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.

Categories

Get a weekly update in your email




September 2020

The day ahead: September 22, 2020

I’ll be mostly unavailable today due to several commitments. (How to contact me)

I’m speaking on a panel this morning about civil-military relations in Latin America. Then I have interviews or meetings with a journalist, some folks from USAID, and a scholar with a research project. And then this evening, WOLA is virtually hosting its annual human rights awards (please join us). All of this will make me hard to get in touch with today.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Photo from Milenio (Mexico). Caption: “Padres de los 43 normalistas de Ayotzinapa exigen justicia.”

(Even more here)

September 21, 2020

Western Hemisphere Regional

A huge trove of secret government documents reveals for the first time how the giants of Western banking move trillions of dollars in suspicious transactions

The shocking details of Wooten’s complaint are a reminder of why long-standing calls for accountability have done little to change systematic patterns of abuse

Brazil

Alter do Chao’s struggle with land grabbers has only worsened since, residents and activists say, with lawbreakers more brazen about occupying land, then slashing and burning forest to make way for houses and fields

Chile

“Uno puede entender todas las legítimas aspiraciones de los ciudadanos. Pero lo que no es posible entender es el grado de violencia que pudimos ver. La quema de las estaciones del metro pareciera haber sido concertada, no un asunto espontáneo”

Colombia

Defensoría del Pueblo indicó que los autores hacen parte de un grupo armado. Autoridades tratan de esclarecer lo ocurrido

Emilio Archila, alto consejero presidencial, rinde cuentas de la implementación del acuerdo de paz

In Santander, Colombia, timber traders corrupted regulatory, police and judicial systems on their way to trafficking untold amounts of wood from the state

En mayo de 2019 se desplazaron de Puerto Asís a Puerto Guzmán, donde levantaron un proyecto piscícola del que ya comercializaron más de tres toneladas de tilapia

It calls for the national government to take control of the drug market by purchasing coca leaf harvests and regulating cocaine sales

“Esa situación de los niños no nos hace sentirnos contentos ni orgullosos”

No es la primera vez que las autoridades vinculan a organizaciones comunitarias con grupos guerrilleros como el Eln

  • Yohir Akerman, Dios y Patria (El Espectador (Colombia), September 21, 2020).

Existen relatos y evidencias desconocidas hasta ahora que demuestran que miembros de la Policía atacaron y asesinaron a personas que estaban en labores cotidianas

Dejusticia estima que entre 2005 y 2014, la estrategia de aspersión costó casi 80 billones de pesos, a precios de 2018. Lo que equivale al 33,9 % del Presupuesto General de la Nación

Hay que ir al fondo de la propia institución

El general Óscar Atehortúa Duque, director de la Policía Nacional, informó que para las manifestaciones previstas para este lunes, los uniformados no usarán armamento con el fin de proteger la vida de los marchantes

El alcalde de Buenos Aires, Cauca, Óscar Edwin López, confirmó la masacre de seis jóvenes, quienes estaban departiendo en una gallera del corregimiento de Munchique hacia el mediodía de este domingo 20 de septiembre

Hay todo un entramado de instituciones civiles que deberían dirigir y vigilar el ejercicio de la fuerza pública, pero no están funcionando

Colombia faces constant pressure from the United States, a major destination for cocaine, to reduce the size of crops of coca

Colombia, Venezuela

Al menos cuatro militares venezolanos murieron en un combate con un grupo ilegal colombiano que no fue identificado y en el que fueron “neutralizados”

Según reportes extraoficiales, durante la tarde de este sábado 19 de septiembre se produjo un enfrentamiento armado en la frontera con Colombia en Apure, que dejó un saldo de 19 personas muertas

Cuba

The island was able to control the coronavirus, but the dearth of tourists in the pandemic’s wake strangled an economy already damaged by mismanagement and U.S. sanctions

El Salvador

Un principio elemental de la disciplina militar es que le corresponde al superior asumir la responsabilidad por las órdenes que dictare

Honduras

Juan López ha decidido oponerse a un proyecto minero por el que se ha reducido el área protegida del Parque Nacional “Montaña Botaderos Carlos Escaleras”, al norte de Honduras. Por su lucha, Juan enfrenta un proceso judicial junto con otras 31 personas

