Searched the resource database for : All Results AND Regions=Venezuela
Haven't found what you are looking for? To further refine your search: Click on the 'advanced search' menu to filter by title, abstract, source, and/or publication date; to include or exclude multiple resource categories, regions or topics.
Abstract: In 2001, Pax Christi Netherlands published a report
about the kidnapping industry in Colombia. Seven years on, and the number of kidnappings
worldwide has risen even more. The crime has lost
nothing of its potency as a cause of human tragedy.
Kidnapping is a serious violation of the most
elementary right of mankind: the right to a dignified
existence. We set out in this report to provide a brief
summary of the kidnapping issue on a global level, in
particular of kidnapping in conflict regions and fragile
states. The questions to be answered are concerned with
the financial and political requirements that the
kidnappers set, and with the impacts of these practices
on the conflict and its perpetuation, and on the
performance of the state.
Following on from the previous report, the emphasis of
this investigation is on kidnapping and extortion in
Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela. Firstly, we wished to
ascertain how the kidnapping issue has developed in
these countries in the past ten years. This raised the
question of whether there was any relationship between
the kidnapping practices in Colombia, and trends in
this crime in the neighbouring countries. Another
primary question regarding Colombia was concerned
with the role of the kidnapping theme in peace talks
and other dialogue between illegal armed groups and
the Colombian government, and with the possible role
of the theme in any future peace talks.
The final chapter investigates the kidnapping-related
policies of the EU member states, and as far as possible
we compare their policies with their actions in practice
in recent years. The main question is whether there is
any European consensus on how to deal with
kidnapping, and how to suppress the phenomenon.
What obstacles are there to a joint approach to the
Abstract: Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) moved into North Sudan's South Kordofan state capital Kadugli at the start of the month, triggering large-scale fighting with Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) units from the region. The UN reported heavy bombardment of villages by the SAF, widespread civilian casualties and at least 73,000 people forced to flee. It also accused the government of blocking aid deliveries and intimidating peacekeepers.
Violence spilled over into South Sudan, with several villages bombed by the North. On 28 June the government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (North) signed an agreement on political and security arrangements for South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.
In Afghanistan, a standoff between parliament and President Hamid Karzai threatens to deepen the country's political crisis.
Proposals by Senegal's ruling party to amend the constitution were condemned by opposition politicians as undemocratic and sparked unprecedented violent protests.
Myanmar/Burma saw its worst clashes since 2009, as fighting broke out between government forces and the Kachin ceasefire group. Tens of thousands have been displaced and some 20 reportedly killed.
In Mexico, a number of incidents highlighted the deterioration in security around Monterrey, the country's second city, industrial hub and capital of Nuevo León state.
In Venezuela, speculation about President Hugo Chávez's health intensified, leading to infighting within his ruling PSUV party and highlighting the country's lack of alternative leadership.
Abstract: Transnational criminal organizations, networks, and terrorist groups are increasingly helping each other move products, money, weapons, personnel, and goods. They accomplish this through an informal network or series of overlapping pipelines. These pipelines can be best understood as recombinant chains with links that can couple and decouple as necessary to meet the interests of the networks involved. Many operate in “alternatively governed” spaces outside of direct state control or within criminal state enterprises. A criminal state counts on the integration of the state's leadership into the criminal enterprise and the use of public services—such as licensing, issuance of official documents, regulatory regimes, border control—for illicit purposes. A further variation of the criminal state occurs when a state franchises part of its territory to nonstate groups, with the protection of the central government or a regional power sharing the profits. The author shows that understanding and addressing these threats requires capacity-building in human intelligence collection and prosecuting transnational criminal organizations.
Abstract: The events in Libya have once again put focus on Belarus as an arms exporter. Belarus has admitted that it sold or delivered weapons worth an estimated US$1.1 billion in 1999-2006 according to the Congressional Research Service. A significant number of these sales went to state-sponsored terrorism, extremist groups or states involved in conflict. Belarus is also one of the top arms exporters to rogue states.
