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

Ecuador Defense Ministry photo at El Universo (Ecuador). Caption: “Representantes de los altos mandos militares de Ecuador y Perú coordinan apoyo conjunto contra el virus.

(Even more here)

April 9, 2020

Western Hemisphere Regional

Immediate action is needed now to dramatically reduce the region’s prison population in order to prevent a huge toll in illness and deaths

Argentina

El ministro insistió en que el accionar de las FF. AA en la emergencia se enmarcan en la legislación nacional

Argentina, Bolivia, Venezuela

Fernández has upended his charm campaign by mounting a surprisingly spirited defense of Evo Morales

Chile

The coronavirus halted Chile’s protest movement, but a prolonged crisis could exacerbate discontent

Colombia

Las limitaciones presupuestarias que ha enfrentado la aplicación del pacto en el Gobierno de Iván Duque pueden profundizarse

En esta infografía se presentan las particularidades de los territorios donde ha hecho presencia histórica el ELN, las relaciones de esta guerrilla con las economías locales y su influencia en las conflictividades sociales

Ocho organizaciones nacionales e internacionales presentamos esta denuncia pública ante la persistencia de hechos de intimidación, amenazas, asesinatos, y violaciones a los derechos contra ciudadanos/as venezolanos/as, líderes, lideresas sociales, excombatientes y Pueblos Indígenas

En zonas de Antioquia, Cauca, Córdoba y Nariño han circulado mensajes de organizaciones armadas en los que hacen llamados perentorios a los pobladores para que se tomen en serio la cuarentena decretada desde el 23 marzo

Dijeron que Gasca fue asesinado, junto con sus hijos, por los del “cartel de Sinaloa” en retaliación por venderle pines para enviar mensajes a los de las Farc

La incertidumbre está en el centro de este análisis. Aunque es pronto para estimar los costos reales, no es tarde para tomar decisiones sobre sus efectos potenciales

Ecuador

El gobierno ecuatoriano creó en Guayas una Zona de Seguridad Nacional, bajo coordinación de las FF. AA., ante la rápida expansión del virus

In Guayaquil, Ecuador’s biggest city, a surge in deaths has overwhelmed health care and burial services. Scenes of bodies on sidewalks and desperate families serve as a warning for the region

Ecuador, Haiti

Amid the global war against the pandemic, many countries are also finding themselves in a fight against fake and misleading news that they’re not always winning

Guatemala, Mexico

Más de 480 migrantes de Honduras, Guatemala y El Salvador fueron abandonados por el Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM) en la línea fronteriza de México con Guatemala, luego de que el gobierno de este último país rechazó el ingreso de los centroamericanos tras sellar su frontera

Mexico

A casi 7 años de la desaparición de mi hijo, sigo sin respuestas. En un país donde la impunidad es de 97% en cifras oficiales, mi hijo es solo uno más en esa cifra oprobiosa

La vida sigue inalterada en buena parte del territorio y, por tanto, la violencia criminal se mantiene en la tendencia previa

Its most serious impact would likely be felt by migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. Their already limited ability to enter the country and claim asylum could be further restricted by the near complete block on anyone who has provided funds to a terrorist organization

Nicaragua

Daniel Ortega was last seen on 12 March, and his absence has sparked anger and fear as Central America battles pandemic

U.S.-Mexico Border

Reps Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., and Filemon Vela, D-Texas, sent letters to the leaders of the Justice Department, the Defense Department and the Homeland Security Department

The complaint, based on interviews with the family and a review of the woman’s medical records, accuses the Border Patrol agents involved of abuse

Around 120 of the minors, who arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border without a parent or legal guardian, were quickly sent on planes back to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, according to data from March 27 to April 2

A public health crisis does not give the Executive Branch a free pass to violate constitutional rights, nor does it give the Executive Branch permission to operate outside of the law

The U.S. government used an obscure public health law to justify one of its most aggressive border crackdowns ever

We call on the Trump Administration to immediately rescind its policy of shutting the border to individuals seeking asylum, halt all deportations, and release immigrants currently in detention

