Adam Isacson

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

August 2020

Top Defense Official in 2004: Backing Paramilitarism “Goes With the Job”

For nearly 20 years, when uniformed U.S. military deploy to Latin America, the U.S. Southern Command has required that they carry a little card reminding them of “the five ‘Rs’ of human rights”: to “recognize, refrain, react, record, and report” if they hear of, or witness, a human rights violation.

Higher up in the Pentagon, though, standards have been lower.

The National Security Archive just revealed a 2004 memo from Peter Rodman, the assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs in Donald Rumsfeld’s Pentagon (George W. Bush’s first term). It’s a series of bullet points addressing the suspicious past of Colombia’s then-president, Álvaro Uribe.

Uribe almost certainly had dealings with the paramilitaries (AUC) while governor of Antioquia [the department that includes Medellín, between 1995 and 1997],” Rodman informs Rumsfeld. But he brushes it off: “It goes with the job.

“Goes with the job?” The AUC, at the time, was on the Bush administration’s list of foreign terrorist organizations. The Bush administration had in fact added the AUC to the U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations on September 10, 2001. At the time, AUC leaders were sending hundreds of tons of cocaine to the United States. The AUC grew rapidly in size and strength in Antioquia while Uribe was governor, committing massacres including one that destroyed the village of El Aro in 1997—a crime for which Colombia’s Supreme Court recently called Álvaro Uribe to provide testimony. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, the paramilitaries committed the majority of extrajudicial killings and massacres in Colombia’s conflict, according to the government’s National Center for Historical Memory.

Assistant Secretary Rodman was not ignorant about Colombia. In August 2001, he had a long exchange with reporters about an initiative for which he was playing a lead role: the new Bush administration was reviewing U.S. policy toward the country with an eye to allowing Colombia’s military to use counter-drug aid to fight its armed conflict.

No U.S. official would ever, during Uribe’s presidency, have said publicly that the Colombian president—a Bush administration favorite—had links to the paramilitaries. In private, Rodman’s blasé attitude about a group that was killing thousands of civilians per year—a listed terrorist organization, no less, during the war on terror’s most intense moment—flies directly in the face of the uniformed U.S. military’s publicly stated attitude toward human rights in Latin America, going back to the 1990s.

Southcom’s “five ‘Rs,’” if truly observed, would have required evidence about Uribe’s dealings with the paramilitaries to have been recognized, reacted to, recorded, and reported, while U.S. officials should absolutely have refrained from shrugging it off as something that “goes with the job.” The exact opposite happened.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Jamir Mina Quiñones photo at Semana (Colombia). Caption: “Velación de los jóvenes asesinados en Llano Verde.”

(Even more here)

August 31, 2020

Western Hemisphere Regional

The IACHR salutes the comments of the Secretary General of the OAS on August 28 recognizing the competence of the Commission to elect its Executive Secretary and that he will guarantee the independence and autonomy of this body


Bolsonaro’s economic legacy may thus end up looking less like Pinochet’s pro-market regime in Chile and more like a period during Brazil’s own military regime in which the government spent heavily


El comandante de la Fuerza de Tarea Omega, brigadier general Raúl Flórez, interpuso esa acción contra las organizaciones que verificaron la situación humanitaria entre el sur del Meta y el Guaviare porque supuestamente lo estaban difamando

De acuerdo con el Consejo Superior de la Judicatura, la Justicia Penal Militar debe llevar el proceso en contra del capitán de la Policía Manuel Cubillos debido a que se encontraba en el ejercicio de sus funciones

Según explicaron, la deportación a Italia resulta perjudicial a los interés del gobierno Trump. Por eso, atendiendo una solicitud de Colombia, alistan su envío al país en las próximas semanas

La Sala de Instrucción de la Corte decidió, en reunión extraordinaria, que perdió la competencia frente al caso. El asunto ahora pasa al fiscal Francisco Barbosa. ¿Qué ocurrirá con la medida de detención contra Uribe? Esa es la gran pregunta

A top Pentagon deputy told Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld that “Uribe almost certainly had dealings with the paramilitaries” during the period at issue in the current case

El contrato aparece firmado por Tomás Uribe Moreno, hijo del expresidente, en calidad de cliente, y por Justin M. Peterson, como represetante de DCI Group

El Salvador

Un enviado de la Presidencia de Nayib Bukele argumentó ante el juez del caso de la masacre de El Mozote que se arriesga “la seguridad nacional” al revelar planes militares “secretos” de 1981


On July 4, 2020, units of the Xatruch Task Force, with the support of the Office of the Attorney General against Organized Crime and the Technical Criminal Investigation Agency, found a 6-hectare coca field in Colón department


El Gobierno Federal presentó información de dominio público, apuntando que algunas organizaciones de la sociedad civil y un medio de comunicación recibieron fondos de fundaciones y organizaciones extranjeras “para oponerse a la construcción del Tren Maya”

La Sedena tiene 701 elementos, más la Guardia Nacional con 134, y Fuerzas Estatales con 196; los Agentes del SAT son 156, con un total de 1,187 elementos

U.S.-Mexico Border

How did I arrive to a career as a U.S. diplomat, only to be bullied and harassed by U.S. officials at the port of entry of a country I was born in and working for?


