I’m traveling and will be hard to reach all day. (And all week.) (How to contact me)
Greetings from Bogotá. I just bid farewell to the small congressional delegation with whom I spent the weekend in northern Cauca, Colombia, and yesterday here in the capital.
I’m on my own in Bogotá for the rest of the week, with about 15 conversations scheduled so far. Right now, packing up and moving to a cheaper (non-congressional-delegation-grade) hotel.
I’m very hard to contact today. (How to contact me)
Things are ultra-busy, as I’m accompanying a member of Congress to Colombia starting tomorrow. Still nailing down the last two high-level meetings on the agenda. I’ll be accompanying the congressperson through Monday, then will be in Bogotá the rest of the week, interviewing everyone who will talk to me.
Updates to this site will continue to be infrequent and irregular until early September!
I’ll be most reachable in the late afternoon. (How to contact me)
It was a real privilege to see the total solar eclipse on Monday. My video of the “moment of totality” is below.
But it took 14 hours to drive back to Washington from western North Carolina, along with hundreds of thousands of eclipse-watchers from the northeastern United States. We arrived in Washington at 5:30AM yesterday (Tuesday). It was a difficult workday.
I’m back today, and working at home since WOLA is under renovation for the remainder of the week. I’m going to Colombia with a member of Congress on Friday, so the main thing is to nail down final details for that trip. I have calls scheduled with reporters and journalists, and a meeting with a foundation interested in Colombia, so will be hard to reach most of the day.
August 18, 2017
- Hector Silva Avalos, “After el Salvador Gang Truce Trial, 5 Doubts Remain” (InsightCrime, August 18, 2017).
In total, Nalo said, ARENA and FMLN paid the three gangs $350,000
- Kate Linthicum, “As Mexico Debates Giving the Military More Power, a Judge Asks Why Soldiers Gunned Down 22 People” (The Los Angeles Times, August 18, 2017).
Beyond accusations of rights abuses, rights advocates and some members of Mexico’s political opposition point out that the military has failed to effectively reduce violence and organized criminal activity
- “Padrino Lopez: Hemos Recibido Orden Preparatoria para Poner Armas al Hombro” (Tal Cual (Venezuela), August 18, 2017).
El Ministro de la Defensa, Vladimir Padrino López, aseguró que los integrantes de la Fuerza Armada Nacional (FAN) recibieron la orden preparatoria de tomar las armas, de cara a una posible intervención armada por parte del Gobierno de Estados Unidos
- Andrew Rosati, Fabiola Zerpa, “Venezuela’s Maduro Regime Steps Up Crackdown on Dissidents” (Bloomberg, August 18, 2017).
The raid came just as a so-called truth commission established by the constituyente announced investigations into Julio Borges, president of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, and Freddy Guevara, the assembly’s vice president
- Anthony Faiola, Rachelle Krygier, “Venezuela Intensifies Crackdown on Government Critics” (The Washington Post, August 18, 2017).
Maduro loyalists issued a new arrest warrant for one prominent legislator and vowed to remove his immunity from prosecution in a case that could become a model for targeting other critics
Western Hemisphere Regional
- “Donald Trump Blusters, Latin America Shrugs” (The Economist (Uk), August 18, 2017).
Mr Trump is seen as something of a paper tiger
August 17, 2017
Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Panama
- Holly K. Sonneland, “Who’s Saying What on Pence’s Trip to Latin America” (Americas Society – Council of the Americas, August 17, 2017).
The trip, which he cut short by one day to return to Washington to discuss South Asia strategy at Camp David, focuses on trade
- Kaitlin Lavinder, Robert Muggah, “Brazil’s Democracy Suffers From Corruption” (Igarape Institute, The Cipher Brief, August 17, 2017).
Brazil’s fragile democracy is under assault. The country is reeling from a series of political and economic crises, including the spread of unprecedented corruption scandals, the impeachment of former president Dilma Rousseff, and three years of recession
- Jo Griffin, “Brazilian Supreme Court Upholds Land Rights of Indigenous People” (The Guardian (Uk), August 17, 2017).
