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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Human Rights

WOLA Podcast: Searching for Mexico’s Disappeared

With two very good guests in two parts of Mexico, I’m really glad the technology held up on this one. It was well worth the high-wire act. Here’s the text of the summary at wola.org. Listen above, or download the .mp3 file here. More than 60,000 people have disappeared in Mexico since 2006. As a […]

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At wola.org: Key Questions About How the U.S.-Mexico Border Shutdown Will Impact Vulnerable Asylum Seekers and Migrants

Here’s an analysis we posted yesterday in response to the closure of the U.S.-Mexico border to “inessential” travel. As noted in yesterday’s podcast, such travelers apparently include threatened people seeking asylum or protection in the United States, who are being turned away. The result is a potential death sentence, once COVID-19 really hits, for people […]

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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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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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WOLA Podcast: Resisting Repression in Nicaragua

I recorded this Tuesday morning with Julio Martínez of Nicaragua’s Articulación de Movimientos Sociales. Julio was an active participant in the 2018 protest movement against the Ortega regime; he got out and is now doing graduate work in New York. Here, we talk about civil society’s fight to stop human rights abuses and restore democracy […]

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Colombia’s return to the discredited “body count” strategy

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Leer en español A May 18 New York Times article revealed an alarming shift in how Colombia’s army, under leadership that took over last December, is measuring “success” in its operations. The article got a lot of attention because of the human rights angle, especially the possibility of a return to “false positive” extrajudicial killings. […]

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A brazen attack recalls Colombia’s worst years

A social leader is killed nearly every other day in Colombia. Notably, nearly all of the victims have been very local leaders or activists, with no national profile. This has spread terror among social leaders, sending the message that you’re not safe no matter how unknown you are. While the most prominent national human rights […]

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Soldiers apparently caught digging a grave for a murdered ex-FARC member

At least 128 former members of the FARC guerrillas have been killed since Colombia signed its peace accord in November 2016. That’s not even counting 7-month-old Samuel David Gonzalez Pushaina, killed in an April 15 attack on his parents, both demobilized FARC members, in La Guajira. But the case of Dimar Torres, a former FARC […]

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WOLA Podcast on Guatemala’s “backlash of the corrupt”

Only a few years ago, Guatemala was making historic gains in its fight against corruption and human rights abuse. Since then, the country has suffered a severe backlash. A “pact of the corrupt” in Guatemala’s ruling elite keeps pushing legislation that would terminate trials and investigations for war crimes and corruption. A U.S.-backed UN prosecutorial […]

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Lights are going out around the region

What a horrible three days for press freedom in the Americas. On Friday, Nicaraguan police raided, and trashed, the offices of the investigative web publication Confidencial, which has been an indispensable and very credible source of coverage of the country’s slide into democracy. Confidencial has been around since 1996. Over the weekend El Nacional, which […]

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“Concrete actions”

Nicaraguan journalist Dánae Vílchez in the Washington Post on Friday: The United States has taken some important steps, including the Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act that was approved this week by Congress, a bill that would place conditions on the “approval of loans to the Ortega regime by international financial institutions,” and expand the Magnistky sanctions on people […]

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“They’re Killing Us”: Short Video on Social Leaders in Post-Accord Colombia

Filmmakers Tom Laffay, Emily Wright, and Daniel Bustos were in town this evening to screen their 20-minute documentary, “They’re Killing Us,” with lots of footage from Cauca, Colombia in the months after the FARC guerrillas disarmed. The film debuted on the website of The Atlantic at the end of May. The video states that one social leader is […]

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Day 7 in Colombia

Good morning from Bogotá. It’s day seven of our visit, and we’ve finished the field-work portion of the trip. Nothing left but two days of meetings here with experts, activists, government and UN personnel.   We spent Saturday through Tuesday in Colombia’s Pacific coast region, in the city of Buenaventura and then way up the […]

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