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

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Sandra Cuffe photo at Al Jazeera. Caption: “Pending cases and trials for genocide, mass enforced disappearances and other civil war-era atrocities are stagnating in the courts”

(Even more here)

February 26, 2021

Western Hemisphere Regional

Despite these growing security challenges, the United States continues a drug war that wastes exquisite military tools, destabilizes fragile states, and sours hemispheric relations — yet fails to gain any measurable progress

Chile

El Presidente y su ministro del Interior explicaron que se va a reforzar el estado de catástrofe -que se reconoce subutilizado

Colombia

El enfoque de militarizar el tema ambiental, que fue presentado como una innovación estratégica en seguridad y medio ambiente importante del Gobierno Duque, tiene un papel más discreto en los últimos avances de política pública

The new unit, consisting of 7,000 personnel, will be deployed to zones such as the Catatumbo region on the border with Venezuela, as well as the provinces of Cauca and Putamayo, Defense Minister Diego Molano said

Bogotá and Washington should abandon their heavy-handed elimination efforts and help growers find alternatives to the hardy plant

En el Fuerte Militar de Tolemaida, el Jefe de Estado activó este viernes el Comando contra el Narcotráfico y Amenazas Transnacionales (CONAT), fuerza élite conformada por 7.000 hombres y mujeres del Ejército

Un informe de Caribe Afirmativo señala que hay un retroceso en los avances de derechos humanos LGBT, “porque con relación a 2019 hubo un aumento del 58% y un 80% frente a 2018?

Las tres fuentes de información comparten muchas víctimas, pero cada una aporta víctimas que no aparecen en las demás bases de datos

El representante demócrata Jim McGovern lamentó “la falta de voluntad de Iván Duque para detener los asesinatos de líderes sociales” y le pidió al presidente Joe Biden que ponga este problema en su agenda

El Salvador

Securing two-thirds of congressional seats would allow Bukele to name Supreme Court judges and the attorney general, making him the most powerful Salvadoran leader since the return of democracy three decades ago

Analistas salvadoreños e internacionales señalan el riesgo de que el Presidente millennial termine convirtiendo al país en otra Nicaragua, tras los resultados de las elecciones legislativas del 28 de febrero

Guatemala

Pending cases and trials for genocide, mass enforced disappearances and other civil war-era atrocities are stagnating in the courts

Mexico

López Obrador recordó que en Baja California hay 2 mil 99 elementos de la Guardia Nacional y hay seis cuarteles nuevos

“Nos preguntaban que cómo habíamos obtenido la información. Y nos dijeron que nos iban a llevar detenidos. Temimos por nuestra vida”, explica la mujer

Though symbolically important in any administration, the decision by President Joe Biden to dispatch Blinken to Mexico and Canada for the first visits, even virtually, is part of a broader effort to turn the page

Coronel’s surrender signals the existence of a cooperation agreement, where she could provide information or testimony in exchange for leniency in her own case

Nicaragua

La más reciente avanzada orteguista contra sus críticos incluye el cierre de organizaciones de derechos humanos y libertad de expresión por la aprobación de la ley de agentes extranjeros

U.S.-Mexico Border

Biden has an opportunity to break the cycle of deadly border militarization embraced by his predecessors of both parties. Will he take it?

It represented a step closer to reaching the American dream for the 27 people who crossed the Gateway International Bridge after living in Matamoros for nearly two years

It’s a significant change at the two detention centers that activists have derided as “baby jails.” But the new policy falls short of their demands to close the facilities in Dilley and Karnes City

The challenges of redirecting the enforcement apparatus, the tangled web of legal agreements signed by prior Department of Homeland Security (DHS) leadership, and anxieties about a new large-scale influx of migrants and asylum seekers have posed early challenges

HHS, which oversees shelters for migrant children, is in the process of switching to a new database that could cut hours or days from the time it takes to perform background checks for sponsors

On Thursday, there were more than 1,200 unaccompanied children in Customs and Border Protection custody across the southwest border

The number of minors arriving without a parent has grown to more than 300 each day in recent weeks, a fourfold increase since last fall

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Photo from Tal Cual (Venezuela).

(Even more here)

February 25, 2021

Western Hemisphere Regional

For the foreseeable future, the region is dependent on Chinese and Russian vaccines

Bolivia

Al menos 150 diplomáticos de carrera y que estaban destinados en alguna de las 34 misiones que Bolivia mantiene en el exterior fueron despedidos durante los primeros tres meses del gobierno del presidente Luis Arce

Brazil

Luna is a career military man who cut his teeth building highways in the Amazon and whose greatest qualification for the job, as critics see it, is his respect for hierarchy and discipline

Chile

Meter a las FF.AA. en un problema de esta naturaleza, sin especificar que el territorio donde van a operar es una zona de guerra, es un error

El comandante en jefe de la institución castrense, Ricardo Martínez, puso a disposición de Carabineros y la PDI a un grupo de entre cinco y 10 funcionarios especializados en Inteligencia y Planificación. Además, se despacharán al menos tres carros blindados Mowag y drones

Colombia

Así lo expresó a este portal Juliette De Rivero, representante en Colombia de la Alta Comisionada de Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos

Si son 11.460 los muertos en combate que fueron presentados como miembros de grupos armados ilegales, las 6.420 víctimas de los “falsos positivos” identificadas dentro de ese total cambia radicalmente la manera de interpretar los resultados operativos

Temblores, an non-governmental organization that monitors state violence, also documented 7,992 cases of assault and 30 cases of sexual violence, with migrant communities and Afro-Colombians often the victims

Mientras el Gobierno prepara retomar la aspersión con glifosato, cientos de campesinos pierden la esperanza de la legalidad. Solo el 2 por ciento de las familias en el PNIS han podido arrancar proyectos productivos diferentes a la coca

