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.

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Latin America Security-Related News: November 7, 2022

(Even more here)

November 7, 2022

Argentina

Pese a los esfuerzos y gestiones del ministro, el “compromiso” de terminar con esa brecha que oscila entre 70 y 90 por ciento, se pateó para 2023

Brazil

Presidente eleito anunciou que vai retirar 8.000 oficiais que ocupam cargos no Executivo Federal

Chile

De 57 uniformados cada 100 mil habitantes en 2019, se pasó a 39 policías cada 100 mil habitantes este 2022: un 27,9% menos de carabineros

Colombia

“Se ha renovado la regulación que les permite a los gobiernos construir negociaciones con quienes están al margen de la ley”, dijo el mandatario al sancionar la Ley

The 2016 ceasefire was supposed to help Farc’s ex-guerrillas reintegrate into society, but with little work and many having been murdered, fear stalks the camps

Antes de definir sus compromisos, se convocó una gran audiencia pública, con 17 entidades, para verificar si se ajustan a la esencia del Acuerdo de Paz

Se abre una ventana de oportunidad para que el Estado no siga fallando a miles de familias colombianas que por su condición de vulnerabilidad han sido arrinconadas a cultivar hoja de coca para lograr subsistir

Varios comparten la misma sospecha de que a Moreno lo mataron para impedir que sus denuncias contra políticos de su región pasaran de lo local a lo nacional

El Salvador

La policía y el ejército salvadoreño han detenido a 56.716 presuntos pandilleros desde marzo, según cifras brindadas por el ministerio de la Defensa

Guatemala

La salida de Gálvez al extranjero toma relevancia debido a que ha denunciado ser víctima de persecución por sus fallos judiciales

Haiti

“Everyday you see people die,” one Port-au-Prince resident told the Financial Times, asking not to be named for fear of reprisals. “It is not safe to walk around outside. I have never seen it like this”

Mexico

La Secretaría de la Defensa detecta 417 embarques desde Colombia, Venezuela y Ecuador, pero solo han ingresado 112

U.S.-Mexico Border

Some days, the records show, the troops had little if anything to do

So far, bills that included both border security and new pathways for legal immigration have hit dead-ends

Officials representing the United States at the hearing declined to engage on the merits of the case. Instead, the U.S. government asked the commission to throw the case out

The decision to expel Venezuelans under a pandemic-era policy that allows swift expulsions, previously applied mainly to Mexicans and Central Americans, has had the unintended effect of trapping many Venezuelan families on opposite sides of the U.S.-Mexico border

Familias de seis personas se acomodaban en carpas para dos, aprovechando el calor corporal para conciliar el sueño

Latin America-related events online and in Washington this week

Monday, November 7

  • 10:00–11:00 at thedialogue.org: Brazil Elections – What’s Next? (RSVP required).

Tuesday, November 8

  • 11:00–12:00 at thedialogue.org: Power in Brazil – Energy Policy Post-Election (RSVP required).

Wednesday, November 9

  • 2:00–3:15 at csis.org: “Panel 3: Forgotten Crisis: Tackling Humanitarian Challenges in Haiti” at 2022 Washington Humanitarian Forum: Closing the Gap (RSVP required).

Thursday, November 10

  • 2:00 at wola.org and thedialogue.org: Militarization in Mexico: a discussion of the future of security, human rights, and civil-military relations (RSVP required).

