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Weekly adamisacson.com - Issue #38

Weekly adamisacson.com - Issue #38
By Weekly adamisacson.com • Issue #38 • View online
Happy Thanksgiving if you’re reading this in the United States (or are a U.S. citizen elsewhere). If you’re not, then, well, “happy next Thursday.”
Pandemic Thanksgiving means just my wife, daughter, and me eating turkey at home while Zooming and FaceTiming relatives. Including my Mom and stepdad who are 45 minutes away in the suburbs, but it’s just too risky to spend hours together indoors right now. I hope that if you celebrate the holiday, you do so with similar safety, but that you feel accompanied.
It’s a rough start to what will be a rough winter in the northern hemisphere. As of this weekend, we’ve entered the 2 months of the year with the least daylight, and it’s all too noticeable. We should all make a point to go out for a walk each day while it’s light out. (I’ve been bad at this, so I’m writing this for me, too.) At least in 30 days, the days will start getting longer again.

Wola Podcast—the Transition: U.S. Credibility, Cooperation, and a Changed Tone
I thought it would be a good idea to record a few podcasts with colleagues at WOLA to talk about what this U.S. presidential transition means for Washington’s relations with Latin America. Here’s the first of what should be a series of four: more of an overall view of what Biden can do in a context of diminished U.S. standing and credibility in the region.
The United States is in the transition period between the Biden and Trump administrations. For U.S.-Latin American relations, this will mean a sharp shift between two very different visions of how Washington should work with the hemisphere.
The shift will be sharp in some ways, at least—but not across the board: even amid a changed tone, there may be some surprising continuities. And the United States, beset domestically with political polarization, human rights controversies, and mismanagement of a public health emergency, suffers from reduced influence and credibility in the region.
It’s a complex moment. Discussing it in this episode are WOLA’s President, Geoff Thale; Vice President for Programs Maureen Meyer; Director for Drug Policy and the Andes John Walsh; Senior Fellow Jo-Marie Burt; and Venezuela Program Assistant Kristin Martinez-Gugerli.
This is the first of a few discussions in which the podcast will talk about the transition. In coming weeks we plan to cover migration and border security; anti-corruption; and the state of human rights and democracy.
Listen to WOLA’s Latin America Today podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotifyiHeartRadio, or wherever you subscribe to podcasts. The main feed is here.
Graphics that depict what's going on at the border
Late Thursday, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) released a pile of data about migration and drug seizures at the U.S.-Mexico border in October. 
Here are some key trends. Click on any graphic to expand in a new window. You can download a PDF packet of more than 30 of these infographics at bit.ly/wola_border.
The Trump administration has been around for 46 months (yes I know). Of those 46, October 2020 saw the 7th largest number of undocumented migrants apprehended at the border. And now they can’t blame it on “loopholes” or agents being constrained. They’re implementing some of the hardest-line anti-migration tactics ever, express-expelling most everybody, including asylum seekers, under a March 2020 CDC quarantine order.
The Trump administration has been around for 46 months (yes I know). Of those 46, October 2020 saw the 7th largest number of undocumented migrants apprehended at the border. And now they can’t blame it on “loopholes” or agents being constrained. They’re implementing some of the hardest-line anti-migration tactics ever, express-expelling most everybody, including asylum seekers, under a March 2020 CDC quarantine order.
Under the CDC border closure, US authorities have now express-expelled undocumented migrants 266,367 times. (The actual number of individual people is fewer, because some have been caught more than once.) At least 13,000 of those expelled were children who arrived unaccompanied, and were pushed back to their home countries unaccompanied.
Under the CDC border closure, US authorities have now express-expelled undocumented migrants 266,367 times. (The actual number of individual people is fewer, because some have been caught more than once.) At least 13,000 of those expelled were children who arrived unaccompanied, and were pushed back to their home countries unaccompanied.
Border Patrol is apprehending more single adults than at any time in the past decade. While there’s double-counting here because “expelled” migrants often make a second or third attempt quickly, this is a dramatic change in the profile of migrants. Many of them may be deportees seeking to reunite with spouses, children, or other family members. Nearly all seek to avoid apprehension, which means it’s likely that more will die of dehydration or exposure in deserts and other wilderness areas.
