- Migrant Apprehensions Rise, Shelters Fill
- Panama Shares Darién Gap Migration Data After a Record Month
- House Republicans Demand Border Crackdown to Avoid Government Shutdown
Links and Announcements
As I noted earlier today, I recorded a great podcast yesterday with the director of WOLA’s Mexico program, Stephanie Brewer. It’s about a report they published last week about the growing power of Mexico’s armed forces, and how hard it is to hold them accountable for human rights abuse even as they confront, and arrest, thousands of people per year while carrying out policing missions.
Here’s WOLA’s podcast landing page. And here’s the podcast, embedded:
In this week’s WOLA U.S.-Mexico Border Update:
- UN draws attention to mounting migrant death toll
- Reports of increased migration in transit, from Peru to Mexico
- Asylum seekers again being penned between border wall layers south of San Diego
- Texas updates
I recorded a great podcast yesterday with the director of WOLA’s Mexico program, Stephanie Brewer. It’s about a report they published last week about the growing power of Mexico’s armed forces, and how hard it is to hold them accountable for human rights abuse even as they confront, and arrest, thousands of people per year while carrying out policing missions.
Here’s the language from WOLA’s podcast landing page.
A new report from WOLA dives deeply into the growing power and roles of Mexico’s military, and what that means for human rights, democracy, and U.S.-Mexico relations.
WOLA’s Mexico Program published Militarized Transformation: Human Rights and Democratic Controls in a Context of Increasing Militarization in Mexico on September 6. The report voices alarm about the Mexican armed forces’ growing list of civilian tasks, and civilians’ diminishing ability to hold military personnel accountable for human rights abuse and other illegal behavior.
In some new findings, Militarized Transformation reveals official data showing that the military isn’t even reporting its arrests of civilians to civilian security authorities and oversight bodies. The report updates and group together various indicators regarding the justice system and respect for fundamental rights by the security forces, with a focus on the armed forces and the National Guard, as well as the differentiated impacts and situations faced by women. And it makes a series of short-term and long-term recommendations for needed reforms.
This podcast episode features the report’s principal author, Stephanie Brewer, WOLA’s director for Mexico. Brewer discusses the report’s main findings, conclusions, and recommendations, along with a general view of Mexico’s democracy, civil-military relations, and U.S. policy.
“We recognize militarization is is the reality we’re currently working in,” Brewer concludes. “But while that’s going on, what possible reason could there be for the country to want the armed forces not to be operating under effective civilian control or not to be transparent about things like their use of force? Or not to be fully giving information to Congress? That would have to be something that that is in everybody’s interest in the short term.”
Militarized Transformation is the latest of several WOLA reports examining the military’s growing power in Mexico and its human rights and democracy implications. Among them:
- Video: Militarization in Mexico: a discussion of the future of security, human rights, and civil-military relations (November 10, 2022)
- Podcast: Mexico Sends in the Troops: Stephanie Brewer on the Militarization of Public Security (September 19, 2022)
- Mexico Deepens Militarization. But Facts Show it is a Failed Strategy (September 2, 2022)
- Video: Militarization and Militarism in Mexico Implications for Security and Democracy (May 25, 2021)
- Militarized Mexico: A Lost War that has not Brought Peace (May 12, 2021)
- One Year After National Guard’s Creation, Mexico is Far from Demilitarizing Public Security (May 26, 2020)
- Mexico’s Proposed National Guard Would Solidify the Militarization of Public Security (January 10, 2019)
- Overlooking Justice: Human Rights Violations Committed by Mexican Soldiers against Civilians are Met with Impunity (November 7, 2017)
- Mexico’s Law on Internal Security: Turning a Blind Eye to Military Abuses in Public Security Operations (February 8, 2017)
Emily Bregel published a terrific story at the Arizona Daily Star about our August 2 report, with the Kino Border Initiative, about abuse and accountability at Customs and Border Protection and Border Patrol.
Bregel got comment about our findings from CBP, former CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus, and the offices of Rep. Raúl Grijalva and Sen. Mark Kelly, among others.
And she had a great conversation with my co-author on the report, Zoe Martens of the Kino Border Initiative:
At Kino, Martens offered to help the man file a complaint about the violation of his right to request asylum. She explained he likely wouldn’t get justice in his case, but that documenting it could help improve the system for others. The man quickly agreed, saying, “Don’t worry — we’re used to lack of justice in our own country,” Martens recalled.
