, have reduced this network’s 13,200-bed capacity to 8,000, and even with the late-February opening of a 700-bed “influx facility” in Carrizo Springs, Texas, ORR is now at 94 percent of its reduced limit.

The administration projects that 117,000 unaccompanied migrant children could cross the border in fiscal 2021, which would shatter the record of 76,020 set in 2019. It expects their numbers to peak at 13,000 in May, up from 5,707 in January. We are still awaiting CBP’s February border migration data, but briefing slides seen by Axios point to “some 6,000 migrants aged 16 and 17” apprehended last month. Over the 21 days ending March 3, CNN reported, Border Patrol apprehended a daily average of 340 unaccompanied children.

When ORR shelters fill up and the agency can’t accommodate new intakes, apprehended minors end up spending more than the legally mandated maximum of 72 hours in Border Patrol’s austere holding facilities, which were designed for single adults’ short stays. The average time spent in these facilities, according to CNN, is now 77 hours. Border Patrol had 1,300 children in custody on March 2 waiting for HHS placement. In Yuma, Arizona, as of March 3 more than 600 people were crowded into a Border Patrol space designed for 104. In the Rio Grande Valley, more than 2,000 were in a space meant for 715.

In order to deal with the backup of unaccompanied children:

  • ORR is adjusting its existing shelters’ COVID-19 protocols to make room for an additional 2,000 children.
  • ORR is reopening another temporary influx facility south of Miami in Homestead, Florida, which migrant advocates revilebecause of past allegations of sexual abuse while it was under a for-profit corporation’s management, and because of its proximity to a Superfund toxic waste site.
  • ORR is implementing measures to free up shelter space by speeding children’s placement with relatives or sponsors. These include database improvements for relatives’ background checks, payment of some minors’ transportation costs, and no longer asking sponsors to provide their Social Security numbers.
  • President Biden is dispatching “senior members of his team” to the border, Reuters reports, so that upon return they may brief him on options for responding to the increase in unaccompanied minors.

Administration rejects opponents’ narrative of a “crisis”

March, April, and May are often the busiest months of the year for migrant apprehensions, and factors ranging from a regional pandemic economic depression to a new U.S. administration may make the spring of 2021 especially heavy.

Though the vast majority are being quickly expelled, Reuters reported that Border Patrol encountered 4,500 migrants on March 3 alone. If sustained over 31 days, that pace would mean 139,500 migrant encounters, the largest monthly total since 2006. Rep. Henry Cuellar, a conservative Democrat who represents a border district including Laredo, Texas, put out a March 4 release reporting that in one of CBP’s nine border sectors—the Rio Grande Valley of Texas—Border Patrol had encountered 10,000 migrants over the previous week. (In January, the Rio Grande Valley accounted for 23 percent of all border migrant encounters.) Rep. Cuellar said Border Patrol was temporarily transferring “hundreds” of agents to the sector.

Further west in El Paso, Texas, the situation appears quieter: “The only migrants coming through El Paso are those in the Migrant Protection Protocols [‘Remain in Mexico’],” Mayor Oscar Leeser told the Dallas Morning News.

Asked at a White House press briefing, “How is this not a crisis?” DHS Secretary Mayorkas rejected the term. “I have explained that quite clearly. We are challenged at the border.” The administration’s political opponents, though, have accelerated messaging to portray the border situation as a crisis.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott, facing criticism of his decision to lift all COVID-19 public health measures, repeatedly alleged that the Biden administration is “importing COVID” by allowing some asylum-seeking migrants to enter the country. In Brownsville, 108 migrants released by Border Patrol have tested positive for the virus—6.3 percent of those tested. This does not include those admitted from the “Remain in Mexico” program, who must test negative before crossing the border. Nor is it clear how this positivity rate might compare to that of the untested tens of thousands of people who cross the border into Texas legally every day. Most released migrants in the Rio Grande Valley end up at the local Catholic Charities respite center, which refers those who test positive to area hotels to quarantine.

Meanwhile, CNN reports that Abbott has yet to approve a DHS offer of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funds to help test released migrants for the virus. “Based on the numbers I’ve seen, the percentages of migrants who have COVID are very low,” Rep. Veronica Escobar, a Democrat who represents El Paso, told the Dallas Morning News. “The governor of Texas knows that this kind of xenophobia, racism, and hate fuel hate crime.”

Still, ex-president Donald Trump used his February 28 speech before the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) to allege that Biden is seeking “to cancel border security.” And a visit to the foxnews.com “Immigration” page shows the network flooding the zone with an average of two stories per hour promoting the “border crisis” narrative.

We’re still awaiting CBP’s release of February numbers to see to what extent migration increased over the last few months of the Trump administration, when Border Patrol’s migrant encounters were already exceeding a very high 70,000 per month. Again, the vast majority continue to be expelled within hours under pandemic measures while the Biden administration slowly builds capacity to process them.