Latin America Security-Related News: November 4, 2022

(Even more here)

November 4, 2022

Brazil

Lula’s victory means that left-wing governments are in charge in all of Latin America’s bigger countries. There are many differences among them. But there is also a sense of solidarity

Colombia

Hasta tanto Tascón no llegue formalmente, no empezaría la reingeniería que él, desde que dirigió el tema durante el empalme, considera necesaria

Roberto Vidal asume este viernes como nuevo presidente de la Jurisdicción Especial para la Paz creada con el Acuerdo de Paz. En diálogo con este diario, habla sobre cómo esa entidad puede contribuir a las propuestas de “paz total”

Las autoridades abrieron una investigación para determinar cómo fueron obtenidos los uniformes por las disidencias y apresurar la entrega a los militares que no han recibido la nueva prenda

Ecuador

Today, Ecuador has become the latest country to suffer a vicious escalation in violent crime. Homicides have risen at a startling rate, increasing by 180 per cent from 2020 to 2021

Guatemala

In GAO’s review of documents, it found the departments had looked into at least five allegations and that the Department of Defense did take action based on a pattern of repeated misuse

Aquí, una recopilación de las personas que han sufrido represalias por hacer su trabajo y por ejercer sus derechos en Guatemala. Al menos 17 se fueron al extranjero

Haiti, U.S.-Mexico Border

After the U.S. started turning back the majority of Venezuelans to curtail the record-number of arrivals, Maldonado noticed a different group began arriving at the shelter

Honduras

La criminóloga mencionó el caso del asesinato del hijo del expresidente Porfirio Lobo, quien perdió la vida junto con sus amigos y señaló que hay personas que también acreditan estas muertes múltiples al grupo de escuadrones de la muerte

Mexico

En una sesión caótica por la presencia de manifestantes de Morena, el Congreso de Guanajuato se convirtió en el primero que rechaza la reforma que extiende hasta el año 2028 la presencia del Ejército en las calles

Nicaragua

The organization explained that, through Rayo’s cellphone GPS, they were able to determine that they are being held in an Army property, located in Las Colinas, in Managua

Venezuela

El fiscal de la CPI señala que no se ha investigado cadena de mando y que existe demora injustificada para castigar crímenes de lesa humanidad

U.S.-Mexico Border Update: November 4, 2022

With this series of weekly updates, WOLA seeks to cover the most important developments at the U.S.-Mexico border. See past weekly updates here.

This week:

  • Fiscal Year 2022 saw the largest-ever number of encounters with undocumented migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. 45 percent of those encounters, though, ended in rapid Title 42 expulsions. Migration from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, declined from 2021. Those countries’ citizens are largely denied the right to seek asylum because Mexico allows them to be expelled across the land border under Title 42. Migration increased from more distant countries, like Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Colombia, whose citizens have a greater likelihood of seeking asylum because Title 42 expulsions are more difficult.
  • The U.S. and Mexican governments’ decision to allow Title 42 expulsions of Venezuelans into Mexico led to a short-term reduction in U.S.-bound migration from Venezuela. It also sent thousands of expelled Venezuelans into Mexican border cities (and Mexico City) that are ill-equipped to receive them, while stranding thousands in other countries along the route. In Ciudad Juárez, where migrants have begun living in tents along the borderline, U.S. border agents repelled a cross-border protest using “less-than-lethal” weapons.
  • Border Patrol recovered the remains of at least 853 migrants along the border in fiscal year 2022, which is a record by far. A larger migrant population and Title 42’s blockage of legal pathways to asylum are probably the main causes of the increase. Border Patrol has recovered nearly 9,500 remains in the past 25 years; this is certainly a significant undercount of the actual death toll.

CBP releases 2022 border data

WOLA hosts a full collection of charts and graphics, including those used in this narrative, at the “ Infographics” section of its Border Oversight resource, including links to most underlying data tables.

With an October 21 data release, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) shared information about its encounters with migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border in September 2022 and during the U.S. federal government’s entire fiscal year, which runs from October to September.

Fiscal Year (FY) 2022

  • The agency reported encountering undocumented migrants 2,378,944 times at the U.S.-Mexico border during FY 2022. Border Patrol recorded 2,206,436 of these encounters in border zones between ports of entry. This is an all-time record for the number of times the agency took undocumented migrants into custody in a year.