The comment stuck with her.
“These are our U.S. accountability systems. I think we’d assume they are more effective than in places where we know impunity is widespread,” as in Mexico, she said. “We must, and we can, do better.”
My Twitter account is now dormant. It’s not fun walking away from a platform where more than 16,000 people follow you. But remaining on that platform is even less fun, and no longer defensible.
The thought process behind my decision to leave is in the table at the bottom of this post. From now on, I’ll still check Twitter for news that I might not see elsewhere, mainly the accounts on a private “news posters” list that I maintain. But I don’t plan to post content, or to like or retweet content that I see.
I’m still posting lots of things, though. I’m just doing it elsewhere.
Here’s where you can find me.
- This site, which I’ll be improving over the coming months.
- At Mastodon, I post very often on a micro-small instance that I pay for myself (using masto.host): elefanti.co/@adam.
- On Threads, where I’m getting into the habit of sharing things, but so far, with little original content that can’t be found elsewhere: threads.net/@adamisacson.
- On post.news, again with very little original content unavailable elsewhere: post.news/@/adamisacson
- On Tumblr, where I’ve been at adam-wola.tumblr.com/ for many years. That’s mostly reposts of things I’ve put here.
- On Bluesky, where I’m infrequently posting what passes for humor, little of it work-related: adamisacson.bsky.social.
- On Medium, where I’ll occasionally share longer-form things that usually appear here first: medium.com/@adam_wola.
- At WOLA’s web page, where links to recent work are at the bottom of this page, under “Adam’s Work.”
- WOLA’s Border Oversight page also has constantly updated sections documenting abuses, sharing infographics, and linking to reports.
I’m trying to do it as much as possible on platforms I own, and copying it elsewhere. (What the IndieWeb folks call POSSE, “Publish [on your] Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere.”) At those “elsewhere” platforms, I’m still figuring out what makes them different, if anything.
I’ve also been posting a bunch of shorter videos over the past several weeks. I’m sharing them at some experimental accounts for video content:
Then there are some platforms I’m neglecting but where I at least try to “keep the lights on” from time to time:
Why leave Twitter?
|Reasons to stay||Reasons to go|
I learned a lot about the current moment in Venezuela during this podcast conversation with one of my newest colleagues, Laura Dib, the recently arrived director of WOLA’s Venezuela Program. Here’s the overview text from WOLA’s podcast landing page.
In this podcast, Laura Cristina Dib, WOLA’s director for Venezuela, discusses the daunting political situation in Venezuela with WOLA’s Adam Isacson.
Venezuela is to hold presidential elections at some point in 2024. Whether they will be at least somewhat free and fair is unlikely but far from impossible. It is a goal that must guide the international community and Venezuelan civil society.
The episode covers the recent naming of a new National Electoral Council, a seemingly technical step with wide-ranging consequences; the need for a clear and transparent electoral timetable; and the importance of updating voter rolls and other crucial steps for the elections’ credibility.
Laura Dib notes a recent increase in repression, threats, and disqualification of candidates as the Maduro regime appears to grow uneasy. That makes the international role increasingly important—as it has been in Guatemala’s elections—starting with a stronger commitment to a humanitarian agreement, which resulted from the 2022 negotiations and has yet to be implemented. “International” includes Venezuela’s neighbors, like Brazil and Colombia.
“There’s always hope, I don’t think that everything is lost,” Dib concludes. “I think that there’s always opportunity, and I continue to work very closely with a civil society that is more knowledgeable than ever on how to advocate for their rights beyond their borders.”
This makes four weeks in a row that I’ve tried using my new office space at “renovated WOLA” to make quick little mobile-friendly promo videos for things we’ve published. This is the first one with the teleprompter setup that I’ve jury-rigged: a fast overview of the latest Weekly Border Update.
These are “experimenting in public,” figuring out the production, the hardware, and the software as I go. They’ve performed modestly on Twitter and invisibly on Mastodon, but reasonably well on TikTok (where they reliably attract obnoxious far-right commenters) and on Instagram.
My thanks to Gonzalo Abarca and Voice of America’s Foro Interamericano program for inviting me to participate as a panelist on September 1. We talked about the status of counter-narcotics efforts in light of my recent mini-report on the collapse of coca markets in Colombia.