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Post911 Security in Latin America and the Caribbean


In most of Latin America, besides the case of Colombia where an insurgency rages, ... the application of 9/11 to the Latin America context was not obvious. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Post911 Security in Latin America and the Caribbean

Post-9/11 Security in Latin America and the
  • PS543

  • U.S. policymakers have often viewed Latin America
    and the Caribbean through a narrow ideological
    lens, which seriously distorts the regions
    complex realities.
  • For decades, this lens was the Cold War.
  • This vision allowed the US to overlook the
    regions stark inequalities and authoritarian
    governments limits upon democratic freedoms
  • The US backed repressive dictatorships in the
    Southern Cone and then armed abusive militaries
    and the brutal contra army in Central America.

  • The Carter Administrations human rights policy
    provided a brief respite from this perspective.
  • For a few years in the early 1990sthe end of the
    first Bush Administration and the beginning of
    the Clinton Administration, the combination of
    the success of the Central American peace accords
    and the end of the Cold War allowed a momentarily
    more peaceful vision to hold sway.

  • During this transitional moment, the United
    States focused primarily on supporting peace
    accord implementation in Central America
  • Declassifying U.S. files to aid Central American
    truth commissions
  • Providing aid and disaster relief to address the
    devastation of Hurricane Mitch and
  • Advancing a more corporate agenda through
    promotion of a free trade area of the Americas.

  • In the mid-1990s, anxious to maintain strong
    military ties with Latin America in a period
    without an over-arching framework that justified
    a military approach, the U.S. Southern Command
    abandoned its objections to increased military
    involvement in the so-called War on Drugs.
  • Former U.S. Southern Command head Barry
    McCaffrey, then-Drug Czar, floated an ambitious
    plan to use the Colombian and other Andean
    militaries to combat drugs.

  • Convinced that the threat from increased coca
    cultivation in Colombia was serious and wooed by
    Colombian President Andrés Pastranas promise to
    seek peace accords with the guerrillas as he
    increased military efforts, President Clinton won
    approval from the Congress for an enormous
    military aid package for Colombia and the Andean
  • This package solidified a trend that had
    gradually increased from the late 1980s. In the
    late 1990s through 2001, the War on Drugs was the
    driving force for U.S. policy to the region. U.S.
    military aid began to ratchet upward once again.

  • By 2002, U.S. policymakers once again found a new
    lens for U.S. policy towards Latin America the
    global war on terror. And this lens fit
    comfortably with the traditionally military
    approach towards the region.

  • In 2001, prior to September 11th, Southcom
    Commander General Peter Pace emphasized positive
    trends in Latin America and used the regions
    commonalities with the United States, from market
    opportunities to the growing Hispanic population
    in the U.S., rather than threats, to bolster the
    case for growing U.S. military support for the

  • During the past twenty years, we have seen a
    positive trend as nations adopted democratic
    principles and institutions, subordinated their
    military to civilian leadership, instituted the
    rule of law, and promoted respect for human
    rights... Although several age-old border
    disputes still provide ample opportunity for
    disagreement between neighbors, this region does
    not have an arms race or a shooting war between

  • He identified the greatest threats as illegal
    migration, arms trafficking, crime and
    corruption, and illegal drug trafficking.
    Interestingly, the only mention of terrorism in
    the posture statement is that in the context of
    the attacks on the USS Cole, U.S. troops
    stationed in Latin America must be protected from
    such attacks. Support for the Colombian military,
    already extensive in 2001, is explained solely in
    the counternarcotics framework.

  • By March 2002, the Southern Commands posture
    statement stressed the commands implementation
    of the Global War on Terrorism.
  • It emphasized that the Southern Command
    recognized a viable terrorist threat in Latin
    America long before September 11th, which if
    not further exposed and removed... poses a
    serious potential risk to our national

  • This statement emphasized the transnational
    terrorist organizations such as
  • Hamas and Hezbollah alleged to be operating in
    the Argentina-Paraguay-Brazil triborder region,
  • went back in time to recall the bombings at the
    Jewish-Argentine Cultural Center in 1994 and
  • the Tupac Amaru revolutionary movement in Peru in
    the mid 1990s, and
  • then focused on the FARC, ELN and AUC in

  • The statement, however, was balanced by the
    recognition that
  • without a clear or imminent external threat,
    Latin American and Caribbean nations are
    essentially at peace with their neighbors, and
    nations of our hemisphere have made substantial
    progress toward achieving peace through
    democratically elected governments, economic
    development, and the subordination of the
    military to civilian authority.