  • 45 percent of migrant encounters in FY 2022 (1,079,507) ended with rapid expulsions under the Title 42 pandemic authority, which the Trump administration first implemented in March 2020.
  • Because it expels many migrants quickly into Mexico without an opportunity to ask for protection in the United States, Title 42 has facilitated many repeat crossings. Because of much double-counting, the actual number of individual migrants encountered at the border is significantly less than 2.2 million. CBP did not report an annual number of individuals.
  • The largest increases in migration from FY 2021 to FY 2022 involved citizens of countries distant from the U.S.-Mexico border. Of nationalities with more than 20,000 migrant encounters in FY 2022, those that saw the largest year-on-year percentage growth in migration over FY 2021 were Ukraine (3,652%), Colombia (1,918%), Cuba (471%), Russia (430%), Venezuela (286%), and Nicaragua (227%). Citizens of these countries have a greater probability of being allowed to ask for asylum despite Title 42, because the cost of expelling them by air is high or because the U.S. government lacks consular relationships with their governments.
Read More

Latin America Security-Related News: November 3, 2022

(Even more here)

November 3, 2022

Western Hemisphere Regional

Es indispensable que los gobiernos de las Américas tomen acciones para construir un sistema regional de protección que ponga los derechos humanos en el centro

Argentina

El ex jefe del Ejército arremetió contra la presidenta del PRO y aseguró que la inclusión de las Fuerzas Armadas en cuestiones internas puede terminar en un “desastre absoluto”

Brazil

Tens of thousands of people demonstrated in cities across Brazil, many of them demanding that the military stop the transfer of power to President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva

Partido do presidente puxa menos candidaturas de oficiais do Exercito, Marinha e Aeronautica do que em 2018

“He did not ask the protests to stop. So what he is basically saying is: ‘Let’s do it under chaos and see how it goes.’”

Colombia

Lo cierto es que coinciden en la fetichización de los cultivos, bajo la creencia de que con la eliminación de las hectáreas sin transformaciones de fondo en los territorios enclaves y sus economías, será posible resolver los problemas asociados al narcotráfico

Esa idea preocupa a varios sectores, ya que sería pasar sobre los Acuerdos de La Habana e implicaría hacer una reforma constitucional

Llama a cambiar el enfoque de reincorporación temprana a uno de sostenibilidad de la reincorporación

El representante, que es el más alto mando de esa entidad en América Latina, dijo que el secretario general de las Naciones Unidas, António Guterres, apoya la “paz total” del presidente Gustavo Petro, la JEP y el restablecimiento de diálogos con el Ejército de Liberación Nacional

Colombia, Venezuela

Petro construyó un discurso que en nada violentó la autonomía venezolana, pero que sí fue contundente a la hora de describir los principios que deben regir el comportamiento de ambos gobiernos

Ecuador

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El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras

From August 2018 to October 2021, according to agency officials, DOD-provided Jeeps (shown below) were allegedly misused on multiple occasions for purposes outside their intended operations

Guatemala

The jeeps were provided to Guatemala as security assistance to aid the country in counter-narcotics activity, but were not subject to a program where Pentagon officials monitor the end-use of sensitive military equipment abroad

Haiti

Amid a devastating humanitarian and security crisis in Haiti, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is today calling on States in the region and beyond to suspend the forced return of Haitians to their country

Mexico

Policías estatales de Chihuahua y municipales de Ciudad Juárez pusieron en marcha un operativo de vigilancia en la frontera de México con Estados Unidos para evitar que venezolanos intenten cruzar al país vecino y propicien un enfrentamiento con agentes de la Patrulla Fronteriza

Los Mexicles llevan la batuta, pero distintos subgrupos de los cárteles pelean el control de este lucrativo negocio

Manuel Espino Barrientos, a federal congressman, says that the agreement is the only way to create peace in Mexico, which has been ravaged by drug-related violence for more than a decade

La información de los gobiernos de México y Baja California Sur sobre los cárteles de la droga que operan en la región es imprecisa. Desconocen y omiten muchos grupos delincuenciales que han operado en Sudcalifornia

