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 2019

The day ahead: August 30, 2019

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

I’m suddenly on two writing deadlines. One for a U.S. newspaper that asked me to pitch them a column on Colombia’s latest crisis. (I barfed up 2,200 words last night and need to cut that by over a third very quickly, it’s due this morning.) One for a Colombian publication on the current status of civil-military relations. I’ve also got meetings scheduled with a scholar of Colombia’s peace process, and via Skype with colleagues in South America who work on defense issues.

As a result, I probably won’t be responding to messages until mid-afternoon. Usually, the Friday before Labor Day is quiet in Washington. Not this time.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

EFE photo at El País (Spain). Caption: “Iván Márquez (centro) lee un manifiesto acompañado de Jesús Santrich. En vídeo, un resumen de las declaraciones del exjefe negociador de las FARC.”

(Even more here)

August 29, 2019


El exjefe negociador de la extinta guerrilla, en paradero desconocido desde hace un año, reaparece en un vídeo en el que junto con otros exlíderes anuncia una nueva etapa de lucha

Disidencias de las Farc retoman las armas: En un video supuestamente grabado en el Inírida, Márquez aseguró que comenzaba una segunda Marquetalia

Por ahora, no se sabe con cuántos hombres contará esta guerrilla, tampoco qué pasó con otros excomandantes guerrilleros que no aparecieron en el video y, mucho menos, dónde operará las nuevas Farc

La Alta Consejería presidencial para la Estabilización, en cabeza de Emilio Archila, está pensando dejar a la Unodc solo con la verificación, un cambio muy grande

De los 281 municipios priorizados para el postconflicto por la Fundación Paz y Reconciliación – Pares, hay un grupo de 123 donde antes operaban las FARC y que han sido copados por grupos armados ilegales y organizaciones criminales

El gobierno podría cantar victoria porque hay indicadores que han venido bajando, pero gran parte de ese bajonazo obedece a que actores criminales o ganaron la guerra (las zonas de las Farc) o pactaron entre ellos y lo que vemos ahora es una expansión silenciosa

El Salvador

La Policía del segundo gobierno del FMLN permitió la existencia de grupos de exterminio que persiguieron, torturaron y ejecutaron a decenas de salvadoreños en el marco de la guerra contra las pandillas


El informe temático Guatemala: un Estado capturado, ofrece a la sociedad guatemalteca una interpretación analítica de la captura y cooptación del Estado a manos de distintas expresiones de Cuerpos Ilegales y Aparatos Clandestinos de Seguridad


Ante el primer informe de gobierno del presidente mexicano, analizamos las políticas y reveses de su gestión

The alleged legal violations include denying asylum seekers’ rights and knowingly putting them at risk of physical harm — against federal regulations and the Immigration and Nationality Act

Some people sent to wait in the Mexican border cities of Nuevo Laredo and Matamoros said they never requested asylum

Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, led a group of 23 of his Democratic Senate colleagues in calling on the Trump administration to stop restricting access to the U.S. asylum system by ending its Remain in Mexico policy


His offer of amnesty was a message to Mr. Maduro after both countries’ leaders described high-level talks that Mr. Abrams unequivocally said did not happen

The day ahead: August 29, 2019

I’m mostly around, but doing interviews and on a writing deadline. (How to contact me)

I’m finishing a piece about Colombia’s military today, working on our report based on our Mexico-Guatemala border trip 2 weeks ago, and doing a lot of press, and statement-writing, about the defection of a top former FARC leader from the peace process. In the office all day.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Carolyn Van Houten photo at The Washington Post. Caption: “Replacement of existing barriers is underway on the U.S. border with Mexico on Aug. 23 near Calexico.”

(Even more here)

August 28, 2019

Western Hemisphere Regional

Latin America’s wild race to democracy has failed to overcome the region’s difficult history. The wounds left unattended—inequality, injustice, corruption, violence—are powerful catalysts for discontent

To fund temporary locations for court hearings for asylum-seekers along the southern border, ICE would gain $155 million, all from FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund

He also has told worried subordinates that he will pardon them of any potential wrongdoing should they have to break laws to get the barriers built quickly

The increase in miles of border wall was approved after “lower than expected” contract costs for the previously approved 129 miles of border wall under former acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan


Employees of the country’s main environmental agency, Ibama, said their mission had been hobbled in recent years as a result of budget cuts, a thinner presence in remote areas, attacks on enforcement personnel, as well as political interference and a weakening of environmental regulations