Identifica un patrón de actuación sistemática en el que los jefes y responsables estimulan y aúpan, incluso, exigen las muertes, en los operativos policiales mientras los subordinados obedecen órdenes

El director de operaciones del Comando Sur aseguró que Venezuela se ha convertido en un “paraíso para narcoterroristas”

The day ahead: August 31, 2020

I should be reachable this afternoon. (How to contact me)

I’m back from vacation. It was useful to disconnect from the day-to-day demands of the work, do some reflecting, writing, and lots of reading, and just spend time with the family.

The one “work thing” I did was add two months (about 70 entries) to our timeline of peace and conflict events at, which is now up to date through June. I expect to have July and August added by mid-September. This process forces me to skim through all of the articles and reports I’ve saved, adding bits to my research database and knitting together ideas.

The timeline itself has now become an accessible, graphical guide to what happened over the first half of the year in Colombia’s conflict and peace implementation effort. My favorite feature is that you can click on one of the topics in the right-hand column (“Illicit Crop Eradication,” “U.S. Policy,” “Transitional Justice” etc.) and get a briefing about just that issue.

I have an early doctor appointment—this should be the last check-up on the wrist I broke in June, which I’d say is about 95 percent recovered (it’s still hard to do a push-up). Then, a weekly all-hands staff meeting. I should be reachable all afternoon while I dig out all of my unanswered communications from the past two weeks, take care of any urgent tasks that are bound to arise from that, and add some routine website updates.

On vacation

I’m off this week and next week. Spending this week at the beach with family, next week at home catching up on life.

Posts will be infrequent or zero this week, infrequent next week. Other than 2 days in February and 1 day in July, these are the only true days off I’ve had in 2020, and I could really use them.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Photo from Semana (Colombia). Caption: “La fumigación aérea con glifosato se encuentra prohibida en Colombia desde 2015 por la Corte Constitucional.”

(Even more here)

August 14, 2020

Western Hemisphere Regional

The president took office with immigration enforcement plans that placed DHS at the forefront of his domestic agenda. In the three and a half years since, the White House has run the department as an instrument of policy and politics


El viceministro de Régimen Interior y Policía, Javier Issa, alertó que en el Chapare cochabambino se gesta una “narcoguerrilla”, luego de identificar a algunas personas que exhibieron armas de fuego en los puntos de bloqueo

Politically unstable when the pandemic hit, Bolivia is descending into chaos


Not only is this the first senior space flag officer event between the U.S. and Brazil, but it is the first such event for the U.S. Space Force


Hay acusaciones a 439 actores económicos acusados de haber financiado o colaborado con grupos armados al margen de la ley en el conflicto colombiano, pero las condenas son casi nulas

Los últimos enfrentamientos entre campesinos y miembros del Ejército, ocurridos en la vereda Nueva Colombia, ilustran las ya constantes agresiones por la que atraviesan las comunidades de la región del Guayabero

Mientras la Policía y la Anla continúan los trámites que le permitirían al Gobierno hacer fumigaciones aéreas con glifosato, diferentes colectivos adelantan campaña para no legitimar los espacios propuestos

El ataque se presentó en medio del operativo que adelantaba el Ejército Nacional para desalojar a las comunidades indígenas de las haciendas Granadita y Gracia Arriba

A la masacre en la que murieron cinco menores de edad en el barrio Llano Verde, de la Comuna 15, le siguió ayer una explosión junto al CAI del sector, ocurrida en pleno momento del velorio

This occurred in Llano Verde, a neighborhood in eastern Cali where the majority of families were forcibly displaced as a result of the armed conflict

Colombia is primed to play a pioneering role in the Trump administration’s “Back to the Americas” initiative, Mauricio Claver-Carone, U.S. President Donald Trump’s senior adviser on Latin America, told Reuters

El Salvador

El Salvador’s downward trend in homicides suggests that gang cells in the streets have chosen not to battle with Bukele’s troops or among themselves


En la última década en Honduras ha sido prevaleciente la presencia de militares en las calles reprimiendo protestas sociales, interviniendo instituciones como salud y educación y hasta ocupando titularidades de secretarías de estado

By any reasonable standard, the human rights and environmental impacts of the Jilamito hydropower project and the record of both Ingelsa and the Honduran state should have prevented this investment from going forward


He has had 20 months in office to prove that his pacific policy can work, but so far the results are disappointing. American pressure, and El Mencho’s outrages, could oblige him to adopt tactics he has hitherto resisted


In the more than two years since the government of Nicaragua launched a brutal crackdown on the country’s citizens, the U.S. continues to exert economic and diplomatic pressure

U.S.-Mexico Border

Since March, 110,107 immigrants have been quickly sent back to their home countries without so much as a court hearing under the new policy


Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro continues to serve as a threat to the democratic freedom in neighboring nations in South America, the commander of U.S. Southern Command said