Abstract: Natural resources are often held responsible for intrastate conflicts. As a consequence, both
national and international measures to avoid the detrimental impact of resource endowments
have increasingly been discussed and implemented in resource‐rich countries. These
measures include stabilization funds, subregional development programs, revenue‐sharing
regimes, and transparency initiatives. However, comparative empirical studies of the actual
impact of these measures, particularly regarding their contribution to conflict prevention, are
scarce. This paper contributes to the filling of this gap: combining a medium‐N sample of oildependent
countries and three in‐depth case studies (Algeria, Nigeria, and Venezuela), we
evaluate different instruments of resource management and their effects on conflict risk factors.
On the one hand, the findings do not show any systematic connection between the
countermeasures and a reduction in resource‐related risks; on the other, the paper highlights
common causal factors for the lack of implementation of resource‐related countermeasures.
Abstract: Across the globe today, you'll find almost three dozen raging conflicts, from the valleys of Afghanistan to the jungles of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the streets of Kashmir. But what are the next crises that might erupt in 2011? Here are a few worrisome spots that make our list. [Captions provided by International Crisis Group]
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: We face nation states, terrorist networks, organized criminal groups, individuals, and other
cyber actors with varying combinations of access, technical sophistication and intent. Many
have the capabilities to target elements of the US information infrastructure for intelligence
collection, intellectual property theft, or disruption. Terrorist groups and their sympathizers have
expressed interest in using cyber means to target the United States and its citizens. Criminal
elements continue to show growing sophistication in their technical capability and targeting.
Today, cyber criminals operate a pervasive, mature on-line service economy in illicit cyber
capabilities and services, which are available to anyone willing to pay. Globally, widespread
cyber-facilitated bank and credit card fraud has serious implications for economic and financial systems and the national security, intelligence, and law enforcement communities charged with
Abstract: At least 71 journalists were killed across the globe in 2009, the Committee to Protect Journalists announced Tuesday, the largest annual toll in the 30 years the group has been keeping track.
Twenty-nine of those deaths came in a single, politically motivated massacre of reporters and others in the Philippines last November, the worst known episode for journalists, the committee said.
But there were other worrisome trends. The two nations with the highest number of journalists incarcerated — China had 24 journalists imprisoned at the end of 2009 and Iran had 23 — were particularly harsh in taking aim at bloggers and others using the Internet. The number jailed in Iran has since jumped to 47, the committee said. Of the 71 confirmed deaths, 51 were murders, the committee said. The report noted that 24 additional deaths of journalists remained under investigation to determine if they were related to the journalists’ work. Previously, the highest number of journalists killed in a single year was 67, in 2007, when violence in Iraq was raging.
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: President Hugo Chávez’s victory in the 15 February 2009 referendum, permitting indefinite re-election of all elected officials, marked an acceleration of his “Bolivarian revolution” and “socialism of the 21st century”. Chávez has since moved further away from the 1999 constitution, and his government has progressively abandoned core liberal democracy principles guaranteed under the Inter-American Democratic Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The executive has increased its power and provoked unrest internally by further politicising the armed forces and the oil sector, as well as exercising mounting influence over the electoral authorities, the legislative organs, the judiciary and other state entities. At the same time, Chávez’s attempts to play a political role in other states in the region are producing discomfort abroad. The December 2010 legislative elections promise to further polarise an already seriously divided country, while unresolved social and mounting economic problems generate tensions that exacerbate the risk of political violence. Taking advantage in 2009 of a non-electoral year in which he stands to lose little in terms of political capital, as well as of his undisputed control of the National Assembly, Chávez has pushed through a series of laws that have been unpopular with broad sectors of the populace. Continued targeting of the political opposition and the mass media, coupled with growing economic, security and social problems, are deepening discontent. Ten years in power have failed to produce significant and sustainable improvements in the living conditions of the poorer segments of society, which are also experiencing critical levels of insecurity and stark deficiencies in basic public services. Tense relations with Colombia may take a toll on the president’s popularity at home.
