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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August 2017

The day ahead: August 15, 2017

I should be reachable much of the day. (How to contact me)

Due to renovations in the office, I’m working at home today. While here on the couch with my laptop, I plan to finish two articles. One a new draft of a piece written for an edited volume, and one for an online foreign policy site.

I stayed up way too late last night working on my upcoming Colombia report, too, so I may have to take a break during the day. Which I can do, because I’m at home.

The peril of “protest fatigue”

EFE photo at ABC Color (Paraguay). Caption: “Manifestantes se enfrentan con policías antimotines hoy, miércoles 24 de mayo de 2017, en la Explanada de los Ministerios, en Brasilia”

Because they’re governed poorly by corrupt elites, Brazil and Venezuela have seen long recent periods of massive street protests. But now, the energy is fizzling in both countries. That’s a common theme in the past few weeks’ reporting, anyway.


“Everywhere you go in Brazil, it’s the same thing. Circles under the eyes, hushed voices. A shrug. ‘Fazer o que?’ … The anger is gone. These days, Brazilians are just tired.” — Brian Winter, Americas Quarterly

“[R]ecent marches have been significantly smaller, raising concerns about possible ‘corruption fatigue’ in Brazil and across the region as high-profile scandals continue to emerge.” — Whitney Eulich and Anna Jean Kaiser, The Christian Science Monitor

“Cintia Gante, a 51-year-old real estate agent in Sao Paulo, said the seemingly endless revelations of corruption no longer had ‘novelty.’ ‘People are getting tired,’ she said.” — Rosa Sulleiro with Sebastian Smith, Agence France Presse


“Many… opposition supporters, however, are exhausted after four months of street demonstrations and disruptions to daily life, which ultimately failed to make Maduro accept opposition demands. Turnout at marches called by the opposition has fizzled in the last few weeks, and some people just want to return to work quickly in the country plagued with empty food shelves, runaway inflation and a fourth straight year of recession.” — Alexandra Ulmer, Reuters

“In the days ahead, keeping its [the opposition’s] supporters on the streets may become increasingly difficult, because of both increased repression and likely popular disillusionment. It is already showing signs of severe internal strains over issues such as the formation of a parallel government and whether or not to participate in regional elections.” — Phil Gunson, International Crisis Group

“Protests are increasingly dominated by the most militant and violent protesters.” — Noris Soto and Andrew Rosati, Bloomberg

This is disheartening and worrying. The implication that should gnaw at all of us: political oppositions are easy to beat. Once a bad government gains control of the levers of power, it can wait out protesters and carry on. The opposition will go home, and the regime will hang on for decades, like Mugabe, Putin, Khamenei or al-Bashir.

If dissipating opposition energy is a thing, could we see that happen to the vigor the United States saw at January’s Women’s March and airport protests? Fatigued with corruption, coddling of white supremacy, and failed checks on power, will exhausted Americans stay home in 2018, relegating “Resist” to a played-out hashtag?

Julia Michaels at Brazil’s Rio Real blog says no. There’s no need to yell “get back out there.” People are just taking a moment to figure things out.

“It’s tough to read the lack of noise, after years of great activity. But the silence in Rio, both this blogger’s as well as that of many others, is no hollow space. We’re lost in thought. How did we get here? What are the important questions? What works? What gets you nowhere?”

I hope she’s right—and it makes sense: maybe 20th century-style street demonstrations aren’t the most effective tactic. I don’t know what else is, but some reflection may reveal a better path.

Note added 8/15: in the current New Yorker, Nathan Heller argues that public protests tend to fizzle unless there’s a careful strategy guiding them, and at least some elite outreach and allies.

I also hope Brian Winter is wrong. In Brazilians’ current moment of fatigue, he wonders whether they might turn to a “savior” on the extreme right in next year’s elections.

[T]here is only one politician who is being mobbed at airports, whose supporters speak with an almost religious fervor and conviction. He is Jair Bolsonaro (pictured above), 62, a congressman and former army captain currently running second or third in most polls for president.… Many insist Bolsonaro’s views are too extreme for Brazil. They cite his support for beating gay children, for torturing leftists, or his 2014 comment to a fellow legislator on the floor of Congress that “I won’t rape you because you don’t deserve it.” … Bolsonaro is running first among Brazil’s wealthiest and most educated voters, and he has 4.4 million followers on Facebook – 1.5 million more than Lula, Marina Silva or Doria (and 10 times more than Temer).