Border Patrol is apprehending more single adults than at any time in the past decade. While there’s double-counting here because “expelled” migrants often make a second or third attempt quickly, this is a dramatic change in the profile of migrants. Many of them may be deportees seeking to reunite with spouses, children, or other family members. Nearly all seek to avoid apprehension, which means it’s likely that more will die of dehydration or exposure in deserts and other wilderness areas.
For much of the 2010s, a large number—often a majority—of apprehended migrants were children and families, usually seeking to be apprehended in order to petition for asylum or other protection. Draconian Trump policies like “Remain in Mexico” reduced child and family asylum-seeking migration—but it has been slowly recovering in recent months.
For much of the 2010s, a large number—often a majority—of apprehended migrants were children and families, usually seeking to be apprehended in order to petition for asylum or other protection. Draconian Trump policies like “Remain in Mexico” reduced child and family asylum-seeking migration—but it has been slowly recovering in recent months.
Expulsions mean it’s virtually impossible for a parent or child who needs protection to do so by approaching a port of entry (official border crossing).
Expulsions mean it’s virtually impossible for a parent or child who needs protection to do so by approaching a port of entry (official border crossing).
Mexico’s migrant apprehensions recovered in September to pre-pandemic levels. The overwhelming majority are from Central America.
Mexico’s migrant apprehensions recovered in September to pre-pandemic levels. The overwhelming majority are from Central America.
After a pandemic lull, applications for asylum before Mexico’s refugee agency COMAR recovered to early 2020 levels in October.
After a pandemic lull, applications for asylum before Mexico’s refugee agency COMAR recovered to early 2020 levels in October.
Something is up with drug seizures. I had to increase the y-axis on three of these charts because of a big jump from September to October. Nearly all seizures occurred at ports of entry where CBP officers inspect vehicles, not between the ports where Border Patrol operates.
Something is up with drug seizures. I had to increase the y-axis on three of these charts because of a big jump from September to October. Nearly all seizures occurred at ports of entry where CBP officers inspect vehicles, not between the ports where Border Patrol operates.
Colombia peace update: week of November 15, 2020
In this edition:
  • Four ex-FARC members killed in a week
  • Security Forces kill top “paramilitary” and capture a FARC dissident; a second dissident is killed in Venezuela
  • Military questioned for misogynistic chants
Weekly border update: November 20, 2020
In this edition:
  • October sees another big jump in undocumented migration
  • Court says unaccompanied children can’t be expelled
  • Speculation about what Biden might do with the border wall
Two interviews from last Thursday
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.
‎WPFW - On The Margin: On The Margin - Thursday, November 19, 2020 on Apple Podcasts
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.
Gustau Alegret
Se cumple un año desde el primer caso de #COVID19, tiempo durante el que gobiernos han recurrido a la militarización de la seguridad pública. ¿Hay riesgo de que esas funciones no regresen a los cuerpos de seguridad civil? ▶️ Adam Isacson (@adam_wola), especialista de @WOLA_org https://t.co/kSNlPBpcpD
5 links from the past week
  • A country that won’t take dramatic action after 250,000 people die from a pandemic also won’t take dramatic action after 2.5 million weapons are smuggled from its legal gun dealers across the border into Mexico, just over the past 10 years.
  • 5,400 words in English about Colombia’s false positives scandal, the ups and downs of the country’s armed forces, and the struggle of the victims? Yes, please. The Guardian’s latest “long read” is a great piece by Mariana Palau.
  • Two of the profession’s most trusted and cited border and migration reporters, Alfredo Corchado and Dianne Solís at The Dallas Morning Newsdig into the likelihood that the Biden administration will truly undo the Trump administration’s hardline policies. This analysis will lower your expectations.
  • It’s more than just climate change. Writing between two brutal hurricanes, El Faro’sCarlos Martínez draws a direct parallel between Honduras’s endemic corruption and the amount of damage that a storm can do. Pair that with this analysis of Honduras’s “murky” police reform and pervasive mistrust of government, by Marna Shorack, Elizabeth G. Kennedy, and Amelia Frank-Vitale at NACLA.
  • In an excellent four-part series, Nicaragua’s Expediente Público talks to experts and social movement leaders to figure out what it would take to reimagine and reform the country’s police force in an eventual post-Ortega context.
Latin America-related online events this week
I’ll be on the Thursday (Thanksgiving) morning Friedrich Ebert Foundation “Red Latinoamericana de Seguridad Incluyente y Sostenible” panel, talking about post-Trump U.S.-Latin American relations.
