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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Venezuela

At wola.org: Putting U.S. Counterdrug Operations in the Caribbean in Context

Hours after Wednesday’s White House announcement of a big military deployment to Latin America, ostensibly to stop drugs, I got together (virtually) with Geoff Ramsey and David Smilde from WOLA’s Venezuela program. We came up with a list of questions, then started typing what we know, and what we need to know, into a Google […]

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WOLA Podcast: “Beyond the ‘Narco-State’ Narrative”

I’ll be going back to an interview format for tomorrow’s podcast (if all goes according to plan). Today’s episode, though, is the audio track of a March 20, 2020 WOLA webinar about criminality and corruption in Venezuela, and the viability of a political exit to the crisis. This event is based on a March 11 report by WOLA’s Geoff Ramsey and David […]

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WOLA Podcast: What the State of the Union Means for Latin America

It’s great to have a new digital communications person on staff: podcasts are now starting to come out quickly, without me having to initiate and edit them. Yesterday, the morning after Trump’s State of the Union, Lizette Alvarez sat three of us down to talk about the president’s several mentions of issues we work on. […]

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WOLA Podcast on Venezuela: New Year, New Political Tumult

For Venezuela, 2020 began with new political turmoil, as the Maduro government maneuvered to take over the presidency of the opposition-majority National Assembly. Will this backfire for Maduro? Can the opposition maintain unity? Are negotiations toward new elections feasible? Is the U.S. government sending a coherent message? What about other international actors, like the EU […]

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WOLA Podcast: What next in Venezuela?

Here’s a conversation recorded yesterday with Geoff Ramsey, who works on Venezuela full-time at WOLA. I wanted Geoff to talk about how to help restore democracy in Venezuela without a military intervention—but also without vague “dialogues” that just buy time for Maduro. He gave me a lot to work with. We’re both fast talkers, so […]

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Thinking about the unthinkable: U.S. military intervention in Venezuela

Es más o menos aceptable la traducción automática de Google al español de este artículo. Disclaimer: I’m not WOLA’s Venezuela expert. I’ve only visited the country once. Most of what I know about the country comes from press and NGO reports. The following exercise is me considering the unthinkable based on years of studying defense […]

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I was right about Venezuela in 1999—but I didn’t do enough about it.

Francisco Toro and James Bosworth, founders of two of the longest-running Latin America blogs (Caracas Chronicles and Bloggings by Boz, respectively), have a good column on the Washington Post website today, warning about how authoritarian populist leaders—right or left—screw up their countries’ delicate civil-military relations. There seems to be something about men in uniform that […]

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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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WOLA Podcast on the Venezuelan Forced Migration Crisis

I sat down this morning with Gimena Sánchez, who works on Colombia and the Andes here at WOLA, and Geoff Ramsey, who works on Venezuela. Geoff spent all of April in Venezuela, and in the Venezuelan border areas of Colombia and Brazil. Gimena was in Colombia at the same time, and both did fieldwork in the border city […]

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A full-on exodus

Hello from Cúcuta, Colombia, on the border with Venezuela. I had full days of meetings here yesterday and today to talk about the security situation and to evaluate a big USAID program operating in the surrounding department of Norte de Santander. Near the end of today, we took a 15-minute cab ride to the Simón Bolívar […]

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The peril of “protest fatigue”

Because they’re governed poorly by corrupt elites, Brazil and Venezuela have seen long recent periods of massive street protests. But now, the energy is fizzling in both countries. That’s a common theme in the past few weeks’ reporting, anyway. Brazil “Everywhere you go in Brazil, it’s the same thing. Circles under the eyes, hushed voices. […]

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Venezuela’s 2 “black boxes”: the military and the poor

Like many of you, I spend a lot of time lately reading about Venezuela. But I’m absolutely not a Venezuela expert. Over the years, I often disagreed with the U.S. government’s approach to him, but I was never a fan of Hugo Chávez. I’ve always supported demilitarizing politics in the Americas. So naturally I spoke […]

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Links From the Last Month About: Civil-Military Relations in Latin America

Argentina Outgoing Defense Minister Julio Martínez alleged that the previous governments of Néstor Kirchner and Cristina Fernández so neglected the country’s air force that “over a hundred [aircraft] went out of service or were decommissioned.” Brazil Brazilian Army soldiers, long tasked with guarding the country’s 10,400-mile land border, are increasingly being used as police. “During […]

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