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Scott Dalton photo at Mother Jones. Caption: “After being apprehended by Border Patrol agents, women and children are made to remove their shoelaces so they do not attempt suicide in detention.”

(Even more here)

August 14, 2017


At 03: 00 Monday morning with 90% of polling stations counted there was a technical tie with the resurgent ex populist president Cristina Fernandez

Belize, Guatemala

El olvido por parte del Estado de Guatemala y el latifundismo obligan a miles de campesinos a arriesgar la vida en las selvas beliceñas


Some communities there are beyond the control of the state, Jungmann said, and criminal organizations stop their residents from voting freely


Success, in the long term, will depend not only on the viability of the new crops, but on the state’s ability to transform its relationship with the marginalised regions where the 50-year armed conflict raged

Paso a paso y sin hacer mucha bulla, las mujeres del Puerto han creado una red de confianza para desenterrar las violencias que pasan inadvertidas a los ojos de las autoridades

Lo cierto es que en materia de criminlaidad el pasado no perdona; por eso en Valle y Antioquia parece repetirse el ciclo macabro de las vendettas mafiosas

Colombia, Venezuela

While some opponents of the Venezuelan regime welcomed Mr. Trump’s tough talk, others saw it as unhelpful

El vicepresidente Pence le respondió que seguirán realizando acciones hasta que “el régimen de Maduro restablezca la democracia”, aunque destacó que el presidente Donald Trump confía en que se logrará una solución pacífica

“Ni Colombia ni América Latina, desde el sur del río Grande hasta la Patagonia, podrían estar de acuerdo (con una intervención militar). América es un continente de paz. Mantengámoslo así”, le dijo Santos a Pence, en tres ocasiones

El Salvador

The ex-leader of the 18 Revolucionarios gang testified that the FMLN paid a total of $250,000 to the three principal gangs in El Salvador to help procure the victory of president Salvador Sanchez Ceren


The map shows the wall being built well north of the river. But that means it will slice through countless pieces of private property and bisect several major wildlife refuges

Trump’s provocative campaign oratory harked back to soccer-field-style chaos of decades past and ignored a pivotal development — a dramatic plunge in illegal entries into the U.S.

Turning refugees back to Reynosa means sending them into the middle of a low-intensity war zone, where factions of the Gulf and Zetas cartels are battling for territory and resources—like migrants


También incluye hospitales de campaña, morteros, un misil Sam-7 y lanzacohetes rusos, así como lanchas interceptoras, entre ellas la Nor Tech que Estados Unidos entregó para luchar contra el narcotráfico


President Donald Trump’s talk of a “military option” in Venezuela risks alienating Latin American nations that overcame their reluctance to work with the Republican leader

Maduro loyalists, who regularly insult opposition leaders as Washington’s lackeys, wasted no time in pouncing

Mr. Trump, who is perhaps even less popular in the region, could threaten that solidarity by reprising the warlike language of past decades

La Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (MUD) expresó repudio ante “el uso de la fuerza, o la amenaza de aplicar la misma, por parte de cualquier país en Venezuela”

Pence stressed the U.S. would much prefer what he called a “peaceable” solution to the growing political and humanitarian crisis

Believed to be behind the order: Diosdado Cabello, the influential former military chief and lawmaker from the ruling socialist party who has publicly feuded with Rubio

The day ahead: August 14, 2017

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

Today I have a couple of morning phone meetings, and in the afternoon I have to pack my office into boxes in advance of a re-carpeting / re-painting. (WOLA is being renovated this month.) In between, I’ll be writing a column about Colombia for another publication, forging ahead with research for a big upcoming Colombia report, and nailing down a couple of meetings for an end-of-month visit to Colombia.

The week ahead

This is an odd week: WOLA is undergoing renovation, and I’ll be working from home after Monday. I’ll also be off Friday and next Monday—the family is taking a long weekend to see the solar eclipse somewhere near the Tennessee-North Carolina border.

