Adam Isacson

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


July 2022

Weekly U.S.-Mexico Border Update: July 29, 2022

With this series of weekly updates, WOLA seeks to cover the most important developments at the U.S.-Mexico border. See past weekly updates here.

This week:

  • Leaked data show that 2022 is already the worst year on record for deaths of migrants on the U.S. side of the U.S.-Mexico border.
  • Mayors’ complaints indicate that Texas and Arizona governors’ steady flow of migrants bused to Washington, D.C. has begun to strain local services.
  • A new report shows how a rapidly changing smuggling business is using social media to sell its services, often with highly misleading claims, to an increasingly online migrant population.

Migrant deaths: 2022 is the worst year on record

2022 is already the worst year on record for deaths of migrants on the U.S. side of the U.S.-Mexico border, according to internal data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Anna Giaritelli of the Washington Examiner obtained and confirmed data showing that, since the U.S. government’s 2022 fiscal year started in October, CBP has found 605 remains of migrants. That already exceeds the fiscal 2021 full-year total of 566, which itself was a record. It is roughly double the amount of deaths CBP recorded each year from 2014 to 2020.

Most migrants die painful deaths. Dehydration, heat exhaustion, or exposure at night in deserts and dry brushland appear to be the most common causes. An increasing number are drowning in the Rio Grande, irrigation canals, and other bodies of water. An increasing number are killed, or badly injured, trying to climb segments of 30-foot-high border wall installed during the Trump administration. This year’s 609 deaths include the 53 migrants who perished in a hot, airless cargo trailer between Laredo and San Antonio, Texas, on June 27.

In a June 28 analysis, WOLA noted that “migrants continue to die at the U.S.-Mexico border, usually of drowning, dehydration, exposure, or falls from the border wall, with a frequency that seems unprecedented.” The new data confirms that the frequency is without precedent.

The Examiner and Reuters—which published an in-depth examination of border migrant deaths this week—both reported that CBP recorded 151 “CBP-related” deaths during the 2021 fiscal year. The term refers to deaths in CBP custody, at a port of entry or checkpoint, or while trying to elude CBP personnel.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) maintains a separate count of migrant deaths along the U.S.-Mexico border (as well as other migrant routes). The UN-affiliated agency counts 357 dead so far during the 2022 calendar year, on pace to match or exceed the 728 it counted in 2021.

“In addition to these deaths—the worst of all outcomes—there are countless other grave injuries sustained by people migrating as a result of the dangerous routes they are forced to undertake,” recalls a July 23 statement from Annunciation House, an El Paso respite center that attends to thousands of migrants released from CBP custody each month. “Many of our guests at Annunciation House are recovering from broken bones, amputations, or other injuries that were sustained because of the border wall and draconian immigration policies. In many cases, these injuries will permanently affect their mobility, well-being, and ability to earn a living.”

As WOLA’s July 28 analysis noted, border deaths increase as enforcement policies harden in an effort to deter migrants. (Today’s record levels of migration show that decades of deterrence policies have had no effect, other than increased fatalities.) Reuters cites the “towering wall” along the border, which has channeled migrants to more dangerous desert routes, and the Title 42 pandemic expulsions policy, prolonged in May by a Louisiana federal court order, that forces many countries’ asylum seekers to avoid detection rather than turning themselves in to U.S. authorities.

“The U.S. immigration enforcement system has operated under a single premise since the creation of the Border Patrol in 1924: deterrence,” wrote Jason Buch in a July 25 essay at the Texas Observer. “It’s the idea we can somehow make coming to this country more miserable than the natural disasters, civil wars, gang violence, and economic hardship that displace people in the first place.”

Border Patrol divides the U.S.-Mexico border into nine geographic sectors. According to the 2022 data, the sector with the most reported deaths this year is the easternmost one, south Texas’s Rio Grande Valley, with 173 remains found. Giaritelli wrote, “The Del Rio region of Texas followed with 154 bodies; 72 in Tucson, Arizona; and 64 in Laredo, Texas.”

Many of the deaths in the Rio Grande Valley region actually take place about 80 miles north of the border, in Brooks County, where Border Patrol maintains a highway checkpoint that migrants seek to evade by walking for miles through dry brushland where it is easy to get lost. “There have already been 60 migrant deaths so far this year in Brooks County,” Sandra Sanchez of Border Report told the Texas Standard this week. “Last year there were 119, and in the entire Rio Grande Valley sector, there have been 140. So you can see almost half of the deaths occur in this area, Brooks County.” (For more, see the award-winning 2021 documentary Missing in Brooks County and WOLA’s podcast interview with its creators.)

Just west of the Rio Grande Valley, in Laredo, the organization Texas Nicaraguan Community reported that the bodies of four men and one woman remain in the city morgue two months after they perished because of difficulties in repatriating them to Nicaragua. “The organization says that ‘there are many suspicions of more Nicaraguans in that morgue in unidentified condition,’” according to Nicaragua Investiga.

Further west in El Paso, Border Report noted, CBP has counted 56 migrant deaths since fiscal 2022 began. Of those, 20 were drownings in fast-flowing irrigation canals, most of them in the past two months. The El Paso Sheriff told Border Report that a 42-year-old Mexican man was recovered from an irrigation canal on July 22, while the El Paso Times reported the recovery of a boy’s body from a canal that same day.

Border Report this week also profiled work to recover and identify bodies, and to help bring closure to victims’ families, in Tucson, Arizona by the Pima County Medical Examiner and the Colibrí Center for Human Rights.

Though not at the border, U.S.-bound migrants are also dying in elevated numbers at sea this year. At least 17 Haitians, including a child, died on July 24 when their 30-foot speedboat, loaded with up to 60 people, capsized about 7 miles off the coast of the Bahamian island of New Providence. “The passengers paid $3,000 to $8,000 to travel on the boat,” according to Bahamian officials cited in the New York Times.

Border Patrol “rescues” data also highlight migrants’ plight. The agency counted 16,897 search-and-rescue efforts carried out during the first 9 months of fiscal 2022, up from 12,833 in all of 2021 and about 5,000 each in 2019 and 2020.

The Washington Examiner border-wide data are revealing because CBP has not updated its official count of migrant deaths since 2020. Section 5(a) of the Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains Act ( Public Law 116-277, passed on December 31, 2020) requires CBP to produce a public annual report on migrant deaths, including—where possible—information about the decedents’ gender, nationality, and location of death. The first report was due at the end of 2021; a WOLA inquiry to congressional oversight staff found that it is still forthcoming, but the timetable for release is not clear.

Washington and New York mayors appeal for help with Texas and Arizona migrant buses

In April, Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R), an immigration hardliner up for re-election in November, began paying to place willing asylum-seeking migrants on buses to Washington, DC, after their releases from CBP custody. Since then, Texas has bused over 5,400 migrants to Washington, Abbott’s office told DCist this week. In May, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) began a similar operation; Arizona has bused 1,151 migrants to Washington, according to Border Report.

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Latin America Security-Related News: July 26, 2022

(Even more here)

July 26, 2022

Western Hemisphere Regional

South American countries are bracing for an autumn of discontent, as spiking global fuel prices threaten to provoke more protests in the upcoming months

China’s influence and Russia’s disinformation are two challenges Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will face on his first visit to Latin America


Those expected remarks – while not specifically directed at Brazil – are likely to turn heads there ahead of its Oct. 2 election

Chile, South America, Venezuela

Venezuelan gang, Tren de Aragua, has gradually become one of South America’s main threats, with Chile its latest target


“El narcotráfico es un negocio que paga los costos en pesos (mano de obra y precursores químicos, entre ellos la gasolina) y recibe los ingresos en dólares”

Entre los miembros imputados de la Brigada XVI están el mayor general (r) Henry William Torres Escalante, 2 coroneles, 3 tenientes coronel, y otros 10 oficiales, además de 6 suboficiales, un funcionario del extinto DAS y dos terceros civiles

Should this be interpreted as a group desperate to avoid decline or confident in its strength?

