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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April 2020

WOLA Podcast: Democracy, Displacement, and “Political Cleansing” in Colombia’s Armed Conflict

Here’s a great conversation with Abbey Steele of the University of Amsterdam’s Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences who, as she notes, was my intern at the Center for International Policy way back in the fall of 2000. (Deep in the archives are 3 memos she co-authored during her internship: here, here, and here.)

Today, Abbey is a professor at the University of Amsterdam’s Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences, a scholar of violence and politics who has done most of her work in Colombia. She is the author of Democracy and Displacement in Colombia’s Civil War (2017, Cornell University Press).

In this episode, she discusses her work in Apartadó, in Colombia’s Urabá region, which saw forced displacement by paramilitary groups intensify after Colombia began direct local elections and leftist parties performed well. She calls what happened “political cleansing” or “collective targeting”: the paramilitaries targeted entire communities for displacement based on election results.

She explains this and other findings, particularly how communities have organized to resist the onslaught. She has a sharp analysis of the challenges that continue for the displaced—and for communities and social leaders at risk of political cleansing—today, in post-peace-accord Colombia.

Listen above, or download the .mp3 file.

The day ahead: April 16, 2020

I’ll be around from late morning to end of day. (How to contact me)

This morning I’ll be in an NGO coalition meeting and posting a podcast. In the afternoon I’ll be trying to meet a couple of small writing deadlines, and catching up my research database.

COVID-19 Reveals the Full Trump Immigration Agenda, and Puts Lives Directly at Risk

Here’s a cross-post of a piece about the border right now that I wrote for Brújula Ciudadana (Citizen Compass), the publication of Mexico’s Iniciativa Ciudadana. They published it yesterday. (Hay también una versión en español.)

COVID-19 Reveals the Full Trump Immigration Agenda, and Puts Lives Directly at Risk

Adam Isacson

Director for Defense Oversight
Washington Office on Latin America

All around the world, leaders are seizing the COVID-19 emergency as an opportunity to grab authoritarian power. In the United States, this is happening in the arena of border and migration policy. The coronavirus crisis is allowing extremists in the Trump White House to make their full agenda a reality, without any discussion, debate, or oversight.

Before, there were some brakes. Congress wouldn’t approve requests to fund wall-building or expanded detention. Courts, at their slow tempo, were halting some excesses. Laws and treaty obligations were still permitting some threatened migrants to enter the country.

Now, the brakes are off. The hardest line is, for now, official policy. Most urgently, some of what is happening threatens to make the coronavirus emergency worse, creating new disease vectors in the United States, Mexico, and Central America.

The list of measures is long and alarming.

First, for the first time since passage of the 1980 Refugee Act, there is no right to seek asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border, at least for the duration of the coronavirus crisis. The border’s land ports of entry are closed to all without documents: the practice of “metering” that caused migrants to add their names to waiting lists throughout Mexican border towns is suspended, as zero people per day are now admitted to petition for asylum. Under a secretive policy called “Operation Capio,” border authorities are expelling all apprehended Mexicans, and nearly all Central Americans, back into Mexico in an average of 96 minutes. (Mexico has agreed to take Central Americans on a case-by-case basis, but in practice is accepting nearly all of them.)

These “expelled” migrants do not get a chance to ask for asylum. If one specifically raises the possibility of being tortured if returned-Border Patrol agents aren’t required to ask-then a Border Patrol supervisor, not a trained asylum officer, will decide whether his or her claim is credible. It is still not clear what is happening to the approximately 15 percent of apprehended migrants who are not Mexican or Central American, mainly Cubans, Haitians, Brazilians, Venezuelans, and people from other continents.

