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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The day ahead: June 16, 2021

I’m mostly around until mid-afternoon. (How to contact me)

I’m at my desk, having a few conversations, preparing a talk I’m giving tomorrow about Colombia, preparing for two upcoming trips (travel is back!), and doing some research. I’ll be in a Colombia coalition meeting from mid-afternoon to end of day.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Luis Robayo photo at El Espectador (Colombia). Caption: “Desde el comienzo de las manifestaciones el 28 de abril, Cali ha sido el epicentro de movilizaciones, pero también de la violencia y la represión.”

(Even more here)

June 2, 2021

Central America Regional

Blinken has avoided publicly criticizing any particular government, focusing instead on Biden administration plans to distribute COVID-19 vaccines and other assistance


Entre 2017 y 2021, 20 entidades estatales suscribieron al menos 30 contratos y dos órdenes de compra por $45.684.261.058 para adquirir armas de letalidad reducida y elementos de dispersión de multitudes

Los uniformados tienen una norma especial para tramitar los delitos que hayan cometido: el Código Penal Militar, que usa la Justicia Penal Militar para la investigación y juzgamiento de los delitos cometidos en actos relacionados con el servicio por militares y policías

“Lo que necesitamos es que haya total cese de esos bloqueos”

“A soldier is not trained in conflict resolution: they are trained to kill”

A significant proportion of protesters in Colombia’s southwest are Indigenous or Black — making the military police’s racial violence against them into a key issue

La estructura criminal será usada por otros criminales bajo otro rótulo y financiada por distintos sectores que años atrás financiaron a otras estructuras al margen de la ley

Costa Rica, Nicaragua

En su visita a Costa Rica, la primera a Latinoamérica de Antony Blinken como secretario de Estado, reforzó la postura de Estados Unidos sobre las sanciones al gobierno de Daniel Ortega y la crisis de refugiados nicaragüenses

El Salvador

Reflecting on Bukele’s first two years in office, CISPES released a report documenting his repeated actions to empower both the military and police beyond the strict limits imposed by the 1992 Peace Accords

El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico

The vice president and her staff have made it clear that they want to focus narrowly on diplomatic efforts in Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries

She’s been tasked by President Biden with leading the administration’s diplomatic efforts with the Northern Triangle countries and Mexico to help stem the flow of migration at the southern border


“El golpe de Estado de 2009 abrió la puerta para que los militares salieran de los cuarteles e invadieran el espacio político, pero el Partido Nacional convirtió a los militares en un brazo armado del partido de gobierno”, dijo la socióloga Leticia Salomón

A través de las pruebas evacuadas por el Ministerio Público, han surgido indicios de complicidad criminal de otros actores en el hostigamiento de Berta Cáceres, COPINH y la comunidad de Rio Blanco, y en la planificación y logística del asesinato


Morena’s chances now seem slim in Nuevo Léon. It is not the only border state haemorrhaging support for the ruling party

Campaigning under the slogan “Military Force,” the 28 candidates — 16 women and 12 men — promise to bring order to Naucalpan, a city of 800,000 residents

The government needs to keep trying to break bonds between criminals and authorities, beginning with efforts tailored to the country’s hardest-hit areas

Pese al asedio criminal, los elementos de la Policía de Michoacán y del Ejército ya no están presentes desde hace una semana sobre la vía Apatzingán-Aguililla

Mexico, U.S.-Mexico Border

Our binational research team has documented hundreds of hours of testimonials from displaced Mexican women, children, men, and families who fled horrific violence in their home communities. They are the invisible refugees


In the latest attempt to eliminate potential challengers to Ortega in the Nov. 7 elections, prosecutors asked the country’s electoral tribunal to bar Chamorro from running or holding public office


During the Sixth Annual U.S.-Peruvian Army Staff Talks held virtually on May 20, the two armies strengthened the relationship between both nations by agreeing to future military-to-military training opportunities

U.S.-Mexico Border

U.S. citizens were apprehended nearly seven times more often than Mexican citizens between October 2020 and March 31 for trying to smuggle drugs in vehicles

On some days here in the Rio Grande Valley, the busiest section of the U.S.-Mexico border, families like Anna and Walter are expelled, while on others, single males who’ve come looking for work are allowed to stay pending their hearings

Abbott’s move potentially could force relocation of up to one-fourth of the children nationwide

The announcement appeared to be a foregone conclusion after Biden promised as a candidate to end the policy, known informally as “Remain in Mexico,” but he left a window open by ordering a review before shutting it down permanently

The two senators toured facilities in Tucson housing migrants apprehended along Arizona’s border with Mexico, including unaccompanied children. The pair is scheduled on Wednesday to visit similar facilities along Texas’ Rio Grande Valley

The day ahead: April 1, 2021

I’m most reachable in the morning. (How to contact me)

I’ve got a couple of interviews, a podcast recording session, and two coalition meetings on the calendar, all in the afternoon. This morning I’ll be working on the weekly border update, which I’m determined to make shorter than the last couple.

