Adam Isacson

Still trying to understand Latin America, my own country, and why so few consequences are intended. These views are not necessarily my employer’s.



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Some articles I found interesting this morning

(Even more here)

July 16, 2019

Western Hemisphere Regional

The move brought immediate threats of legal challenge; the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) contains broad provisions that allow foreigners who reach U.S. soil to apply for asylum if they claim a fear of persecution in their native countries

Most of his colleagues, he said, fall into one of two camps. There are the “law-and-order types” who see the immigrants in their custody, as, first and foremost, criminals. Then, he said, there are those who are “just tired of all the chaos” of a broken immigration system and “see no end in sight”

The proposal of the Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC), which represents 60 organizations from California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, seeks to expand public safety, protect human rights and welcome newcomers and border residents

Behind this week’s migrant-center horrors lies an agency plagued by years of dysfunction—and Trump is only its latest problem

UNHCR believes the rule excessively curtails the right to apply for asylum, jeopardizes the right to protection from refoulement, significantly raises the burden of proof on asylum seekers beyond the international legal standard, sharply curtails basic rights and freedoms of those who manage to meet it, and is not in line with international obligations

Mexico, Western Hemisphere Regional

The rule would effectively limit asylum protections to Mexicans and those who cross the United States’ southwestern border by sea

Central America Regional

Authorizes $577 million in foreign assistance to Central America to address the root causes of migration in Fiscal Year 2020


“The Guatemalans did not know what they were getting into,” a Trump Administration official said


Es uno de los países más pobres de América y un lugar estratégico para el narcotráfico, que ha secuestrado la institucionalidad y pervertido la economía y los equilibrios del poder

Guatemala, Mexico

The rule, announced Monday by the Trump administration, requires asylum seekers who pass through a third country to first apply for refugee status from that country rather than from the U.S.


The MPP, rather than protect migrants, puts them in grave danger. It mandates that they remain in crime-ridden Mexican border cities for months, even years


A discreet Norwegian diplomatic effort represents the best hope for breaking Venezuela’s political deadlock. To stop the country’s slide into humanitarian and economic catastrophe, pragmatic backers of both government and opposition should put aside empty hopes of outright victory and support a negotiated settlement

The day ahead: July 16, 2019

I should be reachable much of the day. (How to contact me)

I somehow managed to steer all meetings away from this Tuesday, and am writing at home all day. I’ll be checking messages intermittently.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

(Even more here)

July 11, 2019

Western Hemisphere Regional

“There is no excuse for our government being so unprepared and indifferent to refugee flows that have been steadily mounting for months,” Raskin said

“Why ever people come, they are here. I think that compassion and empathy is important to ensure they are treated humanely with dignity with respect,” Sanders told CNN

Nationwide raids to arrest thousands of members of undocumented families have been scheduled to begin Sunday, according to two current and one former homeland security officials, moving forward with a rapidly changing operation

Mexico, Western Hemisphere Regional

A migrant shelter in San Diego that a month ago was crowded with arrivals was nearly empty this week as migrant apprehensions have dropped sharply

El Salvador, Western Hemisphere Regional

What sort of person needs to see such photographs in order to know what they should already know?


Politicians, academics and writers have fled a climate of death threats and hostility reminiscent of the military dictatorship

Colombia, Venezuela

La más reciente Alerta Temprana de la Defensoría del Pueblo, en la que se reseñan 24 alertas más emitidas entre enero de 2018 y junio de 2019, detalla el corredor que esa guerrilla está creando entre cinco departamentos


En la mente enferma de los obsesos persecutores, no es posible vivir sin enemigos grandes. Desarmadas las Farc, había que crear otro monstruo que les diera una razón para odiar: el Acuerdo de Paz

El Salvador

There have been arrests of more than 4200 persons in the first four weeks of the Territorial Control Plan


The State Department warns against all travel to Tamaulipas — the same risk level it has assigned Syria and Afghanistan

InSight Crime looks at the criminal dynamics in these four border states

Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela

Nativism is on the rise. International norms and responsible politicians are helping to contain it, for now


El exjefe del Sebin se muestra calmado en la mayor parte de la charla, pero no puede evitar la incomodidad que le genera hablar de las torturas o las persecuciones del régimen

United States oil sanctions have only made the country’s people poorer and their plight more desperate

WOLA Podcast: Resisting Repression in Nicaragua

I recorded this Tuesday morning with Julio Martínez of Nicaragua’s Articulación de Movimientos Sociales. Julio was an active participant in the 2018 protest movement against the Ortega regime; he got out and is now doing graduate work in New York. Here, we talk about civil society’s fight to stop human rights abuses and restore democracy in Nicaragua, the importance of international pressure, and the alarming spread of authoritarianism throughout Central America. (Download the mp3)

The day ahead: July 11, 2019

I should be reachable in the late afternoon. (How to contact me)

I’m recording a podcast with a visitor from Guatemala, having lunch with a colleague from Colombia, and jumping on a conference call with border groups. In the latter part of the afternoon, I’ll be in the office doing some writing about Colombia. Sometime today we should be putting out a WOLA commentary about the border.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

John Gibbins photo at the San Diego Union-Tribune. Caption: “A Mexican immigration official asks asylum-seeking Cameroonians and Eritreans to move away from the entrance to an area near the port of entry where they gather people before they are transported to U.S. border officials to ask for asylum. The group wouldn’t disperse and kept the area near El Chaparral Plaza closed for several hours until its representatives could get a meeting with Mexican officials to discuss inequities and irregularities in the processing of their claims including bribery and unfair processing of the waiting list.”

(Even more here)

July 10, 2019

Western Hemisphere Regional

Last year, a mere 13 per cent of them expressed confidence in their national political parties, compared with 44 per cent who supported the armed forces

Homeland Security said the slowdown in migrants entering the country should help the department get a better handle on “capacity challenges” it has experienced in recent months

The reports from the Yuma CBP sector describe similar unsanitary and crowded conditions but go further by alleging abuse and other misconduct by CBP officers


His administration is challenging a 2015 court ruling that ended 25 years of U.S.-led flights; a decision is expected as early as this month

“Para este año, para inversión nosotros asignado $90.000 billones, para el 2020 nos anuncian $67.000 mil millones. Lo que nos implica una reducción de aproximadamente el 30%”

El hasta ahora jefe del Comando de Apoyo Integral y Desarrollo fue llamado a calificar servicios. Varios testimonios lo involucran en una especie de cartel para la venta de salvoconductos de armas, entre otras conductas irregulares

En el primer semestre de 2019 tanto los combates de la Fuerza Pública, como los enfrentamientos entre grupos armados ilegales tuvieron incrementos. El actor armado más activo fue el ELN, seguido por las disidencias de las FARC

El Salvador

The information is being provided through a new “fusion” intelligence-gathering center in El Salvador that is funded by the State Department and works in tandem with the Department of Homeland Security


In Last Chance for Justice, the organization exposes the serious setbacks and imminent risks to human rights in Guatemala as a result of measures taken by the Jimmy Morales administration, the Public Prosecutor’s Office led by Consuelo Porras, the judiciary, and the national Congress


The number of people taken into custody along the U.S. southern border fell 28 percent in June, a drop that U.S. authorities say reflects the early impact of Mexico’s crackdown on Central American migration

The 10 migrants crossed the border to seek U.S. asylum Monday and will now have to wait in Mexico as their applications are processed

An estimated 9,150 people are now waiting in the Mexican border city to request asylum in the United States

The López Obrador administration has adopted an enforcement-first approach to migration, just as previous Mexican administrations have done when faced with pressure from Washington


Costa Rica has become a precarious refuge for thousands of Nicaraguan exiles. In the streets of San José, they continue to feel President Ortega’s reach


Lowenthal and Smilde offer insights about the ways that transitions have worked in the past, with reference to specific aspects of the Venezuelan case

Mientras el ala radical de la oposición le demanda mayor dureza con el chavismo, el presidente de la Asamblea Nacional tampoco se atreve a eludir el intento de una negociación

The day ahead: July 10, 2019

I’m around for much of the day. (How to contact me)

After a meeting-filled Tuesday, I have some time today to write. I’ll be finishing a quick analysis of the mess at the border this morning. In the afternoon, I’m going to a sit-down with a group of visiting Colombian legislators, and keeping an eye on the House Oversight Committee’s border hearing.

The day ahead: July 9, 2019

I’ll be hard to reach today. (How to contact me)

I’ll be in the office at WOLA all day, but recording a podcast, meeting a visiting researcher, participating in two internal meetings, and jumping on a conference call with border advocacy groups.

Latin America-related events in Washington this week

Tuesday, July 9

Wednesday, July 10

Thursday, July 11

Friday, July 12

  • 12:00-2:00 at the Wilson Center: 25 Years Since the AMIA Bombing (RSVP required).