U.S.-Mexico Border

Democratic candidates are either avoiding border issues or talking about them on Republicans’ terms. And the party’s grass-roots allies are struggling for cash and battling burnout

U.S.-Mexico Border, Venezuela

The program, currently capped at 24,000 arrivals, allows U.S.-based individuals who are willing and able to financially sponsor someone from Venezuela to file an application on their behalf

Venezuela

The Biden administration’s policies on sanctions and asylum-seekers are making the country’s humanitarian situation worse

Latin America Security-Related News: November 2, 2022

(Even more here)

November 2, 2022

Western Hemisphere Regional

Latin American Foreign Ministers give short shrift to consolidating democracy among their regional priorities

Bolivia

Los militares retirados observan que el presidente incumple la norma y promueve a personal con denuncias. Arce cree que se gesta un golpe de Estado. Legisladores ven antesala a un Estado de sitio

Brazil

Ciro Nogueira, the president’s chief of staff said: “President Jair Bolsonaro … has authorised me that when provoked according to the law we will begin the transition process,” he said

Brazil, Mexico, Western Hemisphere Regional

Leaders, such as Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, regularly launch verbal attacks on the media even as reporters face constant threats for their vital reporting on crime, corruption, and environmental issues

Colombia

Según lo dicho por el coronel, el fenómeno criminal evidenciado solamente tuvo dos únicos objetivos: alimentar el “ego” de sus comandantes a nivel superior y mostrar falsamente que la “seguridad democrática” del gobierno Uribe estaba “dando resultados”

Aunque se redujeron los asesinatos ocasionados por el conflicto entre los Shotas y Espartanos, líderes denuncian persistencia de extorsiones, amenazas, robos y desapariciones

Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama, Venezuela

En esta primera reunión técnica trilateral, celebrada a puerta cerrada, participaron los jefes de las oficinas de Migración de Costa Rica, Marlen Luna; de Colombia, Carlos Fernando García Manosalva; lasubdirectora del Servicio Nacional de Migración (SNM) de Panamá, María Isabel Saravia, y representantes de EE.UU.

Colombia, Venezuela

ill Mr. Petro be able to push a fellow leftist toward democratic norms, including what the Venezuelan opposition has been demanding: a free and fair presidential election in 2024?

Petro y Maduro se reunieron en privado por espacio de más de dos horas en el palacio presidencial de Miraflores

Ecuador

Ecuador vive una intensa jornada criminal este martes 1 de noviembre. Atentados de organizaciones de narcotraficantes se cobraron la vida de cinco policías

Iniciativa plantea que militares ayuden a policías en la seguridad interna sin que se dicte un estado de excepción. La Corte Constitucional analiza el tema

Mexico

No se tendrán recursos extraordinarios para seguridad el próximo año, ya que se tiene el proyecto del fondeo a la ampliación de las funciones de la Guardia Nacional en las entidades

Venezuela

I have concluded that the deferral requested by Venezuela is, at this stage, not warranted, and that the investigation should be authorised to resume

Latin America Security-Related News: October 31 – November 1, 2022

(Even more here)

November 1, 2022

Bolivia

La máxima autoridad nacional recordó que es deber de la institución castrense defender al Gobierno nacional, legalmente constituido, y alertó que grupos pretenden reeditar los hechos registrados en 2019

Brazil

A cúpula da caserna só irá se reunir no fim do mês para a tradicional reunião dos generais de quatro estrelas

The defense minister had questioned the security of Brazil’s election system this year, but after election officials made changes to some tests of the voting machines, military leaders suggested that they were comfortable with the system’s security

Colombia

“CampesiNO diga NO a los cultivos ilícitos, al daño ambiental, al tráfico ilícito de drogas. Denuncie el narcotráfico”, se leía en los volantes que cayeron del cielo, firmados por el Comando Aéreo de Combate No. 1

Petro dijo que no tenía ningún temor a que hable: “Yo no sé quién tendrá temor a que él hable, pero debe haber verdad”

Colombia, Venezuela

La habilidad diplomática de Petro se medirá por su capacidad de mediación entre Washington y Caracas

Read More

A new (rare) “post-populist” president

With his October 30 election victory quickly recognized by the U.S. and most international governments (though not yet by current President Jair Bolsonaro), Brazil’s Luis Inácio Lula da Silva becomes a member of a very small club: that of the world’s “post-populist” presidents.