Abstract: This paper studies the causal factors that make the oil‐state Venezuela, which is generally
characterized by a low level of violence, an outlier among the oil countries as a whole. It
applies a newly elaborated “context approach” that systematically considers domestic and
international contextual factors. To test the results of the systematic analysis, two periods
with a moderate increase in internal violence in Venezuela are subsequently analyzed, in
the second part of the paper, from a comparative‐historical perspective.
The findings demonstrate that oil, in interaction with fluctuating non‐resource‐specific
contextual conditions, has had ambiguous effects: On the one hand, oil has explicitly
served as a conflict‐reducing and partly democracy‐promoting factor, principally through
large‐scale socioeconomic redistribution, widespread clientelistic structures, and corruption.
On the other hand, oil has triggered violence—primarily through socioeconomic
causal mechanisms (central keywords: decline of oil abundance and resource management) and
secondarily through the long‐term degradation of political institutions. While clientelism
and corruption initially had a stabilizing effect, in the long run they exacerbated the delegitimization
of the traditional political elite. Another crucial finding is that the impact and
relative importance of oil with respect to the increase in violence seems to vary significantly
depending on the specific subtype of violence.
Abstract: By all indications, and from the evidence gathered
for this year’s Diamonds and Human
Security Annual Review, the Kimberley Process
(KP), designed to halt and prevent the return
of “conflict diamonds”, is failing. The cost of a
collapse would be disastrous for an industry
that benefits so many countries, and for the
millions of people in developing countries who
depend, directly and indirectly on it. A criminalized
diamond economy would re-emerge
and conflict diamonds could soon follow. The
problems can and must be fixed.
Accountability is the primary issue. There is no
KP central authority. The “chair” rotates annually
and has virtually no responsibility beyond a
convening function. Problems are shifted from
one “working group” to another; debates on
vital issues extend for years. “Consensus” in
the KP means that everyone must agree; a single
dissenter can block forward movement.
Nobody takes responsibility for action or inaction,
failure or success; the Kimberley Process
has no core body apart from its annual “plenary
meeting” and thus nobody is held responsible
The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme
(KPCS) has a peer review mechanism which
reviews each member’s compliance roughly
once every three years. Some reviews are thorough
and recommendations are heeded. In
many cases, however, recommendations are
ignored, and there is little or no follow-up —
this has been the case in the past with DRC
and Angola. And, as this Annual Review notes,
some reviews are completely bogus. In 2008, a
bloated, nine-member team visited Guinea, a
country beset by corruption, weak diamond
controls, and almost certain smuggling. The
team spent less than two hours outside the
capital and its report remained unfinished for
almost 11 months. A team visited Venezuela in
2008 but its makeup, agenda and itinerary
were dictated entirely by the Venezuelan government.
NGOs were barred and there were no visits to mining areas or border towns.
Zimbabwe, rife with smuggling and gross diamond-
related human rights abuse, consumed
months of ineffectual internal KP debate. In the
end, the KP agreed on a review mission, but only
after being publicly shamed into action by NGO
and media reports. The result is a lowest-common-
denominator “consensus” and continuing
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: Relations between Colombia and Venezuela have often been corrosive, but mutual distrust has recently developed into a military and economic crisis that threatens stability across South America. The deal by the Colombian government to make army and naval bases available to the US in return for support in its war against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has polarized opinion throughout the continent. While the extravagantly named Bolivian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), led by Hugo Chavez's Venezuela, have denounced the agreement, Colombia and the US are more worried about the concerns voiced by moderate governments in Brazil, Argentina and Chile.
These anxieties were aired in late August at the extraordinary meeting of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur), the new South American intergovernmental body led by Brazil. The summit was supposed to develop a constructive dialogue between Colombia and its neighbors over the bases, but succeeded only in exacerbating already polarized opinion. While President Alvaro Uribe staunchly defended Colombia's right to pursue domestic terrorism, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet characterized the deal as "a non-South American nation installing bases on one of our territories." This criticism was echoed by Brazil and Chile, with only Peru offering support for Uribe.