Links

  • President Biden met virtually with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on March 1. The presidents committed—with no public discussion of specifics—“to immigration policies that recognize the dignity of migrants and the imperative of orderly, safe, and regular migration,” and “to collaborate on a joint effort to address the root causes of regional migration, to improve migration management, and to develop legal pathways for migration.” President López Obrador reportedly proposed the reinstatement of a guest-worker arrangement like the old Bracero program that ran until the 1960s. That, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, would require Congress to pass legislation.
  • Migrant smugglers crammed 44 people into two SUVs on March 2 and drove them through a gap where an entire panel of late 2000s-era border fence had been removed, probably with a high-powered saw. One of the vehicles burst into flames shortly afterward, and all 19 aboard survived. Another SUV, carrying 25 passengers, collided with a semi truck on a southeast California highway. Thirteen of those aboard died.
  • A coalition of nearly 70 organizations, including WOLA, sent a report (not yet public) to Biden administration officials specifying priority sections of the Trump administration’s border wall that need to be removed, chiefly for environmental reasons.
  • Democratic leadership says that the House of Representatives will take up two immigration bills next week: the Farm Workforce Modernization Act and the American Dream and Promise Act.
  • “CBP has deployed about 28 percent of the surveillance and subterranean technology solutions planned, even after receiving more than $700 million in funding since fiscal year 2017,” according to a report from the DHS Inspector General.
  • Children and parents brought back together by the Biden administration’s new family reunification task force might have the option to remain in the United States, said Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas, who said he’d “explore legal pathways” to making that happen.
  • Former Trump attorney general Jeff Sessions, the architect of the “zero tolerance” policy that led to thousands of family separations in 2017 and 2018, voiced mild regret in an interview with Reuters, though he mainly placed the blame beyond the Justice Department: “It was unfortunate, very unfortunate, that somehow the government was not able to manage those children in a way that they could be reunited properly. It turned out to be more of a problem than I think any of us imagined it would be.”
  • The Dominican Republic, whose CESFRONT border security force has received past U.S. assistance, including CBP training, has announced plans to build a fence along its entire 236-mile border with Haiti. Meanwhile, internal DHS communications revealed by BuzzFeed indicate that U.S. officials recognize that they are expelling Haitian migrants to potential danger, as ICE planes return them during a period of unusually severe political instability.

The day ahead: March 5, 2021

I’ll be hard to reach until late in the day. (How to contact me)

I’m finishing our weekly border update, helping host an event about Colombia and coca, joining one or two border coalition meetings, and writing a column for a Colombian newspaper. All that may make me hard to contact today.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Schneyder Mendoza/AFP via Getty Images photo at NPR. Caption: “Venezuelan migrants rest as they wait to receive food and medicines from members of the Red Cross on a highway in Cucuta, Colombia, on the border with Venezuela last month.”

(Even more here)

March 4, 2021

Chile, Venezuela

Muy quemados por el sol y con los labios partidos, jóvenes venezolanos caminan por la vía cordillerana hasta el desierto de Atacama, norte de Chile. Todos sin excepción piden agua

Colombia

Residents say it’s widely known that the armed groups – several of which splintered off from paramilitary organisations like the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia – operate by colluding with, bribing, or terrorising local security forces

10 comunidades se desplazaron y otras confirmaron su confinamiento

La Fiscalía debe decidir esta semana si por primera vez acusa formalmente a un exmandatario colombiano por los delitos de soborno y fraude procesal, o si por el contrario pide a un juez precluir la investigación

“Comandos de Frontera” es un grupo armado ilegal que es conformado por hombres que en el pasado hicieron parte de la entonces guerrilla de las Farc y que no se sometieron al proceso de paz, otros al desmovilizado grupo paramilitar del Bloque Putumayo, y otros que han estado al servicio del narcotráfico en grupos como “La Constru”

Cuba

The letter was led by lawmakers Bobby Rush, Gwen Moore, Barbara Lee and Steve Cohen, long-time supporters of engagement with Cuba. Signers also included the leaders of the influential House of Representatives Foreign Affairs, Financial Services and Appropriations committees

Honduras

The allegations outlined in the case involve some $5 million that were funneled from the office of the presidency through front companies to journalists and political elites

Congressman leads effort with 40+ colleagues to withhold U.S. funds from Honduran police & military until gross human rights violations are investigated and prosecuted

Las imágenes aparecen totalmente oscurecidas en documentos judiciales, pero fiscales del distrito sur de Nueva York dicen que muestran a CC-4 o co-conspirador número cuatro, que es la forma en que han identificado al mandatario

Biden’s policies have veered very little from those advanced under Barack Obama and Donald Trump — two administrations that only shored up Hernández

Mexico

During the arrests and transfers, police officers spoke to the women using violent and sexualized language, threatened them with sexual violence and subjected them to physical and sexual violence

Sobre el uso letal de la fuerza por parte de elementos de la Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional (Sedena) en Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, en julio de 2020, donde tres víctimas de secuestro murieron

No importa qué partido político gobierne a nivel estatal, municipal o federal, la inercia no se ha podido controlar

Juan Gonzalez, senior director for the Western Hemisphere on the National Security Council, made the comments last week on a call between Mexican Foreign Affairs Minister Marcelo Ebrard and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken

Nicaragua

Plata para sus altos mandos, seguridad y facilidad para sus grandes negocios empresariales, poder legal mediante leyes para reprimir a los opositores y poderío militar para defender los intereses del régimen y, por último, impunidad para sus crímenes y abusos

U.S.-Mexico Border

The Customs and Border Protection documents dated Tuesday show a growing trend of unaccompanied children coming into US custody at levels beyond the Health and Human Services Department’s ability to house them

Surveillance footage reviewed by the agency showed the two vehicles traveling near a 10-foot gap in the rust-colored steel bollard fence

It’s established a new position called the Border Patrol processing coordinator to deal with the administrative burden

“It was unfortunate, very unfortunate, that somehow the government was not able to manage those children in a way that they could be reunited properly,” Sessions said

In the Gulf Coast city of Brownsville, 108 migrants released during the past month have shown to be carrying the coronavirus, U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, said Wednesday

Venezuela

Podrían implicar mayores restricciones de libertades, especialmente de los que piensan distinto, por lo que la ciudadanía debe estar vigilante del contenido final del articulado que se apruebe en cámara

The day ahead: March 4, 2021

I should be reachable from mid-afternoon to end of day. (How to contact me)

between this morning and mid-afternoon, I’m “meeting” a Mexico-based reporter then some human rights defenders in Colombia, giving a presentation to a virtual gathering of Colombian campesino leaders, and then have two coalition meetings with border / migrant rights groups. After that, I expect to be catching up on email and writing a weekly border update.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Sandra Sanchez photo at Border Report. Caption: “Mexican law enforcement on Jan. 17, 2020, patrol a migrant refugee camp in Matamoros, Mexico, across the Rio Grande from Brownsville, Texas. The camp at once point had 3,000 asylum-seekers, most from the Trump administration’s remain-in-Mexico policy.”

