Adam Isacson

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


July 2019

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.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.