He brought the plight of those communities to an international stage, testifying at a congressional hearing in Washington and speaking privately with legislators

En la noche del pasado lunes 22 de febrero, se conoció un vídeo en el que se ve a integrantes del grupo paramilitar Comandos de la Frontera realizando rondas de control en la población de Siberia, municipio de Orito, Putumayo

Cuba

“Patria y Vida” (“Homeland and Life”), a new song with almost two million views on YouTube and featuring some of the most famous Cuban singers inside and outside the island, is challenging the government

Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela

«Continuaremos denunciando abusos en lugares como Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba e Irán», enfatizó Blinken en su discurso a través de un video

Ecuador

El acceso a celulares y la falta de una separación efectiva de los internos más peligrosos ha permito el ascenso del poder de las bandas

The gangs began a battle for leadership within the prison system in December when a leader of Los Choneros, considered the system’s most powerful gang, was killed in a shopping center several months after being released

El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama

Determinaron no permitir el ingreso irregular de flujos de migrantes extracontinentales (haitianos, cubanos, asiáticos y africanos) que se mantienen varados en Sudamérica

Haiti

Mr Moïse, a former plantation manager who calls himself “Banana Man”, exemplifies the failings of recent Haitian presidents and has added to them

On Wednesday as tense negotiations over the kidnappers’ $2 million ransom request continued, diplomatic pressure on the Haitian government intensified

Honduras

Se trata de un alto miembro de las FF AA y un exoficial de la Policía que sostuvieron conversaciones con el capo Geovanny Fuentes, enjuiciado en EE UU

Peru, Venezuela

Las redes sociales y los medios en Perú empiezan a hablar de una guerra entre delincuentes venezolanos y peruanos, lo que se traduce en el incremento de la violencia

U.S.-Mexico Border

The federal government asked contractors to submit bids for maintenance of what it calls tactical infrastructure within the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector. That includes repairing roads and lights installed along the border wall. It also includes repairing the concertina wire

An Immigration and Customs Enforcement email obtained by The Washington Post shows that the administration has already entered crisis mode on the southern border

DHS officials characterized this as the “next phase” in releasing these migrants who have been waiting to claim asylum in the United States

Comparing all this to “kids in cages” confuses the debate in a way that obscures what the Biden administration is genuinely trying to accomplish — and thus makes it harder to actually hold the administration accountable on it

The move, and a reported decision to reopen another facility at Homestead, Fla., must be temporary

UN agencies have begun preparing individuals and families at the Matamoros informal camp, near the United States-Mexico border, for entry into the US

Venezuela

Venezuelan opposition figures often take harder anti-government lines if they flee abroad. Exiles’ voices are important, but those trying to end Venezuela’s crisis should listen to others as well, recalling that compromise offers the only peaceful exit

Some articles I found interesting this morning

IOM/Alberto Cabezas photo at UNHCR. Caption: “Asylum-seekers at an informal camp in Matamoros, Mexico.”

(Even more here)

February 24, 2021

Western Hemisphere Regional

The center— now known as the Biscayne Influx Care Facility — is preparing to house migrant teens ages 13 to 17

Chile

El objetivo es atacar organizaciones dedicadas al narcotráfico que, a juicio del gobierno y las policías, estarían detrás de gran parte de los atentados

Colombia

Según dijo, adoptar una política pública para desmantelar los grupos herederos del paramilitarismo es fundamental para mejorar las garantías de seguridad de líderes, defensores y comunidades en Colombia

Son ocho modernas aeronaves con dos equipos de 16 pilotos, las principales herramientas para comenzar la aspersión en el país, tarea que espera el día D para comenzar

La comisionada Patricia Tobón y el comisionado Leyner Palacios denunciaron públicamente la intensificación de acciones armadas sobre los pueblos étnicos del Pacífico colombiano

Lo ocurrido en Tumaco en los últimos días es el fiel reflejo de lo que ocurre en diferentes latitudes del país: matanzas en zonas disputadas por grupos armados ilegales de diferentes extracciones

Ecuador

“Two armed groups tried to seize the criminal leadership of the detention centers”

Guatemala

Un grupo de exmilitares realizó una marcha en el centro histórico para exigir una indemnización por su participación en el conflicto armado interno

Guatemala, Mexico

Nearly 700 were arrested at seven chicken plants across Mississippi that August 2019 morning, in one of the largest workplace immigration stings in U.S. history. A year and a half later, on January 22, López ended up shot

Haiti

Many people in Haiti believe that the Trump administration made a deal with Mr. Moïse: If he supported the U.S. case against Venezuela, then Washington would look the other way when it came to human rights abuses in Haiti

Honduras

The United States cannot remain silent in the face of deeply alarming corruption and human rights abuses being committed at the highest levels of the Honduran government

Mexico

The petition submitted to Congress against Gov. Francisco Cabeza de Vaca is supposed to be ratified by prosecutors on Thursday

Salgado’s candidacy has become a major political liability for President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has stood by his longtime friend and political ally

Salgado’s candidacy has become a major political liability for President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has stood by his longtime friend and political ally

Corruption in Mexico’s security forces is a key contributor to the sharp rise of organized criminal violence and severely handicaps US-Mexico security cooperation against drug cartels

Peru

De acuerdo al Ministerio Publico, la diligencia judicial fue ordenada debido a “la eexistencia de una presunta Organización Criminal denominada Los Mercenarios, la cual se encontraría enquistada en el Ejército Peruano operando desde el año 2013”

U.S.-Mexico Border

DOD estimated that it would incur nearly $1 billion in unreimbursed costs by supporting DHS’s border security mission from fiscal year 2018 through fiscal year 2020.