  • In April 2004, Southcom Commander General James
    T. Hill to the Senate Armed Services Committee
    sought to assure the committee that
  • the men and women of our command are making
    enormous contributions to the War on Terrorism
    and the defense of this country on a daily
  • General Hill intended to convince the committee
    that Latin American developments posed
  • an increasing threat to U.S. interests.

  • Colombias considerable progress in the battle
    against narcoterrorism is offset by negative
    developments elsewhere in the region,
    particularly in Haiti, Bolivia, and Venezuela.
  • Hill pinpointed not only
  • traditional threats such as those from
    narcoterrorists and their ilk... urban gangs and
    other illegal armed groups, and a lesser but
    sophisticated threat from Islamic radical groups
    in the region, but also an emerging threat best
    described as radical populism.

  • Here, in a marked departure from the posture
    statements for 2001 and 2002, Hill was
    characterizing populist governments and movements
    in Bolivia and Venezuela as security threats.
  • Hill also claimed,
  • Terrorists throughout the Southern Command area
    of responsibility bomb, murder, kidnap, traffic
    drugs, transfer arms, launder money and smuggle

  • General Hill offered a mish-mash of threats
    ranging from populist political leaders to
    ordinary criminals, from drug traffickers to
    Hamas followers and street gangs to seek
    congressional approval of two measures to
    escalate U.S. military involvement in Colombia,
    changing the cap to permit an increase in U.S.
    troops in Colombia and reprogramming an
    additional 50 million in Defense Department
    funds for the Colombian military offensive.

  • Perhaps due to a lack of adequate specific
    threats to the region, the Defense Department and
    Southern Command have begun to focus on a
    slippery concept of effective sovereignty,
  • That the U.S. military should help Latin American
    governments assert effective sovereignty over
    ungoverned spaces.

  • This emphasizes the real problem that there are
    extensive areas in Latin America without adequate
    state institutions and state control
    underserved areas without sufficient civilian
    government presence, police or judicial
  • In the Pentagon and Southern Commands view, such
    areas could become safe havens for terrorists.

  • This viewpoint focuses primarily on the extension
    of military rather than civilian government
    control over such areas, and can be used to
    justify a generalized expansion of military
    control over domestic territory, rather than a
    response to specific external threats suitable
    for military response or internal threats
    suitable for police action.
  • The ungoverned territory thesis is also useful in
    that it can be applied indefinitelyexactly when
    will Latin American territories be sufficiently
    governed, and how would anyone prove that such
    ungoverned territories no longer exist?

  • The most problematic aspect of the war on
    terrorism rationalelike the Cold War and the War
    on Drugs before itis that it promotes the
    general goal of strengthening, arming and
    equipping Latin American militaries without
    careful attention to the specific roles that
    military should adopt.

  • In most of Latin America, besides the case of
    Colombia where an insurgency rages, terrorist
    threats are a relatively small problem which
    should be dealt with largely by police forces.
  • Yet U.S. policy actively promotes a blurring of
    the line between military and police roles.

  • Directly after 9/11, there was an outpouring of
    sympathy for the United States from Latin
    American governments, media and civil society.
  • The General Assembly of the Organization of
    American States (OAS) issued a statement that
    individually and collectively, we will deny
    terrorist groups the capacity to operate in this
    hemisphere. This American family stands united.

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  • Moreover, the Organization of American States
    Committee Against Terrorism continues to set the
    standard among regional institutions through its
    effort to institutionalize the long-term
    international campaign against terrorism.
  • The OAS was meeting in Lima, Peru, at the time of
    the September 11th attacks.
  • The General Assembly immediately issued a
    condemnation and expressed full solidarity with
    the government and people of the United States,
    resolving to strengthen hemispheric cooperation
    to combat this scourge that has thrown the world
    and the hemispheric community into mourning.