Second, even unaccompanied Central American children are being returned, though a 2008 law specifically states that unaccompanied children from non-contiguous countries must be admitted as potential trafficking victims. The Trump administration’s hardliners always detested this law, viewing it and other asylum statutes as “loopholes” for evading immigration restrictions. They have a legal pretext for the actions they are taking now: a law from 1944 that allows U.S. authorities to “suspend the right to introduce” people into the United States “in the interest of public health.” Though nothing in this law places it above the Refugee Act’s requirement to take in asylum seekers with credible fear, that is how the Trump administration is interpreting it: as a law that supersedes all others in the name of the COVID-19 pandemic. Right now, people in real need of protection at the U.S. border, people who could die without asylum, are being summarily expelled.

Third, the asylum hearings of those forced to “Remain in Mexico” have been postponed at least until May. This might make some sense, as courtrooms full of people are nowhere to be during a pandemic. But the result is that families are being forced to report to the border crossings on their assigned dates, only to be handed a piece of paper with a new hearing date far into the future. Their wait, in border cities where crimes against migrants are frequent, is being further prolonged. While they wait, many are packed into substandard housing, in close proximity to people who may be infected with COVID-19. Many are crowded into shelters run by charities, some of which are closing their doors out of health concerns. The worst-off are subsisting in tent cities, like the one in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, where about 2,500 people are awaiting their asylum dates with poor sanitation and little clean water.

Fourth, deportations are continuing in Mexico and Central America, with little reduction. ICE aircraft are arriving in San Salvador, Tegucigalpa, and Guatemala City every day or two, despite these countries’ closure of borders and air traffic to prevent introduction of COVID-19. Some of those aboard these flights are people being quickly expelled from the border. Others were arrested in the interior of the United States and spent time in detention. ICE is not testing deportees for coronavirus infection-the United States lacks testing capability. Agents are merely checking them for high fevers before boarding them on the planes. There is a very high likelihood of sending back people who are infected with COVID-19 but asymptomatic. As of early April, two deportees to Guatemala had tested positive, at a time when the entire country had only detected about sixty cases.

Fifth, migrant detention continues. As of the end of March, the Los Angeles Times reported, 38,058 migrants were detained in ICE’s network of mostly privately run detention centers around the country. Of these, more than 60 percent had nothing on their criminal records, and 6,166 were asylum seekers. Some were elderly, and many had pre-existing medical conditions. Most are living in crowded conditions, unable to practice social distancing. As of early April, 13 ICE detainees had tested positive for coronavirus, and detention center populations fear an explosion of cases. For some detainees, the wait for an asylum decision could become a death sentence.

Sixth, border wall construction has not slowed. Much of what is being built right now is happening in areas of southern Arizona and New Mexico that are biodiverse, environmentally fragile, sacred to indigenous people, and far from most population centers. Because of their remoteness, the private contractors building the wall are imported from elsewhere in the United States. They come to these small desert towns for a few days, where they live and eat together, then return to their home states, only to come back again. The possibility of these workers introducing COVID-19 to these towns, and taking it back to their home states, rises sharply every day that wall-building continues.

Seventh, about 540 new troops, active-duty military personnel, are headed to the border. A U.S. official told Reuters that the troops are needed because “the Trump administration worries the pandemic could further depress Mexico’s already troubled economy and encourage illegal immigration.” The troops will increase an already existing military presence of as many as 5,000 along the border, including about 3,000 National Guardsmen (military forces under command of state governors), who carry out logistical and planning duties, perform some construction (including superficial tasks like painting parts of the border wall), and include a contingent of military police. Maintaining this presence has already cost over $500 million since October 2018. This is very rare for the United States: since the 1878 passage of the Posse Comitatus Act, there are extremely few examples of this many U.S. troops operating for this much time on U.S. soil. Though the Defense Department seeks to minimize the troops’ contact with citizens, this highly politicized deployment sets a troubling precedent for the future of democratic civil-military relations in the United States.

Eighth, the Trump administration continues to encourage Mexico to continue its crackdown on migration, maintaining high levels of apprehensions and people in detention. The May 2019 threat of tariffs, tied to Central American migration through Mexico, continues to weigh heavily over the bilateral relationship. Mexican National Guardsmen continue to line the northern and southern borders. Mexico’s migrant detention centers continue to be about half full nationwide, with migrants unable to isolate, and those near the Guatemala border are likely more crowded than the national average. Since mid-March, migrants confined in these spaces have protested conditions, worried about the likely spread of COVID-19. Guards, including members of the National Guard, have met them with truncheons, tasers, and pepper spray.