The majority of child migrant facilities are subject to state licensing requirements; temporary influx centers like Carrizo are not

Biden Takes On Trump’s Migrant Policies and Confusion Reigns at the Border

The family was attempting to cross the river from Piedras Negras in the Mexican state of Coahuila to reach Eagle Pass, Texas, in frigid conditions

Both governments have prioritized the Matamoros camp due to the difficult humanitarian conditions there. Other individuals with active MPP cases residing outside the Matamoros camp will also be processed

The Biden administration need not and should not leave this to the courts. You have the power to halt these expulsions by repealing the Title 42 order, and you should use it as soon as practicable

A pandemic-related order put in place by former President Donald Trump remains in effect, allowing officials to continue to turn away thousands of migrants

Venezuela

El bloque comunitario europeo dio a conocer este 22 de febrero, nuevas medidas restrictivas

De acuerdo a un reporte divulgado por el Centro para los Defensores y la Justicia los principales responsables de las agresiones contra ONG y defensores de DDHH fueron funcionarios públicos (40%), medios de comunicación oficialistas (29%), organismos de seguridad (19%) e instituciones públicas (7%)

Juan González, director senior de asuntos del Hemisferio Occidental y que forma parte del consejo de seguridad de la Casa Blanca, aseguró que la prioridad de EEUU no es el levantamiento de las sanciones a la administración de Nicolás Maduro sino de fomentar el diálogo

Mr. Reyna is part of a growing chorus of Venezuelan voices and regional experts calling on the United States to redirect its focus from pressing for a quick return to democratic rule to addressing a humanitarian crisis

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Luis Robayo/AFP/Getty photo at the Guardian (UK). Caption: “Soldiers patrol the streets of Buenaventura, Colombia.”

(Even more here)

February 23, 2021

Western Hemisphere Regional

Los efectos de la emergencia sanitaria, económica, social y política se sentirán con especial fuerza en América Latina y el Caribe. Al mismo tiempo, es posible observar una impotencia política de la región frente a la coyuntura crítica global

Bolivia

Posesionó a nuevos jefes militares en los máximos cargos de las Fuerzas Armadas y hasta el momento no ha enviado las listas de ascensos al Parlamento

Central America, Mexico

El informe de la auditoría permite ver que, al margen de medidas concretas de control migratorio, no existe estrategia de cooperación con Centroamérica

Chile

Tras la seguidilla de atentados registrados en la macrozona sur, el Mandatario anunció una batería de medidas legislativas para combatir lo que calificó como “actos de violencia y terroristas”

Colombia

El tema nació a inicios de este mes cuando dos exmilitares en sus declaraciones ante la JEP hablaron sobre presiones que estarían recibiendo para modificar sus testimonios ante esa justicia especial

Tiene que ver con posibles irregularidades del gobierno de Juan Manuel Santos con la autorización de estadía en Cuba a Nicolás Rodríguez Bautista, alias Gabino, uno los jefes máximos del Eln

In various parts of Colombia, there has been an intensification of violence and increased territorial and social control by non-state armed groups and criminal groups

Este es el panorama de lo que hay y de lo que falta para que despegue el primer avión con glifosato

Con este doble asesinato, ya son seis los policías muertos en el plan pistola ejecutado por este grupo armado ilegal. Entre el 8 de febrero y a la fecha, han perdido la vida dos agentes en Sucre, uno en Caucasia, uno más en Montería

Estos están usando la fachada de ‘Frente Iván Ríos’ cuando en realidad está integrado por hombres del grupo conocido como ‘Los Contadores’. Un grupo aliado con estructuras paramilitares

Local politicians and citizens are calling on President Iván Duque to come to Buenaventura to support the protests

Colombia, Venezuela

Según Rodríguez, las autoridades venezolanas «tienen a alguien escuchando todo» y que al parecer, sería alguien dentro de la administración de Iván Duque que estaría «indignado» de que ese tipo de reuniones ocurran en Colombia

Guatemala

Con la notoriedad, aparecieron señalamientos de corrupción y vinculaciones al narcotráfico (sin procesos penales en su contra, pero sí de un hermano) que no la han hecho tambalear—aunque Estados Unidos la vigila

Haiti

The United States is disturbed that Haiti’s prolonged period of rule by decree continues. We believe decrees should be limited to actions necessary for essential functions, safety, and the conduct of elections

Honduras

The potential for fraud in November’s presidential elections also underscores the challenge facing Washington, which is yet to call for free and fair elections

Mexico

En el Estado de Guerrero no se ha tenido registro alguno de este tipo de siembra

It remained unclear on Monday night why federal authorities arrested Ms. Coronel now after implicating her in her husband’s crime more than two years ago

Emma Coronel Aispuro, 31, a dual U.S.-Mexican citizen, of Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico, was arrested today at Dulles International Airport

Nicaragua

La vigilancia que mantienen estructuras como los Gabinetes de la Familia, mejor conocidos como “CPC”, es uno de los pilares del autoritarismo sandinistaen Nicaragua

U.S.-Mexico Border

Government officials say the camp is needed because facilities for migrant children have had to cut capacity by nearly half because of the coronavirus pandemic. At the same time, the number of unaccompanied children crossing the border has been inching up

Last week, U.S. border agents apprehended more than 1,500 migrant children, according to government statistics reviewed by CBS News. On Sunday, an additional 300 minors were taken into custody

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a statement on Monday that “given current operational considerations”, it could no longer say when it would begin bringing in migrants through ports in Brownsville and El Paso

Venezuela

Ceballos tiene el grado de almirante y se desempeña como Jefe de Estado Mayor del (CEOFANB). También es miembro de la Infantería de Marina de Venezuela y dentro de su perfil de carrera se maneja que recibió entrenamiento militar en Estados Unidos e Israel

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Arturo de Dios Palma photo at El Universal (Mexico). Caption: “Durante años, la economía de la comunidad de El Pescado dependió de los cultivos de la amapola; sin embargo, sólo unos pocos todavía se dedican a esa actividad, pues temen ser atacados por el Ejército o criminales.”