Political elites in this remote part of Honduras have maintained a profitable relationship with timber traffickers for decades

Mexico

The illicit timber trade is the primary concern for many of the Indigenous communities in the Sierra Tarahumara

El Instituto Chihuahuense de las Mujeres (Ichmujeres) manifestó su rechazo a la versión del comandante de la Guardia Nacional, Luis Rodríguez Bucio, quien afirmó que la muerte de Yessica Silva, en la presa La Boquilla, en Delicias, se trató de un “desgraciado y lamentable accidente”

La Fiscalía de Chihuahua dijo haber constatado que fueron elementos de la Guardia Nacional quienes dispararon contra Jéssica Silva y su esposo

En el documento piden “detener y someter a proceso a los elementos del 27 batallón de infantería

Se reunieron con autoridades de la oficina de Asuntos Antinarcóticos y Aplicación de la Ley (INL por sus siglas en inglés) de la Embajada de los Estados Unidos de América en México, con el objetivo de reforzar los lazos de cooperación entre ambas instituciones y establecer nuevos proyectos de cooperación

Peru

The Patrones de Ucayali, a criminal network led by a former police officer, illegally felled the forests of eastern Peru to feed domestic and international black markets

The opposition’s motion to impeach the president for alleged obstruction of justice was supported by 32 of Peru’s 130 lawmakers, far short of the two-thirds majority of 87 votes required

The day ahead: September 21, 2020

I’ll be mostly reachable this afternoon. (How to contact me)

I’ve got an internal meeting much of this morning, and a conversation with legislative staff this afternoon. I’m mostly at my desk all afternoon.

Latin America-related online events happening this week

Monday, September 21

  • 11:00-12:00 at wilsoncenter.org: Trump or Biden: What Would it Mean for Latin America and the Caribbean (RSVP required).
  • 2:00 at ausm.community: Mariana Hernández Burg – AUSM (RSVP required).
  • 2:00-5:00 at migrationpolicy.org: 17th Annual Immigration Law and Policy Conference (RSVP required).

Tuesday, September 22

  • 12:00-2:00 hosted by temblores.org: Racismo y Violencia Policial (RSVP required).
  • 2:00-5:00 at migrationpolicy.org: 17th Annual Immigration Law and Policy Conference (RSVP required).
  • 7:00 at statemuseum.arizona.edu: Massive Fortification of the U.S. Border: A Modern History (RSVP required).
  • 8:00 at wola.org: 2020 WOLA Human Rights Awards and Benefit Gala (RSVP and donation required).

Wednesday, September 23

Thursday, September 24

Friday, September 25

  • 1:30-3:00 and 4:00-5:30 at arizona.zoom.us: Environmental Defenders and Human Rights in Central America and Southern Mexico (RSVP required).

Some articles I found interesting this morning

(Even more here)

September 18, 2020

Western Hemisphere Regional

La Comisión Interamericana expresa su profundo rechazo a la decisión del Secretario General de la OEA, Luis Almagro quien, al haber negado esta renovación contractual quebranta una práctica establecida por más de 20 años

That it can no longer lead one of its flagship international institutions marks a nadir for Latin America. The region is dis-integrating

The 39-year-old woman from Cuba was told only that she would undergo an operation to treat her ovarian cysts, but a month later, she’s still not sure what procedure she got

Bolivia

El Informe señala que en las operaciones conjuntas de la Policía Boliviana y FFAA el 15 y el 19 de noviembre, en las Masacres de Sacaba y Senkata, se evidencian elementos que configuran asesinato

The move in the poor, landlocked country of 11.3 million will likely boost the candidacy of Carlos Mesa, a centrist ex-president who is polling in second place

The announcement came just a day after a well-regarded poll reported that she had slid into fourth place

Colombia

Colombia’s police do not make people feel safer. They glorify combat

Massacres are not collateral damage as armed actors dispute territory. They are an intentional strategy to consolidate social control

Son 15 los exjefes guerrilleros que han dado su versión sobre el caso. Algunos de ellos lo reconocieron explícitamente

