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

New feature: “Explainers” about Colombia

I’m happy to say that a new section of my colombiapeace.org website, which I’ve been overhauling since late January, is ready to go. This is the final feature that I’d planned to add. (I’ve already added a timeline, a page of important numbers, infographics, links to reports, public-domain photos, and embedded videos.) Explainers, the new […]

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“Guerrilla Marketing” in Colombia

Here, at the WOLA Podcast, is a conversation with Alex Fattal, whose 2018 book “Guerrilla Marketing” tells the story of the Colombian military’s employment of advertising campaigns to convince guerrillas to demobilize during the country’s armed conflict. His work explores the overlap between national security, global capitalism, and “branding.” The podcast is above, or download the […]

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Colombia podcast with Toby Muse

Here’s today’s WOLA Podcast. We should have some going up tomorrow and Friday as well. Toby Muse spent almost two decades as a foreign correspondent in Colombia, where he traveled to dozens of places affected by the war on drugs and recorded innumerable conversations with people—participants in the drug trade, officials, reformers, and victims caught […]

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“The Retreat of Peace is the Retreat of Truth and Memory”

Gonzalo Sánchez is a Colombian sociologist and philosopher who, during the entire Santos government, directed the country’s National Center for Historical Memory (CNMH). This Center was first created by the 2005 “Justice and Peace” law that governed the AUC paramilitaries’ demobilization, then strengthened by the 2011 Victims’ Law that President Juan Manuel Santos promoted after […]

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An outdated interpretation of counter-terror law has painted U.S. Colombia programming into a corner. The way out is simple.

(Cross-posted from colombiapeace.org. Español) Humanicemos is a non-governmental organization dedicated to clearing landmines in Colombia. Its personnel are former combatants from the FARC guerrillas, who demobilized after the signing of a 2016 peace accord and are now embarking on new lives. It gets support from the UN and the European Union, and works with Colombian […]

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“Infographics” section added to colombiapeace.org

(Cross-posted at colombiapeace.org) We’ve just added a page with nine visualizations of data regarding peace, security, and human rights in Colombia. We’ll update these, and add more, as we make them. At the bottom of each are shortened links to the documents from which we drew the information. The current collection of infographics covers the […]

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Notes on the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ Annual Report

(Cross-posted at colombiapeace.org) On February 25 the Colombia office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released its annual report on the human rights situation in Colombia. It is a very useful document, full of hard-to-obtain statistics. It also makes some reasoned, high-credibility judgments about controversial topics like implementation of the peace accord […]

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“Important Numbers”: a New Section at the Revived colombiapeace.org Site

When trying to understand peace accord implementation, security threats, and human rights in Colombia, we have to rely heavily on numbers to explain what’s happening. Whether you’re explaining reintegration of ex-combatants, pointing to coca cultivation trends, or advocating for more prosecutions of those masterminding social leaders’ murders, you often need numerical data. And the most […]

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New at wola.org: The Costs of Restarting Aerial Coca Spraying in Colombia

Sometime this year, Colombia is likely to reverse 5 years of policy progress and restore a program that sprays herbicides, from aircraft, over many of the more than 119,500 rural households that live in areas so neglected and abandoned that people grow coca to earn a modest living. This makes me sad and angry, because […]

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Current table of aid to Colombia

The Trump administration has issued its 2021 State Department and foreign aid budget request to Congress. It calls for a big increase in counter-drug aid to Colombia’s police and military, along with cuts in economic aid and non-drug military aid. Congress will reverse this, but in the meantime, here are the numbers from the past […]

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Photo

The President of Colombia, the U.S. Ambassador, a dog, and a box of M-16 cartridges. Tumaco, Nariño, January 16. Detail of this Colombian Presidency photo.

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32 years of coca cultivation estimates in the Andes

I just graphed this out for a talk I’m giving later today. It combines data from six U.S. government sources listed at the bottom of the graphic. There’s no need to comment further, is there. The image tells its own story about the wisdom of relying so heavily on forced crop eradication.

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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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