Fox News itself has covered the threats in different ways. After senior administration officials testified at a Senate hearing last week about ISIS, an article on FoxNews.com about the testimony ran under the headline ‘D.H.S. Confirms ISIS Planning Infiltration of U.S. Southern Border.’ An article on Fox News Latino about the same hearing had the headline: ‘ISIS Terrorists Not Sneaking Over U.S. Southern Border With Mexico, D.H.S. Officials Tell Congress.’

Five links from the past week

The veteran Colombia-based reporter explores a thorny dilemma. Right-wing paramilitary leaders who demobilized in a mid-2000s transitional justice arrangement are leaving prison after eight years of time served, even before their cases are judged. This is outrageous, but to keep them longer would send a terrible message to left-wing guerrillas currently negotiating their own demobilization.

A favela pacification program has been going on for more than five years in Rio de Janeiro. But gang dominance, state neglect, and brazen drug dealing are unchanged in the city’s less centrally located slums, where police work continues to be a violent slog.

This conservative editorial from Argentina’s most-circulated daily worries that President Cristina Fernández’s government is weakening defense capacity at the same time that it pushes the military to play new internal, even political, roles. It claims that the country’s Air Force has less than five working fighter jets and one working transport plane, yet the military’s intelligence budget has “multiplied by exponential levels.”

A narrative of the May-to-July odyssey of two Salvadoran children whose mother paid a smuggler US$10,000 to bring to the United States. They meet corrupt Mexican cops, get kidnapped and released, end up in Border Patrol custody, and are reunited (via Miami) with family in North Carolina, where they’re awaiting their immigration court date. A good multimedia feature maps all this out.

After a bomb in the Santiago subway injures about a dozen people, the author challenges the application of a Pinochet-era antiterrorism law against the still-unidentified perpetrators. “The decision to judge an act as ‘terrorist’ is the choice to live in a world where, without knowing how or why or when, we authorize the police and prosecutors to do things in a manner that we usually consider unacceptable.”

Obama Vows To Split ISIS Into Dozens Of Extremist Splinter Groups

Today’s best analysis of the United States’ newest war comes from The Onion.

In a step-by-step series of maps, Mexico’s Animal Político follows the May 1 - July 13 journey of two Salvadoran kids whose mother paid a smuggler US$10,000 to bring them to the United States. The accompanying article (Spanish) is here.

In a step-by-step series of maps, Mexico’s Animal Político follows the May 1 - July 13 journey of two Salvadoran kids whose mother paid a smuggler US$10,000 to bring them to the United States. The accompanying article (Spanish) is here.

Five Links from the Past Week

A look at possible changes in the FARC guerrillas’ negotiating team, plus peace-related tensions within Colombia’s military. El Espectador is doing the most thorough reporting about Colombia’s peace process, usually with a couple of stories like this one each week. (See also “Hablándole a la tropa.”)

It’s a silly argument, and Professor Weeks takes it apart, reminding us that it’s not about Venezuela, it’s not about CELAC, it’s not about trade, or China, or substance-free official visits.

A detailed account of the web of corruption that ex-Guatemalan Army Captain Byron Lima dominated from his luxurious prison cell, despite serving time for killing a bishop who published a human rights report in 1998. Explains how the innovative UN prosecutorial body in Guatemala, the CICIG, built its case against Lima.

It looks like Evo Morales will be headed for a third term after October 12 elections. If you haven’t followed Bolivia closely lately, AIN gives a quick but comprehensive overview of why Morales is doing well politically, as well as the poor state of U.S.-Bolivia relations.

An overview of the latest challenges from the First Capital Command (PCC), Brazil’s powerful, prison-based, mostly unopposed organized crime syndicate. “They are not so much a rapacious band of thugs as a kind of inmate shadow government.”

A chart in La Prensa shows (in local currency) the remarkable recent growth in Nicaragua’s defense budget. Much of this spending has gone to arms purchases from Russia. Neighboring Costa Rica’s government has voiced public concern about these purchases, as the two countries have difficult relations after a series of border disputes.

A chart in La Prensa shows (in local currency) the remarkable recent growth in Nicaragua’s defense budget. Much of this spending has gone to arms purchases from Russia. Neighboring Costa Rica’s government has voiced public concern about these purchases, as the two countries have difficult relations after a series of border disputes.

U.S. Southern Command published a burst of six news releases yesterday covering military exercises and exchanges with four different Latin American countries.

Chile: Texas Nat’l Guard, Chilean special ops conduct paratrooper training in Texas
Guatemala: Southern Partnership Station engagement mission in Guatemala completed
Guatemala: US military, Guatemalan doctors provide care in rural Guatemalan village
Honduras: Southern Partnership Station 2014 continues in Honduras
Honduras: DoD Official: JTF-Bravo on the leading edge in Central America
Peru: USS America visits Peru for final stop of maiden transit
This illustrates the continued breadth and depth—despite budget cuts—of U.S. military-to-military engagement in Latin America. In some of these countries, it’s fair to wonder whether civilian-to-civilian government engagement is this robust.

U.S. Southern Command published a burst of six news releases yesterday covering military exercises and exchanges with four different Latin American countries.

This illustrates the continued breadth and depth—despite budget cuts—of U.S. military-to-military engagement in Latin America. In some of these countries, it’s fair to wonder whether civilian-to-civilian government engagement is this robust.

"Hang on! I’m going to speed up," says Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos in this El Tiempo cartoon.

While government officials have begun referring to peace talks with the FARC as “in the home stretch” or “in a definitive phase,” the guerrillas say there is a long way to go.