Con ese asesinato ya son 37 los indígenas del norte del Cauca que han sido víctimas fatales en lo corrido del año, a lo que se suman las amenazas contra 55 de ellos y atentados contra otros ocho

Colombia registra un incremento en los combates en los últimos meses. Gobierno afirma que cumple con proteger a las comunidades, expertos indican que es un retroceso para las regiones


The CICIG assisted in filing more than 120 cases in the Guatemalan justice system, implicating more than 1,540 people, with some 660 people currently facing charges or another type of legal process

Celebró que en sus relaciones con Estados Unidos se dejó de hablar de Guatemala como un “tercer país seguro”, pero reclamó que no tiene detalles del convenio que el gobierno de Jimmy Morales firmó con el de Donald Trump


Tony had a proposal for the mayor: give money to the National Party campaign for his brother, who was running for re-election in Congress, and the then-candidate for president, Porfirio Lobo. In return, Tony would provide protection for Ardón and his trafficking network


A empujones y golpes, los elementos federales rompieron el bloqueo que mantenían los migrantes, dejando a varios africanos y los dos periodistas heridos

El diputado del PT, Óscar González Yáñez, aseguró que si no se regula a los medios de comunicación, estos se van a convertir en un instrumento fundamental de la derecha en las elecciones federales del 2021 y del 2024

The attack, along with the killing of 19 people in the western city of Uruapan earlier this month, is likely to renew fears that the violence of the 2006-2012 drug war has returned

To date, there are at least 141 publicly reported cases of rape, kidnapping, sexual exploitation, violent assault, and targeting by persecutors, of individuals returned to Mexico

About 4,500 of them have been sent to Nuevo Laredo, where mayhem is rampant and extorting migrants has become the cartel’s latest income stream


U.S. officials supplied Panama’s border security force, SENAFRONT, with the devices that capture fingerprints, photographs and iris scans to process the influx of migrants showing up at the Peñitas camp

Ecuador, Venezuela

Ecuador’s entry restrictions arise, in part, out of the prevalent social polarization and xenophobia against Venezuelan migrants and refugees in Ecuador

Colombia, Venezuela

Charge d’Affaires James Story will oversee the Venezuela Affairs Unit (VAU), which is located at the U.S. Embassy in Bogota?, Colombia

The day ahead: August 28, 2019

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

Another late-August day with few meetings or commitments. I made huge progress writing two documents about Colombia and the border yesterday, and expect to do so again today. The only plan for today is just to keep making the cursor move from left to right.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

(Even more here)

August 27, 2019

Alberto Pradilla photo at Animal Político (Mexico). Caption: “Del otro lado, elementos federales y militares formaron una valla.”

Western Hemisphere Regional

While the federal immigration agency appeared pleased with its progress, the 60-mile development represents just over 13 percent of the 450 miles of border wall Trump has vowed to see built by the end of 2020

During July a total of 11,804 immigrants were sent back to Mexico to await their MPP hearings. This is up from 5,161 during May and 5,883 in June


Polls suggest he could win in the first round of voting by hitting a 40% threshold with a 10-point lead over Mesa


Hours after leaders of some of the world’s wealthiest countries pledged more than $22 million to help combat fires in the Amazon rainforest, Brazil’s government angrily rejected the offer, in effect telling the other nations to mind their own business

Less obvious are the ways the conflagration stems from years of slashing government budgets for the environment and dismantling support for indigenous and traditional subsistence communities


En Latinoamérica, como regla general, las Comisiones de la Verdad y las Fuerzas Militares estuvieron siempre divorciadas. En Colombia, sin embargo, no hay divorcio a la vista

Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela

As the deadline neared, many Venezuelans in Ecuador rushed home to retrieve family members. Thousands more rushed east from their homes in Venezuela, eager to start a life in Ecuador that would soon be much harder to achieve

El Salvador

Como resultado de la investigación que se desarrolló en los departamentos de Ahuachapán, Usulután, San Vicente, San Miguel y Morazán, se conoció que existe un 82 % de nivel de afectación por la sequía


In Haiti, he said, bandits are everywhere — in the city, in the countryside, the slums and the villas — and Haitians must continue to “fight mercilessly against bandits and traffickers of all kinds”


Illegal timber and drug trafficking are closely linked in northeastern Honduras, a major cocaine corridor in this region. There, criminal groups have savvily combined these two businesses to maximize their illicit profits


