Taking advantage of the proliferation of anti-U.S. governments in Latin America in the first decade of the 21st century, China and Russia have focused on deepening economic ties within the region, while quietly expanding their military footprints
El juez Carlos Arturo Cuellar, del juzgado segundo administrativa de Pasto, falló a favor de las autoridades colombianas una acción de desacato que había sido elevada por comunidades afro, indígenas y campesinas
Honduras por medio de la Secretaría de Defensa Nacional (Sedena) ya negocia con las autoridades de Estados Unidos reparar cerca de 30 aeronaves de entrenamiento y ataque ligero para combatir el narcotráfico
El General Gallardo Rodríguez –quien estuvo preso por 10 años [entre 1993 y 2002] por publicar una tesis en la que planteaba regulación de los abusos dentro de la vida castrense– no se muestra extrañado por los señalamientos
A pesar de que el Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM) ha negado públicamente que existan contagios de COVID-19 en sus centros de detención, la Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos (CNDH) reveló que, tan solo en la estación migratoria Siglo XXI de Tapachula, Chiapas, hay al menos 19 casos
Whether you agree with the Trump administration’s policies or not, his tactics in carrying them out have been extremely effective in a Machiavellian way. Mexico has done almost exactly what Trump has asked. Would a Biden administration be so effective?
Military officers are occupying civilian government agencies, keeping order, handing out food, enforcing curfews, and just generally becoming a daily part of people’s lives to an extent unseen since the military dictatorships of a decade ago.
This is mainly happening at the behest of civilian presidents, but there is real cause for alarm here, and our presenters made the case very clearly. They did so in Spanish, without translation, as seen in the video at the bottom of this post.
The video at the top of this post, though, is new. My excellent intern Elissa Prieto took highlights from that event and added English subtitles, giving you a fast-moving, 14-minute pulse-taking of this increasingly worrisome trend.
There had been some doubt cast about the real extent of non-consensual surgeries performed on female migrants held at ICE’s Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia. There’s less doubt now., as the Los Angeles Times’s Molly O’Toole reports that 19 women have now come forward. Some of the testimonies here are hard to read.
A team of reporters from Colombia’s La Silla Vacía did months of follow-up, and has confirmed that 222 social leaders were assassinated in the 602 days between President Iván Duque’s August 2018 inauguration and the end of March 2020. They profile the victims by geography, age, gender, ethnicity, and type of activism, finding a significant correlation with claims involving land tenure or coca.
Guatemala’s CICIG is gone, but an office called the Special Anti-Impunity Prosecutor’s Bureau (FECI) is hanging on amid a full-on backlash by corrupt elites. At El Faro, Sandra Cuffe details the FECI’s latest big case: the minister of Communications, Infrastructure and Housing had more than US$15 million stuffed into 22 suitcases.
Pablo Solón, who heads the Fundación Solón in La Paz and is the son of noted Bolivian artist Walter Solón, served as Bolivia’s UN ambassador during Evo Morales’s government, but later distanced himself from Morales. His “supportive of MAS but not in the tank for Evo” perspective on Bolivia’s landslide presidential election outcome is a nuanced must-read. “MAS did not win because of Evo, but in spite of Evo.”
At the Huffington Post, three reporters talk to former diplomats, members of Congress, and others who should know—and they conclude that if Joe Biden wins on November 3, Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro “could find himself quickly isolated on the global stage” if he doesn’t change course on climate change.