Es el director de la Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz (CIJP) y fue señalado dentro de la polémica visita a la Picota durante la campaña presidencial

Colombia, Venezuela

En los acercamientos que se han dado entre empresarios y gremios del departamento y del estado Táchira, de cara a una pronta reapertura comercial de la frontera con Venezuela, ha participado Centrales Eléctricas de Norte de Santander

Cuba, Venezuela

It is absolutely unacceptable that Joe Biden stayed silent on the recent anniversary of the July 11 democracy demonstrations, and I won’t let him continue to ignore the suffering of the Cuban people


A lack of U.S. regulation is undermining Guatemala’s gun control laws by allowing hundreds of thousands of illegal firearms to be brought into the country

El mandatario guatemalteco, Alejandro Giammattei, se reunió con su homólogo Volodimir Zelenski, en una visita oficial en Kiev, en la que el mandatario guatemalteco expresó su apoyo a ese país


Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is traveling to Honduras this week to meet with the president over increasing migration from the Central American country


La Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos (CNDH) emitió medidas cautelares hacia autoridades federales y estatales para que de manera coordinada, garanticen la atención humanitaria de urgencia al grupo de personas en contexto de migración internacional

La amenaza de Trump se hizo pública el jueves 30 de mayo de 2019. Ese mismo día, López Obrador confirmó que Ebrard viajaba de emergencia a Washington

U.S.-Mexico Border

For half a century, families living on both sides of the border have reunited at Friendship Park. Now 30ft walls threaten the experience

Several groups that were involved in the early efforts to wind down the policy say they have yet to be contacted in the wake of the court ruling

More than 1,000 migrants have died along the US-Mexico border since Biden took office, from drownings in the Rio Grande to falls from the border wall

The filing marks a change in strategy for the families who previously sought a settlement with the Biden Justice Department only to have those negotiations fall apart last fall

With demand for smugglers on the rise, organized crime has moved in, with cruel and violent results

Reuters: In Brazil, Biden’s defense chief to call on region’s militaries to respect democracy

From Reuters today:

U.S. President Joe Biden’s defense secretary, Lloyd Austin, is expected to call on militaries to respect democracy at an Americas-wide defense gathering this week in Brazil, a senior U.S. defense official said.

Those expected remarks – while not specifically directed at Brazil – are likely to turn heads there ahead of its Oct. 2 election, where Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro formally launched his re-election bid on Sunday by saying “the Army is on our side.”

This is the right, and really the only possible, move. Otherwise, a Defense Ministerial meeting in Brazil just 68 days before the presidential election risks appearing like a commercial for Bolsonaro.

Latin America Security-Related News: July 21-25, 2022

(Even more here)

July 25, 2022

Bahamas, Haiti

The number of “illegal migrants and seizures and repatriations is through the roof, frankly”

Brazil, Western Hemisphere Regional

Secretary Austin will participate in hemispheric discussions regarding integrated deterrence; cyber defense; Women, Peace, and Security; and humanitarian assistance and disaster response


El saliente comandante del Ejército, general Eduardo Zapateiro, le contó a SEMANA por qué se retiró y le sugirió una rectificación al presidente electo, Gustavo Petro

El nombramiento del exmagistrado Iván Velásquez sacude a una institución cuestionada por episodios de abusos y violaciones a derechos humanos

They welcomed the commitment of President-elect Gustavo Petro to deepen its implementation and seek broader peace through dialogue with other illegal armed groups

Un contrato de construcción de paneles solares en zona rural de Becerril (Cesar) fue adjudicado a empresas que consolidan un “cartel” que acaparó ocho licitaciones más

Uno de los asuntos centrales para la paz total de Petro sera diferenciar de manera clara el sometimiento de estos grupos

El nombramiento del exmagistrado que logró la caída del presidente de Guatemala Otto Pérez Molina por corrupción supone un vuelco total en la jefatura de las Fuerzas Armadas

En el norte del Cauca, no muy lejos de las zonas donde renace la guerra, las montañas testifican el auge de la marihuana

Jon Finer, Consejero Principal Adjunto de Seguridad Nacional, también mencionó que la representación de EEUU en la posesión del presidente electo será Samantha Power, la cabeza de USAID

La primera reunión entre el presidente electo y una delegación del gobierno de Joe Biden dejó claro que los temas que ocuparán la agenda bilateral serán el cambio climático, el desarrollo económico, la implementación de acuerdo de paz y la lucha contra el narcotráfico

The bill would also impose terrorism sanctions on seven individuals affiliated with the group

El Salvador

Josselyn fue la persona más visible de las marchas y eventos en los que se exigió la libertad para los inocentes capturados arbitrariamente en el régimen de excepción. Eso también la hizo el blanco de difamaciones y amenazas de muerte desde cuentas en redes sociales presuntamente administradas por policías


El magistrado Eduardo Galván Casasola es un militar que pertenece a la promoción 80 de la Escuela Politécnica


La Oficina en Washington para Asuntos Latinoamericanos asegura que puede resolverse solo si los gobiernos de Estados Unidos y México se comprometen

“Acá en Honduras todos sabemos que en México hay mucho crimen organizado, que es muy peligroso para los migrantes”, dice Alicia

In 1985, US agents had a chance to stop Mexico’s top drug lord. Years later, evidence from that night proved valuable in a way no one could predict

Almost 40 years later, the case may be too old and too tainted by prosecutorial misconduct to be successfully prosecuted. There’s also the awkward allegations by several witnesses of the CIA’s involvement in Camarena’s death

U.S.-Mexico Border

Officials in Arizona, Missouri, Texas and other GOP-controlled states have convinced federal judges, all but one of whom was appointed by former President Donald Trump, to block or set aside seven major immigration policies

Some of the deaths, medical experts and advocates told Reuters, are a legacy of Trump-era policies. The towering wall – built as high as a three-storey building in some sections – has multiplied serious injuries

July 22, 2022


A raid of Rio de Janeiro’s largest complex of favelas that left at least 18 people dead has sparked renewed complaints of excessive police violence

Read More

Quite a spending spree…

…by the populist president of El Salvador, which is one of the world’s governments most likely to default on its debt by early next year.

Latin America-related events online and in Washington this week

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

  • 10:00 in 216 Hart Senate Office Building and online: Hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee on Fighting Fentanyl: The Federal Response to a Growing Crisis.
  • 11:00-12:00 at Cancer & Covid-19: New Challenges to Controlling Cancer in Latin America and the Caribbean (RSVP required).
  • 1:00-2:00 at the Wilson Center: A Conversation with President Irfaan Ali of Guyana (RSVP required).

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

  • 11:00-12:00 at the Inter-American Dialogue: Colombian Energy Policy under Petro (RSVP required).
  • 1:00-2:00 at CSIS and online: Strengthening the Guyana – U.S. Relationship (RSVP required).
  • 2:00 in 310 Cannon House Office Building and online: Hearing of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border Security, Facilitation, & Operations on Assessing CBP’s Use of Facial Recognition Technology.
  • 3:00-3:45 at AS-COA Zoom: How to Make Nearshoring in Latin America a Reality (RSVP required).
  • 4:00-5:00 at USIP and Images From Central America’s Wars and Its Unfinished Peace (RSVP required).
  • 8:00pm at CCINOC Zoom, Facebook, YouTube: La Lista Engel en el Norte de Centroamérica (RSVP required for Zoom).

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Friday, July 29, 2022

  • 10:00-11:15 at the Brookings Institution and The future of the US-Colombia relationship: A conversation with Ambassador Juan Carlos Pinzón (RSVP required).
  • 12:00-1:30 at Georgetown Zoom: Extraction and Exploitation: The Effects of Mining on Religious Communities (RSVP required).

Weekly U.S.-Mexico Border Update: July 22, 2022

With this series of weekly updates, WOLA seeks to cover the most important developments at the U.S.-Mexico border. See past weekly updates here.

This week:

  • CBP encountered 14 percent fewer migrants at the border in June than in May, though it was still the busiest June since public monthly reporting began in 2000. 44 percent of encounters ended with Title 42 expulsions.
  • The nationality of migrants that increased the most was Venezuelans. This is despite Mexico’s January requirement of  visas for visiting Venezuelans: more are migrating through the dangerous Darién Gap region.
  • CBP’s data show border-zone seizures of nearly all major drugs, except possibly fentanyl, falling behind their 2021 pace. As in past years, the overwhelming majority of drugs—except cannabis—are seized at border ports of entry.
  • Following the July 12 meeting between the U.S. and Mexican presidents, Mexico detailed new border infrastructure investments, assigning many to its military. Mexico signaled that the U.S. government would offer more temporary work visas, but U.S. officials won’t confirm that.
  • Texas’s state law enforcement is rounding up migrants and dropping them at ports of entry, and sending released migrants on buses to Washington. A sergeant died on July 15, the eighth loss since October of a Texas National Guard soldier deployed to the border.