Mexico

Además, en su informe, denunció que la Fiscalía del estado no ofreció justicia a las víctimas

Los más de 650 firmantes manifiestan que hoy en México la libertad de expresión está bajo asedio y que con ello “está amenazada la democracia”

Se quiere llegar a 6 mil elementos de seguridad en el estado, pero la pandemia ha detenido los procesos de selección

Iniciamos invariablemente con la cifra de homicidio doloso, que es obviamente la de mayor impacto mediático, como siempre. La tendencia histórica es de crecimiento, es muy fuerte

Paraguay

Se estima que son unos 100 hombres y mujeres. Pero el pequeño Ejército del Pueblo Paraguayo (EPP) nuevamente tiene en vilo a las autoridades de Paraguay

Dangerous times in Colombia

It was stunning to see, over the past weekend, top Colombian officials start pushing the narrative that “the ELN and FARC dissidents” were behind last week’s confrontations between police and thousands of citizens all over Bogotá. This seems bizarre and removed from reality, but they continue to promote it.

A September 8 mobile phone video showed Bogotá police administering repeated electric shocks to Javier Ordóñez, a lawyer in his 40s, as he begetd them to stop. Ordónez died of blows to his skull later, in police custody. The images triggered citywide protests on September 9 and 10. Some of them were violent: the police reported nearly 200 agents wounded, and 54 CAIs—small posts set up as a “community policing” model around the city—were defaced, vandalized, or destroyed.

These numbers would have been lower had the police employed their profession’s “lessons learned” about crowd control, practicing de-escalating techniques. Instead, they did the opposite: they escalated aggressively.

Police in Bogotá and the poor neighboring municipality of Soacha killed 13 people on the nights of the 9th and 10th, and wounded 66, some of them with firearms. Widely shared videos showed cops beating and kicking people who were already on the ground, shooting rubber bullets into subdued people at pointblank range, and discharging their firearms indiscriminately. Bogotá Mayor Claudia López, whose direct orders to the police were ignored, gave President Iván Duque a 90-minute video compiling citizen-recorded examples of this brutality.

You’d think that the people running Colombia right now would want to treat what happened last week very seriously. They’re governing one of the most unequal societies on the planet, and it’s on the edge right now. In Bogotá, a city of 8 million, people in the middle, working, and “informal sector” classes were already angry at stagnating living standards and an out-of-touch government. Last November, they participated in the most massive protests that the city had seen in more than 40 years (which the police also, at first, escalated violently).

Their situation has grown desperate after a six-month pandemic lockdown that pushed millions out of work (or out of informal-sector subsistence), and back into poverty. People are hurting. Anxiety, stress, and mental health issues are off the charts. The police, too, are frayed after enforcing semi-quarantine for so many months.

With all that going on, if a foreign analyst were to claim that last week’s protests were the artificial result of “guerrillas” or coordinated agitators, the proper response would be “you don’t understand this country, and its complexities, at all.” It defies all belief that the ELN and FARC dissidents could have orchestrated an uprising in Bogotá on the scale of what we saw on September 9 and 10. But that is the narrative that officials like Defense Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo and Peace Commissioner Miguel Ceballos are pushing.

As Ariel Ávila of the Peace and Reconciliation Foundation said, if that were true, it would’ve been the guerrillas’ largest coordinated operation in Bogotá in the armed conflict’s history. Today, the ELN has 2,400 members and a support network of another 4,000 or 5,000. Over 20 “dissident” groups led by former FARC members, which often fight each other and the ELN, have a cumulative membership of 2,600 plus about 2,000 in support networks. These 11,000-12,000 people are scattered across several vast rural regions in Colombia and Venezuela. Their urban presence is minimal: most have probably never seen one of Colombia’s major cities.

They do have toeholds in Bogotá, and some of their members may have participated in, and egged on, crowds in some of the Bogotá protest actions. But this disunited collection of bands, most of them focused on narcotrafficking and illegal rent-seeking, are obviously not the masterminds of what happened in Bogotá.