One official said the vessels had been taken over without the use of military force but didn’t provide any details

Craig Faller destacó que el Comando Sur está atento a lo que ocurre en la región y dijo que Maduro se sostiene por actividades ilegales y la influencia rusa

Some articles I found interesting this morning

(Even more here)

August 13, 2020

Western Hemisphere Regional

The agency only tracks deaths that take place within its custody — not those of people who contract the virus while in detention, but then die of the illness once they are released or deported


The political field is sharply divided into two major antagonistic camps – masistas and anti-masistas – and neither can govern effectively while excluding the other


En el barrio hay microtráfico, guerra de pandillas, fronteras invisibles y violencia. Mucha violencia

U.S.-Mexico Border

A band of the Kumeyaay Nation whose native land spans both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border filed a federal lawsuit this week against the Trump administration seeking an injunction to stop further construction of the border wall

Some articles I found interesting this morning

U.S. Embassy in El Salvador photo at Diálogo. Caption: “Captain Exón Oswaldo Ascencio, head of the Salvadoran Navy General Staff, received the Boston Whaler vessel from the representative of U.S. Military Group El Salvador.”

(Even more here)

August 12, 2020

Western Hemisphere Regional

Medical experts and immigrant advocates have warned that the highly contagious COVID-19 puts everyone in detention at risk


El ministro de Gobierno adelantó que una vez se supere el conflicto esos grupos irregulares deberán rendir cuentas. Denuncia que el narcotráfico financia las movilizaciones en el país


why a president who is often regarded with a mix of incomprehension and horror by the rest of the world has maintained a steady domestic approval rating of about 40 percent

Many Brazilians are skeptical of the intentions of U.S. aid during the pandemic. The U.S. military continues to exert influence in Brazil and has a long history of supporting Indigenous displacement in Latin America


We contacted people who used to fight in the guerrilla movement The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC-EP), to see how they were coping

Este miércoles es la segunda audiencia territorial en la que esa jurisdicción escucha a los voceros de los exguerrilleros. Esta vez el foco estará sobre Meta, Guaviare, Arauca, Huila y Tolima

Ante el inminente envío del exjefe paramilitar a Italia, nadie se explica por qué Colombia no activó todos los mecanismos que tenía a su disposición para reclamar la extradición

Former Commander Jorge Armando Pérez will be barred from holding any public position for 20 years after being identified as the mastermind behind Dimar Torres’ death

Whatever happens to Uribe next, this will be a watershed moment for Colombian politics

La Corte se dispone a comunicar oficialmente al Senado que la medida de aseguramiento quedó en firme, a fin de que la corporación tramite la suspensión de Uribe como legislador

La situación de seguridad, los avances y las dificultades de la sustitución de cultivos y de los PDET, la satisfacción de los derechos de la víctimas y cómo va el proceso de incorporación de las FARC

Diez periodistas quisieron demostrar que el relato de la guerra no define al pueblo de San José de Uré, pero fueron obligados a callar violentamente

He remains in U.S. custody as Colombia — where courts have judged him responsible for more than 1,500 acts of murder or forced disappearance — fights a U.S. order that would send him to Italy, where he also has citizenship


Luis Lara, jefe del Comando Conjunto de las Fuerzas Armadas (FF.AA.), manifestó que los militares se encargarán de los controles en las vías de acceso a los centros de rehabilitación, ejecutando una seguridad perimetral

El Salvador

The donation is worth $1.5 million and includes logistics and maintenance training

El Salvador, Mexico

Of course, the gang sells drugs on a local level, but efforts to depict them as a drug trafficking organization, as US authorities want to describe them, are simply hyperbole


Through ongoing deportations, the United States, which now has had more COVID-19 cases than any nation worldwide, has become a major exporter of the virus to Guatemala and other countries


Honduras just killed corruption charges against government officials and a family member of President Juan Orlando Hernández. The move is a fatal blow to anti-corruption efforts in one of the region’s shadiest countries


Emilio Lozoya, who is also facing corruption charges, filed a complaint against Mr. Peña Nieto and former Finance Minister Luis Videgaray for allegedly ordering him to illegally finance Mr. Peña Nieto’s campaign and bribe legislators to secure passage of sweeping overhauls

Algunos operadores han decidido mudarse el Cártel Arellano Félix y, en medio de la pugna interna, células criminales se han aliado con “Los Erres”, grupo de sicarios del Cártel de Sinaloa

Desde el inicio del gobierno de Claudia Sheinbaum se han presentado 252 denuncias contra policías por delitos sexuales cometidos en la CDMX

U.S.-Mexico Border

U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials watched helplessly as the water levels at several ponds — the main habitat for the endangered fish at this Sonoran Desert refuge — dropped “precipitously.”

A California tribe whose ancestral lands span across the U.S.-Mexico border is suing the Trump administration to block construction of a section of border wall that the Kumeyaay people say is desecrating sacred burial sites


El Ceofan indicó que el 4 y 9 de agosto lidiaron con los casos de dos aeronaves con matrículas estadounidenses en el estado Zulia

Maduro would have to take significant steps toward democracy before we see sanctions lifted under a Biden administration

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Photo from La Nación (Chile).