The unanimous decision – which went against the state of Mato Grosso do Sul – settled a dispute over land traditionally occupied by indigenous people and ordered the authorities to respect the demarcation
- “Lista de Bienes de las Farc Va a Fiscalia, Jep y Fondo para Victimas” (El Tiempo (Colombia), August 17, 2017).
Lo único que hicimos fue suscribir un acto en el que consta que son 135 folios
- “Nuevos Espacios de las Farc, Bajo Diagnostico Reservado” (Verdad Abierta (Colombia), August 17, 2017).
Desde hoy, estos sitios se convertirán en lugares para el desarrollo económico y social. ¿Qué tan preparadas están las autoridades?
- Juanita Velez, “La Cadena del Narcotrafico de las Disidencias del Sur” (La Silla Vacia (Colombia), August 17, 2017).
Además de estar coordinadas, están permitiendo la entrada al negocio de nuevos grupos que se están armando en Solano, al pie del río Caquetá, que se ha convertido en la arteria de este nuevo auge del narcotráfico
- “Asi Sera la Seguridad en las Que Fueron Zonas de Concentracion de las Farc” (El Espectador (Colombia), August 17, 2017).
Se pretende que estos 26 lugares tengan una presencia policial de al menos 3 años a partir de esta semana
- “¡ Aguzate !” (Somos Defensores (Colombia), August 17, 2017).
Entre enero y junio de 2017, el Sistema de Información de Agresiones contra defensores de DD.HH. en Colombia – SIADDHH, registró un total de 335 agresiones individuales contra defensores(as)
- Nora Gamez Torres, “After Maduro’s Secret Trip to Cuba, Opposition Leaders Want to Know: ‘Why Did He Go?’” (The Miami Herald, August 17, 2017).
“Why did Mr. Maduro go?” Capriles added in a video posted Wednesday on Periscope. “To hand over more of our oil? To commit our armed forces even more, asking for reinforcements from the Cuban military”
- Sonia Perez D., “At Least 7 Dead in Alleged Gang Attack on Guatemala Hospital” (Associated Press **, August 17, 2017).
Attackers stormed one of Guatemala’s largest hospitals with guns blazing Wednesday to free an imprisoned gang member
- “Pena Debe Trabajar en un Plan para el Retorno del Ejercito a Sus Cuarteles: Cndh – Proceso” (Proceso (Mexico), August 17, 2017).
El ombudsman recordó que, si bien es “insensato que se retiren las fuerzas armadas en estos momentos de la seguridad”, el gobierno federal debe trabajar en un plan de retorno “verificable”
- “Mexican Judge Orders Investigation of Inquiries Into Extrajudicial Killings” (Reuters **, August 17, 2017).
The Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez Human Rights Center (Prodh) said in June that there had been serious flaws in investigations into the case involving the deaths of 22 people in the city of Tlatlaya
- “Primer Semestre de 2017: 1.5 Agresiones Diarias Contra Periodistas en Mexico” (Article 19 (Mexico), August 17, 2017).
Hasta la publicación de este informe se han registrado 8 homicidios de periodistas, cifra que rebasa la del año pasado, cuando se registraron 7
- Hugh Bronstein, “Venezuela’s Socialist-Run ‘Truth Commission’ to Investigate Opposition” (Reuters **, August 17, 2017).
Opposition candidates running in Venezuela’s October gubernatorial elections will be investigated to make sure none were involved in violent political protests this year
- Kejal Vyas, “Venezuela Police Raid Former Attorney General’s Home” (The Wall Street Journal, August 17, 2017).
Officers clad in black entered her home and took away several computers
- Michael Shifter, “Trump’s Comment on Venezuela Makes a Bad Situation Worse” (Inter-American Dialogue, The New York Times, August 17, 2017).
The last time the United States used military forces in Latin America was in Panama, nearly three decades ago. Mr. Trump seems unaware that the hemisphere has fundamentally changed
- J. Weston Phippen, “What to Do With Venezuela?” (The Atlantic, August 17, 2017).
President Trump said he was considering a “military option,” but the best U.S. intervention may be none at all
Western Hemisphere Regional
- Kathryn Watson, “Whatever Happened to Trump’s New Border Patrol Officers?” (CBS News, August 17, 2017).