I use the term to refer a leader who, in a democratic election, defeats and succeeds a populist, institution-defying, authoritarian-trending president. The “post-populist” leader usually defeats their adversary before the authoritarian-trending leader can serve enough time in office to consolidate their rule.

As far as I can tell, the list includes:

  • Romano Prodi, a former prime minister who narrowly defeated Silvio Berlusconi in Italy in 2006, leading a broad, fragile center-left coalition.
  • Joe Biden, a former vice president who narrowly defeated Donald Trump in the United States in 2020, leading a broad, fragile center-left coalition known as the Democratic Party.
  • Lula, a former president who narrowly defeated Jair Bosonaro in Brazil in 2022, leading a broad, fragile center-left coalition.

One could add an additional member of this “club,” in Ecuador, whose path to post-populist power was different.

  • Lenin Moreno, the vice president to populist leader Rafael Correa (2007-2017), who only turned against his former political patron after winning victory (narrowly) and succeeding him.

There may be other examples, but these are the only four who come easily to mind. Most everywhere else (Hungary, Turkey, the Philippines, Russia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, El Salvador, increasingly Mexico, etc.), populists remain firmly in power, and in many cases popular enough to win new terms.

What the small number of post-populist leaders shows us, though, is at least three things:

  1. Stopping a second term is vital. Unless an elected authoritarian is popular enough to command a super-majority (as in El Salvador), it usually takes more than a single electoral term for that leader to consolidate rule. It takes several years for non-aligned officials in other branches of government (the high courts, the electoral tribunal, anti-corruption bodies, agencies that oversee the armed forces, commerce, telecommunications) to finish their terms and be replaced. A leader seeking to undermine checks and balances can’t finish the job, usually, in one term.
  2. The rise of authoritarian populism is neither inexorable nor irreversible. This isn’t quite the rise of fascism in the 1930s. The victories of “post-populist” leaders offer hopeful proof that the norms-defying, flooding-the-social-media-zone “playbook” that today’s authoritarians follow is not unbeatable.
  3. One electoral win doesn’t mean that democratic-institutionalist political movements can declare victory. When they lose, populist leaders still outperform their poll numbers and command large minorities. When forced from office, they continue to organize and take advantage of the post-populist leaders’ perceived weaknesses. (With only slim majorities and leading fractious coalitions, those weaknesses are more than “perceived.”)

Populists can win again. They’ve already done so in Italy, and are poised to do well in the November 8, 2022 U.S. midterm legislative elections. For authoritarian populists, outcomes like Brazil’s 2022 elections could turn out to be mere setbacks.

Latin America Security-Related News: October 28, 2022

October 28, 2022

Brazil

We are facing one of the worst human rights crises of recent times. During the past four years, Bolsonaro has delivered on his campaign promises from 2018

“If our president isn’t elected, everyone goes to Brasília,” said Rogério Ramos, 40, owner of an automotive electronics shop, referring to the nation’s capital. “We shut down Congress, just like in ’64”

After four years in power, a movement created by elite campaigns has built a mass base

In response to Bolsonaro’s threats, I and other Members of Congress call on the Biden Administration to defend free and fair run-off elections in Brazil on Oct 30

Colombia

Así lo aseveró Gloria Cuartas, encargada del gobierno Petro de la implementación del Acuerdo de Paz, en el encuentro ‘Confluencia Nacional de Líderes y Lideresas Comunitarios por la Paz’

Indigenous and other marginalized Colombians are putting pressure on the new government to follow through on land redistribution promises

