Adam Isacson

Defense, security, borders, migration, and human rights in Latin America and the United States. May not reflect my employer’s consensus view.

August 2017

Some photos from the weekend in Cauca, Colombia

Meeting with community leaders in Alsacia, Buenos Aires, Cauca: WOLA Executive Director Matt Clausen (left), Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Massachusetts, right), Rep. McGovern’s legislative director, Cindy Buhl (second from right)

As in several parts of rural Colombia right now, coca plants are visible from the unpaved road. Locals say that many of the growers are recent arrivals from elsewhere in Colombia.

The FARC demobilization zone in Buenos Aires, Cauca, remains only semi-built. Even though the guerrillas handed over their last weapons on August 15 and are now free to go. (There were very few of them there.)

The day ahead: August 29, 2017

I’m traveling and will be hard to reach all day. (And all week.) (How to contact me)

Greetings from Bogotá. I just bid farewell to the small congressional delegation with whom I spent the weekend in northern Cauca, Colombia, and yesterday here in the capital.

I’m on my own in Bogotá for the rest of the week, with about 15 conversations scheduled so far. Right now, packing up and moving to a cheaper (non-congressional-delegation-grade) hotel.

The day ahead (behind): August 24, 2017

I’m very hard to contact today. (How to contact me)

Things are ultra-busy, as I’m accompanying a member of Congress to Colombia starting tomorrow. Still nailing down the last two high-level meetings on the agenda. I’ll be accompanying the congressperson through Monday, then will be in Bogotá the rest of the week, interviewing everyone who will talk to me.

Updates to this site will continue to be infrequent and irregular until early September!

The day ahead: August 23, 2017

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

It was a real privilege to see the total solar eclipse on Monday. My video of the “moment of totality” is below.

But it took 14 hours to drive back to Washington from western North Carolina, along with hundreds of thousands of eclipse-watchers from the northeastern United States. We arrived in Washington at 5:30AM yesterday (Tuesday). It was a difficult workday.

I’m back today, and working at home since WOLA is under renovation for the remainder of the week. I’m going to Colombia with a member of Congress on Friday, so the main thing is to nail down final details for that trip. I have calls scheduled with reporters and journalists, and a meeting with a foundation interested in Colombia, so will be hard to reach most of the day.

Watching the eclipse from Adam Isacson on Vimeo.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Eduardo Murillo / AFP / Getty Images photo at The Los Angeles Times. Caption: “A convoy carrying federal, civil and state police personnel arrives in March in Jalapa, Veracruz state. Proposed legislation aims to expand the military’s presence in public safety.”

(Even more here)

August 18, 2017

El Salvador

In total, Nalo said, ARENA and FMLN paid the three gangs $350,000


Beyond accusations of rights abuses, rights advocates and some members of Mexico’s political opposition point out that the military has failed to effectively reduce violence and organized criminal activity


El Ministro de la Defensa, Vladimir Padrino López, aseguró que los integrantes de la Fuerza Armada Nacional (FAN) recibieron la orden preparatoria de tomar las armas, de cara a una posible intervención armada por parte del Gobierno de Estados Unidos

The raid came just as a so-called truth commission established by the constituyente announced investigations into Julio Borges, president of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, and Freddy Guevara, the assembly’s vice president

Maduro loyalists issued a new arrest warrant for one prominent legislator and vowed to remove his immunity from prosecution in a case that could become a model for targeting other critics

Western Hemisphere Regional

Mr Trump is seen as something of a paper tiger

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Esteban Felix/AP photo at The Washington Post. Caption: “Vice President Pence meets with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet on Wednesday in Santiago.”

(Even more here)

August 17, 2017

Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Panama

The trip, which he cut short by one day to return to Washington to discuss South Asia strategy at Camp David, focuses on trade


Brazil’s fragile democracy is under assault. The country is reeling from a series of political and economic crises, including the spread of unprecedented corruption scandals, the impeachment of former president Dilma Rousseff, and three years of recession

The unanimous decision – which went against the state of Mato Grosso do Sul – settled a dispute over land traditionally occupied by indigenous people and ordered the authorities to respect the demarcation


Lo único que hicimos fue suscribir un acto en el que consta que son 135 folios

Desde hoy, estos sitios se convertirán en lugares para el desarrollo económico y social. ¿Qué tan preparadas están las autoridades?

