“Spoken Noise” by Platonick Dive (2015).
“Spoken Noise” by Platonick Dive (2015).
Remember back when Colombian officials said that the FARC peace negotiations sought to “put victims at the center” of the process?
Colombia’s Congress just finished work on the legislation that would implement transitional justice, the process of punishing the worst human rights violators and making them provide reparations to victims. They did serious damage, putting together a system that benefits the powerful and deforms the spirit of the peace accords. It will be up to Colombia’s top courts, or the International Criminal Court, to minimize the harm.
Here are seven flaws that I’ve identified in a piece that WOLA posted to its website this morning. Follow the link to read the whole thing: I tried to explain this in plain English, not human rights legalese.
I’m just back from a quick 3-day trip to the very farthest southern part of Texas, known as the Rio Grande Valley region.
This is by far the “busiest” of all sectors of the U.S.-Mexico border. It has the most undocumented migration, the largest number of Central American migrants seeking protection from violence, and (according to local Border Patrol, measured by weight) the most illegal drug seizures. It’s where the Trump administration, in its 2018 budget request, wants to build 60 miles of new border wall.
I’ll be reachable in the afternoon. (How to contact me)
After 3 days at the Texas-Mexico border, I got home at 11:30 last night. I’m working and unpacking at home this morning. I’ll be in the office and reachable in the afternoon.
I will be out of contact today. (How to contact me)
Good morning from McAllen, Texas. I’ll be here all day: along with a few WOLA colleagues, I’ve got a full agenda of meetings with authorities, experts, humanitarian workers, and advocates. We’re doing some border and migration research.
This is my first visit in two years to south Texas’s Rio Grande Valley region. This is where the largest number of migrants are arriving lately and where the Trump administration wants to build 60 miles of wall next year if Congress appropriates the money.
I flew to south Texas on Sunday, where a few of us from WOLA will be until Wednesday evening. It’s a quick trip to do some more field research on border security.
I’ll be back in Washington, in the office, on Thursday and Friday. Hopefully by then, we’ll have posted a long piece taking the pulse of Colombia’s transitional justice system, which I drafted on the plane.
Wessler reveals and details a very disturbing practice that intensified with the U.S. Southern Command’s post–2012 “Operation Martillo” drug-interdiction surge. When the U.S. Coast Guard captures someone trafficking drugs in international waters—often, impoverished fishermen at the low end of the drug business—it confines them on board for weeks or months at a time without charges, usually in shackles and incomunicado.
Tens of thousands of Mexicans have disappeared, either at the hands of criminal groups or the security forces themselves. Mexico’s government is either overwhelmed or just doesn’t care. Ahmed profiles some of the families who are organizing, both to press the government and to find their missing loved ones on their own.
This is the best overview I’ve seen of the Trump administration’s reckless and cruel decision to force 60,000 Haitians to return en masse within 18 months. It goes into the political calculation behind it, splits in the Republican party, especially in Florida, the potential impact on Haiti, the families that will be separated, and the lives that will be forever disrupted.
A year after the signing of Colombia’s FARC peace accord, an in-depth look at persistent violence in several regions. Draws heavily from good reporting by the national human rights ombudsman’s office and the OAS.
The complicated story of Nestora Salgado, who led a community self-defense “police” force in Olinalá, Guerrero. She ran afoul of corrupt Guerrero officials. Her force abused its own power and she spent time in prison. And she is something of a folk hero—with many critics—back home.
“While greater US engagement removed one of the main impediments to Cuba’s moving toward greater openness and freedom,” the former Human Rights Watch and Obama administration official recognizes, “it could not by itself bring about that change.” However, he holds out the possibility that Trump’s misguided walk-back of Obama’s reforms could “gavaniz[e] a coalition to lift the embargo altogether.”
A snapshot of Honduras on the eve of voting likely to re-elect an authoritarian-leaning president. What happens when violent crime goes down, but corruption remains as rampant as ever?
The chief of the UN mission verifying parts of Colombia’s peace accord implementation has had a rare public disagreement with the Colombian government.
On Tuesday, Jean Arnault urged officials to do more to keep former FARC fighters from slipping through the cracks. He pointed out some alarming things:
“A very high percentage of ex-FARC members are not in the ETCRs [Territorial Spaces for Training and Reincorporation, the former cantonment zones where FARC demobilized, but from where they are now free to leave]. The phenomenon calls for attention. The ex-guerrillas were about 8,000 on May 20 in the Village Zones [the cantonment zones] when the storage of FARC weapons concluded. As of August 15 [the day when ex-FARC members were allowed to leave], 70 percent remained. Today we estimate at 45 percent the number that still remain at the ETCRs.
