Adam Isacson

Defense, security, borders, migration, and human rights in Latin America and the United States. May not reflect my employer’s consensus view.

January 2019

Some articles I found interesting this morning

(Even more here)

January 31, 2019

Western Hemisphere Regional

More than 3,500 active-duty troops will be sent to the border, according to a letter written by Rep. Adam Smith (D., Wash.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, in which he slammed Department of Defense officials for not disclosing the figure during a hearing

The Members of the Committee would have been extremely interested in discussing what the 3,500 troops going to the border in response to DHS’s latest request will be doing there. This is a violation of the executive branch’s obligation to be transparent with Congress

PDF document

The men with nasal tubes are having persistent nose bleeds, and are vomiting several times a day


El gobierno defendió al oficial y lo mantuvo como un enlace de dicho plan con la fuerza pública

El comisionado de Paz, Miguel Ceballos, quien en este diálogo con El Espectador reafirma la posición del Estado colombiano; entrega detalles sobre hasta qué punto llegaron sus contactos con Pablo Beltrán, dice que las llaves para una nueva negociación no se han tirado al mar

“Ni el gobierno ni la Fiscalía nos ha explicado en qué consiste, no sabemos quiénes son los comandantes, cuál es su estructura (de las Águilas Negras), en donde operan. No sabemos si en realidad es una organización”

Colombia, Venezuela

Santos, quien se encuentra en Bogotá, le dijo a La W Radio que Estados Unidos podría realizar una acción parecida a la que ejecutó en diciembre de 1989 para deponer al dictador Panameño Manuel Antonio Noriega


El fortalecimiento de la cooperación judicial y la lucha para que Venezuela vuelva a la democracia fueron los temas principales de la reunión entre el presidente Iván Duque y Matthew Whitaker

Colombia, Cuba

“(The government) has declined to participate in the creation of a return plan for the ELN delegation and because of that it will not be possible to return within the expected time,” a statement from the 10 negotiators said

El Salvador

The rise of Mr Bukele has been unorthodox. Rallies and interviews are rare but tweets are plentiful from the 37-year-old former businessman, in a campaign relying heavily on social media


Según las modificaciones de la propuesta de ley, todos los exoficiales, comisionados, patrulleros e incluso guerrilleros serían liberados dentro de las 24 horas de su promulgación

Guatemala, Mexico

The underlying problem of migrants fleeing instability and violence in countries like Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador—some of which has been stoked by US foreign policy—isn’t going away


Guess where federal officials carried out this huge fentanyl bust? At the Nogales border-crossing in Arizona. Yes, a port of entry, not somewhere over a border fence in the barren desert

In McAllen, the Texas city that lies just across the border crossing from Reynosa, there were no homicides in 2018, and crime is at its lowest rate in 34 years

This report provides an account from the perspective of migrants that were present and affected by the events that unfolded on the evening of December 31, 2018 and the early morning hours of January 1, 2019 at the Tijuana-San Diego border, near Playas de Tijuana, where Border Patrol Agents fired chemical agents at migrants

Cada dos días en el país se localiza en promedio una fosa clandestina con restos humanos. Aunque lenta por su complejidad, esta labor va dando resultados que brinda algo de alivio a los familiares de personas desaparecidas

Under the protocol, asylum seekers have to meet this burden alone, upon entry, without the benefit of legal counsel, and without the due process protections that come with court proceedings

In the past, the body count was driven by powerful drug cartels battling over lucrative trafficking routes to the United States. Now the main cause is competition in a growing local drug trade, with low-level dealers sometimes dying over the right to sell drugs on a single street corner


As Venezuelans turned against him, his power came to depend on a patronage network of enchufados, or “plugged-in people”, especially in the security forces. He has appointed over 2,000 officers to the rank of general or equivalent

The protesters who filled the streets of Caracas last week, and Mr. Guaidó, are portraying Mr. Maduro as illegitimate. But for now, Mr. Guaidó has not convinced enough of the power brokers that he is a credible alternative

“El grupo ayudará a construir confianza y crear las condiciones necesarias para un proceso creíble en línea de la Constitución de Venezuela, con el objetivo de que los venezolanos determinen su propio futuro con nuevas elecciones, con todas las garantías”

Here’s a Better Way to Spend $5.7 Billion at the Border

I wrote this yesterday while watching the House-Senate Conference Committee meet to discuss a border spending package that might keep the government open after February 15 (and avoid a disastrous presidential “national emergency” declaration to build a border wall).