(Even more here)

February 22, 2021

Western Hemisphere Regional

While the pandemic has opened the door to much-welcomed Chinese aid, it’s also made it harder for governments to pay their bills to Beijing

Six countries across the region — Argentina, Bolivia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, and Venezuela — have now authorized use of the Sputnik V vaccine. Others are considering authorization requests

Argentina, Mexico

Alberto Fernández estará en La Mañanera del presidente Andrés Manuel López Obrador este martes y participará en la celebraciones del bicentenario de la Independencia de México

Argentina, Western Hemisphere Regional

El Southcom es más que en otros momentos un comando naval

Chile, Colombia, Venezuela

El presidente Iván Duque acaba de anunciar una medida extraordinaria: la regularización de un millón de venezolanos. Qué diferencia con la actitud del gobierno de Chile que, en cambio, expulsó a muchos venezolanos

Colombia

“Hemos presenciado versiones voluntarias (ante la JEP) en que unos militares advierten que hay una estrategia del Fondo de Defensa de los miembros de la Fuerza Pública (Fondetec) para ocultar información que implique a altos mandos”

Lo más preocupante de las revelaciones de la JEP es que corroboran que la justicia ordinaria fracasó, pues fue incapaz de procesar a los responsables y de determinar el verdadero número de ejecuciones

Analizamos los datos entregados por el alto tribunal y encontramos quiénes eran los altos mandos en las unidades militares que presentan la mayor cantidad de víctimas de este delito

Declaraciones de testigos y militares ante la JEP establecen que los abogados adscritos a Fondetec han presuntamente aplicado —mediante supuestas jornadas de pedagogía— diferentes métodos de presión para generar temor

A pesar del anuncio de que Fiscalía y Defensoría del Pueblo unificarían cifras sobre agresiones contra líderes sociales, esta última entidad reveló sus propias cuentas

El comandante del Ejército, el general Eduardo Enrique Zapateiro, argumentó que su criticado trino sobre “víboras venenosas y perversas” que quieren atacar y debilitar al Ejército no se refería a la JEP

The Colombian government needs to improve security and infrastructure in the countryside so that farmers have genuine incentives to switch out of coca into legal crops that have a proven market

Colombia, Venezuela

Los militares de ese país, al parecer, pidieron apoyo al ELN para atacar a las disidencias de las FARC como respuesta al derribamiento de uno de sus helicópteros

El Salvador

Dos de ellos trabajaron en campañas electorales para John McCain y Jeb Bush; otro es un guatemalteco con experiencia en inteligencia y considerado uno de los responsables del desmantelamiento de la Cicig

Guatemala

She became a champion of survivors of torture and helped compel the release of documents showing U.S. complicity in decades of human rights abuses in Guatemala

She was forced to defend her credibility, as a U.S. Embassy official at one point described her account as a “hoax” designed to derail an aid package to the government

Guatemala, Mexico

Lo invirtieron y arriesgaron todo en la búsqueda de una vida más digna: viajar a Estados Unidos sin papeles para trabajar. Pero acabaron asesinados a tiros y calcinados en el norte de México

Haiti

Because Moïse held no legislative elections in 2019, parliament was dissolved in early 2020, and he has since been ruling by decree

Mexico

La ASF destaca que pese a tratarse de una fuerza civil, el 70% de elementos de la Guardia Nacional son militares y la nueva fuerza carece de bases e infraestructura propia

En el cementerio clandestino de Arbolillo familiares de personas desaparecidas y autoridades localizaron 2 mil restos humanos desde su descubrimiento hasta marzo del año pasado

Tras la caída del precio de la goma de opio, agricultores de amapola voltearon a los bosques de Coyuca de Catalán; sin embargo, los grupos armados dominan la zona todavía

Mexico’s Foreign Ministry estimates that more than 2.5 million guns have flooded over America’s southern border in the last decade

Nicaragua

Jean Humberto González Zeledón y Cristian David Meneses Machado, que estuvieron exiliados en Costa Rica tras la revuelta popular que estalló en abril de 2018

U.S.-Mexico Border

After getting verified for eligibility using the CBPone application and testing negative for COVID-19, approximately 25 individuals were transported by international organizations to the U.S.-Mexico border

Advocates who opposed the Trump administration’s use of the emergency shelters now acknowledge they might be a necessity for the short term

Migration agents patrolling the river’s edge in Piedras Negras in Mexico’s Coahuila state, opposite Texas, had observed four people enter the water, the migration institute said in a statement. Two of them reached the United States

Migrants are expected to input data from their court documents into the four-page online platform, but confusion set in just as quickly as the website went live

Latin America-related online events this week

Tuesday, February 23

  • 10:00–11:00 at csis.org: Brazil’s Accession to the OECD: A Conversation with Paulo Guedes, Brazilian Minister of the Economy (RSVP required).
  • 10:00–11:15 at juridicas.unam.mx: Hacia Elecciones Transparentes y Participativas en el Sistema Interamericano de Derechos Humanos: una conversación con el Panel Independiente 2021 (RSVP required).
  • 10:00–12:00 at uk.rodeemoseldialogo.org: Dis/information and Peace (RSVP required).
  • 1:00 at Zoom: Tráfico de armas de Estados Unidos hacia México: Diagnóstico y propuestas (RSVP required).
  • 2:00–3:30 at columbiauniversity.zoom.us: Police Violence in Comparative Perspective (RSVP required).
  • 3:00: Cuban Entrepreneurship (RSVP required).