CBP’s migrant encounters dropped 14 percent in June

U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported encountering 207,416 undocumented migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border in June. This was the most encounters ever for a month of June but 14 percent fewer than in May.

The Title 42 pandemic expulsions policy, prolonged by a federal court order, continues to ease repeat attempts to cross the border because it involves minimal time in CBP custody. As a result, the 207,416 “encounters” were with 153,379 actual individual people. 26 percent of CBP’s reported encounters were with people who had already been encountered at least once before in the past 12 months.

The “encounters” total includes 15,518 migrants who appeared at land ports of entry (official border crossings). The other 191,898 encounters occurred in the spaces between the ports of entry, where Border Patrol operates. This was Border Patrol’s smallest monthly total since February.

It is still a historically large number. Border Patrol has encountered migrants 1,634,104 times since October 2021, when the U.S. government’s 2022 fiscal year began. With three months to go before fiscal 2022 ends, that nearly exceeds 2021’s 1,659,206 encounters, which were the most ever reported.

Of those encountered in June, 44 percent were swiftly expelled under the Title 42 authority, which had been scheduled to end on May 23 but was prolonged by a Texas federal judge’s decision. Since the pandemic began in March 2020, Title 42 has been used to expel migrants from the U.S.-Mexico border 2,116,211 times.

In late June, Republican legislators succeeded in adding language to two 2023 appropriations bills that would keep Title 42 in place potentially for years, as reported in WOLA’s July 1 Update. More than 180 U.S. organizations, including WOLA, signed a July 15 letter calling on Congress to remove this “poison pill” language from the bills.

Mexico agreed in March 2020 to accept expelled citizens of Central America’s so-called “Northern Triangle” (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras), and in May 2022 to accept limited numbers of expelled Cubans and Nicaraguans. Other migrants are expelled by air, although only Haiti has seen a significant percentage of its migrants returned on planes (33 percent during this fiscal year).

June saw a slowdown in expulsions of citizens of countries other than Mexico and the Northern Triangle. Expulsions of Cubans and Nicaraguans dropped from 3,979 in May to 593 in June. Mexico had committed to accepting expelled Cubans and Nicaraguans until May 23, the day that Title 42 was originally slated to end. The numbers show that Mexico did not resume accepting those expulsions after the court order prolonged Title 42. Planes to Haiti, meanwhile, largely ceased: Just 15 Haitians were expelled in June.

In fact, in an encouraging development, Border Patrol encountered only 143 Haitian citizens crossing between the ports of entry in June, down from more than 7,000 in May.

The reason is a change at the ports of entry: in coordination with humanitarian organizations, CBP has been allowing a larger number of migrants considered more vulnerable to approach the ports to seek protection. The 15,518 undocumented migrants who came to ports of entry in June were the sixth-largest monthly total measured since fiscal year 2012; May was the fourth-largest monthly total. Nearly 4,000 of the  migrants allowed to approach the ports last month were Haitian. About three-quarters of them arrived at ports of entry in south Texas.

The recent experience with Haitian migrants—orderly processing of protection claims at ports of entry, with a sharp drop in improper crossings—offers a potential model for managing today’s large hemisphere-wide flows of protection-seeking migration.

Read More

Latin America-related events in Washington and online this week

All times are U.S. Eastern.

Monday, July 18

  • 10:00 at IACHR and online: Cuba, one year after #11J (RSVP required).

Tuesday, July 19

Wednesday, July 20

Friday, July 22

Deeply unfortunate

He may do good elsewhere, but future histories of Joe Biden’s human rights record will begin with this photo.

Weekly U.S.-Mexico Border Update: July 14, 2022

With this series of weekly updates, WOLA seeks to cover the most important developments at the U.S.-Mexico border. See past weekly updates here.

This week:

  • CBP released a long-awaited investigation into the September 2021 incident in Del Rio, Texas, when horse-mounted Border Patrol agents were caught on camera behaving aggressively toward Haitian migrants. The report finds fault with agents’ behavior, Border Patrol command and control, lack of crowd control training, and other issues. Administrative punishments appear likely.
  • President Biden and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador met in Washington on July 12. Mexico agreed to make $1.5 billion in border infrastructure investments over the next two years. There was no agreement on temporary work visas.
  • 15,633 people migrated through Panama’s treacherous Darién Gap jungles in June, a number that has increased nearly every month this year. Almost three quarters of the migrants were Venezuelans who are now unable to fly visa-free to Mexico.
  • The once-quiet Del Rio border sector appears poised to become the busiest, leading all others in migrant encounters, with more than 13,000 in an early July week. Most are not from Mexico or Central America’s “Northern Triangle.”
  • An executive order from Texas’s governor, whose language adopts “invasion” rhetoric, empowers state law enforcement to apprehend migrants and transport them to border ports of entry.

CBP concludes Del Rio investigation

On July 8 U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) released a long-awaited report on the September 2021 incident along the Rio Grande in Del Rio, Texas, when horse-mounted Border Patrol agents were caught on camera charging and swinging reins at Haitian migrants during a mass migration event. The investigation by CBP’s Office of Public Responsibility (OPR, a body that reports directly to CBP’s commissioner) foundfailures at multiple levels of the agency, a lack of appropriate policies and training, and unprofessional and dangerous behavior by several individual Agents.”

An outcry followed publication of the September 19 images and videos of mounted agents charging at, grabbing, swinging reins, yelling, and maneuvering the Haitians back into the river. Condemnation and promises of swift action came from President Joe Biden, Vice-President Kamala Harris, and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, among many others. “I promise you, those people will pay. There is an investigation underway right now and there will be consequences,” said Biden.

Mayorkas promised that an investigation “will be completed in days—not weeks.” In fact, it took OPR nearly 10 months to produce its 511-page report. CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus, who took office last December, said he was “not happy about the length of time.” Much of the delay owed to the agency’s choice to treat the case as a criminal matter, referring it to the Department of Justice. The U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas considered it for nearly six months before deciding, on March 11, 2022, not to pursue criminal charges. During that long period, OPR was unable to interview the Border Patrol agents directly involved in the incident.

What imprecisely became known as the “whipping incident” happened during an unusual immigration event. CBP noted that “over the course of several days, U.S. Border Patrol Agents processed, screened, and vetted more than 30,000 migrants by the international bridge” in Del Rio, a mid-Texas border city of 30,000 people that until recently had seen only modest levels of migration.

Much of this population was Haitian: over the course of 2021, approximately 100,000 Haitian citizens who had been living in Brazil and Chile migrated north through Panama’s Darién Gap, then to Mexico. (Panama recorded 101,072 Haitians passing through the dangerous Darién in 2021, including children born in South America, while Mexico apprehended 18,924 Haitians and received asylum requests from 51,076.)

In late August and early September (as noted in WOLA’s Border Updates at the time) thousands of Haitian migrants bottled up in Mexico’s far south organized “caravans” seeking to continue toward the U.S. border. Mexican forces broke these up, often brutally—but then, in mid-September, for reasons that don’t remain fully clear, roughly 15,000 mostly Haitian migrants were able to transit the country and arrive in Ciudad Acuña, Coahuila, across from Del Rio, over the same few days. The migrants forded the river, which had shallow areas at the time, and gathered by the thousands in areas near the border bridge.

The mass arrival appeared to take CBP by surprise. Border Patrol, which had just 1,504 agents assigned to its once-quiet Del Rio Sector in 2020, surged personnel from elsewhere. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), an immigration hardliner, deployed state police to Del Rio.

While Abbott’s Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) personnel appeared to be seeking to block migrants’ access, CBP was seeking to process the Haitian migrants on U.S. soil. (The Title 42 pandemic order has curtailed the right to seek asylum, so many of the Haitians “processed” in Del Rio ended up being among the more than 26,000 whom the Biden administration has flown back to Haiti.)