While I’m here, I’ll be working on a big upcoming Colombia report and continuing to organize an end-of-month visit to Colombia. I expect that my work will be 90% focused on Colombia, other than a meeting or two on Capitol Hill to talk about border security. And this afternoon, when I pack up my office in advance of the work crew.

What senators said about Charlottesville

Donald Trump has deservedly come under fire for his tepid response to the Neo-Nazi / white supremacist aggression in Charlottesville this weekend (August 11-12).

I was curious, though, where other politicians stand.

Between 8:30PM and 10:00PM on August 13 I visited the social media accounts of all 100 members of the U.S. Senate. If I couldn’t find a statement, I googled them.

Here are the words they used. Sixty Senators, including 23 Republicans, were willing to go farther than Donald Trump and explicitly condemn “racism,” “white supremacy,” or synonyms.

(It may be that I missed some stronger statements that a senator made elsewhere. If so, though, that senator sure made them hard to find.)

No statement issued: 11

10 Republicans, 1 Democrat

  1. Richard Burr, R-North Carolina
  2. Thad Cochran, R-Mississippi
  3. Michael Enzi, R-Wyoming
  4. John Hoeven, R-North Dakota
  5. Mike Lee, R-Utah
  6. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky
  7. James Risch, R-Idaho
  8. Mike Rounds, R-South Dakota
  9. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama
  10. Jon Tester, D-Montana
  11. Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi

Statement that merely condemns “hatred” or “violence”: 17

13 Republicans, 3 Democrats, 1 independent

  1. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee
  2. John Barrasso, R-Wyoming
  3. Roy Blunt, R-Missouri
  4. Shelly Moore Capito, R-West Virginia
  5. Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana
  6. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee
  7. James Inhofe, R-Oklahoma
  8. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin
  9. John Kennedy, R-Louisiana
  10. Angus King, I-Maine
  11. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia
  12. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri
  13. Bill Nelson, D-Florida
  14. David Perdue, R-Georgia
  15. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas
  16. Luther Strange, R-Alabama
  17. Todd Young, R-Indiana

Statement that mentions “bigotry” but not racism or white supremacy: 12

The word “bigotry” is as far as Donald Trump was willing to go. 6 Republicans, 6 Democrats.

  1. John Boozman, R-Arkansas
  2. Maria Cantwell, D-Washington
  3. Thomas Carper, D-Delaware
  4. John Cornyn, R-Texas
  5. Dianne Feinstein, D-California
  6. Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia
  7. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky
  8. Patty Murray, D-Washington
  9. Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island
  10. John Thune, R-South Dakota
  11. Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina
  12. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island

Statement that calls out “racism,” “white supremacy,” “alt-right,” or criticizes President Trump’s failure to do so: 60

36 Democrats, 23 Republicans, 1 independent

  1. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisconsin
  2. Michael Bennet, D-Colorado
  3. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut
  4. Cory Booker, D-New Jersey
  5. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio
  6. Benjamin Cardin, D-Maryland
  7. Robert Casey, D-Pennsylvania
  8. Susan Collins, R-Maine
  9. Chris Coons, D-Delaware
  10. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nevada
  11. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas
  12. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho
  13. Ted Cruz, R-Texas
  14. Steve Daines, R-Montana
  15. Joe Donnelly, D-Indiana
  16. Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois
  17. Richard Durbin, D-Illinois
  18. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa
  19. Deb Fischer, R-Nebraska
  20. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona
  21. Al Franken, D-Minnesota
  22. Cory Gardner, R-Colorado
  23. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York
  24. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina
  25. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa
  26. Kamala Harris, D-California
  27. Maggie Hassan, D-New Hampshire
  28. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah
  29. Martin Heinrich, D-New Mexico
  30. Heidi Heitkamp, D-North Dakota
  31. Dean Heller, R-Nevada
  32. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii
  33. Tim Kaine, D-Virginia
  34. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota
  35. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma
  36. Pat Leahy, D-Vermont
  37. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts
  38. John McCain, R-Arizona
  39. Bob Menendez, D-New Jersey
  40. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon
  41. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas
  42. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska
  43. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut
  44. Gary Peters, D-Michigan
  45. Rob Portman, R-Ohio
  46. Marco Rubio, R-Florida
  47. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont
  48. Ben Sasse, R-Nebraska
  49. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii
  50. Charles Schumer, D-New York
  51. Tim Scott, R-South Carolina
  52. Jeanne Shaheen, D-New Hampshire
  53. Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan
  54. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska
  55. Pat Toomey, R-Pennsylvania
  56. Tom Udall, D-New Mexico
  57. Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland
  58. Mark Warner, D-Virginia
  59. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts
  60. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon

Some troubling/horrifying excerpts from the Honduras IG report

It’s taken me 2 1/2 months, as it was one task among many. But I’ve now given a close read to all 400 pages of the report on DEA activities in Honduras that the State and Justice Departments’ inspectors-general put out on May 24. It discusses three incidents in 2012 involving an elite DEA team assigned to interdict drug traffickers in rural Honduras, an effort called “Operation Anvil.” In all three there was loss of life. In the worst incident, four innocent civilians were killed, including two pregnant women.

Mistakes happen in tense situations, and the right thing to do is admit them, take care of the victims, and figure out how to keep something like that from happening again. Yet the report details a shameful, pathetic pattern in the DEA’s and State Department’s efforts to get to the bottom of what happened, to keep Congress and the U.S. ambassador informed, and to attend to the victims.

So much of this report rewards a close read. But here are some quotes that stood out to me, in the order they appear. Highlighting is mine.

Honduras was OK with active-duty Guatemalan Air Force pilots running law-enforcement missions over its territory

To carry out interdictions, Operation Anvil included the temporary relocation to Honduras of [redacted] INL helicopters stationed in Guatemala, which were flown by U.S. contractor pilots employed by DynCorp International (DynCorp) and co-pilots from the Guatemalan Air Force. (Page 9)

“Not if.”

According to the Country Attaché and the Assistant Regional Director, Ambassador [Lisa] Kubiske and her representatives were privy to discussions concerning the security concerns implicit in the planned drug interdiction missions. The Assistant Regional Director told us that the Ambassador would often state, “If there’s a shooting…,” and DEA officials would interrupt her and state, “[N]ot if. There will be several fatalities here. There will be shootings.” (Page 16)

Top diplomat would not have approved Operation Anvil

John Feeley, who was the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary (PDAS) for Western Hemisphere Affairs (WHA), told us that he did not become involved in Operation Anvil until shortly before the May 11 shooting incident took place. However, he said that based on his experience in other countries, he would not have approved the concept of operations for Operation Anvil had he been the Chief of Mission because the risk of an officer losing his life was too great. (Page 16)

Herding and controlling the “Hondos”

The initial drafts contained a provision near the end of the order stating that the Honduran TRT [National Police Tactical Response Team] would be the “supported command,” that arrests and seizures would be conducted in accordance with local law, and that FAST [DEA Foreign-Deployed Advisory and Support Team] would provide an advisory role to the Honduran TRT. During this early drafting phase, the FAST Team Leader told FAST and INL officials that “[e]ach FAST Agent will be assigned X number of Hondo’s to herd/control.” (Page 18)

State/INL runs a foreign assistance program—the largest military-police aid program active in Latin America. It’s not supposed to be paying for a DEA operation.

[A]n INL [State Department Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs] attorney raised concerns with INL officials that the language in the CONOPS [Concept of Operations for Operation Anvil] reflected an operation that could not be supported with INL funds: “…It has been the Department’s long-standing policy not to provide operational support with foreign assistance funds, but if we are going to provide it, we need to be clear that the support is for Honduras law enforcement. INL is not authorized to be DEA’s air taxi, and host nation involvement must be real and not simply a fig leaf.” (Page 18–19)

DEA officials responsible for Central America opposed these operations, but were overruled by DEA leadership in Washington

The [DEA] Assistant Regional Director [for North and Central America] told the OIGs [Office of Inspector General] that she and RD [Regional Director Joseph] Evans recommended against Operation Anvil and the use of FAST. She said that interdictions are very difficult and dangerous, and she did not believe the planned interdiction effort was going to improve the situation in Honduras. She said she believed the focus instead should have been on training Honduran prosecutors and professionalizing the police force. (Page 20)

“That’s just not the way it’s going to happen.”