(Even more here)

March 3, 2021

Colombia

De acuerdo con los datos que han sistematizado en la Plataforma GRITA —de esta organización—; son 70 casos de violencia policial dentro de los que se encuentran cinco (5) asesinatos a manos de uniformados de la Policía Nacional

El Salvador

Su bancada tendrá las dos principales correlaciones (mayoría de 43 y de 56 votos) para ejercer el control del Legislativo y decidir lo que quiera: desde fiscal general hasta incrementar impuestos

Guatemala

The stakes are so high because the next court will likely decide the fate of politicians accused of corruption like former President Otto Pérez Molina, military officers convicted of crimes against humanity and the potential candidacy of Zury Ríos, daughter of ex-dictator Efraín Ríos Montt

Haiti

“We do not believe Title 42 should be used against anyone, and right now there are families from countries such as Haiti in which it will have a particularly brutal effect”

Honduras

Castillo, a former Honduran military intelligence officer who trained at the prestigious West Point military academy in New York, is the only person so far charged with masterminding the crime

David Castillo, 88 pruebas, empresario hondureño, ex oficial militar, fue detenido en 2018. El tribunal desdeñó la demanda para que su asesinato sea juzgado con perspectiva de género

Mexico

La Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional (SEDENA) adquirirá cartuchos calibre 5.56 x 45 milímetros y 9 x 19 milímetros para dotar al Cuerpo de Policía Militar (PM) de este material y a su vez reforzar a la Guardia Nacional

Elizabeth Lara Rodríguez, directora de la Quinta Visitaduría de la Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos (CNDH), que es la oficina encargada de velar y proteger los derechos de las personas migrantes, renunció este martes

A $4 billion commitment from U.S. President Joe Biden to promote development in Central America will include help for southern Mexico, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said

Mexico, U.S.-Mexico Border

Ciudad Juárez, meanwhile, has only allocated about 7,000 vaccines for frontline health care workers

Nicaragua

Alrededor de 500 firmantes denunciaron en una carta la “represión sistemática” al ejercicio del periodismo en el país

U.S.-Mexico Border

Tamariz says his nonprofit and other non-governmental organizations are extremely concerned about what will happen to those who are left after the camp is dissolved, and he says there must be some type of pathway to the United States for them

Venezuela

Numerous residential and commercial buildings were abandoned, only to be claimed by government forces and colectivos

The letter was led by Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.), and joined by 10 other Florida Republicans and Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.)

It was not clear from the testimony if Venezuelan intelligence services violated either of those laws. The Department of Justice declined to comment on whether the monitoring would trigger any action

Secretary Blinken stressed the importance of a return to democracy in Venezuela through free and fair elections

The day ahead: March 3, 2021

I’m around in the morning, but it’s all I’ve got to do a lot of work. (How to contact me)

I’ve got an internal meeting about the border and 2 coalition meetings on Colombia, one with colleagues in Colombia and one with colleagues in the United States. This is one of the lighter days on my calendar this week, and I need to take advantage of the few free hours I have this morning to get any work done at all. That said, I should be reachable this morning, and perhaps at the very end of the day.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Honduran Armed Forces Public Affairs photo at Diálogo. Caption: “A service member from the Honduran Armed Forces burns coca bushes. “To eradicate these crops, the bushes must be cut from the root, so that they do not grow back and then they are incinerated,” 1st Lt. Coello said.”

(Even more here)

March 2, 2021

Western Hemisphere Regional

Volume I covers drug and chemical control activities. Volume II covers money laundering and financial crimes

“We hope to be in a position to give them the election, and if, in fact, they seek to reunite here in the United States, we will explore lawful pathways for them to remain in the United States and to address the family needs”

Bolivia

El oficialismo dice que respetó la meritocracia interna. Niega que sea un castigo por lo ocurrido en 2019. El malestar dentro de la entidad castrense está en las promociones 1988 y 1989

Brazil

While much of the world is using restrictions and vaccines to try to tame the coronavirus, Brazil’s outbreak is worse than it has ever been

Colombia

En la espera, algunos volvieron a cultivarlas, pero otros se resisten: saben que la coca viene acompañada de violencia en su territorio

Biden has an opportunity to depart from the U.S. legacy in Colombia of grossly financing militarization and aggressive counternarcotics efforts, which have demonstrably failed

En un bombardeo de las Fuerzas Militares, con apoyo de la Fiscalía, murieron 10 integrantes de la disidencia Gentil Duarte de las Farc y otros tres fueron capturados, en el municipio de Calamar, Guaviare

Según esa jurisdicción, el esclarecimiento de los homicidios es del 11% y no se ha avanzado en el desmantelamiento de las organizaciones criminales

“We urge you to restore peace and protection of human rights as the principal goals of U.S. policy in Colombia,” the letter states

Estados Unidos acaba de certificar el desempeño de Colombia en la lucha contra las drogas durante el año 2020, catalogando los esfuerzos adelantados como “sorprendentes”, dados los retos y las restricciones que presentó la pandemia

El embajador en Washington, Francisco Santos, y el ministro del Interior, Daniel Palacios, se reunirán virtualmente esta semana con los comités de relaciones exteriores y con el comité de apropiaciones del Senado

El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua

Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua offer a cautionary tale for El Salvador of what can happen when checks and balances unravel

El Salvador

“The people have given him a kind of blank check to kind of rebuild El Salvador in the way that he sees fit”

Con estas cifras, Bukele no necesitará ni siquiera a otros partidos pequeños, ya que rozaría los 56 escaños y, por tanto, la mayoría absoluta en la Cámara

En los casi dos años que lleva Bukele al frente del Ejecutivo hay una serie de logros que desde la oposición se han negado o, en el mejor de los casos, ignorado