Border Patrol, which could barely accommodate the thousands of migrants waiting to be processed on the banks of the river, was allowing them to cross into Mexico to buy food and water, then cross back.

During the mid-day on September 19, though, journalists’ cameras caught members of a Border Patrol horse patrol unit, brought in from Carrizo Springs, Texas, aggressively seeking to block the migrants—many of them carrying bags of food—from re-entering the United States. “At the time the agents used or threatened to use force, the migrants were not threatening” the mounted agents, the OPR report found.

The report includes the following findings about what happened over approximately a half hour on September 19.

  • There was no evidence that the agents “whipped” the migrants or that the riders’ reins struck any migrants. In future crowd control events, though, CBP will prohibit mounted agents from “twirling” their reins as “a distancing tactic.”
  • “Several mounted Border Patrol Agents used force or the threat of force to drive several migrants back into the Rio Grande River, despite the fact the migrants were well within the territorial boundary of the United States.”
  • In addition to swinging reins, aggressive tactics included charging horses at migrants to keep them from entering, in one case maneuvering a horse very close to a boy, and in another causing a man to fall back into the river; grabbing a man by his shirt and flipping him around; and yelling “unprofessional” comments, including “Hey! You use your women? This is why your country’s s***, you use your women for this.”
  • By pushing migrants back to the river and Mexico, the horse-patrol agents were following orders given not by Border Patrol, but a request from Texas state DPS. Though blocking migrants was not CBP’s objective, the Border Patrol supervisor approved the state agency’s request without checking with higher-ups.
  • This owed much to faulty command and control within Border Patrol. The horse patrol agents’ supervisor “was unable to obtain additional guidance from higher in the USBP chain of command at the time of the request” from Texas DPS. The agents “repeatedly sought guidance from the USBP incident command post” by radio, and backed off after being “eventually told to allow all the migrants to enter.”
  • Though assigned to a crowd control mission—a difficult job with a high risk of escalation and human rights abuse—the horse patrol unit’s members’ responses indicated that they had not received crowd control training. Commissioner Magnus said that from now on, horses would not be used for crowd control without the commissioner’s approval.

With the OPR report complete, a CBP Disciplinary Review Board, separate from OPR and made up of senior officials, is now considering punishments for the agents involved. Four agents may face administrative measures. CBS News reported that no firings are recommended, and that the Review Board proposed a seven-day suspension for the supervisor who approved the Texas state DPS request.

The agents’ defenders—including the National Border Patrol Council union, House Homeland Security Committee ranking Republican Rep. John Katko (R-New York), and several former Border Patrol leaders in a mid-June letter—argue that they are not receiving due process because President Biden had demanded in September 2021 that they “pay” for their actions. Border Patrol union President Brandon Judd said that the union will appeal any punishments.

Commissioner Magnus said on July 8 that despite the “reins” incident, “the vast majority of Border Patrol Agents and U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel acted with honor and integrity and provided an unprecedented response to the situation in Del Rio.”

While that could be accurate for much of the Del Rio migration event, the OPR report’s scope does not go beyond what happened in the approximate half-hour on September 19 when the horse patrol was caught on camera. Much of the report, in fact, describes scenes that are already familiar to anyone who has reviewed the much-publicized footage. Migrant rights groups like the Haitian Bridge Alliance and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights have documented other alleged abuses in the context of the Del Rio event.

Critics of the OPR report have meanwhile lamented that investigators did not speak to a single Haitian migrant about what happened. Among those who would have been available is Mirard Joseph, the man whose shirt was grabbed by a horse-mounted agent in one famous image. Joseph was removed to Haiti and is suing the U.S. government.

Biden and López Obrador discuss the border and migration

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador was in Washington on July 11- 12 for his second visit since Joe Biden took office. Much media attention focused on the frosty relationship between the two leaders’ administrations, who disagree on issues ranging from energy policy to the Ukraine conflict to the June Summit of the Americas’ invitation list. López Obrador’s 30-minute-plus oratory during the presidents’ Oval Office photo op also drew comment.

Read More

Latin America Security-Related News: July 13, 2022

(Even more here)

July 13, 2022


Brazil is looking to buy as much diesel as it can from Russia and some of the deals were being closed “as recently as yesterday,” Brazilian Foreign Minister Carlos Franca said on Tuesday, without giving further details on the transactions

Para o general, apesar dessa situação, os militares vão prestar continência a quem quer que seja o presidente da República eleito


Hoy se entrega el último informe “No enreden la paz”, el documento de control político que hace este Congreso sobre la implementación del Acuerdo de Paz

Gustavo Petro and Francia Márquez will seek to lay the foundation for bringing the country’s decades-long armed conflict to a close

Luis Gilberto Murillo would take Colombia’s most important diplomatic post when he’s sworn into office next month

La próxima semana un representante de “alto nivel” del Gobierno de Estados Unidos, de Joe Biden, vendrá a Colombia para reunirse con el presidente electo, Gustavo Petro


La iniciativa de ley no busca fortalecer la paz, busca dejar libres a asesinos, violadores, torturadores y esclavistas


Local humanitarian and human-rights activists say it’s still unclear how many people have been killed in the latest carnage, but Joël Janéus, the interim mayor of Cité Soleil, told the Miami Herald that at least 52 people have been killed


A month after boycotting Biden’s Western Hemisphere summit, Andrés Manuel López Obrador goes to the White House for a make-up meeting


Mexico has committed to invest $1.5 billion on border infrastructure between 2022 and 2024

Temas de largo plazo -y mucha voluntad- para resolverse. Un día alcanza sólo para la foto

Following the ongoing spike in extrajudicial killings and concerning levels of impunity, the resolution encourages the Government of Mexico to ensure thorough and impartial investigations into violence against journalists


According to Ortega, it is a “group of very elderly nuns”, who are praying to kill him, and he considers this to be a serious threat to national security

U.S.-Mexico Border

Operation Lone Star has cost taxpayers at least $4B, which Abbott says is needed to combat smuggling. Critics say it violates migrants’ civil rights

A campaign by Mexican governors, under pressure by Gov. Greg Abbott, to stem the flow of migrants from Central America and beyond to Texas has led to a surge of complaints of abuse by state authorities, including violent attacks, extortion and even forcing migrants to disembark from private buses

Little information has been released from U.S. Border Patrol about a shooting that left one person injured from apparent gunshot wounds

Sectors like El Paso still recording hundreds of daily encounters despite triple-digit heat, harsh desert terrain

“We live with this daily fear of leaving the shelter that something will happen to us,” one migrant said

Border migration leveling off, it seems

These tweets give us one-off reports on migrant encounters in three of Border Patrol’s nine U.S.-Mexico border sectors, in a single week.

Take these together, you get 27,200+ migrant encounters in these three sectors in one early July week.

These sectors made up 56 percent of Border Patrol migrant encounters in May. (June numbers should be released any day now.) That rate would yield 48,990+ migrant encounters border-wide in a week, or 7,000 per day, in early July.

In May, Border Patrol apprehended 7,182 migrants per day. So these numbers may point to an ever-so-slight decrease in migration during these very hot months.

Also notable here: mid-Texas’s Del Rio Sector in first place. South Texas’s Rio Grande Valley Sector has been the number-one migrant destination every month since February 2013, with the lone exception of January 2022. Significantly more migrants appear to be coming to Del Rio, which is much more remote and harder to reach.

Migration through the Darién Gap increased further in June

Panama’s migration authority has released data through June detailing migration through the Darién Gap, a jungle region along the border with Colombia that is where the Pan-American Highway stops. It’s a barely governed area where violent criminal groups more or less have free rein. Migrants who dare to make the roughly 60-mile journey routinely report being robbed, beaten, or raped, and seeing dead bodies along the trail.

This year, most of the growing number of people taking the Darién route are coming from Venezuela. 11,359 Venezuelan people passed through the Darién in June, more than ever before. That’s nearly 3 out of 4 (73%) of the 15,633 people who took this once-avoided route just last month.

