5 links from the past week
- In Colombia, the newsmagazine Semana has had a series of scoops about illegal activity in the powerful Army’s intelligence apparatus. The latest reveals bits of 130 files that Army spies have been keeping on people who pose no threat at all to Colombia: reporters (including U.S. reporters), politicians, human rights defenders, and even other members of the military and government. (I posted an English explanation of the scandals this week.)
- AP’s Josh Goodman first reported on a group of mercenaries’ clumsy, underfunded, improvised plan to infiltrate Venezuela and capture Nicolás Maduro. Days later at The Washington Post, Anthony Faiola, Karen DeYoung, and Ana Vanessa Herrero dig into the story leading up to the failure, with lots of atmospherics and more information about main characters like Special Forces vet Jordan Goudreau and J.J. Rendón, an ethically challenged strategist who electoral campaigns around the region have hired for years.
- Struggling towns like Natchez, Mississippi and Lumpkin, Georgia have come to depend economically on ICE detention centers run by for-profit corporations. Politico visits these towns and raises concerns about what could happen if (when) coronavirus cases multiply inside the facilities.
- In Guerrero—long one of Mexico’s poorest and most violent states—criminal groups are fragmenting, “self-defense” groups are confederating, and “the line separating state and armed groups is thin to non-existent,” explains a report by the International Crisis Group.
- Colombia’s El Espectador published a special report on the embattled region of Catatumbo, in the northeast near the Venezuelan border. While it focuses on the struggle of the region’s social leaders, the report also includes some remarkably detailed maps of armed actors, coca, fuel theft, threats and attacks, and “tensions with the security forces” in 10 of the region’s municipalities.