Adam Isacson

Defense, security, borders, migration, and human rights in Latin America and the United States. May not reflect my employer’s consensus view.

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Latin America

Latin America-Related Events in Washington and Online This Week

(Events that I know of, anyway. All times are U.S. Eastern.)

Monday, October 9

  • 3:15-8:30 at Inter-American Human Rights Court EventBrite: A 75 años de la Declaración Americana y 45 de la Convención Americana sobre Derechos Humanos: logros y desafíos (RSVP required).

Tuesday, October 10

  • 12:00-1:00 at Washington College of Law: Confronting Authoritarianism in Latin America: A Conversation with leading Human Rights Lawyers in El Salvador (RSVP required).
  • 12:00-1:00 at csis.org: Managing Geopolitical Risk in Mexico’s ICT Sector (RSVP required).

Wednesday, October 11

  • 1:30-2:50 at University of Chicago (hybrid): Journalism Under Threat (RSVP required).

Thursday, October 12

  • 10:00-11:00 at Council of the Americas Zoom: China in the Americas: Assessing the Impact and Implications of Authoritarian Capital (RSVP required).
  • 4:00-5:00 at Georgetown University: The Power of Public Opinion in Latin American Climate Policy (RSVP required).

From CRS: U.S. Assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean FY1946-FY2021

Chart entitled "U.S. Assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean: FY1946-FY2021."

Includes aid obligations from all U.S. government agencies, adjusted for inflation. Comprehensive data for
FY2022 and FY2023 are not yet available.

Shows peaks in the 1960s (Alliance for Progress, the largest peak), the Reagan 1980s, Plan Colombia 2000, the Mérida Initiative and Haiti earthquake 2010, and launch of the Central America engagement strategy 2015-16. The current moment is about average, perhaps below average, a bit over $3 billion adjusted for inflation. The 1960s peak is about $7.5 billion.

This chart comes from a September 27 Congressional Research Service report, by Peter Meyer, about U.S. aid to Latin America and the Caribbean, going through the 2024 appropriations request (which Congress hasn’t funded yet).

When you adjust for inflation, nothing comes close to the amount of U.S. assistance the region received in the 1960s, during the Alliance for Progress, an aid program the Kennedy Administration launched in large part to prevent other countries from turning to Communist revolution like Cuba did.

The next biggest peaks are the 2010 response to Haiti’s earthquake just as the Mérida Initiative aid package was getting underway in Mexico; the Reagan administration’s Cold-War funding of civil wars in Central America; the Plan Colombia years of the 2000s; the Central America strategy that the Obama administration started (and Trump did not continue) after a 2014 wave of child and family migration; and the onset of the Drug War in the late 1980s.

My own career started during that deep trough of assistance during the post-Cold War Clinton 1990s. (I graduated college in 1992 and grad school in 1994.) Ironically, it was right at the absolute nadir that I co-founded a project to monitor U.S. security assistance in the Americas. (The data from that project, going back to 1996, is still part of the Center for International Policy’s Security Assistance Monitor.)

Latin America-Related Events in Washington and Online This Week

(Events that I know of, anyway. All times are U.S. Eastern.)

Tuesday, October 3

  • 11:00-12:30 at IDPC Zoom: In defence of decriminalisation –a baseline upon which to build sustainable drug policy (RSVP required).
  • 2:00-4:00 at brookings.edu: Violent crime in South America (RSVP required).
  • 4:30-5:30 at the Wilson Center and online: ‘Primavera Democrática’: A Conversation with President-Elect Bernardo Arévalo of Guatemala (RSVP required).

Wednesday, October 4

  • 12:00-1:30 at Georgetown University: Elections in Argentina: Will the Country Turn to the Far Right? (RSVP required).
  • 6:00-8:00 at Georgetown University: The Dictator’s Destructions: Facing Pinochet’s Power in Chile (RSVP required).

Thursday, October 5

  • 10:30-12:00 at George Washington University: Expanding South-South Climate Change Collaboration (RSVP required).
  • 11:00-1:00 at atlanticcouncil.org: Advancing Caribbean development through women’s empowerment (RSVP required).
  • 6:30-8:00 at IPS: Inside Biden’s Cuba Policy: Film Screening (RSVP required).

Latin America-Related Events in Washington and Online This Week

(Events that I know of, anyway. All times are U.S. Eastern.)

Monday, September 25

  • 3:00-4:00 at wilsoncenter.org, thedialogue.org, or atlanticcouncil.org: A Conversation with President of Ecuador Guillermo Lasso (RSVP required).

Tuesday, September 26

Wednesday, September 27

Thursday, September 28

Friday, September 29

  • 11:00-12:00 at the Wilson Center and online: Catastrophes, Confrontations, and Constraints (Book Launch) (RSVP required).

Latin America-Related Events in Washington and Online This Week

(Events that I know of, anyway. All times are U.S. Eastern.)

Monday, September 18

Tuesday, September 19

  • 9:00-10:30 at csis.org: Digital Report Launch: Tracking Transatlantic Drug Flows through the Caribbean to Europe (RSVP required).
  • 10:00-11:30 at Open Society Foundations and on BlueJeans: Militarización del Control Migratorio en México (RSVP required).
  • 12:00-1:30 at harvard.edu: Guatemala’s 2023 Elections (RSVP required).

Wednesday, September 20

Thursday, September 21

  • 6:30-8:00 at IPS and online: Climate Justice: A Report from the Global South (RSVP required).

Friday, September 22

  • 3:00-5:00 at the MLK Memorial Library: Public Art, Activism, and Historic Memory (RSVP required).

Saturday, September 23

UNODC: 230,000 hectares of coca in Colombia last year

According to the Colombian daily El Espectador, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime detected 230,000 hectares of coca in Colombia in 2022. That amount—which extends the dark blue line in the chart below to 2022—would be the most coca that the UN agency has detected in any year since it began issuing estimates in 1999.

Chart: Coca Cultivation in Colombia

Hectares	US Estimate	UN Estimate
1994	44.7	
1995	50.9	
1996	67.2	
1997	79.5	
1998	101.8	
1999	122.5	160.1
2000	136.2	163.3
2001	169.8	144.8
2002	144.4	102
2003	113.9	86
2004	114.1	80
2005	144	86
2006	157	78
2007	167	99
2008	119	81
2009	116	73
2010	100	62
2011	83	64
2012	78	48
2013	81	48
2014	112	69
2015	159	96
2016	188	146
2017	209	171
2018	208	169
2019	212	154
2020	245	143
2021	234	204
2022		230

Colombia was governed for just over the first seven months of 2022 by Iván Duque, and for the remaining less than five months by Gustavo Petro.

Petro was still putting together his government by the time 2022 ended. His drug policy team only published their counter-drug strategy this past weekend. While that is a notably slow pace, it was not the cause for 2022’s result.

Petro has sought to de-emphasize forced eradication of small-scale coca farmers’ crops, which places the government in an adversarial relationship with poor people in historically abandoned territories. Through July, forced eradication is down 79 percent over the same period in 2022. Instead, the new strategy document promotes interdiction, targeting cocaine production and related finances, and other strategies.

Still, critics of the Petro government’s choices will use the 230,000 figure to oppose them. It’s possible, though, that the 2023 coca acreage figure could be reduced, because a historic drop in prices may be making the crop less attractive to many growers.

Latin America-Related Events Online and in Washington This Week

(Events that I know of, anyway. All times are U.S. Eastern.)

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

  • 10:00-11:00 at the Wilson Center and online: Untapped Economic Potential: What Can Latin America and the Caribbean Offer the World? (RSVP required).
  • 3:00-5:00 at American University: (Co)Building a Strategic Agenda for the Americas (RSVP required).
  • 3:30-4:30 at IPS: Prospects for Normalization of US-Cuba Relations: A Talk with Cuban Deputy Minister Carlos Fernández de Cossío (RSVP required).

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Thursday, September 14, 2023

  • 10:15 (possibly 2:15) at the Atlantic Council and online: A Conversation with H.E. Irfaan Ali, President of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana (RSVP required).
  • 4:00 at WOLA and WOLA Zoom: Post-election Optics in Guatemala: Judicial Cooptation and Gender Violence (RSVP required).

Latin America-Related Events Online and in Washington This Week

(All times are U.S. Eastern.)

Tuesday, September 5

  • 11:00-12:15 at Canning House Zoom: Elections in Guatemala (RSVP required).

Wednesday, September 6

Thursday, September 7

  • 9:00 at atlanticcouncil.org: Where have the banks gone? Curbing financial de-risking in the Caribbean (RSVP required).
  • 9:30-11:00 at the Wilson Center and online: Journalism in the Age of Spyware: Defending Freedom of the Press and Countering Threats Posed by Surveillance Technologies in Latin America (RSVP required).
  • 10:30 in Room 419, Dirksen Senate Office Building: Hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Global Women’s Issues on Fiscal Year 2024 Budget Priorities for the Western Hemisphere.
  • 1:00-3:00 at LAF Berlin online: El regreso de los militares ¿Un peligro para las democracias o más bien un debate fantasma? (RSVP required).

At wola.org: Crisis and Opportunity: Unraveling Colombia’s Collapsing Coca Markets

Here’s an analysis I’ve been working on, bit by bit, for the past several weeks.