Nearly 50,000 people migrated through the Darién during the first half of 2022. That’s on pace to be second to 2021, when 133,726 took this dangerous route. Last year, three-quarters of migrants were Haitian. This year, nearly 60% are Venezuelan.

Venezuelans seeking to migrate north used to be able to skip Darién’s dangers and fly to Mexico. But in Jan 2022, at strong US suggestion, Mexico started requiring visas of arriving Venezuelans, as Human Rights Watch reported last week. Most now have to take the land route.

Growing numbers of migrants taking the Darién route are coming from Africa: 6,188 so far this year. Many came from Angola and Senegal earlier in the year. In recent months, more migrants are coming from Ghana and Somalia—both east and west Africa.

Latin America Security-Related News: July 12, 2022

(Even more here)

July 12, 2022


It wasn’t the first violent episode associated with the country’s increasing political polarization

Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira set off deep into the Amazon to meet Indigenous groups patrolling the forest. Then they vanished


Se trata del mayor general Carlos Iván Moreno Ojeda, quien actualmente se desempeña como la segunda cabeza del Ejército

Desde 2021, a Presidencia llegaron denuncias de hechos de corrupcion en esta instancia

“Lo que intentó hacer Acevedo es poner en el centro de la narrativa histórica a unas Fuerzas Armadas victoriosas y víctimas. Modificar la narrativa del conflicto armado”

Usted recibe un país con una paz fragmentada. Se ha avanzado lentamente durante 5 años en la implementación del Acuerdo de Paz con las Farc, pero el conflicto armado se ha reactivado en varias regiones

El Salvador, Guatemala

Images and videos that she uploaded to Instagram and Facebook substantiate Crook’s release late last year, a fact that the Salvadoran government has not publicly admitted

El Salvador, Mexico

Los Yagu soportan impactos de bala de alto calibre: tiene un blindaje de más seis; van acompañados de drones, de armas automáticas y de un mástil electrónico que se eleva más de diez metros



La OFAC designó a Obed Christian Sepúlveda Portillo, acusándolo de comprar armamento en EEUU y enviarlo ilegalmente a sicarios del CJNG

“At a crucial time in our bilateral ties with Mexico, we are facing the unprecedented challenge of having a foreign leader who publicly criticizes the long term bilateral commitments of both nations and turns a blind eye to the humanitarian crisis at our shared border,” said Rubio

87 U.S., Mexican, regional, and international civil society organizations sent an open letter to the two presidents outlining key points for an effective and sustainable response to high levels of migration

Senador Bob Menéndez urgió a Biden abordar las preocupaciones sobre erosión democrática y militarización en México durante reunión con AMLO


“Ya quisiéramos que nuestras fuerzas policiales y nuestras Fuerzas Armadas brindaran la misma seguridad a todo el país”

U.S.-Mexico Border

Federal authorities are referring more migrant cases to criminal federal courts, putting them at the highest levels since the coronavirus pandemic began


La competencia “Sniper Frontier” hace parte de los Juegos Internacionales del Ejército (Army Games), organizados por Rusia y varios países, anualmente, desde 2015

Jorge Toledo, who was sentenced to prison along with five other American oil executives in 2020, was convicted of corruption charges after traveling to Venezuela on a work trip with oil company Citgo

Only beneficiaries under Venezuela’s existing designation, and who were already residing in the United States as of March 8, 2021, are eligible to re-register

A towering reading list from just the past two weeks

A lot of my work centers on Colombia, security, human rights, and borders. So for me, the past two weeks have just been a nonstop storm of new knowledge, a driving downpour of amazing things to read. Important new work and must-read documents have been coming nearly every day.

(This in addition to a wealth of live events and volumes of coverage of Colombia’s remarkable election outcome.)

Here are some links. Don’t even ask me to summarize these yet. I’m reading as fast as I can.




Latin America Security-Related News: July 7-11, 2022

July 11, 2022


El contexto muestra un avance de la vicepresidenta no sólo en el Ejecutivo de Alberto Fernández, sino también, significativamente en un momento en que recrudece la crisis política y económica, en las Fuerzas Armadas


Una de las oportunidades que tiene Colombia con el cambio de gobierno es la construcción de una nueva narrativa y política de drogas

En el nuevo Ejecutivo, será un actor clave para facilitar una mesa de diálogo con la guerrilla


Colombia, Venezuela

En un video difundido a medios de comunicación, disidentes de las Farc dieron a conocer que alias Iván Márquez sobrevivió al “atentado criminal dirigido desde los cuarteles del Ejército”, el pasado 30 de junio

Un comunicado del grupo disidente asegura que el líder guerrillero sobrevivió al atentado en su contra y sigue con vida


The Cuban government committed systematic human rights violations in response to massive anti-government protests in July 2021 with the apparent goal of punishing protesters and deterring future demonstrations

A year after mass demonstrations, the island continues to crack down on its most vulnerable communities

“I didn’t leave because I wanted to. I was exiled,” says a Cuban entrepreneur-turned-activist as residents have left the country at record levels


Todos los Gobiernos han manejado, en mayor o menor medida, la misma lógica de respuestas para extinguir el ‘fuego’ de las protestas con al menos tres acciones

El Salvador, Guatemala

The Guatemalan National Civil Police (PNC) and Army detained and deported more than 120 Salvadoran gang members under the Integral Tactical Operational Plan 13-2022

El Salvador

By promising to reduce homicides, politicians are forced to make deals with the gangs so they’ll turn murders into “disappearances”

Read More

WOLA Podcast: “What happens with the Petro government could become a model for engaging with the region”

My WOLA colleague Gimena Sánchez was in Colombia for the June 19 election that brought a left candidate to power there for the first time in nearly anyone’s lifetime. We recorded a podcast about it on Friday, and here it is. Here’s the blurb from WOLA’s podcast site.

Colombia’s June 19 presidential election had a historic result: the first left-of-center government in the country’s modern history. Gustavo Petro, a former guerrilla who demobilized over 30 years ago, will be sworn in to the presidency on August 7. His running mate, Afro-Colombian social movement leader and environmental defender Francia Márquez, will be Colombia’s next vice president.

WOLA’s director for the Andes, Gimena Sánchez-Garzoli, was in Colombia on election day, and has a lot to share about what she saw and heard. She and host Adam Isacson talk about what made Petro’s victory possible—including high levels of popular discontent. They discuss the political transition so far, the immediate challenges of governability and tax revenue, implications for implementing Colombia’s 2016 peace accord, and hope for greater participation of women, Afro-descendant, Indigenous, and LGBTI Colombians.

The discussion covers areas of potential disagreement with a U.S. government that has long made Colombia its largest aid recipient, including drug policy, trade, and Venezuela policy. Sánchez and Isacson also discuss new areas of potential U.S.-Colombian cooperation, including judicial strengthening and implementation of peace accord commitments that could stabilize long-ungoverned territories.

Links to recent WOLA analysis of Colombia’s elections:

Download the podcast .mp3 file here. Listen to WOLA’s Latin America Today podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartRadio, or wherever you subscribe to podcasts. The main feed is here.

Latin America-related events in Washington or online this week

Monday, July 11

  • 11:00-12:00 at AMLO’s Visit to Washington: Key Issues on the Bilateral Agenda (RSVP required).
  • 1:00-3:00 at Verso Books EventBrite: Book Launch for Humanitarian Borders and Nobody is Protected (RSVP required).

Tuesday, July 12

  • 12:00 at Twitter Spaces: Real Solutions for the Border.
  • 1:00-5:00 at Florida International University and Zoom: Commemorating the Peace Accords in Guatemala and El Salvador: Promises & Lessons in Central America (RSVP required).
  • 2:00 at Race and Equality Zoom: Afro-Latin and Afro-Caribbean Women in Democracy (RSVP required).

Wednesday, July 13

  • 11:00 at DPLF Zoom: Muzzled Justice: The capture of #ElSalvador’s Justice System (RSVP required).
  • 12:00-2:00 at Fordham U Zoom: The State of Asylum Processing & U.S. Immigration Policy: The Impact of Families (RSVP required).
  • 2:00-3:00 at Going local: City collaboration following the Summit of the Americas (RSVP required).
  • 2:00-3:30 at International Aid in Haiti – Disappointing Outcomes (RSVP required).

