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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Week ahead

The week ahead

Three of us from WOLA are headed to Arizona tomorrow, where we’ll spend the rest of the week in Yuma, Nogales, Tucson, and across the border in Mexico. We’ll be interviewing pretty much everyone who’ll talk to us about “zero tolerance,” family separation, what is happening at ports of entry, the National Guard deployments, changes to asylum policy, and claims of gang activity.

I plan to post a lot from the road, and crank out a report as quickly as possible upon our return.

One reason I’ve been posting less frequently to this site has been the average 3-4 hours per day I’ve been spending preparing for this trip. Helping set up interviews and putting together what is now a 50-page research matrix has left a lot less time for other tasks, other than covering Colombia’s elections. The plan this week is to keep muddling through.

The Week Ahead

This is the first time in months that I have a few days without travel and not up against a hard deadline. While there are many events to attend this week, I hope to use the time well, doing a lot of writing about Colombia and especially about what’s happening at the border—including planning some possible travel there later this month.

The week ahead

I’m here in Washington all week. Next week I’ll be going to Barcelona for the annual Latin American Studies Association Conference. There, I’ll be presenting a paper about U.S. policy toward Colombia that is far from being finished. Later, we’ll turn that paper into a WOLA publication.

This is shaping up to be a week of intense writing, between 1,000-2,000 words a day plus research. In addition to the LASA paper, I have two memos to finish and a presentation for a class on human rights Friday at the National Defense University’s Perry Center. Plus a “last week in Colombia’s peace process” update. So, lots of coffee this week.

I’ll have to keep my meeting and phone schedule light, so I may be hard to contact all week.

The Week Ahead

I’m in Washington all five days this week, with a lot of commitments on Tuesday and the rest of the week dedicated to writing and research.

I’m talking about Colombia to two State Department audiences Tuesday, and need to finish preparing for that. During the remainder of the week, I’ll be finishing a paper for the annual Latin American Studies Association conference, which takes place at the end of the month. I’ll then expand that into a graphical WOLA report. This week we’ll also start planning a July conference on Colombia.

The week ahead

I’m in Washington all five days this week, with a pretty heavy schedule of meetings and events on Monday, Tuesday, and Friday. On one of the other days (probably Thursday) I hope to go off the grid and do a large amount of writing.

On Friday I’m a panelist at a closed-door State Department discussion of Colombia; I’m almost done with my presentation for that. This should be a good week to finish, or nearly finish, the paper on Colombia that I’ll be presenting on a panel at the Latin American Studies Association conference at the end of May.

The Week Ahead

Again, I’m in Washington all week, this time with a lighter meeting schedule. Which means it’s time to catch up for real on writing. First order of business is backlogged Colombia peace process updates for the month of April. Second is to pay more attention to this site.

I also expect to prepare a Colombia talk that I’ll be giving before a State Department audience late next week, and to start writing a paper about Colombia’s peace process that I’ll present at the Latin American Studies Association’s annual meeting at the end of May.

Later in the week we’ll be helping USIP host a group of victims’ advocates from the Medellín city government, who are brought here by George Mason University.

The week ahead

I’m in Washington all five days this week, for a change. (Last week I spent Wednesday and Thursday in Orlando, at a very good workshop on military assistance hosted by the University of Central Florida. Then I spent the entire weekend in New York visiting family.)

As of now, I’ve got about 16 hours of meetings and calls on the calendar, which leaves at least some time for research, writing, and communicating.

Most of that will be about Colombia this week. I’ll have a short piece coming out about the current state of the peace process. And more updates posted here. And later in the week—hopefully, unless I run out of time—an update on the state of border-security spending and construction.

Over the weekend I’ll be completing final responses to comments on the USAID project evaluation for which I spent February in Colombia.

The week ahead

On Wednesday and Thursday, I have several meetings with State and USAID officials to discuss the evaluation that had me in Colombia for all of February. That work is now all but done.

Otherwise, I’ll be spending this relatively quiet week (Congress is out of session) in several other meetings around Washington, cranking out some short writing about the border, and making progress on a longer report about Colombia.

The Week Ahead

This will be the first time in seven weeks that I’ll be in Washington all 5 days. Looking forward to getting a lot of research and writing done, plus some work with Capitol Hill: March 23 is the latest 2018 budget deadline, and we still don’t know what’s going to happen with Trump’s initial border wall request.

The USAID evaluation that sent me to Colombia for all of February is now largely behind me. We’ve got a big draft done, and hopefully there will be just small additions and changes to do from now on. One of the main lessons I’ll take from that experience is how to do fieldwork in a way that lets you turn around a big trip report within two weeks. (It routinely takes us four months or more.)

The day/week ahead: February 19, 2018

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

I’ve left Bogotá and am now in another part of Colombia, where I’ll be until Friday night. With a full schedule of meetings and some time in remote areas, I’ll be hard to reach all week.

The week ahead

I’m in Bogotá all week—just arrived Sunday afternoon. It’s the first of four weeks in Colombia. 23 or 24 interviews and meetings on the calendar right now, nearly all of them related to the project that has me here.

They put me in a nice hotel with fast (if insecure) internet access. So I look forward to updating this site a bit in the mornings and evenings.

The Week Ahead

There is almost no time during the next four days when I won’t be in a meeting.

WOLA’s annual planning process is in full swing. At the same time, I’m in a series of initial meetings for a project that will have me in Colombia for the entire month of February: I’m on a team evaluating a big USAID post-conflict assistance program. It’s going to be a fascinating experience that will have me in several remote areas of the country. I’ll explain more about that later in a separate post, probably next week.

All of this activity will limit what I can post to this site this week. But I’ll do my best.

The week ahead

The holidays are a fading memory. This week’s going to be busy.

Congress is back, and the Trump administration has sent it a document requesting $33 billion in funding for border security over the next 10 years, including $18 billion for a wall, in return for allowing hundreds of thousands of “dreamers” to stay in the country. If there is no deal on this, the U.S. government could shut down a week from Friday.

I’ll be working on that—expect more written material and a lot of less-visible work—while moving ahead a report on Colombia’s post-conflict challenges. (It’s currently 6,700 words of semi-prose, now I’m filling it in with bits of research and turning it into proper prose.) In addition, WOLA’s annual planning process is now underway, so there will be documents to write, and some long meetings, regarding that.

I may be hard to reach at times this week, due to marathon meetings, urgent border work, or the need to shut the door and write.

The week ahead

It was wonderful to see relatives all over the northeastern United States during the past week’s holidays. But it’s also good to be back at work, as of today.

The first week of January is usually quiet here in Washington: Congress hasn’t really started up yet, and there are few or no events. It’s also quiet in Latin America, where most people (governing elites, anyway) are still out for the holiday.

This means I expect to spend this week doing some beginning-of-year planning, and some long uninterrupted writing. By the end of Friday, I hope to:

  • Have completed a lousy but workable rough draft of a big report on Colombia’s post-conflict challenges.
  • Have updated our database of U.S. security assistance programs to reflect the annual defense bill that became law on December 12.
  • Have completed planning documents for my 2018 work.
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