Wednesday, February 24

  • 9:00–10:00 at thedialogue.org: China’s Global Energy Finance & China-Latin America Development Finance Database Updates (RSVP required).
  • 2:00–3:15 at wilsoncenter.org: Rethinking Brazilian Development: The Political Economy of Democratic Brazil (RSVP required).
  • 6:00 at Zoom: Hacia una política de integración de migrantes en México (RSVP required).

Thursday, February 25

  • 8:00 at uniandes.edu.co: Alcances y contenidos de la reconciliación (RSVP required).
  • 8:30–4:15 at sais.jhu.edu: Latin America in the World Order: Stepping Up (RSVP required).
  • 9:00–4:45 at lack.fiu.edu: Extreme Events in Central America: Reducing Risk, Enhancing Resilience (RSVP required).
  • 1:00–3:00 at uk.rodeemoseldialogo.org: Football and Nation-building in the Colombian Peace Process (RSVP required).
  • 4:00–5:00 at csis.org: A Discussion with President Iván Duque on Granting Temporary Legal Protection to Venezuelan Migrants in Colombia (RSVP required).
  • 6:30 at YouTube: Diálogos México-Colombia: Regulación de la Marihuana.

Friday, February 26

  • 9:30–11:00 at thedialogue.org: The Road to Legal Abortion in Argentina (RSVP required).
  • 12:00 at colmex-mx.zoom: Revolution in development. Mexico and the governance of the global economy (RSVP required).
  • 2:00 at wola.org: Mapping Out Change: The United States and Cuba: A New Policy of Engagement (RSVP required).

5 links from the past week

  • Part 2 of an InsightCrime series about overlaps between government and organized crime in Central America’s Northern Triangle is a potboiler: an unflinching probe of Honduras’s governing National Party, which “since 2010 has become a federation that welcomes politicians and officials involved in criminal businesses ranging from timber to drug trafficking to the misappropriation of public funds.”
  • Fourteen Colombian legislators from the political opposition, spanning six parties, issued the latest in a series of data-rich reports monitoring the government’s compliance with commitments made in the 2016 peace accords. They find the Colombian government falling ever further behind in implementing the accord.
  • The San Diego Union-Tribune profiles Jenn Budd, a former Border Patrol agent who underwent abuse and trauma during her time in the force, and who now, accompanied by the Southern Border Communities Coalition, is one of its most outspoken critics. This is a very troubled agency.
  • At OpenDemocracy, Robert Muggah brings both context and readability to a discussion of Brazil’s grim current political reality, the role of systemic racism, the legacy of the Worker’s Party, and why “Bolsonaro is the candidate to beat in the presidential elections in 2022—and by a wide margin.”
  • Four researchers from Colombia’s Ideas for Peace Foundation dispute claims that the ELN guerrilla group is facing a big internal schism. The ELN has always been divided, they say at Razón Pública—and the Colombian government has done little lately to weaken it.

WOLA Podcast: A Critical Moment for El Salvador’s Democracy

With an assist from WOLA’s president, Geoff Thale, I booked a fantastic but deeply troubling conversation with two fighters for democracy in El Salvador, Mauricio Silva and José Luis Sanz. This is a rough moment for a democracy born at a moment of hope, when El Salvador negotiated the end of its conflict in the early 90s.

The .mp3 file is here. The podcast feed is here. And here’s the text from WOLA’s podcast landing page:

El Salvador’s citizens go to the polls on February 28 to elect a new legislature and mayors. Nuevas Ideas, the party of President Nayib Bukele, is expected to gain a strong majority. This raises concerns because Bukele, though quite popular, is eroding institutional checks and balances, blocking access to information, infringing on independent media and freedom of expression, and politicizing the armed forces.

The implications for U.S. policy are significant, as the new Biden administration proposes a four-year, $4 billion package of assistance to strengthen democracy and the rule of law, along with similar priorities, in Central America.

We discuss this with two experts who give us a comprehensive view of what’s at stake:

  • Mauricio Silva, a member of WOLA’s Board of DIrectors, worked at the Inter-American Development Bank for 20 years, 10 of them as a member of the IDB’s Board as director for El Salvador and Central America.
  • José Luis Sanz, a veteran investigative journalist, was the director of the independent media outlet El Faro (The Beacon) between 2014 and late 2020. He is moving to Washington to serve as El Faro’s correspondent.

Listen to WOLA’s Latin America Today podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartRadio, or wherever you subscribe to podcasts. The main feed is here.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Stringer—dpa/picture alliance/Getty Images at Associated Press. Caption: “19 February 2021, Mexico, Tijuana: Dozens of migrants of Central American and Mexican origin sleep on the esplanade of the National Institute of Migration near the El Chaparral border crossing, waiting for U.S. authorities to let them enter to begin their humanitarian asylum process in this country. Following the change of direction in migration policy, the U.S. government is once again allowing asylum seekers across the border. As of Friday, the first applicants will be allowed to come to the United States for their court hearings and stay in the country for the duration of their proceedings.”