The gist: border security isn’t “solved,” but what’s needed now is adjustments, not a sweeping, pharaonic project like a border wall. If Congress is going to send a bill to the president with $5.7 billion in new border-security spending, there are so many things that the money could be better spent on. I list some in this commentary that WOLA posted today.

And what about a wall? I think this is one of the clearest ways I’ve put it so far:

Trump is pushing for a “border wall,” or at least steel fencing—354 miles of which already exists along the border. Fences have a purpose: they slow down border-crossers for a few minutes. That doesn’t matter if the border-crosser is an asylum seeker who simply wants to climb over and get apprehended by U.S. authorities (perhaps after being turned away from an overwhelmed port of entry). It also doesn’t matter in rural areas, where a few-minute head start makes little difference since populated areas and main roads are hours’ walk away. Meanwhile, most densely populated areas along the border now have high pedestrian fencing.

In a normal presidential administration, we’d have a rational conversation about areas along the border where law enforcement professionals might say “some more barrier there would make my job easier.” Then, there would be orderly discussions with border communities, in which all stakeholders (property owners, Native American communities, local government, businesses, environmental organizations, migrant rights advocates) work out the design and placement.

But we’re not in a normal administration. Instead, this president’s rhetoric has made “the wall,” in the words of New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie, “a lasting reminder of the white racial hostility surging through this moment in American history.” We cannot support building even a mile of new barrier under these circumstances—denying a voice to border communities and characterizing the “wall” as a means to keep out “rapists” and “animals” from Latin America.

Read the whole thing here.

The day ahead: January 31, 2019

I’m most reachable in late morning and early afternoon. (How to contact me)

I’ve got a Skype conversation with an NGO in the region in the mid-morning, and an NGO meeting with a UN agency in the mid-afternoon. Otherwise I’ll be prepping for some upcoming congressional meetings, putting together my next trip to the U.S.-Mexico border (week of February 11), putting out a new commentary on the border funding debate, and updating my research databases with lots of new information.

Also, staying indoors as much as possible because it’s less than 10 degrees Fahrenheit here in Washington this morning.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Meridith Kohut photo at The New York Times. Caption: “The Special Actions Force, or FAES, is being sent to work as President Nicolás Maduro’s enforcer against dissent, rights groups in Venezuela say.”

(Even more here)

January 30, 2019

Western Hemisphere Regional

The Defense Department officials said they were engaged in planning around the possibility of Trump’s declaring a national emergency and tapping into either military construction or Army Corps of Engineers funds

It will mark the latest shift in how active-duty troops are used on the border, and nudge the number from about 2,300 active-duty service members closer to a high-water mark of about 5,900 that were involved in November

A wall would prevent asylum seekers from asking for protection at any point along our border — their right under the law — and would leave many of them at the mercy of drug cartels and other criminal groups in northern Mexico

Detainees say that the Voluntary Work Program is not really voluntary. If they attempt to take a day off or refuse to work, staff members punish them by withholding essential items, threatening to move them to more dangerous housing units or locking them in their cells

Colombia, Venezuela

Habitantes de la ciudad fronteriza de Cúcuta, grabaron y publicaron en redes sociales el paso de un convoy del Ejército Nacional dirigiéndose a un sector cercano al puente Simón Bolívar, en al noche del martes


El general Leonardo Barrero fue designado por gobierno nacional como director del plan de protección para líderes sociales y periodistas, a pesar de las acusaciones que pesan sobre él por intentar obstruir investigaciones sobre falsos positivos

Renewing military attacks is a problem because so many of their fighters can just skip across the border into Venezuela. You almost have to use police intelligence more than guns and bombs if you want to go after them

Colombia, Venezuela

Without ample foreign aid, Colombia is near the point where it will not be able to cope


Deadly force might be used against persons who were not taking part in an armed conflict, which could be contrary to international law

El Salvador

Bukele is leading in the polls, followed by Carlos Calleja (ARENA) and Hugo Martínez (FMLN), who hail from traditional political parties


By failing to make a forceful defense of CICIG, which receives about 40% of its funding from the United States, the Trump administration is sending a tacit signal to Morales that he can continue to undermine anti-corruption efforts and fair elections


El presidente Andrés Manuel López Obrador anunció ayer que terminó la lucha militar antidrogas y que perseguir capos no es prioridad para su gobierno, aunque promueve la creación de una polémica guardia nacional

Prosecutors filed a motion to Judge Cogan asking him to preclude the defense from arguing, as it did in opening statements, that Mr. Zambada, known as Mayo, had quietly conspired with Mexican and American officials to target Mr. Guzmán

The migrant, a 55-year-old man from Honduras, had applied for asylum in the United States after crossing the border from Mexico. Under the new policy, he will live in Mexico temporarily

The return of the Honduran asylum seeker Tuesday appeared to be ad hoc; he was rushed to a van by a Mexican immigration agent with no formal announcement of when ­others would follow

Migrant Protection Protocols for U. S. Customs and Border Protection officers and agents


Desde que fueron adquiridos mediante un contrato de gobierno a gobierno entre Perú y la Federación Rusa, en 2013, de los 24 helicópteros Mi-171Sh-P asignados a la lucha contra el terrorismo en el valle de los ríos Apurímac, Ene y Mantaro (Vraem), 8 resultaron impactados por disparos


Pekín ha prestado a Caracas en la última década unos 54.000 millones de euros, de los que el Gobierno latinoamericano aún le debe un tercio. La relación entre ambos no pasa por su mejor momento

Will Maduro hang on to power? Will the standoff end in war? The embattled nation stands at a crossroads

Even as economists made sense of the fine print of the American sanctions — it is still unclear how much money is at stake and how it might be made available to Mr. Guaidó — some expressed fear that the nation could be plunged into anarchy

The imposition of these sanctions seemed to be premised on the assumption that they will help usher in a quick return to democracy. The history of broad economic sanctions complicates this idea

The country’s refineries are already operating at a fraction of their capacity, crippled by a lack of spare parts and crude. Venezuela only produced a third of the 190,000 barrels of gasoline it consumed a day as of November

Known as the Special Actions Force, or FAES, it is being sent to work as Mr. Maduro’s enforcer in the poor neighborhoods that once supported him but have turned against him

The transition will require support from key military contingents. We have had clandestine meetings with members of the armed forces and the security forces

Everywhere I went as a four-star Admiral in the region while commanding U.S. Southern Command, I would be reminded of America’s history of intervention

Chest-thumping declarations that melt away over time weaken American power and credibility. In Venezuela, if the armed forces continue to back Maduro, then last week’s move may come to look feckless, while offering Maduro the opportunity to rally his domestic and foreign backers

Elements of the House Democrats’ border security proposal

In advance of the February 15 shutdown deadline, as an alternative to Trump’s border wall, here’s what the House Democrats are proposing. This is as summarized by Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-California) in today’s House-Senate conference committee meeting:

  • Ports of entry: 1,000 additional CBP officers; imaging technology; southbound scans
  • Border Patrol stations infrastructure repair / improvement backlog
  • Border security technology between ports of entry
  • Mail processing facilities
  • Aircraft and vessels for CBP and Coast Guard
  • Humanitarian aid and improved facilities
  • Alternatives to detention
  • New HSI agents
  • Fewer detention beds
  • Detention facility inspections and healthcare
  • TSA and FEMA support

The day ahead: January 30, 2019

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

This afternoon I’ve got meetings with colleagues from arms-control and border/migration groups, plus an informational interview. Otherwise I’ll be in the office, trying to write a memo about “what should go into a border budget deal” as quickly as possible, and setting up my next trip to the border (week of February 11).

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Photo from Vox. Caption: “This group of children and families turned themselves in at Antelope Wells during the shutdown — where they were apprehended by unpaid Border Patrol agents.”

(Even more here)

January 29, 2019

Western Hemisphere Regional

Official statistics aren’t available for this barely populated area of New Mexico, but agents say groups of 100 or more migrants have crossed the border there at least 25 times since October

At least 413 migrants were found dead along the border in 2018, according to a preliminary count by the International Organization for Migration, up from 412 in 2017 and 399 in 2016


President Bolsonaro’s new administration offers a fresh opportunity to build a stronger US-Brazilian partnership to ensure continued peace and expanded prosperity and stability for the Western Hemisphere

Chile, Western Hemisphere Regional

Claiming her political views on Israel were troubling and citing photographs in which she appeared alongside “Latin American dictators.”