(Even more here)

August 11, 2020

Western Hemisphere Regional

Canada has joined the opposition, diplomatic sources said, but has not done so publicly


¿No hemos visto cuántos años y muertes ha tenido un país como Colombia? ¿Eso estamos buscando?”, expresó el máximo jefe de las Fuerzas Armadas, general Sergio Orellana

El ministro de Defensa Fernando López afirmó que de ser necesario se emitirá un decreto supremo que permita a las Fuerzas Armadas (FFAA) intervenir en caso de que “grupos terroristas” armados estén detrás de los bloqueos en el país

“On social media there are videos of armed people and groups of people,” said armed forces General Sergio Orellana. “This is terrorism and terrorism directly affects state security”


If the Brazilian leader decided to ignore a ruling by the supreme court, what would the armed forces do? Are the former military people around the president an accelerator or a brake on his authoritarian instincts?


A pesar de que los cultivadores de coca se han organizado en estos territorios, las mujeres encuentran relaciones de poder desiguales que limitan su acceso a los espacios

El país, el Gobierno y la comunidad internacional deben rodear a los comisionados para no perder la oportunidad histórica que tenemos en la Comisión

Colombia presenta un complejo cuadro de procesos genocidas contra grupos políticos, pueblos indígenas y movimientos sociales, cuyo reconocimiento jurídico es cada vez más amplio

Aunque es legal que los excombatientes estén en el Congreso y los militares sigan activos mientras se esclarecen las investigaciones en su contra, víctimas han pedido que se instaure una medida cautelar para suspenderlos

Colombia, Venezuela

With safe border points closed due to COVID-19, civilians have been left at the mercy of criminal gangs


Un llamado a comprender la crisis social y económica que enfrenta el país hizo el comandante del Ejército ecuatoriano


The formula has become commonplace in Central America: the US Justice Department prosecuting elites long suspected of having criminal ties after local investigations are thwarted


The INM said there are currently 950 migrants in detention. But different statistics from the country’s Interior Ministry suggest that the number could be ten times that

Hay al menos una decena de cárteles mexicanos, con redes que se expanden a Estados Unidos, Centroamérica, Suramérica y Europa

Un juez federal libró órdenes de aprehensión contra 19 exfuncionarios de la Policía Federal (PF) que estuvieron bajo el mando del exsecretario de Gobernación

U.S.-Mexico Border

In the 1950s, Washington decided that a reasonable distance from the border for enforcement purposes was 100 miles – creating what the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has dubbed a “constitution-free zone”

The reality of the Central American crisis—rooted in US foreign policy—had impinged on the agents’ perceptions of themselves as vanguards and warriors of the border. Miller understood their unhappiness

Under the proposal, the government could block a citizen or legal resident’s entry if an official “reasonably believes” the person had been exposed to or was infected with the communicable disease

Her family still hasn’t heard the official version from Mexican consular officials — only from the guide she followed, who told them she fell and died during the raid of a safe house in New Mexico

ICE’s comprehensive testing appears to undermine the rationale for the mass expulsion policy: that it is necessary to “prevent the introduction” of COVID-19 into the United States


The country’s supreme court in recent months put Democratic Action and two other opposition parties in the hands of politicians expelled from those parties on accusations they were in cahoots with socialist President Nicolas Maduro

President Nicolás Maduro has been treating this crisis as an opportunity, steadily strengthening his grip on power ahead of this year’s parliamentary elections

Russia and China have long been allies to Venezuela, though the Maduro government’s failure to repay its debts to the two countries has strained these relations over the years

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Photo from Verdad Abierta (Colombia).

(Even more here)

August 10, 2020

Western Hemisphere Regional

Proponemos postergar la elección de presidente en la próxima Asamblea del BID, a fin de dedicar los próximos meses a definir estrategias y prioridades, tras lo cual concordemos de manera consensuada quien estará a la cabeza de la institución


Demonstrators allied to Evo Morales say authorities are using Covid-19 to delay vote

El exmandatario Evo Morales acusó al comandante en jefe de las Fuerzas Armadas, general Sergio Orellana y al general Iván Ortiz, con cargo en el Comando en Jefe, de estar detrás del supuesto intento de golpe


Brazil’s former health minister has warned Brazil’s response to the coronavirus pandemic is being bungled by unqualified army men “stuffing themselves with chloroquine”


Las comunidades indígenas son las más afectadas por ese delito

Desde 2017, en ningún año se han usado todos los recursos que se tenían previstos para la implementación del acuerdo de paz con las Farc

Los argumentos son escasos, las estigmatizaciones son muchas

Los señalamientos de que son un brazo político de las disidencias de las Farc y las amenazas contra sus vidas y bienes los obligó a salir del territorio

Colombia vive una etapa de violencia selectiva perpetrada por terratenientes, paramilitares, narcotraficantes y sus aliados políticos –entre ellos, el ala más radical del gobernante partido Centro Democrático

