I’ll be in the office this morning, running a bit late finishing a memo about Colombia and an article about U.S. security relations with the whole region. In the afternoon I’m on a call with border groups, meeting with a grad student working on Colombia, and meeting with a philanthropist about Colombia. I may be hard to contact in the afternoon.
The Trump White House sent Congress its 2020 foreign aid request on Monday, and boy is it grim. It’s never going to become law—the steep cuts it proposes will be opposed by both Republicans and Democrats. But it’s still terrifying to see such destructive radicalism coming from an entire branch of the U.S. government.
This makes three podcasts in three weeks. I can’t believe it, either. Here’s the latest (which you can download directly here):
An update from Cristian Schlick of El Salvador’s IDHUCA
El Salvador is inaugurating a new president amid a severe security crisis. Tens of thousands of Salvadorans are abandoning their homes each year—most displacing internally and many moving to other countries—due to gang violence. Despite incipient recent reform efforts, government institutions have been either too absent or too corrupt to protect people.
China’s development lending to Latin America and the Caribbean has been larger than lending from the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and CAF Development Bank of Latin America combined
Los ganadores fueron una serie de civiles, políticos y empresarios, que en lo fundamental se quedaron con la mayoría de los seis millones de hectáreas despojadas a campesinos y utilizaron los grupos armados ilegales como un mecanismo de competencia política
La visión que tiene el Gobierno sobre los cultivos ilícitos es sumamente simplista y moralista, pues como han demostrado varios estudios de gobierno anteriores, los cultivos son producto de una compleja combinación de factores
The approval of these reforms would seriously affect victims’ rights to justice, truth, reparation and guarantees of non-repetition. It could also lead to reprisals and attacks against victims, judges, prosecutors, lawyers, plaintiffs, witnesses, experts and others involved in human rights trials
La noche del 17 de diciembre de 2017, personas de diferentes barrios y colonias de la ciudad de Choluteca salieron a protestar a inmediaciones del bulevar salida a San Marcos de Colón, donde llegó un contingente integrado por al menos 50 militares disparando a bala viva
The policy began at the San Ysidro port of entry, near Tijuana, but has expanded within the last week to include migrants crossing at additional ports of entry in the San Diego sector and at the Calexico, California, port of entry
The only viable path out of this crisis is a multilateral process that leads to free and fair elections, in which Venezuelans can choose their leaders. This must include a multilateral plan to address the humanitarian emergency on the ground without instigating armed conflict
The move to vacate the United States Embassy in Caracas was a significant setback for the Trump administration. American officials had previously vowed to keep diplomats in Venezuela to legitimize Juan Guaidó
I’m meeting with a colleague from a foundation this morning, and we have an internal WOLA meeting at lunch hour. Otherwise I’ll be at my desk, writing about Colombia, doing some documentary research, and preparing for a few upcoming in-person briefings. Within a few hours, I’ll post a new WOLA Podcast about El Salvador.
The demand for $8.6 billion for a border wall, less than two months after a 35-day partial government shutdown paralyzed much of Washington, raised the possibility that there could be an even more dramatic impasse
Os dois foram presos na madrugada desta terça-feira, 12. A denúncia formulada pelo Grupo de Atuação Especial de Combate ao Crime Organizado do MP-RJ classificou o crime como um “golpe ao Estado Democrático de Direito”
En entrevista con BLU Radio dijo que el espaldarazo a Duque se basa en cuatro puntos fundamentales, que incluyen el tratado de extradición y el manejo del listado de miembros de las extintas Farc para evitar colados
Lamentamos que, a más de dos años de la firma del Acuerdo Final, la JEP aún no cuente con una Ley Estatutaria, marco jurídico sólido que garantice su operación en pleno ejercicio de autonomía e independencia
El gobierno del presidente Iván Duque Márquez persiste en formular nuevos obstáculos, o en intentar revivir debates ya superados en el trámite legislativo de las normas que deben regular el funcionamiento del recién inaugurado sistema de justicia transicional
Mr. Pompeo said the move reflected the “deteriorating situation” in the country and the belief that the presence of American diplomats “has become a constraint on U.S. policy.” The last phrase could be read as hinting at some form of military intervention
I’m in the office all day, with three phone meetings on the calendar but otherwise at my desk. I’ll be doing logistics for planned travel in April (border) and May (Latin American Studies Association conference); helping put together an analysis of the Trump budget request issued yesterday; and writing a memo about recent developments in Colombia.