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  • Thirty of the 34 member states of the OAS lost
    citizens in the attacks.
  • On September 21, the hemispheres foreign
    ministers adopted a resolution calling upon OAS
    member states to take effective measures to deny
    terrorist groups the ability to operate within
    their territories.
  • The foreign ministers invoked the Rio Treaty of
    1947, declaring that the 9/11 attacks are
    attacks against all American states.

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  • In 2002, the OAS drafted a Convention Against
    Terrorism, which was signed by 33 of the 34
    member states and has begun the process of being
    ratified by member states legislatures.
  • The OASs Inter-American Committee Against
    Terrorism has worked to propose specific
    cooperation measures on border security, customs
    controls, improvement of travel documents and
    financial controls that member nations can adopt
    to strengthen security.

  • The United States, usually seen as a powerful and
    domineering force, was for once perceived as a
    victim in need of solidarity.
  • Today, that sentiment has eroded, giving way to
    negative perceptions of the decision to go to war
    in Iraq as well as long-standing concerns over
  • The way in which the Bush Administration has
    framed and implemented a Global War on
    Terrorism is not well-received by most Latin
    American governments, with the notable exception
    of Colombia.
  • Polls indicate that public opinion in the
    hemisphere is sharply critical of U.S. policy.

  • Where Latin American governments have perceived
    U.S. anti-terrorism requests to be related to
    real concerns over international terrorism, they
    are generally responsive.
  • Yet Latin American concerns over the war in Iraq
    and the Bush Administrations particular
    packaging of the Global War on Terrorism do not
    imply a rejection or lack of cooperation on
    specific antiterrorism measures.
  • Latin American governments cooperate actively
    with the United States regarding practical steps
    to track, investigate and prosecute terrorist
    activities. Such cooperation has increased since
    9/11, according to the U.S. State Department.

  • The history of the impact of September 11th on
    U.S.-Latin American relations is still being
    written. But certain trends can be observed which
    go beyond the frequent lament that Latin America
    fell off the U.S. radar screen following 9/11.
  • First, 9/11 tapped into the tendency of the U.S.
    government to perceive Latin America through one
    all-encompassing and distorting lens.
  • Second, it provided a new rationale for the
    existing bureaucratic trend of the United States
    to interact with Latin America on increasingly
    military terms, contributing to the growing
    primacy of military interaction and aid above
    diplomatic relations or development assistance.

  • Third, it affected human rights, both by
    reinforcing the Bush Administrations instinct to
    view human rights as of secondary importance, and
    by eroding the United States moral authority to
    critique other governments human rights
  • Fourth, it deepened U.S. involvement in
    Colombias internal conflict.
  • Finally, it relegated to the back seat issues of
    great importance to Latin American
    governmentssuch as immigration reform for Mexico
    and a critique of globalization and its impact on
    poverty, a primary concern for many governments
    and civil society organizations throughout the

  • Within two weeks after September 11th, the White
    House sent a bill to Congress that would have
    lifted all restrictions on military aid and arms
    transfers on any country for the next five years
    where necessary to help fight terrorism.
  • Congress, however, responding to concerns raised
    by human rights and religious groups as well as
    members desire to maintain congressional
    oversight, scaled back this provision drastically
    to remove only the sanctions on Pakistan.
  • In Latin America, the lifting of sanctions could
    potentially have affected Guatemala and Colombia.

  • Guatemala had a ban on military aid in place
    since 1990, while Colombia had a certification
    process for human rights compliance attached to
    its military aid

  • As with foreign policy in general, the
    administration sought to place Latin America
    policy increasingly in the framework of a Global
    War on Terror.
  • The Colombian conflict provided the most obvious
    parallels, and the White House moved quickly to
    use the War on Terror to deepen U.S. involvement.
  • Talks about immigration policy with Mexico
    stalled completely, and plans to enforce security
    on the U.S.-Mexico border received renewed
  • In other ways, however, the application of 9/11
    to the Latin America context was not obvious.

