Adam Isacson

Still trying to understand Latin America, my own country, and why so few consequences are intended. These views are not necessarily my employer’s.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

(Even more here)

September 13, 2018

Western Hemisphere Regional

Two National Guard generals told a House committee this summer that they expect the Reaper to be used. One said his state’s National Guard has begun the process to acquire them

Migration numbers typically rebound in August after a summer lull. Overall, the number of foreigners apprehended or deemed “inadmissible” at border crossings rose to 46,560 in August, up from 40,011 in July

But the Trump administration is taking $200 million from other parts of the Department of Homeland Security instead of staying within its budget on immigrant detention

Traditionally, most sponsors have been undocumented themselves, and therefore are wary of risking deportation by stepping forward to claim sponsorship of a child

Brazil

As Bolsonaro recovers in one of the best hospitals in the country, the name and photo of his attacker splashed across news sites and sitting above the fold in national newspapers, Franco’s family, friends and supporters are still fighting for justice

Central America Regional, Mexico

The administration said it intended to take $20 million in foreign assistance funds and use it to help Mexico pay plane and bus fare to deport as many as 17,000 people

Colombia

El exalto oficial no reconocerá su responsabilidad en los casos de falsos positivos con los que lo han relacionado ni va a pedir perdón a las víctimas

El 2017 pasa a la historia de Colombia como el primer año en el que las víctimas de las Farc recordaron los hechos dolorosos con la esperanza de que no volverán a suceder

El Alto Comisionado para la Paz la Legalidad y la Convivencia saludó como un gesto positivo la liberación de los seis secuestrados por parte de esta guerrilla e instó al Eln a liberar a los demás secuestrados

No haría en cumplimiento de los lineamientos que dio la Corte Constitucional en abril de 2017, principalmente, el de no usar el herbicida de manera aérea por los riesgos que para la salud tiene

El mandatario mantiene la puerta abierta para continuar el diálogo con esa guerrilla, si esta avanza en los próximos días en la entrega de otras personas que aparecen en la lista de secuestrados

Confirmó que, “hay un ataque sistemático de bandas criminales, de organizaciones al margen de la ley que son intolerantes, que vienen desarrollando una política de exterminio contra los líderes”

Cuba

Some of those contacted said they feared that they were being targeted as part of President Trump’s moves to curtail travel to Cuba and roll back new openings with Havana

El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras

Officials said it was unclear what was driving the increase in families or the high number of migrants from Guatemala

Guatemala

Multitudinarias protestas en contra del Gobierno; un amplio despliegue de seguridad que incluyó a militares entrenados para combates extremos; discursos moralistas y religiosos; la declaración de “non gratos” a Morales y Cabrera por parte de su universidad

Mexico

Desde hace dos años, está emblemática región amapolera, donde abundan los recursos naturales, es disputada para controlar la producción y trasiego de heroína, así como por las áreas de explotación minera y forestal

Nicaragua

In June, the country’s economic activity was down 12.1 percent compared to a year earlier, according to the central bank. Economists estimate 200,000 jobs have been shed

Uruguay

El presidente de Uruguay, Tabaré Vázquez, explicó que el comandante en jefe del Ejército, Guido Manini Ríos, estará en arresto riguroso por 30 días por opinar sobre un proyecto de ley que impulsa su gobierno

Venezuela

Direct US intervention remains a fringe idea, but a small section of the Venezuelan opposition appears to be receptive to the possibility

The day ahead: September 13, 2018

I’ll be most reachable mid-day. (How to contact me)

I’m taking my daughter to a doctor checkup in the morning, and have a meeting with Senate staff mid-afternoon. Otherwise, I’ll be in the office writing, mostly the same Colombia writing project from which I got sidetracked yesterday by CBP’s release of migrant apprehension numbers. (They showed a jump in August.)

Charts: migration at the U.S.-Mexico border in August

This afternoon, U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported on its apprehensions of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border in August. While it was a slightly higher August than usual, it saw a jump in arrivals of children and families seeking asylum. The Trump Homeland Security Department lamented the increase in asylum-seekers, and blamed the rise on its inability to ratchet up the cruelty by detaining families indefinitely:

While the overall numbers are consistent with an expected seasonal increase, the number of family units along the Southwest border increased 38 percent – 3,500 more than July and the highest August on record.  Smugglers and traffickers understand our broken immigration laws better than most and know that if a family unit illegally enters the U.S. they are likely to be released into the interior.  Specifically, DHS is required to release families entering the country illegally within 20 days of apprehension.

Again, overall migration was slightly higher than, but not unusual for, the past seven Augusts. (August 2017, coming after a historic migration slowdown that followed Trump’s inauguration, is an outlier.)

In fact, of the 71 months since October 2012, August 2018 was 17th in overall migration. That puts it in the top 25 percent of the past six years, barely.