Decenas de migrantes africanos bloquearon durante horas las entradas a la estación Siglo XXI, en Tapachula, Chiapas. Solo impidieron el paso a los funcionarios del INM

Cartels tend to use these coastal plains for purposes like transporting drugs — or as the DEA notes, dumping bodies clandestinely. And they put a premium at keeping migrants away

U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco, who represents the federal government before the court, urged the justices to issue an administrative stay on a ruling by a judge in San Francisco

Univision Noticias visitó cinco albergues en Tijuana. En todos, los encargados denuncian que funcionan por el apoyo de organizaciones que hacen donaciones o realizan jornadas médicas, educativas y legales


El programa mínimo de una Coalición Nacional debe incluir la creación de la CICIN, para ayudar a desmantelar las estructuras dictatoriales


La represión aumenta en los barrios pobres a manos de las Fuerzas de Acciones Especiales, una unidad de la Policía Nacional creada por Maduro, que acumula centenares de denuncias por supuestas ejecuciones extrajudiciales

The day ahead: August 27, 2019

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

The week before Labor Day is usually a quiet one in Washington, and I hope to spend it writing. Ideally, dividing the day between writing a piece about Colombia’s military and moving ahead a report on our Mexico-Guatemala border trip. Other than a mid-day phone meeting, I’ll be in the office doing that.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

From Efecto Cocuyo (Venezuela).

(Even more here)

August 26, 2019

Western Hemisphere Regional

U.S. Customs and Border Protection will soon construct a 160-foot surveillance tower capable of continuously monitoring every person and vehicle within a radius of up to 7.5 miles

California’s battle with the Trump administration over immigration heats up as it sues to stop prolonged detention of migrant children and families


It may take up to 200 years for the forests in Bolivia to heal


Military officials said they had deployed two C-130 cargo planes equipped with firefighting tools to the state of Rondônia and were assessing how many of the nearly 44,000 troops based in the Amazon area to mobilize

In Novo Progresso, as in many parts of Brazil, there is strong support for President Jair Bolsonaro’s policy on the Amazon, which prioritizes economic development over environmental protections


SEMANA revela los detalles del pliego de cargos que compromete a altos oficiales que lideraron una persecución dentro del Ejército. Entre ellos a su comandante, el general Nicacio Martínez

El Ejército no está siendo transparente con el país y, además, varios de sus miembros de alto rango han dado declaraciones falsas a los medios de comunicación

El exdirector del Centro Nacional de Memoria Histórica y doctor en Sociología analiza las implicaciones de un documento militar revelado por el diario español “El País”, en que se ordena seguir una “Narrativa Marco del Conflicto Armado”

Fue interceptado el vehículo en el que se desplaza Emiro del Carmen Ropero, conocido como ‘Rubén Zamora’, excomandante del frente 33 de las Farc y hoy candidato a la Asamblea departamental

The killings have sparked fears of an organized assassination campaign like the one carried out against the left-wing Patriotic Union (UP) party in the late 1980s

Desde el acuerdo de paz con las Farc, la violencia contra estas comunidades, lejos de reducirse, ha aumentado. Esta situación ha encendido las alarmas de las organizaciones sociales, que hablan de una crisis humanitaria sin precedentes

Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela

Unos 7.000 venezolanos llegaron este viernes, 23 de agosto, a la frontera internacional entre Colombia y Ecuador, tres días antes de la entrada en vigor de una visa humanitaria ecuatoriana


The president-elect’s resume casts doubt on the public security policies that his administration may enact


Hundreds of thousands of guns sold in the United States vanish because of loose American gun laws. Many reappear in Jamaica, turning its streets into battlefields


Decenas de africanos que huyeron de sus países duermen en tiendas de campaña en el exterior del centro de detención. Entre ellos hay niños y mujeres embarazadas, que exigen un documento que les permita seguir su camino

De acuerdo con el medio Milenio, el coronel murió en un enfrentamiento con un grupo armado. Según Reforma, hay versiones que indican que el coronel fue emboscado por un grupo armado


Foro Penal contabiliza 501 presos políticos hasta este lunes, 26 de agosto. De estos, 36 son mujeres, 107 efectivos militares y solo 20 detenidos por razones políticas han sido condenados

El problema pasa por situarse en un modo distinto ante el otro y ante la idea misma de un pacto. Hay que entender y aceptar que ninguno de los sectores en pugna obtendrá realmente lo que quiere, lo que busca, lo que necesita

