Adam Isacson's Latin America Blog

Aug 28

[video]

Aug 26

Brazil got an unusual amount of coverage, much of it rather grim, in U.S. print media outlets today.

Aug 25

I’m back from vacation. Look forward to posting as soon as I work through some inboxes.

I’m back from vacation. Look forward to posting as soon as I work through some inboxes.

Aug 08

Going on vacation, and thinking aloud about work

Tomorrow, for the first time in several years, I’m taking off for a full two weeks of vacation. I’m looking forward to a recharge and the perspective that comes with it.

There’s a lot to reflect on; it’s been a remarkable year so far, and I’ve been posting a lot about it here and elsewhere.

This fall we’ve got a big report on Chocó, Colombia coming out. We’ll re-visit the Texas-Mexico border and report on that. And we’re putting on a closed-door conference in Europe to discuss donor priorities for a possible post-conflict Colombia.

Whew.

This is a good year, and there’ll be a lot to reflect on while walking in the woods of Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks with my family over the next two weeks.

One important reflection, though, is how much improvement I still need to make, in my own work. Constantly. Simply, to be better at it than I am now.

As I write out my e-mail autoreply and clean my office, these are the things I think I need to ask:

So that’s what I’ve come up with. Dig harder in my investigative work, and be more regular in my short-form and audio communications. (Notice I’m not saying “more meetings and events” or “more emails to answer.” But those are subjects for another post.)

Now, I’ve got 2 weeks of tranquility in the wilderness to think about what all that might look like. I look forward to making it happen when I get back.

Have a great two weeks.

Aug 07

Aug 06

Couldn’t sleep. So I looked up the World Bank’s estimates of Gross Domestic Product (GDP, the size of everything made, bought, and sold in a country in a year) for Latin America, in current 2013 dollars. Then, for each country, I found the closest U.S. state or metropolitan area GDP, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

So here’s a map showing which U.S. jurisdiction’s economy is closest in size to each Latin American country. At least, according to what I’m sure is an econometrically unsound analysis that was fun to do in the middle of the night.

Oh right, the box office data (for Belize) comes from Box Office Mojo.

Couldn’t sleep. So I looked up the World Bank’s estimates of Gross Domestic Product (GDP, the size of everything made, bought, and sold in a country in a year) for Latin America, in current 2013 dollars. Then, for each country, I found the closest U.S. state or metropolitan area GDP, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

So here’s a map showing which U.S. jurisdiction’s economy is closest in size to each Latin American country. At least, according to what I’m sure is an econometrically unsound analysis that was fun to do in the middle of the night.

Oh right, the box office data (for Belize) comes from Box Office Mojo.

Aug 04

Earlier this evening, at the “Senda de Vida” migrant shelter in Reynosa, Mexico. I’m second from right at the table, next to Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Massachusetts). We’re in the south Texas border zone for a quick visit.

Earlier this evening, at the “Senda de Vida” migrant shelter in Reynosa, Mexico. I’m second from right at the table, next to Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Massachusetts). We’re in the south Texas border zone for a quick visit.

Aug 02

Call Off the National Guard: Unaccompanied children are no reason to send troops to the border -

New analysis posted yesterday to wola.org.

Deploying the National Guard is expensive, disruptive to Guardsmen’s families and employers, and—especially when done in an open-ended way—damaging to U.S. civil-military relations. This is absolutely the wrong way to go.

Aug 01

“There was a cleaning out of the military and other structures of government that never happened in … Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.” — Nicaragua-based journalist Judy Butler, in an excellent piece by Jill Replogle for San Diego public television explaining why Nicaragua is not suffering from the sort of violence that is expelling thousands of children from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. (Nicaragua’s homicide rate is one-eighth that of Honduras.)

“Every official U.S. government document on national security strategy. I realized a couple of years ago that these documents are for chumps. Dirty little Pentagon secret: No one who runs the country reads them. Mid-level bureaucrats write these for each other to cite.” — Tom Ricks at Foreign Policy.

Jul 30

The House Republicans' proposed border funding bill -

This will be debated and voted tomorrow, before Congress leaves town for a six-week recess.

What a nasty piece of legislation.

Jul 26

The UN Development Program takes indicators like life expectancy, education, and income and turns it into a “Human Development Index.”

In a 2011 report, UNDP assigned “violence and income concentration-adjusted” human development indices to most of Colombia’s departments (provinces - see the table on page 411 of this PDF).

Each department is labeled with the name of one of the countries whose current Human Development Index it most closely resembles.

The disparities are broad, ranging from the Czech Republic (Bogotá) to Botswana (Chocó).

The UN Development Program takes indicators like life expectancy, education, and income and turns it into a “Human Development Index.”

In a 2011 report, UNDP assigned “violence and income concentration-adjusted” human development indices to most of Colombia’s departments (provinces - see the table on page 411 of this PDF).

Each department is labeled with the name of one of the countries whose current Human Development Index it most closely resembles.

The disparities are broad, ranging from the Czech Republic (Bogotá) to Botswana (Chocó).

ICYMI

I’ve written five pieces over the past 2 weeks. Three of them were first-drafted on flights back from Bogotá a week ago Thursday.

I don’t know why all but one have titles ending in a question mark. Got to work on that.

Jul 25

Immigration Crisis Is Product Of Perfect Storm Of Conditions In Central America -

Fox News Latino has just posted an analysis in which I go over the past 20 years’ causes for the violence in Central America.

Are unaccompanied minors fleeing violence, or just poverty, in Central America? -

Over at “Border Fact Check,” my Intern Lesley Wellener slaps back claims, from people like Rep. Steve Pearce (R-New Mexico), that most Central American children aren’t threatened, but are instead coming here for economic reasons.