Venezuela

Defensores de derechos humanos señalan que se imputan delitos de la Ley Contra el Odio que no permiten la imposición de medidas sustitutivas

Gasoline shortages in Venezuela are worsening after U.S. officials have told foreign firms to refrain from supplying the fuel to the sanctioned South American nation and only provide diesel

La prioridad de la política exterior estadounidense hacia Venezuela debería ser evitar un desastre humanitario, no la movilización de destructores navales

The day ahead: April 9, 2020

I’m most reachable in the mid-to-late afternoon. (How to contact me)

I’ve got online meetings with coalitions of groups, plus a press interview, all clustered around the middle of the day on my calendar today. Also I heard that CBP may be releasing its March migration numbers today, probably showing a steep drop because of COVID-19, so I’ll be trying to interpret that. Otherwise I’m nearly done with an “Explainer” about the ELN for the Colombia website.

Podcast: Latin America and the Crisis of Globalization and Multilateralism

Here’s a tri-continental podcast that I recorded yesterday and posted today. It was fun to do, especially since the tech mostly held up.

paper published in March by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation’s Latin America Regional Security Program takes stock of the complicated geopolitical, institutional, economic, and social moment that Latin America and the Caribbean today. It examines the crisis of democratic institutions, the United States’ hard turn toward unilateralism, the growing roles of China and Russia, and the impending effect of phenomena like climate change, automation, and artificial intelligence.

This podcast talks about all of this with the paper’s three authors, scattered across three continents:

  • In Santiago: Marcos Robledo, co-director of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation project, is a Chilean security expert who served in Chile’s defense ministry, including as a vice-minister, during Michelle Bachelet’s time as minister and as president.
  • In Washington: Rebecca Bill Chávez is a defense expert who served in the Pentagon as deputy secretary of defense for western hemisphere affairs during Barack Obama’s second term.
  • In Oslo: Mariano Aguirre, former director of the Norwegian Peacebuilding Center, NOREF, who has worked for the UN Resident Representative’s office  in Bogotá and managed research efforts in Spain, in the Netherlands, and elsewhere. Aguirre is a member of WOLA’s board of directors.

Listen above, or download the .mp3 file.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Carolyn Cole photo at The Los Angeles Times. Caption: “Soldiers patrolling the streets of San Salvador in 2017.”

(Even more here)

April 8, 2020

Western Hemisphere Regional

The United States has the largest immigration detention system in the world, with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) holding nearly 40,000 people in over 200 centers across the country

Bolivia

A decree the Bolivian government has issued to respond to the COVID-19 emergency includes an overly broad provision that authorities could use to prosecute those who criticize government policies

Brazil

Brazilian Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta said last week China had ditched some Brazilian equipment orders when the U.S. government sent more than 20 cargo planes to the country to buy the same products

Veteran journalist Luis Nassif explains the Military’s silent and gradual seizure of power from President Bolsonaro in five acts

Colombia

Se trata de operaciones combinadas, conjuntas, coordinadas y coincidentes con los países de la región y de Europa, interesados en seguir aportando esfuerzos en la lucha del problema mundial contra las drogas

En marzo no solo no disminuyen las agresiones contra líderes sociales y comunales, sino que se disparan las amenazas contra líderes políticos

Casi 300 indígenas embera katío llegaron al parque Tercer Milenio para protestar después de ser desalojados de los famosos pagadiarios en la localidad de Santa Fe. Al no obtener la atención del Distrito, está comunidad no tuvo otra opción

En lo corrido del 12 de marzo, cuando fue declarada la emergencia sanitaria, al día de hoy, ha habido un total de 31 acciones bélicas y 35 hechos de violencia contra la población civil, 16 y 22 de los cuales han ocurrido pasados casi 15 días de la implementación de las medidas de cuarentena

Marzo de 2020 quedó en la historia como el mes con menos asesinatos en la capital de Antioquia en las últimas cuatro décadas, al sumar solo 19 casos

Colombia, Venezuela

Wiliam Brownfield, exjefe antinarcóticos de EE. UU., analiza la nueva estrategia para Venezuela

