I’m in Washington all week, and have a lighter meeting schedule. That’s good because I’m headed back to San Diego and Tijuana the week of February 11th, and would like to do a lot of writing, research, and congressional visits before then.
I’m flying to San Diego tomorrow afternoon. I plan to spend a few days there and in Tijuana learning about the current state of the Central American migrant crisis. I’d wanted to go in December, when the city was struggling to accommodate the caravan, but I had two already-planned visits to Colombia and one to Cuba. My posting to this site will be sporadic this week, but I look forward to writing updates when time allows, and when I return over the weekend.
I’m back in Washington after three weeks of travels, and need to hit the ground running. The week before Christmas tends to be slower at work, but this time it also happens to be the last week of the 115th Congress. Unless Congress and the White House make another deal to postpone things, much of the U.S. government could shut down Friday over Trump’s demand for $5 billion in border-wall money, which we vehemently oppose.
So I expect to be working on that, doing some writing about Colombia, giving a talk at the Inter-American Defense College, and meeting with legislative-branch staff. All while wrapping presents and putting up decorations.
I’m in Washington, but in meetings all day. Then, I’m traveling the rest of the week. (How to contact me)
I’ve got a weekly staff meeting, a strategy session of defense and arms-control groups much of the afternoon, and a conversation with visiting members of the Colombian Senate’s peace committee. After 9:30 or so, I won’t be at a keyboard and will have difficulty answering my phone.
Tomorrow, I go to Cuba for the first time in five years, for a series of conversations between U.S. and Cuban scholars. I’ll be there the rest of the week. If telecoms have improved since the last time I visited Cuba, I may be reachable. If they haven’t, I may as well be spending the week in the Himalayas.
I flew down to Bogotá yesterday, arriving quite late last night. I’m here for a closed-door conference on post-conflict “stabilization” hosted by the UN Resident Coordinator’s office. I’m flying back overnight Tuesday, after some meetings with government officials.
Of course, I haven’t finished preparing my presentation yet—but I’ve got most of today free, so that shouldn’t be a problem. With sufficient time, I’d like to post a few things here too, and simply catch up on what’s happening in the region: I sort of lost the thread over the Thanksgiving holiday.
I’ll be back in Washington Wednesday afternoon. Then, the following Tuesday, I’ll be flying back to Bogotá for another conference, at the Universidad del Rosario, about Colombia’s security sector. It’s sort of like commuting.
Okay. No visitors in town this week, it’s time to get some stuff done. The plan is to finish full first or final drafts of three different long-form articles about Colombia that I’ve been working on. A report based on our early September field research, a chapter for a colleague’s edited volume (which is very late), and the paper I gave at the Latin American Studies Association conference in May (just needs footnotes and a final edit). All are very far along.
In addition, I’m guest-teaching a class at the Foreign Service Institute Tuesday, speaking on a panel at George Mason University Wednesday, and have a sprinkling of other meetings. I also plan to post video of last week’s conference. And then there’s the small matter of the “migrant caravan,” which I’m also covering. So I’m buckled in and ready to go.
Eight guests from Colombia are arriving in Washington today. We’re putting on a big conference with them tomorrow, and have some side meetings around town on Wednesday and Thursday.
That makes for a full schedule. This site will go semi-dormant this week, because I won’t be sitting at a computer keyboard very often.
It’s October. It’s remarkable how quickly this year has gone by—but every time I read a newspaper, I wish it would pass even faster.
This week should be quieter than last. I’ve got a bunch of meetings on my calendar, but no big events. I plan to spend it preparing our big October 16 Colombia conference, and finishing a solid draft of a Colombia report, based on the fieldwork we did at the beginning of September. I’d also like to get our U.S. security assistance research back on track; I feel like our efforts to obtain information from the government, then thoroughly read through and catalogue what we get, are lagging behind.
This is going to be one of the busier weeks of the year. I’m speaking on two panels, Monday and Tuesday, about U.S. policy toward Mexico/border and about the origins of Central America’s violence. There’s a Colombia report to finish (or at least nearly finish), based on our field research earlier in the month. There’s a Southcom confirmation hearing on Tuesday. There may be a battle to cover over the border wall and budgets as the U.S. government’s fiscal year ends Sunday, with a potential shutdown (though I doubt it). And we need to move forward preparations for a big Colombia conference we’re holding October 16. (Happily, nearly all panelists we invited from Colombia are able to come.)
I’m in town all five days, but it’s a bit of a scattered week. Several meetings on the calendar, WOLA’s annual human rights awards on Thursday night, some writing to move forward, and organizing an all-day Colombia conference that we’re planning for October 16th. The writing will mostly be drafting a big report based on our fieldwork in Colombia two weeks ago.
As of Saturday evening, I’m back after nine days of travel to Colombia. On the plane, I managed to finish organizing all my notes from our field research into a 57-page matrix. If all goes well, I’ll spend the next several days turning that into a draft report on post-peace-accord security, organized crime trends, protection of social leaders, and human rights.
But the schedule could shift. I’m coming back to September in Washington, and unforeseen work may await regarding the U.S.-Mexico border (will Trump’s border wall cause a government shutdown by September 30?), Guatemala’s CICIG (why were U.S.-donated military vehicles involved in the government effort to shut it down?) or something else.
I’ll actually have a better idea what “the week ahead” is going to look like when I show up at the office in a few hours and talk to everybody about what’s been happening while I was away.
Meanwhile, I’ve had only one day off (yesterday) since August 26, I’m tired and barely unpacked. Tomorrow (Tuesday) is my birthday, and I’m determined to take the day off, if only to get a bit organized.
The week before Labor Day is usually a slow one in Washington, but not for me. On Friday I’ll be flying to Colombia, joining two colleagues on a nine-day trip to do some field research (and write a report) and to have a series of meetings in Bogotá.
This week will be spent preparing for that, launching a third and final report based on our June visit to the U.S.-Mexico border (here’s part one and part two), and finishing an article about U.S. policy toward Colombia’s peace process during the Trump administration. Luckily, there aren’t too many commitments on my calendar today through Thursday.
It’s late August. Much of Washington is on vacation (not the Senate, but they’re not working on anything relevant to Latin America this week). There are no public events on my calendar, and just a handful of meetings.
This will be my last week with a relatively quiet schedule. Three of us are headed to Colombia at the end of next week for a research trip. In addition to setting that up, during this week I hope to make lots of progress on—and in some cases finish—a report on the border, a book chapter on crime and corruption in Colombia, and an article about U.S. policy for a Colombian publication.
With Congress (mostly) gone, universities out, and a fraction of people on vacation, August is one of the slowest times of the year in Washington, rivaled only by late December. It’s way easier to get a parking space, or a table in a restaurant, than it normally is.
At work, it’s a good time to catch up with people who are in town, to make plans and clear out inboxes, to do writing, coding, or other projects that require uninterrupted blocks of time, and to read books and reports that have been sitting in nearby piles for too long. I hope to do a bit of all of that this week, as long as no emergencies arise.
The usual work will be bookended this week by three events:
- The launch of a report on the border, part one of a three-parter. Should be posted today.
- An event with colleagues who just published a book about coca in the Andes, for which I wrote the epilogue.
- Testifying in a hearing about Colombia Thursday in the House of Representatives’ Lantos Human Rights Commission.