We theorize that an armed group’s position relative to the state (anti-state or pro-state) and governing ideology (sharing governing responsibilities with local institutions or destroying them to govern centrally) interact to influence citizens’ later choices about political participation

Colombia, Venezuela

El presidente de Colombia, Gustavo Petro, pidió a su homólogo venezolano, Nicolás Maduro, que regrese a su país al Sistema Interamericano de Derechos Humanos, del cual se retiró hace una década, para de esta forma fortalecer la democracia en la región

Cuba

Cuba’s energy crisis has once again thrust the Caribbean island into the middle of an escalating tug-of-war between its seaside neighbor, the United States, and ally, Russia. Cuba sees the need to ease U.S. sanctions at the same time that it is benefitting from an influx of Russian oil

Guatemala

El juez guatemalteco, que sentó en el banquillo a militares que cometieron violaciones a los derechos humanos, denuncia persecución y amenazas debido a su trabajo

Haiti

The assessment, conducted between June and August 2022, identified over 113,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Haiti. Of these, 96,000 individuals fled insecurity in the capital

Mexico

Investigation into the 2015 incident revealed the 0.50-caliber weapon for the Jalisco cartel was purchased in Portland, Oregon

La Guardia Nacional prepara la adquisición de una plataforma para la intervención de comunicaciones privadas

Panama, Venezuela

De acuerdo con el Servicio Nacional de Migración, este jueves ingresaron 477 migrantes irregulares, de los cuales, 54 son venezolanos, lo que indica una baja considerable

U.S.-Mexico Border

A deep look with the Electronic Frontier Foundation at the fortification of surveillance on the border. As Nogales mayor Arturo Garino asked: “Would you want to have a blimp above your house?”

Left and right agreed that migrant children shouldn’t be torn away from their parents. But they couldn’t be bothered to pass a law

At least 853 migrants died trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border unlawfully in the past 12 months, making fiscal year 2022 the deadliest year for migrants recorded by the U.S. government, according to internal Border Patrol data

Biden seems to be taking the lead from Clinton by pairing increased enforcement with the creation of alternative legal pathways to enter

Some tall coca bushes in Honduras

In this tweet, Honduras’s armed forces report “identifying and securing” a coca field in the country’s rural far east. These bushes are quite tall: they were planted some time ago. Certainly before the term of President Xiomara Castro began nine months ago in late January.

Latin America Security-Related News: October 27, 2022

(Even more here)

October 27, 2022

Colombia

La ceremonia se llevó a cabo en la Base Antinarcóticos de San José del Guaviare

Colombia’s Congress on Wednesday approved a law to allow President Gustavo Petro to seek peace deals with leftist rebels and criminal groups tied to drug trafficking via negotiations and processes of surrender

Guatemala, Venezuela

Decenas de migrantes venezolanos ven truncado su deseo de llegar a EE. UU. y muchos de ellos quedaron varados en Guatemala, donde claman por ayuda para regresar a su país

Mexico

In exclusive interviews with Courthouse News, navy sailors incorporated into the National Guard described corruption, low pay and poor quality of services since the force initiated its transfer to the Secretariat of National Defense

This summer, the government said it had uncovered what happened during the 2014 mass abduction. Arrest warrants quickly followed. But since then, the criminal case and the new account have unraveled

Organizaciones de la sociedad civil interpusieron 24 nuevos amparos contra las reformas legislativas que delegan la operación y administración de los recursos económicos de la Guardia Nacional (GN) en manos de la Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional

El documento al que tuvo acceso MILENIO describe que varios parientes de estos hermanos se han convertido en los coordinadores regionales y jefes de plaza de la organización criminal

Mexico, Venezuela

Atorados en Honduras, donde piden ayuda, migrantes venezolanos que intentaron llegar a Estados Unidos relatan que en el sur de México se toparon con un muro verde formado por militares y agentes migratorios que les impidieron avanzar

The plane, operated by Venezuela’s state airline, left Mexico City’s Felipe Angeles International Airport destined for Caracas