The documents nonetheless show a harried search for witnesses by lawyers who were repeatedly pushed by Uribe to gather favorable testimony

El senador habría desplegado un patrón sistemático de seis características para conseguir testigos falsos. Entre ellos, al parecer, el del exparamilitar el “Tuso“ Sierra

Según las denuncias, al menos 20 campesinos estarían retenidos por integrantes de la Fuerza de Tarea Conjunta Omega en la vereda Nueva Colombia, de Vista Hermosa

Con relación a la Fuerza Pública, el analista cuestiona sus estrategias, que mantienen un enfoque tradicional de descabezamiento de estructuras y criminales, pero no avanza en fortalecer la seguridad comunitaria y territorial

Esos instrumentos acelerarán los Programas de Desarrollo con Enfoque Territorial (Pdet), tarea que contará con el apoyo activo de la Fuerza Pública y el liderazgo de la Consejería para la Estabilización


Hechos están relacionados con la elección de cortes y el amparo que la CC emitió para detener el antejuicio contra cuatro de sus magistrados


Representantes de cinco colectivos de familiares de personas desaparecidas exploraron, por primera vez, el territorio de un sitio de hallazgos de restos humanos en el estado ubicado en el ejido Cupuato en Uriangato, en los límites con Michoacán

Los siete agentes fueron detenidos porque autoridades los relacionan con el crimen organizado y delitos como secuestro y extorsión

Algunos de ellos siguen activos en lo que ahora es la Guardia Nacional

Especialistas en política de drogas y delincuencia organizada coincidieron en que la respuesta del Gobierno a los videos de cárteles de la droga no ha sido la correcta

U.S.-Mexico Border

Emergency pandemic measures that rapidly “expel” most detainees have had the unintended consequence of allowing them to try repeat illegal crossings

Uruguay, Western Hemisphere Regional

The 1970 murder of a U.S. police advisor in Uruguay offers lessons for police reform debates today


El ahora general en jefe acumula en los últimos años más mandos civiles que castrenses. Sin embargo, oficiales del Alto Mando se refieren a Reverol Torres como «un líder militar»

Lawyers for the former Green Berets, Luke Denman and Airan Berry, said they were barred from the secretive jailhouse proceedings Friday night in what they consider a violation of their constitutional rights

Latin America-related Online Events This Week

Wednesday, August 12

Thursday, August 13

  • 9:00 at Countering the Maduro regime’s global web of illicit activities (RSVP required).
  • 11:00-12:30 at Private Sector and Early Childhood Investment (RSVP required).
  • 12:00-1:30 at The Struggle for Human Rights in Bolivia During the Áñez Government and the COVID-19 Pandemic (RSVP required).
  • 5:00 at Zoom: La sociedad civil como víctima de los delitos de corrupción (RSVP required).

5 links from the past week

  • Writing for ProPublica and the Texas Tribune, Lomi Kriel digs into the Trump administration’s use of the COVID-19 health orders at the border to expel migrants, including well over 3,000 unaccompanied children. Some non-Mexican children may have been sent back to Mexico in the middle of the night. Some were sent back to Central America where they faced certain danger. Some ended up in U.S. hotel rooms for many days, guarded by an unlicensed contractor. None, upon their expulsion, was given a “primary registration number,” making it almost impossible for advocates to find out what happened to them. And CBP, whose organizational culture grows more diseased by the moment, isn’t saying.
  • Writer Ana Karina Zatarain accompanies mothers searching with poles and shovels for the bodies of missing loved ones in Sinaloa, Mexico. She takes a shovel and, horrifyingly, finds some recently buried people herself. A really well-written account of grief and horror and of the government’s indifference, which continues in the AMLO period. “Ambiguous loss” is the painful form of almost-grief suffered by those whose loved ones were victims of forced disappearance. It’s hard to grasp the person’s death when one can’t see the body.
  • Genero García Luna is currently in a New York jail awaiting trial for collaborating with the Sinaloa Cartel. García Luna was Mexico’s top security official during the period when Felipe Calderón was Mexico’s president (2006-12); he and his top officials worked closely with the DEA and other U.S. authorities. At SinEmbargo, Dolia Estévez highlights how García Luna appears to have done nothing, knowingly, while cartels tortured, raped, and murdered top Federal Police officials. The career Federal Police, she notes, are not very corrupt. It was top commanders like García Luna and his circle, the political appointees, who have six years to enrich themselves and leave.
  • A group of U.S. and Colombian economists finds a strong correlation between the Colombian Army’s 2003-2008 “false positive” killings and the government’s “body count” incentives. That’s unsurprising, but they find especially bad outcomes in regions where the judicial system was weak and the local brigade was headed by a colonel, not a general. The authors find fault with the common argument that building a state presence in a territory first requires the military to secure the zone. Instead, it’s better to hold the military fully accountable while “attempting to build state institutions in multiple dimensions simultaneously.”
  • Caquetá, Colombia, had a historic moment of tranquility in 2016 and 2017, when the FARC peace accord wound up and began its implementation. But amid continued government neglect, people who thought they would be able to lead their communities are being cut down. At least 25 social leaders have been killed in Caquetá, Verdad Abierta relates, especially those who defend collective land rights, environmental defenders, peace accord supporters, and former guerrillas. The government blames the killings on armed groups, but rarely investigates, and in many cases communities doubt that narrative.