This is a very grim list of measures. The COVID-19 emergency response is showing us what the Trump immigration agenda would look like under normal circumstances, if the administration were empowered to carry it out fully. It amounts to one of the gravest human rights crises in the Americas today, and it is mostly happening on U.S. soil.

In the name of human rights, all of these extreme policies need to stop. In the context of a pandemic, though, there are few political, legislative, or judicial tools available to compel Stephen Miller and the Trump administration’s cohort of immigration extremists to stand down.

Still, the danger of spreading the pandemic demands, urgently, that several of these measures stop immediately. Those are the policies that, as of this article’s writing in early April 2020, are actively spreading the coronavirus and threatening the health and safety of people in the United States as well as in Mexico and Central America. They must stop, and the U.S. government needs to implement common-sense alternatives for the duration of the crisis, if not afterward.

First, stop expelling asylum-seekers. Many have nowhere else to go: someone who is threatened in San Pedro Sula or Chilpancingo, then expelled to a Mexican border town, is effectively marooned in that border town and very vulnerable to the virus when it comes. A large majority of asylum seekers have relatives in the United States with whom they could stay and practice safe social distancing. They do not have such support networks in Tijuana, Ciudad Juárez, or Nuevo Laredo. Those who have a place to go should be paroled into the United States to await their hearings: it could save their lives.

The same goes for “Remain in Mexico” victims in the borderlands. Those who have family members in the United States who can take them in, and an impending court date, should be allowed in. It is urgent right now to reduce crowding in Mexico’s border cities, especially the tent encampments, before COVID-19 cuts through the asylum-seeking community like a chainsaw.

“But wait,” some might object. “If we parole these people in, we may never see them again. They’ll just join the undocumented population in the United States.” That concern is resolved by expanding alternatives to detention programs: the assignment of case officers who not only check in with them regularly to determine their location, but who ensure that they report to their hearings and are receiving due process in the U.S. immigration court system.

When the U.S. government has tried them, alternatives-to-detention programs have been remarkably successful. A much-cited example, among others, is the ICE Family Case Management Program, which the Obama administration piloted during its second term. The FCMP cost only US$36 per day, and 99 percent of families showed up for their court appearances. Another alternatives-to-detention effort, ICE’s Intensive Supervision Appearance Program, also achieved a 99 percent appearance rate, according to 2013 data, using a combination of telephone check-ups, in-person visits, and GPS monitoring.

Alternatives to detention are the obvious response to mass detention, too, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. All in ICE’s jails who have no serious crimes on their records, and who have a relative or similar contact with whom they may practice shelter-in-place and social distancing, should be paroled into the country with close monitoring from an alternatives to detention program. This especially applies to those over 60 years of age and those with other medical conditions, who face serious probability of death if they contract the coronavirus in a detention center.

Common sense and decency also demand a moratorium on deportations, at least until expanded testing and herd immunity start to bring the COVID-19 situation under control. Sending dozens of people per day to countries with very weak public health systems-people who’ve been at close quarters in detention centers and on aircraft-threatens to create disastrous disease vectors. The deportation flights can be put on hold, as the Guatemalan government has been imploring the United States to do.

And of course, wall construction should stop during this emergency: the barrier’s itinerant construction workers need to stay in one community, practicing social distancing, before they spread the virus any further. Obviously, there are many reasons why wall construction should stop permanently, beyond the pandemic emergency, but that’s a debate that continues in the U.S. Congress and court system.

To allow these extreme policies to continue, even as the United States, Mexico, and Central America continue to climb an exponential growth curve of infection, is an act of gross irresponsibility. The deadly consequences could be something that reverberates throughout the U.S. relationship with Latin America for a generation or more. Rather than cynically seize on a public health emergency to pursue a political agenda that most U.S. citizens do not support, the Trump administration urgently needs to stand down, even temporarily, to avoid large-scale, preventable loss of life.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Graciela López photo at Sin Embargo (Mexico). Caption: “Elementos de la Guardia Nacional al exterior dl INER.”

