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: 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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Who are Colombia’s “Black Eagles?”

“The weeks following the [June 17] elections witnessed an upsurge in killings of social leaders,” reads last Friday’s UN Secretary-General report on Colombia. The killings have come alongside an even larger wave of death threats sent to political activists, human rights defenders, journalists, and social leaders in just about every corner of the country. Often, […]

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The past week in Colombia’s peace process

Last Week in Colombia’s Peace Process (Week of July 1-7) Social Leader Killings Begin Getting Mass Attention At least four local social movement leaders were killed during the week: Felicinda Santamaría in Quibdó, Chocó Luis Barrios in Palmar de Varela, Atlántico Margarita Estupiñán in Tumaco, Nariño Ana María Cortés in Cáceres, Antioquia The latter two […]

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Video: Hearing on “Peace and Victims’ Rights in Colombia”

Here’s video, and here’s my written testimony, from this morning’s hearing about “Peace and Victims’ Rights in Colombia” in the House of Representatives’ Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission. It was a great hearing, featuring three social leaders working on the front lines of peace accord implementation and inclusion in Colombia. My role was to talk […]

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The past week in Colombia’s peace process

(Week of April 29-May 5) Dire Warning from Former Chief Negotiator De La Calle Humberto de la Calle, a respected former vice president and the Liberal Party’s low-polling candidate for May 27 elections, led the Colombian government’s team for all four years of peace talks with the FARC in Havana. On the campaign trail, he […]

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The past week in Colombia’s peace process

(Week of April 22-28) Jesús Santrich Case Arrested FARC leader Seusis Pausias Hernández alias Jesús Santrich remains in Bogotá’s La Picota prison, where he is continuing a hunger strike that began after his April 9 arrest. He agreed to receive medical attention, but only from “trusted personnel.” Colombia’s judicial system—both the transitional system set up […]

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