Honduras

Since the first coca plantation was found in the Lempira department in 2017 (with 10,000 bushes), Honduran security forces have increased their operations to locate and secure coca crops and narcolabs

Más allá de la ley propuesta por un grupo de senadores que buscan sanciones contra el presidente Juan Orlando Hernández, hay señales de un giro radical de la política estadounidense hacia Honduras

Mexico

This is only the second time that a coca plantation has been discovered in Mexico, but could be the beginning of a worrisome trend if local traffickers are finally able to find a way to grow the plant to a sufficient scale

En 2018 parecía que los mejores días del Cártel de Sinaloa habían llegado a su fin. Sin embargo, en los últimos meses hemos visto cómo dicha organización aprovecha la coyuntura para recuperar posiciones

I can now say that it’s wonderful for Mexico to be close to God and not so far from the United States

They agreed to collaborate on a joint effort to address the root causes of regional migration, to improve migration management, and to develop legal pathways for migration

Biden administration officials have said the recent change in Mexican law that prohibits the detention of small children in the state of Tamaulipas has forced border agents to release dozens of families per day into border communities in the United States

Nicaragua

El Ejército nicaragüense goza de privilegios como ser prioridad en la asignación presupuestaria, sus compras se rigen con secretismo de Estado y los altos mandos cuando pasan a retiro copan lugares claves en ministerios públicos o en empresas privadas

Peru

La justicia peruana inició el lunes un nuevo proceso contra el expresidente Alberto Fujimori por su presunta autoría mediata en el delito de lesiones seguidas de muerte de cinco mujeres y lesiones graves de otras 1.301 que fueron esterilizadas contra su voluntad

U.S.-Mexico Border

A spokesperson for the city of Brownsville said from Wednesday to Sunday, more than 270 asylum seekers were allowed into the city

When faced with skepticism about its more welcoming approach, given the difficulties faced by previous administrations along the Mexico border, Biden officials have depicted their efforts as an attempt to make amends for Trump policies

The Border Patrol had more than 1,300 children in custody waiting for placement by HHS on Tuesday, roughly a 300 person increase from the day before

Venezuela

Esta es de una de las advertencias que hace Control Ciudadano, ONG que da cuenta de la incorporación, a la organización de la FAN, de los comités políticos –patriótico ideológico, de orden interno y militar de las comunas

Venezuelan law states that pretrial detention cannot last more than two years, Penal Forum’s directors Alfredo Romero and Gonzalo Himiob told reporters, noting that 49 of the 323 individuals they consider political prisoners have been detained for longer

The day ahead: March 2, 2021

I’ll be hard to contact today, though easier in afternoon than morning. (How to contact me)

My calendar is packed tight until mid-afternoon: guest-teaching a Foreign Service Institute class, a couple of interviews with Colombian media, a meeting with Colombian colleagues, an imminently due info request from congressional staff, and a rare academic event about civil-military relations in Latin America that I’d like to watch. I will be difficult to contact today.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Óscar Pérez photo at El Espectador (Colombia). Caption: “La guardia campesina custodia los límites entre los militares y los campesinos de la zona, en medio de un cultivo de coca, en Islitas y Monte Tarra.”

(Even more here)

March 1, 2021

Chile

  • Pablo Ortuzar Pablo Ortuzar, Terrorismo Mapuche (La Tercera (Chile), March 1, 2021).

Lo dicho claramente desaconseja un despliegue militar. Sería un tremendo favor comunicacional a estas bandas, que lo explotarían para victimizarse nacional e internacionalmente y humillar a nuestras Fuerzas Armadas

Colombia

Por ocho días, campesinos de Hacarí sostuvieron un asentamiento humanitario para exigir la reubicación de una base del Ejército

La matazón es apenas la punta del iceberg de este patrón criminal. Los soldados no hubieran matado sin la exigencia de sus superiores

The main targets of the attacks by the government and Uribistas are the reforms in the rural sector, voluntary coca crop eradication, and the implementation of transitional justice

Los procesos contra dos funcionarios del gobierno Uribe por las “chuzadas” del DAS podrían no quedar en nada

Expertos de la Policía Antinarcóticos señalaron a EL TIEMPO que los principales compradores de la coca que se produce en Colombia son los carteles mexicanos

Top-line public messaging regarding the U.S.-Colombia partnership should be careful not to overshadow acknowledgment that major obstacles remain to peace accord implementation, military reform, and protection of human rights defenders

Colombia, Venezuela

El ministro de la Defensa, Vladimir Padrino López, acusó a la “oligarquía colombiana” de emprender actos de guerra contra Venezuela y reveló que cerca de 600 oficiales han sido contactados por desertores

Dominican Republic, Haiti

The Dominican Republic, which has a population of about 11 million, has already constructed some stretches of fencing along the border

El Salvador

His growing control could pose a challenge to President Biden’s policy of strengthening democracy in Central America

Critics worry that if he gains unfettered control over the country after Sunday’s election, he’ll show even less restraint

Bukele no necesitaría ni de Gana para decidir lo que quiera. Es una victoria sin precedentes en la vida democrática del país

Después de décadas de sangrienta violencia de las pandillas, las tasas de homicidios se han desplomado en El Salvador durante el Gobierno de Nayib Bukele

Guatemala, Mexico

Aunque no hay una fecha para la repatriación de los cuerpos, según los diputados, podría hacerse en la segunda semana de marzo, a la espera de que la Fiscalía termine de procesar los restos

Honduras

Según Radio Cadena Voces, que cita a una alta fuente militar de entero crédito, un grupo de oficiales mostró su disconformidad ante sus superiores por el apoyo irrestricto al gobernante, cuya renuncia exigen diversos sectores del país

El anuncio se produjo después de que trascendiera el descontento de una veintena de oficiales de la institución castrense por el apoyo de la cúpula militar al gobernante Juan Hernández, pese al reciente proyecto de ley de senadores de Estados Unidos