Thursday, July 14

  • 11:00 at CEJIL Facebook and Zoom: Informe de la CIDH y Deterioro de la Justicia en Guatemala. (RSVP required).
  • 12:00-1:00 at Going Digital: The High Cost of Latin American Remittances and Cross-Border Payments (RSVP required).
  • 3:00-6:00 at Documenting Evidence of Femicide: Film Discussion of the “Caníbal, indignación total” Docuseries (RSVP required).

Friday, July 15

  • 11:00-12:30 at USIP and online: The Final Report of the Truth Commission from Colombia’s 2016 FARC Peace Accord (RSVP required).

Weekly U.S.-Mexico Border Update: July 7, 2022

With this series of weekly updates, WOLA seeks to cover the most important developments at the U.S.-Mexico border. See past weekly updates here.

This week:

  • May was Mexico’s fourth-largest month on record for apprehensions of migrants, and nearly half were not from Central America’s “Northern Triangle.” Mexico is on track to receive its second-largest annual total of asylum applications. Migrants—including an increasing number from countries, like Venezuela, who can no longer visit Mexico without a visa—have been staging protests and obtaining temporary migratory status.
  • We learned more about the circumstances of, and the victims of, the June 27 tragedy in which 53 migrants died of heat-related causes while being smuggled in the back of a tractor-trailer in south Texas. Humanitarian and human rights groups warned against quickly deporting the survivors.
  • Outbreaks of organized crime-related violence in Sonora and Baja California drew further attention to the difficult security situation along Mexico’s side of the border.

Trends in migration through Mexico

In late June Mexico’s Interior Department (Secretaría de Gobernación), through its Migratory Statistics Unit, released data about migration through the country during May 2022. That month, Mexican authorities apprehended 32,948 migrants, their 4th-largest monthly total on record.

Of that total, only 54 percent came from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, the countries of Central America’s so-called “Northern Triangle.” Until the middle of last year, these three countries very rarely made up less than 80 percent of Mexico’s migrant apprehensions.

The remainder—shown in green in the above chart—come from the rest of the world, mainly the Americas. The following 13 nationalities measured at least 100 apprehended migrants in Mexico in May:

  1. Honduras 7,512
  2. Guatemala 7,046
  3. Nicaragua 3,462
  4. El Salvador 3,285
  5. Cuba 3,141
  6. Colombia 3,016
  7. Peru 1,165
  8. Venezuela 1,640
  9. Ecuador 756
  10. Brazil 398
  11. Russia 271
  12. Haiti 246
  13. Dominican Republic 102

The number of apprehended migrants from Haiti (#12) has fallen sharply: fewer than those from Russia in May. Haitian migration through Mexico reached a peak in September 2021, the month of the infamous Border Patrol “whipping” or “flailing reins” incident in Del Rio, Texas. That month, Mexican migration and security forces apprehended 9,009 Haitian citizens.

In early July, Mexico’s refugee agency (COMAR) reported that 9,740 people requested asylum in Mexico in June. That is slightly fewer than in February, March, and April, but still puts COMAR on track for its second-busiest year ever, with 58,462 applications during the first half of the year.

In 2021, a large number of Haitian citizens, migrating north after spending years living mostly in Brazil and Chile, made Haiti the number-one country of origin for asylum seekers in Mexico. The Chileans who appear in the above chart in 2020 and 2021 (in orange) were almost entirely the Chilean-born children of Haitian migrants.

Read More

Latin America Security-Related News: July 6, 2022

(Even more here)

July 6, 2022


La dirigencia de la Csutcb presentó los documentos en donde el general Ponce recibió agradecimientos de la entonces presidenta, Jeanine Áñez y el coronel Russo tramitó la orden de captura internacional en contra de Evo Morales


It’s a charter propelled by left-leaning millennials and built for a modern nation led by one. Polls show the voters are poised to reject it


Aunque los correspondientes a 2021 solo los presentará a finales de mes, muestran un aumento de más del 10 por ciento en las hectáreas cultivadas, el final de la disminución que venía desde 2018

Nunca imaginamos que enviarían a una bandola de piratas legislativos a saquear los dineros de los 170 municipios priorizados por el Acuerdo de Paz

El próximo 8 de julio de 2022, Emilio Archila, exconsejero presidencial del gobierno de Iván Duque, deberá declarar ante la Fiscalía General sobre el caso de corrupción que rodea los recursos de los Órganos Colegiados de Administración y Decisión

Incluso se utilizaron recursos del denominado Fondo Paz para dotaciones de la Fuerza Pública

“Tampoco habrá glifosato, trabajaremos en la sustitución de cultivos ilícitos a través de la reforma agraria donde se busca cumplirle al campesinado con una economía forestal sin generar esos conflictos que tenemos hoy”

En entrevista en La W Radio, el presidente electo explicó que la Policía saldría del Ministerio de la Defensa con el fin de que tenga un carácter civil y no militar

En las comunidades del Catatumbo, región colombiana con débil presen- cia estatal y escenario de disputas armadas, existe una relación cercana entre el conflicto armado, el deterio- ro ambiental y sus impactos

La vicepresidenta electa, Francia Márquez, se reunió este martes con Francisco L. Palmieri, embajador encargado de Estados Unidos en Colombia

Luego de que reconocieran que asesinaron a inocentes para hacerlos pasar por bajas en combate, los militares implicados en falsos positivos en el Catatumbo le plantearon a la JEP sus propuestas de sanciones. Sin embargo, las víctimas no están muy de acuerdo con ellas

Colombia, Venezuela

El presidente electo de Colombia, Gustavo Petro, afirmó este martes que no le parece prudente que el mandatario venezolano, Nicolás Maduro, asista a su investidura, que tendrá lugar el próximo 7 de agosto

El Salvador

—Have you secured alternatives to detention in any of your cases? —I ask.— You, or anyone on your team? —Not a single one. We haven’t been able to free one person

It brought El Salvador’s president, Nayib Bukele, the adulation of the tech community, but reduced scarce funds and moved the nation closer to default


“Kidnapping is more frequent than before. People are suffering. They are being shot at in their neighborhoods. They are leaving the country and dying at sea”


El Gobierno federal desplegó a 300 agentes de la Guardia Nacional (GN) en esta capital, que desde hace semanas enfrenta una ola de asesinatos, secuestros, asaltos y quema de automóviles y unidades de transporte público

Los uniformados que resistieron el ataque en Sonora recibirían la medalla al Mérito en la Campaña Contra el Narcotráfico

Activistas denunciaron también el hostigamiento de la Policía, lo que inhibe la búsqueda de trabajo por temor a que les quiten su dinero

Administration officials fear that the U.S. ambassador’s cozy relationship with the Mexican president has backfired, and may be setting back American interests in the region

Mexico, Panama, Venezuela

The number of Venezuelans crossing the Darien Gap into the North American continent has skyrocketed over the past year as countries imposed visa restrictions making it more difficult for Venezuelans to travel by plane to Mexico and Central America

U.S.-Mexico Border

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas has approved plans to construct two 30-foot walls across the face of Friendship Park, the binational meeting place at the western-most end of the US-Mexico border just south of San Diego

More than 476,000 migrants eluded apprehension by the Border Patrol this fiscal year, according to a source within Customs and Border Protection

Over the last 12 months, all under President Biden, there have been a likely 7,758 ICE Air flight legs as compared to 4,845 in 2020, a startling, unexpected, and disappointing increase of 2,913 (60%) over 2020

The bill and amendments still face review by the full House. But Republican opposition to rolling back Title 42 remains strong and may have some Democratic support

Migration data from Mexico

Sometime at the very end of June, Mexico’s Interior Department released data about migration through the country in the month of May. It turns out that May was the fourth-busiest ever month that Mexico has experienced, with authorities apprehending 32,948 migrants from other countries.

This next chart used to be almost entirely blue, brown, and yellow, representing the three countries of Central America’s “Northern Triangle,” who made up nearly all migrants coming through Mexico. Now, though, those countries make up only 54 percent of the total.

