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Abstract: Last February, Reporters Without Borders released its first-ever thematic report on organized crime, the main source of physical danger for journalists since the end of the Cold War. Produced with the help of our correspondents and specialists in several continues, that report underlined how difficult it is for the media to investigate the criminal underworld’s activities, networks and infiltration of society. Aside from covering bloody shootouts between rival cartels, news media of any size usually seem ill-equipped to describe organized crime’s hidden but ubiquitous presence.
Paraguay, which a Reporters Without Borders representative visited from 3 to 10 July, is a good example of these problems. Overshadowed by Brazil and Argentina, its two big neighbours in the Southern Common Market (Mercosur), it has long received one of the world’s worst rankings in Transparency International’s corruption index. It is also a major way station in the trafficking of cocaine from the Bolivian Andes to the Southern Cone.
While the level of violence is not as high as in Mexico, Colombia or some Central American countries, the persistent corruption, judicial impunity and influence of mafia activity on political and business activity prevent the media and civil society from playing a watchdog role. Although elections brought about a real change of government for the first time in 2008, Paraguay is still struggling to free itself from the code of silence and complicity that prevailed during the decades of dictatorship and affects the media as well. This was clear from interviews with journalists, observers and state officials in Asunción and Concepción, in the border cities of Ciudad del Este and Encarnación, and the Argentine border city of Posadas.
Abstract: Hezbollah, Lebanon‘s Iran-sponsored Shi‘i Muslim terrorist organization, has established global networks in at least 40 countries. Its growing presence in South America is increasingly troublesome to U.S. policymakers, yet there are few experts on Hezbollah and fewer still on Hezbollah Latino America. Hezbollah‘s operatives have infiltrated the Western Hemisphere from Canada to Argentina, and its activity is increasing, particularly in the lawless Tri-Border Area (TBA) of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay. This research was conducted to expose the actions and objectives of Hezbollah in the TBA. The majority of US officials and operators believe that Hezbollah‘s terrorist wing is separate from its political wing, but these are misconceptions from people who "mirror-image" the American experience when assessing Hezbollah. Unfamiliarity with the organization makes these assessors vulnerable to its propaganda, which is a severe problem that permeates the US government and its operatives. People who think Hezbollah is or could be compartmentalized or disunited are not familiar with the organization and perceive Hezbollah through the lens of the organization‘s extensive propaganda effort. Hezbollah has a large operational network in the TBA, which generates funds for the party, but its primary mission is to plan attacks and lie dormant, awaiting instructions to execute operations against Western targets. The following is a look at Hezbollah‘s modus operandi, an analysis of how operational its networks in the Tri-Border Area are, as well as some possible solutions to this threat. First, is an examination of how Hezbollah traditionally operates to establish the context.
Abstract: This report updates the topic of Iran’s Growing Relations with Latin America [page 5]. Over the past several years, U.S. officials and other observers have expressed concerns about
Iran’s increasing activities in Latin America, particularly under the government of President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. For example, in January 2009 congressional testimony, Secretary of
Defense Robert Gates maintained that he was concerned about the level of “subversive activity
that the Iranians are carrying on in a number of places in Latin America, particularly South
America and Central America.” There has been some contention, however, over the level and significance of Iran’s linkages with
the region. One view emphasizes that Iran’s relations with several Latin American leaders who
have employed strong anti-U.S. rhetoric and its past support for terrorist activities in the region
are reasons why its presence should be considered a potential destabilizing threat to the region.
Another school of thought emphasizes that Iran’s domestic politics and strategic orientation
toward the Middle East and Persian Gulf region will preclude the country from sustaining a focus
on Latin America. Adherents of this view assert that Iran’s promised aid and investment to Latin
America have not materialized. Some observers holding both of these views contend that while Iran’s activities in Latin America do not currently constitute a major threat to U.S. national
security, there is enough to be concerned about to keep a watchful eye on developments in case it
becomes a more serious threat. On October 27, 2009, the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on
the Western Hemisphere held a hearing on “Iran in the Western Hemisphere” that reflected these
range of views.