Mexico

Some 80,000 Mexicans have disappeared in the last 15 years and never been found. Many are now thought to be in government custody — among the thousands of corpses that pass through morgues

Las diferencias que ahora tienen las instancias de inteligencia de Estados Unidos y México provocaron que se suspendiera una reunión de alto nivel que tenían organismos de ambas naciones como parte de la Mesa de Estrategias para Seguimiento de Agentes Antagónicos Externos

Mr. Biden is also seeking Mexico’s help to deter new arrivals at the border, a goal that is already facing challenges

Mexico, U.S.-Mexico Border

Despite Title 42 and other Trump policies still in place, Mexican migration nonprofits, U.S. border mayors, county judges and the Biden administration are concerned that the numbers of migrants headed to the U.S. is rising again

Nicaragua

La investigación determina que desde 2007, con el ascenso al poder, Ortega alteró las dinámicas de relación Gobierno-Fuerzas Armadas, que los anteriores gobiernos habían mantenido con el Ejército

Peru

Se trata del última de una serie de asesinatos de dirigentes indígenas y mestizos de las regiones amazónicas Ucayali y Huánuco que, en los últimos años, han denunciado a invasores que cultivan coca

U.S.-Mexico Border

A coalition of nearly 70 environmental groups, civil-rights organizations and tribal entities sent a report last week to lawmakers and Biden administration officials asking for 59 miles of 30-foot-tall border wall in Arizona to be removed

CBP has deployed about 28 percent of the surveillance and subterranean technology solutions planned, even after receiving more than $700 million in funding since fiscal year 2017

“We can finally see the little lights at the end of the tunnel,” said Jose Luis Guerra, a Cuban asylum-seeker. “But the joy will come when we’re finally on the other side”

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) told Axios he supports President Biden. But the moderate said he sees the downsides of efforts to placate pro-immigrant groups, an effort that threatens to blow up on the administration

On Friday, the second day of processing there, 100 asylum-seekers crossed from Matamoros

“There is no asylum anymore,” Douglas said the Border Patrol agents stationed at his room told him

Venezuela

“If the regime undertakes confidence-building measures that show that they’re ready and willing to engage in real conversations with the opposition … if they’re ready to take serious steps, then we will consider the alleviation of sanctions”

El analista internacional Carlos Romero y el director del Programa para Venezuela del WOLA, Geoff Ramsey coinciden en señalar que el manejo de la situación derivada a raíz de la imposición de nuevas sanciones por parte de la UE, lo que desencadenó el impase diplomático, empeora la situación

The day ahead: March 1, 2021

I should be around in the afternoon. (How to contact me)

So begins another week. My calendar looks average this week: two or three speaking engagements, co-hosting an event on Friday, lots of coalition meetings. But no giant deadlines. I hope to work on a big research project and start another, and hopefully record a podcast, before the week is over.

Today, I have an internal meeting for much of the morning, and I’m still catching up on correspondence from last Thursday and Friday when I had an especially heavy schedule. In the afternoon I expect to be at my desk with some time to write, to respond to an info request from congressional staff, and to update our Colombia website. We’ll see how that goes.

Weekly e-mail update is out

I just sent off another e-mail update to those who’ve subscribed. It’s mainly got the items posted here since Friday:

  • Full text of this week’s Colombia peace update;
  • Full text of this week’s U.S.-Mexico border update;
  • 5 “longread” links from the past week;
  • Latin America-related online events for this week;
  • And, finally, several funny tweets.

Here’s the page with past editions and a blank to add your e-mail address if you want these more-or-less weekly missives in your inbox.

Latin America-related online events this week

Monday, March 1, 2021

  • 4:00–5:30 at wilsoncenter.org: The Black Republic: African Americans and the Fate of Haiti (RSVP required).
  • 4:00 at ub.edu.ar: Estrategias de Seguridad Nacional (RSVP required).
  • 9:00pm at CIDE Zoom: Polarización Política: ¿hay vuelta atrás? (RSVP required).

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

  • 12:00–1:20 at harvard.edu: The Return of the Military? (RSVP required).
  • 1:30–4:00 at wilsoncenter.org: A New Future for North America (RSVP required).

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Thursday, March 4, 2021

  • 1:00–2:00 at thedialogue.org: Connectivity in the Americas (RSVP required).

Friday, March 5, 2021

  • 11:00–12:15 at wola.org: Coca and Violence in Colombia (RSVP required).

5 links from the past week

  • A new report from the International Crisis Group questions the Colombian government’s contentions that the coca crop is a root cause of violence, and that forced eradication might bring peace. It concludes that “an approach based on forceful eradication of coca, which the U.S. has stoutly backed, tends to worsen rural violence, while failing to reduce drug supply.” See also a Financial Times longread about the push to restart coca eradication via aerial herbicide fumigation.
  • A 90-page U.S. Government Accountability Office report contains much previously undisclosed information about the Trump administration’s National Guard and active-duty military deployments at the U.S.-Mexico border, which the Biden administration has yet to alter. The Pentagon didn’t view it as a high-priority mission, but it spent about a billion dollars since 2018 to support keeping as many as 8,300 troops at the border.
  • Lt. Cmdr. Collin Fox, a U.S. Navy officer who recently served at the U.S. embassy in Panama, published a scathing critique of the drug war, from a global strategy perspective, at War on the Rocks. It’s unusual to see an active duty officer use terms like “impossible distraction,” “simplistic,” and “ignoble failure” to describe an ongoing policy.
  • 49-year-old Édgar López was tragically failed by garbage institutions in three different countries. A corrupt state in his native Guatemala failed to create conditions, like education to gain marketable skills, to lift his community out of poverty. U.S. immigration and labor policies created the draw of under-the-table, low-wage labor at a chicken processing plant in Mississippi, where he worked and started a family, only to be swept up in one of Trump’s high-wattage ICE raids in 2019. Then, as he sought to return to his family, he was one of 19 people massacred in northern Mexico, apparently by organized crime-tied police. Vice tells López’s story.
  • In February 28 legislative and municipal elections, El Salvador’s president’s party might win a supermajority. The Honduran-Nicaraguan investigative website Expediente Público looks at the likelihood that the country may be headed in an authoritarian direction under Nayib Bukele, noting “the military’s elevated role in supporting Bukele.” Note also two analyses from the previous week at Honduras’s ContraCorriente: “Authoritarianism at the stroke of a tweet,” about El Salvador, and “Soldiers instead of doctors,” about pandemic-era Honduras.