Nicaragua

On Monday the Biden administration expanded Trump-era sanctions to the Nicaraguan economy, cutting off the country’s lucrative gold industry from U.S. markets

U.S.-Mexico Border

We investigate secretive units within the US Border Patrol that have been accused of covering up agent misconduct

On Tuesday, Chihuahua state authorities asked the migrants to move away from a migrant aid center and the railroad tracks, and a large group pitched tents nearby on the south bank of the Rio Grande

About 1,000 Venezuelan migrants have been expelled from the U.S. into the city of Tijuana since Oct. 12, well below projections of 200 per day but enough to fill shelters beyond capacity

Latin America Security-Related News: October 26, 2022

(Abridged, because I’m traveling)

(Even more here)

October 26, 2022

Brazil

Once deemed unlikely, reelection would allow Brazil’s president to double down on his cultural agenda and bring an uncertain outlook for foreign policy and the economy

Colombia

La Comisión Nacional de Territorios Indígenas alerta del aumento en las masacres y homicidios contra los pueblos indígenas durante el 2021

The president is reaching out to Washington on issues like energy and drug policy, yet maintaining an anti-American rhetoric to appease his voter base back home

Mexico

Mi familia es una de muchas afectadas por la impunidad de la que goza la Patrulla Fronteriza de los Estados Unidos

Venezuela

“The United States continues to recognize Juan Guaidó as the interim government of Venezuela,” a U.S. national security official said. “If the Venezuelan opposition decides to do away with the interim government, it is their decision”

Latin America Security-Related News: October 25, 2022

(Even more here)

(Abridged version, since I’m traveling)

October 25, 2022

Western Hemisphere Regional

The head of the Organization of American States unfairly maligned the reputation of a Brazilian lawyer who he abruptly fired as the region’s top human rights watchdog, according to a new administrative ruling

Desde la perspectiva de construcción de paz, una negociación podría ser exitosa si transforma las condiciones que hacen que muchas personas se involucren en actividades ilícitas y usen la violencia entre ellos y contra las comunidades de las que forman parte

It likely plays a key supporting role in urbanization and economic development, which would become unviable if peripheries were permanently anarchic

Colombia, Venezuela

Colombia’s engagement with Venezuela should not be seen as a reason to be silent about human rights violations and the country’s humanitarian crisis

El Salvador

At least 80 people arrested under the state of exception have succumbed without being convicted of anything

Some fear that El Salvador is replicating the oppressive conditions that touched off its brutal 12-year civil war (1980-92) between leftist guerrillas and the U.S.-backed right-wing military government

U.S.-Mexico Border

The snafus suggest a pattern of Border Patrol agents, particularly in Texas, sending migrants without friends or family in the United States to offices that get no notice

U.S.-Mexico Border, Venezuela

They have sold their belongings and trekked across a deadly jungle. Now, tens of thousands Venezuelan migrants are stranded south of the United States, with nowhere to go

Traveling this week

I’m flying overnight to Chile, where I’ll be participating in a conference on security in the Americas (which will be livestreamed) organized by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation. I haven’t been to Chile in about seven or eight years, and am looking forward to being in Santiago again.

I won’t be posting things here regularly this week, but will resume normal tempo the week of the 31st.

Weekly U.S.-Mexico Border Update: October 21, 2022

With this series of weekly updates, WOLA seeks to cover the most important developments at the U.S.-Mexico border. See past weekly updates here.

This week:

  • In the wake of the Biden administration’s announcement that Venezuelan asylum seekers will now be expelled into Mexico under Title 42, this week’s Border Update reviews numbers of expelled migrants, how the U.S. offer of humanitarian parole for 24,000 Venezuelans will work, and human rights concerns voiced by numerous actors.
  • The narrative then moves to resulting humanitarian concerns and migration shifts in a long geographic arc, going north to south from Mexican border cities, through Mexico City and southern Mexico, through Guatemala and Honduras, to Panama’s Darién Gap, Colombia, and Ecuador.