Colombia, Mexico

El mercado interno del narcotráfico se está revitalizando por cuenta de los capitales económicos que están poniendo sobre la mesa los emisarios provenientes de ese país


El exjefe negociador de las Farc, Luciano Marín, habla desde la clandestinidad sobre el futuro del proceso de paz, su compromiso con la JEP y si es posible que vuelva a rearmarse ante lo que llama “traición al Acuerdo de Paz”

Santrich, su defensa y la Procuraduría tienen cinco días hábiles para presentar sus alegatos. Se prevé que la decisión final se conozca a mediados de febrero

Tras un año de su asesinato, en Buenaventura sigue la batalla por el territorio, que era la razón de vivir de don Temis. Por ese crimen, perpetrado el 27 de enero del 2018, hay tres capturados y siete órdenes de captura. Las autoridades no han determinado quién ordenó el homicidio

Colombia, Venezuela

“No he discutido eso con el secretario Bolton”, dijo Shanahan al ser preguntado sobre si había un plan para enviar miles de tropas a Colombia


Three murders on New Year’s Eve took the total to 2,502 – a rate of 126 per 100,000 inhabitants, returning the city to levels of hyper-violence it last saw a decade ago

National Immigration Institute Commissioner Tonatiuh Guillen also said Mexico won’t extend the policy beyond a single border crossing, the El Chaparral crossing in Tijuana

Guzman’s fleeting defense was striking because it followed a sweeping one by the government that featured 56 witnesses


Now, Mr. Chamorro’s son also finds himself in exile, fighting an increasingly repressive regime. This time around, the regime is led by the man who in 1979 helped topple Anastasio Somoza


If the standoff endures, the U.S. move could prove devastating for Venezuela’s economy

As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of PdVSA subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them

Sanctions on Pdvsa potentially put at risk as much as a half-million barrels of oil that the United States imports from Venezuela, representing roughly 3 percent of American demand

“Es probable que haya algunos problemas”, dijo Storchak a la prensa en alusión al pago del 100 millones de dólares que debe abonar Caracas en marzo próximo

Special-police units—carrying shotguns and wearing ski masks—and soldiers have been deployed to clear the crowds. All but one of the victims tallied so far were killed by gunfire

Russia’s stagnating economy has limited funds available for international campaigns amid growing social discontent at home

Anonymous U.S. intelligence sources have told reporters that Padrino threatened to resign if Maduro didn’t step down. Thus one can imagine, under the right circumstances, military officials telling Maduro it is time for new elections

The question is whether Venezuela will be different, and whether the presence of veteran regime-change advocates such as Bolton and Elliott Abrams will make the difference

If Maduro does one thing, what will we do as a result? And at what point will we evacuate personnel?

Latin America-related events in Washington this week

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

  • 9:00–10:30 at the Atlantic Council: Guaidó Takes the Helm: Supporting the New Venezuelan Interim Government (RSVP required).
  • 10:00–11:30 at 2200 Rayburn House Office Building: Future of the Rule of Law, CICIG, and Justice Reform in Guatemala (RSVP required).
  • 12:30–1:30 at WOLA: Improving Colombia and Trinidad and Tobago’s Responses to Venezuela’s Migration Crisis (RSVP required).
  • 4:00–5:15 at the Migration Policy Institute: Creative Policy Responses in Latin America to the Venezuelan Migration Crisis (RSVP required).

Thursday, January 31, 2019

  • 12:30–2:00 at Georgetown University ICC: Mexican Migration to the United States 1980–2017 (RSVP required).

Friday, February 1, 2019

  • 9:30–11:30 at the Inter-American Dialogue: Puerto Rico 2019: What Lies Ahead? (RSVP required).

Some articles I found interesting this morning

AFP photo at El Universo (Ecuador). Caption: “El presidente de Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, participó en las prácticas de los ejercicios militares que se realizarán en febrero.”

(Even more here)

January 28, 2019

Western Hemisphere Regional

President Trump is again considering invoking emergency powers to build his proposed wall on the U.S.-Mexico border without congressional approval

That is a snapshot of twisted frontier justice in the age of Trump. Save a migrant’s life, and you risk becoming a political prisoner. Kill a Mexican teenager, and you walk free

The Border Patrol gained a total of 120 agents in 2018, the first net gain in five years

United States government officials have told migrants to go to ports of entry rather than crossing the border without authorization. However, simultaneously, they have imposed other policies that reject asylum seekers trying to do just that


The factions are engaged in what I call violent lobbying: pressuring leaders over policy issues, using violence