Internal numbers being shared by officials in Venezuela’s border region of Tachira state show at least 7,600 have arrived since mid-March. More are arriving at a rate of up to 500 per day

Ecuador

Mr. Correa was among 20 people, including his vice president, Jorge Glas, accused of accepting $8 million in bribes in exchange for public contracts from 2012 and 2016

Desde el 16 de marzo, día en el que el presidente Lenín Moreno decretó el estado de excepción para contrarrestar la pandemia del COVID-19 en Ecuador, las Fuerzas Armadas (FF. AA.) empezaron a activarse en áreas que no son usuales

El Salvador

The street gangs that have long terrorized El Salvador have now turned their attention from extortion and killing to a more pressing matter: enforcing social distancing restrictions, often with threats and baseball bats

Guyana

For many, the transformation into an oil economy has brought optimism about greater prosperity. But that optimism is often mixed with a fatalism that nothing will really improve for the vast majority

Haiti

Immigration lawyers and advocates say at least 14 Haitian nationals are scheduled to board a deportation flight from Alexandria, Louisiana, to Port-au-Prince Tuesday

U.S.-Mexico Border

Around 120 of the minors, who arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border without a parent or legal guardian, were quickly sent on planes back to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador

“Faith and reason tell us that the right thing to do right now is to protect each other by taking steps toward social distancing. The federal government has already recognized that this is very nearly impossible in facilities like prisons and detention centers”

The government’s stay-at-home orders mean many people facing crowded shelter conditions and limited medical resources are now effectively immobile

Venezuela

For some of Venezuela’s high-flying “Bolichicos” — the privileged offspring of the socialist revolution — the party hasn’t stopped amid a widening pandemic in a country already gripped by crisis

The response of the Chavista state to Covid-19 goes no further than repeating its authoritarian patterns of behaviour that were in place before the pandemic

Lars Schoultz: “I Wrote This Book for People Like You”: Lars Schoultz takes on U.S. “uplifters” of Latin America

I’ve been reading Lars Schoultz’s scholarship on U.S.-Latin America relations since I was in college, and I was delighted that he would record a podcast.

The longtime professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill published an award-winning book in 2018, In Their Own Best Interest. In it, he takes to task U.S. policymakers and advocates who seek to “uplift” or “improve” Latin American nations, viewing them as part of a very long tradition going back to imperialists of the gunboat diplomacy era. He notes that some countries are hardly better off after a century of U.S. “uplifting,” and worries about how our grandchildren will view the policies that we advocate for today.

Is WOLA guilty of this? While I frankly don’t see much of myself in Schoultz’s characterization of our work, I really enjoyed engaging him in this lively and very thought-provoking discussion. I think you’ll like this one a lot.

Listen above, or download the .mp3 file.

4 ways border and migration policy risk spreading coronavirus

Here’s a Twitter-length video I made to accompany yesterday’s commentary on the nightmarish situation at the border right now. The ongoing expulsions, deportations, detentions, and wall-building are being carried out in a way that risks creating new vectors for spreading coronavirus. They’re the opposite of social distancing, and they have to stop.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Photo from El Universo (Ecuador). Caption: “Cerca de 500 militares custodian 180 kilómetros de línea de frontera norte.”

(Even more here)

April 7, 2020

Western Hemisphere Regional

Chapter IV.B analyzes the human rights situation in Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, which the IACHR once again included in this section because they require special attention

  • Shalyn Fluharty, Let These Children Go (Dilley Pro Bono Project, The Washington Post, April 7, 2020).