The rest—shown in green—come from the rest of the world, mainly the Americas. Here’s all nationalities with at least 100 apprehended migrants in Mexico in May:

  1. Honduras 7,512
  2. Guatemala 7,046
  3. Nicaragua 3,462
  4. El Salvador 3,285
  5. Cuba 3,141
  6. Colombia 3,016
  7. Peru 1,165
  8. Venezuela 1,640
  9. Ecuador 756
  10. Brazil 398
  11. Russia 271
  12. Haiti 246
  13. Dominican Republic 102

The number of apprehended migrants from Haiti (#12) has fallen sharply: fewer than those from Russia in May. Haitian migration through Mexico reached a peak last September, the month of the “whipping” or “flailing reins” incident in Del Rio, Texas. That month, Mexican forces apprehended 9,009 Haitian citizens.

Here is the latest data about deportations of Mexicans into Mexico. This statistic has reached higher levels than during the last two years of the Trump administration, in part due to a larger number of Mexican citizens attempting to migrate into the United States. Notable is the recent growth of this chart’s yellow segment: deportations into Tamaulipas, the only Mexican border state considered so violent and dangerous that the U.S. State Department has given it a Level 4 “Do Not Travel” warning.

The data underlying these charts is from the Mexican Interior Department’s Migratory Statistics Unit. I used Table 3.1.1 and Table 5.1.

Latin America Security-Related News: July 4-5, 2022

(Even more here)

July 5, 2022

Bolivia, Chile, Venezuela

En Bolivia, las investigaciones siguen para verificar la presencia del Tren de Aragua en algunas localidades de la frontera y si hay emisarios en las ciudades capitales


Si gana el “rechazo”, la Constitución de 1980 seguirá vigente, en contraste con la abrumadora mayoría (casi 80%) que votó por su reemplazo


“Durán” era uno de los rostros más visibles de la Mesa Autónoma de Reincorporación, creada por excombatientes inconformes con el Partido Comunes

A weakened Second Marquetalia means it could be taken over by another group. In its heartland of Norte de Santander and Apure, the ELN is in a position to do so


He said the assailants offered soldiers $500,000 to free one of the detained suspects, and when soldiers refused, a gunfight broke out and one soldier was killed


Los operativos de erradicación de cultivos de hoja de coca están provocando una escalada de “narcoviolencia” en la selva central de Perú, donde incrementaron el acoso, las amenazas e intimidaciones de los narcotraficantes hacia líderes indígenas, denunció el pueblo nativo Kakataibo


Los deberes y obligaciones que se desprenden del ejercicio de funciones militares, especialmente para generales y almirantes en el ejercicio de sus competencias, pueden generar responsabilidad del Estado

July 4, 2022


El presidente está empeñado en mostrar los resultados de su plan de Gobierno, pero la “humillación” que sufrió la Policía hace más de 10 días por sicarios ligados al tráfico de drogas activó respuestas contradictorias y tensiones políticas

Read More

Social leaders in Colombia: the crisis is not abating

The UN verification mission in Colombia counted 56 killings of human rights defenders and social leaders in just 3 months, from March 26 to June 27. (All but seven remain to be verified.)

That’s three homicides every five days. In the nearly five years and four months before this latest quarterly reporting period, the UN Mission counted about one homicide very four days.

For people who want to participate non-violently in local politics, the pace of death is not slowing.

The image is from the infographic report accompanying the UN Mission’s latest quarterly report on the peace process. The press release summarizing that report is here.

Latin America-related online events this week

Tuesday, July 5

  • 8:00am at Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs Zoom: Webinar for Civil Society: The World Drug Report 2022 (RSVP required).

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

  • 10:00-11:30 at Preparations and Challenges Ahead of Brazil’s 2022 Presidential Election (RSVP required).
  • 12:00 at UCSD US-Mex Zoom: Vida y violencia en la Sierra Tarahumara (RSVP required).

Thursday, July 7

Friday, July 8

  • 12:00 at UCSD US-Mex Zoom: Prohibición al aborto en Estados Unidos: Impacto en comunidad migrante y México (RSVP required).

Latest data from Mexico’s asylum system

9,740 people requested asylum in Mexico in June. That’s slightly fewer than in February, March, and April, but still puts Mexico’s refugee agency, COMAR, on track for its second-largest year ever.

Last year, a large number of Haitian citizens, migrating north after spending years living mostly in Brazil and Chile, made Haiti the number-one country of origin for asylum seekers. (The Chileans who appear here in 2020 and 2021 were almost entirely the Chilean-born children of Haitian migrants.)

This year, Honduras has returned to the number-one position that it has held during recent years. Arrivals from Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua all appear likely to break past records.

Recent writing…

You may be wondering what’s the point of maintaining a personal website, if you don’t even use it to post links to things you’ve created at the moment they go public. You’d have a good point.

My only defense is something along the lines of “deadlines meetings too much happening in the news when do I sleep.” That’s a poor defense, though, because it only takes a couple of minutes to post things here, I enjoy maintaining this space, and I want it to be a useful resource.

So here’s what’s come out lately:

The Tragedy in Texas Was Avoidable, Just Like Hundreds of Other Migrant Deaths on U.S. Soil This Year: (posted June 28) As we absorbed the horror of the mass death of migrants in a cargo container in Texas, we published this commentary explaining the larger context: 2022 was already on its way to being a record year for grisly and preventable deaths of migrants on U.S. soil along the border. It’s a result of policies put in place by people in our federal government who have—I don’t know how else to put it—a really cavalier attitude about the deaths of people who’ve committed no crimes.

From rebel to president: Colombia’s new leftist leader: An hourlong English unpacking of Colombia’s election result on BBC’s “Real Story” program, with journalist Catalina Lobo-Guerrero and Oscar Guardiola-Rivera of Birkbeck, University of London.

Migration and the Summit of the Americas: (posted June 23) a podcast I hosted with three WOLA colleagues. Between myself, VP for Programs Maureen Meyer, Mexico and Migrant Rights Program Director Stephanie Brewer, and Program Assistant Lesly Tejada, since March we’ve done field research in four of the nine sectors into which the U.S. Border Patrol divides the U.S.-Mexico border, we’ve been to the Mexico-Guatemala border, and we’ve attended the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, where migration was a big topic. Here, we talk about all of that.

A fresh start for Colombia … and for US policy? (posted to the Quincy Institute Responsible Statecraft site June 22) In the wake of Gustavo Petro’s presidential election victory in Colombia, a preview of areas where the U.S. government could work with him (peace implementation, environment, ethnic and women’s rights, anticorruption) and where there may be a collision course (drugs, Venezuela, trade, the military “special relationship”).

Colombia’s politics are changing dramatically. U.S. policy must change too. (posted June 16) Posted in the runup to Colombia’s momentous presidential election, a look at what the implications might be for U.S. policy toward a country President Biden views as a “keystone.”

OK, in the end, this post actually took me a while to write, especially on a Saturday afternoon when there’s a lot going on around the house. Still, I resolve to do a better job of sharing recent work when it comes out.

Have a good weekend

Here’s Bartees Strange performing Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love.”

Latin America Security-Related News: June 30-July 1, 2022

(Even more here)

July 1, 2022

Argentina, Venezuela

HRW Chief Tamara Taraciuk wondered on social media whether Fernández’s approach to the Venezuelan question stemmed from “Ignorance or selectivity?”

Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Venezuela

El presidente de Paraguay, Mario Abdo Benítez, ratificó que «gran parte» de la tripulación del avión venezolano-iraní en Argentina tiene nexos con el terrorismo


Una reforma constitucional que permitiría al Presidente de la República, Gabriel Boric, destinar -en forma inmediata y sin demasiados trámites- a las FF.AA. para cuidar espacios públicos o lugares estratégicos


Eduardo Zapateiro had publicly criticized the leftist leader, who has vowed to crack down on corruption in the armed forces

Una investigación de Blu Radio develaría que altos funcionarios del DNP, la Contraloría, contratistas y congresistas conservadores se habrían apropiado del dinero para desarrollar el Acuerdo de Paz en los municipios más golpeados por la guerra

Desde que se posesionó Iván Duque y hasta el 30 de abril de este año fueron asesinados por lo menos 545 líderes campesinos, indígenas, ambientales, sociales y comunales

Quedan muchas inquietudes sobre la insistencia del Gobierno saliente en reanudar, a como dé lugar, las aspersiones aéreas con glifosato

Paramilitary drug lord, alias “Memo Fantasma” or “Will the Ghost,” may soon walk out of prison in Colombia, after the prosecutor fumbled two hearings designed to keep the accused in pre-trial detention. Underworld sources suspect foul play

“Es un fenómeno que sigue vigente y que, alimentado por una multitud de factores, se constituye en uno de los obstáculos centrales para avanzar hacia un proyecto nacional de paz”

La relación entre ciudadanía y policía se rompió porque torturó, fue cómplice del paramilitarismo, el narcotráfico y grupos ilegales


The deal, which includes a decrease in the price of fuel and other concessions, was signed by Government Minister Francisco Jiménez, Indigenous leader Leonidas Iza and the head of the Episcopal Conference, Monsignor Luis Cabrera


La exfiscal de derechos humanos de Guatemala, Hilda Pineda, quien en el pasado llevó a juicio al exdictador José Efraín Ríos Montt por delitos de genocidio, fue destituida de la institución meses después de dejar el cargo como fiscal de derechos humanos


Honduras’ new government should enact reforms to better protect basic rights and the rule of law after years of setbacks since the 2009 coup, Human Rights Watch said today in releasing a letter to President Xiomara Castro

El Comando Sur de Estados Unidos se comprometió en apoyar el mantenimiento de la flota de aviones F5 y puso a disposición los helicópteros de la Fuerza de Tarea Conjunta Bravo en caso de desastres naturales


Este es el balance

El presidente Andrés Manuel López Obrador dijo que se requiere de otra reforma a la Constitución para que la Guardia Nacional ya no sea administrada por la Secretaría de Seguridad

Se busca preservar valores institucionales y la cultura de transparencia, destaca Sandoval

U.S.-Mexico Border

Experts say human smugglers are increasingly using 18-wheeler trucks to move large numbers of migrants, and court records reviewed by Reuters offer a detailed look at how the process plays out

In a 5-4 opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts, the high court rejected arguments by Republican-led states seeking to force officials to keep the policy

Truck driver was high on meth, officials say

The uncertainty post-decision echoed through San Diego immigration courtrooms hours later

The Supreme Court ruled in the Biden administration’s favor and will allow it to end the Migrant Protection Protocols, also known as Remain in Mexico

51% of the 1,018 U.S. Latino adults surveyed said they strongly supported or somewhat supported keeping Title 42 in place, compared to 44% who said they opposed it


US Special President Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens was able to meet with wrongfully detained Americans while in the capital city of Caracas

June 30, 2022


En abierta vulneración al sigilo profesional y a la reserva de la fuente, la Fiscalía General de la Nación ordenó inspección judicial contra Cambio

El Salvador

En trece años, siete defensores ambientales han sido asesinados en El Salvador, un país que no los reconoce, sino que los acosa y criminaliza


Utilizaba sus redes sociales para hacer críticas a los políticos locales y al gobierno estatal

La corporación que comenzó a funcionar en 2019 no ha logrado contener la violencia y está lejos de consolidarse como una instancia civil

El arresto del general Salvador Cienfuegos “enfureció al gobierno mexicano y generó una cooperación limitada en materia de seguridad”

U.S.-Mexico Border

Border Patrol officials say truck traffic is too voluminous to check every vehicle at the dozens of immigration checkpoints on roadways near the border


La embajada de EEUU pidió a los interesados en comunicarse con ellos que lo hagan a través de las redes sociales y canal de WhatsApp

Weekly U.S.-Mexico Border Update: July 1, 2022

With this series of weekly updates, WOLA seeks to cover the most important developments at the U.S.-Mexico border. See past weekly updates here.

This week:

  • The Supreme Court upheld the Biden administration’s cancellation of the “Remain in Mexico” program. By a 5-4 vote, judges determined that lower courts could not compel the administration to re-start the Trump-era program, as it had by sending about 5,000 asylum seekers back to Mexican border cities since December.
  • A horrific tragedy in San Antonio, Texas—the death of 53 migrants smuggled in a stifling hot tractor-trailer—drew attention to the dangers faced by those unable to access legal asylum and migration channels, during a year that appears likely to see record-breaking numbers of deaths near the U.S.-Mexico border.
  • The House Appropriations Committee drafted its 2023 Homeland Security budget bill. It includes a Republican amendment that, if made law, would preserve the Title 42 pandemic expulsions policy, potentially for years.

Supreme Court allows Biden administration to terminate “Remain in Mexico”

With a 5-4 decision on June 30, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the Biden administration did not violate immigration law when it ended the controversial Trump-era Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) or “Remain in Mexico” program. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may now proceed with its plan to stop sending asylum seekers to await their U.S. hearings in Mexico.

The Trump administration, which began implementing Remain in Mexico in January 2019, sent 71,076 asylum-seeking migrants back into Mexico until their next immigration court dates. At least 1,544 of them suffered “murder, rape, torture, kidnapping, and other violent assaults” in Mexico , Human Rights First has reported.

Fulfilling a campaign promise, the Biden administration began shutting down the program with a February 2021 executive order and a June 2021 memorandum, bringing many of the asylum seekers into the United States. That process was halted in August 2021 when Amarillo, Texas federal judge Matthew Kacsmaryk ruled—in a suit brought by the Republican attorneys-general of Texas and Missouri—that the Biden administration had not properly terminated Remain in Mexico. Kacsmaryk ordered the program to restart, and the Biden administration appealed, issuing a new termination memorandum in October 2021. In December, the 5th Circuit blocked the administration’s attempt to end the program. The Supreme Court heard arguments in April.

Since its court-ordered restart of the program got underway in December, the Biden administration sent more than 4,300 (or 5,114, or at least 5,600) asylum seekers, primarily from Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, back to Mexico to await hearings.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh joined the court’s three liberal members in agreeing that the renewed “Remain in Mexico 2.0” may now come to an end. “The Government’s rescission of MPP did not violate section 1225 of the INA [Immigration and Nationality Act], and the October 29 Memoranda constituted final agency action,” the court’s decision reads.

While the Republican state attorneys-general may persist with their litigation before Judge Kacsmaryk, it appears that he and other lower-court judges are now unable to force DHS to revive the program while litigation proceeds through lower courts.

Should a challenge to Remain in Mexico’s termination make its way back up to the Supreme Court, the justices’ decision indicates that they might strike it down. The majority found that Remain in Mexico was a discretionary program: something that the Biden administration “may” continue carrying out, but was not required to. The court noted that the law also allows DHS other options, including detention (which Congress doesn’t fund fully enough to detain all asylum seekers) or parole into the U.S. interior, which is increasingly being used.

The Court also found that Remain in Mexico carries too many “foreign affairs consequences” for it to be mandatory. Forcing the administration to negotiate with Mexico to accept other countries’ asylum-seeking migrants “imposes a significant burden upon the Executive’s ability to conduct diplomatic relations with Mexico, one that Congress likely did not intend section 1225(b)(2)(C) to impose,” the decision reads.

The count obtained by Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) project (which is higher than DHS’s publicly reported count) shows that as of May 31, the court-ordered revival of Remain in Mexico had sent 5,114 asylum seekers to Mexican border cities. 1,109 of whom have had their cases decided or closed, with the rest still pending. It is not yet clear whether the remaining 4,000 will now have an opportunity to re-enter the United States to continue pursuing their cases.

Meanwhile, the Title 42 pandemic expulsions policy, prolonged by a Louisiana judge in May under other litigation from Republican state attorneys-general, remains in effect. While DHS returned 1,460 migrants to Mexico under the Remain in Mexico program in May, DHS expelled migrants 100,699 times under Title 42 that same month, usually into Mexico and always without a U.S. hearing date.

Tragedy in San Antonio highlights alarming increase in border deaths

In the late afternoon on June 27, a very hot day in San Antonio, Texas, a worker encountered a horrible scene along a road on the city’s outskirts. A refrigerated tractor trailer with no air conditioning unit had been left with its doors partially open. People inside were crying for help, but too weak to leave. Inside, as PBS reported it, were “people piled on top of each other. Bodies were also found strewn along the road near the scene.”

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