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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October 2018

Some articles I found interesting this morning

(Even more here)

October 11, 2018

supuesta “campaña de falsedades” que “adelanta Colombia” y Estados Unidos

Western Hemisphere Regional

The migrant men have told authorities there was no attack on the agent who killed Claudia Patricia Gómez González, according to the Guatemalan Consul

The committee released statistics showing that 2,654 children had been separated from their parents under the zero-tolerance policy. The panel said 2,337 had been reunited with parents


Soldiers are not itching for power. More likely, they would restrain Jair Bolsonaro

Levantamento inédito contabilizou relatos de agressões e ameaças contra pessoas em 18 estados e no DF nos últimos dez dias; 6 apoiadores do candidato do PSL também foram agredidos

Bolsonaro’s recent surge has also seen him gaining support across social and cultural lines, including from some unlikely-seeming celebrities

Brazil, Venezuela

Between them, Eduardo and Jair Bolsonaro have sent more than 50 Venezuela-themed tweets this year, most flagging up the supposed socialist threat to Brazil


Luego de conocerse la petición de la ONU de retirar a los militares de los barrios de Medellín, EL COLOMBIANO consultó en la Comuna 13 sobre el tema. Allí prefieren la presencia militar

Members also voiced concern over the departure of several former FARC members from training and reintegration zones, emphasizing the urgent need to ensure the resumption of economic activities in affected areas on a larger scale

El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras

Our policy with regard to CICIG in Guatemala has not changed. The United States supports CICIG reforms, as has been noted previously, and we maintain that position


It is unclear whether MPs will be patrolling the beaches, as they do at some other Mexican resorts

Precisó que el primer día de su mandato, 1 de diciembre, lanzará una convocatoria pública a los jóvenes para sumarse a esas instancias y desde allí contribuir “a serenar al país”

Mexico, Western Hemisphere Regional

Durante tres días, los integrantes de la CMDA abordaron temas como ayuda humanitaria, perspectiva de género, protección ambiental y resiliencia climática, evolución en el papel de las fuerzas armadas y búsqueda y rescate


La escritora Gioconda Belli manifestó que la censura mediática del régimen de Daniel Ortega es mayor que en la dictadura somocista, porque en el pasado los periodistas tenían acceso a los juicios políticos y no existía un monólogo


The Councilor said he was being “threatened” and told that the only way he could get out of prison was to name Julio Borges, the exiled leader of Primero Justicia, as the organizer of the drone attack

In Washington, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a statement condemning “the Maduro regime’s involvement” in Alban’s death

Indicó que este será un cuerpo policial “muy especializado” que se ocupará de “atender la realidad en la frontera” y hacer frente a una

The day ahead: October 11, 2018

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

I have a full complement of meetings, calls, and interviews until mid-afternoon, after which I’ll mainly be helping prepare for the arrival of the large group of Colombian colleagues who’ll be here next week to participate in a conference and lots of side meetings.

The new Brazil

From Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept:

Last week, one candidate from Bolsonaro’s party, Rodrigo Amorim, shocked and disgusted even some far-right supporters. Wearing a t-shirt with a pistol pointed forward, he took, destroyed, and then on social media proudly displayed an unofficial street sign made to commemorate the life of Marielle Franco, the black, LGBT human rights activist from the favelas who, as a leftist City Councilwoman, was assassinated in March, with her police-linked killers still apprehended. …The last line of his social media post – now deleted – read: “Get ready left-wingers: your days are numbered if we’re in charge.”

Last night, Amorim not only was elected to the State House in Rio, but was the most-voted candidate in the state. The other Bolsonaro-aligned candidate promoted there, Daniel Silveira, an officer with Brazil’s military police, was elected to the Federal Congress.

The day ahead: October 10, 2018

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

Ever have most of your meeting requests and commitments gravitate toward one day on your calendar? That’s today for me. I’m in meetings and conference calls continuously, with perhaps a half-hour break, between 9:00 and 7:00 today. I’ll be hard to contact and barely checking e-mail. Tomorrow will be better.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Fabio Cuttica photo at UNHCR. Caption: “Over 4,000 Venezuelans enter Colombia every day. Thousands do it on foot, crossing Simón Bolívar International Bridge.”

(Even more here)

October 9, 2018


  • Brian Winter, What to Expect From Jair Bolsonaro (Americas Quarterly, October 9, 2018).

    Bolsonaro will have extraordinary power to act as he chooses, at least at first. After the crisis of recent years, many Brazilians see democracy as a synonym for chaos, corruption and leniency with criminals

  • Jeffrey W Rubin, In Brazil and the Us, Democracy Is at a Crossroads (The Guardian (Uk), October 9, 2018).

    As I spoke with Brazilians, I found myself repeatedly ticking off the many similarities between the two countries’ trajectories. And wondering, are there common forces that produced such similar results


  • Joe Parkin Daniels, Hector Abad: ‘Do Not Sink Into Rancour’ (The Guardian (Uk), October 9, 2018).

    Abad’s new novel, The Farm, follows a family as it struggles to live among guerrillas, paramilitaries, army soldiers and drug lords

Colombia, Venezuela

  • Maria Isabel Rueda, ‘Colombia Debe Renovar su Capacidad Ofensiva’: Francisco Santos (El Tiempo (Colombia), October 9, 2018).

    “Es que la industria de la droga cambió. Hoy hay cultivos de 40, 50, 70 hectáreas. Que no son propiamente de un pequeño campesino, sino cultivos narcoindustriales que la única manera de poder erradicar eficientemente es mediante la fumigación”

  • Marta Martinez, Unhcr to Intensify Aid to Venezuelans in Colombia (UN High Commissioner for Refugees, October 9, 2018).