“…[T]he greatest determining factor for these departures is effectively, according to the interviews the Mission has carried out, the loss of confidence in the perspectives that the ETCRs offer. Many expectations unmet for a long time. The El Gallo ETCR and the Policarpa ETCR have been almost totally abandoned, and their residents have moved to places that seem more favorable to them. Of other ETCRs, which weren’t abandoned, groups of 20 to 50 ex-guerrillas are leaving for the same purpose.”
Why would so many ex-guerrillas be disappearing without a trace? Arnault’s response defies belief:
“[A]s of today, a framework plan for reincorporation [of ex-combatants] still doesn’t exist. That was the central mandate of the National Reincorporation Council established a little less than a year ago.”
Faced with such a dire warning couched in diplomatic language, Colombian officials struck a wounded tone. Here’s the high commissioner for peace, Rodrigo Rivera:
“We’re surprised by Mr. Arnault’s declarations. Diplomatic channels exist to propose the sort of reservations that he proposes, and I see they weren’t sufficient. This sows the notion that there’s a sort of diaspora of FARC ex-combatants from the Territorial Spaces. …The purpose of the spaces was that they be temporary, they aren’t confined there and the UN knows it.”
Rivera is mistaken. The time for quietly routing things through diplomatic channels is over.
A core element of any peace process is the careful reintegration of ex-combatants. Thousands of unemployed, under-educated people with combat skills are being set loose in a country already challenged by organized crime, narcotrafficking, and ungoverned territory. That no plan is in place to occupy them, or even to keep track of them, is a failure at the most elemental level.
It’s worth noting that the day before Arnault and Rivera were exchanging words in Bogotá, Colombia’s foreign minister was in Washington. One of the things María Ángela Holguín brought up with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was the government’s oft-expressed desire to enter the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Paris-based club of 35 wealthy nations.
Note the incongruity between Colombia’s first-world aspirations and the UN’s very basic warnings.
Granted, Colombia is in a budget crunch triggered by the drop in oil prices. And yes, the President’s governing coalition is fragile, and public opinion toward the peace accord is tepid as the March legislative and May presidential elections approach.
But it should not be too taxing for Colombia to fund a collective reintegration plan for the former FARC, right now, before thousands of seasoned fighters melt away and join the ranks of organized crime. The cost is not prohibitive. At least, not prohibitive for a country knocking on the OECD’s door.
We’re talking about 12,000 people. How much would that cost? Let’s ballpark it.
US$408 million over, say, two years. Colombia’s one-year GDP is about US$285 billion. Colombia is currently collecting about US$80 billion per year of that as taxes. The cost of reintegration would be about 0.26 percent of that annual budget. Money can’t be what’s stopping the ex-FARC from being reintegrated.
Why Colombia hasn’t been able to reach up and grab even this “low-hanging fruit” is a mystery bedeviling most of us. As Colombia’s OECD aspirations make clear, the problem isn’t money.
It seems more like an ossified bureaucratic culture rendering the government almost inoperable. Combined with that familiar bugbear, “a lack of political will.” This term gets thrown around a lot but is really a “black box” obscuring deeper, structural problems like social power relations, corruption and criminality, and economic inequality.
These are poor reasons to risk a slide back into violence and victimhood in what, for now at least, are post-conflict regions of the country. The UN’s warnings about reintegration are on the mark. If anything, they’re too muted.
I will be out of contact today. (How to contact me)
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in, or from, the United States. I’ll be spending the day with family, and I hope you get to do that too.
Everyone else, have a nice regular working Thursday.
Chileans did not follow other Latin Americans in making a right-wing turn in the presidential election, and instead voted to stay the course on the ambitious reform agenda that Bachelet put in place
La Mesa Regional de Organizaciones de Putumayo, Meros, que fueron los que lideraron la negociación, lograron apancalarse electoralmente con miras a las circunscripciones de paz del año entrante
Después de que el jefe de la Misión de Verificación de la ONU en Colombia, Jean Arnault, dijera que en las zonas de desarme queda sólo el 45 % de los excombatientes de las Farc, el Gobierno puso el grito en el cielo
Investment in the development of rural areas will determine whether the peace agreement succeeds or fails. It is time for the candidates to address that issue
The administration’s decision to rescind the humanitarian status that allowed so many Haitians to live in the United States amounts to an act of cruelty
Honduras elige este próximo domingo un nuevo presidente con pronósticos de una crisis política por el empeño del mandatario Juan Orlando Hernández de conseguir una cuestionada reelección
It happened after dark in an area that’s known for drug activity and where agents often look for drugs in culverts
Nationwide, 2017 is on track to be the deadliest year in recent Mexican history
Esta es la cuarta vez en el año que se rompe el récord mensual de homicidios y es también el mes más violento en la administración del presidente Enrique Peña Nieto
La poetisa y escritora nicaragüense Gioconda Belli pidió hoy al Ejército de Nicaragua aclarar la muerte de 6 civiles, de ellos 2 menores, la semana pasada durante un incidente armado
“One of the biggest lessons and benefits we’re experiencing is that the most serious, responsible, and rigorous journalism is being recognized by audiences”
The administration has moved to slash the number of refugees, accelerate deportations and terminate the provisional residency of more than a million people, among other measures
The deconstruction of the State Department continues in real time.
On Monday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with Colombia’s foreign minister. On Tuesday, he met with Peru’s foreign minister.
Why the flurry of activity? You’re not going to learn anything from the State Department.
Here’s the entirety of what the Secretary’s office had the gall to post about the Peruvian visit. What an insult to transparency. What a waste of hard drive space.
I should be reachable much of the day. (How to contact me)
It’s the day before the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, so it should be quiet in the office. I’ll be finishing a long draft memo about Colombia’s transitional justice legislation, and updating our border legislation tracker because the Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday released its version of the 2018 Homeland Security budget bill, which would fund Trump’s border wall.
“666 ʇ” by Bon Iver (2016).
Among the issues discussed: Brazil’s Integrated Border Monitoring System (SISFRON, per its Portuguese acronym) stood out
En 36 de los 42 municipios de Cauca hay cultivos de marihuana tipo cripa. Los traficantes de Medellín prefieren la que crece en la zona norte
Para afianzar la reincorporación frente a los desafíos de las economías ilegales, agilizar el acceso a la tierra es una prioridad
Significan oportunidades de transformación positiva en muchos asuntos y en particular en lo que se refiere al narcotráfico y sus impactos en la sociedad
Comunidades cercanas al municipio de Riosucio, Chocó, denuncian que el conflicto armado sigue a pesar de la salida de las Farc y el cese el fuego bilateral entre el Gobierno y el Eln
Lo que hace un año fue una ilusión para lograr una rendición de cuentas de todos los perpetradores, y de las responsabilidades que tenemos como sociedad en la creación de una democracia con desigualdad, donde hay más de 8 millones de víctimas, ha quedado hoy en un cadáver insepulto
La ministra de Relaciones Exteriores de Colombia, María Ángela Holguín y el secretario de Estados Unidos, Rex Tillerson, se reunieron para confirmar y fortalecer las alianzas
El momento de la sorpresiva visita del diplomático norcoreano, que no ha sido reflejada en los principales medios oficiales de la isla, ha sorprendido a los analistas
With a return to Cold War-era policies, it is the Cuban people — not their government — who will suffer
Earlier this month, with his approval ratings touching 80 percent, Moreno announced plans for a constitutional plebiscite that will include a proposal to limit presidential re-election – a move that would bar Correa
The protection will permanently terminate July 22, 2019, allowing Haitians living in the U.S. under TPS an 18-month window to return to their struggling homeland
Así reaccionó el presidente Juan Orlando Hernández a la advertencia del exsubsecretario de Estado para Asuntos del Hemisferio, Otto J. Reich, sobre la llegada de ciudadanos de Venezuela infiltrados en Honduras
Union officials say Rogelio Martinez was attacked. The FBI isn’t saying
Details were thin, but the episode in a remote stretch of Texas quickly made its way into the national conversation on immigration and border security
Until recently, the Mexican government had only insinuated that security cooperation was on the table. It’s time for Americans to take the warning seriously
In an expansion of the war on drugs, the U.S. Coast Guard is targeting low-level smugglers in international waters — shackling them on ships for weeks or even months before arraignment in American courts