The [DEA] Assistant Regional Director told the OIGs that RD [Regional Director Joseph] Evans had raised his and her concerns about the operation with DEA Headquarters, and they were effectively overruled. In addition, she said that she thought the notion of DEA leading from behind, as stated in the Ambassador’s e­ mail, was unrealistic. She said that in the event of violent confrontations with the DTOs [drug trafficking organizations], which she expected, the idea that armed DEA agents would wait for the Hondurans to take the lead was not practical. “That’s just not the way it’s going to happen.” (Page 24)

They didn’t. Speak. Spanish.

During Operation Anvil, there were approximately [redacted] FAST personnel on each interdiction mission, plus at least one medic. The Bravo and Delta Team Leaders told us that they were both conversant, but not fluent, in Spanish. With respect to their team members, it appears that none of the Bravo and Delta Team members were fluent in Spanish, but half of the Bravo team members and only one Delta team member were conversant to different degrees. (Page 25)

No training on use-of-force, but…

Training materials and other documents provided to the OIGs do not indicate that FAST and the TRT provided training or instruction to the other on their respective deadly force policies. The OIGs were provided with a FAST training PowerPoint slideshow the FAST agents viewed prior to leaving for Honduras. The slideshow did not include a description of the Honduran use of force policy; however, it did include a slide describing the sexually transmitted diseases prevalent in Honduras. (Page 30)

They knew that they had probably wounded or killed people. But they didn’t bother to help them. (This might be the most monstrous revelation in the report.)

[T]he facts in this chapter demonstrate that no effort was made, or even considered, to search for and render aid to the people who may have been injured. We found that at a minimum the FAST members on Helicopter [redacted] who witnessed the encounter on the river knew or should have known that there would be individuals injured. We found no evidence that Honduran authorities were contacted by FAST or TRT during or immediately following the interdiction to render aid to any injured. This was a flaw in both the planning and the execution of the operation, regardless of whether the officers believed at the time that the people in the passenger boat may have been innocent bystanders or suspected targets of the operation. (Page 80)

The U.S. Ambassador was stonewalled by DEA and State/INL.

The SID [State Department Diplomatic Security Special Investigations Division] Agent told us that the Ambassador looked to SID to investigate these incidents because “she asked DEA for information. Get nothing. She asked INL for information. Get nothing. So she asked that we look into it and give her … what transpired.” (Page 217)

“Brownfield was not happy about the initial findings because of their potential to create problems for INL.”

According to notes taken at the meeting, AS [Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs William] Brownfield inquired as to why DEA was not cooperating with the [State Department Diplomatic Security, or DS] investigation and stated that he felt that DS was as much to blame for the impasse as DEA. According to the DS participants in the meeting, AS Brownfield was not happy about the initial findings because of their potential to create problems for INL. They also told the OIGs that Brownfield expressed his opinion that DS should not be involved in the investigation at all and that he compared the dispute to a juvenile competition. (Page 229)

Congratulations to both agencies’ inspectors-general for a courageous, thorough report.

Five links from the past week

A useful explainer about the corruption scandal rocking several Latin American nations. The Brazilian company’s pattern of cynicism and shamelessness is so much more shocking when you take the examples together.

The plan to carve out little libertarian enclaves in Honduras is still going ahead. Externally encouraged libertarianism in Latin America is also the subject of an Intercept piece this week about the U.S.-based Atlas Network.

Diplomats like Undersecretary Tom Shannon, focusing on what unilateral sanctions could achieve, are pushing back on White House efforts to impose them.

Referring to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida): “The foreign policy of a superpower really should be conducted through the institutions built for that purpose, and not by random, ambitious legislators with an axe to grind.”

In 2012, investigators unearthed 565 bodies buried on a Guatemalan army base. Many if not all were civilian victims of the armed conflict in the 1980s. This article explores why the case has since foundered in Guatemala’s justice system, amid questionable judicial decisions and interminable delays.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Simone Dalmasso photo at Plaza Pública (Guatemala). Caption: “El dí’a siguiente, el cortejo fúœnebre rodea las paredes del cementerio de Rabinal adornado con los rostros de los desaparecidos de la éŽpoca de las masacres.”