Además de estar coordinadas, están permitiendo la entrada al negocio de nuevos grupos que se están armando en Solano, al pie del río Caquetá, que se ha convertido en la arteria de este nuevo auge del narcotráfico

Se pretende que estos 26 lugares tengan una presencia policial de al menos 3 años a partir de esta semana

  • ¡ Aguzate ! (Somos Defensores (Colombia), August 17, 2017).

Entre enero y junio de 2017, el Sistema de Información de Agresiones contra defensores de DD.HH. en Colombia – SIADDHH, registró un total de 335 agresiones individuales contra defensores(as)

Cuba, Venezuela

“Why did Mr. Maduro go?” Capriles added in a video posted Wednesday on Periscope. “To hand over more of our oil? To commit our armed forces even more, asking for reinforcements from the Cuban military”


Attackers stormed one of Guatemala’s largest hospitals with guns blazing Wednesday to free an imprisoned gang member


El ombudsman recordó que, si bien es “insensato que se retiren las fuerzas armadas en estos momentos de la seguridad”, el gobierno federal debe trabajar en un plan de retorno “verificable”

The Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez Human Rights Center (Prodh) said in June that there had been serious flaws in investigations into the case involving the deaths of 22 people in the city of Tlatlaya

Hasta la publicación de este informe se han registrado 8 homicidios de periodistas, cifra que rebasa la del año pasado, cuando se registraron 7


Opposition candidates running in Venezuela’s October gubernatorial elections will be investigated to make sure none were involved in violent political protests this year

Officers clad in black entered her home and took away several computers

The last time the United States used military forces in Latin America was in Panama, nearly three decades ago. Mr. Trump seems unaware that the hemisphere has fundamentally changed

President Trump said he was considering a “military option,” but the best U.S. intervention may be none at all

Western Hemisphere Regional

CBP and ICE don’t know how many additional personnel they need, and it will be three or four years before those agencies will complete calculating those figures

“As I hope my presence today demonstrates, ‘America first’ does not mean America alone.”

Again and again, the vice president’s statements have sounded somewhat discordant from the ones his boss has been delivering back home in the United States

The day ahead: August 17, 2017

I am most reachable late morning and early afternoon. (How to contact me)

Today’s my daughter’s 13th birthday. Morning pancakes have been made, and we’re having a nice dinner starting late afternoon. In between, I’m working, but at home, since my office is being painted and re-carpeted. Finishing an article and doing Colombia research.

I’ll be off tomorrow—we’re headed south for the weekend so that we can see Monday’s solar eclipse in totality. This site may not get many updates.


Colombians complain constantly about their government’s ossified bureaucracy. But when they get a chance to approach a problem in a new way—with a sweeping peace accord—this is what happens:

In the executive branch, there are at least six entities or authorities with competencies related to the illicit crops issue, including the Defense Ministry. In addition, there are three different “directorates” with similar functions—in the Vice-Presidency, in the Ministry of Justice, and in the High Presidential Ministry for the Post-Conflict. To these must be added the challenges of effectively articulating the PNIS [National Integral Program for Substitution of Illicitly Used Crops] with the Territorial Renovation Agency in the framework of the implementation of the Development Programs with a Territorial Focus (PDET), as well as with the Land Agency, the Rural Development Agency, and the Agriculture Ministry itself.

That’s from page 14 of a July report from Colombia’s Ideas for Peace Foundation think-tank.

Colombia’s peace accord provides a huge opportunity to reverse generations-old failings that hold back the country’s development. Especially the lawlessness and abandonment in the countryside that enable coca cultivation.

But if this soup of agencies with unclear mandates and poor coordination is what’s going to implement the accord’s coca provisions—well, we can predict the outcome, can’t we.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

(Even more here)

August 16, 2017

Argentina, Colombia, Venezuela, Western Hemisphere Regional

Pence sought to soothe U.S. allies across the hemisphere, including Argentina, that reacted with alarm to Trump’s threat late last week


Morales accused developed countries of pushing “colonial environmentalism” in Bolivia


Para se ter uma ideia do tamanho do problema, as dez regiões mais violentas do estado ocupam 23 quilômetros quadrados — maior que o município de Nilópolis


I consider this is an important figure, which shows that there has definitely been an exhaustive process of the abandonment of weapons, not only a process of abandoning individual arms, but also an exhaustive process of abandoning everything

Ivan Marquez took advantage of the media attention on Tuesday’s ceremony to preview what he said is likely to be the name of the former rebels’ new political movement: the Revolutionary Alternative Force of Colombia

Denunciaron que la Unidad Nacional de Protección les ha ido retirando progresivamente los esquemas de seguridad que les había adjudicado de tiempo atrás