Abstract: Since the September 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, U.S. attention to
terrorism in Latin America has intensified, with an increase in bilateral and regional cooperation.
In its April 2009 Country Reports on Terrorism, the State Department maintained that terrorism in
the region was primarily perpetrated by terrorist organizations in Colombia and by the remnants
of radical leftist Andean groups. Overall, however, the report maintained that the threat of a
transnational terrorist attack remained low for most countries in the hemisphere. Cuba has
remained on the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism since 1982 pursuant to
Section 6(j) of the Export Administration Act, which triggers a number of economic sanctions.
Both Cuba and Venezuela are on the State Department’s annual list of countries determined to be
not cooperating fully with U.S. antiterrorism efforts pursuant to Section 40A of the Arms Export
Control Act. U.S. officials have expressed concerns over the past several years about Venezuela’s
lack of cooperation on antiterrorism efforts, its relations with Iran, and President Hugo Chávez’s
sympathetic statements for Colombian terrorist groups. The State Department terrorism report
noted, however, that President Chávez publicly changed course in June 2008 and called on the
FARC to unconditionally release all hostages, declaring that armed struggle is “out of place” in
modern Latin America.
In recent years, U.S. concerns have increased over activities of the radical Lebanon-based Islamic
group Hezbollah and the Sunni Muslim Palestinian group Hamas in the tri-border area of
Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay. The State Department terrorism report maintains that the United
States remains concerned that Hezbollah and Hamas sympathizers are raising funds among the
sizable Middle Eastern communities in the region, but stated that there was no corroborated
information that these or other Islamic extremist groups had an operational presence in the area.
Allegations have linked Hezbollah to two bombings in Argentina: the 1992 bombing of the Israeli
Embassy in Buenos Aires that killed 30 people and the 1994 bombing of the Argentine-Israeli
Mutual Association (AMIA) in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people. Concerns about Iran’s
increasing activities in Latin America center on the country’s ties to Hezbollah and the terrorist
attacks in Argentina.
Abstract: The impact of Colombia’s internal armed conflict on Ecuador and Venezuela is destabilizing border regions while thousands of Colombians continue to flee their country in search of sanctuary. Because of the growing presence of Colombian guerrilla and reorganized paramilitary groups engaged in trafficking narcotics in border areas, host governments have militarized these regions with security forces to combat violent spillover. In this context, humanitarian agencies and local administrations are struggling to assist more people in need, and providing documentation for asylum seekers is a crucial first step to enhance their physical protection and freedom of movement. Donor governments should urgently support policies of documentation and socio-economic integration for Colombians in their host communities.
Patterns of violence in Ecuadorian and Venezuelan border areas are starting to mirror Colombian trends where illegal armed groups are conducting criminal activities, terrorizing local populations, and exercising social control over entire communities. Death threats, selective assassinations, kidnappings and extortion are on the rise and now also affect communities that are hosting refugees. In both Ecuador and Venezuela, there are reports of domestic citizens being forced to leave their areas of residence because of these threats. The scope of this new and worrisome phenomenon should be investigated.
Bilateral diplomatic relations, which are currently severed between Colombia and Ecuador and frequently tense between Colombia and Venezuela, can provide little resolution to the region’s spillover problems. As a result, a multilateral regional effort to address the humanitarian and protection dimensions of the Colombian refugee crisis is indispensable. This would include supporting and facilitating the exchange of analysis and refugee policy discussions between Ecuador and Venezuela, increasing the international humanitarian presence in border areas and dedicating resources to sustainably integrate refugees into host communities.
Abstract: Today’s advocates for freedom may be receiving less attention, and less assistance, from
their natural allies in the democratic world because the systems that persecute them are
poorly understood in comparison with the communist regimes and military juntas of the
Cold War era. As a result, policymakers do not appear to appreciate the dangers these 21stcentury
authoritarian models pose to democracy and rule of law around the world.