(Even more here)

August 11, 2017

Brazil, Venezuela

The country’s president, Michel Temer, recently escaped measures that would see him put to trial in the supreme court by getting congress to vote them down


Our trip to Briceño illustrated the tremendous challenges that the government and the FARC face as they move forward with implementing the peace accord and in particular, the coca substitution program

Se han arrancado 8.000 hectáreas de coca. En Briceño se espera que para finales de diciembre no existan esos cultivos

Detrás del reciente asesinato de Nidio Dávila, líder social en el municipio de El Rosario, está la oposición armada de las Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia (AGC) a la sustitución de cultivos

En total ocho patrulleros, un intendente, un teniente coronel y un mayor los investigados por la Fiscalía deberán responder por los delitos de homicidio agravado y alteración de la escena del crimen


The information comes a day after the U.S. government said it believed some of its diplomats in Havana had been targeted with a covert sonic device that left them with severe hearing loss


Sin fecha para continuar un proceso que se ha llenado de trabas y amparos, el emblemático caso de desaparición forzada aún lucha por recobrar las fuerzas desde una trinchera mucho más modesta


The U.S. Border Patrol has plans to build 32 miles of barrier in Starr County, where flooding concerns helped kill off similar plans half a decade ago

Mexico, Venezuela

Aseveró que “El Chapo”, hoy preso en una cárcel de Estados Unidos, llegaba por vía marítima “cada dos o tres meses” y “se alojaba en el área de El Yaque, en donde tiene viviendas”


In the future, cracks within the institution are most likely to be sprout in the form of conflicts between groups with different economic and political interests, said Rocío San Miguel

Republican Sens. John Cornyn (Texas), Bill Cassidy (La.), Thad Cochran (Miss.) and Roger Wicker (Miss.) warned Trump that refiners in their states that depend on Venezuelan oil could face major losses

The 59-year-old said she remained in hiding, moving between safe houses at least once a day, because she feared being arbitrarily thrown in jail

The opposition’s path outside the electoral system is harrowing and risky. Protests are increasingly dominated by the most militant and violent protesters

Maduro instructed Venezuela’s foreign minister to approach the United States about arranging a telephone conversation or meeting with Trump

The day ahead: August 11, 2017

I should be reachable much of the day. (How to contact me)

I’m in the office all day. Other than a couple of Skype conversations scheduled with people in the region, I should be at my desk. I’ll be doing a bit of writing, continuing to set up an end-of-month visit to Colombia, and continuing documentary research for an upcoming report on Colombia.

(This will be interesting to a few of you: for the Colombia report research, I’m using an adapted version of my defense oversight database. I decided there was no reason to password-protect it. This means you can see all the notes I’ve taken in real time, organized by topic and fully searchable. With 274 bits of information so far, it’s already a useful resource. See, for instance, the clippings about attacks on social leaders or the collection of maps.)

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images photo at The Guardian (UK). Caption: “Graffiti in Caracas reads ‘we are hungry’. The country’s dire economic situation has caused shortages of food and medicine.”

(Even more here)

August 10, 2017


Maybe Rio is doomed to take one step forward and one step back for the rest of its life. Call it a kind of pennance for their political class that squandered opportunity when the city was drowning in oil money

Brazil, Western Hemisphere Regional

InSight Crime takes a deep dive into the nature of Odebrecht’s corrupt activities in Latin America, the extent of its illicit practices, the state of the various ongoing investigations into the company and its projects, and the web of corruption


Colleagues said she was equally adept and comfortable addressing peasant farmers in a barnyard, with chickens scurrying around her feet, and in a business suit talking to government officials

OCHA advierte que entre el 1 de enero y el 30 de junio de 2017 se desplazaron forzosamente 7.682 personas en eventos masivos, que a su vez corresponde al 70 por ciento del total


After months of investigation, U.S. officials concluded that the diplomats had been exposed to an advanced device that operated outside the range of audible sound and had been deployed either inside or outside their residences


Las acciones se ejecutaron en los 18 departamentos del país y van encaminadas al combate frontal contra la corrupción en varias alcaldías


It’s unlikely that the White House will find eight Democratic senators to go along, even if means more money for domestic programs