Even local newspapers had different priorities. Pope Francis is coming in a few weeks, for example

Colombia, Venezuela

I will always be grateful for Chávez and Maduro’s contributions to my country’s peace. But I can never acquiesce to the suppression of freedom and the violation of citizens’ rights anywhere

El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras

As of Wednesday, the Department of Homeland Security is ending a program begun in 2014 that gave some children and young adults who had failed to qualify for refugee status permission to enter the United States

Guyana, Venezuela

“They were desperate,” he told the Miami Herald. “They were here for some time and they showed me a can of sardines and the place where they had cooked it over a fire”


Gonzalez is now Mexico’s law enforcement emissary in Washington


Arteaga was beaten with his instrument by officials, leaving him hard of hearing

Because Marcano is an opposition mayor, that regime recently ordered his arrest for not stopping the protests in his city. In fact, it summarily convicted Marcano and sentenced him to 15 months in prison. And it got worse

Western Hemisphere Regional

Warnings from Rosenberg and others at the DEA that the gang, which draws Central American teenagers for most of its recruits, is not one of the biggest players when it comes to distributing and selling narcotics

The day ahead: August 16, 2017

I may be briefly reachable in the mid-afternoon. (How to contact me)

I’ve got a Senate meeting to talk border security, a State Department meeting to talk human rights and security assistance, and a late-afternoon “orientation” meeting at my kid’s school. In between I’ll be making preparations for my end-of-month trip to Colombia.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

(Even more here)

August 15, 2017


The results indicate that the governing coalition will pick up seats in both houses of Congress, where no party currently has a majority, in October´s election


O local é um ponto turístico, procurado por visitantes brasileiros e estrangeiros depois que a comunidade recebeu a primeira das Unidades de Polícia Pacificadora (UPPs)

Brazil, Colombia, Peru

The air forces of Colombia, Peru, and Brazil decided to make the most of the cooperation and the structure of the exercise to involve the civilian population in this activity


Desde ahora los esfuerzos se concentrarán en la reincorporación

Los excombatientes seguirán viviendo allí mientras se alfabetizan, homologan conocimientos y estudian

Las zonas veredales también le dieron munición a los opositores del proceso de paz, y a las Farc

Por este afluente, que es el límite del Chocó y el Valle del Cauca, 433 indígenas y negros se desplazaron hacia las cabeceras municipales de Buenaventura y de Litoral del San Juan

Colombia, Venezuela

During our talks, I had the chance to explain to Vice President Pence the specific plan that we’ve put in motion in order to do away with — or to disappear 100,000 hectares of coca shrub

Increasingly, they are coming to eat in one of a half-dozen facilities offering struggling Venezuelans a free plate of food


The fact that both countries agreed to keep the alleged attacks and the expulsion of Cuban diplomats quiet suggests neither wanted the issue to get out of hand


By the end of the year, support for civil safety — soldiers aiding the police — will end


En la grabación se entiende que los efectivos intentaban quitarle la calzoneta al individuo -hasta el momento no identificado- en medio de varios pobladores que se oponían a la acción


Marc Short, a top White House aide, recently pitched congressional staff on including some border wall funding that would be used for a “double fence” in exchange for more spending on domestic programs

Authorities had stopped more than 30 tractor-trailers since October in the Rio Grande Valley. That doesn’t include Laredo

En declaraciones juramentadas, altos ex ejecutivos de Odebrecht colocan fechas, nombres, cantidades, cuentas bancarias. Ahí aparece Emilio Lozoya Austin, ex director de Petróleos Mexicanos

Nicaragua, Venezuela

La embajadora de los Estados Unidos en Nicaragua, Laura Dogu, aseguró este lunes que la defensa del gobierno del presidente designado Daniel Ortega a Venezuela podría impactar en la aprobación de la Nica Act


The “civic-military” exercises are due to take place on 26-27 August

“Yo le pido a la Comisión de la Justicia y la Paz que por favor inicie un proceso ante los vende patria que han salido a pedir la intervención de Venezuela y a apoyar la amenaza de Donald Trump contra la paz de la república, lo pido oficialmente”

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said on Monday the United States would bring all its economic and diplomatic power to bear to see democracy restored in Venezuela, saying a failed state there threatens Americans

“Behind the white supremacists is the power that has taken over the White House and the venues where decisions are made by the North American imperialists,” Maduro said

Venezuela, Western Hemisphere Regional

Many of the countries now rejecting Mr. Trump’s use of military force were themselves invaded by the United States

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