In January 2016, the government of Honduras and the Organization of American States (OAS) formalized the creation of a new international organ to help fight corruption in this country. The […]
US drug policy has become increasingly privatised in recent years as the US government contracts private military and security companies (PMSCs) to provide intelligence, logistical support and training to state security forces in drug-producing and –transit states. As the cases of Colombia and Mexico illustrate, this privatisation strategy is having a damaging impact on these already fragile environments.
The truce declared in 2012 may have been imperfect and controversial but positive lessons must be learned amid the country’s current crisis of violence.
Like its neighbours in the northern triangle (El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala), Belize has a high murder rate that is closely connected to the strong presence of gangs. But the character of gang activity in Belize is quite different from its Central American neighbours. Belize has pioneered some innovative solutions to the problem it is facing. But it will need to overcome the challenges of internal resistance and an acute lack of resources in order to address the political, economic and social issues that marginalise Belize’s large youth population.
As activists around the world participate in a Global Day of Action against criminalisation of drug use, evidence from the multi-billion dollar War on Drugs in Colombia suggests that militarized suppression of production and supply has displaced millions of people as well as the problem, not least to Mexico. The wrong lessons are being exported to Central America and beyond, but a groundswell of expert and popular opinion internationally is calling for alternative approaches to regulating the use and trade in drugs.
Mexico has rapidly become a major site of transmigration from Central America to the United States, as people move in search of employment opportunities or escape from social violence. This rise in migrant flows from Mexico’s southern border overlaps with problems of control of contraband, organised crime, and the trafficking of drugs and arms. However, the government’s militarised approach to the phenomenon means that the use of force and human rights violations go unresolved and military approaches to preserving public order go unchecked. As long as migration remains a security issue, instead of a developmental and human rights matter, it will not be tackled appropriately. Instead, the government must start to view the matter through a citizen, not national, security lens.
With skills and expertise in fighting insurgencies and drug trafficking networks, Colombia’s armed forces are increasingly being sought for engagement in similar security challenges in West Africa. But increasing Colombian engagement gives rise to a number of important questions – not least of which is the goal and expected outcomes of replicating militarised approaches to the war on drugs that have already failed in Latin America.
A new alliance between the Mexican security forces and citizen ‘self-defence’ groups in Michoacán state has brought some short term success in the fight against the Knights Templar cartel. But what will be the long-term consequences of legitimizing heavily armed vigilante groups in Mexico?
Across Latin America, governments are sending their militaries into the streets to act as de facto police forces in the face of disproportionally high crime and violence rates. This trend has been going on for several years, but has accelerated in 2013. With the move to deploy over 40,000 troops for citizen security in Venezuela, President Nicolás Maduro joined a growing list of leaders throughout the region that have relied on their militaries to carry out police duties. In the first of our two-part discussion ‘Countering Militarisation of Public Security in Latin America’, Sarah Kinosian discusses the conditions that are causing the trend to thrive.
Facing a myriad of public security challenges that have provoked some of the highest indices of crime and violence in the world, authorities in Central America have followed a variety of different responses, ranging from repressive and reactive policies to grass roots prevention. Of these approaches, the Nicaraguan National Police’s Proactive Community Policing model stands out due to the results it has achieved. In the second of our two-part discussion, ‘Countering Militarisation of Public Security in Latin America’, Matt Budd explores the lessons that Latin American countries can extract from Nicaragua’s unique approach to public security.