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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Back to the border

I’m back from my third visit to the San Diego-Tijuana border so far this year. I spent much of Monday with U.S. authorities, CBP and Border Patrol. Tuesday was an excellent day-long meeting with non-governmental groups from all four border states. I went to Tijuana on Wednesday, and on Thursday met with civic leaders and […]

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Can Trump really stop all aid to Central America? Yes, but not really.

The New York Times reports: The State Department issued a statement late on Friday saying: “At the secretary’s instruction, we are carrying out the president’s direction and ending FY 2017 and FY 2018 foreign assistance programs for the Northern Triangle. We will be engaging Congress as part of this process.” I’m not a lawyer, and […]

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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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Top-line notes from my February 11-20 border trip

I spent the week of February 11, and some of this week, in San Diego and Tijuana. It was like holding down two jobs. Each day: At 4:30am, I’d go to the airport and escort migrant families to the flights that, in most cases, relatives had purchased for them. The San Diego Rapid Response Network […]

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Mid-Visit Notes from the Border

(I wrote these notes earlier today, in the middle of “day 3” here at the border.) Hello from a coffee shop in central Tijuana. I’m taking a moment between meetings to talk about what I’m seeing on my second visit here so far this year. I’m interviewing experts, officials, and service providers on both sides […]

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Back in San Diego

I just landed in San Diego. I’ll be here and in Tijuana all week. I’ve got a reasonably full—but not crammed—agenda and a long and evolving list of research questions (reproduced below). This is an unusual trip for me, for at least four reasons. First, I’m by myself all week, not with any colleagues. That […]

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Here’s a Better Way to Spend $5.7 Billion at the Border

I wrote this yesterday while watching the House-Senate Conference Committee meet to discuss a border spending package that might keep the government open after February 15 (and avoid a disastrous presidential “national emergency” declaration to build a border wall). The gist: border security isn’t “solved,” but what’s needed now is adjustments, not a sweeping, pharaonic […]

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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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Writing from a long Miami airport layover

I’m back from Havana. This is the second time I’ve participated in an annual “series of conversations” between U.S. and Cuban scholars and diplomats—the last time was 2013. It was an honor to be on the list of invited Americans, most of whom—unlike me—are Cuba specialists. It was a lot of panels, and I learned […]

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There’s No Emotionally Satisfying Response to Trump “Caravan Rage”

As the latest Central American migrant caravan limps through Chiapas, the first of up to a dozen Mexican states lying between them and the U.S. border, Donald Trump has seized on them as his best hope for maintaining a Republican majority in Congress. He and others on the U.S. right have gone into overdrive with […]

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9 Questions (and Answers) About the Central American Migrant Caravan

A new resource at WOLA’s website provides quick, fact-filled, documented and cited answers to these questions: Why are people leaving? And why are they leaving now? (Short answer: violence, corruption, climate, domestic violence, and economics.) Can Trump cut aid to Central America? (Short answer: no.) Why are people traveling as a caravan? (Short answer: safety in numbers.) […]

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The past week in Colombia’s peace process

(Week of September 30-October 6) Prosecutor’s Office Raids Transitional Justice System Headquarters On the afternoon of October 4 agents of Colombia’s Chief Prosecutor’s Office (Fiscalía, which investigates and prosecutes crimes in the regular criminal justice system) showed up at the offices of the new, separate transitional justice system created by the peace accords (Special Peace […]

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