(Even more here)

February 19, 2021

Western Hemisphere Regional

ICE officers will focus on those suspected of being a national security threat, recent border crossers, and those who are considered to be a public safety threat, officials announced

Argentina

“En nombre del pueblo argentino y del Gobierno Nacional estamos profundamente agradecidos por el envío de las vacunas Sputnik V”

Bolivia

La donación, entregada a los militares, consiste en nueve vehículos acondicionados para realizar operaciones médicas, primeros auxilios, diagnóstico por rayos X, utilizar un generador de oxígeno, realizar análisis de laboratorios bioquímicos y esterilización

Colombia

Según el documento, en el plazo que les dio la JEP entregarán la respuesta oficial al auto de hechos y conductas

El reto de la JEP, ahora, es justamente escalar y llegar a los altos mandos, un trabajo muy difícil porque el nivel de intimidación a los que han implicado superiores ha sido muy alto

Quedan trámites administrativos por resolver, decisiones judiciales pendientes y muchas dudas sobre la reglamentación en sí misma

Piden a la JEP que las versiones sean públicas y que se determinen la responsabilidad de altos mandos cuanto antes

Colombia, Cuba

Dado que la alerta recibida no contiene información específica, Colombia ha solicitado a las autoridades cubanas compartir la información con la que cuenten

Honduras, Nicaragua

Amnistía Internacional advierte que los métodos de los regímenes de Juan Orlando Hernández y Daniel Ortega son similares en cuanto a represión de sus críticos e impunidad en las violaciones de derechos humanos. En el caso de El Salvador, el deterioro progresivo inquieta

Mexico

Encargado de resguardar la soberanía del Estado mexicano, la paz nacional y la aplicación del Plan DN-III en caso de desastres, el Ejército cumple 108 años

Luego de ser expulsados de un sembradío de amapola por pobladores, integrantes del Ejército regresaron al sitio para golpear y robar a civiles, acusaron vecinos de la comunidad

Se registró una disminución de 19.6% en delitos del fuero federal

No existe evidencia certera de que la 4T esté combatiendo las causas de la violencia, como afirma el Presidente. Simplemente no es creíble esa versión debido a la imparable violencia

U.S.-Mexico Border

Ensure that no surveillance system is used until and unless DHS OIG certifies its necessity, compliance with privacy protections, and responsiveness to stakeholder concerns

Advocates have pushed for the Biden administration to fly migrants in the program to the United States, which they say would be safer and faster

Friday marks a key milestone in unravelling one of former President Donald Trump’s cornerstone policies to deter people from seeking protection from persecution

It happened Wednesday, the same day that Mexico’s immigration agency announced the death of a Venezuelan woman who died trying to cross the river there

Venezuela

El proyecto Lupa por la vida se orienta a reivindicar el derecho a la vida, exigir el cese de las ejecuciones, contribuir a la exigencia de justicia

In Madrid, the left-wing government of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has cheered Biden and what it hopes will be his fresh approach to relations with a region that both nations consider their backyard

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Photo from the Wall Street Journal. Caption: “A migrant family from Venezuela embraced at the Val Verde Border Humanitarian Coalition building in Del Rio, Texas, last week.”

(Even more here)

February 18, 2021

Colombia

Para agilizar la implementación de los PDET, es necesaria la expedición de las hojas de ruta y hoy solo se han expedido 3 de las 16 que se requieren

En Colombia se sigue matando a líderes sociales. Bogotá acusa de ello a “grupos criminales”. Para Washington, la causa radica en la “ineficaz implementación del Acuerdo de Paz”. Biden le pide explicaciones a Duque

La JEP establece que por lo menos 6.402 personas fueron muertas ilegítimamente para ser presentadas como bajas en combate en todo el territorio nacional entre 2002 y 2008

En el borrador de decreto del Ministerio de Justicia se ratifica que la decisión del regreso del Glifosato es del Consejo Nacional de Estupefacientes (CNE)

Esta cifra se aleja considerablemente del informe que entregó la Fiscalía General de la Nación a la JEP, en la que sólo se registraban 2.248 víctimas, entre 1988 y 2014

Colombia, Venezuela

“Hay que decir que en Venezuela hay 6 millones de migrantes colombianos y nunca han necesitado un tratado provisional de protección, ninguna payasería de las Duque está inventando para lavarse la cara”

Cuba

Cuba is floating the idea of enticing tourists to its shores with the irresistible cocktail of sun, sand and a shot of Sovereign 2

Guatemala

These links between the congressional vice president’s brother and Los Huistas show how one of the country’s main criminal groups continues to enjoy proximity to the highest echelons of power

Mexico

The military paraphernalia deployed to stop the caravan once again fueled nationalism and fantasies of security in the face of foreign threats. Immigration militarization in Mexico is not new

Las fuerzas armadas de hoy son las mismas del régimen autoritario. Ni siquiera se reformó la ley para que fueran civiles los encargados de las secretarías de Defensa y de Marina, como ocurre en las democracias avanzadas

Mexico, U.S.-Mexico Border

After a year of pandemic-induced paralysis, those in daily contact with migrants believe the flow north could return to the high levels seen in late 2018 and early 2019

U.S.-Mexico Border

  • Todd Miller, Nick Buxton, Biden’s Border (Transnational Institute (The Netherlands), February 18, 2021).

The 13 border security companies’ executives and top employees contributed three times more to Joe Biden ($5,364,994) than to Donald Trump ($1,730,435)

Local officials and aid groups say they haven’t seen such large releases of migrants since 2019, when U.S. border officials were overwhelmed by migrant families

“Biden is going to be dealing with a minority in Congress if he continues down some of these paths,” said one Democratic congressman

Some articles I found interesting this morning

(Even more here)

February 17, 2021

Brazil

Brazil’s ruinous political leadership, economic mismanagement, and COVID-19 crisis are simply bringing the country’s long-standing challenges into ever-sharper relief

As part of a 2019 agreement with the US, Brazil is looking to expand its space base, but it could mean evicting hundreds of Black families from their ancestral lands

Colombia

Rodrigo Londoño ‘Timochenko’, pidió que les dieran un espacio en la alianza de partidos de izquierda que empezó a armarse desde el año pasado para las elecciones del 2022