Abstract: Border zones are incubators of criminal instability and violence. Weak state presence and the lucrative drugs trade is combining to challenge state sovereignty in acute ways. Consider Mexico, where the northern frontier with the US and southern border with Guatemala are contested zones. The bloody center of gravity of Mexico’s drug cartels is the ‘plazas’, the drug smuggling corridors that link the borders. When most think of conflict and border zones, they imagine territorial disputes such as India and Pakistan’s recurring battles over Kashmir or less serious tug-of-wars such as Japan and South Korea’s contestation of the Liancourt Rocks. To be sure, there have been territorial disputes, such as Nicaragua’s dispute with Colombia over several islands, or Colombia’s conflicts with Venezuela and Ecuador over narco-guerrillas operating from their territory. Yet, as former FRIDE researcher Ivan Briscoe argues, the biggest sources of violent conflict has been the erosion of government control over border zones and the rise of criminal groups, gangs, and cartels in loosely governed zones. As Briscoe argues, "violence and institutional corrosion have plagued as never before the frontier between Mexico and the United States, while Guatemala’s eastern border region and Colombia’s frontiers with Ecuador, Venezuela and Brazil witness these countries’ highest murder rates, as well as territorial capture by armed groups and narco-trafficking networks."
Abstract: The data in this report is derived from country submissions when possible,
and estimates when necessary. Estimates are extrapolated from each country’s
identified procurement, highest modern personnel totals, and strategic doctrine.
Except where noted, the military small arms and light weapons data
presented here is not official, comprehensive, or conclusive; it is for general
evaluation and comparison only. The complete methodology used here is described
in Chapter 2 of the Small Arms Survey 2006.
Small arms are state-owned handguns, submachine guns, rifles, shotguns,
and light and medium machine guns. Firearms are civilian-owned handguns,
submachine guns, rifles, and shotguns. Long at the forefront of international small arms issues, public debate and
activism in South America have largely focused on matters surrounding civilian
firearms, estimated here to total between 21.7 and 26.8 million. The reasons
for this civilian preoccupation are principally linked to chronic gun violence.
South America has 14 per cent of the global population, and roughly 3.5 to 4 per
cent of the world’s civilian firearms, but it suffers from roughly 40 per cent of
all homicides committed with firearms.
Military small arms are rarely part of public debate, largely because of a
strong culture of national security secrecy in South America. But military
small arms policy has attracted much closer scrutiny in recent years, especially
as military small arms and light weapons are diverted to criminals and
guerrillas, fuelling insurgencies and civil violence. This report focuses primarily
on issues surrounding surplus military small arms and light weapons in
the region. Law enforcement and civilian firearms inventories and issues are
recognized here as well, to ensure a balanced overall perspective.
The region’s military establishments do not have a strong record of identifying
or eliminating their surplus small arms, light weapons, or ammunition.
South America holds some of the world’s largest military small arms and
light weapons surpluses. Military inventories are not exceptionally large in
absolute terms, but they are a major element in global surplus problems. Among
the 12 independent countries of South America, there are an estimated 3.6
million military small arms as of 2007, 1.5 per cent of the global total. Of these,
approximately 1.3 million, more than one-third, are surplus.
Abstract: The international terrorist presence in Latin America is concentrated in several "hotspots" where terrorist organizations have found financial and logistic support, as well as a supporting base. Among these areas are Venezuela and its Margarita Island, Trinidad and Tobago, the Iquique area in Chile, and the Tri-Border Area (TBA, or Triple Frontera) in South America. The TBA, which includes the Brazilian city of Foz de Iguazú, the Argentinean Puerto Iguazú, and Ciudad del Este in Paraguay, has served in the past twenty years as an operational and logistic center for international terrorist groups, such as the Lebanese Hezbollah, as well as transnational criminal organizations. This area has a population of approximately 700,000 people; including roughly 30,000 inhabitants of Arab descent. The Arab community, which constitutes one of the largest immigrant groups in the region, is predominantly Lebanese, especially in Ciudad del Este and Foz de Iguazú. The local Lebanese population is largely Shia. The Triple Frontera is one of the most important commercial centers of South America, with approximately 20 thousand people transiting on a daily basis from the neighboring states to the free-trade area of Ciudad del Este in Paraguay. The intense volume of people and goods entering the TBA, together with its porous borders, are two important factors that originally attracted criminal and armed groups to this area. Additionally, the relative ease with which money is locally laundered and transferred to and from regions overseas constitutes a very powerful incentive to maintain a base of operations in the TBA. Therefore, transnational criminal groups such as the Mexican and Colombian drug cartels, Chinese and Russian mafias, and the Japanese Yakuza all appear to have a strongly rooted presence in this South American region. Within the TBA, the epicenter of organized crime is Ciudad del Este - an important hub of drug and human trafficking, and the smuggling of goods, weapons, contraband and counterfeit products.
