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Column 031212 Brewer

Monday, March 12, 2012

Latin American Summits offer Opportunities, pose Problems

By Jerry Brewer

The time is now for democratic Latin American leaders to stand tall and firm on addressing the true problems of the continuous deteriorating security environment within Latin America. A major part of this extraneous discourse must squarely place a large portion of the blame on those leftist regimes that continue to foster discord and demonstrate zero attempts to be part of the solution.

When might these proactive government hopefuls have such a timely opportunity?

The good news is that they have two major occasions approaching, and not a second too late.  Free nations and democracies in the hemisphere should do all within their power between the dates of these two regional assemblies to address their leaders and government representatives, help set true agendas, and hold some feet to the fire.

The Sixth Summit of the Americas will be held in Cartagena, Colombia on April 14-15 of this year.  The central theme of this summit is "Connecting the Americas: Partners for Prosperity." What a great theme, albeit a courageous title that may mask additional subterfuge and sleight of hand that could focus again on finger pointing and hand wringing in lieu of confronting the hard and threatening issues.

"Connecting the Americas" between corridors of burnt and smoldering bridges between South and Central America and Mexico, will require an engineered strategy of ingenuity, integrity, and intestinal fortitude.

The 18th Sao Paulo Forum will be held in Caracas, Venezuela on July 4-6, with the official opening on July 5th in celebration of "independence day of Venezuela."  The Sao Paulo Forum was established in 1990 "with the aim of embracing all the leftist forces in the region."

"Embracing" leftist leaders may find it nearly impossible to "connect the Americas" due to their weak support of embracing coordinated regional cooperation and efforts to curb drug smuggling, guerrilla insurgents, gangs, and related transnational organized crime.  

The nations of Central America have been victimized by unchecked or lax interdiction by those countries led by leftist regimes.  In particular, Venezuela's failure to cooperate with coordinated drug interdiction and enforcement resulted in nearly 300 tons of cocaine flowing through Venezuela in a three year period.  U.S. authorities have stated that "Venezuela's failure to cooperate with the United States on drug interdiction is related to corruption in that country's government." They accused three high-ranking Venezuelan officials of aiding Colombian rebels and protecting drug shipments.

President Rafael Correa of Ecuador was also quick to cease cooperation with U.S. antidrug officials, including closing the opportunity to continue using the Manta Air Base for U.S. drug interdiction flights in the region.  Bolivia's President Evo Morales also followed the lead and remains strong on the position of coca leaf production.

Former Colombia President Alvaro Uribe accused Correa of Ecuador of having ties to the FARC guerrillas.  A letter pulled from the computer of a rebel leader killed showed that the FARC had supported Correa during his 2006 presidential campaign. Too, Colombia's national police chief stated that evidence from a computer showed that the FARC had given Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez $100 million pesos when he was a jailed rebel leader.  As well, the computer apparently revealed a US$300 million contribution to the FARC from Chavez.

Former President Uribe stated that the "terrorists are always tipped off" to raids that are planned by Colombian officials. Uribe did not notify Correa of an operational plan into Ecuador; "I was sure that the operation would have failed," Uribe said. This time it didn't. Uribe gave his apologies to Presidents Correa and Chavez after the belated news broke.

The Sao Paulo Forum includes Bolivian President Evo Morales, who has said he wants to expand the leftist alliance of Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador and Nicaragua "into the realms of militaries, political parties and social movements."  Morales further urged Latin American countries to shake off military cooperation with the United States. 

The Bolivian government has purchased, from China, ten Russian-made cargo helicopters and six military aircraft, while signing a credit with Moscow for US$100 million.  This virtually parroting his mentor Hugo Chavez and the latter's billions of dollars in spending for Russian weapons at the expense and misery of his people that could have greatly benefited from the billions expended on non-existent threats.

These two summits this year offer opportunities for national leaders, working together, to jointly define a hemispheric agenda at the highest levels "to address urgent challenges and propel positive change."  And to hopefully begin an era that will truly and promptly bring an end to the violent crimes, killings, corruption, impunity, and poverty that continue to plague and overwhelm far too many countries in the region.

It is time for actions that far exceed empty words.


Jerry Brewer is C.E.O. of Criminal Justice International Associates, a global threat mitigation firm headquartered in northern Virginia.  His website is located at

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