According to an internal document reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, officials at U.S. Customs and Border Protection anticipate between 51,000 and 58,000 migrants traveling as families will either cross the border illegally or ask for asylum at a legal border crossing this month
The authorities investigating Marielle’s death have neither confirmed or denied that they are following lines of investigation reported by the media regarding the possible involvement in of military police officers, local officials, militia groups or a group of professional hitmen
Si bien celebran medidas como las liberaciones de los denominados presos políticos, miran con recelo y preocupación decisiones como la creación de una Guardia Nacional, y alertan sobre una continua criminalización de defensores de derechos humanos y periodistas
Restarting the turbines requires skilled operators who can synchronize the speed of rotation on as many as nine of Guri’s operational turbines. Experts said the most experienced operators have long left the company
I’m in continuous meetings throughout the day, and will be hard to contact. (How to contact me)
I’ll be in a long morning staff meeting, lunch with a Colombian colleague, a visit to Senate committee staff, and a call with a House staffer. When at a desk, I may be analyzing the White House budget request—both homeland security and foreign aid.
At least on foreign aid, I may not rush to put the numbers out by the end of the day (i.e. “the White House wants to cut Colombia aid by 35 percent”), as I have in the past. The Trump administration’s foreign aid requests have been so unrealistic, and so quickly and summarily rejected by Congress, that they don’t deserve a rapid-response analysis.
The Homeland request, which is to include a big ask for the border wall, is a different story: even though Congress will reject it, we know that the White House will go to ridiculous lengths for it. Speaking of which, this week the Senate will vote this week on (and approve by a narrow margin) a resolution rejecting Trump’s national emergency declaration moving funds to build the wall, which the president will veto.
In Colombia, meanwhile, the president just line-item-vetoed the legislation that the post-conflict transitional justice system needs to operate. I’ve already done an angry tweet, but before publishing more I need to hear from Colombian colleagues and analysts who understand legislative procedure, in order to judge how severe a blow this is to the peace process and what can be done about it.
U.S. and Mexican border communities are contending with a surge of asylum-seeking children and parents, arriving by the thousands each day. The Trump administration portrays it as a “national emergency” and is sending troops, turning asylum-seekers away, and circumventing Congress to build walls.
Adam Isacson (WOLA’s Director for Defense Oversight) and Maureen Meyer (WOLA’s Director for Mexico and Migration) discuss why the crisis is happening, and the Trump administration’s cruel efforts to “deter” migrants. Adam talks about what he’s seen over two weeks in San Diego and Tijuana so far this year. Then both outline a vision of what the process for asylum-seekers would look like if the U.S. and Mexican governments adjusted from a “security emergency” to a “humanitarian crisis” response.
Resources cited in the podcast include:
WOLA’s graphical overview of the February migrant data, which U.S. Customs and Border Protection released on March 5.
A December 2018 “snapshot” report, and February 2019 update, detailing current asylum waitlists at ports of entry across the U.S.-Mexico border, by the Strauss Center at the University of Texas at Austin, the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies at the University of California at San Diego, and the Migration Policy Center at the European University Institute.
Colombia’s Constitutional Court met today to discuss the government’s plans to reinstate aerial spraying of coca. President Iván Duque was the first to address the high court; he asked the justices to “modulate” their past rulings to allow more spraying.
I just posted an analysis of this to WOLA’s website. It addresses a series of questions:
Why did coca cultivation increase so much?
Is glyphosate dangerous?
What restrictions did Colombia’s Constitutional Court put in place in 2017?
Yesterday morning, I wrote that I had to spend the day getting re-organized after much travel and time spent reacting to things. But CBP released numbers showing a big jump in February family migration, so I spent the afternoon working on that instead.
So today I’m working at home, planning out the next few months and watching the several hearings on border security and migration happening before congressional committees. My replies may be delayed.
This afternoon U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) released a lot of new data about migrants at the border through February. Here are updated versions of some graphics, using official data, that put those numbers in context.
I can only rarely attend congressional hearings, and during a week like this one, when several hearings are happening at the same time, I can’t view them on video either. And anyway, who has the time to sit through hours of videos, which require you to stop what you’re doing to both watch and listen?
Still, hearings are a critical way to get information about U.S. policy toward Latin America. You learn a lot from officials’ responses to questions (some of which we’ve suggested). And you learn a lot about what legislators’ priorities are, and what it might be worth following up with their offices about.
So for the past couple of years, I’ve saved mp3 audio of every congressional hearing I’ve found relevant (thanks, youtube-dl, for making that easy). I can listen to an mp3 while doing something else that doesn’t require a lot of concentration, like driving, exercising, or doing the dishes.
They’re all mp3 files—just drop them on iTunes, Overcast, or your preferred audio player. (Tell iTunes that they’re “audiobooks” and it’ll remember your place.) I try to keep this folder reasonably up to date.
I suspect that if you’re geeky enough to find this useful, you may already have a similar system for keeping up with this information. Still, I hope it’s helpful to someone else out there.