    Nearly 400,000 Venezuelans have obtained permits to legally work and access social services in the country, according to the Colombian government


  • Alan Feuer, Who Will Testify Against el Chapo at Trial? (The New York Times, October 9, 2018).

    Two big drug dealers. A corrupt official. The government has sought to protect the identities of witnesses against the drug lord, but some possibilities are known


  • Elecciones en Puno: Walter Aduviri al Poder (La Republica (Peru), October 9, 2018).

    Para el exlíder aimara, su despedazamiento fue la sentencia de siete años de cárcel que le dieron por los disturbios del 2011 y que el pasado 05 de octubre fue anulada por la Corte Suprema

Western Hemisphere Regional

The day ahead: October 9, 2018

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

I’ve got weekly and planning meetings in the office until around lunchtime. In the afternoon I’ll be reachable as I help prepare for the conference we’re holding in a week and finish my nearly done draft of a giant report on Colombia.

The day ahead: October 8, 2018

With the office closed, I’m intermittently available today. (How to contact me)

It’s Columbus Day / Indigenous People’s Day, and WOLA’s office building is closed. So is my kid’s school. So I’ll be at home alternating between “family time” and writing a big report about Colombia.

Weekly Update #7 is out

Here’s the latest. It’s got links to three analyses of Colombia I published last week. A conference announcement. Event announcements, music, and links to some great writing by others.

To get these in your e-mail, just add your name and e-mail here, and look for the confirmation e-mail in your inbox. I promise never to share your e-mail address with anyone.

Big Colombia conference is 9 days away: Tuesday the 16th

I’m really looking forward to having this group here. RSVP here, at WOLA’s website.

Staying on Course: Security, Coca, Justice, and Accord Implementation in Colombia

Tuesday, October 16, 2018, 8:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
 Root Room, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace,
 1779 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington DC

Two years after Colombia signed a historic peace accord with the FARC, Latin America’s largest guerrilla group, much is uncertain. Amid uneven implementation of the accord, armed and criminal groups—some made up of demobilized guerrillas—are filling territorial vacuums and encroaching on ethnic-minority communities. Murders of independent social leaders have reached epidemic proportions. A new president who had led opposition to the accord seeks to make adjustments. Complex transitional-justice cases are just getting started. Coca cultivation has reached new records. Negotiations with the ELN guerrilla group are stalled. Meanwhile, most messages from the U.S. government are about coca and the crisis in neighboring Venezuela—not consolidation of peace.

WOLA is pleased to bring to Washington a remarkable group of leaders, practitioners, and experts from Colombia. They will dive deeply into these and other current challenges in an all-day event, open to the public.

Light lunch, coffee, and simultaneous translation will be provided. Video will be available at WOLA’s website ( after the event.

Tentative Agenda 

8:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. 
Registration and Coffee

9:00 a.m. – 9:15 a.m.
Introductory Remarks

9:15 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. 
Panel: Colombia’s Transitional Justice System

  • Julieta Lemaitre Ripoll, president, Chamber for Recognition of Truth, Responsibility, and Determination of Acts and Conducts, Special Jurisdiction for Peace, Bogotá, Colombia
  • Patricia Tobón, commissioner, Commission for the Clarification of Truth, Coexistence and Non-Repetition, Bogotá, Colombia
  • María Camila Moreno, director, International Center for Transitional Justice, Bogotá, Colombia
  • ModeratorGimena Sanchez-Garzoli, director, Colombia Program, Washington Office on Latin America

11:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. 

11:15 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. 
Panel: Coca, Eradication, Substitution

  • Pedro Arenas, coordinator, Observatory of Crops and Cultivators Declared Illicit, Bogotá, Colombia
  • Ariel Ávila, deputy director, Peace and Reconciliation Foundation, Bogotá, Colombia
  • Invited Speaker from coca growers’ organization, via Skype, Colombia
  • ModeratorAdam Isacson, director, Defense Oversight Program, Washington Office on Latin America

1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. 

2:00 p.m. – 3:45 p.m. 
Panel: Security Dynamics, Peace Accord Implementation, and the ELN

  • Claudia López, former Senator and vice-presidential candidate now spokesperson, Anti-Corruption Consultation; program manager, Peace and Reconciliation Foundation, Bogotá, Colombia
  • Danilo Rueda, human rights defender, Inter-Ecclesiastical Committee for Justice and Peace, Bogotá, Colombia
  • Kyle Johnson, senior analyst for Colombia, International Crisis Group, Bogotá, Colombia
  • ModeratorMariano Aguirre Ernst, peacebuilding senior advisor, Office of the Resident Coordinator, United Nations, Bogotá, Colombia

3:45 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Closing Remarks

Latin America-related events in Washington this week

Wednesday, October 10

  • 9:00–11:00 at the Inter-American Dialogue: Mexico’s Security Crisis: What Lies Ahead for AMLO? (RSVP required).
  • 6:00–8:00 at the Wilson Center: AMLO and the Outlook for North American Free Trade (RSVP required).

Friday, October 12

  • 10:00–12:00 at the Wilson Center: Will Brazil Go Right or Left? (RSVP required).
  • 10:30–12:00 at CSIS: Venezuela as a Narco State (RSVP required).
  • 11:30–1:00 at the Wilson Center: Looking Out: New Survey Reveals Views in Argentina of Trade, Great Power Relations (RSVP required).
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.