Abstract: Although all countries, in theory report their authorized transfers - and
such information may even be available in certain public databases - the
task of providing an overview of SALW transfers, their parts and
munitions, is an arduous one. Nonetheless, despite the difficulties, we
have some extremely positive initiatives on a global scale, such as for
example, the Small Arms Survey, recognized as an important source of
information, especially on SALW production and transfers, as well as the
Norwegian Initiative on Small Arms Transfers (NISAT) which has a
database containing transfer records going back to 1962.Despite these
important initiatives, themselves when researchers, activists and policy
makers try to understand a regional market, such as Latin America and
the Caribbean, they encounter a dearth of information. With the intent of addressing this shortcoming, En La Mira has, since 2007, dedicated an
issue to transfers of SALWs, parts and ammunition in this region. Further, according to statistics from the United Nations Commodity Trade
Statistics Database (UN-Comtrade or Comtrade), USD 6.7 billion were
exported between 2004 and 2006, while USD 6.5 billion were imported.
Despite the fact that Latin America and the Caribbean represent 6% and
3%, respectively, of total transfers worldwide during this period, 42% of
firearms related homicide is committed in the region. This discrepancy
between the international transfer volume share and the levels of armsrelated
violence in Latin America and the Caribbean calls attention to
itself, above all because of the tragic and startling number of homicides.
Obviously, far from wishing to increase arms transfers in order to be more
in sync with homicide rates, we decided, a year ago, to study this issue
and periodically monitor its development based on our interest in
understanding the primary legal entry and exit routes of firearms and
ammunition. The result is a report - based on customs information as
stated by Latin American and Caribbean countries and their respective
partners - whose objective is to describe the movement of the SALW
imports and exports, as well as ammunition and parts, during the present
decade. Based on this data, we answer the following questions: who
exported and who imported? From whom? What? And when?
It is worth restating that the intent of this report is not to explain the
cause of arms imports and exports by Latin American countries. Beyond
merely providing information, we do indeed wish to awaken, by means of
the information presented here, the curiosity of other researches, activists
and government staff members such that they may continue to perform research in their countries regarding the transparency of this information,
on who is using the transferred SALW, and how.
The data used for this report came from the NISAT database, which
contains more than 800,000 entries for SALW transfers worldwide since
1962. The NISAT database gets its information from different sources,
COMTRADE among them. In this study we decided to restrict ourselves
to data from this latter source because, in theory, all countries report
transfers to the UN. This data is declared in accordance with the
Harmonized System (SH) merchandise classification system. The HS has
existed since 1988and, in 2007, was revised for the fourth time; previous
revisions were in 1992, 1996 and in 2002. Regarding the period analyzed,
we are looking at data up until 2006, since at the time the study closed
this was the most recent year available on NISAT.
Abstract: Lorsqu’en 1992, l’ambassade d’Israël en Argentine fut victime d’un
attentat terroriste et que deux ans plus tard ce fut au tour de l’AMIA
(Association mutuelle Israël-Argentine) de s’écrouler sous les bombes, l’hypothèse
stipulant que des cellules terroristes islamiques soient présentes en
Amérique du Sud prit tout son sens. Parmi les endroits soupçonnés, la Triple
Frontière, zone où convergent les frontières du Brésil, de l’Argentine et du
Paraguay, vint à figurer en tête de lice. Il est vrai que cette zone, située en
plein coeur de la forêt sud-américaine, est reconnue pour la porosité de ses
frontières et pour le faible contrôle étatique qu’exercent les trois pays sur ce
territoire. Aujourd’hui, la Triple Frontière a la réputation d’être un endroit
dangereux où se déroulent activités illégales et criminelles. Plusieurs émettent
l’hypothèse que des cellules terroristes islamiques se serviraient de ces
activités illicites pour amasser des fonds afin de financer leurs activités.
Existe-t-il vraiment un lien entre ces activités illégales et le financement
de réseaux terroristes qui pourraient menacer la sécurité de l’Occident ?
