I enjoyed talking about the border for an hour, on DC poet and all-around-brilliant person Ethelbert Miller’s radio show, on November 19.
And later that same day I was pleased that Cuestión de Poder, on the NTN24 cable network, wanted to dig into the COVID-era expansion of Latin America’s militaries’ roles. We’ll be wrestling with this for a while.
Also, the plants in my home office are thriving right now.
Military officers are occupying civilian government agencies, keeping order, handing out food, enforcing curfews, and just generally becoming a daily part of people’s lives to an extent unseen since the military dictatorships of a decade ago.
This is mainly happening at the behest of civilian presidents, but there is real cause for alarm here, and our presenters made the case very clearly. They did so in Spanish, without translation, as seen in the video at the bottom of this post.
The video at the top of this post, though, is new. My excellent intern Elissa Prieto took highlights from that event and added English subtitles, giving you a fast-moving, 14-minute pulse-taking of this increasingly worrisome trend.
Earlier today I joined Colombian Green Party Senator Antonio Sanguino on Ariel Ávila’s El Poder program, on the YouTube channel of the Colombian newsmagazine Semana. The subject was the recently announced deployment of a contingent of U.S. military trainers.
Later, I joined Daniel García Pena and Laura Gil for a discussion of the same subject hosted by the Colombian NGO Planeta Paz.
I cringe watching myself speak Spanish, but the subject matter is important. And my high-def webcam has turned out to be a good pre-quarantine investment.
Here’s a Twitter-length video I made to accompany yesterday’s commentary on the nightmarish situation at the border right now. The ongoing expulsions, deportations, detentions, and wall-building are being carried out in a way that risks creating new vectors for spreading coronavirus. They’re the opposite of social distancing, and they have to stop.
In response to the White House’s announcement yesterday that Colombian coca cultivation crept upward in 2019, I worked with WOLA colleagues to put out a good press release.
I wanted to do a bit more, and it seemed like a good moment to try something new: a rapid-response “explainer” video.
So here’s a quick explanation of Colombia’s coca phenomenon, and what hasn’t been tried (like, say, implementing the peace accord).
It turns out that, at least the first time one attempts this, it takes 2 and a half hours, between scripting and at least a dozen takes, to produce something reasonably coherent that fits within Twitter’s 2 minute, 20 second time limit for videos.
1,500 views on Twitter in 2 hours is pretty cool though.
A great conference today hosted by the Forum on the Arms Trade at the Stimson Center, “Beyond the Headlines: Redefining Responsibility in the Arms Trade.” Rep. Ted Lieu (D-California) gave great opening remarks, and then the panels were really timely and action-oriented.
I gave the overview of Latin America. I come on at around the 1 hour and 5 minute mark in this video.
Many thanks to Mexico’s Universidad Iberoamericana, who along with several other groups organized a May 21-22 conference in Mexico City on the need for civilians to be in charge of security, at a time when it is militarizing throughout Latin America.
They asked me to give a talk about citizen security and the military’s involvement, region-wide. And they gave me 45 minutes to do it. And then they produced this high-quality video, showing all 77 of my slides and sign language for the hearing-impaired. Very impressive.
I think I did a decent job here. The video is in Spanish, with optional closed-caption subtitles (again, very impressive).
Go to the New York Times right now, and there’s a video on the front page from Tijuana, where I spent the last 2 days. Look really closely and you can see me very briefly, lurking by the San Diego-Tijuana port of entry very early Wednesday morning:
Here’s a video from yesterday, in which WOLA’s president, Matt Clausen, and I do more than lurk. An 18-minute discussion of border security and our trip, filmed as a “Facebook Live” right next to where the border wall hits the Pacific Ocean.
I’ll post more when I have a chance to write, hopefully in the airport this evening, I’m flying back to Washington overnight.
Last week I sat down with my WOLA colleague Gimena Sánchez and with Lisa Haugaard, director of the Latin America Working Group, to talk about the state of Colombia’s peace accord implementation. All three of us had done recent fieldwork there.
Last week, WOLA posted to YouTube the five-plus-hour video of our October 16 conference, “Staying on Course: Security, Coca, Justice, and Accord Implementation in Colombia.” There, you can see the entirety of the outstanding panels in which visiting experts from Colombia talked about transitional justice, coca, and the security situation. Note that it’s in both English and Spanish—we didn’t have the capability to record and dub in the interpreter’s feed.
Filmmakers Tom Laffay, Emily Wright, and Daniel Bustos were in town this evening to screen their 20-minute documentary, “They’re Killing Us,” with lots of footage from Cauca, Colombia in the months after the FARC guerrillas disarmed. The film debuted on the website of The Atlantic at the end of May.
The video states that one social leader is being killed every four days in post-conflict Colombia. In the last few months, though, it’s more like one every day and a half to two days.
I’m pleased, at least, that the film drew a capacity crowd in the Busboys and Poets restaurant’s event space, in Washington’s U Street neighborhood, on a rainy Wednesday night. They had to turn people away for lack of space.