There were no masterminds. There is, instead, a population pushed to the edge by economic uncertainty and a perception that the government doesn’t care. For most, emergency assistance has totaled only about US$40 to US$70 since COVID-19 measures began. More often, their interaction with government has been with the police enforcing lockdowns, at times harshly. The likelihood of a social explosion has been one triggering event away. There’s no need for guerrillas to manage it.

Taking this reality seriously, though, is hard, especially for people in the thick-walled bubble of Colombia’s clase dirigente. The sectores populares—the poor and lower-middle class, and the middle class who have fallen into poverty during the pandemic—are so distant as to be abstract. When you’ve placed your faith in the free market, in a technocratic oligarchy, and—if that fails—in the security forces, then it’s hard to stare in the face of a reality like “an immense number of people are hungry, scared, frustrated, and angry at you.”

These people need empathy right now. But Colombia’s political system isn’t set up for empathy, especially not under its current management. Instead, police fired indiscriminately into fleeing crowds as though they’d never had a day of training in their lives. That response calls into question the viability of institutions. It calls into question the assumptions underlying longstanding economic and security policies.

Instead of empathy, leaders are reaching for the tried-and-true “it was the guerrillas” narrative. It’s a common reflex. Here in the United States, factotums at the White House and Homeland Security don’t lose an opportunity to blame anti-racism and anti-police brutality protests on fictional or marginal “anarchist” or “Antifa” groups. Though most people don’t believe that, it’s rich fodder for a large minority whose views come from what they read and share on FOX News, Facebook, and WhatsApp.

In Colombia it’s the same thing, but mixed in with a perverse nostalgia for the armed conflict and its simplicity. For decades, guerrillas gave Colombia’s political elite a perfect go-to excuse whenever elements of civil society came forward with strong grievances. Just label them as terrorists, (or “spokespeople for terrorists” in Álvaro Uribe’s famous phrase): people aligned with the FARC, which until 2016 was Colombia’s largest guerrilla group by far. It usually worked: social movements had the oxygen (in the form of media attention and legitimacy in mainstream public opinion) sucked out of them.

When the FARC disappeared along with the peace accord, though, so did that convenient scapegoat. Today, when politicians want to de-legitimize a political adversary, the collection of bands now active in the countryside just isn’t as compelling. But apparently, that’s not going to stop them from trying.

Bogotanos say they’ve never seen this face of the government before. “Police shooting in the streets of Bogotá at fleeing people, like rabbits from a hunter,” writes veteran columnist and author Cecilia Orozco in El Espectador. “Even those of us who are older don’t remember having seen, in urban scenarios, such openly defiant conduct from state agents who aren’t hiding their identities.”

Colombians of a different social class, of course, see that on a regular basis. Indigenous people in Cauca say it’s common. So do displaced Afro-descendant communities in marginal neighborhoods like Aguablanca, Cali. Communities opposing forced illicit crop eradication are constantly documenting cases of aggression and inappropriate force.

This kind of authoritarianism and arbitrariness, of escalation and lack of empathy, has long marked poor and marginalized parts of Colombia. What’s new, perhaps, is its abrupt arrival in Bogotá’s middle and working class neighborhoods. And it’s happening just as the pandemic knocks millions out of the middle class (back) into poverty.

Think about that. Already, many Colombian analysts are sounding alarms about mounting authoritarianism. They see a weakening of checks and balances: a narrow congressional majority for the ruling party built with political favors, close presidential allies now in charge of the prosecutor’s office and other oversight bodies, and an ongoing assault on the independent judiciary that intensified after ex-President Uribe was put under house arrest in early August.

A backlash is underway from the people running Colombia, the people who are so slow to show empathy, but so quick to deny reality with fairy tales about guerrillas orchestrating mass protests. Last week gave us a vicious preview of what that backlash might look like once it consolidates.

New national protests are called for Monday. Even though neither the ELN nor guerrilla dissidents are in evidence, don’t expect a democratic or reasoned response on the streets of Bogotá.