En el gobierno del presidente Duque, no habrá una mesa de paz, el gobierno Duque es más un gobierno de defensa del orden que de ampliación de democracia, hay que preparar una negociación viable para luego del 2022

El ELN debería reconocer los derechos de dichas comunidades y adherirse al derecho internacional humanitario del que tanto habla

Colombia, Cuba

Este es el primer llamado oficial del gobierno de La Habana para que el Gobierno del presidente Iván Duque acate las reglas de juego convenidas y se ponga de acuerdo con la guerrilla para la salida de los guerrilleros negociadores

Colombia, Venezuela

Asked if Bolton’s note meant the U.S. was planning to send troops to Venezuela’s neighbor, a White House spokesman simply reiterated Trump’s “all options are on the table” declaration

Cuba, Venezuela

”What Cubans are doing in Venezuela is unacceptable,” a senior administration official said. “And the United States is evaluating options to address that behavior”


La firma de la paz entre el Gobierno colombiano y las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) en el 2016 y la reconstitución de la cooperación internacional en materia de defensa con Estados Unidos desde el 2017 son algunos hechos que el nuevo Libro Blanco toma en cuenta


The coming days will reveal whether the military old guard has its way


Su estructura es de unos 4.7 metros, pesan alrededor de 40 kilogramos y su capacidad de vuelo es de unas cinco horas continuas a 100 kilómetros de distancia

Las manifestaciones convocadas por el Partido Libertad y Refundación (Libre), continúan en muchos sectores de la capital de Honduras y del país, y de igual manera la represión por parte de la Policía Nacional y de la Policía Militar del Orden Público


“I’m raising these concerns because in essence what we are doing is punishing people who are trying to follow the laws and rewarding people who cross illegally.”

Integrated with law enforcement and subject to civilian control, the national guard is an innovation that can foster the conditions necessary for civilian institutions to develop and mature

Del 1 al 31 de diciembre de 2018 los militares decomisaron aproximadamente un kilogramo de cocaína, cifra que contrasta totalmente con los 210 kilogramos de este enervante que se habían decomisado mensualmente en promedio durante el año

As an organization that works on U.S. migration and border security policy and the situation of migrants in transit in Mexico, we outline below our main concerns about this program

The policy will require people fleeing persecution to wait in violent border cities for months and potentially years

In accordance with this international agreement adopted by more than 160 countries, Mexico’s position will no longer be one of migration deterrence and blockage

Cuba, Venezuela

While former military officials who have fled Venezuela have reported the involvement of Cubans within the security and intelligence forces, experts say the extent of that involvement remains shrouded in mystery


The impact of Col. Silva’s defection is difficult to gauge. A former Venezuelan general who broke with Mr. Maduro, Clíver Alcalá, said in an interview that it would likely be small

Members of Venezuela’s opposition canvassed military bases across the embattled nation on Sunday, offering amnesty to troops and police officers who defect

“We have been in talks with government officials, civilian and military men,” Guaidó said. “This is a very delicate subject involving personal security. We are meeting with them, but discreetly”

Maduro is not a one-man cult or clan leader. Rather, he rules as the public face of an omnipotent political class accused of immense corruption and narco-trafficking

We’re here to urge all nations to support the democratic aspirations of the Venezuelan people as they try to free themselves from former President Maduro’s illegitimate mafia state

The $1.2 billion of gold is a big chunk of the $8 billion in foreign reserves held by the Venezuelan central bank. The whereabouts of the rest of them is largely unknown

Silent and deadly, the FAES —the Spanish acronym for the Bolivarian National Police’s Special Action Forces— are police Death Squads in all but name

We need the international community to fully support Guaidó and our democratic cause. Most importantly, our allies need to recognize that our plan is the only viable one

Citizens may feel cheated if Maduro skirts justice and accountability. Yet coaxing Maduro out of office would certainly be less costly than a military intervention

In mid-December, Guaido quietly traveled to Washington, Colombia and Brazil to brief officials on the opposition’s strategy of mass demonstrations to coincide with Maduro’s expected swearing-in

In an appearance on state TV, Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza held up photos showing U.S. Charge d’Affaires James Story and a top Venezuelan government official as proof of the meetings

The real worry in Washington is if the situation in Caracas takes a violent turn. Mr. Rubio has talked with administration officials about options if it does — and speaks with authority as if he were the decider

The day ahead: January 28, 2019

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

After our weekly staff meeting and a meeting to plan our border work, I’ll be at my desk all afternoon. I plan to be setting up my schedule during the week of February 11, when I’ll be in San Diego and Tijuana. I’ll also be going through a big pile of unread documents about the border, Colombia, and defense assistance, and doing a little writing. Since I’ll be picking up my daughter at a late sports practice, I’ll be in the office until well into the evening.