  • One way in which the administration sought to
    make Latin America relevant in the terrorism
    context was to assert the dangers of ungoverned
    spaces on the continent.
  • As Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in a
    Latin American defense ministerial meeting in
    Santiago, Chile,
  • when terrorists are driven out of countriesas
    they were in Afghanistanthey often find haven in
    the worlds many ungoverned regions.... In this
    hemisphere narco-terrorists, hostage-takers, and
    arms smugglers operate in ungoverned areas.

  • Most Latin American governments were quite
    receptive to aiding U.S. efforts to track al
    Qaeda but did not endorse the Bush
    Administrations broad definition of a Global
    War on Terrorism.
  • Where the Bush Administration attempted to paint
    the War on Terror broadly, as encompassing
    threats ranging from
  • the four-decades-old Cuban Revolution,
  • Venezuelan populism,
  • drug trafficking and
  • the regional spread of the Colombian conflict, or
  • the War on Terrorism to expect unquestioning
    support and troop commitments for the Iraq war,
  • it met certain resistance from a number of Latin
    American governments.

  • However, where the United States sought specific,
    practical cooperation on international terror
    networks, it largely received such cooperation.
  • According to the State Departments Office of the
    Coordinator for Counterterrorism, in 2003
  • countries in the region actively continued
    efforts to fortify hemispheric border and
    financial controls to prevent or disrupt
    terrorism-related activities on their territories
    to the greatest extent possible.

  • The US has been working with Argentina, Brazil
    and Paraguay on the Three Plus One
    Counterterrorism Dialogue regarding border
    security and financial controls.
  • The so-called triborder area, where Argentina,
    Brazil and Paraguay converge, has long been
    characterized as a regional hub for Hizballah and
    HAMAS fundraising activities, as well as for
    arms and drug trafficking, smuggling, money
    laundering, and document and currency forgery.

  • The Three Plus One parties concluded that
    available information did not substantiate
    reports of operational activities by terrorists
    in the triborder region, although terrorist
    financing and money laundering remained a strong
  • The State Departments annual Patterns of Global
    Terrorism report for 2003 depicted Argentina,
    Chile, Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, Ecuador, Peru,
    Uruguay, and Canada as largely or fully
    cooperative on counterterrorism measures.

  • In the case of Brazil, the State Department notes
    that Brazil declined a request from Colombia to
    designate the FARC as a terrorist organization,
    stating that it did not maintain such a list of
    organizations and instead condemned specific
  • Nonetheless, the State Department recognized that
    Brazil extended practical, effective support to
    U.S. counterterrorism actions.

  • Besides Cuba, listed as a state sponsor of
    terrorism, of all the Latin American and
    Caribbean countries mentioned in the report, only
    Venezuelas cooperation in the international
    campaign against terrorism was listed as
  • The primary complaint lodged against Venezuela
    was not regarding cooperation on Al Qaeda-style
    terrorist activities but rather Chavezs public
    recriminations against U.S counterterrorism
    policies and the fact that the government was
    unwilling or unable to systematically police
    the Venezuela-Colombia border and the flow of
    some arms to Colombian terrorist groups from
    Venezuelan suppliers.
  • Interestingly, the report does not mention
    policing the border against the rightwing AUC
    paramilitary group, which also frequently crosses
    the Venezuela border, but which it could be
    presumed that Chavez would not support.

  • Many Latin American governments did not readily
    accept the Bush Administrations portrayal of the
    Iraq war as the next logical step in Global War
    on Terrorism.
  • Both Mexico and Chile, as members of the UN
    Security Council, refused to support the United
    States call for a second UN Security Council
    resolution over Iraq.
  • Most Latin American governments criticized the
    U.S. bombing of Baghdad, including Mexico, Chile,
    Argentina and Brazil.

  • Only a handful of small countries in Central
    America and the Caribbean chose to participate,
    and they did so in a limited fashion.
  • Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and the
    Dominican Republic sent troops to Iraq (ranging
    from 115 to 380 troops apiece), serving under
    Spanish command.
  • Nicaragua pulled out its troops in February 2004,
    citing budgetary reasons.

