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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Illicit Crop Eradication

Government reports relevant to Latin America obtained in March

The State Department’s annual report on other countries’ counter-drug efforts, with some information about U.S. aid.2020 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (Washington: Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, March 2, 2020) <PDF from https://www.state.gov/2020-international-narcotics-control-strategy-report/>. Intricately detailed tables of the status of aid to Central America between 2013 and 2018, from a GAO performance […]

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Why fumigation isn’t the solution, in 2 minutes

In response to the White House’s announcement yesterday that Colombian coca cultivation crept upward in 2019, I worked with WOLA colleagues to put out a good press release. I wanted to do a bit more, and it seemed like a good moment to try something new: a rapid-response “explainer” video. So here’s a quick explanation […]

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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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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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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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The trashing of a once useful State Department report

Every March, the State Department publishes an annual report, required by law, providing a global survey of what countries around the world are doing to reduce supply and demand for illicit drugs. The International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) is a bit of a drug-war relic, but it contains a lot of information unavailable elsewhere, […]

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Restarting Aerial Fumigation of Drug Crops in Colombia is a Mistake

Colombia’s Constitutional Court met today to discuss the government’s plans to reinstate aerial spraying of coca. President Iván Duque was the first to address the high court; he asked the justices to “modulate” their past rulings to allow more spraying. I just posted an analysis of this to WOLA’s website. It addresses a series of questions: Why did […]

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New piece at Razón Pública

Many thanks to Hernando Gómez Buendía, Daniela Garzón, and the staff at Colombia’s Razón Pública for inviting me to submit a column about last week’s meeting between Trump and Colombian President Iván Duque. If you prefer Spanish, el artículo, titulado “La reunión de Duque con Trump: entretenida pero improductiva,” se puede leer aquí. Below is the version I wrote in […]

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The past week in Colombia’s peace process

(Week of September 16-22) UNODC Publishes Its 2017 Coca Cultivation Estimate The UN Office on Drugs and Crime published an executive summary of its 2017 estimate of coca cultivation and cocaine production in Colombia. The UN agency has usually produced this document, in complete form, in June or July of each year. Among the latest […]

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Ouch, this statement did not age well.

This is William Brownfield, then the assistant secretary of state for narcotics and law enforcement affairs, testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on August 2, 2017: Tranche one in this four-stage Colombian strategy was the southwest. Down in Tumaco and the province of Nariño. We are unable to support that because the FARC has, […]

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The past week in Colombia’s peace process

(Week of August 19-25) ELN Still Hasn’t Released Captives and Hostages The ELN’s release of four soldiers, three police, and two civilians in its custody, believed imminent, still hasn’t happened yet. Guerrilla fronts in Chocó and Arauca captured the nine on August 3rd and 8th, and President Iván Duque (who was inaugurated August 7th) has […]

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Video: “The Origins of Cocaine” book event

Here is video of yesterday afternoon’s WOLA event with Paul Gootenberg and Liliana Dávalos of Stony Brook University. They’re the editors of The Origins of Cocaine, a new book that finds a striking overlap between today’s South American coca-growing areas and the zones where governments carried out failed development and colonization projects 50 years ago. […]

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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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