Failure to respond to the Commission could result in a default judgment for the complainants, and would break with the United States’ decades-long history of active and robust engagement with the IACHR

Barrack, a gregarious billionaire, is the front-runner for the position but has expressed some concerns about taking it


The governments of Uruguay, Jamaica, Grenada, Guyana, and St. Lucia all refrained from signing the document

At least five options exist for new US sanctions—scaled from least to most severe

Many refineries would likely turn to Saudi Arabia but the higher costs associated with such a shift “could significantly impact fuel costs for U.S. consumers,” according to the letter

Cuatro víctimas relatan el trato cruel y los abusos de las fuerzas de seguridad mientras estaban detenidos por protestar

The penalties, imposed most notably on the brother of the late President Hugo Chávez, are still far short of the broad economic sanctions President Donald Trump threatened

Thomas Shannon, the undersecretary for political affairs and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s right-hand man at the department, has pushed back against the most aggressive sanctions

The most important requirement of U.S. policy toward Venezuela, however, is that it be multilateral

Venezuela, Western Hemisphere Regional

The steady erosion of human rights has left Latin American leftists – once broadly united behind its charismatic late leader Hugo Chávez – in disarray

Western Hemisphere Regional

An estimated 120,000 people are deported to Mexico from the U.S. each year without at least some of their most vital belongings, including cash, identification, and cell phones

The day ahead: August 10, 2017

I’ll be reachable in the mid- and late afternoon. (How to contact me)

I’ve got a couple of scheduled phone calls this morning and a press interview after lunchtime. After that I plan to be in the office into the evening, writing and planning an end-of-month visit to Colombia.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Pablo Jacob / Agência O Globo photo. Caption: “Operação. Militares na Vila Cruzeiro, na Penha: Exército reivindica aprovação de lei para atuar com a polícia do Rio”

(Even more here)

August 9, 2017


De acordo com a proposta, crimes dolosos contra civis praticados por militares do Exército, da Marinha e da Aeronáutica na vigência da Operação de Garantia da Lei e da Ordem devem ser apreciados e julgados apenas pela Justiça Militar

  • Julia Michaels, Active Silence (Rio Real (Brazil), August 9, 2017).

People might not be jumping off bridges, as Raull mentioned, but they’re throwing in the towel

Brazil, Venezuela

Fleeing Venezuela’s economic collapse, the Warao people seek survival in the teeming Brazilian city of Manaus


Mientras la población presenciaba el hecho, los hombres armados amenazaron con “matar a todos los que vienen a hablar de sustitución y a todos los campesinos que estén de acuerdo con eso de la sustitución”

This month, we would like to highlight the situation in the Pacific coast, where an increase presence of the Gaitanista Self Denfese Forces (AGC) continues to affect communities

El Espectador habló con el abogado Jorge Eliécer Molano, que está en la defensa de varios de los casos de falsos positivos


Reynosa, Ciudad Victoria o Nuevo Laredo parecerían un jardín de niños comparado con lo que ha ocurrido en esa zona del estado donde se han cometido crímenes masivos que ya alcanzaron la categoría de exterminio

In Quintana Roo, a state in Mexico’s southeast home to the resort areas of Cancun and Playa del Carmen, the 134 homicides registered so far this year are nearly equal to the 165 seen all last year


I think once you end up having those soldiers killing or repressing civilians from their own barrios, from their own communities, I think that’s when you’re going to start to see fractures occur

Su decisión de no reconocer a la Asamblea Nacional Constituyente, ni los actos que emanen de ella, por su carácter ilegítimo

“We’re asking of the Justice and Truth Commission that anyone who has acted against the fatherland be stripped of public duties”

Only a few dozen demonstrators heeded the opposition’s call to set up traffic-snarling roadblocks in Caracas on Tuesday to show opposition to the new assembly, underlining the fear and resignation

Western Hemisphere Regional

The Atlas Network seems ever-present, a common thread nudging political developments along

The day ahead: August 9, 2017

I’ll only be available in the late afternoon. (How to contact me)

I’m meeting a longtime foundation supporter this morning, then have an internal meeting and a board meeting for another organization. By 3:00 or so I’ll be at my desk, probably spending the rest of the day answering a backlog of email. The rest of the week promises to be more productive.

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