C’est ce qui semble avoir justifié la visite à Asunción en août 2006 du secrétaire
américain à la Défense, Donald Rumsfeld, visite ayant engendré bien des critiques
de la part des pays voisins et des mouvements sociaux, certains y voyant le
début d’une intervention directe des États-Unis en Amérique du Sud.
Abstract: U.S. attention to terrorism in Latin America intensified in the aftermath of the September 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, with an increase in bilateral and regional cooperation. In its April 2007 Country Reports on Terrorism, the State Department highlighted threats in Colombia, Peru, and the tri-border area of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay. There were no known operational cells of Islamic terrorists in the hemisphere, but pockets of ideological supporters in the region lent financial, logistical, and moral support to terrorist groups in the Middle East. Cuba has remained on the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism since 1982, which triggers a number of economic sanctions. In May 2007, for the second year in a row, the Department of State, pursuant to Arms Export Control Act, included Venezuela on the annual list of countries not cooperating on antiterrorism efforts. Congress fully funded the Administration’s FY2008 request for $8.1 million in Anti-Terrorism Assistance for Western Hemisphere countries in the Consolidated Appropriations Act for FY2008 (P.L. 110-161). In the first session of the 110th Congress, the House approved H.Con.Res. 188, which condemned the 1994 bombing of the Argentine-Israeli Mutual Association in Buenos Aires, and H.Res. 435, which expressed concern over the emerging national security implications of Iran’s efforts to expand its influence in Latin America, and
emphasized the importance of eliminating Hezbollah’s financial network in the triborder area. The Senate also approved S.Con.Res. 53, which condemned the hostagetaking of three U.S. citizens for over four years by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, while a similar resolution, H.Con.Res. 260, was introduced in the House.
Abstract: On the fifteenth anniversary of the discovery of the Archive of Terror in Paraguay, the National Security Archive posted Spanish-language documents that reveal new details of how the Southern Cone military regimes collaborated in hunting down, interrogating, and disappearing hundreds of Latin Americans during the 1970s and 1980s. The collaboration, which became officially known as “Operation Condor,â€ drew on cross-border kidnapping, secret detention centers, torture, and disappearance of prisonersâ€”rendition, interrogation and detention techniques that some human rights advocates are comparing to those used today in the Bush administration’s counterterrorism campaign.
Abstract: This report assesses the activities of organized crime groups, terrorist groups, and
narcotics traffickers in general in the Tri-Border Area (TBA) of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay,
focusing mainly on the period since 1999. Some of the related topics discussed, such as
governmental and police corruption and anti-money-laundering laws, may also apply in part to
the three TBA countries in general in addition to the TBA. This is unavoidable because the TBA
cannot be discussed entirely as an isolated entity.
Based entirely on open sources, this assessment has made extensive use of books, journal
articles, and other reports available in the Library of Congress collections. It is based in part on
the author's earlier research paper entitled "Narcotics-Funded Terrorist/Extremist Groups in
Latin America" (May 2002). It has also made extensive use of sources available on the Internet,
including Argentine, Brazilian, and Paraguayan newspaper articles. One of the most relevant
Spanish-language sources used for this assessment was Mariano César Bartolomé's paper
entitled Amenazas a la seguridad de los estados: La triple frontera como xe2x80x98xc3xa1rea gris' en el cono
sur americano [Threats to the Security of States: The Triborder as a xe2x80x98Grey Area' in the Southern
Cone of South America] (2001). The selective bibliography includes books, journal articles, and
other reports. Newspaper and magazine articles are footnoted. This report also includes an
appendix containing brief profiles of six alleged operatives of Islamic fundamentalist groups in
the TBA and a diagram of drug-trafficking routes in the region.
Abstract: Paraguay is a constitutional republic with three branches of government. The President is the head of government and head of state; he cannot succeed himself. In April 2003, voters elected Nicanor Duarte Frutos of the Colorado Party as President in generally free and fair elections. Duarte was inaugurated in August 2003. The Congress consists of a 45-member Senate and an 80-member Chamber of Deputies. An alliance of five opposition parties and dissident members of the governing Colorado Party controlled the Chamber of Deputies, while the five opposition parties in coalition controlled the Senate. The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary; however, the courts remained inefficient and subject to corruption and political pressure.