5 links from the past week

  • In the New Yorker, Francisco Goldman makes the case for the Biden administration to push hard for Guatemala to protect and expand its anti-corruption prosecutors, performing the role filled by the late lamented CICIG, which “gave Guatemalans a sense of what is possible.”
  • In a well documented threepart series, Expediente Público explains how the Ortega regime methodically went about politicizing, corrupting, buying off, and gaining control over Nicaragua’s military, which has played a key supporting role in waves of repression since 2018.
  • A multimedia series published on March 1 by El Espectador, “The Battle to Substitute Coca,” tells the story of post-peace accord eradication and crop substitution from the perspective of San José del Fragua, a municipality in Caquetá. It thoroughly explores the complexities surrounding the increasingly frustrating experience of the peace accords’ neglected crop substitution program.
  • Also on coca in Colombia: Longtime drug policy scholar Juan Carlos Garzón of the Fundación Ideas para la Paz published a detailed paper that he had written in 2020 to inform the work of the Western Hemisphere Drug Policy Commission. (English here.) “The image of a plane spraying hectares of coca is useful to show that the state is acting rigorously and promptly, but it clearly falls short if the goal is to create fundamental change,” Garzón writes. “The benefits of this tool are limited to the very short term, while the costs in terms of state legitimacy and the relationship with local communities last a very long time.”
  • The UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean’s latest annual Social Panorama of Latin America report presents gut-wrenching data illustrating the economic devastation wrought by COVID-19 across the region—which came after several years of depressed commodity prices. Poverty rates are up to levels not seen since 2008. Extreme poverty rates are at levels not seen since 2000. All the gains of the region’s 2000s-early 2010s economic boom have been given back, at least for now.

The day ahead: January 8, 2021

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

I’ve got a near-solid block of coalition meetings and one-on-one interviews between 10:30 and 4:00, and need to finish writing a border update before that starts, so I’ll be slow to return calls and messages today.

The day ahead: December 4, 2020

I’m in and out of meetings, but most reachable in the early afternoon. (How to contact me)

I just realized I jumped into work this morning without posting this. I’ve got 2 check-ins with Colombian colleagues on the calendar this morning and in late afternoon. At 4:30 I’m on a panel about drug policy in Colombia’s Senate. I need to spend more time preparing that presentation, so between that and my meeting schedule, I may not respond immediately to attempts to contact me.

Expect a new podcast and border update posted here soon.

The day ahead: July 13, 2020

I’m most reachable mid-day and late afternoon. (How to contact me)

It was a restful and somewhat productive weekend. Today I’ve got 2-3 hours of internal meetings, some urgent emails to answer, and then I’m going to continue doing a bunch of website updates, mainly at

The day ahead: March 6, 2020

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

I’m around all day. I’ve already been up doing drive-time radio in Colombia because of the White House’s release of a 2019 coca cultivation estimate yesterday. This morning we’ll be putting out a statement about that, and I want to get into the habit of posting a short video to respond to these things, so I’ll be talking into a camera in my office. Otherwise I’ll be there in my office digging through documents and doing some writing.

The day ahead: February 24, 2020

I’m in near-constant meetings today. (How to contact me)

I’ve spent a lot of the last few days and nights making some big improvements to our underutilized “” website (read about those here).

I’d like to add more to it this week, but might not do much: it’s one of those “high season” weeks with 12 meetings (so far) and two speaking engagements on the calendar. I’ll be in New York on Friday giving a talk at John Jay College.

Today, I’ll be hard to contact because I’ll be in a morning staff meeting, a board meeting of the Andean Information Network, a coffee with the director of a Latin American think tank, and dinner with visiting Colombian human rights leaders who are giving a presentation at USIP.

The day ahead: January 8, 2020

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

Other than lunch with a longtime colleague at another organization, I should be at my desk in the office all day. I’ll be doing a post about coca fumigation in Colombia, setting up a trip to El Paso/Juarez for the week of the 20th, and working on internal documents for WOLA’s annual planning process, which takes place next week.

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