5 links from the past week
- In the New Yorker, Francisco Goldman makes the case for the Biden administration to push hard for Guatemala to protect and expand its anti-corruption prosecutors, performing the role filled by the late lamented CICIG, which “gave Guatemalans a sense of what is possible.”
- In a well documented three–part series, Expediente Público explains how the Ortega regime methodically went about politicizing, corrupting, buying off, and gaining control over Nicaragua’s military, which has played a key supporting role in waves of repression since 2018.
- A multimedia series published on March 1 by El Espectador, “The Battle to Substitute Coca,” tells the story of post-peace accord eradication and crop substitution from the perspective of San José del Fragua, a municipality in Caquetá. It thoroughly explores the complexities surrounding the increasingly frustrating experience of the peace accords’ neglected crop substitution program.
- Also on coca in Colombia: Longtime drug policy scholar Juan Carlos Garzón of the Fundación Ideas para la Paz published a detailed paper that he had written in 2020 to inform the work of the Western Hemisphere Drug Policy Commission. (English here.) “The image of a plane spraying hectares of coca is useful to show that the state is acting rigorously and promptly, but it clearly falls short if the goal is to create fundamental change,” Garzón writes. “The benefits of this tool are limited to the very short term, while the costs in terms of state legitimacy and the relationship with local communities last a very long time.”
- The UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean’s latest annual Social Panorama of Latin America report presents gut-wrenching data illustrating the economic devastation wrought by COVID-19 across the region—which came after several years of depressed commodity prices. Poverty rates are up to levels not seen since 2008. Extreme poverty rates are at levels not seen since 2000. All the gains of the region’s 2000s-early 2010s economic boom have been given back, at least for now.