Image from the Justice-State inspectors-general report on Honduras (PDF).

  • The Trump administration’s budget request to Congress, issued May 23, has a lot of bad news for Latin America. The foreign assistance request would slash aid to the region by 35 percent. The Homeland Security request would build 74 miles of border wall and hire 500 new Border Patrol agents. The request will now undergo a long march through the Republican-majority Congress, which should soften (if not totally undo) the cuts. Here’s WOLA’s analysis, in written/graphical and podcast form. Here’s coverage from Reuters, El Tiempo (Colombia), Proceso (Mexico), and La Prensa (Nicaragua).
  • A report issued jointly by the State and Justice Departments’ inspectors-general [PDF], the product of years of work, confirms the worst of what many of us suspected about three 2012 incidents in Honduras, in which DEA personnel working with Honduran security forces participated in events involving use of lethal force. In the most notorious of these, a shooting on a remote river in the town of Ahuas, four innocent civilians died. The report documents rather shocking levels of non-cooperation on the part of DEA and State Department officials, including long delays in responding to inquiries and the passing of misleading information to the U.S. ambassador and to members of Congress.
  • 58,706 Haitian citizens have been living in the United States under the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program since the 2010 earthquake. This status expires in July. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly just granted them six more months, with instructions “to handle their affairs” and prepare massively to leave the United States in January. The Haitians’ situation is seen as a preview of what may happen to 263,000 Salvadorans and 86,000 Hondurans whose TPS is to expire early next year.
  • Mexico’s defense and navy secretaries were in Washington May 23 for a trilateral meeting with U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Canadian Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan. Releases were vague on what specifically they talked about.
  • Several days earlier, Mexico’s foreign affairs and interior secretaries were in Washington for talks with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary Kelly. They were talking about improving cooperation against transnational organized crime, and presumably against production of heroin in Mexico. A joint press conference was cordial but announced no new initiatives.
  • Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos paid a visit to Washington where he met for the first time with Donald Trump. The meeting was cordial, as were Santos’s meetings with members of Congress, although Santos heard concerns about rising coca cultivation in Colombia. Santos did not get from Trump a ringing endorsement of the November 2016 peace accord with the FARC guerrillas, though Trump, in response to a reporter’s question, assured that “There’s nothing tougher than peace, and we want to make peace all over the world.”
  • The Trump administration levied sanctions against eight Venezuelan Supreme Court justices whose March decision effectively to annul the opposition-led legislature sparked protests that continue today. WOLA’s David Smilde doubts that they will be effective, and worries the sanctions may in fact increase the government’s “exit costs.” Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s eloquent response to Trump was that he “get your pig hands out of here.”
  • A Trump administration review of U.S. policy toward Cuba was expected to be complete last week, but no announcement was forthcoming. Any decision has been put off for a couple of weeks.

The following legislation moved in Congress in the past week: