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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Public Security

Why are homicides declining in Colombia this year?

An argument I included in Monday evening’s post, about the Colombian Defense Minister’s security performance, raised a few hackles on social media. That post cited President Iván Duque’s crediting Defense Minister Guillermo Botero for a 2 percent reduction in homicides so far in 2019, compared to the same period in 2018. To refute it, I […]

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Notes from Chocó, Colombia

After our early October visit to Arauca, Colombia, WOLA colleagues and I spent several days in the middle section of Chocó. This department (province) borders both the Pacific and Atlantic, as well as Panama, in Colombia’s far northwest. It’s been a week and a half since we completed this last leg of our trip. It […]

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Notes from Arauca, Colombia

Greetings from Bogotá. I’m here briefly after a few days in the department of Arauca, in northeastern Colombia along the border with Venezuela. We visited the towns of Arauca (the departmental capital), Arauquita, and Saravena, holding 17 interviews with human rights defenders, political office holders, social movements, the armed forces, youth groups, trade unionists, and […]

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Video of my long talk, in Mexico, about “militaries as police”

Many thanks to Mexico’s Universidad Iberoamericana, who along with several other groups organized a May 21-22 conference in Mexico City on the need for civilians to be in charge of security, at a time when it is militarizing throughout Latin America. They asked me to give a talk about citizen security and the military’s involvement, […]

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WOLA Podcast: Security, Impunity, and Reform in El Salvador

This makes three podcasts in three weeks. I can’t believe it, either. Here’s the latest (which you can download directly here): An update from Cristian Schlick of El Salvador’s IDHUCA El Salvador is inaugurating a new president amid a severe security crisis. Tens of thousands of Salvadorans are abandoning their homes each year—most displacing internally […]

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Trust in security institutions across Latin America

All credit here goes to the Chile-based Latinobarómetro polling organization, which carries out an annual public-opinion survey in most of Latin America and the Caribbean. The 2018 poll (PDF) is a fascinating read. For an upcoming presentation, I wanted to know what the poll said about how Latin Americans are viewing the three government institutions […]

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Links from the past month about “Soldiers As Police” in Latin America

(All the coverage I saw last month was about Mexico.) Mexico Jorge Carrasco Araizaga, “Magistrados Reviven la Ley de Seguridad Interior” (Proceso (Mexico), September 27, 2018). Un tribunal colegiado de la Ciudad de México validó la entrada en vigor de la Ley de Seguridad Interior (LSI), aunque la Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación […]

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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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Good discussion today about the origins of Central America’s violence

We covered a lot of ground in an hour and a half. To the extent that we left the audience with a conclusion: Central America has taken some initial steps to get at the causes of violence. These steps are fragile and risk reversal. This fight is going to be long and complicated, probably requiring […]

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The Past Week in Colombia’s Peace Process

(Week of September 9-15) ELN Talks Remain Suspended In his August 7 inaugural speech, President Iván Duque said that he would take 30 days to decide whether to continue peace talks with the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas. That period has expired, and Duque did not end the talks—but he has suspended them pending the […]

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The past week in Colombia’s peace process

(Week of May 27 – June 2) First-Round Election Results: Petro vs. Duque As polls predicted, no single candidate won more than 50 percent of the vote in Colombia’s May 27 first-round presidential election. The candidates who will go on to a second round runoff on June 17 are rightist Senator Iván Duque and leftist […]

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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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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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