However, when you look at the percentage of migrants who came as unaccompanied children or members of family units, August 2018 ranks fourth, with nearly half. This is a remarkable shift: before fiscal year 2014, this proportion had never exceeded 20 percent.

As in the past several years, most protection-seeking kids and families are coming from Central America’s hyper-violent “Northern Triangle” countries. First is Guatemala, which has a higher population than the other two (Honduras and El Salvador) combined).

Migrants from Honduras, which suffered a disputed election in late November and has higher violent crime rates than Guatemala, are in a not-too-distant second place.

Migration from El Salvador has been curiously low this year, hardly recovering from the 2017 post-Trump slump. It could be that migration has been depressed by the Trump administration’s highly contested decision to end Temporary Protected Status for hundreds of thousands of Salvadorans living in the United States. However, apprehensions of Salvadoran kids and families have been slowly rising since February, as the country suffers yet another violent year.

What about Nicaragua, where Daniel Ortega’s authoritarian government has been carrying out a wave of repression since protests broke out in April? It’s hard to tell, exactly, because CBP only gives numbers for the Northern Triangle and Mexico. While the numbers remain low, though, Mexico’s apprehensions of Nicaraguans are up sharply as of July. And U.S. apprehensions of kids and families who aren’t from Mexico and the Northern Triangle—a category that probably includes many Nicaraguans—are also up sharply.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

(Even more here)

September 12, 2018

Western Hemisphere Regional

Kenneth Wolfe, a spokesman for HHS’s Administration for Children and Families, said the need for emergency capacity was the result of the latest surge at the border, not the administration’s decision to separate families

illegal migration typically rebounds in late summer, increasing during August in five of the past six years, and it’s not clear to what extent last month’s totals will parallel that trend

Chile

Las Fuerzas Armadas se resisten a abrir sus archivos y el poder económico y político de los defensores de la dictadura siguen presentes mientras las víctimas reclaman justicia

Colombia

El alto oficial en retiro, quien fue citado para este jueves, deberá ratificar su compromiso de comparecer ante la justicia transicional, aportar al esclarecimiento de la verdad y reparar a las víctimas

La Corte abrió una puerta para que se use el glifosato, pero cumpliendo estrictos parámetros. Estas son las reglas

Tras la reaparición de Fabián Ramírez, otro jefe guerrillero al que se le había perdido el rastro y quien dijo también en una carta que estaba con el procesos de paz -a pesar de su desconfianza con las instituciones-, quedaban otros ocho excomandantes

El consejero asegura que los dos años y medio planeados para lograr la reincorporación no son suficientes, sobre todo porque no hay recursos para soportar los proyectos productivos prometidos a los exguerrilleros

Dissidents are trying to recapture territory surrendered during the peace process

Organizaciones de derechos humanos denunciaron ante la CIDH a las Fuerzas Armadas

Los grupos al margen de la ley han querido, históricamente, apropiarse de todo ese territorio

El presidente Iván Duque tuvo este martes una reunión en la Casa de Nariño con una delegación del Gobierno de Estados Unidos, encabezada por el subdirector de Política Nacional de Control de Drogas (ONDCP), James Carrol, y el comandante de la Guardia Costera, Almirante Karl Schultz

Cuba

The strong U.S. suspicion that Russia is behind the incidents means that Cuba’s government is no longer considered the likely culprit

Guatemala

Without the stalwart support of the United States, many have wondered if the protesters can muster the force they showed in 2015, when hundreds of thousands filled the capital for months

Mexico

Information collected during the forum will lay the foundation for new criminal justice policies the Lopez Obrador administration will implement to reduce crime and increase the quality of life in Mexico, Durazo said

The Russian leader is expected to attend this year’s G20 summit from Nov. 30 to Dec. 1 in Argentina, suggesting a scheduling conflict with Lopez Obrador’s inauguration

Nicaragua

On September 10, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega promoted Luis Alberto Pérez Oliva to general, the police force’s highest rank; the officer has been linked to horrific abuses during this year’s crackdown

Puerto Rico

The island government raised the official death toll to 2,975 on Tuesday after maintaining for months that 64 people had died as a result of the storm

Venezuela

Una característica de la emigración venezolana es que sale del país con el bolsillo lleno de dólares, lo mínimo que llevan 5.000 dólares

President Maduro needs to go, but an American-backed coup is not the answer

The day ahead: September 12, 2018

I should be reachable much of the day. (How to contact me)

I’m back from Colombia, back from my birthday day off, and in the office for the rest of the week. Today will be packed with small tasks; I want to get a lot of writing done about Colombia and a draft memo about Guatemala, and I have a couple of hours of email to respond to.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

(Even more here)

September 11, 2018

Guatemala

Acompañado por el alto mando militar y solo tres ministros de su gabinete (Gobernación, Defensa y Exteriores), en una imagen que recordaba a las épocas más represivas de la guerra civil, Morales dijo que había notificado a la ONU que no renovaría el mandato

