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.

Illicit Crop Eradication

24 years of coca and eradication in Colombia

Over the years I’ve been inadvertently building a big collection of “graphs that need periodic updating, which makes them more complicated.” This one depicts coca cultivation in Colombia, and efforts to eradicate it, since 1994. There are two measures of coca cultivation, from the United States and the UN. Eradication has mostly occurred through aerial spraying […]

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The past week in Colombia’s peace process

(Week of May 13-19) Transitional Justice System Suspends Santrich Extradition The case of FARC leader Seusis Pausias Hernández alias Jesús Santrich, arrested on April 9 with the possibility of extradition to the United States for narcotrafficking, grew more complicated this week. The Review Chamber of the new Special Peace Jurisdiction (JEP, the transitional justice system […]

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The past week in Colombia’s peace process

(Still catching up. This is the week of April 15-21.) Ecuador Will No Longer Host the ELN Negotiations The president of Ecuador, Lenin Moreno, announced April 18 that his country will no longer host the ongoing peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the ELN. Government representatives and guerrilla leaders had held five rounds of […]

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Coca in Colombia: what are the options?

Revised 9:00AM on 4/29/18: I added two more options to the table based on a suggestion from Twitter user @gabrielvc. Colombia’s government, faced with record-high levels of coca cultivation, is considering using drones to spray herbicides over the fields. This is less indiscriminate and risky to public health than spraying from aircraft, a program the […]

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Peace-ocracy

Colombians complain constantly about their government’s ossified bureaucracy. But when they get a chance to approach a problem in a new way—with a sweeping peace accord—this is what happens: In the executive branch, there are at least six entities or authorities with competencies related to the illicit crops issue, including the Defense Ministry. In addition, […]

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The U.S. government’s strident approach to Colombia’s coca boom

The “answers” in this imagined dialogue are direct quotes from Wednesday’s Senate testimony of Amb. William Brownfield, the longtime assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law enforcement affairs. This “imagined conversation” format is a bit goofy, but it illustrates how knotted and constrained the U.S. approach to coca is right now. Q: Colombia’s […]

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UNODC’s Colombia coca estimate is out

On July 14 the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released (PDF) its 2016 estimate of coca cultivation in Colombia (the dark blue line). It shows a lower estimate than the U.S. government’s (the green line), but a sharper rate of increase over 2015. UNODC identified four reasons for the increase: Some coca farmers “have […]

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Podcast: “U.S.-Colombia Relations ‘in a Challenged Place'”

It’s nice to put one of these out again, for the first time in 2 1/2 months. Relations between the United States and close ally Colombia have hit their roughest patch in years. The situation is aggravated by the Trump administration’s much darker view of the FARC peace accord, and open disagreement about how to […]

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Response to Álvaro Uribe’s whopper-filled “Message to U.S. Authorities”

(This was just posted to WOLA’s colombiapeace.org site and will go up at wola.org in a little while.) Álvaro Uribe’s Questionable “Message to U.S. Authorities” About Colombia’s Peace Effort By Adam Isacson and Gimena Sánchez-Garzoli On Easter Sunday Colombia’s former president, Álvaro Uribe, wrote a blistering attack on Colombia’s peace accords with the FARC (Revolutionary Armed […]

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Colombia’s coca problem, in less than 300 words

From Monday’s edition of the Inter-American Dialogue’s Latin America Advisor (PDF). Q: The U.S. State Department’s annual International Narcotics Control Strategy Report released in March said Colombia is the world’s top producer of cocaine and that the cultivation of coca has increased by record amounts for the past two years. What is the reason for the […]

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Does Colombia have more coca now than before Plan Colombia?

Colombia’s Defense Minister let spill last night that the U.S. government’s 2016 estimate of illicit coca grown in the country is 188,000 hectares (465,000 acres). That is the most coca the USG has ever measured. Here’s what the chart looks like: 188,000 hectares is an 18 percent increase over 2015. That’s a lot, but the […]

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At WOLA’s website: Confronting Colombia’s Coca Boom

Looks like everything I’ve written over the last few days about Colombia’s coca bonanza is coming out today. This new analysis just got posted to wola.org. Here, I find 7 reasons why Colombia’s coca crop has increased so quickly. Suspending aerial herbicide fumigation and not quickly replacing it with anything else. Reducing forced manual eradication and […]

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New coca estimate may come tomorrow: looks high, but lower than I expected

Tomorrow, the Wall Street Journal reports, the White House will release its estimate of how much coca was planted in Colombia in 2016. 695 square miles is 180,000 hectares. This would be the highest U.S. measurement of Colombian coca cultivation ever. On the other hand, it would represent the smallest increase in Colombian coca-growing in three years. 180,000 […]

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New piece up at Razón Pública

The Colombian news-analysis website Razón Pública asked me last week whether Colombia’s relationship with the Trump administration will “narcotize” because of huge recent increases in the country’s crop of coca, the plant used to make cocaine. In my submission (in Spanish), I argue that “narcotization”—drugs becoming the number-one central issue in the bilateral relationship—probably won’t happen this […]

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