Colombia peace update: February 27, 2021

Cross-posted from WOLA’s colombiapeace.org site. During at least the first half of 2021, we’re producing weekly updates in English about peace accord implementation and related topics. Get these in your e-mail by signing up to this Google group.

Annual UN human rights report

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has maintained an office in Colombia since 1996 with presences in Bogotá and nine regions. Early each year, it produces a report summarizing Colombia’s human rights situation during the prior year. The Colombia office issued its latest report on February 23. Among its topline findings for 2020:

  • Colombia suffered 76 massacres, defined as “three or more persons executed in a single incident or during incidents related by responsibility, place and time,” involving 292 deaths. “The number of massacres has grown constantly since 2018, with 2020 recording the highest number since 2014.”
  • 73 demobilized ex-FARC members were killed, amounting to a year-end total of 248 since the peace accord’s November 2016 signing (which has since risen to 259).
  • The UN office received allegations about 42 cases of government security forces arbitrarily killing a total of 73 people. While most involved police, 11 cases “occurred when the military were participating in prevention and law enforcement activities, executing arrest and search warrants, or engaged in the eradication of illicit crops and the fight against criminal groups.”

The UN High Commissioner counted up to 133 killings of human rights defenders, though as of publication it had been able to verify only 50 due to pandemic restrictions. “Of the verified cases, 25 per cent were reportedly committed by criminal groups, 15 per cent by FARC dissident groups, 13 per cent by ELN, and 4 per cent by the police or military.” Colombian authorities achieved 20 convictions in 2020 against killers of human rights defenders.

The day before the UN report launched, the Colombian presidency issued its own brief report. Presidential Human Rights Advisor Nancy Patricia Gutiérrez claimed that the government and the UN human rights office had counted 66 murdered social leaders, with 63 remaining to be verified. The reason for the discrepancy with the UN is unclear.

The UN and government estimates are on the low end. The government’s Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office (Defensoría) counted 182 killings of human rights defenders and social leaders in 2020, and 753 in the five years since 2016. The non-governmental Instituto de Estudios para el Desarrollo y la Paz (Indepaz), which includes names and places but does not verify each case, counted 310 murders.

The UN report faults the Colombian government for the continued lack of a stated public policy for dismantling paramilitary successor criminal organizations, as foreseen in the 2016 peace accord. It finds a “lack of a comprehensive State presence” in conflictive parts of the country, which “limits the State ́s capacity to comply with its duty to protect the population.” Juliette De Rivero, the director of the High Commissioner’s Colombia office, told Verdad Abierta, “After the accords’ signing, there was about a year and a half of breathing space in these territories. But then the State didn’t occupy the space—and armed groups began to arrive and exert very strong social control.”

The UN report, as well as press comments by De Rivero and High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet, voiced strong support for Colombia’s post-conflict transitional justice system. They especially upheld its Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), which has taken bold moves in recent weeks against ex-guerrilla kidnappers and military personnel responsible for “false positive” killings, and which often finds itself under political fire from allies of President Iván Duque’s government. Bachelet shared her concern about “declarations against the transitional justice system, including legislative proposals to abolish the Special Jurisdiction for Peace.”

U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg met with the JEP’s President, Eduardo Cifuentes, on February 26. This was a notable show of support for an institution that some U.S. officials over the years had avoided praising, out of concern that it might end up failing to punish perpetrators.

JEP to investigate pressure on military “false positives” witnesses

As reported in last week’s update, the JEP surprised the country by announcing that it is investigating a much higher than anticipated number of military murders of civilians who were then falsely presented as combat kills. The Special Jurisdiction said its review of existing databases led it to estimate 6,402 of these “false positive” killings between 2002 and 2008 alone.

As an analysis by La Silla Vacía’s Juanita León shows, that number could increase or decrease as the transitional justice system proceeds with its “bottom up” strategy of starting with the perpetrators in order to arrive at the most responsible military commanders. Cifuentes, the JEP’s president, told El Espectador that the next steps involve collecting more testimonies from perpetrators and victims in order “to charge those identified as most responsible.”

This has some top current and former military commanders concerned. Articles last week in El Espectador and Verdad Abierta name some of the officers most frequently cited for commanding units that committed the most “false positive” killings. These include several generals who were promoted to lead Colombia’s army in the 2000s and 2010s.

The JEP’s method of starting with lower-ranking military perpetrators in order to arrive at the top commanders puts significant pressure on those lower-ranking defendants, who make up most of the 1,860 security-force members who agreed to have their cases heard in the JEP. Nineteen of them had reported being threatened or followed, according to a September 2020 document from the government’s Inspector-General’s Office (Procuraduría).

On February 2, the JEP sent a letter to the Specialized Technical Defense Fund for Members of the Security Forces (FONDETEC), a sort of public defender service for members of the military and police accused of crimes. The letter asks for information about the advice that FONDETEC lawyers may be providing to low-ranking military defendants in the JEP system.

Some of these defendants have alleged that their public defenders strongly encouraged them to avoid implicating senior commanders in their JEP testimonies. “The pretext that the lawyers have is to carry out preparation sessions for those appearing before the transitional justice mechanism,” explained Sergio Arboleda Góngora of the Corporación Jurídica Libertad human rights group. “They would use that opportunity to indicate what to say and what not to say to the lower-ranking members of the military when they testify.”