(Even more here)

April 15, 2020

Western Hemisphere Regional

Trump administration presses on with court proceedings, rebuffing pleas from attorneys and advocates


Luego de que esta guerrilla rechazara la designación de los exguerrilleros “Francisco Galán” y “Felipe Torres” como promotores de paz, Miguel Ceballos, alto comisionado de Paz, dijo que ellos seguirán ejerciendo esa labor

Las versiones revelarían que altos mandos sabían y hasta ordenaban ejecuciones. El excomandante del batallón en esa época, coronel (r) Hernán Mejía, lo ha negado hasta la saciedad

A través de mensaje de celular, Yuri Quintero fue informada de que el mismo grupo que mató al líder Marco Rivadeneira, el 19 de marzo pasado, atentaría contra su vida justamente por rechazar dicho crimen. Wilmar Madroñero y Yule Anzueta también están amenazados

El Gobierno Nacional emitió el decreto 546 con el que se decide conceder una excarcelación masiva de personas privadas de la libertad (se cree que unos 4 mil) que se encuentran en las diferentes cárceles del país como medida preventiva ante el covid-19

En la zona rural de este municipio se libra una guerra entre disidencias de las Farc y la guerrilla del Eln por el control del narcotráfico, lo cual ha provocado un ambiente de terror y zozobra entre los campesinos

“La paz en Colombia no debería ser una víctima de esta pandemia. En este sentido, es importante seguir avanzando en la implementación plena del Acuerdo de Paz”, dijo Carlos Ruiz Massieu

Just as Colombian actors are uniting to confront the pandemic, it is imperative for all actors to unite to end the epidemic of violence against social leaders, human rights defenders and former combatants

Colombia, Venezuela

The wild, open area was claimed by an armed group that then allowed people to settle on it, transforming the land into an expanse of mishmashed tarp homes and dirt roads


The government said that a recent shipment of masks, testing kits and ventilators that had been offered by Jack Ma, founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, could not make it to the Communist-run island because the US shipping company was worried about US sanctions being imposed

Dominican Republic

The election had been scheduled for May 17 but would be moved forward to July 5


In two weeks, 1,900 bodies were collected from Guayaquil’s hospitals and homes for burial, a fivefold increase in the city’s usual mortality rate

El Salvador

Los mensajes alarmistas que salen de la boca o del Twitter del presidente son inmediatamente reproducidos por sus propagandistas en redes sociales y han tenido éxito: buena parte de la población está en pánico

El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras

While I am pleased that a large portion of U.S. assistance will resume, our extended absence from the region will have severe long-term consequences


Those predatory lenders usually have the deed to the house and will sometimes threaten to turn families out onto the streets if they don’t pay up. If criminal groups are involved, those threats may turn violent

Health Minister Hugo Monroy’s comments were dramatically out of line with what the government had previously said about infected deportees

El titular del Ministerio de Salud, Hugo Monroy, dijo que el aumento de casos COVID-19 en el país se debe a las deportaciones, pues en la mayoría de los vuelos vienen connacionales infectados del nuevo coronavirus


Rising violence and an economic downturn “render Mexico especially vulnerable”

De 2012 a 2019, al menos 499 defensoras y defensores del ambiente han sido atacados, con un repunte tras la Reforma Energética e incluyendo casos por el Tren Maya y el Proyecto Integral Morelos, documenta un informe del CEMDA

Since March 23, 2020, detainees in five migrant detention centers in Mexico have protested, demanding to be released over fears that overcrowding and unhygienic conditions put them at increased risk of contracting COVID-19

Más de 2 mil agentes del Ejército, la Marina y la Guardia Nacional se integrarán a las labores de vigilancia en la Ciudad de México para cubrir la falta de centenares de agentes de policía en confinamiento

