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