“FONDETEC conditions our testimonies to improve the defense of those above us,” a military witness told the JEP, according to El Espectador investigative columnist Yohir Akerman. “What evidence do you have to link General [Mario] Montoya, commander of the Army? The situation could turn around against you,” a FONDETEC lawyer called “Doctor Vargas” apparently told defendants at the military’s detention center in Facatativá, Cundinamarca. Akerman identifies him as Fernando Antonio Vargas Quemba, a FONDETEC attorney with ties to far-right, even paramilitary-linked, groups.

Colombia’s politically powerful associations of retired military and police officers issued a communiqué opposing the JEP’s information request regarding FONDETEC activities, viewing it as part of an “unprecedented offensive against our military and police, with the purpose of demoralizing and discrediting those who selflessly serve the country.”

The commander of the Army, Gen. Eduardo Zapateiro, appeared to go further. The day after the JEP’s revelation of its estimate of 6,402 murders, the general posted to his Twitter account nature footage depicting snakes, interspersed with Bible excerpts, and a vow that “we will not let ourselves be defeated by poisonous and perverse vipers that want to attack us, accuse us, or weaken us.”

“How frightening that these gentlemen are still there [in command]. We are not poisonous snakes. We are victims of the Army,” responded the Association of Mothers of False Positives. A La Silla Vacía analysis, noting Gen. Zapateiro’s “impulsive” nature, observed that the commander is under pressure from the hardline retired officers’ associations. An unnamed “high government official who works with the Army” insisted that the General’s position is not the Army’s institutional stance.

New military command to fight armed groups and organized crime

On February 26 President Duque visited the Tolemaida base in Tolima to inaugurate a new Colombian Army Command against Drug Trafficking and Transnational Threats (CONAT). This 7,000-person unit’s objective will be “breaking, striking, and subduing the structures of drug trafficking and transnational threats, linked to the illegal exploitation of minerals, trafficking of species and people, and, of course, any transnational form of terrorism,” reads a Presidency release.

The CONAT’s commander is Gen. Juan Carlos Correa, a former commander of the Colombian Army’s National Training Center who served a recent tour in Miami as the commander of the U.S. Southern Command’s J7/9 Exercise and Coalition directorate.

It is not immediately clear how much about the CONAT is new, other than its command and organizational structure. Colombia’s Army already had Counter-Drug Brigades; these are now being combined under the CONAT with a counter-illicit mining brigade and aviation units. Reporting about the unit doesn’t specifically speak about new capabilities, equipment, or personnel increases.

Defense Minister Diego Molano said the new command will prioritize “areas identified as being highly influenced by drug trafficking such as Catatumbo, Cauca, and Putumayo.” Catatumbo is along the Venezuelan border, which drew the notice of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. In response to an earlier announcement by President Duque about the CONAT, Maduro had called on Venezuela’s armed forces to “clean the barrels of our rifles to answer at any level we need.”

A Caracol Noticias report by noted investigative journalist Ricardo Calderón—who was part of an unfortunate recent exodus from Semana magazine—cited videos and emails indicating an ever closer relationship between Venezuelan security forces and members of the ELN and FARC dissident groups on Venezuelan soil. “Today we are in full support of the commander, comrade Nicolás Maduro, so that this government may continue, so that he may continue to lead this ship,” a video depicts “Julián Chollo,” a commander in the dissident group headed by former FARC leader “Gentil Duarte,” telling residents of the town of Elorza, deep within Apure, Venezuela. The Caracol report finds, “According to internal ELN communications, Venezuela may have become the scene of a ‘war among guerrillas’ in which each side has the support of different [Venezuelan] military units.”

Links

  • A new report from the International Crisis Group questions the Duque government’s contentions that the coca crop lies at the root of Colombia’s violence challenges, and that forced eradication can bring peace. Looking into the origins and current reality of the country’s coca economy and attempts to attack it, the report concludes that “an approach based on forceful eradication of coca, which the U.S. has stoutly backed, tends to worsen rural violence, while failing to reduce drug supply.” WOLA will be co-hosting an online event with this report’s principal authors on March 5.
  • Meanwhile, El Tiempo offered some geographic intel on manual eradication: “Operations…have been concentrated mainly in the Zonas Futuro of Pacific Nariño, Bajo Cauca and Sur de Córdoba, Catatumbo, and Putumayo.” Citing the Colombian Presidency, it reported that forces manually eradicated 4,574 hectares of coca in January—more than January 2020 but behind pace to match 2020’s total of 130,171 hectares eradicated.
  • The Financial Times published an in-depth look at Colombia’s efforts to eradicate coca, and the probably imminent restart of an aerial herbicide spraying program that was suspended, due to public health concerns, in 2015. RCN Noticias reported on efforts to renew fumigation, pending fulfillment of requirements set out by Colombia’s Constitutional Court: “Eight modern planes with two teams of 16 pilots” are ready “to start spraying, a task that awaits ‘D-day’ to start the mission,” adding that “canisters full of glyphosate [herbicide] are already in special hangars,” and that “Guaviare is where aerial spraying will start again.”
  • At least eight, or at least eleven, people were massacred over the February 20-21 weekend in Tumaco, Nariño near the Ecuador border. The perpetrators are believed to be “Los Contadores,” one of several criminal and guerrilla dissent groups operating in this zone of heavy coca cultivation and cocaine transshipment.
  • A video from the town of Siberia, Orito, Putumayo shows heavily armed members of the “Comandos de la Frontera” paramilitary group entering a bar and announcing their intention to kill “people who commit vice (viciosos), drug addicts, and thieves.” An early warning document from the Human Rights Ombudsman (Defensoría) calls the group a “mutation” of an earlier group active in Putumayo, the “Sinaloa Mafia,” that can trace its command DNA back to the old AUC paramilitaries.
  • After recording three ELN “offensive actions” in each of three consecutive months, the think-tank CERAC, which maintains a detailed conflict database, counted nine ELN offensive actions in January. A February 23 ELN attack killed two soldiers and wounded 11 in Tibú, near the Venezuela border in Norte de Santander’s Catatumbo region.
  • Retired Gen. Eduardo Herrera Berbel, who participated in past peace talks with the ELN, told Semana that in his view, talks can only restart if the ELN agrees to cease kidnapping and other criminal behavior as a precondition. Citing past peace talks’ signed protocols, Herrera disagrees with the Duque government’s pressure on Cuba to extradite ELN negotiators who have been on the island since a January 2019 Bogotá bombing forced an end to talks.
  • La Silla Vacía looks into “Operación Artemisa,” the Colombian armed forces’ ongoing (though not constant) effort to combat deforestation in environmentally fragile areas. It finds that many in the military are unhappy about taking on this non-combat role: “You don’t use special forces to stop a peasant with a chainsaw.”
  • President Duque and other leading government officials participated in a nearly 6-hour video discussion on February 24, in which they made the case that the current administration is implementing the peace accord. They sought to respond to, as they put it, “those who seek to ignore the progress achieved and promote a hateful division between supposed friends and enemies of peace.”
  • “Colombia has an absolutely obscene concentration of land and it is a concentration of land that is rarely spoken of. Not only is it socially unjust, but it is also a tombstone on the country’s development possibilities. No country with the agrarian structure that Colombia has has emerged from underdevelopment. It is as simple as that.” — Francisco Gutiérrez Sanín, director of the National University’s Lands Observatory, in an unusually thorough Caracol analysis of land tenure in Colombia.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Sandra Cuffe photo at Al Jazeera. Caption: “Pending cases and trials for genocide, mass enforced disappearances and other civil war-era atrocities are stagnating in the courts”