Pobladores de la comunidad Santa Cruz Nilhó, en el municipio de Bochil, desmintieron un supuesto enfrentamiento en el lugar, la noche de ayer, y aseguraron que se trató de un ataque armado del que responsabilizaron al alcalde

According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), Cárdenas Guillén’s new expected release date is scheduled for 30 August 2024. He will be out in four years and before the age of 60

Nicaragua, Venezuela

Se trata de una acción conjunta de 25 países llamada “Campaña Naval Internacional de Lucha Contra el Narcotráfico Orión”

U.S.-Mexico Border

140 miles of primary and 11 miles of secondary wall replaces old or dilapidated wall. It means that there are a total of 656 miles of primary barriers and 42 miles of secondary barriers at the border

Lawmakers and advocates call on the Trump administration to stop construction to protect public health and save taxpayer dollars

The coronavirus crisis is allowing extremists in the Trump White House to make their full agenda a reality, without any discussion, debate, or oversight

South America Regional, Venezuela

The top host countries for Venezuelans in Latin America, most of which made bold commitments to broaden access to formal status in the 2018 Quito Declaration, have begun to look inwards as the crisis drags on


The new framework makes it clear, as never before, that the United States would accept a transitional authority that includes chavista elements

The day ahead: April 15, 2020

I’m around until mid-afternoon. (How to contact me)

Other than a phone meeting in the late afternoon, I’m at my desk today; I’ve kept the day open to get a pile of research and writing done.

WOLA Podcast: “This is patently illegal”: The undermining of asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border

I do a lot of work at the border, but the skills I bring are more about the role of security forces like Border Patrol and the military, use of force, human rights, and accountability. I am not an expert in immigration law.

In the past few years, one of the main battlegrounds on border policy—more important even than Trump’s wall—has been on a key aspect of immigration law: the right to seek asylum. Since this isn’t my specialty, I’ve been shocked, and occasionally quite confused, about how the Trump administration has managed to systematically do away with asylum at the border, without changing a word of U.S. law.

I wanted to record a podcast with someone who could explain this clearly, to me and to WOLA’s audience. So I was delighted that Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, an immigration attorney who is the policy counsel at the American Immigration Council, agreed to join me and walk me through the complexity. If you’re on Twitter at all and follow the border or immigration, Aaron’s is probably a familiar avatar.

He explains why a right to ask for asylum exists in U.S. law, and how the asylum system is supposed to work, from arrival at the border through the U.S. immigration court system. He then explains the steps that the Trump administration has taken, at every step of the asylum process, to steadily decimate the right to seek protection at the US-Mexico border.

Aaron does a brilliant job here. As I say in the conversation, teachers should assign this episode in schools. Highly recommended.

Listen up above, or download the .mp3 file.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Acsucor photo at El Espectador (Colombia). Caption: “A pesar de que se había instalado una mesa para encontrar alternativas de producción para las familias a las que les fue erradicada la coca, esta no se ha vuelto a reunir.”

(Even more here)

April 14, 2020

Western Hemisphere Regional

In Latin America, such rhetoric is part of a long-standing right-wing intellectual current characterized by a racist identification with European imperialism

One side effect of the coronavirus outbreak may be a growing awareness of just how many people in ICE detention simply don’t have to be there


They may be particularly endangered by the pandemic, with some tribes never having had previous contact with the outside world, and others living far from healthcare facilities and without basic sanitation facilities

Mandetta has support from a coalition of politicians across the spectrum who believe it is the government’s duty to provide health care as well as from the scientific community, the military and, increasingly, investors

Residents fearful how their families will cope as food runs out and Jair Bolsonaro undermines lockdown message

Brazil, El Salvador, Mexico

Las maras establecen un toque de queda y reparten víveres por la crisis del coronavirus, expertos advierten que buscan reafirmar su control territorial ante una eventual negociación con el gobierno de Nayib Bukele


14 government senators have argued that should also apply to inmates at the infamous Punta Peuco prison – a comfortable facility housing about 70 inmates convicted of dictatorship-era human rights violations


