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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Colombia

Notes on the Colombian government’s draft decree to restart coca fumigation

On December 30 Colombia’s Ministry of Justice issued a draft decree that would allow it to re-start a U.S.-backed program of aerial herbicide fumigation in coca-growing zones. This program used aircraft to spray more than 4.4 million acres of Colombian territory between 1994 and 2015. In 2015, a UN World Health Organization literature review found […]

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Lecture: “Saving Colombia’s Fragile Peace”

Here’s a well-produced video of a lecture that I gave at Florida State University on October 30. It’s a recent iteration of my “Colombia 101” talk, covering the conflict, U.S. policy, Plan Colombia, the peace process, and today’s security challenges. It’s 55 minutes plus Q&A. The folks at FSU did a great job of integrating […]

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WOLA Podcast: Protest and Politics in Post-Conflict Colombia

In this podcast, recorded this afternoon, I talk about Colombia with my longtime WOLA colleague Gimena Sánchez-Garzoli. She explains Colombia’s four-week-old wave of social protests, and we talk about the continuing challenge of peace accord implementation, and efforts to protect social leaders. She also covers what we saw and heard during October field research in […]

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Colombia may never be the same

“Wow. It just keeps going,” I said out loud upon leaving Medellín several years ago. Our car was taking us to the airport via the city’s southeast, through El Poblado, its wealthiest sector. And as we drove, the luxury apartment buildings, shopping malls, and manicured parks kept passing by my window for what seemed like […]

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Why are homicides declining in Colombia this year?

An argument I included in Monday evening’s post, about the Colombian Defense Minister’s security performance, raised a few hackles on social media. That post cited President Iván Duque’s crediting Defense Minister Guillermo Botero for a 2 percent reduction in homicides so far in 2019, compared to the same period in 2018. To refute it, I […]

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Colombia’s Defense Minister’s indefensible record

From the legislature to the media, a lot of prominent Colombians are asking why, amid regular gaffes, human rights abuses, and evidence of deteriorating security, Defense Minister Guillermo Botero is still at his post. In an article explaining that it’s basically “Botero is ex-president Álvaro Uribe’s man in his party’s government,” the online journalism outlet […]

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Interview with “Colombia Calling” podcast

I’m a regular listener of Richard McColl’s “Colombia Calling” English-language podcast, so I was delighted to accept his invitation to appear in an episode (number 297, very impressive). Even better, I happened to be in Bogotá when we recorded (back on October 20), so I stopped by his lovely home where gave me very strong […]

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Some pleasant surprises in Colombia’s local elections

Colombians voted for governors, mayors, town councils, and local legislatures on October 27, and—unlike so many places in the world lately—left and right radicals and populists had a lousy day. Voters especially rejected the ruling rightist party of President Iván Duque and former president Álvaro Uribe, who has lost his luster. In most cities, voters […]

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Street scene in Arauca, Colombia

Going over my photos from our early October visit to Colombia, I found this one, taken on October 3 from our car window, while driving through the hamlet of La Esmeralda, between Arauquita and Saravena, Arauca. This area is heavily under the influence of the ELN guerrilla group. An unremarkable photo of a tidy small-town […]

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Notes from Chocó, Colombia

After our early October visit to Arauca, Colombia, WOLA colleagues and I spent several days in the middle section of Chocó. This department (province) borders both the Pacific and Atlantic, as well as Panama, in Colombia’s far northwest. It’s been a week and a half since we completed this last leg of our trip. It […]

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Notes from Arauca, Colombia

Greetings from Bogotá. I’m here briefly after a few days in the department of Arauca, in northeastern Colombia along the border with Venezuela. We visited the towns of Arauca (the departmental capital), Arauquita, and Saravena, holding 17 interviews with human rights defenders, political office holders, social movements, the armed forces, youth groups, trade unionists, and […]

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Colombia’s defense minister is a problem

Guillermo Botero is at it again. Colombia’s defense minister said that the security forces he oversees can’t capture a wanted criminal because, as a demobilized FARC member, that criminal is somehow protected by the peace accord. Leider Johani Noscue, alias “Mayimbú,” is a rearmed FARC dissident in Cauca department whose group is believed to be […]

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A bad misreading of Colombia’s moment

“Fewer than three years after Colombia’s oldest guerrilla group signed a peace agreement with the government, the terror leaders have said never mind,” reads today’s edition of the Wall Street Journal’s influential and ultraconservative editorial page. For the Journal, the defection of former chief FARC negotiator Iván Márquez and a handful of other ex-leaders means […]

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