- The U.S. government skipped two hearings of the OAS Inter-American Commission on Human Rights about the Trump administration’s migration policies, including the controversial executive orders halting refugee arrivals and travelers from six Islamic nations. The hearings, taking place only 6 blocks from the State Department, went ahead with a row of empty chairs where U.S. government representatives would sit. The Los Angeles Times notes that the no-show was the second this week, after the administration boycotted a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council.
- The Washington Post speculates that the Trump administration’s treatment of Mexico may undo military and police cooperation that was “at a historic high.” President Obama’s last NSC director for the Western Hemisphere, Mark Feierstein, tells the Post’s Josh Partlow that “The Obama White House was in ‘pretty advanced conversations’ with Mexico on plans to increase cooperation on eradicating poppy plants and helping farmers to cultivate alternative crops.”
- Greg Weeks of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte obtained a copy of a 1992 book by Gen. Rick Waddell, the official now in his second full week occupying Feierstein’s old NSC position in the Trump administration. On his Two Weeks Notice blog, Weeks doesn’t hold back: “Waddell’s intelligence comes through. He’s a really smart individual. But he reveals a rigid vision of the political world that seems untouched by counter-evidence and is accompanied by quite open contempt for those who disagree. This might make him an excellent Trump official.”
- “[President Trump] presented to me his worries about the situation in Venezuela,” Chilean President Michelle Bachelet said of a March 19 phone conversation.
- WOLA is not the only observer publishing concerns about the impact on Latin America of the Trump administration’s proposed aid cuts. Longtime Miami Herald columnist Andrés Oppenheimer worries that slashing aid to the OAS will undercut regional efforts—such as they are—to help Venezuela get through its crisis and restore democracy.
- Unnamed Colombian officials interviewed by Mexico’s newsweekly Proceso say “they expect, of course, more pressure from the United States to go back to spraying coca leaves with glyphosate.… But those same sources think that… Trump’s isolationist policies won’t make the task easy.” They cite in particular the Trump administration’s proposed foreign aid cuts: “The United States still has a lot of capacity to exert pressure, but a reduction in economic aid would also reduce that capacity.”
- On coca-growing, analyst Daniel Rico tells El Tiempo that he is seeing a new phenomenon in Colombia: “clusters” of small coca fields all owned and worked by the same “criminal businessman.” Rico says that to an outside observer, these “macro-cultivators” look just like the “micro-cultivators,” or small family coca farmers: both are groups of small coca plots. Nobody’s planting a single field all the way to the horizon.
- Two profiles this week of former Latin American leaders living in the United States to escape corruption charges, while U.S. authorities consider extradition requests from their governments. Panama’s last president Ricardo Martinelli is profiled by Bloomberg. Colombia’s former agriculture minister Andrés Felipe Arias, who was so close to ex-president Álvaro Uribe that his nickname was “Uribito,” is the subject of a Miami Herald article. Both are in south Florida.
March 22, 2017 — 0