The day ahead: September 18, 2020

I’m only reachable in the late afternoon due to meetings. (How to contact me)

I’ve got 2 meetings with congressional staff, and 3 meetings with NGO coalitions, from mid-morning to mid-afternoon, which will make me pretty unresponsive for much of the day.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Kitra Cahana/MAPS photo at The Intercept. Caption: “Nellie Jo David, an O’odham activist, addresses a crowd of protesters near the construction site of the U.S.-Mexico border wall in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument on Nov. 9, 2019.”

(Even more here)

September 17, 2020

Western Hemisphere Regional

Mexico will be at serious risk of being found to have failed demonstrably to uphold its international drug control commitments

Brazil

Paranoia never stopped haunting Brazilian politics. Now, with Jair Bolsonaro in charge, it’s as powerful as ever—and its practitioners have learned a lot from the American internet

Pazuello, a logistics expert with no prior health experience before taking the deputy health minister position in April, follows two predecessors who departed after disagreements with President Jair Bolsonaro

The Brazilian Army has received a shipment of thirty armored tanks donated by the United States

Brazil, Colombia, Guyana, Suriname

We have been I think pretty clear that we – we’re not running around saying don’t deal with China. We’re saying – I mean, we deal with China and other countries deal with China. They’re a big economy. There’s really no choice but to deal with them

Chile

Es razonable que en situaciones excepcionales las Fuerzas Armadas protejan instalaciones críticas, pero para evitar su exposición a situaciones de orden público lo óptimo sería crear cuerpos policiales altamente especializados

Chile’s Mapuche have long demanded official recognition of their culture and of their claims to ancestral lands. A referendum over a new Constitution provides them a chance to be included

Colombia

Han pasado más de cuatro años y la diligencia sigue sin realizarse

La mayoría de casos fue contra mujeres indígenas y el 67% de responsabilidad de estos hechos se le atribuye a grupos neoparamilitares

La víctima fue un niño de 12 años, llamado ARILLANSEY SALCEDO TASCUZ perteneciente al Cabildo Villa del Sol del pueblo Awá, quien fue impactado en su rostro con una granada de gases

Videos como estos, lo que demuestran es que, lo coordinado, más que la quema de los CAI, fueron los disparos a mansalva contra la población civil

¿Cuántas personas hay capturadas y cuál es su paradero? ¿Por qué fueron agredidos ciudadanos que solo caminaban por el lugar?

Es una estrategia que le puede traer réditos electorales al Centro Democrático en 2022 pero aleja aún más las posibilidades de discutir la reforma a la Policía

Culpar al narcotráfico de los recientes hechos de violencia es la salida fácil a un problema que resulta mucho más complejo

Ecuador

“El desvío estaría siendo canalizado por mangueras clandestinas hasta el río Putumayo con una distancia aproximada de 170 metros, desde donde se presume que el combustible era cargado en embarcaciones para ser transportado río abajo”

El Salvador

Pactar con las pandillas no debe rechazarse, pero debe hacerse de manera eficiente y con transparencia

Guyana

Secretary Pompeo will travel to Georgetown, Guyana, September 17-18

Honduras

Observan con preocupación la extensión del periodo de intervención del sistema penitenciario nacional por parte de la Comisión Interventora de la Fuerza de Seguridad Institucional (FUSINA)

Mexico

Feminists seize human rights office to force President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to tackle grim toll of rape and murder

Peru

They are terrified of Vizcarra’s anti-corruption campaign

U.S.-Mexico Border

Two O’odham women arrested at the border were taken to a private prison where they were denied access to the outside world

Migrant rights advocates allege in at least three recent lawsuit against the heads of the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Border Patrol that migrants are being summarily expelled without any paper trail or interview process

Venezuela

President Maduro and the Ministers of the Interior and of Defence were aware of the crimes. They gave orders, coordinated activities and supplied resources

“Los funcionarios militares, al mando de un capitán (GN) de apellido Pérez Lopez, sin dar orden de alto, procedieron a disparar ráfagas de disparos contra el camión Triton 350 en el cual se trasladaba Joiber junto a sus familiares”

“The U.S. government did not send Mr. Heath to Venezuela,” Abrams said

President Nicolás Maduro and other high-ranking officials were accused of being behind the detention, torture and killing of government critics and assaults by state security services

The day ahead: September 17, 2020

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

Getting a late start because I worked late last night. I’ve got a long-ish media interview in the morning, a border coalition meeting in the early afternoon, and an event at the end of the day. I should be at my desk the most in the afternoon, if needed.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Reuters – Andrés Martínez Casares photo at France 24. Caption: “An on-duty Haitian National Police (PNH) officer asks protesters to move away during a protest organised by the Fantom 509 group in the streets of Port-au-Prince, Haiti September 14, 2020.”

