South America’s New Terror Hub

February 17th, 2010 at 4:30 pm | 6 Comments |

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When Rafael Correa assumed the presidency in Ecuador in January 2007, one of the first things he did was to terminate the U.S. military presence at its Operating Location in Manta. Soon after that, and as the temporary President of UNASUR (Union of South American Nations), he strongly criticized the agreement between Colombia and the United States to establish seven new military bases.  In the last UNASUR meeting, many other presidents of the region, such as Brazil’s Lula, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Argentina’s Cristina Fernandez, manifested their concern and declared that this agreement would be an attempt of the United States to intervene in the region’s politics.

On January 24, 2010 the International Assessment and Strategy Center published a report called Ecuador at Risk: Drugs, Thugs, Guerrillas and the Citizens Revolution. This report states that since Rafael Correa assumed the presidency there is strong evidence that Ecuador is “emerging as a key meeting ground for multiple transnational criminal and terrorist organizations and an important part of a pipeline that moves not only cocaine but human cargo, weapons, precursor chemicals and hundreds of millions of dollars a year.”

The report found:

Credible charges that his campaign received funds generated by the sale of cocaine from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia-FARC);

Strong evidence that senior members of his government have supported the armed insurgency that has been designated a terrorist organization by the United States and European Union;

Evidence that members of his inner circle had direct contact with transnational drug trafficking organizations tied to the FARC;

Strong indications that the judiciary remains deeply corrupt, including the freeing of important drug traffickers who have been caught escorting loads of cocaine;

Persistent accusations from his older brother (who ran his presidential campaign’s finances) that members of his inner circle are engaged in extensive corrupt business practices;

Strong evidence that the Correa government has illegally manipulated the international debt bond markets to benefit itself and the Venezuelan government;

Increasing drug trafficking and organized crime, largely but not exclusively attributable to the FARC that have led one government commission to lament that Ecuador is on the verge of becoming a “narco-state;”

Constant and internationally condemned attacks on the media and efforts to curb freedom of expression, in large part because the private media are among the few levers of power and influence Correa and the AP do not control.

The growing presence of Russian and Chinese organized crime groups in Ecuador, drawn in part because Ecuador lifted visa requirements for almost every country in the world.

The official presence of Iranian financial institutions at the invitation of the Correa government that have been placed on United Nations and U.S. sanctions list.

The increasing unwillingness to honor international law and arbitration in the rapidly growing number of international disputes in which the Correa administration is engaged.

For several reasons, many of them probably right, the region condemns U.S. military presence.  Tensions between Colombia — the United States’ only ally in the region — and neighboring countries Ecuador and Venezuela have not yet settled and seem unlikely to do so.  If the region doesn’t want the United States to aid in the fight against international crimes, what are the proposals?

Recent Posts by Daniela Chacón Arias

6 Comments so far ↓

  • balconesfault

    Good reporting Daniela – thanks.

    To what extent do you think the rise in anti-Americanism in Latin America was re-fueled by Bush’s blatant attempt to orchestrate an overthrow of Chavez in 2001? Or do you think that the movement is just the success of populist demagogery, with the US being a convenient enemy for various governments to use to keep control of their people?

  • Henry Eagleton

    Daniela basically forwards the conclusions of the IASC — which are correct — and adds her own conclusions which are incorrect. The US military presence in Colombia is designed to help the Colombian government fight against the FARC insurgents (narcoterrorism) and more broadly narcotics trafficking in the region. There is no good reason to object to the US military presence in Colombia. Daniela also states that Colombia is the only “US ally” in the region. Incorrect. Peru is a staunch US ally as well. Furthermore, with the recent election of Pinera in Chile, Chile will probably also move into the pro-US camp as well.

  • Carney

    Much of the resurgence of anti-Americanism in the area is driven by Chavez and oil money.

    “Drill baby drill” will NOT work, because the world oil market operates as a single entity. Every drop of oil bought, regardless of its source, enriches our enemies by making oil more scarce and enabling them to charge that much more for the oil they sell.

    The only solution is to switch the world to alternate transportation fuel. Doing so is actually achievable; we just need to mandate that all new cars solid in America be fully flex-fueled, able to run as easily on any alcohol fuel as on gasoline. This technology costs only $130 per car for automakers to add. Since no serious automaker will write off the US market, all will switch their production lines to flex fuel components. And since the total price difference between flex fuel and gasoline-only is so small (and the cost of redundant lines so large), they’ll just make their non-US vehicles flex-fuel too. At a stroke gasoline finally loses its captive market and OPEC can no longer spike fuel prices by restricting production.

    The river of wealth flowing to our enemies gets choked off. And as we saw in Colombia with the relatively minor example of cut flowers, if we drop our stupid tariffs on agricultural produce from the tropics, we will invigorate the legitimate sector and dry up the need for peasants to farm coca and other drugs.

  • blowtorch_bob

    “South America’s New Terror Hub…!”

    Yeah, riiight. Basically, this is part of an ongoing struggle that’s been going on for years, the nations of trying to break free from the U.S. dominance which, let’s face it, has been holding the continent back for decades.

    Some country manages to get a little breathing room and all of a sudden they are a “TERROR HUB!”

    BTW next time you see Chavez on TV you will see a portrait of Simon Bolivar in the background. Simon Bolivar is sort of Latin American equivalent of George Washington who led the fight against Spain for independence. Chavez fancies himself as a modern day Simon Bolivar, this time leading a fight for independence against U.S. dominance.

  • dchacon

    Dear Balconesfault:

    You ask a very interesting and important question for some countries in Latin America. I think that the movemet is the success of populist demagogery but that has a past history that allows these types of governments (Socialists of the XXI Century as they call themselves) to use anti-Americanism as a campaign tool to win elections and to stay in power.

    My theory is that due to the past interventions of the US government (back in the cold war era), the extreme left blaims the US for not letting the countries to experience socialism, capitalism was imposed. They then claim that later through the Washington Consensus and the WB and IMF, neoliberalism was imposed. And of course it is viewed that all of this was done with the intention to mantain Latin America as a poor region. For all these reasons it is very popular in countries such as Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Honduras, among others, to keep blaiming someone else for the countries’ bad performance and no one is better target for that than the “empire”.

  • dchacon

    Dear Henry Eagleton:

    I am not concluding that the US presence in Colombia is a menace for the region. I am saying that many leaders in the region think that way and if they dont want the US to help in the fight against narcoterrorism, what are they going to do? UNASUR has talked about a Latin America’s NATO but I see it as a very unlikely solution due to the many differences among the countries and the lack of consensus that has reigned many of the regional initiatives.