Thousands block highways in first of week-long actions against president’s decision to not renew anti-graft body mandate

Mexico

Security experts are skeptical about this strategy, based on love, redemption, and reconciliation — “Hugs, not bullets” — and say it lacks consistency, technical expertise, and a firm grasp on the country’s complex reality

Nicaragua, Venezuela

Afirmó que el número de personas que huye de Nicaragua crece de forma “exponencial” y que sigue llegando información de muertes por malnutrición en Venezuela

Venezuela

Far from a demonstration of U.S. aggressiveness toward Venezuela, it shows the way career officials in the Trump administration are keeping the peace against the expressed wishes of an aggressive commander in chief

Western Hemisphere Regional

“You left some space and the other guy moved in,” a Latin American diplomat told McClatchy

Some articles I found interesting this morning

(Even more here)

September 10, 2018

Western Hemisphere Regional

“Border Infrastructure Project,” the map read, and across its center was a red line that cut through the Cavazos family barn, through their rental house, and through a field where they grazed a small herd of longhorn cattle

Trump, who nearly vetoed a spending package earlier this year because it didn’t fund his border wall, and is now threatening to do so again with even more sweeping hardline immigration demands

The proposals will be open to public comment for the next 60 days before they can be finalized. Readers who wish to register their concern can do so on the Federal Register’s website

Brazil

When questioned by a journalist about Mourao’s speech, the head of the army, Eduardo Villas Boas described him as a “great soldier” and insisted that the military has a constitutional right to “intervene” if Brazil is “on the edge of chaos”

“The attack leaves the candidate Bolsonaro in a very favourable situation to reach the run-off vote. But it is not enough to say he will win”

Colombia

Ni la aspersión de glifosato ni la erradicación forzosa o voluntaria son suficientes para combatir los cultivos ilícitos. Ninguna vía lo es por sí sola. ¿Qué hacer?

Tras una denuncia que hizo la ONU, se sumó que hay otros 6 miembros que dejaron las zonas en las que se encontraban haciendo su reintegración a la vida civil

De los 24 militantes que no fueron a la reunión de la dirección del partido de la Farc, más de la mitad eran de los bloques Sur y Oriental, donde hoy están las disidencias más grandes

El presidente Iván Duque dejó en suspenso este fin de semana el diálogo hasta que la guerrilla, el grupo armado más grande activo en el país andino después de la desmovilización de las FARC, libere todos los secuestrados

Guatemala

The United States did not join a statement released by Canada and European nations on Wednesday that criticized the decision to block Velásquez from returning to Guatemala

Mexico

74% de los entrevistados calificó como “útiles” las labores de patrullaje de estas dependencias federales en el combate al crimen organizado y la inseguridad del país

El organismo detalló que desde enero de 2017, hasta el 31 de agosto pasado, se han localizado al menos 163 fosas, de las que se exhumaron cuando menos 530 cuerpos

Venezuela

El hecho ocurrió la madrugada del sábado y fue ejecutado por agentes de la Fuerza de Acciones Especiales (FAES) de la Policía Nacional de Venezuela en varios edificios de la zona residencial de Fuerte Tiuna

The Trump administration’s willingness to meet several times with mutinous officers intent on toppling a president in the hemisphere could backfire politically

In an era of smartphones and encrypted apps, the request for radios struck other Venezuelan observers as absurd

Another quagmire is beckoning to U.S. leaders. They must reject the arguments of congenital hawks like Marco Rubio and firmly resist the temptation

The day ahead: September 10, 2018

I should be reachable for much of the afternoon. (How to contact me)

It’s the first day back after a long trip, and a Monday. I expect to spend much of the day in internal meetings, and clearing out my (not too overflowing) email and other inboxes. If there’s time, I’ll be fixing the Spanish translation of a long article on current U.S. policy to Colombia that I started writing for the Latin American Studies Association conference in May, finished on my flight to Colombia, and will soon submit in Spanish for a Colombian publication.

The week ahead

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.

Latin America-related events in Washington this week

Monday, September 10

  • 3:00–4:30 at the Wilson Center: Will Women Decide the Brazilian Election? The Potential Impact of Female Voters and Candidates (RSVP required).

Tuesday, September 11

  • 9:00–10:30 at the Wilson Center: New Rules for the Rule of Law in Argentina (RSVP required).
  • 10:00–12:00 at the Wilson Center: Reforming Brazilian Infrastructure Procurement: Looking at Practical Solutions (RSVP required).
  • 11:30–2:00 at the Inter-American Dialogue: Smart Cities in Latin America and the Caribbean (RSVP required).

Thursday, September 13

  • 10:00–11:30 at CSIS: Argentina’s Fight Against Corruption (RSVP required).
  • 2:00–4:00 at George Washington University: Crisis in Nicaragua: Voices from the Movement (RSVP required).
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