It is absolutely necessary to fully integrate women into defense and security forces to be successful in the 21st century–to be professional, ready for any mission, and legitimate in the eyes of the population
Warming relations between the United States and Brazil received a boost this week with an update to an existing bilateral trade agreement, along with the commitment of billions of U.S. dollars to boost Brazilian industries
Más que nunca se hace relevante revisar los alcances de la militarización que, desde que estuvo coordinada por Cienfuegos no operaba solo en las calles en tareas de seguridad, sino también en otras instituciones
Entre 2005 y 2007 ya había comentarios de narcos y de autoridades en los que se señalaba que Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda, Secretario de la Defensa Nacional durante el sexenio de Enrique Peña Nieto, se reunía con Arturo Beltrán Leyva
President Trump set the goal about a year ago and, to fulfill it, contractors are building largely on land the federal government already owns, including in areas where illegal border crossings have been relatively low
The announcement came just days after the anti-impunity unit (Fiscalía Especializada Contra la Impunidad — FECI) within the Attorney General’s Office seized 122,351,456 quetzales (around $15.5 million) in cash found in 22 suitcases
Hoy fue aprobado en el Senado el dictamen que contiene la eliminación de 109 fideicomisos públicos, incluyendo la eliminación de los recursos del Fondo de Ayuda, Atención y Reparación Integral (FAARI) a Víctimas
I had a very long string of six or seven writing deadlines—some things I’ve published or am about to; some things that will come out eventually; some things for internal consumption. All told, about 25,000 words in both languages. It got so intense between last Tuesday and yesterday, I’ve hardly been posting here.
As far as I can tell, that’s over for a little while, and I don’t have meetings on my calendar today. So I’m digging out: unanswered emails, news I’ve missed, things that should be posted here. And revising my workplan for between now and the moments after Election Day. I should be reachable much of the day, for a change.
Después de una baja histórica en la violencia el año pasado, desde hace un mes volvieron los tiroteos, las ofertas de plata para matar a integrantes de la banda contraria, el aumento de extorsiones y retenciones en algunas zonas del puerto
Las críticas no se han hecho esperar después de que el presidente de Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández Alvarado, se reuniera este lunes en Tegucigalpa, capital de Honduras, con el jefe del Comando Sur de EEUU
Hace un año, el 17 de octubre de 2019, el intento de detención de Ovidio Guzmán López, hijo de Joaquín Guzmán Loera y de Griselda López Pérez, desató la ola de violencia más intensa de que se tenga memoria en Sinaloa
I’m (hopefully) recording a podcast this morning, participating in a mid-day discussion with Colombian colleagues, and may have a border-related meeting in the afternoon. I’m writing an article for a Colombian publication and finalizing a chapter for a book. So, another busy one.
This morning I’ll be giving a long talk about the elections and the state of U.S. policy to a closed-door meeting organized by colleagues in Colombia. I’ll also, if time allows, be updating our database with the fiscal year 2020 border numbers that CBP released yesterday, and producing a quick memo. I’ve got meetings with two border/migration coalitions that will last much of the afternoon. This evening is the annual Institute for Policy Studies’ Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Awards, for which I was on the selection panel.
That’s all to say I’m pretty engaged all day and will be difficult to contact. Tomorrow I’ll be freer.
This was a hard one to write, it took about two and a half weeks to crank out 3,000 words, even though nearly all the research was already in my database.
The main reason is in the middle of it: the bulleted list of CBP and Border Patrol offenses that have happened so far in 2020, which I copy below.
It was just so damn grim and painful to point out the horrors being committed on U.S. soil, by a U.S. agency, by people who—for the most part—we’d probably genuinely like if we met them at a bar or on line at a supermarket.
Beyond this list, the commentary is about the big challenges that lie ahead in changing the organizational culture of our border and migration agencies. Please read it.
While past abuses like “family separation” and “kids in cages” shocked much of the nation, evidence of a perverse institutional culture persists in the 2020 calendar year.
In January, CBP and ICE agents assigned to serve as advisors in Guatemala ended up packing hundreds of Honduran migrants into rented, unmarked vans and shipping them back to Honduras, without even an opportunity to seek asylum. An October report by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Democratic staff found that DHS lied to the State Department, which was funding the CBP and ICE presence in Guatemala, about the bizarre operational role its agents were playing.