The day ahead: August 26, 2019

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

My schedule is all booked up today: a weekly staff meeting, a dentist appointment, lunch with a European diplomat, a call with a former intern, coffee with a reporter, and a call with attorneys litigating some of Trump’s migration policies. I won’t be in my office or at my desk at all today.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

(Even more here)

August 23, 2019

Western Hemisphere Regional

Pentagon officials are open to the idea of deploying reconnaissance planes and drones built for war to the U.S.-Mexico border, according to a new cache of documents obtained by Newsweek

U.S. District Judge Dolly M. Gee, who oversees the Flores agreement, last year refused the government’s request to permit the long-term detention of families, on the grounds that it is harmful to children. She’s unlikely to allow it now

The idea, the official added, was to skirt Congress by instituting the change in the form of a regulation, while creating yet another pretext for assailing lawmakers for their failure to take some radical action of their own


From January to July, fires consumed 4.6 million acres of the Brazilian Amazon, a 62 percent increase compared to last year


El alto consejero para la estabilización y la consolidación le respondió a parlamentarios de la U, Cambio Radical, el Polo y el Partido Liberal, entre otros, acerca del estado de implementación de los acuerdos

Se refieren al daño que los hechos de corrupción le están haciendo a las instituciones militares

Narcotráfico, explotación ilícita de oro y extorsiones son las rentas criminales que persigue el Eln en el norte del país. Ya puede cruzar desde Chocó hasta Venezuela

Cuba, Venezuela

Imposing surveillance, fear and repression, Cuba helped Venezuela revamp its armed forces and military intelligence service. Reuters reveals how two agreements, undisclosed since 2008, let Havana remake Venezuela’s security apparatus

El Salvador

In the land of Mano Dura, those who talk about an alternative risk getting burned—not just by a vengeful state but by the bloodthirsty gangs themselves


Tres de los jueces que han conocido casos investigados por el Ministerio Público (MP) y la Comisión Internacional Contra la Impunidad en Guatemala (CICIG) hablaron ayer sobre los riesgos que representa su trabajo y señalaron que el Organismo Judicial (OJ) no ha atendido las denuncias por amenazas

La Comisión Internacional Contra la Impunidad de Guatemala (Cicig), creada por las Naciones Unidas para fortalecer el débil sistema de justicia guatemalteco, echó este miércoles el cierre a sus actividades en el país centroamericano tras 12 años

Jimmy Morales, el impopular presidente guatemalteco, llegó para confirmar que trasladaría su embajada de Tel Aviv a Jerusalén


El Diagnóstico resalta que el presupuesto asignado para este año, de 207.6 millones de pesos, era muy inferior a lo canalizado en años anteriores, y corresponde “al 64% del gasto previsto y monto inferior a lo ejercido en 2018 y 2017”

Preguntarse por qué sus países y México no se han tocado el corazón para darles una respuesta, una certeza, es necesario

Mexican immigration officials have scuttled some of those plans by implementing caps on the number of people that can be returned to the country, limiting the hours when they can be sent back, and refusing to take asylum-seekers on Sundays


El presidente panameño, Laurentino Cortizo, descartó este miércoles la posibilidad de firmar un acuerdo que convierta a Panamá en un “tercer país seguro” para albergar migrantes

The day ahead: August 23, 2019

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

On this August Friday, I’ll be in the office working on two writing projects. I’ll be on a few calls in the early afternoon but otherwise should be reachable if needed.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Planet Labs photo at The Wall Street Journal. Caption: “Satellite image of Para, Brazil, taken on Tuesday.”

(Even more here)

August 22, 2019

Western Hemisphere Regional

The Trump Administration’s effort to deter migrants by creating harsh conditions at the border may ease the flow in the short term, but any long-term solution will require much broader cooperation with the world to the south


Local newspapers say farmers in some regions are organising “fire days” to take advantage of weaker enforcement by the authorities

Indigenous communities face their most severe threat since military rulers bulldozed highways through the region nearly five decades ago

Witzel said in July that police should lose their “fear of killing.” Bolsonaro said this month that with a new law he backs, criminals “are going to die in the street like cockroaches”


Aunque un documento filtrado esta semana, que da cuenta de esos esfuerzos dentro de la institución, ha causado revuelo, la desconfianza, en este caso particular, nos parece infundada

El núcleo de la Reforma Rural Integral (RRI) está en riesgo por la falta de claridad del gobierno


While the decline is impacting the state tourism sector, it is also hurting the many restaurants, bed-and-breakfasts and taxi drivers in the fledgling Cuban private sector that the United States says it wants to support