CBP and ICE don’t know how many additional personnel they need, and it will be three or four years before those agencies will complete calculating those figures
- Ernesto LondoÑo, “In Latin America, Pence Aims to Soften ‘America First’ Message” (The New York Times, August 17, 2017).
“As I hope my presence today demonstrates, ‘America first’ does not mean America alone.”
- Philip Rucker, “Pence Is Trump’s Global Translator, Spinning His Pronouncements to Soothe Allies” (The Washington Post, August 17, 2017).
Again and again, the vice president’s statements have sounded somewhat discordant from the ones his boss has been delivering back home in the United States
I am most reachable late morning and early afternoon. (How to contact me)
Today’s my daughter’s 13th birthday. Morning pancakes have been made, and we’re having a nice dinner starting late afternoon. In between, I’m working, but at home, since my office is being painted and re-carpeted. Finishing an article and doing Colombia research.
I’ll be off tomorrow—we’re headed south for the weekend so that we can see Monday’s solar eclipse in totality. This site may not get many updates.
Colombians complain constantly about their government’s ossified bureaucracy. But when they get a chance to approach a problem in a new way—with a sweeping peace accord—this is what happens:
In the executive branch, there are at least six entities or authorities with competencies related to the illicit crops issue, including the Defense Ministry. In addition, there are three different “directorates” with similar functions—in the Vice-Presidency, in the Ministry of Justice, and in the High Presidential Ministry for the Post-Conflict. To these must be added the challenges of effectively articulating the PNIS [National Integral Program for Substitution of Illicitly Used Crops] with the Territorial Renovation Agency in the framework of the implementation of the Development Programs with a Territorial Focus (PDET), as well as with the Land Agency, the Rural Development Agency, and the Agriculture Ministry itself.
That’s from page 14 of a July report from Colombia’s Ideas for Peace Foundation think-tank.
Colombia’s peace accord provides a huge opportunity to reverse generations-old failings that hold back the country’s development. Especially the lawlessness and abandonment in the countryside that enable coca cultivation.
But if this soup of agencies with unclear mandates and poor coordination is what’s going to implement the accord’s coca provisions—well, we can predict the outcome, can’t we.
August 16, 2017
Argentina, Colombia, Venezuela, Western Hemisphere Regional
- Philip Rucker, “Pence Praises Argentina as a Model Partner While Raising Pressure on Venezuela” (The Washington Post, August 16, 2017).
Pence sought to soothe U.S. allies across the hemisphere, including Argentina, that reacted with alarm to Trump’s threat late last week
- Dan Collyns, “Bolivia Approves Highway Through Amazon Biodiversity Hotspot” (The Guardian (Uk), August 16, 2017).
Morales accused developed countries of pushing “colonial environmentalism” in Bolivia
- Rafael Soares, “Estado Do Rio Tem 843 Areas Dominadas por Faccoes Criminosas” (O Globo (Brazil), August 16, 2017).
Para se ter uma ideia do tamanho do problema, as dez regiões mais violentas do estado ocupam 23 quilômetros quadrados — maior que o município de Nilópolis
- Jean Arnault, “Statement by Jean Arnault, Special Representative of the Secretary-General (Srsg) and Head of the un Mission in Colombia.” (Mision de la ONU en Colombia, August 16, 2017).
I consider this is an important figure, which shows that there has definitely been an exhaustive process of the abandonment of weapons, not only a process of abandoning individual arms, but also an exhaustive process of abandoning everything
- Christine Armario, “Un Removes Last Container Holding Colombia Rebel Weapons” (Associated Press, The Washington Post, August 16, 2017).
Ivan Marquez took advantage of the media attention on Tuesday’s ceremony to preview what he said is likely to be the name of the former rebels’ new political movement: the Revolutionary Alternative Force of Colombia
- “No Paran las Amenazas Contra los Reclamantes de Tierras de Uraba” (Verdad Abierta (Colombia), August 16, 2017).
Denunciaron que la Unidad Nacional de Protección les ha ido retirando progresivamente los esquemas de seguridad que les había adjudicado de tiempo atrás
- Adriaan Alsema, “Did Pence Just Get the Cold Shoulder in Colombia?” (Colombia Reports, August 16, 2017).