In February, a Guatemalan woman reported that while she was in Border Patrol custody, agents ignored her requests for medical attention. As a result, she had togive birth with her pants on, while standing and clutching the side of a trash can in the Chula Vista, California Border Patrol station. She was sent to a nearby hospital, then returned to the Border Patrol station where she spent a night “without an adequate blanket for the baby.”
Since March, Border Patrol agents and CBP officers summarily expelled more than 150,000 Mexican and Central American migrants back into Mexico, usually in about 90 minutes or less, with no real opportunity to request asylum if they were fleeing lethal threats. This has been done in the name of COVID-19 protections, but we now know—thanks to AP and Wall Street Journal investigators—that the Centers for Disease Control had recommended against closing the border, only to be overruled by Vice President Mike Pence.
That number includes 8,800 children apprehended while unaccompanied by an adult, then swiftly returned to their home countries while unaccompanied, between March and August. (September data are still pending.) Border agencies made zero effort to ensure these children’s safety upon expulsion or even track their whereabouts. Those to be flown back were warehoused in border-city hotels, guarded by an ICE contractor not certified for childcare, while awaiting their expulsion.
In June the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) determined that CBP had broken the law. A year earlier, Congress had appropriated money for the agency to improve its care of children and families in its custody, paying for items like blankets, food, and medicine. Instead, CBP spent much of the humanitarian appropriation on items like computer network upgrades, vaccines for CBP personnel, dog food, and dirt bikes.
In June, elite Border Patrol agents were among DHS personnel sent to Portland, Oregon—against the wishes of the mayor and governor—to confront protesters following the killing of George Floyd. While some protesters were violent, the agents’ crowd control tactics—which included grabbing people off of sidewalks into unmarked vans—did nothing to de-escalate the situation, nor did they incorporate best practices for de-escalation. If anything, their aggressive tactics prolonged the confrontations.
In July in El Paso, a Border Patrol agentran over a 29-year-old Mexican man while pursuing him in his vehicle. Though injured, the migrant was deported within 48 hours. Border Patrol refuses to make public its vehicle pursuit policy.
In July, Maria Cristina Vargas Espinosa, a 38-year-old mother from Guanajuato, Mexico, died after falling from the border wall west of El Paso. She was at least the second person to die of such a fall this year: a pregnant Guatemalan woman and her unborn baby died of a fall in Clint, Texas, in March. Neither Border Patrol nor other local authorities disclosed Ms. Vargas’s death orbothered to investigate it; her relatives in Mexico only learned of her fate from her smuggler. Asked by El Paso Matters how often such incidents happen, a Border Patrol agent said that “a large number of people…get major injuries.” His main concern, though, was that “those hospital bills are ridiculous.”
In July in Arizona, dozens of rifle-bearing Border Patrol agents, accompanied by an armored vehicle and helicopters,raided a desert camp run on private land by No More Deaths, an organization that provides humanitarian aid in an area where thousands of migrants have died in this century of dehydration and exposure. Agents arrested migrants receiving medical attention, seized phones, photos, and records, and “trashed” No More Deaths’ camp.
In July, the libertarian publication Reasonrevealed a 2012 internal affairs report indicating that a CBP instructor had told “a room full of supervisors” that “if Border Patrol agents feel threatened by a migrant, they should ‘beat that tonk like a piñata until candy comes out.’” This was yet another appearance of the word “tonk” or “tonc,” Border Patrol slang for an undocumented migrant. Former agents say that the word originates from the sound a human skull makes when clubbed with an agent’s heavy Maglite flashlight. When an agent uses a weapon, he or she must file a memo about the incident; no paperwork is required for flashlights.
By August, only four Border Patrol agents, of unknown rank, had been fired for their involvement in a graphically offensive Facebook group. The group, “I’m 10-15,” whose members included 9,500 current and former agents, was revealed to exist a full year earlier. Twelve months after launching an investigation, “CBP has provided little new information about” the group “or its efforts to address toxic attitudes within the ranks,” reported ProPublica, the outlet that revealed the group’s existence.