"Hang on! I’m going to speed up," says Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos in this El Tiempo cartoon.

While government officials have begun referring to peace talks with the FARC as “in the home stretch” or “in a definitive phase,” the guerrillas say there is a long way to go.

Are ISIS terrorists in Mexico, preparing to attack the United States? U.S. officials say, ‘no,’ but not everyone believes that’s the case.

From Fox News Houston, which goes on to cite no evidence whatsoever.

In fact, the brutal fundamentalist group has so far showed almost no interest in attacking the United States on its soil, as the New York Times observed last week.

ISIS had so far consistently focused on what militants call “the near enemy” — leaders of Muslim countries like Bashar al-Assad of Syria — and not “the far enemy” of the United States and Europe. … Nowhere in the hourlong [ISIS video] production — full of threats, drive-by shootings, explosions and gunfights — does an ISIS fighter mention the United States or directly mention or threaten Israel.

Five Links from the Past Week

From an excellent series in which the veteran Mexico correspondent travels the length of the train routes used by Central American migrants. Along with the Associated Press, Corchado finds that the route has become more dangerous because of Mexico’s new, U.S.-backed southern border security strategy. Animal Político reviews what is new in that strategy.

Mexico also just launched its Gendarmería, a 5,000-person mobile, sort of paramilitary police unit, a watered-down version of something that President Enrique Peña Nieto had proposed during the 2012 campaign. Flannery reviews coverage and commentary. See also Alejandro Hope wondering what the Gendarmería’s purpose is, and Fundar raising human rights and civil-military relations concerns.

In a cover story that rocked Colombian politics this week, a computer hacker detained for his role in illegal communications intercepts alleges that the campaign of President Juan Manuel Santos’s right-wing opponents, along with some military officers, urged him to hack into the e-mail accounts of government peace negotiators and even the President.

The Havana peace talks between Colombia’s government and the FARC guerrillas are structured so that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.” This means that although agreements exist on three agenda items, aspects of them are not fully settled. López, a Cuban analyst who clearly has some access to the private proceedings, lists 28 topics that are currently “in the freezer” to be revisited later. See also the sober but optimistic analysis of the talks—-which are actually at a high point right now—-in this El Espectador interview with Georgetown University’s Marc Chernick, who has been studying Colombia since 1980.

No Latin American leader had a worse week than Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff. Five weeks before the presidential vote, her reelection no longer looks inevitable: she’s tied in the polls and the economy is now officially in recession.

Colombia’s House of Representatives held a hearing yesterday on legislation that would weaken civilian courts’ jurisdiction over human rights abuses committed by the armed forces.

Here, a mother testifies about the case of her son, who was extrajudicially executed by military personnel.

(From the Twitter feed of Colombian activist Pablo Calá.)

Colombia’s House of Representatives held a hearing yesterday on legislation that would weaken civilian courts’ jurisdiction over human rights abuses committed by the armed forces.

Here, a mother testifies about the case of her son, who was extrajudicially executed by military personnel.

(From the Twitter feed of Colombian activist Pablo Calá.)

Confidencial runs photos of a Nicaraguan Army exhibition at which soldiers let children handle, and pretend to shoot, military weaponry like this Soviet-made SAM-7 anti-aircraft missile launcher.

Confidencial runs photos of a Nicaraguan Army exhibition at which soldiers let children handle, and pretend to shoot, military weaponry like this Soviet-made SAM-7 anti-aircraft missile launcher.

borderfactcheck:

Is the U.S.-Mexico Border More Secure Today Than Ten Years Ago?

"We have a much more secure border today than we did ten years ago," Pryor says on a local TV talk show.

"Seriously, Senator?" the voiceover asks, incredulously, before playing the Pryor clip again.

A television ad by Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), who is campaigning to unseat Sen. David Pryor (D-Arkansas), mocks Pryor for saying that the U.S.-Mexico border is more secure today than it was ten years ago.

The Facts:

The plain answer to Cotton’s question, though, is, “Yes, seriously.” The U.S. side of the U.S.-Mexico border is significantly more secure today than it was in the mid-2000s.

Even with this year’s wave of Central American children and families, the number of undocumented migrants crossing the border today is well under half of what it was in 2004.

Our best measure of this is Border Patrol’s apprehensions of undocumented migrants. In 2004, although it had half the number of agents that it has today [PDF], Border Patrol apprehended 1,139,282 people along the U.S.-Mexico border [PDF].

image

By 2013, a far larger Border Patrol apprehended 414,397 people—-a 64-percent drop. Even if the Central America crisis increases 2014 apprehensions by 100,000 people, the resulting total would still be less than half as much as it was ten years before.

Another key security measure is violent crime. Though some Mexican border cities have suffered increases during the past decade, nearly all jurisdictions on the U.S. side have seen violent crime drop. According to FBI Uniform Crime Reporting data, U.S. counties along the Mexico border reported 5,410 violent crimes in 2004 [PDF]. In 2012, the last year for which full-year data are available, the same report found 4,582 violent crimes committed in these counties, despite notable improvements in reporting.

The only measure of border security that has not improved is drug trafficking, at least as measured by U.S. law enforcement agencies’ seizures along the southwest border. These agencies seized more of every drug, except cocaine, in 2012 than they did in 2008 [PDF].

By the other major measures, though, the U.S.-Mexico border is significantly more secure than it was ten years ago.

—-Adam Isacson

Brazil got an unusual amount of coverage, much of it rather grim, in U.S. print media outlets today.

I’m back from vacation. Look forward to posting as soon as I work through some inboxes.

I’m back from vacation. Look forward to posting as soon as I work through some inboxes.