Colombia, Venezuela

Álvarez was a translator and business partner of Jordan Goudreau, the former American Green Beret

El Salvador

I am perplexed and disappointed that the Ambassador’s office would put out inaccurate quotes and attribute them to me. This is a first in my 15 years in Congress and this incident will unfortunately force me to reassess how I engage with El Salvador’s Ambassador

Guatemala, Mexico

The United States has for years exported the control of migratory routes to Mexico and Central America. The repression of the most recent Honduran migrant caravan highlights this shift, but the effort began much earlier, during the Obama administration

Honduras

Less well known is how mining and natural resource extraction in some areas exacerbate violence and climate change impacts, spurring localized migration

Keyla Martínez, a 26-year-old student, died of asphyxiation when she was being held alone in a police cell. But many don’t buy the police line that she committed suicide

The party that has governed Honduras since 2010 has become a federation that welcomes politicians and officials involved in criminal businesses ranging from timber to drug trafficking to the misappropriation of public funds

Mexico

El INM también responsabiliza a la llegada a la Casa Blanca de Joe Biden del incremento del flujo hacia Estados Unidos

Critics say it reveals the pitfalls of governments seeking to gather more citizen data for law enforcement purposes

Mexico, U.S.-Mexico Border

Individuals should not take any action at this time and should remain where they are to await further instructions

U.S.-Mexico Border

U.S. law makes it very difficult to seize land from private landowners, which the federal government needed to do to build the wall

Venezuela

304 hombres y 25 mujeres; al hacer el desglose por ocupación, se cuentan 206 civiles y 123 efectivos castrenses

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Photo from Animal Político (Mexico).

(Even more here)

February 16, 2021

Western Hemisphere Regional

While previous attempts at massive immigration reform have failed under both Republican and Democratic administrations, the Biden White House has signaled support for breaking the legislation into pieces

Brazil

Brazil’s pro-gun president announced four presidential decrees designed to facilitate legal access to weapons on Saturday morning, as the country’s coronavirus death toll swelled

In the early hours of February 2, the Brazilian Air Force (FAB, in Portuguese) multi-mission KC-390 aircraft dropped paratroopers in joint flights with U.S. Air Force C-17 and C-130 aircraft during Operation Culminating, in Alexandria, Louisiana

Brazil, Haiti, Peru

Militares y policías peruanos han impedido el ingreso desde Brasil de unos 380 migrantes, en su mayoría haitianos, a través de un puente binacional en la Amazonía, informó el lunes el Comando Conjunto de las Fuerzas Armadas

Central America Regional

Multiple sources consulted by InSight Crime in Washington DC and Central America say that creating an institution similar to the CICIG will be complicated and believe that the Biden administration will first resort to other strategies

Chile

On January 12, Chilean President Sebastián Piñera signed a decree that enables support of the Armed Forces in border control to combat illegal migration

Colombia

Un hecho que sigue ocupando un lugar de primer orden en las preocupaciones, es la persistente amenaza y el recurrente asesinato de li?deres sociales, defensores de derechos humanos y de excombatientes de las FARC

Deja en manos de la justicia establecer si hay lugar a sanciones para los exmiembros de la guerrilla al no haber entregado la totalidad del inventario en el plazo establecido

En la Sierra Nevada y en la Troncal del Caribe del Magdalena, donde operó su Bloque Resistencia Tayrona, muchos lo ven todavía como ‘El patrón’

Cuba

The Cuba Study Group document, obtained by the Herald ahead of its public release on Tuesday, encourages the new administration to abandon the “centerpiece policy of regime change” for an incremental approach

El Salvador

Bukele puso a manera de ejemplo que “antes quién iba a pensar en sacar un celular en el Centro Histórico (de San Salvador), eso era impensable. Gracias al esfuerzo de la Fuerza Armada hemos dados fuertes golpes al tráfico de drogas”

Mexico, U.S.-Mexico Border

Únicamente 64 solicitantes de asilo recibieron un empleo a través de la secretaría de Trabajo. De ellos, 63 se encontraban en Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, y uno solo en Tijuana

U.S.-Mexico Border

Installing a hodgepodge of “smart security” technology paid for with reallocated wall cash, together with limited barrier removal in sensitive areas, appears to be the most likely outcome

With people anticipating that Friday is going to open to MPP crossings, people don’t want to move to a shelter with a roof. They are afraid they will lose their spot in the MPP line

This report provides an update on metering lists, asylum seekers, and migrant shelters along the U.S.-Mexico border amid CBP’s asylum processing suspension. It documents approximately 16,250 asylum seekers on waitlists in 9 Mexican border cities

Venezuela

Siete años han transcurrido sin un especialista del área en la conducción del gabinete económico ministerial y del Banco Central. La industria petrolera, las empresas básicas de Guayana, la petroquímica y el sistema eléctrico nacional han tenido a militares totalmente inexpertos

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Verónica G. Cárdenas photo at the New York Times. Caption: “A gap in the wall for a road near Alamo would typically have a gate. The taller section on the right is part of the newer wall where former President Donald Trump visited in early January.”

(Even more here)

February 15, 2021

Chile, Venezuela

Él formó parte del vuelo de las Fuerzas Armadas chilenas en el que unas 138 personas, en su mayoría migrantes venezolanos, fueron enviados a su país de origen

Colombia

  • Juan Carlos Garzón, Andres Aponte Gonzalez, Tatiana Prada, Lorena Zarate, Sobre la Nueva Supuesta Crisis del Eln (Fundación Ideas para la Paz (Colombia), Razon Publica (Colombia), February 15, 2021).