(Even more here)

September 16, 2020

Western Hemisphere Regional

Una situación de mayor alcance: los efectos de la llegada de Donald Trump a la Casa Blanca, el giro a la derecha de varios gobiernos de la región y, no menos importante, una fragmentación extrema de América Latina

Policies towards the region have assumed extra importance in the US campaign with polls showing the two White House contenders tied in Florida

The 35-year-old woman has been held in the facility, which is overseen by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, for about a year and told lawyers about a “pattern and practice” of abuse there

Wolf didn’t have the authority to impose the asylum rules that are being challenged, Xinis ruled. The new requirements, which court documents say took effect in late August, concern employment, and the case is ongoing

I never imagined that the United States would have to confront our very own Caudillo in the making, not after the misery and devastation so many of us have seen inflicted by anti-democratic and failed leaders from Caracas to Havana to Managua

Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela

Pompeo visitará la ciudad fronteriza de Boa Vista (Roraima) y está programado una reunión con migrantes venezolanos

Colombia

Quieren saber por qué lo hicieron y que exigen saber qué pasó con los secuestrados desaparecidos

En el proceso de escuchar a las víctimas y reconocer la verdad sobre lo ocurrido ante un tribunal de paz, “se van configurando unas FARC que yo entro a odiar porque no tiene nada que ver con las FARC a las que yo ingresé”, dijo

Even though the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Nation called Santiago Uribe Vélez in for questioning in 2016, Prado’s investigative work has been on the heels of the Uribe Vélez family since 1997, when he was looking into several cases of enforced disappearance

En esta ocasión el hiperbólico Gustavo Petro tiene razón, hubo una masacre en la capital

El Ministro de Defensa, Holmes Trujillo, se refirió a los hechos de la semana pasada en Bogotá y aseguró que los actos de vandalismo y violencia fueron un ataque coordinado, sistemático, planeado, premeditado y doloso contra la Policía Nacional, que debe ser investigado

Esta pequeña población ha sido escenario de violentas disputas armadas entre grupos armados. La comunidad, que ha quedado en medio de la confrontación, expulsó a la fuerzas militares

Este ejercicio operacional, planeado entre el Comando Sur de los Estados Unidos y la Fuerza Aérea Colombiana, el cual ha sido denominado “Poseidón”, se llevará a cabo del 18 al 21 de septiembre del presente año

Guatemala

El Congreso simplemente se niega a proceder con la elección de magistrados del Organismo Judicial. En el Estado, sigue pasando de todo, sin que haya contrapeso

Haiti

Hundreds of protesting Haitian police officers and their supporters, many of them armed and wearing masks, sparked panic in the capital Port-au-Prince on Monday, setting cars on fire as they voiced their anger at the ruling party

Honduras

El enfrentamiento entre la policía y quienes protestaban se dio minutos antes de que el presidente Juan Orlando Hernández encabezara la ceremonia del Día de la Independencia

Mexico

Mexican president delivered document to senate asking for plebiscite to be held alongside midterms in June 2021

What truly bothers López Obrador, and fellow travelers such as Taibo, is the frequent criticism of the president and his policies that Nexos, Letras Libres and others publish

Durante el primer semestre del año, ARTICLE 19 documentó 406 agresiones contra periodistas y medios. Esto es 45% más que el año pasado

Un corredor criminal que durante una década perteneció a la organización criminal de Los Zetas, pero que hoy es una región controlada por el Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación

Existen al menos 60 pozos secos en el municipio de Huixcolotla, los cuales fueron usados como fosas clandestinas por huachicoleros y otras bandas delictivas que operaban en el Triángulo Rojo