The week ahead

I’m in Washington all week, and have a lighter meeting schedule. That’s good because I’m headed back to San Diego and Tijuana the week of February 11th, and would like to do a lot of writing, research, and congressional visits before then.

Some articles I found interesting January 24

So much news, I can’t even keep up. Here’s Thursday.

(Even more here)

January 24, 2019

Western Hemisphere Regional

The president’s Nov. 20 memorandum does not fit with what is known about the existing law and policies surrounding the posse comitatus restriction

Lost amid the battle over credit and semantics was how Calexico residents themselves felt about becoming characters in Trump-era political theater


Several delegates, hailing the early work of the various bodies mandated by Colombia’s peace agreement, emphasized the need to ensure that they stay independent from the Government and retain their full credibility

Colombia, Cuba

Guarantors Cuba and Norway do not support extradition, while Chile said on Tuesday it does. Venezuela and Brazil have not yet commented

Se puede decir que hubo más resistencia que apoyo al gobierno en su decisión de desconocer el protocolo con el ELN. De los partidos de gobierno solo dos lo apoyaron al 100%


To maintain its cohesion, its collective leadership organ – the Central Command (COCE) – tends to both initiate peaceful gestures and allow more radical units to carry out sustained military activity

Presentamos un panorama sobre la situación de las regiones más vulnerables ante el eventual recrudecimiento del conflicto armado y la percepción de líderes sociales y autoridades locales

La denominada “Operación Dragón” se adelantó en el año 2004 y según el senador Alexander López fue contratada por la entonces superintendente de servicios públicos y hoy funcionaria del gobierno Duque


Hay una reforma de ley que ronda en el Congreso que permitiría que al menos 41 criminales de guerra guatemaltecos abandonen la prisión y gocen de libertad

Los golpes de Estado en esta década ya no son con tanques militares, son con laberintos legales y judiciales para que los ciudadanos crean que siguen viviendo en democracia hasta que es demasiado tarde. Y me parece que una jueza valiente puede ponerle freno al Golpe que está ocurriendo en cámara lenta en Guatemala


Verlon Jose, vice chairman of the Tohono O’odham Nation, says President Trump’s proposed wall would devastate his community

l defensor de los derechos humanos alertó sobre la Guardia Nacional y sostuvo que aún con mando civil “sigue siendo una respuesta parcial, incompleta y sesgada”

The black market is ubiquitous in Mexico, where almost 60 percent of the workforce is outside the formal economy, and gasoline has long been one of the mainstays

If the migrants travel together, the convoy could exceed the size of the last such caravan

Central America Regional, Mexico

That number, provided Wednesday by Mexico’s National Migration Institute, is almost twice the estimate given by Mexican officials a day earlier, reflecting what migrants said was burgeoning awareness of the new policy among would-be travelers

Panama, Western Hemisphere Regional

Francis famously has called for “bridges, not walls.” After celebrating Mass in 2016 on the Mexican side of the U.S. border, he denounced anyone who wants to build a wall to keep out migrants as “not Christian”


Right now, there are enormous pressures on the military. It’s possible the institution will fracture into two relatively evenly-matched halves. Who then proceed to shoot it out. It’s also possible it will fragment into eight or ten grouplets

For many, an amnesty for the military will be a bitter pill to swallow. The crimes committed have been monumental and there is understandably a demand for full accountability. This delicate question risks dividing the opposition

The deadline Maduro gave for the U.S. to remove its staff would expire in the afternoon on Saturday, Jan. 26. A refusal to evacuate would test Maduro’s reaction and whether he’d be willing to use force

A potential ban on Venezuelan oil imports could be part of a sanctions package, though oil sanctions can be separate from sanctions imposed as part of designating a country a state sponsor of terror

In his phone call with Maduro, Putin "stressed that destructive outside interference grossly violated the fundamental norms of international law,"

A senior U.S. administration official said the Trump administration would act if Mr. Maduro’s government uses violence against Mr. Guaidó or other assembly members. He said “everything is on the table, all options,” including the use of force

Mr. Rubio said that designating Mr. Guaidó as president would allow millions of dollars of Venezuelan government assets frozen in the United States to be at the disposal of opposition lawmakers

The United States will take appropriate actions to hold accountable anyone who endangers the safety and security of our mission and its personnel

Asked why the response to Maduro is different from that toward many other authoritarian leaders, Bolton rejected the premise. “The fact is, Venezuela is in our hemisphere,”

Some articles I found interesting January 25

So much news, I can’t even keep up. Here’s Friday.