The market in Colombia for coca, the plant whose leaves can be used to produce cocaine, is in a state of historic collapse, bringing with it an acute humanitarian crisis in already impoverished rural territories. The unusually sharp and prolonged drop in coca prices has several causes. WOLA has identified 12 possible explanations, some more compelling than others.

Regardless of the reason, the crisis is sure to be temporary as world cocaine demand remains robust. The Colombian government, and partner and donor governments including the United States, should take maximum advantage of this window of opportunity before it closes. The humanitarian crisis offers a chance for Colombia to fill vacuums of civilian government presence in territories where insecurity, armed groups, and now hunger are all too common.

Read on—in English or Spanish, HTML or PDF—at WOLA’s website.

Latin America-related online events this week

Monday, August 7, 2023

  • 5:00 at Pulitzer Center Zoom: Amazon Underworld: Crime and Corruption in the Shadows of the World’s Largest Rainforest (RSVP required).

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

  • 2:00-3:00 at wilsoncenter.org: A Conversation with Henrique Capriles, Presidential Candidate for Venezuela’s Primero Justicia Party (RSVP required).

Thursday, August 10, 2023

  • 2:00 at the Atlantic Council and atlanticcouncil.org: A conversation with Alicia Bárcena: Mexico’s newly appointed Secretary of Foreign Affairs (RSVP required).

Latin America-related events in Washington and online this week

Monday, July 31, 2023

  • 11:00-12:00 at the Heritage Foundation and online: Catch, Release, and Then What? (RSVP required).

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

  • 12:30-1:30 at wilsoncenter.org: Argentina Elige: A Conversation with Luciano Laspina, Argentine Congressman and Senior Economic Adviser to Presidential Candidate Patricia Bullrich (RSVP required).
  • 6:00-7:00 at thedialogue.org: Elections Series – The Role of the Judiciary in Electoral Contexts: A View from Latin America (RSVP required).

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

  • 12:00-1:30 at wilsoncenter.org: Presentación del reporte del “Foro nacional sobre feminicidio: Visiones y soluciones” y del reporte sobre “Los avances legislativos y propuestas que se encuentran pendientes de aprobar en materia de feminicidio en México” (RSVP required).
  • 2:00-3:00 at wola.org: Abuses at the U.S.- Mexico Border: How To Address Failures and Protect Rights (RSVP required).

Friday, August 4, 2023

  • 10:00-10:45 at csis.org: Looking South: A Conversation with GEN Laura Richardson on Security Challenges in Latin America (RSVP required).
  • 1:15-2:30 at the Inter-American Dialogue and online: A Conversation on Central America (RSVP required).

Latin America-Related Events in Washington and Online This Week

Tuesday, July 25

  • 2:00 at Americans for Immigrant Justice Zoom: What is the Family Expedited Removal Management (FERM) process? (RSVP required).

Wednesday, July 26

Thursday, July 27

Latin America-Related Events in Washington and Online This Week

Tuesday, July 11

  • 12:00 on Zoom: “Cómo informar al público latino/centroamericano en Estados Unidos sobre los temas que ocurren en la región (RSVP required).

Wednesday, July 12

Thursday, July 13

  • 9:00-10:00 at the Atlantic Council and online: Guatemala’s choice: What’s at stake ahead of the runoff election? (RSVP required).

Friday, July 14

  • 1:30 on AILA Zoom: High-Stakes Asylum: How Long an Asylum Case Takes and How We Can Do Better (RSVP required).

Latin America-related events in Washington and online this week

Tuesday, June 20

  • 11:00-12:30 at the Wilson Center: Voices Behind the News: Promoting Freedom of Expression & Strengthening Independent Media in Central America (RSVP required).
  • 12:30-2:00 at OSF and online: Peru: Democratic Crisis, Human Rights and Impunity (RSVP required).

Wednesday, June 21

Thursday, June 22

  • 3:00-4:30 at CSIS and online: Building the North American Semiconductor Corridor (RSVP required).
  • 5:30-6:30 in Washington and online: Democratic Decline and Authoritarian Drift in Guatemala: Presentation and Comments on the Inclusion of Guatemala in Chapter 4.B of the IACHR Annual Report 2022 (RSVP required).
  • 5:30-7:00 at 1301 Connecticut Ave NW Suite 600 and online: The Current Situation in Colombia: A Conversation with Marco Romero (RSVP required).

Friday, June 23

  • 9:30-11:00 at 1301 Connecticut Ave NW Suite 600 and online: ‘Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading’: Cristosal Reports on One Year Under El Salvador’s State of Exception (RSVP required).
  • 12:00-2:00 at thedialogue.org: Migrant and Refugee Children in the Americas (RSVP required).
  • 1:30-3:30 at USIP: Commemorating Jimmy Carter’s Legacy in the Americas (RSVP required).
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