The National Police has responsibility for maintaining internal security and public order and reports to the Ministry of the Interior. On several occasions during the year, especially in response to unrest and land invasions in the countryside, the Government called on the military to assist the police in maintaining public order. The civilian authorities generally maintained effective control of the security forces. Members of the security forces committed some human rights abuses.
Abstract: Latin America's Tri-Border Area (TBA),
bounded by Puerto Iguazu, Argentina; Ciudad
del Este, Paraguay; and Foz do Iguacu, Brazil, is an
ideal breeding ground for terrorist groups. The TBA
is a lawless area of illicit activities that generate billions
of dollars annually in money laundering, arms
and drug trafficking, counterfeiting, document falsification,
and piracy. The TBA offers terrorists
potential financing; access to illegal weapons and advanced
technologies; easy movement and concealment;
and a sympathetic population from which to
recruit new members and spread global messages.
While the TBA is not currently the center of gravity
in the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), it has
an important place in the strategy for combating
Abstract: Paraguay is landlocked, poor, a long way from everywhere, and seldom appears in the drama of international events but is nevertheless emblematic of our global security challenge. It has suffered crippling wars where governance has always been a challenge and where smuggling and criminal organizing is a tradition. Long disregarded by the great powers' intelligence and diplomatic services, it is now a place where international crimes like money laundering, gunrunning, migration fraud, and drug trafficking recombine and metastasize. In an age of great sovereign competitors, the United States pays attention to nations according to their development-their ability to mobilize as a nation and to make war as a nation. Now we are entering an age of uncivilized behavior in which we must focus on the lost geographies, the fertile ground for piracy and terror. Ciudad del Este, a boomtown on Paraguay's eastern border facing Brazil and Argentina, is an appropriate target for new concerns. Regional security scholars have aptly called it a nest of spies and thieves.
Local security specialists assert that Ciudad del Este is not only a den of low-technology criminality but also a haven for international money laundering, with much of the money coming from the Middle East. It is a town of a quarter million inhabitants and an international trading center where the admixture of drug runners, terrorists, and pinstriped bankers trespasses on the sovereignty and safety of democratic countries and their citizens, thereby representing a threat to the United States and the region. There are other examples of ungovernable zones in the Americas that provide cover for terrorist groups, such as the Switzerland-sized area that Colombia granted as an official safe haven to a group on the U.S. State Department's list of terrorist organizations, but in Paraguay's Ciudad del Este, all the components of transnational lawlessness seem to converge.
Abstract: Generally, truth commissions are bodies established to research and report on human rights abuses over a certain period of time in a particular country or in relation to a particular conflict. Truth commissions allow victims, their relatives and perpetrators to give evidence of human rights abuses, providing an official forum for their accounts. In most instances, truth commissions are also required by their mandate to provide r#ecommendations on steps to prevent a recurrence of such abuses.
Abstract: The indigenous population of Paraguay consists of 17 ethnic groups who are divided into the five linguistic groups, the Mascoi, Mataco, Zamuco, Guarani, and the Guaykuru. These peoples are located on either side of the Paraguayan River, in the sparsely populated Chaco region to the West, and along the Brazilian border to the east. Most of the indigenous groups who remain in Paraguay are in the Chaco; only a few groups related to the Guarani remain in the east. A new constitution recognizes indigenous rights, but political reality is proving to be quite different from the constitutional ideal; the problems facing Paraguay's indigenous people are not likely to go away anytime soon. The economics and politics of Paraguay make sustained improvement unlikely. The main problems facing the indigenous people today are their economic plight and threat from land developers and squatters; the two problems clearly are not unrelated. It is not simply a matter of securing better wages which the farmers and developers pay indigenous workers, but of limiting development of indigenous lands so that the people themselves can secure their own wellbeing.
Abstract: On Feb. 25, 2004, the U.S. State Department released its annual Country Reports on Human Rights. The reports detail information on 196 countries compiled by Foreign Service Officers abroad, domestic and international human rights groups, academics, activists, jurists and journalists that work to recount human rights conditions around the globe. These annual reports point "to the areas of progress and draw attention to new and continuing challenges" in the human rights realm, and are to be "used as a resource for shaping policy, conducting diplomacy and making assistance, training and other resource allocations."
Abstract: This report provides information for future programming by identifying effective approaches for working with men in the uniformed services in reproductive and sexual health from a gender perspective.