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NNTP-Posting-Date: Sat, 03 Apr 2004 22:45:16 -0600
Reply-To: "pedro martori"
From: "pedro martori"
Subject: Senate Armed Services Committee-SouthCom, threats in the Americas
Date: Sat, 3 Apr 2004 23:45:15 -0500
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Subject: Date: Saturday, April 03, 2004 11:34 PM
Progress, threats in the Americas
Below are excerpts from a report by Army Gen. James T. Hill, commander
of SouthCom, to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday.
The security picture in Latin America and the Caribbean has grown more
complex over the past year. Colombia's considerable progress in the
battle against narcoterrorism is offset by negative developments
elsewhere in the region, particularly in Haiti, Bolivia and Venezuela.
These developments represent an increasing threat to U.S. interests. .
On the traditional front, we still face threats from narcoterrorists
and their ilk, a growing threat to law and order in partner nations
from urban gangs and other illegal armed groups, which are also
generally tied to the narcotics trade, and a lesser but sophisticated
threat from Islamic radical groups in the region. These traditional
threats are now complemented by an emerging threat best described as
radical populism, in which the democratic process is undermined to
decrease rather than protect individual rights.
Some leaders in the region are tapping into deep-seated frustrations
over the failure of democratic reforms to deliver expected goods and
services. By tapping into these frustrations, which run concurrently
with frustrations caused by social and economic inequality, the
leaders are at the same time able to reinforce their radical positions
by inflaming anti-U.S. sentiment. Additionally, other actors are
seeking to undermine U.S. interests by supporting these movements.
These threats are overlaid upon states in the region that are
generally marked by weak institutions and struggling economies. This
resulting frailty of state control can lead to ungoverned or
ill-governed spaces and people, corruption and [patronage]. The
militaries that we work with in the area of responsibility are feeling
the brunt of both threats and weak governments, but for the most part
have supported their respective constitutions, remained professional
and respected human rights.
They will be under increasing pressure from these stresses over the
next several years. Consequently, we must maintain and broaden our
consistent military-to-military contacts as a means of irrevocably
institutionalizing the professional nature of those militaries with
which we have worked so closely over the past several decades. . . .
The narcoterrorist influence is bleeding over into what we see as a
second and, increasing, threat to the region: growingly sophisticated
criminal gangs. While not all gangs are fueled by illicit narcotics,
most bolster their criminality by drawing substantial support from the
drug business. The World Health Organization has described Latin
America as the world's most violent region based on the numbers of
homicides per capita, surpassing even war-torn Africa.
Homicides and violent crime take a direct toll daily on Latin
Americans. There is another insidious second-order effect. The
Inter-American Development Bank estimates that per capita GDP in Latin
America would be nearly 25 percent higher if Latin American crime
rates resembled those of the rest of the world. Violent crime causes
capital flight from within the country and stifles investment from
outside the country. It literally takes money out of the pockets of
those who need it most and most hurts those who have the least.
This second threat faced by many Latin American countries is difficult
and complex because it falls precisely on a seam between law
enforcement and military operations. Latin American leaders need to
resolve this jurisdictional responsibility issue to promote
cooperation among their police and military forces while
simultaneously restructuring their states' security forces. . . .
Intelligence operations at Guant=C3=A1namo Bay have provided critical
information regarding terrorist organizations' leadership,
organization, finances, planned attacks, potential attacks and other
specific information that has thwarted terrorist activities.
=C2=A9 2004 The Miami Herald and wire service sources. All Rights =
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