(Even more here)

February 26, 2021

Western Hemisphere Regional

Despite these growing security challenges, the United States continues a drug war that wastes exquisite military tools, destabilizes fragile states, and sours hemispheric relations — yet fails to gain any measurable progress

Chile

El Presidente y su ministro del Interior explicaron que se va a reforzar el estado de catástrofe -que se reconoce subutilizado

Colombia

El enfoque de militarizar el tema ambiental, que fue presentado como una innovación estratégica en seguridad y medio ambiente importante del Gobierno Duque, tiene un papel más discreto en los últimos avances de política pública

The new unit, consisting of 7,000 personnel, will be deployed to zones such as the Catatumbo region on the border with Venezuela, as well as the provinces of Cauca and Putamayo, Defense Minister Diego Molano said

Bogotá and Washington should abandon their heavy-handed elimination efforts and help growers find alternatives to the hardy plant

En el Fuerte Militar de Tolemaida, el Jefe de Estado activó este viernes el Comando contra el Narcotráfico y Amenazas Transnacionales (CONAT), fuerza élite conformada por 7.000 hombres y mujeres del Ejército

Un informe de Caribe Afirmativo señala que hay un retroceso en los avances de derechos humanos LGBT, “porque con relación a 2019 hubo un aumento del 58% y un 80% frente a 2018?

Las tres fuentes de información comparten muchas víctimas, pero cada una aporta víctimas que no aparecen en las demás bases de datos

El representante demócrata Jim McGovern lamentó “la falta de voluntad de Iván Duque para detener los asesinatos de líderes sociales” y le pidió al presidente Joe Biden que ponga este problema en su agenda

El Salvador

Securing two-thirds of congressional seats would allow Bukele to name Supreme Court judges and the attorney general, making him the most powerful Salvadoran leader since the return of democracy three decades ago

Analistas salvadoreños e internacionales señalan el riesgo de que el Presidente millennial termine convirtiendo al país en otra Nicaragua, tras los resultados de las elecciones legislativas del 28 de febrero

Guatemala

Pending cases and trials for genocide, mass enforced disappearances and other civil war-era atrocities are stagnating in the courts

Mexico

López Obrador recordó que en Baja California hay 2 mil 99 elementos de la Guardia Nacional y hay seis cuarteles nuevos

“Nos preguntaban que cómo habíamos obtenido la información. Y nos dijeron que nos iban a llevar detenidos. Temimos por nuestra vida”, explica la mujer

Though symbolically important in any administration, the decision by President Joe Biden to dispatch Blinken to Mexico and Canada for the first visits, even virtually, is part of a broader effort to turn the page

Coronel’s surrender signals the existence of a cooperation agreement, where she could provide information or testimony in exchange for leniency in her own case

Nicaragua

La más reciente avanzada orteguista contra sus críticos incluye el cierre de organizaciones de derechos humanos y libertad de expresión por la aprobación de la ley de agentes extranjeros

U.S.-Mexico Border

Biden has an opportunity to break the cycle of deadly border militarization embraced by his predecessors of both parties. Will he take it?

It represented a step closer to reaching the American dream for the 27 people who crossed the Gateway International Bridge after living in Matamoros for nearly two years

It’s a significant change at the two detention centers that activists have derided as “baby jails.” But the new policy falls short of their demands to close the facilities in Dilley and Karnes City

The challenges of redirecting the enforcement apparatus, the tangled web of legal agreements signed by prior Department of Homeland Security (DHS) leadership, and anxieties about a new large-scale influx of migrants and asylum seekers have posed early challenges

HHS, which oversees shelters for migrant children, is in the process of switching to a new database that could cut hours or days from the time it takes to perform background checks for sponsors

On Thursday, there were more than 1,200 unaccompanied children in Customs and Border Protection custody across the southwest border

The number of minors arriving without a parent has grown to more than 300 each day in recent weeks, a fourfold increase since last fall

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