  • Despite domestic controversy, the Salvadoran
    government decided to renew its mission in Iraq,
    possibly betting that its support would bolster
    its chances of receiving renewal in March 2005 of
    temporary protected status for Salvadorans in the
    United States, crucial for the Salvadoran
  • But the four Central American countries and the
    Dominican Republic did not receive any
    discernible payoff from the United States in
    terms of increased military or economic aid for
    FY04 and FY05.
  • El Salvador, which probably contributed the most
    to the Iraq war, saw its economic aid decline
    from 40.4 million in FY2003 to 28.89 million in

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  • The vast majority of Anti-Terrorism Assistance to
    Latin America went to a Colombian anti-kidnapping
    programa response to a serious problem, but one
    not related to al Qaeda.
  • The major impact of 9/11 on U.S. spending and
    training commitments in Latin America has been to
    increase the intensity of U.S. involvement in
    Colombias conflict and to cement an upward trend
    already well underway in traditional military
    programs in the region.

  • September 11 have the potential to alter
    radically the United States' relationship with
    Latin America and its militaries.
  • U.S. military's main regional concerns during the
  • the drug war
  • improving interoperability
  • developing new missions and carrying out
    engagement for its own sake
  • have been eclipsed by a vastly more immediate
    threat to national security.

  • While U.S. policymakers' attention may be
    diverted to the Middle East, it is unlikely that
    military and police assistance to Latin America
    and the Caribbean will decrease.
  • In fact, what commentators are calling "America's
    new war" might bring increased involvement with
    the hemisphere's militaries, as the cold war did
    during the second half of the twentieth century.

  • This new emphasis may bring several dramatic
  • First, the drug war may fall to secondary
    importance among U.S. military priorities in the
  • This would be a tremendous change in Colombia,
    which is not only a key drug source country but
    is also home to groups on the State Department's
    list of international terrorist organizations.
  • While U.S. Ambassador to Bogotá Anne Patterson
    recently told reporters "there is no stomach in
    the United States for counterinsurgency," there
    is some possibility that the purpose of aid could
    nonetheless shift toward helping Colombia to
    subdue "terrorist" groups within its borders.

  • Secretary of State Colin Powell
  • "Quite a few terrorist groups will go after our
    interests in the regions that they are located in
    and right here at home. And so we have to treat
    all of them as potentially having the capacity to
    affect us in a global way. Or to affect our
    friends and interests in other parts of the
  • For example, we have designated three groups in
    Colombia alone as being terrorist organizations,
    and we are working with the Colombian Government
    to protect their democracy against the threat
    provided or presented by these terrorist

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  • Anti-drug aid fueled increased military and
    police assistance to the Caribbean in 2001 and
    2002, as the State Department's 2002 request for
    its International Narcotics Control (INC) program
    foresaw large increases to the region.

  • DOD is funding many construction improvements to
    the U.S. Forward Operating Location on the
    islands of Aruba and Curacao in the Netherlands
  • 10.2 million will build new runways and other
    facilities for Aruba, which is used by U.S.
    Customs aircraft.
  • Another 43.9 million will support similar
    upgrades at Curacao, which hosts a larger number
    of U.S. military planes.

  • Rivaling Plan Colombia for controversy in the
    region is the U.S. Navy's continued use of a
    firing range (the Atlantic Fleet Weapons Training
    Facility) on the island of Vieques off the
    eastern coast of Puerto Rico.
  • Focus of intense protest since April 1999, when a
    plane practicing bombing missed its target,
    killing a Puerto Rican civilian security guard.
  • The Navy is currently practicing bombing on the
    site using inert concrete bombs
  • a non-binding referendum of Vieques residents in
    July 2001 found that 68 percent wanted the Navy
    to vacate the sixty-year-old site immediately.

  • The firing range's future should be sealed by a
    binding referendum in November 2001 that does not
    include the Navy's immediate withdrawal as an
  • Voters will choose either to allow the Navy to
    remain (and receive 50 million in economic
    assistance) or to force the Navy to leave in 2003
    (and receive no funds).
  • (