Some articles I found interesting this morning

(Even more here)

July 8, 2019

Western Hemisphere Regional

An out-of-the-way border station in the desert outside of El Paso has become the epicenter of outrage over the Trump administration’s policies on the southwest border


SEMANA revela audios y videos, con algunas de las pruebas de las investigaciones que se adelantan en Fiscalía y Procuraduría, en contra de generales del Ejército que terminaron desencadenando una cacería entre militares

SEMANA revela los polémicos formatos firmados por altos oficiales del Ejército en las que se comprometían a duplicar los resultados, incluidas las bajas

A cambio de reactivar esta estrategia, suspendida desde 2015 por la administración de Juan Manuel Santos, la Iglesia pidió por el cumplimiento de los acuerdos de sustitución voluntaria

La reaparición de cuerpos desmembrados en Buenaventura, decapitados en Tuluá y masacres en el Cauca hace temer que en esa región del país se reactivaron ajustes mafiosos de cuentas al peor estilo de los carteles mexicanos

Gobierno Duque sí está apoyando proceso de paz, e inclusive va más allá, dice Carlos Ruiz Massieu

El Salvador

Shootings reported as enfrentamientos, or confrontations, often mask killings of civilians and other misconduct


On June 23, Border Patrol agents found the bodies of Chicas Perez and her 18-month-old son, Denilson, along with the remains of two other children, in the brush just north of the Rio Grande outside McAllen, Texas


Al menos seis personas murieron en Honduras desde abril por el “excesivo uso de la fuerza” de militares contra manifestantes que exigen la renuncia del presidente Juan Orlando Hernández


Some evidence is emerging that fentanyl, a powerful and highly addictive synthetic opiate, is replacing heroin and other drugs, particularly on the East Coast

This sympathy has been eroded by the migrant caravans of late 2018 and early 2019, which left a bad taste in the mouth of Mexicans and caused deep divisions among pro-migrant groups

In the border city of Ciudad Juárez, where 200 to 300 migrants a day are returned to Mexico under the Migrant Protection Protocol, asylum-seekers say they feel anything but protected as drug violence escalates

Using almost a third of the National Guard’s total ranks for migration duties means fewer security forces to tackle one of Mexico’s most pressing issues, spiraling violence, which last year cost a record 33,000 lives


La Fuerza Armada Nacional, con un contenido cada vez mas radical, de carácter político partidista, en los discursos de sus mandos, se separa cada día mas de la posibilidad de establecer algún vaso comunicante con los principios de control democrático y retorno al carril constitucional

Venezuelan economist Francisco Rodriguez at New York brokerage Torino Capital set out evidence that US financial sanctions are associated with a 797,000 b/d drop in oil production, worth about $16.9bn a year

El establecimiento de una nueva mesa de diálogo entre gobierno y oposición venezolanas en Barbados abre una posibilidad de salida de la crisis, pero también de división de la oposición

Maduro applauded and pumped his fist as soldiers marched past, tanks rolled by and fighter jets streaked overhead at a Caracas military base

Solutions to bitter conflicts generally are possible when key actors on both sides are convinced that negotiating a change of regime on mutually acceptable terms is preferable to a prolonged and destructive stalemate, or the potential defeat of their side

The day ahead: July 8, 2019

I’ll be reachable in the afternoon. (How to contact me)

I’m back from a week of visiting several family members. Everyone seems to be doing well, and the summer weather cooperated. It was a good vacation.

I’ll be devoting this first day back to catching up. The morning is all staff meetings and check-ins. During the afternoon I’ll be clearing out communications and other inboxes. I’m in Washington for most of the rest of the month.

The day ahead: July 1, 2019

I’m on vacation this week. (How to contact me)

I’m spending this week, which includes a major U.S. holiday, visiting relatives. I will be difficult to contact and probably not posting here very often. I’ll be back next week.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Rhona Wise/AFP/Getty Images photo at The Washington Post. Caption: “Migrant youths at a detention center in Homestead, Fla., on Thursday.”

(Even more here)

June 28, 2019

Western Hemisphere Regional

A medical examiner says two soldiers helping secure the Mexico border in Arizona died by suicide

Speaker Nancy Pelosi capitulated to Republicans and Democratic moderates and dropped her insistence on stronger protections for migrant children in overcrowded border shelters

As migrants continue arriving at the Texas-Mexico border, drownings have spiked in recent weeks, with nine people drowning in El Paso-area canals this month alone. Border Patrol and soldiers have rescued others


Another week in Brazil, another scandal consuming the young presidency of Jair Bolsonaro


Duque señaló a la prensa desde Medellín que “a los criminales que están detrás de asesinatos de líderes sociales, excombatientes de las FARC y cualquier colombiano, los vamos a enfrentar”

