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Potential Threat: The New Oas Concept Of Hemispheric Security

2133 words - 9 pages

The declaration on security in the Americas, adopted by the OAS (Organization of American States) in October 2003, created a new concept of hemispheric security that broadens the traditional definition of national defense to incorporate new threats, including political, economic, social, health, and environmental concerns, to such an extent that almost any problem can now be considered a security threat. The implementation of this new concept may lead to greater "securitization" of the region's problems, defined as the treatment of these problems as if they were security threats. Securitization carries with it the risk of military responses to problems that are not military in nature and in ...view middle of the document...

The threat of drug trafficking, and US counter-drug policies that encourage regional militaries to take on counter-drug responsibilities2. The lack of effective public security policies, rendering law enforcement institutions unable to respond to growing crime and insecurity.Rising crime rates throughout the region are generating intense social demands for effective responses that will guarantee citizen security while also resolving social conflict caused by poverty and inequality. The failure of the police forces to meet these demands has increasingly led governments to turn to the armed forces in matters of internal policing.The effects of US counternarcotics policies can be seen clearly in Bolivia, where the US military has been directly involved in counter-drug role. In 1988, the US government funded the creation of a Bolivian air force unit and a naval group to carry out drug interdiction operations. When La Paz police mutinied in February 203, President Sanchez de Lozada deployed soldiers to restore public order. Their subsequent clash led to 32 dead and hundreds wounded. According to scholar Juan Ramon Quintana, "the militarization of public security as well as the militarized response to social conflicts correspond with a dramatic increase in human rights violations."In Mexico, the process of militarization of public security is an ad hoc policy response on the part of the Mexican political elite to the escalation of organized crime, particularly in the phenomenon of drug trafficking. US policy has encouraged this trend through the provision of counter-drug training and equipment for the Mexican military, as well as rhetorical support for militarization as a temporary solution to the problems of politics and prosecutorial corruption and ineptitude. Militarization in Mexico occurs in two ways: 1. the expansion of the military's role as an institution to include public security and law enforcement responsibilities and 2. The appointment of military personal (active, licenses or retired) to civilian posts.In Brazil, a country characterized by poverty and social and racial inequality, crime and homicide rates exceed those of Colombia, a country in the midst of an armed conflict. The police forces are often part of the problem instead of the solution. In response, governments across the party spectrum have resorted to the armed forces as an immediate "solution." Since the 1990s the fight against drug trafficking in Brazil has been the principal justification for the intervention of the armed forces in law enforcement tasks. The governing elites appeal to the army to occupy the favelas in Rio or Sao Paulo.In Venezuela, military presence in public life has increased significantly during the last few years as a consequence of a deep crisis in the system of political representation. Chavez began his political career by leading a failed coup in February 1992, and has made the armed forces increase their presence in national politics. The 1999...

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