Even local newspapers had different priorities. Pope Francis is coming in a few weeks, for example
- Juan Manuel Santos, “We Weep for You, Venezuela” (Project Syndicate, August 16, 2017).
I will always be grateful for Chávez and Maduro’s contributions to my country’s peace. But I can never acquiesce to the suppression of freedom and the violation of citizens’ rights anywhere
El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras
- Kirk Semple, Vivian Yee, “Policy Under Trump Bars Obama-Era Path to U.S. for Central American Youths” (The New York Times, August 16, 2017).
As of Wednesday, the Department of Homeland Security is ending a program begun in 2014 that gave some children and young adults who had failed to qualify for refugee status permission to enter the United States
- Jim Wyss, “Armed Venezuelan Soldiers Caught in Guyana Begging for Food” (The Miami Herald, August 16, 2017).
“They were desperate,” he told the Miami Herald. “They were here for some time and they showed me a can of sardines and the place where they had cooked it over a fire”
- Gabriel Stargardter, “Mexican Cop Behind el Chapo’s Arrest Sent to U.S. for Safety: Sources” (Reuters **, August 16, 2017).
Gonzalez is now Mexico’s law enforcement emissary in Washington
- Girish Gupta, “Venezuelan Protesting Violinist Released by Authorities” (Reuters **, August 16, 2017).
Arteaga was beaten with his instrument by officials, leaving him hard of hearing
- Tim Padgett, “Venezuelan Regime Hunts Down Opposition Figures; More Expected in Exile Here” (WLRN, August 16, 2017).
Because Marcano is an opposition mayor, that regime recently ordered his arrest for not stopping the protests in his city. In fact, it summarily convicted Marcano and sentenced him to 15 months in prison. And it got worse
Western Hemisphere Regional
- Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky, “Justice Department at Odds With Dea on Marijuana Research, Ms-13” (The Washington Post, August 16, 2017).
Warnings from Rosenberg and others at the DEA that the gang, which draws Central American teenagers for most of its recruits, is not one of the biggest players when it comes to distributing and selling narcotics
I may be briefly reachable in the mid-afternoon. (How to contact me)
I’ve got a Senate meeting to talk border security, a State Department meeting to talk human rights and security assistance, and a late-afternoon “orientation” meeting at my kid’s school. In between I’ll be making preparations for my end-of-month trip to Colombia.
August 15, 2017
- Alberto Messer, Taos Turner, “Argentine President Macri’s Coalition Gets Strong Support in Primary Election” (The Wall Street Journal, August 15, 2017).
The results indicate that the governing coalition will pick up seats in both houses of Congress, where no party currently has a majority, in October´s election
- “Traficantes Colocam Fuzil Em Estatua de Michael Jackson No Rio” (Veja (Brazil), August 15, 2017).
O local é um ponto turístico, procurado por visitantes brasileiros e estrangeiros depois que a comunidade recebeu a primeira das Unidades de Polícia Pacificadora (UPPs)
Brazil, Colombia, Peru
- Yolima Dussan, “Armed Forces of Colombia, Peru, and Brazil Conduct Amazonas I Exercise” (Revista Dialogo (U.S. Southern Command), August 15, 2017).
The air forces of Colombia, Peru, and Brazil decided to make the most of the cooperation and the structure of the exercise to involve the civilian population in this activity
- “15 de Agosto: Ultimo Dia para el Desarme de las Farc” (El Espectador (Colombia), August 15, 2017).
Desde ahora los esfuerzos se concentrarán en la reincorporación
- Olga Patricia Rendon M., “La Reincorporacion de los Excombatientes Inicia en Firme” (El Colombiano (Medellin Colombia), August 15, 2017).
Los excombatientes seguirán viviendo allí mientras se alfabetizan, homologan conocimientos y estudian
- “La Doble Cara de las Zonas de las Farc” (La Silla Vacia (Colombia), August 15, 2017).
Las zonas veredales también le dieron munición a los opositores del proceso de paz, y a las Farc
- Nicolas Sanchez A., “Rio San Juan: No Cesa el Fuego” (El Espectador (Colombia), August 15, 2017).