Esas aeronaves, embarcaciones, unidades militares y hasta vehículos blindados ya no portan el armamento que siempre usan para el conflicto armado, ahora llevan toneladas de alimentos, elementos hospitalarios y hasta ambulancias

Habitantes de este municipio de Cauca denuncian al menos seis incursiones de hombres armados a corregimientos y veredas desde el 11 de abril

Las comunidades temen que el ingreso de extraños a su territorio los ponga aún más en riesgo de contraer el COVID-19, además de quedar sin sustento

Abogadas expertas en justicia transicional sostienen que el trato hacia la Fuerza Pública parece ser más “benevolente”. Entre las razones que dan está la figura de responsabilidad de mando y la libertad condicionada que se les dio

En su más reciente informe sobre la implementación del Acuerdo de Paz, que será presentado hoy ante el Consejo de Seguridad de Naciones Unidas, la Misión de Verificación de ese organismo multilateral volvió a alertar

Colombia, Venezuela

Situation report on the response to refugees and migrants by February 2020


Her asylum claim to remain in the United States was denied—a decision she is currently appealing


As the 5th National Search Brigade for Disappeared Persons continues its work, the main obstacle is the state

A diferencia de millones de negocios y hogares, los grandes criminales no viven ni al día ni a la quincena. El que se interrumpa el resto de la actividad económica por algunas semanas no los obliga a suspender o a replantear sus actividades estratégicas

El país registra en abril una nueva escalada de violencia homicida, a la que hay que enfrentar con policías cuya evaluación sigue incompleta

U.S.-Mexico Border

The billions of dollars appropriated and diverted to fund Trump’s border wall have created a new border-industrial complex, in which the same weapon companies also manage the government’s IT systems, design systems of mass-surveillance, offer management and hiring services, and more

Border Patrol is seeing more seizures between ports in some places where they had a downward slide for the past several years

Is the need of travel to seek protection any less essential than that of a student seeking educational opportunity or of a business looking for profit?

The CDC Order is like a bullseye drawn on the side of the barn around the arrow that has already been shot


A pandemic and a seismic shift in global oil markets have shaken the country, posing a severe new test for the president just as he seemed to be tightening his hold on power

Estrenada como componente de la Fuerza Armada Nacional (FAN), el 30 de enero de 2020, a la hasta ahora llamada fuerza de complemento se le ha visto activa también en la vigilancia del cumplimiento del protocolo de seguridad en medio de la pandemia

The day ahead: April 14, 2020

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

No meetings on the calendar today. I’ve got a lot of research to catch up on, piles of documents that need to be read and databased. I look forward to doing that. I’ll also post a new podcast this morning.

WOLA Podcast: Protecting Civilians from Harm

Here’s a podcast that I recorded last Wednesday and am pleased to post now.

How to minimize harm to civilians during armed conflict is a challenge WOLA faces frequently. That has especially been the case in Colombia, the only formally defined armed conflict in the Americas in recent years. But many Latin American countries are places where civilians are falling victim to violence in devastating numbers right now—even if the situation of insecurity doesn’t meet the international law definition of “armed conflict.”

How do we minimize harm to social leaders, human rights defenders, and all other non-combatants in these situations of violence? The Center for Civilians in Conflict, or CIVIC, is dedicated to this question. Founded in 2003 to advocate for civilian victims of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, CIVIC engages with armed actors and with communities to minimize harm. Virtually all of its work so far has taken place outside of the Western Hemisphere, but that may soon change.

To talk about what minimizing civilian harm could look like in Latin America’s not-quite-armed-conflict contexts, the Podcast talks to Protection Innovation Fellow Annie Shiel, who was a founding member of the State Department Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor’s Office of Security and Human Rights; and with Mike Lettieri of the University of California at San Diego’s Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, who is working with CIVIC to develop approaches to work in Latin America.