Peru

El Grupo de Trabajo Contra la Corrupción (GTCC) ante los hechos acontecidos a raíz de los audios que involucran al presidente Martín Vizcarra, señala lo siguiente

U.S.-Mexico Border

Of the nearly 72,000 MPP migrants whose cases are complete, only 525 of them – less than 1 percent – were granted asylum or another form of relief

The day ahead: September 16, 2020

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

I’ve got two internal planning meetings and a lot of writing to do, some of it to plan future border work, some of it on the situation in Colombia. I plan to be at my desk well into the evening trying to finish all of that.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Colprensa photo at El Colombiano (Medellín, Colombia). Caption: “El caso de abuso policial en el que murió Javier Ordóñez pasó a manos de la justicia ordinaria.”

(Even more here)

September 15, 2020

Western Hemisphere Regional

“Jarring medical neglect” within the facility, including a refusal to test detainees for the novel coronavirus and an exorbitant rate of hysterectomies being performed on immigrant women

Presumably noticing the lethargy and divisions in Latin America, Claver-Carone seized the moment in June to advance his own candidacy

Given Claver-Carone’s curriculum vitae and the circumstances leading to his election, could he serve as an able consensus-building politician who, as president of an international institution, will put the region’s interest above all others?

Irwin Detention Center, run by LaSalle Corrections, has refused to test detainees and underreported Covid-19 cases, the nurse says

Because Jane Doe 1 fears persecution and torture in Mexico, she will be difficult for investigators to find as they continue their investigation, her attorney said

Chile, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela

Venezuelan immigrants commit substantially fewer crimes than the native born, relative to their share in the overall population

Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela

The Senators also condemned the administration’s record of deporting individuals and families back to the dictatorships they were forced to flee, what would amount to a violation of U.S. law prohibiting refoulement

Colombia

En el documento titulado Alétheia los investigadores recopilaron 31.156 homicidios y 5.479 desapariciones forzadas de miembros de la Fuerza Pública

Así las cosas será la Fiscalía general de la Nación quien investigue en la justicia ordinarias las conductas en las que habrían podido incurrir los siete policías procesados

Varios funcionarios del SAT —y también líderes y organizaciones sociales— temen que el nuevo defensor: el político cordobés Carlos Camargo, quien se posesionó la semana pasada, frene, engavete o modifique esos informes

According to the latest reports received, at midnight on September 10 police continued to shoot live rounds at protesters in several cities

Eight commanders called the kidnappings an “extremely grave mistake” and acknowledged the pain they had caused

Queremos decirles que el secuestro fue un gravísimo error del que no podemos sino arrepentirnos

  • Sandra Borda Guzman, Otra Vez (El Tiempo (Colombia), September 15, 2020).

Vincularla y reducirla a una fachada de la insurgencia armada. Así se evitan tener que tomarse la protesta y sus demandas en serio y justifican el uso indiscriminado de la violencia

Reactions to the unrest have exposed the country’s political polarisation amid anxieties about the coronavirus and the 2016 FARC peace agreement

Después de meses de investigación al respecto, la Fundación Paz y Reconciliación –Pares, presenta este informe sobre la crítica situación de seguridad de Colombia

The disgraced agent, Jose I. Irizarry, pleaded guilty to 19 federal counts, including bank fraud and having diverted millions of dollars in drug proceeds from DEA control

Mexico

Víctimas denunciaron que la Fiscalía mexiquense obstaculiza la investigación y presentaron un amparo para que FGR atraiga el expediente

Una exageración, pues por lo general mienten, fue la respuesta del presidente Andrés Manuel López Obrador a quienes acusaron la ocupación militar de la Catedral Metropolitana el fin de semana: el Frente Nacional AntiAMLO

Paraguay

Óscar Denis was taken by Paraguayan People’s Army days after military killed two 11-year-old girls in unclear circumstances

U.S.-Mexico Border

Federal border officials are worried what would happen if Biden cancels bilateral agreements with Mexico that have dramatically slowed the migrant flow

Venezuela

Doctors we spoke to say Venezuela’s government has been using motels and other makeshift facilities to quarantine patients suspected of having the novel coronavirus

Venezuela se mostró complacido con algunos de los comentarios de Michelle Bachelet sobre la situación en el país, pero omitió mencionar las críticas que ésta lanzó a la gestión de Nicolás Maduro

The authorities said cellphones taken from the men when they were arrested last week included images of suspected targets

The day ahead: September 15, 2020

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

Nothing on the calendar today for some reason. Which is fine—I spent more than 4 hours yesterday on an article about the unrest in Colombia, which should show up soon on the World Politics Review website. I hope to move a few projects ahead today and should be at my desk all day.