Due to staff travel, WOLA will not publish a Border Update next week. The next Update will appear on November 4.

U.S. completes first week of Title 42 expulsions into Mexico

From the U.S. border to South America, migrants, service providers, and governments have been jolted by the Biden administration’s October 12 announcement that asylum-seeking migrants from Venezuela are now subject to rapid expulsion across the land border into Mexico.

Under the Title 42 pandemic authority, begun by the Trump administration and prolonged by the Biden administration and then by a federal court order, all migrants are subject to rapid expulsion regardless of their expressed need for asylum. Mexico agrees to accept land-border expulsions of its own citizens, as well as those of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and now—as of October 12—citizens of Venezuela.

The U.S. measure comes with a program allowing up to 24,000 Venezuelans to apply for humanitarian parole in the United States. (In September alone, 33,000 Venezuelan migrants arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border.)

Mexico’s foreign secretary, Marcelo Ebrard, said that U.S. authorities expelled 1,768 Venezuelan citizens during the new measures’ first four days, with each day’s number fewer than the last. By the time six days were complete, Dana Graber Ladek, the Mexico chief of mission for the U.N.-backed International Organization for Migration (IOM) said that expulsions of Venezuelans totaled more than 3,000. After seven days, according to credible information seen by WOLA, they exceeded 4,000.

Expulsions of Venezuelans have been taking place from El Paso, Texas into Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua; San Diego, California into Tijuana, Baja California; Brownsville, Texas into Matamoros, Tamaulipas; Nogales, Arizona into Nogales, Sonora; and Eagle Pass, Texas into Piedras Negras, Coahuila.

“According to a Mexican official, the government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador demanded that the US admit one Venezuelan for humanitarian reasons for each Venezuelan it expels to Mexico,” the Mexican daily Reforma reported. “So, if the Biden Administration receives 24,000 Venezuelans, Mexico would not accept more than 24,000 Venezuelans expelled from the United States.” WOLA has heard no official information, however, corroborating this claim that expulsions are capped at 24,000.

Humanitarian parole

On October 18, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) posted details about how the humanitarian parole process will work. Venezuelans outside the United States will be able to apply online “for advance authorization to travel and a temporary period of parole for up to 2 years.” To be approved, applicants must not have been expelled before, or have entered Mexico or Panama after the new policy went into effect (the policy was published in the U.S. Federal Register on October 19). They must have “a supporter in the United States who agrees to provide them with financial support for the duration of their parole in the United States.”

A key obstacle is a U.S. requirement that Venezuelan applicants hold a passport that is either unexpired or within five years of having expired, restricting the availability of humanitarian parole to Venezuelans who have been able to obtain a passport. This is not easy to do, WOLA noted in 2018, due to the Venezuelan regime’s passport service being in a state of “bureaucratic disarray” and reliant on a thriving black market. “The cost of a passport in Venezuela is $200, nearly ten times the country’s minimum wage,” Reuters reported. (The Mexican daily Milenio cited black-market rates “between US$700 and US$1,500.”) “Only 1% of 1,591 migrants who left Venezuela between June and August held a passport,” Reuters added, citing the non-governmental Observatory of Social Investigations.

Upon their expulsion, Mexico’s migration authority (National Migration Institute, or INM) has been giving Venezuelan migrants documents allowing them to stay in the country for only 15 days—and in some cases, 7 days. Nearly all lack the resources or security guarantees to “self-deport” back to Venezuela, and Mexico is unlikely to have the resources to detain thousands of undocumented Venezuelans or fly them to Caracas. The most likely outcome is that many expelled Venezuelans will turn to Mexico’s already overwhelmed asylum agency (National Refugee Assistance Commission or COMAR). COMAR’s coordinator, Andrés Ramírez, said he expects the agency to receive 10,000 asylum applications from Venezuelan citizens by the end of the year.

Human rights concerns

Criticisms of the Biden administration’s move came from many quarters:

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