Monday, November 23
  • 9:00-10:30 at Zoom: Segundo Congreso de la Red Latinoamericana de Seguridad Incluyente y Sostenible “Desafíos de la Seguridad en Tiempos de Crisis Múltiples” (RSVP required).
  • 12:00-1:30 at Facebook Live: Conversatorio: La verdad es un acto de justicia.
  • 1:00-2:00 at wilsoncenter.org: DOJ’s Role in Fighting Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Money Laundering in Latin America (RSVP required).
  • 1:30-3:00 at Zoom: Segundo Congreso de la Red Latinoamericana de Seguridad Incluyente y Sostenible “Desafíos de la Seguridad en Tiempos de Crisis Múltiples” (RSVP required).
  • 5:00 at atlanticcouncil.org: Latin America and the Caribbean’s COVID-19 recovery: A conversation with IDB President Mauricio Claver-Carone (RSVP required).
  • 6:30-7:30 at gwu.edu: The Future of US-Latin American Relations Under the Biden Administration (RSVP required).
Tuesday, November 24
  • 9:00-10:30 at Zoom: Segundo Congreso de la Red Latinoamericana de Seguridad Incluyente y Sostenible “Desafíos de la Seguridad en Tiempos de Crisis Múltiples” (RSVP required).
  • 9:00-10:30 at wilsoncenter.org: Brazil, No Longer the Country of Impunity? The Lessons of Operation Car Wash (RSVP required).
  • 11:00 at Zoom: Deadly Trade: How European and Israeli weapons exports are accelerating violence in Mexico (RSVP required).
  • 1:00-2:15 at brookings.edu: The Biden presidency and the future of America’s ‘forever wars’ (RSVP required).
  • 3:00 at atlanticcouncil.org: Thriving amid COVID-19: Illicit trade in Latin America and the Caribbean(RSVP required).
  • 5:00 at Zoom: Participación Política de Mujeres Afrodescendientes en América Latina y el Caribe: Retos y Oportunidades (RSVP required).
  • 4:00-5:30 at Zoom: Segundo Congreso de la Red Latinoamericana de Seguridad Incluyente y Sostenible “Desafíos de la Seguridad en Tiempos de Crisis Múltiples” (RSVP required).
Wednesday, November 25
  • 9:00-10:30 at Zoom: Segundo Congreso de la Red Latinoamericana de Seguridad Incluyente y Sostenible “Desafíos de la Seguridad en Tiempos de Crisis Múltiples” (RSVP required).
  • 11:00 at Zoom: Coca and Capitalism in Cauca (RSVP required).
  • 2:00 at Zoom: Los Golpistas, la Democracia y los Jóvenes que la Podrían Salvar (RSVP required).
  • 3:00-4:30 at Zoom: Segundo Congreso de la Red Latinoamericana de Seguridad Incluyente y Sostenible “Desafíos de la Seguridad en Tiempos de Crisis Múltiples” (RSVP required).
Thursday, November 26
  • 9:00-10:30 at Zoom: Segundo Congreso de la Red Latinoamericana de Seguridad Incluyente y Sostenible “Desafíos de la Seguridad en Tiempos de Crisis Múltiples” (RSVP required).
  • 4:00-5:30 at Zoom: Segundo Congreso de la Red Latinoamericana de Seguridad Incluyente y Sostenible “Desafíos de la Seguridad en Tiempos de Crisis Múltiples” (RSVP required).
  • 8:00PM at Facebook Live and YouTube: Las Violencias del Racismo.
Friday, November 27
A few tweets that made me laugh this week
https://twitter.com/The_Pesky_Red/status/1327345861773455367
https://twitter.com/The_Pesky_Red/status/1327345861773455367
https://twitter.com/KenJennings/status/1329130318519959555
https://twitter.com/KenJennings/status/1329130318519959555
https://twitter.com/SunsetSoFresh/status/1330336116378116107
https://twitter.com/SunsetSoFresh/status/1330336116378116107
https://twitter.com/KarlreMarks/status/1330055980441358337
https://twitter.com/KarlreMarks/status/1330055980441358337
https://twitter.com/KevinFarzad/status/1329582663028543490
https://twitter.com/KevinFarzad/status/1329582663028543490
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