(Even more here)

January 25, 2019

Western Hemisphere Regional

On at least eight occasions in 12 days, Trump has mentioned women with "tape put across their mouths." Human-trafficking experts are perplexed

With larger groups arriving more often, an increasing number of the people agents encountered have also needed to be hospitalized, the agency said


Mr. Wyllys has been the target of death threats for years, but he said those threats had become more severe after Marielle Franco, a human rights advocate who was his friend and political ally, was assassinated

Some of Mr Bolsonaro’s supporters are worried. Violence is “going to explode”, warns Plauto de Lima, a former director of state prisons in Ceará

Colombia, Venezuela

Informes de inteligencia y otras investigaciones dan cuenta de su presencia en medio país y sus relaciones con elementos del Estado. ¿Cómo se comportarían en caso de una intervención extranjera?


En entrevista con ‘Caracol Radio’ el jefe guerrillero aseguró que volverán al monte, que descartan pedir asilo político

Identificar la presencia y golpear al ELN le llevará tiempo al Gobierno. Lo que está claro es que no se requiere mayor producción de violencia para diezmarlo. La época de los bombardeos quedó atrás y en cambio se requiere una estrategia basada en la inteligencia militar y capturas


The historical ties between the United States and Cuba have been far more complex over the past 120 years than hard-line Republicans care to recall — and that American responsibility for Cuba’s current state also runs deep


Para Iván Velásquez que él no regrese o que se acabe con la CICIG permite que grupos de pro-impunidad no tengan consecuencias por los delitos que cometan

La nueva ley de reconciliación impulsada por Linares Beltranena ya se aprobó en primera lectura. En dos sesiones más el Congreso la puede aprobar


Durante su convalecencia comenzaron las presiones: bajo amenazas de encarcelarla, enviados del Ejército le arrancaron una firma que quedó plantada en un documento donde ella otorgaba el perdón a los agresores

Immigration authorities were unclear last week about whether the visa offer was temporary, but while it lasts migrants from Central America are continuing to arrive at the border with backpacks on their shoulders

Central America Regional, Mexico

The Mexican government initially said it was speeding up the application process for humanitarian visas as an “exception” for the current migrant caravan only. But on Thursday, a spokeswoman with Mexico’s national migration agency said the expedited process would be permanent


Tonatiuh Guillén, who heads Mexico’s immigration agency, said he had not received any communication from the United States about when implementation of the measures would begin

Most of the migrants intend to head for the US, a fact Mexican officials have acknowledged. The "remain" policy could force asylum-seekers to wait in dangerous, cartel-controlled Mexican border towns, notorious for high homicide rates, for up to a year

The provision is ambiguously worded enough that it’s not an open-and-shut case


The opposition has been targeting the middle ranks, holding meetings with midlevel officers to explain a recent amnesty law passed by the opposition-led National Assembly for people who defect

El diputado de la Asamblea Nacional (AN), Julio Borges, afirmó que varios de los oficiales de la Fuerza Armada Nacional Bolivariana (FANB), se han puesto en contacto con la oposición venezolana pese a las recientes declaraciones de los generales chavistas

The international community must advance a democratic, non-violent solution to Venezuela’s crisis that leads to free and fair elections

Where in the past the United States might have felt isolated in Latin America, this time it has company

Venezuela has consistently been the third- or fourth-largest supplier of crude oil to the United States, and any disruption of imports would be costly

Provea aseguró que el asesinato de las 16 personas durante las manifestaciones de 2019 eleva a 231 el total de fallecidos en acciones de calle durante la “era Maduro”

Yevgeny Shabayev, leader of a local chapter of a paramilitary group of Cossacks with ties to Russian military contractors, said he had heard the number of Russian contractors in Venezuela may be about 400

Elliott Abrams is coming aboard to lead our efforts on Venezuela

The reluctance of defense officials to discuss even the position of U.S. military assets underscored the Pentagon’s desire to avoid escalating a potentially explosive situation in a region where the United States has limited military weight

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