Durante las últimas dos semanas, dos excombatientes de las Farc fueron asesinados en Cauca y tres en Nariño, todos de la misma forma: a disparos y por sicarios

Guatemala, Mexico

The State Department’s most recent Human Rights Reports on Guatemala and Mexico make it clear that these countries do not meet the legal standards required for safe third country agreements


Estudiantes con edades que van de los 11 a los 18 años se han unido a las protestas en un país militarizado, en el que se respira gas lacrimógeno


Los albergues de la zona norte denuncian que elementos de la Guardia Nacional quisieron entrar a las instalaciones de Agua Prieta. El gobierno no ofrece explicaciones

‘¡Ejército! ¡Están rodeados! ¡Están rodeados!’, gritan a migrantes durante operativo de detención en Palenque, Chiapas

Las autoridades no han transparentado los detalles sobre los cursos de capacitación y procesos de evaluación de los elementos de la Guardia Nacional

  • Stephania Taladrid, The Violence Beat (Columbia Journalism Review, June 28, 2019).

Since Turati began chronicling the conflict, it has claimed almost 250,000 lives. More than 40,000 people are missing

More than 6,000 migrants have been returned to Juarez so far. Most of them are poor, are staying in shelters run by churches in town, waiting for their days in court

Cartel violence in Juarez is down from its height five years ago, but it is still one of the most dangerous cities in the world


In a series of actions that began in 1999, the former lieutenant colonel and one-time coup leader began taming the military by bloating it, buying it off, politicizing it, intimidating the rank and file, and fragmenting the overall command

“La jefatura ha sido clara, todas las opciones están sobre la mesa. Y estas opciones incluyen un amplio abanico de herramientas y políticas. Ya veremos cómo se desarrollan, pero -como militar- mi trabajo es estar preparado”

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Orlando Sierra/AFP photo from Al Jazeera. Caption: “Honduran soldiers are deployed in Tegucigalpa on June 20, 2019, a day after a protest demanding the resignation of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez”

(Even more here)

June 25, 2019

Western Hemisphere Regional

Preparations that would typically take field officers six to eight weeks were compressed into a few days, and, because of Trump’s tweet, the officers would be entering communities that now knew they were coming

Advancing U.S. national interests requires a fundamental reassessment of current and recent approaches in the Americas, beginning with abandoning the policies of the current U.S. administration that are impeding effective national and regional responses to migration

US Border Patrol is holding many children, including some who are much too young to take care of themselves, in jail-like border facilities for weeks at a time without contact with family members, regular access to showers, clean clothes, toothbrushes, or proper beds. Many are sick


They called for the government to pay monetary reparations — compensation for war damages — to both sexual abuse survivors and children born as results of the abuse

El plazo para desmontar esta guarnición en El Carmen (N. de Santander) es de siete días Por supuestos casos de abusos que van desde ocupación de bienes indígenas hasta graves hechos de tortura, atribuidos a miembros de las Fuerzas Armadas, el Ejército Nacional acordó este fin de semana trasladar una base militar, ubicada en zona rural del municipio de El Carmen

La madre asesinada el viernes 21 de junio era María del Pilar Hurtado, una líder comunitaria de la Fundación de Víctimas Adelante con Fortaleza (Funviavor) del Cauca que se había desplazado a Tierralta (Córdoba) hace un año

Ya abrió siete macro casos, que involucran a más de la mitad de las 11.827 personas que se han sometido a ella, 9.704 de las Farc y 2.059 de la Fuerza Pública. La idea es abrir otros para abarcar a todos los llamados comparecientes

Colombia, Ecuador

Ecuador pone en práctica el funcionamiento de planes de interdicción a través de la flota de aviones Super Tucano, que de acuerdo con Oswaldo Jarrín, ministro de Defensa, ya ha dejado algunos resultados


A los minutos se escucharon los llantos, había varios heridos de bala, cuatro estudiantes con edades entre 21 y 22 años que fueron trasladados al Hospital Escuela, con heridas en las piernas, glúteos y otras partes de cuerpo

The White House and State Department have praised Mr. Hernández for fighting cocaine traffickers and reducing the homicide rate. U.S. diplomat Kimberly Breier thanked the president in April for “empowering Hondurans to build their future at home”

Protests against President Juan Orlando Hernandez are likely to continue as the anniversary of the 2009 coup approaches


Desde el viernes pasado diversos medios de comunicación publicaron un video que expone la tortura en contra de uno de los detenidos por el caso Ayotzinapa, Carlos Canto Salgado, por tres individuos

Monday’s press conference appeared to mark the first time Mexican officials have disclosed they were sending troops to its border with the US


Según analistas políticos, el caso de Mojica es el más importante porque la sanción es una advertencia indirecta que envía EE. UU. a los altos mandos del Ejército de Nicaragua, de que también podrían ser sancionados por su complicidad con la dictadura


Figuera arrived in the United States on Monday armed with allegations about Maduro’s government: The illicit gold deals. The Hezbollah cells working in Venezuela. The extent of Cuban influence inside Maduro’s Miraflores Palace

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Migrants who have crossed into Mexico
Encarni Pindado photo at BBC.