Todo indica que cuando gobierne Guatemala, la seguridad económica y física de sus ciudadanos podría empeorar


El 30 de octubre de 2014, seis civiles murieron en un operativo en Luvianos, Estado de México. La CNDH rechaza la versión ofrecida por los militares y dice que las víctimas no dispararon

Los inmigrantes protestaron frente a la estación migratoria Siglo XXI en Tapachula, Chiapas, argumentando que llevan dos meses varados sin solución a su estadía en el país

Nearly a quarter of participants reported experiencing physical violence, including beatings, thefts, and kidnappings, en route through Mexico. Sexual violence was also rampant

Zenén Nava Sánchez, El Chaparro, líder del grupo delincuencial Los Jefes, que actualmente mantiene una confrontación con la banda de Los Ardillos, que dirige la familia del diputado local perredista Bernardo Ortega Jiménez, por el control del municipio de Chilapa

he municipality has barely managed to put five portable toilets in the park, leaving most of the immigrants to seek help from church programs while walking the streets in search of jobs, food or a shelter


Más de 20 exmilitares en cargos de Gobierno y de negocios en Albanisa


Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met Wednesday with Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodríguez in Moscow, where the two held the latest in a series of bilateral talks

The humanitarian toll of U.S. sanctions is mounting, and Guaidó’s association with Trump has become his greatest liability

The Trump administration’s hostility to immigration and to foreign aid spending overall clashes openly with the effort to procure regime change via the economic strangulation of the Maduro government

Si los venezolanos-estadounidenses aceptan que ellos y sus familias tienen que seguir sufriendo bajo un régimen criminal con una nueva cara para presionar a Cuba, un presidente Cabello quizás le saldría bien a Trump

Faller afirmó que los países de la región están ante el desafío de unirse para responder conjuntamente ante las amenazas a la paz regional, entre las que citó la crisis venezolana

The day ahead: August 22, 2019

Other than a brief period mid-day, I’ll be hard to reach today. (How to contact me)

I’ve got an internal meeting, two Skype calls with colleagues in Colombia, and a State Department meeting on the calendar today. All are Colombia-related. Other than that, I may be reachable around lunchtime.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Jose A. Iglesias photo at The Miami Herald. Caption: “Cuban migrants check their status on the list posted by the entrance to the Gateway International Bridge in Matamoros, Mexico.”

(Even more here)

August 21, 2019

Western Hemisphere Regional

The Trump administration plans to issue a new policy that would deny work permits to asylum-seekers who cross the border without authorization as well as those who are convicted of a felony, and significantly delay when those qualified to apply for a permit can do so

As early as Wednesday, the Department of Homeland Security is expected to issue a sweeping new set of regulations for detaining migrant children, replacing more than two decades of protections


EL PAÍS buscó comunicarse con la Dirección de Comunicaciones Estratégicas del Ejército para conocer cómo garantizará que esta directriz no incida en los relatos que los militares cuentan ante la Comisión y la JEP, sin obtener respuesta

Para las instituciones oficiales, la labor se está haciendo bien. Sin embargo para las organizaciones sociales como la Fundación Sumapaz, la impunidad en estos crímenes ronda el 95%.

El sector donde ocurrió la masacre hace parte de una zona recreativa con espacios naturales para acampar

Cuba, Mexico

Long lists of papers taped to window panes hold the names of thousands of migrants waiting their turn to ask for U.S. asylum. The largest number of asylum seekers by far are Cubans, followed by Venezuelans and Nicaraguans


Fifteen police officers from the municipality of Madera, Chihuahua, in northern Mexico, were arrested on August 15 during a joint operation by state and federal agencies

In the first ruling of its kind, the district court in Mexico City granted permission for the pair to “possess, transport and use cocaine”—but not sell it

Las agresiones se suscitaron en nueve estados; dos víctimas fallecieron a manos de sus parejas y el crimen organizado mató a una alcaldesa


Al menos siete personas murieron en las elecciones municipales de 2017. Así que no es alejado de la realidad creer que el régimen orteguista enviará a sus “Batallones de la paz” a imponer el terror en las urnas


Acting homeland security secretary Kevin McAleenan will travel to Panama City on Wednesday to meet with the country’s newly elected president, Laurentino Cortizo

The day ahead: August 21, 2019

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

No meetings or events on my calendar today. I’ll be (still) catching up on correspondence from my weeks of travel, and doing some writing.

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