Although children are supposed to be held in this facility and others like it for no more than 20 days under a long-standing Settlement Agreement, that limit is regularly ignored; 47 children have been detained for more than 200 days

Brazil

Brazilian Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta said on Monday he will continue in his post after overcoming a disagreement with President Jair Bolsonaro over the need for social distancing

Permanece al frente de Salud el médico retirado del Ejército que defiende la cuarentena. Lo respaldaron los generales instalados en puestos clave. Uno de los grandes ganadores es el vicepresidente, Hamilton Mourao

Colombia

Los Programas de Desarrollo con Enfoque Territorial- PDET son un instrumento especial de planificación y gestión que tiene como objetivo implementar con mayor celeridad el desarrollo rural y la transformación estructural del campo

El tráfico de cocaína de Colombia hacia el mundo, queda claro que el gran problema del tráfico de cocaína está en el Pacífico colombiano, lugar donde actualmente se vive la ola de violencia más grande del país

Desde el pasado 3 de abril, la comunidad indígena del Resguardo Pichicora ChicuéPunto Alegre-Rio Chicué, en zona rural de Bojayá, tuvo que refugiarse en el monte ante los continuos enfrentamientos

Estos actos, presuntamente, serían responsabilidad de la estructura conocida como La Mafia, quien mantiene fuertes disputas por el control territorial con la estructura del Frente Carolina Ramírez de las Farc

Colombia, Venezuela

Nearly 60% of Venezuelans in Colombia have not registered with the government and therefore cannot access vital services

Ecuador

Un helicóptero militar y un avión Súper Tucano realizarán sobrevuelos por la línea fronteriza en territorio nacional como otra de las medidas para impedir el anormal éxodo venezolano

Mexico

Take proactive measures to release as many detained people as possible before the spread gets worse

El presidente de México se muestra intransigente en ceder a sus grandes programas, a pesar de la pandemia y a que su liderazgo y olfato político comienzan a dar signos de debilidad

Nicaragua

The Nicaraguan government has promoted big public events, despite the coronavirus. But the president himself has been conspicuously absent from view for 25 days

The attitude of the highest authorities in Nicaragua has been one of denial and secrecy, prioritizing the leaders’ infatuation with power over the citizens’ right to health and life

U.S.-Mexico Border

Twenty-four environmental, human rights, and pro-immigrant organizations sent a letter to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and the New Mexico congressional delegation on Friday urging them to keep the contractors out of the town

The day ahead: April 7, 2020

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

I’m recording a podcast and then possibly a video this morning, and plan to post both by mid-day. In the afternoon, I’ll have the first block of time in a while without a pending writing or recording project, and will be catching up on research and putting together an “Explainer” for the colombiapeace.org website.

At wola.org: The Trump Administration’s COVID-19 Response at the Border Puts Us All At Risk

So, imagine that Donald Trump were to win re-election in November, and also win supermajorities in the House and Senate. What would U.S. border and migration policy look like?

It would look pretty much like it does today. The White House has seized on the COVID-19 emergency to ram through most of its border-security and immigration agenda by fiat. And it’s doing it in ways that threaten to spread the virus: at home, in Mexican border towns, and in Central America.

Read all about it at WOLA’s website, where a new commentary by me went up today. In a nutshell, the following are all happening, all at once:

  • Border wall construction is still proceeding
  • The Pentagon is sending more troops
  • The end of the right to asylum
  • Turning back unaccompanied children
  • Deportations haven’t stopped
  • Repatriation agreements suspended
  • “Remain in Mexico” hearings delayed
  • Crowded detention centers
  • Mexico’s migration crackdown continues

This is all happening at once. We need to stare it in the face, so we can then make a hell of a lot of noise about it.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Schneyder Mendoza / AFP photo at Yahoo News. Caption: “Colombian border police sprayed disinfectant on Venezuelan migrants returing home to prevent the spread of the deadly novel coronavirus”

(Even more here)

April 6, 2020

Western Hemisphere Regional

Worst hit to output for 50 years likely as virus batters already struggling economies

Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Venezuela

En este marco, muchos miran a China, en busca de apoyo, más que a sus vecinos

Bolivia, Colombia, Peru

La realidad es que no hay una buena explicación por la que la producción de coca siga concentrada en los países andinos

Brazil

As Covid-19 spreads like wildfire in Brazil, those who live in densely populated hilltop slums, known as favelas, are left to fend for themselves

What should worry Bolsonaro—if the prospect of thousands of citizens felled by an affliction he refuses to take seriously does not—is that his ouster has suddenly and irrefutably entered into the realm of the possible