Some articles I found interesting yesterday morning

Henry Romero/Reuters photo at PRI’s The World. Caption: “Oaxaca’s artisans take part in a protest outside the National Palace to demand the federal government help for the loss of jobs and decrease in their labor services, after the Mexican government declared a health emergency and issued stricter regulations to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Mexico City, April 20, 2020.”

(I fell behind a bit. Even more here)

August 7, 2020

Western Hemisphere Regional

Were Mr Biden to win, his priorities would be the American economy and dealing with China. But Latin America might not be at the bottom of his to-do list


“Esto no sólo es una respuesta frente al Covid-19. Es también una previsión estratégica frente a recurrentes amenazas, riesgos y agresiones a la seguridad e integridad de nuestro Estado”, señaló


Nada avizora que esto se pueda resolver en los dos años que le quedan de gobierno a Duque

Van a proponer un gran pacto nacional para encontrar e identificar a los miles de desaparecidos que dejó el conflicto

In municipalities with a higher share of colonels, the high-powered incentives period also coincided with a worsening of local judicial institutions and no discernible improvement in overall security

Sostiene que la participación de las comunidades está garantizada, pero, para las organizaciones, el tema no se ha resuelto

Se trata del Plan Integral Municipal y Comunitario de Sustitución y Desarrollo Alternativo (Pisda), que entró en vigencia en Cumaribo (Vichada); Barrancominas (Guainía); Rosas y Piamonte (Cauca); Dagua, Bolívar y El Dovio (Valle del Cauca) e Ipiales (Nariño)

Más allá de esta discusión y de los amores y odios que genera Uribe, su detención es histórica. La medida de aseguramiento es una respuesta a sus vínculos, voluntarios y desde hace décadas, con situaciones sospechosas por todo tipo de hechos fuera de la ley

His detention, many said this week, reinforced those rifts, fostering resentment on the right and strengthening the idea on the left that the former president is a criminal

Mientras en 2017, después de la firma del acuerdo de paz, se registraron 11 masacres, en 2018 la cifra llegó a 29 y el año pasado a 36

Entre sus virtudes estaba la enorme capacidad de conectarse desde el lenguaje cotidiano y la experiencia con las víctimas y las distintas audiencias que la escuchaban


Los cambios impuestos por el presidente Alejandro Giammattei a la institucionalidad de la paz y de derechos humanos no son casuales. Responden al proyecto de descabezamiento del entramado constitucional

Hundreds of migrant children rapidly expelled from the United States under a coronavirus immigration policy are returning to shelters in Guatemala where virus testing and bed capacity are regularly stretched

Guyana, Suriname

The fight over how to spend Suriname’s new riches, when they come, may be less bitter than Guyana’s. That, perhaps, is Suriname’s real gold


At least 116 Haitians have lost their lives to gang violence, mostly in the metropolitan Port-au-Prince region, during the first six months of this year, according to statistics compiled by human rights groups


The unraveling of the Pandora case appears to be the final nail in the coffin for Honduras’ fight against graft, which had already been severely weakened with the dismantling of MACCIH last January

El comunicador social fue objeto de un misterioso sabotaje registrado el pasado sábado, cuando abordo de su vehículo


La profunda militarización de la vida pública del país va en contrasentido de una política democrática de fortalecimiento institucional de los gobiernos civilistas mexicanos que se conformaron al término del proceso revolucionario del siglo pasado

Muy claridosa la Sedena. Por sus respuestas, ni les interesa saber, e investigar menos, las muertes de civiles desarmados a manos de soldados

López Obrador se convirtió en el Presidente militarizado, pues le ha dado casi todo a los hombres de verde

Los actos delictivos ligados a los cárteles han dejado más de 4 mil muertos en Guanajuato


El General de División (r) Walter Martos Ruiz, quien venía desempeñándose como Ministro de Defensa, asumió el cargo de Presidente del Consejo de Ministros

Personal del Comando de Inteligencia y Operaciones Especiales Conjuntas de las FF.AA. se enfrentó a un grupo de 14 terroristas el pasado 20 de julio en el distrito de Pucacolpa

U.S.-Mexico Border

In a 7-2 decision, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that lawmakers have the legal right to sue the administration over a financing maneuver that a separate California-based federal appeals court found to be an illegal encroachment of Congress’s power

The policy had been an incentive for them: If they failed in their bid to enter the United States, they said, they would be spared the hardship of detention and would be quickly sent back to Mexico, putting them in position to try again

He downplayed the concerns of public health experts. “Whether it’s six experts or six Border Patrol agents, I mean, who you gonna trust?” Garza asked

It was the third consecutive month that unauthorized crossings have increased at the U.S. southern border


En el nuevo reporte de la Comisión para los Derechos Humanos y la Ciudadanía (Codehciu) hay reflejados 127 de estos casos, correspondientes al primer semestre de 2020; y algunos familiares, que son víctimas indirectas, desmienten las versiones oficiales

A defining factor of the “maximum pressure” campaigns launched against both Iran and Venezuela is the term “all options are on the table,” words repeated by both Hook and Abrams

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Luis Robayo / AFP via Getty Images photo at Foreign Policy. Caption: “A Colombian soldier stands guard during a curfew imposed due to high numbers of coronavirus cases in Cali on July 17. In some of the country’s rural areas, illegal armed groups have taken the law into their own hands, implementing the curfews by force and threatening residents of harsh punishments if they fail to obey the lockdown rules.”