What’s New About Trump’s New “Strategic Framework?”

In mid-August the Trump National Security Council published a “Western Hemisphere Strategic Framework.” (You’re forgiven if you missed it—it got a super-low-profile launch.) Here’s an English translation of an analysis that I published about it last week for Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung en Colombia.

Three and a half years in, the Trump administration has published a “Western Hemisphere Strategic Framework.” It didn’t launch it with much publicity, nor is it a document of transcendental importance.

The document (or at least its declassified summary) says few truly new things. This shouldn’t surprise us from an administration that has said little about policy toward Latin America beyond Cuba, Venezuela, and immigration. But there are a few notable nuances.

The framework makes clear who the enemies are. Within the region it identifies Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua, “repressive dictatorial regimes [that] threaten regional security.” Other regimes that have shown authoritarian characteristics but are more aligned with Washington, like Bolivia, El Salvador, or Honduras, escape this label.

Extra-regional powers, and their “malign influence,” are also adversaries. The document only mentions China, although documents from Southern Command, among others, also warn about Russia and Iran. That desire to exclude other powers from the hemisphere recalls the Monroe Doctrine (according to which the United States reserves the right to keep other powers from having a presence in the American continent), something that according to the last national security advisor, John Bolton, is “alive and well.”

In reality, this focus on external powers has more to do with an effort to stay relevant to the National Defense Strategy that the Defense Department published in 2018, under then-Secretary James Mattis. That strategy says a lot about the threat of “great powers,” but hardly mentions the threats that have most oriented policy toward Latin America in recent years. In its public summary, it doesn’t even mention the words “organized crime” or “cartel.”

While none of these documents discusses in detail transnational organized crime—the issue that was most discussed during the Obama years—it’s worth noting that it was the Trump administration, in April 2020, that launched the largest naval deployment to the region in decades, justifying it as an anti-organized crime effort.

Another new nuance are the document’s sections about immigration, the Trump administration’s banner issue. The first objective that the Framework discusses is the protection of the homeland, with the first sub-objective to “Prevent illegal and uncontrolled human migration, smuggling, and trafficking.”

It’s also notable that “Align asylum policies and harmonize visa and immigration regulations” appears as another sub-objective in the section about strengthening democracies: it’s not clear what one has to do with the other.

In 2012, during the Obama administration, the Defense Department published a Western Hemisphere Drug Policy Statement. That document focused on institutional strengthening, fighting organized crime and terrorism, peacekeeping missions, and humanitarian assistance. The new Trump administration document leaves all those issues aside.

These abrupt changes in emphasis not unusual for U.S. policy toward Latin America, whose central paradigm has shifted several times over the past 30 years. From Cold War anti-communism, it morphed into the War on Drugs, and later the War on Terror, from there to “transnational organized crime” and, now, to “countering external influence” with a bit of anti-immigration. There’s no reason to think that the priorities expressed in this new document might be any more long-lasting.

Latin America-related online events that I know of this week

Monday, September 14

  • 3:00 at atlanticcouncil.org: Latin America during and after COVID-19: A conversation with IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno (RSVP required).

Tuesday, September 15

Wednesday, September 16

  • 12:00-1:30 at seaif.org: Youth Movements and the Fight against Corruption in Central America (RSVP required).

Thursday, September 17

Friday, September 18

  • 10:00 at fes.de: La Seguridad Cooperativa en América Latina y el Caribe: ¿Se queda corta en el alcance para la región? (RSVP required).
Newer Posts
Older Posts
Get a weekly update in your e-mail:




This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.