Central America Regional

Diariamente cientos de personas cruzan el Río Suchiate, que sirve de frontera en el lugar, prácticamente sin ningún control sanitario dicen organizaciones civiles

Colombia

Mientras estaba en un asentamiento campesino, oponiéndose a la erradicación forzada, fue alcanzado por una bala disparada por un integrante de un batallón de la Fuerza de Tarea Vulcano

El alto comisionado para la Paz hace un balance de la descontaminación de minas antipersonal en el país, a propósito del día internacional para la sensibilización sobre estos artefactos

Solo en el último mes han sido asesinados ocho excombatientes de la antigua guerrilla en Bogotá, Sucre, Caquetá, Meta, Putumayo, Chocó y ahora Tolima

El titular de la Defensa destacó el trabajo realizado particularmente por el Cuerpo Élite, que integra las capacidades interinstitucionales en el territorio nacional, el cual ha fortalecido las Regionales de Investigación Criminal con 61 investigadores y 9 comisiones permanentes

Colombia, Ecuador

La covid-19 tiene desbordada la capacidad sanitaria del vecino país y muchos han optado por buscar refugio en suelo colombiano

Colombia, Venezuela

Thousands of Venezuelan migrants who work in the informal economy have lost their jobs – and in some cases been evicted from their homes – as Colombia and other nearby countries impose strict social distancing measures

Advierte que cualquier tipo de incursión a Venezuela, que sea respaldada por los países que han apoyado a la oposición al régimen de Nicolás Maduro –como es el caso de Colombia–, será interpretada por Moscú como una amenaza a la paz y a la seguridad internacional

Durante todo el fin de semana, el Gobierno insistió en que se trataba de ejercicios militares planeados de tropas colombianas y que nada tenían que ver con uniformados extranjeros

Su cercanía con el jefe guerrillero, y también con “Jesús Santrich”, fue clave para las DEA

Ecuador

Guayaquil has emerged as a regional hotspot for coronavirus, and hospitals and mortuaries have been overwhelmed

El Salvador

Correa, 56, is accused of accepting funds from private businesses for his 2013 election campaign in return for state contracts

Haiti

  • Edwidge Danticat, Ripple Effects (The New Yorker, April 6, 2020).

They say, “Whenever Haiti sneezes, Miami catches a cold.” But, in the time of COVID-19, the reverse is also true

Honduras

En marzo de 2020 se contabilizaron 225 homicidios. Esto representa una reducción en relación a los 299 de febrero y 269 de enero, sin embargo, se mantiene el mismo promedio del año pasado

Mexico

El Secretario de la Defensa, Luis Sandoval, informó que 20 mil 400 elementos médicos del Ejército participarán en el plan de emergencia

Some analysts are concerned that the stimulus package won’t be nearly enough to help pull the economy out of a recession

Nicaragua

The government of Daniel Ortega has invited Nicaraguans to participate in a music festival, open air masses and religious activities this Holy Week

U.S.-Mexico Border

President Trump has used emergency powers to quickly turn people away from the southern border and deny due process to asylum seekers

Venezuela

El gobierno de transición propuesto por Washington y Guaidó “delegaría en un consejo de Estado las decisiones fundamentales, según el organismo

Las últimas acciones emprendidas por Washington contra el chavismo no ocultan que su objetivo de fondo es el derrocamiento del régimen, al considerarlo responsable de “inundar” de cocaína a Estados Unidos

El régimen chavista intensifica las detenciones por motivos políticos durante la cuarentena. Una ONG denuncia el aislamiento forzado de grupos de viajeros

Venezuela, Western Hemisphere Regional

Critics viewed the announcement as a crude political effort by Trump to boost to his re-election chances in the key swing state of Florida

“This wasn’t supposed to be put in the public until May,” the senior Pentagon official who was familiar with the operation told Newsweek. “POTUS is using the operation to attempt to redirect attention”

The day ahead: April 6, 2020

I’m available in the early afternoon. (How to contact me)

I’ve got a long internal staff meeting this morning, and will be recording, editing, and posting a podcast mid-to-late afternoon. We’ll be posting a good commentary about the border today, watch for it.

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