Monday, April 16, 2012
Crime, Violence and Anemic Diplomacy
Plague the Americas
By Jerry Brewer
As political aspirants within the Americas continue to seek higher office in elections this
year, they must be careful to not have a platform that ignores neighboring allies and nations engulfed in violence, death
and consistent turmoil. Too, it is morally wrong to turn one's head as leftist governments continue to excessively
violate human rights and fail to police their own homelands, enforce the rule of law, and apply justice.
Of course each nation must be concerned about its own homeland and the significant challenges
ahead with limited resources. But Latin America's democracies must not acquiesce to cross-border strong-arm tactics,
whether the border is contiguous or not.
The Americas is an incredible
stretch, from the southern tip of Argentina north to Canada, with deteriorating security from border to border. And many nations
therein have been forced into militarized policing due to war-like confrontations. Consequently, there is an urgent need for
all nations along the route to unite as a whole to save their homelands from terror and facilitation by inaction, as well
as deliberate acts of government subterfuge in complicity.
that violent drug gangs are the primary prolific nemesis of democratic governments within the hemisphere is also misleading.
Logistically speaking, these organized criminal insurgents need weapons, as well as the means to launder money, facilitate
movement, a market to corrupt officials, and regimes that will overlook their actions for unspecified remuneration.
The U.S. obviously can't solve the region's problems by itself, nor should it be
expected to. A nation's people and leaders should bear the burden of making their own choices, reaping the benefits
of good ones and learning from the bad. But the U.S. can be more consistent in cultivating relations that serve our own
interests as well as those of our neighbors. To crush or break off potential future problems, the U.S. should have a comprehensive
strategic plan of engagement, practice hands-on diplomacy, and nurture enduring partnerships.
Critical elections this year in Mexico and Venezuela, as well as the U.S., are undoubtedly going to take on greater
importance within this hemisphere for the next decade or so, and short-term thinking alone will only lead to continued festering
problems. There must be a close watch for attacks on democratic elections, restrictions on political expression and
debate, as well as voter intimidation and outright election fraud. Dictatorial and socialist agendas have already
shown alterations of term limits and regimes seeking indefinite rule.
uneven pledge by the U.S., to employ and nurture solutions to critical issues within Latin America, has been guided less by
strategy than by tactical response. Contributing to that dilemma were Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador as they ceased cooperation
with the U.S. military and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
1991, Bolivia and Paraguay had signed at least seven border security pacts, but "the treaties have yet to translate into
noticeable security improvements."
Clearly, and to a great extent
in Latin America, insurgent-like guerrilla/paramilitary groups remain -- many also involved in drug trafficking and/or its
facilitation, plus they seek operating territory while overpowering law enforcement and political efforts to combat them.
In Central America criminal gangs are entrenched in armed robbery, kidnappings for ransom
and extortion, murder for hire, human/sex trafficking and other crimes, contributing significantly to the massive death rates.
As well, many of these gangs are being recruited and trained by drug cartels to commit heinous acts or serve as diversionary
pawns, thus taking some of the pursuit heat off the cartels. In consequence, Central America now has the highest homicide
rate in the world, along with Venezuela much further south. And there are thousands of people still missing throughout the
Mexico is still in the crossfire, with its police and military
having suffered head-on confrontations with narco-terrorists, and the killings of mayors, journalists, politicians and other
officials, since 2005. As well, the Mexico-based criminals have boldly crossed the southern border and they now operate in
Central America, virtually controlling "the entire extension of the Mexico-Guatemala border."
Regarding South America, a DEA official reported to the US Senate that "both Mexican
and Colombian traffickers have increased their presence in Bolivia." Bolivia's top drug official said that some Bolivian
groups have made contact with Mexico's Los Zetas. A Bolivian representative to the United Nations' Office on
Drugs and Crime has stated "that traffickers trying to ship cocaine from Bolivia into Brazil or Argentina frequently
travel first through Paraguay." Most of the drug planes discovered so far this year were found in Bolivia's eastern
department of Santa Cruz.
Effective U.S. policy and Latin American diplomatic
engagement in the Americas must rise quickly from the smoldering ashes of their own complacency.
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 http://www.cjiausa.org/.