I’ve got a couple of interviews, a podcast recording session, and two coalition meetings on the calendar, all in the afternoon. This morning I’ll be working on the weekly border update, which I’m determined to make shorter than the last couple.
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–partseries, 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.
I’ve got a near-solid block of coalition meetings and one-on-one interviews between 10:30 and 4:00, and need to finish writing a border update before that starts, so I’ll be slow to return calls and messages today.
I’m in and out of meetings, but most reachable in the early afternoon. (How to contact me)
I just realized I jumped into work this morning without posting this. I’ve got 2 check-ins with Colombian colleagues on the calendar this morning and in late afternoon. At 4:30 I’m on a panel about drug policy in Colombia’s Senate. I need to spend more time preparing that presentation, so between that and my meeting schedule, I may not respond immediately to attempts to contact me.
Expect a new podcast and border update posted here soon.
It was a restful and somewhat productive weekend. Today I’ve got 2-3 hours of internal meetings, some urgent emails to answer, and then I’m going to continue doing a bunch of website updates, mainly at colombiapeace.org.
I’m around all day. I’ve already been up doing drive-time radio in Colombia because of the White House’s release of a 2019 coca cultivation estimate yesterday. This morning we’ll be putting out a statement about that, and I want to get into the habit of posting a short video to respond to these things, so I’ll be talking into a camera in my office. Otherwise I’ll be there in my office digging through documents and doing some writing.
I’ve spent a lot of the last few days and nights making some big improvements to our underutilized “colombiapeace.org” website (read about those here).
I’d like to add more to it this week, but might not do much: it’s one of those “high season” weeks with 12 meetings (so far) and two speaking engagements on the calendar. I’ll be in New York on Friday giving a talk at John Jay College.
Today, I’ll be hard to contact because I’ll be in a morning staff meeting, a board meeting of the Andean Information Network, a coffee with the director of a Latin American think tank, and dinner with visiting Colombian human rights leaders who are giving a presentation at USIP.
Other than lunch with a longtime colleague at another organization, I should be at my desk in the office all day. I’ll be doing a post about coca fumigation in Colombia, setting up a trip to El Paso/Juarez for the week of the 20th, and working on internal documents for WOLA’s annual planning process, which takes place next week.
The latest case-by-case court records through the end of August 2019 show the court’s active case backlog was 1,007,155. If the additional 322,535 cases which the court says are pending but have not been placed on the active caseload rolls are added, then the backlog now tops 1.3 million
Uno de los antecedentes que influyeron en la posición del Gobierno en la mesa de negociaciones corresponde a las experiencias derivadas del Plan de Consolidación Integral de La Macarena (PCIM), el cual tuvo aplicación en el gobierno de Álvaro Uribe
Por ser el principal paso desde Cúcuta hacia las grandes ciudades del país, el páramo es un paso obligado para los caminantes que emprenden la aventura. Por eso, a lo largo del camino existen 13 albergues
Among the opposition’s demands are the establishment of a transitional government, trials for all those implicated in the PetroCaribe corruption scandal, prosecution of public officials accused of corruption, and organization of a National Sovereignty Conference
Santos explicó que la reunión se centrará en «la decisión de invocar y a partir de ahí poder tomar decisiones respectivas frente a sanciones». Dijo, no obstante, que de «ninguna manera quiere decir que se aprueba el uso de acciones militares»
Here’s a short analysis posted to WOLA’s website (Español). It jumps off from last Friday’s Washington Post finding that dozens of CBP and ICE officers may be sent to Guatemala to work as “advisors” at the country’s border with Mexico.
The piece is built around a listing of Homeland Security and Defense Department deployments to Guatemala in recent years, collected from my database. Those have had names like “Operation Citadel,” “Operation Regional Shield,” “Operation Hornet,” “Operation Together Forward,” and several others.
The point is that even if the past deployments brought some results, they made no difference in migrant and drug-smuggling out of Guatemala. And nor will any new 80-person mission.
They failed because Guatemala’s 600-mile border with Mexico is easily crossed at dozens of formal and informal sites. They failed because Guatemala—unlike, say, East Germany—doesn’t prevent citizens from leaving its territory. They failed because migrants fleeing violence and poverty, and the smugglers who charge them thousands for the journey, are adept at avoiding capture. They failed because seeking asylum, as tens of thousands of Guatemalan children and parents are doing each month, is not an illegal act.
They failed, too, because unpunished corruption within Guatemalan and Mexican security and immigration forces works to smugglers’ advantage, undermining the efforts of Homeland Security agents and their counterparts. And in Guatemala, where the government is slamming the door on the CICIG, a much-admired international investigative body, the corruption problem is only getting worse—just as more U.S. agents arrive.
There is no reason to believe that 80 agents, carrying out a similar mission on a somewhat larger scale, might make much of a dent. They will assuredly capture lower-ranking smugglers and block some unfortunate families from leaving. But migrants’ desperation and higher-tier smugglers’ sophistication will remain unchanged. And corruption will continue to erase gains as long as there is no accountability for those on the take.