A horrific graphic from today’s New York Times: since 2001 about 2,100 migrants have died while crossing the Arizona border. On U.S. soil.
I’m glad the Times put a story about the migrant deaths crisis on their front page, it hasn’t been getting anywhere near the attention it deserves. Also glad they linked back to a piece I wrote about it a few weeks ago at wola.org. And that the Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office’s geo-mapped database of remains is now online.
Maybe now we can get some more momentum convincing both parties on Capitol Hill to support adding to the immigration-reform bill a relatively small amount of funding for search-and-rescue and for remains identification. Mainly because it would involve some additional cost in a time of tight budgets, this hasn’t been easy to do, despite the humanitarian emergency. Note that of the 300 proposed amendments to the bill in the Senate Judiciary Committee, none have to do with migrant deaths.
A new series from InsightCrime looks at the possibility that elements of Colombia’s FARC guerrillas might break off, or become simply “criminal bands,” during and after the peace process. Here’s a map of guerrilla fronts that InsightCrime sees as most deeply involved in drug trafficking and thus most likely to “criminalize.”
This is something analysts (including me) have been warning might happen, but Jeremy McDermott is the first to dig down and explore the “FARCRIM” phenomenon in detail. Definitely worth reading.
I haven’t read all the text yet, so it may be covered there, but I find it interesting that FARC units in the guerrillas’ traditional heartland of Caquetá, Meta and Guaviare departments — a region of heavy coca and cocaine production — do not appear on this map.
The first bit of news to emerge after our last Colombia Peace Process Update (March 27) gave cause for concern. The seventh round of talks between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas had ended with no agreement on the first of five agenda points, land and rural development. The eighth round, originally scheduled to begin April 2 in Havana, Cuba, was then delayed for three weeks. The reason given was a need for “separate work on sub-points” of the agenda, while negotiators’ support teams “continue joint work.”
In fact, the “break” between April 2 and the next round’s April 23 launch turned out to be a period of intense activity.
Read the rest at wola.org
Pretty remarkable to see this recommendation in an OAS report.
You are never going to stabilize the rural areas from the top down. We tried that for decade. You have to go in at the local level and work with the community to help them reestablish their resiliencies. —
Lt. Col. (Ret.) Scott Mann, quoted in The Tampa Tribune.
True enough. Except that the “you” in this quote refers to the U.S. military’s Special Operations Forces, who are doing more and more rural development work, including in countries where the United States is not at war.
Why Special Forces and not civilian development workers? Because the Defense Department sees “stabilization” as a core mission, and in the “war on terror” framework sees the whole world as the battlefield. And also, of course, because the Defense Department has money and USAID does not.
Walking around Santiago yesterday, I was surprised to see a prominent street in Providencia named “September 11 Avenue.”
In Chile, September 11 (which is also my birthday) has a whole other dark meaning: it was on September 11, 1973 that Gen. Augusto Pinochet and Chile’s armed forces toppled elected President Salvador Allende, ushering in a brutal 17-year dictatorship.
Anyway, I just looked it up on Wikipedia. Indeed, this street, once named Avenida Nueva Providencia, was renamed by the Pinochet regime in 1980. And the name hasn’t changed back.
Back in 1983, Elliott Abrams, the assistant secretary of state for human rights under President Ronald Reagan, once suggested that General Ríos Montt’s rule had ‘brought considerable progress’ on human rights. — Didn’t know he said that. What a bald-faced lie. Thanks to NYT’s Elisabeth Malkin for reminding us. Another reason to keep calling Washington’s airport “National Airport.”
Santiago, Chile this morning.
I was here today for a workshop on regional civil-military relations. Also (since I’m in a city where I don’t know a lot of people) I had some time in my hotel room to add 6 weeks of updates to this site’s Colombia peace dialogues timeline.
Going back home tomorrow.
I guess I’m in Chile today.
It’s only been a few years since Gen. Efraín Ríos Montt was not only judicially untouchable, but was one of Guatemala’s most powerful politicians. Backed by ultraconservative segments of Guatemala’s tiny elite, in the late 1990s he was president of the country’s Congress and leader of a dominant political party. The thought of this picture being taken — of the ex-dictator being led off to jail after a guilty verdict for the crime of genocide — was beyond imagination.
“The river-delineated border between western Brazil’s Acre province (upper left), and northwestern Bolivia’s Pando Department (lower right), demarcates a remarkable difference in land use and development practices.”
AFP photo caption in Nicaragua’s El Nuevo Diario: “A group of young people expressed their discontent about the arrival [on Friday] of President Obama to Costa Rica.”
The U.S. far right sees our president as a Muslim Socialist. The Latin American far left sees him, apparently, as a vampire. Quite a range of stereotypes.
Colombia, a distant third in population among Latin American countries, now has the region’s second-largest armed forces and its largest army. This buildup turned the tide in the conflict. But it has also altered the Colombian military’s relationship with its civilian leaders. — From a 3,500-word piece about civil-military relations in Colombia that World Politics Review published (and made available for free) yesterday.
From “Border Fact Check”: Has “lacking border security” led to a halt in commerce or a spillover of violence at the border?
“Less than 10 years ago, a trip from my home state across the border to Nuevo Laredo, one of several Mexican border cities, was routine. As a result, commerce and culture flowed across the border, benefiting both countries. Today, after years of lacking border security efforts, such travel is almost unthinkable. Sadly, the border has turned into a magnet for spillover violence from Central American drug cartels.”
— Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, in an April 23 op-ed published in Roll Call.
Rep. McCaul is correct that organized crime-related violence in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, has diminished travel to that city. Our own interviews with business, social and law enforcement leaders in Laredo, Texas found that it had been years since most had crossed the river into Nuevo Laredo.
But the Congressman, whose Austin-area district lies 250 miles from the border, leaves an incorrect impression that cross-border commerce has stopped, and that Nuevo Laredo’s violence is spilling over the border into the United States.
More at “Border Fact Check”