Las divisiones dentro del ELN no son nuevas, ni deberían interpretarse como una crisis que llevaría a su fragmentación

Mencionaron a un abogado de apellido Vargas, quien supuestamente en sus recomendaciones ha planteado no mencionar a generales, para evitarse problemas

La población está alerta por la reactivación de la violencia y el control territorial de grupos armados ilegales por las rutas del narcotráfico

Massacres – especially during long-term armed conflicts – tend to contribute to a culture of the “theatricalisation” of violence

Colombia, Cuba

“Cuba ha sido paciente y prudente. Esperamos que, en algún momento, prime la voluntad de paz, el interés legítimo y la libre determinación del pueblo colombiano, la cordura y la sensatez”

John Petter Opdahl dice que le cree al gobierno cubano cuando afirma que la delegación del Eln que está en la isla no participa en la planeación de acciones militares en Colombia, y recuerda los protocolos

El Salvador

El presidente Nayib Bukele podría agenciarse una abrumadora mayoría en el Congreso y aumentar su poder político, con repercusiones en la democracia del país más pequeño de Centroamérica

Mexico

Hay indicios de que el Mencho y su gente también quieren entrarle de lleno a los comicios de este año

López Obrador, a folksy 67-year-old, argues that Mexico no longer needs a transparency institute. He holds a 7 a.m. news conference nearly every weekday, a talk fest that often lasts two hours

Actualmente en esta ciudad fronteriza con San Diego (California) operan al menos tres grupos delictivos: el Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación, el Cártel Arellano Félix y el Cártel de Sinaloa

U.S.-Mexico Border

Here are 10 actions the new administration can take over the next few months to “right the boat” that has run aground along the parched banks of the Rio Grande

Her acerbic commentary has generated a Twitter following of more than 27,000, and she is frequently quoted in national media as an expert on Border Patrol’s culture problem

Border Patrol routinely sends migrants to Palomas with a range of injuries from minor to severe, including those who are injured when they fall off the border fence

The men’s perilous journey underscores the rising desperation among immigrants and raises questions about the protocols used by the Border Patrol to treat injured migrants and the overall effectiveness of the border wall

The surge is low compared to past years, but Covid-19 has reduced housing capacity, necessitating use of a controversial influx facility

While Biden has taken some major steps in his first weeks in office to reverse Trump’s hardline immigration policies, his administration hasn’t lifted some of the most significant barriers to asylum-seekers

Venezuela

La merma del ingreso ha significado una orfandad para el país y ha tenido una repercusión brutal en la FAN

Today, the adoring crowds are gone, many international allies are wavering, and the opposition coalition is crumbling — while Mr. Maduro appears more entrenched than ever

Aboga para que la administración de Joe Biden levante la sanción al diésel por su impacto humanitario. “Hay que reconstruir la legitimidad de la oposición en las calles”

Latin America-related online events this week

Monday, February 15

  • 8:00–10:00pm at CISPES: Growth of Militarism and Neoliberalism in Central America (RSVP required).

Tuesday, February 16

  • 12:30–1:30 at gwu.edu: Lessons Learned from Past International Projects with the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (RSVP required).
  • 3:00 at insightcrime.org: A Deep Dive Into Honduras’ Criminal Dynamics and Its Borders (RSVP required).

Wednesday, February 17

  • 9:00–10:00 at csis.org: An Armchair Conversation with Mauricio Claver-Carone, President of the Inter-American Development Bank (RSVP required).
  • 9:30–11:00 at wilsoncenter.org: U.S. Counter-Drug Policy in the Western Hemisphere: Is it Working? (RSVP required).
  • 10:00–11:30 at thedialogue.org: Biden’s Central America Plan – Perspectives from the Region (RSVP required).
  • 12:00–1:30 at cina.gmu.edu: The Impact of COVID-19 on the Economy, Security and Transnational Organized Crime in the Americas (RSVP required).
  • 12:00–2:00 at Facebook Live: Militarización, Militarismo, y Sistema Político en México

Thursday, February 18

  • 10:00–11:30 at thedialogue.org: Results-Based Budgeting for Early Childhood Development – The Case of Peru (RSVP required).
  • 10:00–11:30 at brookings.edu: Nonstate armed actors and the US Global Fragility Strategy: Challenges and opportunities (RSVP required).
  • 4:00–5:00 at wilsoncenter.org: A Conversation with President Francisco Sagasti of Peru (RSVP required).
  • 7:00–9:00pm at periodistasdeapie.org.mx: Periodismo y Acceso a la Información (RSVP required).

5 links from the past week

  • Human Rights Watch worked for many months on this report about killings of social leaders in Colombia. It’s especially strong in its dissection of the Colombian government’s ineffective response, and the ways in which the justice system fails to hold killers accountable.
  • The American Immigration Council put out a report on “the Legacy of Racism within the U.S. Border Patrol” that filled a lot of information gaps for me about the agency’s deeply troubled organizational culture, especially about the patterns that developed in its early years.
  • I’m intrigued by Latin America’s “Texases”—frontier places that are recently settled by outsiders, taken over by agribusiness or extractives, deeply religious and conservative, and booming and populating until the short-term bonanza—and the environment—are exhausted. Bryan Harris visits a classic example, Brazil’s Mato Grosso, for the Financial Times.
  • This report, coordinated by Ernesto López Portillo at the Universidad Iberoamericana’s Citizen Security Program, is a data-rich, current, and easy-to-follow guide to the dangerous recent militarization of policing and public security in AMLO’s Mexico.
  • The Washington Post’s Kevin Sieff spent some time with Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández, whom U.S. prosecutors believe has been involved in drug trafficking, and looks at how the authoritarian-leaning leader is trying to maintain U.S. favor as Trump gives way to Biden.
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