(Even more here)

June 24, 2019

Western Hemisphere Regional

President Trump has promoted policies that undermine all these goals, and Congress has failed to agree on a coherent vision. You can help turn that around. Here’s how

The disturbing, first-hand account of the conditions were observed by lawyers and a board-certified physician in visits last week to border patrol holding facilities in Clint, Texas, and McAllen

A chaotic scene of sickness and filth is unfolding in an overcrowded border station in Clint, Tex., where hundreds of young people who have recently crossed the border are being held

The sheer effrontery of the government’s argument may be explained, but not excused, by its long backstory

Guerra’s statement on the deaths came ten hours after the sheriff warned of a “dangerous heat advisory,” asserting that people in the area should “avoid outdoor activities”

More than 700 children were taken from their parents or, in a few cases, from other relatives between June 2018 and May 2019


Despite many questionable police killings, no Rio de Janeiro police officer has yet been convicted or jailed


SEMANA revela los detalles del cerco de amenazas y presiones sobre los militares que están denunciando los falsos positivos y actos de corrupción en el Ejército. ¿Por qué los quieren callar y qué información tienen?

Colombia, Cuba

‘Pablo Beltrán’ y el alto comisionado, Miguel Ceballos, se refirieron a esta solicitud“A nosotros nos mandaron acá en Cuba a hacer negociaciones de paz, con una agenda que ya estaba firmada y sigue firmada, nosotros nos enteramos de esa acción aquí en Cuba, por supuesto no sabíamos, nos enteramos acá”, detalló ‘Beltrán’


Este es el departamento con mayor número de víctimas y aseguran que bajo la comandancia de Nicacio Martínez, en la X Brigada Blindada, 58 personas fueron asesinadas y presentadas como exguerrilleros o extorsionistas

Arauca y Tumaco son los escenarios de hechos que dejan muchas dudas y que tendrá que investigar la Fiscalía y Procuraduría

Colombia, Venezuela

Muñoz has now spent 16 months through two presidential administrations leading his nation’s efforts to respond to the migration crisis. He is upbeat, though there are few hints that the flow of Venezuelans will stop anytime soon


Los militares que están confesando en la JEP cómo participaron en los falsos positivos son blanco de amenazas y presiones. ¿Qué están contando que es tan incómodo?

The U.S. delivered 12 Humvees to strengthen the Colombian Navy’s tactical land mobility. These vehicles will be operational in mid-June 2019


The lawn of the Nicaraguan Embassy — a launch point for migrants seeking to enter the United States via Mexico — is overflowing with visa applicants


For years, Tahoe Resources argued that there were no Xinca people left in the communities surrounding the mine who would require any consultation. They were wrong


Immigrants’ advocates anticipated that the increasing presence of security forces would continue to drive down the number of people trying to migrate north, but they expected that in time, the flows would rebound

Many of the National Guardsmen are soldiers and police officers who now wear black armbands indicating they are part of the National Guard

Belize, Guatemala, Mexico

  • Jacobo Garcia, Teresa de Miguel, Fred Ramos, El Caribe Turbio (El Pais (Spain), June 24, 2019).

Este especial describe la enigmática realidad que se levanta a pocos pasos de los centros turísticos más importantes del mundo


Photojournalist Encarni Pindado has seen the impact of the harsher policies on the people making their journey north.

The policy known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), or Remain in Mexico, will be implemented later this week in Nuevo Laredo in the northern state of Tamaulipas


Activists say six officials have been detained as President Maduro intensifies a crackdown on dissent Six members of Venezuela’s military and police have been arrested, activists say, weeks after a failed uprising against President Nicolás Maduro

There is no sign that the Trump administration set any post-conflict preparation in train before U.S. officials began issuing musing about military action, or even that they have now done so

I hope the day comes soon when we can welcome you back into our hemisphere’s professional brotherhood-of-arms. We look forward to Venezuela’s return to the family of democracies in this hemisphere

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