(Even more here)

August 6, 2020

Western Hemisphere Regional

The Biden campaign told me in an email that the presumptive Democratic nominee for president considers Mauricio Claver-Carone, Trump’s candidate to head the Washington D.C.-based Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), to be “overly ideological” and “under-qualified”

Since the end of March through the beginning of July, guards at detention centers across the country deployed force — pepper spray, pepper balls, pepper spray grenades — in incidents involving more than 10 immigrants at a time on a dozen occasions

To continue detaining nonviolent detainees as the virus tightens its grip on ICE facilities is pointless and dangerous — for detainees and for employees


  • Monica Gugliano, Vou Intervir! (Piaui (Brazil), August 6, 2020).

O dia em que Bolsonaro decidiu mandar tropas para o Supremo

One of the State Department’s top Brazil experts, who has lived 11 years in the country, the Texas native grabbed headlines cozying up to Bolsonaro with an assertive style

Central America Regional

Acaso el principal cambio puede ser que la migración deje de ser la moneda de cambio en la política exterior hacia la región


Aunque la implementación de los PDET ha avanzado, el gobierno Duque solo ha entregado 27 mil hectáreas de tierras a campesinos

Los exparamilitares claves en el proceso han denunciado amenazas contra ellos y sus familias. Juan Guillermo Monsalve incluso fue víctima de un ataque con cuchillo hace ocho años

Rights groups warn that armed groups including the ELN are using the pandemic to expand their control, threatening those who break the curfew with punishments and even death

El trámite se basó en una orden de captura contra el exparamilitar que estaba vencida. Y si bien esta fue prorrogada, la defensa de Mancuso alegó que el juez no era competente para tal prórroga


South Florida federal prosecutors have charged a former Economics Minister of Guatemala, Asisclo Valladares Urruela, 44, with helping to launder close to $10 million of illegal drug proceeds and other ill-gotten money


El término de su prisión preventiva vence el próximo 2 de septiembre, luego de 2 años y medio

“There’s so much hate,” she said. “So much rejection of what it means to be indigenous. So much contempt”


Unidentified assailants shot a journalist dead outside his home in the western Mexican state of Michoacan

El ataque contra el recinto policial estuvo liderado por Omar Mora Rojas, un presunto jefe de sicarios del cártel de La Nueva Familia Michoacana en la zona de La Ruana

U.S.-Mexico Border

“It’s a way we can identify what our biggest needs and the right mix in terms of personnel, technology and infrastructure along our border,” said U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, D-New Mexico

The migrant shelters where we provide care remain crowded tinderboxes for infectious diseases such as varicella, mumps, and norovirus, and now Covid-19. The situation on the border is a public health crisis of our country’s own manufacturing

Biden committed to fully ending land confiscations, a more aggressive stance than President Barack Obama took when he came into office after President George W. Bush had approved border fencing

Congressional investigators say the agency is blocking them and revealing little about its internal investigation


The Nicolás Maduro regime promoted Interior Minister Néstor Reverol to General in Chief — the highest military rank in Venezuela —even though the officer is charged by federal prosecutors in New York with accepting large bribes in exchange for protecting drug shipments

La debilidad más importante que existe en Venezuela «es que no hay un mecanismo especial para las personas defensoras de DDHH, como lo tiene Colombia y la mayoría de los países centroamericanos

En el texto, hecho a puerta cerrada, se pondrá a la milicia como un nuevo componente especial de la Fuerza Armada Nacional

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Lis Möller photo at Verdad Abierta (Colombia). Caption: “Deforestación para sembrar cultivos de uso ilícito.”