Por este afluente, que es el límite del Chocó y el Valle del Cauca, 433 indígenas y negros se desplazaron hacia las cabeceras municipales de Buenaventura y de Litoral del San Juan
- “Remarks by Vice President Pence and President Santos of Colombia in Joint Press Conference” (The White House, August 15, 2017).
During our talks, I had the chance to explain to Vice President Pence the specific plan that we’ve put in motion in order to do away with — or to disappear 100,000 hectares of coca shrub
- Luz Dary Depablos, “Hungry Venezuelans Turn to Colombia for a Plate of Food” (Associated Press **, August 15, 2017).
Increasingly, they are coming to eat in one of a half-dozen facilities offering struggling Venezuelans a free plate of food
- William M. Leogrande, “Cuba: Attacks Against U.S. Diplomats?” (AULA Blog (American University), August 15, 2017).
The fact that both countries agreed to keep the alleged attacks and the expulsion of Cuban diplomats quiet suggests neither wanted the issue to get out of hand
- Geraldine Cook, “Guatemala Adopts New Military Vision” (Revista Dialogo (U.S. Southern Command), August 15, 2017).
By the end of the year, support for civil safety — soldiers aiding the police — will end
- “Olancho: Indignacion en Redes Tras Despojo de Indumentaria Militar a un Joven” (El Heraldo (Honduras), August 15, 2017).
En la grabación se entiende que los efectivos intentaban quitarle la calzoneta al individuo -hasta el momento no identificado- en medio de varios pobladores que se oponían a la acción
- Jordain Carney, “Immigration Battlefield Widens for Trump, Gop” (The Hill, August 15, 2017).
Marc Short, a top White House aide, recently pitched congressional staff on including some border wall funding that would be used for a “double fence” in exchange for more spending on domestic programs
- “Police: 16 Immigrants Locked Inside Rig at Texas Truck Stop” (Associated Press **, August 15, 2017).
Authorities had stopped more than 30 tractor-trailers since October in the Rio Grande Valley. That doesn’t include Laredo
- Alejandra Xanic, Ignacio Rodriguez Reyna, “El Expediente Secreto de Odebrecht (Reportaje Especial)” (Quinto Elemento Lab, Aristegui Noticias, August 15, 2017).
En declaraciones juramentadas, altos ex ejecutivos de Odebrecht colocan fechas, nombres, cantidades, cuentas bancarias. Ahí aparece Emilio Lozoya Austin, ex director de Petróleos Mexicanos
- Emiliano Chamorro Mendieta, “Dogu Cuestiona Apoyo de Daniel Ortega a Gobierno de Venezuela” (La Prensa (Nicaragua), August 15, 2017).
La embajadora de los Estados Unidos en Nicaragua, Laura Dogu, aseguró este lunes que la defensa del gobierno del presidente designado Daniel Ortega a Venezuela podría impactar en la aprobación de la Nica Act
- “Venezuela’s Maduro Orders Military Drill After Trump Comments” (BBC (UK), August 15, 2017).
The “civic-military” exercises are due to take place on 26-27 August
- “Maduro Pide Que se Abra Proceso Contra Quienes Apoyan “Amenaza” de Trump” (Tal Cual (Venezuela), August 15, 2017).
“Yo le pido a la Comisión de la Justicia y la Paz que por favor inicie un proceso ante los vende patria que han salido a pedir la intervención de Venezuela y a apoyar la amenaza de Donald Trump contra la paz de la república, lo pido oficialmente”
- Julia Symmes Cobb, Tim Ahmann, “Pence says ‘failed state’ in Venezuela threatens United States” (Reuters **, August 15, 2017).
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said on Monday the United States would bring all its economic and diplomatic power to bear to see democracy restored in Venezuela, saying a failed state there threatens Americans
- Jim Wyss, “Venezuela’s Maduro Finds Propaganda Gold in Trump Threat and Charlottesville” (The Miami Herald, August 15, 2017).
“Behind the white supremacists is the power that has taken over the White House and the venues where decisions are made by the North American imperialists,” Maduro said
Venezuela, Western Hemisphere Regional
- Nicholas Casey, “Trump’s Threat Against Maduro Unites Latin America, Against U.S.” (The New York Times, August 15, 2017).
Many of the countries now rejecting Mr. Trump’s use of military force were themselves invaded by the United States