Listen above, or download the .mp3 file.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Anadolu Agency via Getty Images photo at The Guardian (UK). Caption: “Venezuelans on their way back to their economically devastated country from Bogotá, Colombia, this week.”

(Even more here)

April 13, 2020


El Presidente habla de todo: la pandemia, la crisis, el fiscalismo oficial, la necesidad de aplicar un Plan Marshall, Cristina, el Papa, el caso Arroyo, su salud y sus nueve kilos de más

Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador

Cuba’s Cold War-era medical brigades, long the island’s widest-reaching and most influential diplomatic tool, are having a resurgent moment


Bolsonaro is one of just four world leaders still downplaying the threat of coronavirus to public health, alongside the authoritarian presidents of Nicaragua, Belarus and Turkmenistan

Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela

With many South American countries under lockdown of some sort, exiles are taking to the road – but still only a fraction of the 4.5m who left Venezuela

Caribbean Regional

In the past week, three Caribbean nations —the Bahamas, Cayman Islands and Barbados —have all had container loads of personal protective equipment purchased from U.S. vendors blocked from entering their territories by U.S. Customs and Border Protection


Surviving the coronavirus will be meaningless if Chileans do not simultaneously address the underlying causes of injustice and inequality


Hoy los avances se concentran en la puesta en marcha de los 16 Programas de Desarrollo con Enfoque Territorial (PDET). La entrega de tierras a los campesinos y la creación de una jurisdicción agraria que dirima los conflictos sobre la tierra están entre los principales pendientes

SEMANA tuvo acceso a un dramático informe de la Comisión de la Verdad que pone en evidencia la violencia contra los desmovilizados y entrega datos inéditos de la arremetida contra la Farc que deja 194 muertos

El jefe del ente investigativo Francisco Barbosa, aseguró que Henry Castellanos, hoy en las disidencias de las Farc, y miembros del ELN habrían orquestado las protestas en varias prisiones, incluyendo La Modelo en donde hubo 23 muertos

Según las autoridades, se trata de un mercenario al servicio de este grupo armado que estaría detrás de varios asesinatos de defensores de derechos humanos, de reinsertados de la exguerrilla, así como de casos de desplazamiento forzado


Un total de 30 467 soldados de tierra, mar y aire, distribuidos en todo el territorio participan en las acciones destinadas a atender la emergencia sanitaria


Decenas de migrantes arrestados por la Border Patrol al tratar de cruzar la frontera fueron entregados al INM y abandonados en Villahermosa, Tabasco, y otros municipios cerca de Guatemala. No pueden regresar a sus países


Nicaraguans are nervously wondering if the former Marxist guerrilla is ill, dead or simply avoiding human contact. Health and human rights groups in the hemisphere, meanwhile, are growing increasingly alarmed at the government’s laissez-faire approach

U.S.-Mexico Border

About five hours later, CoreCivic staff relented and gave out masks without the contracts


The investigation was sparked by a cache of internal army documents provided to OCCRP. Reporters then scoured land and company records in Venezuela and the U.S., and interviewed sources such as military officers with knowledge of companies connected to the generals

The priority of the U.S. in the country should be to avoid a humanitarian disaster, not sending naval destroyers

The day ahead: April 13, 2020

I’ll be most reachable mid-day. (How to contact me)

Over the course of the day I’ve got a morning staff meeting, an interview with a reporter, a podcast recording, and a conversation with a student working on Colombia. In between, I’ll be posting a podcast recorded last week, and doing research about the border.

New explainer on the ELN

When I launched the “Explainers” section of WOLA’s renovated website, I wrote that I “plan to add approximately one per week between now and June.”

That was on March 25—18 days ago. I’m pleased to say that finally, I’ve posted a fourth one.

This one took longer for a reason, though. It’s a huge topic: an overview of the National Liberation Army, ELN, Colombia’s largest existing guerrilla group. The Explainer whirls you through the ELN’s unfortunate history, its command structure and way of operating, its geography, its revenue streams, its awful human rights record, and its experience with peace talks. All in a concise 5,400 words—but with lots of photos and maps.

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