(Even more here)

August 5, 2020


Corporações alegam que já atuam dentro da excepcionalidade prevista na determinação e afirmam que decisão provocou aumento de confrontos entre facções


El general Marcelo Araya indica que el escenario en la región es “complejo”


El consejero Emilio Archila asegura que han avanzado en planeación, búsqueda de recursos y la ejecución de obras en poblaciones vulnerables

Independiente del curso que tome el proceso, este caso será a las elecciones presidenciales del 2022, lo que fue el plebiscito para las del 2018

The high court’s unanimous decision published late Tuesday states magistrates found “possible risks” of obstruction of justice while they continue probing accusations the ex-president had a role in bribing potential witnesses

La Sala Especial de Instrucción de la Sala Penal de la Corte Suprema de Justicia, mediante decisión del 3 de agosto aprobada y suscrita por unanimidad, resolvió la situación jurídica del senador Álvaro Uribe Vélez con imposición de medida de aseguramiento

Es la primera vez en la historia que se le impone una medida de este tipo a un exjefe de Estado

En el mapa para entender esos hechos y lo que se viene hay varios personajes y eventos clave

Sus expedientes en distintos despachos judiciales están nutridos de hechos ligados a homicidios, masacres, desplazamientos y presuntos nexos con grupos paramilitares que aún no se resuelven

Colombia, Guatemala

Samuel David Niño Cataño, piloto de la campaña electoral de Iván Duque y de confianza de Álvaro Uribe Vélez, se precipitó a tierra y desapareció el martes 3 de diciembre pasado en la frontera de Guatemala y México transportando desde Colombia una remesa de cocaína

Cuba, Panama

Panama’s National Migration Service reports that of the 106,622 Cubans who entered Panama in 2019, it had no exit records for 9,124 of them, which indicates they have either overstayed their visas or continued to travel north without documents

Cuba, Venezuela

En BBC Mundo entrevistamos a Juan González, exasesor del vicepresidente Joe Biden en la Casa Blanca


En los planes de la Secretaría de Seguridad se encuentra la ejecución de mayor patrullaje, más presencia de policías y militares en las comunidades garífunas

The COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the deployment to the region until now, allowing for a forward deployed team to integrate with Joint Task Force – Bravo of U.S. Southern Command, or JTF-Bravo


More than seventy thousand people have disappeared in Mexico, victims of drug-related violence. Their loved ones are grieving, searching, and, now, keeping their distance

El titular de la Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional, general Luis Cresencio Sandoval, dio un informe sobre las condiciones del operativo en el que, destacó, hubo un saldo prácticamente blanco

Se trata de dos personas que se desempeñaban como directores generales en la Guardia Nacional, así como a un director de administración de penales y a otro “de menor nivel”

En la nueva edición de la Secretaría de Seguridad, ahora de Protección Ciudadana en el Gobierno de Morena, Alfonso Durazo Montaño, no ha dado golpes de precisión. Su titularidad ha pasado más bien grisácea, y de acompañamiento a las fuerzas armadas

U.S.-Mexico Border

Advocates warned of monsoon floods as soon as the wall project was announced last summer

A union representing 14,000 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service employees has filed an amicus brief supporting a challenge to the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” program

Along the border with Mexico, approximately 60,000 people have been put in limbo through the Migrant Protection Protocols

Advocates say many are now “virtually impossible” to find


Maduro dijo que es el primer general en jefe en la historia de la GNB, además de recordar el atentado fallido en su contra del 4 de agosto de 2018

“He will not change the legal status for many countries around the world — and especially for us,” Trump’s special representative to Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, told the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Foreign Relations

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Sandra Sanchez photo at Border Report. Caption: “Tommy Fisher, CEO of Fisher Sand & Gravel Company, shows freshly poured concrete on Jan. 15, 2020, on a section of private border wall his company built on private lands south of Mission, Texas. Fisher’s company won a $289.5 million contract from CBP to build 17 miles of border wall in Laredo, Texas, the agency announced Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2020.”

(Even more here)

August 4, 2020


The office of hate does not have an official title or budget — but its work is subsidized with taxpayer money. It’s unclear how many people work for this office, or who they are

Vast quantities of the pills are still sitting in storage in the Brazilian megacity of São Paulo, and one former health minister believes they may eventually have to be destroyed


Se define si hay lugar a dictarle una orden de captura, una medida de casa por cárcel, una restricción de movilidad o si, por el contrario, puede seguir enfrentando el caso en libertad

El exsecretario de la Comisión de la Verdad y Reconciliación de Perú, y actual director de la Fundación Ford para el Área Andina, dice que los desacuerdos siempre van a ocurrir, pero que es importante que la comisión colombiana escuche a todos

El Salvador

Como requisito, los congresistas piden al Pentágono que entregue a las autoridades judiciales en El Salvador los archivos relacionados a la masacre de El Mozote y lugares aledaños, ocurrida en 1981


Es un testimonio inédito de primera mano que no deja duda de la penetración del narcopoder en las entrañas del Estado

The prosecutors’ office in Guerrero state said Morrugares and a state police officer were at a restaurant when they were killed in a hail of bullets on Sunday

Por primera vez en Guanajuato está prevista una búsqueda de desaparecidos que será realizada entre colectivos y autoridades en el municipio de Uriangato durante toda la semana

U.S.-Mexico Border

Fisher Sand & Gravel Company was awarded the $289.5 million contract to build the 17 miles of contiguous new border wall in Laredo

The incident comes months after a 19-year-old pregnant woman from Guatemala died after falling while trying to climb the border wall near El Paso, Texas

Agents “trashed” the camp, which No More Deaths has operated on a private, half-acre lot since 2004


Biden was the first Democratic presidential candidate in 2019 to support Guaido as interim president

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