In August Tianna Spears, a Black U.S. diplomat who had been assigned to the U.S. consulate in Ciudad Juárez, published a lengthy account in Politico about the blatant racial profiling to which CBP officers subjected her whenever she crossed back into El Paso. “[O]fficers in primary inspection still made sarcastic comments, cruel jokes and belittling jabs implying I was not a U.S. diplomat, not a U.S. citizen and had stolen my own car.”
In September Border Patrol used taxpayer money to produce a video depicting a fictionalized Spanish-speaking migrant whose first action after eluding agents is to kill a man in a dark alley. With evidence pointing to lower crime rates among undocumented migrants than among the general population, “The Gotaway” video reinforces racist stereotypes to which, we hope, most Border Patrol personnel do not actually subscribe.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, local media in El Paso and Arizona have reported about CBP officers and Border Patrol agents going unmasked in their interactions with the public, from checkpoint encounters to the July raid on No More Deaths.
CBP’s rapid border wall construction is doing permanent environmental damage: gouging at mountains, draining a fragile desert oasis to mix cement, and sealing animals’ migratory routes. Members of Indigenous communities have been arrested for carrying out civil disobedience against the construction in California and Arizona. But the building continues, with no meaningful engagement with affected communities.
While ICE is not the focus of this analysis, any discussion of this year would be incomplete without recalling allegations of non-consensual surgeries performed on women at the Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia; the deportation of a woman alleging sexual abuse at the El Paso detention facility while investigations were ongoing; the storing of children and families in border-town hotel rooms under questionable supervision; a slipshod, hardline response to COVID-19 that has led to a cumulative total of 6,541 cases in detention, deportations of COVID-19-positive individuals to countries with weak public health systems; and a sharp increase this year in the use of pepper spray and other force against the agency’s detainees.
Beyond all of this are the everyday allegations of racial profiling, roughing up (called “tuning up”) of apprehended migrants, abusive language, maintenance of hieleras and other deliberately uncomfortable custody conditions, and a view that people exercising their legal right to seek asylum are, in President Trump’s words, “scammers” gaming the system.
At a moment when U.S. arms transfers are making headlines for the wrong reasons – from Yemen to the Philippines and Latin America – members of Congress find themselves with few options to withhold U.S.-made weapons from governments that suppress democracy, systematically violate human rights
El Informe Alternativo muestra la creciente desigualdad social, de la tortura, de los abusos contra a grupos de mayor vulnerabilidad como la niñez, juventud, discapacidad, mujeres, poblaciones indígenas, LGBTI, personas migrantes, situación de defensores y defensoras
Las medidas cautelares solicitadas al organismo interamericano buscan “evitar mayores confrontaciones” entre la Guardia Nacional y las personas que han manifestado su oposición a que México disponga del líquido de la presa
El representante de ONU-DH, Guillermo Fernández-Maldonado, reconoció que la SCJN “ha sido precursora en definir los límites de la jurisdicción militar en México de acuerdo con lo establecido en las normas y estándares internacionales”
Final numbers are set to be released Wednesday at an event with Border Patrol officials in Tucson, but apprehensions through the first 11 months of the fiscal year are less than half the total for fiscal 2019
I’m writing on a deadline this morning, providing a statement for lititagors in one of the challenges to a Trump administration border policy. While I’m doing that, WOLA will be publishing a report I’ve written about the border, about which I’ll be getting the word out. In the afternoon I need to prepare a talk that I’ll be giving for a private event about Colombia tomorrow.
On the calendar, I’ll be tuning in to a discussion of Bolivia that WOLA is hosting at 11:00. I’ve got an internal planning meeting mid-day, then a press interview, then I’ll be recording a new edition of WOLA’s podcast. My replies to communications could be delayed, and tomorrow’s schedule looks pretty heavy too.