It is within this context of shifting and often confused perceptions of threats and priorities
that Freedom House, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and Radio Free Asia undertook an
examination of fi ve pivotal states—Russia, China, Iran, Venezuela, and Pakistan—to advance
our common understanding of the strategies and methods these regimes are employing, both
within and beyond their borders, to impede human rights and democratic development.
The countries assessed in Undermining Democracy were selected because of their fundamental
geopolitical importance. They are integrated into larger economic, political, and
security networks and exert a powerful infl uence on international policy at the regional and
Abstract: Military Review is printed bi-monthly in English, Spanish, and Portuguese, and quarterly in Arabic.
Approximately 12,000 copies of the various editions are distributed in more than 100 countries.
Military Review is widely quoted and reprinted in other publications throughout the world and is
readily available for reference at research agencies, civilian university libraries, most most military
libraries in the US and abroad, and electronically via the World Wide Web.
Military Review provides a forum for the open exchange of ideas about military matters of
importance to the U.S. Army with a focus on the concepts, doctrine, and warfighting at the tactical
and operational levels of war.
Military Review supports the education, training, and development of doctrine and the
integration missions of the Combined Arms Center (CAC) and the Command and General Staff
College (CGSC) of the U.S. Army.
Abstract: On October 23, U.S. and Colombian law enforcement agencies announced the break-up of a drug-trafficking ring that channelled part of its profits to Hezbollah in Lebanon. The gang was reportedly involved in distributing cocaine from cartels in Colombia to markets in the United States, Europe and the Middle East, with some of the proceeds going to finance the Lebanese militia (Daily Star [Beirut], October 23). U.S. authorities claimed that the group – a total of 130 suspects have been arrested by Colombian police – was headed by Shukri Mahmud Harb, a Lebanese national who lived in Colombia and allegedly directed laundered money to Hezbollah. A statement issued by the public prosecutor's bureau said that three defendants - Shukri Mahmud Harb, Ali Muhammad Abd-al-Rahim and Zakariyah Husayn Harb - used false fronts to transfer the drug revenues to Hezbollah. The Colombian prosecutor added, "They used routes through Venezuela, Panama, Guatemala, the Middle East and Europe, bringing in cash from the sale of these substances." According to Gladys Sanchez, the lead investigator for the special prosecutor's office in Bogota, "The profits from the sale of drugs went to finance Hezbollah" (Al-Jazeera TV, October 23).
Abstract: The illicit trade in rough diamonds is one of the greatest
threats facing the Kimberley Process (KP) certification
scheme. The KP was created to halt and prevent the
trade in conflict diamonds that cost so many lives
during the last two decades. At the end of the scheme’s
fifth year, the trafficking of conflict and illicit stones is
looking more like a dangerous rule than an exception.
Partnership Africa Canada and Global Witness have long
argued that the Kimberley Process should be more
proactive in monitoring infringements, and tougher in
curtailing this illicit trade. The situation today is getting
worse. In Venezuela, rampant diamond smuggling
continues while the government flouts the certification
scheme. Despite a UN embargo on Ivorian conflict
diamonds, stones are still mined in northern Côte
d’Ivoire, smuggled into international trading centres and
sold on to consumers. Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
governor Gideon Gono recently stated that over 10,000
people were visiting the border town of Mutare every
month for illegal activities involving diamonds. Gono
said that over 2,000 local syndicates were smuggling
diamonds out of the country.
This paper reviews the issues around illicit flows of
rough diamonds, particularly in countries facing serious
challenges in controlling the artisanal mining sector.
We present the results of a survey assessing how
participant countries are enforcing KP controls and
monitoring the diamond industry, and we put forward
specific recommendations for changing the way the KP
is managed and implemented. We hope that the
procrastination and denial that have gripped the
Kimberley Process on these issues in recent years can be
replaced at the forthcoming Plenary Meeting in New Delhi
with a proactive and dedicated response to the problems.
Abstract: Just as peace is not simply the absence of war,
an end to conflict diamonds does not necessarily
mean that diamonds will create prosperity
or that human security will prevail in the
areas where they are mined. The campaign to
halt conflict diamonds has largely succeeded,
although the phenomenon continues in Côte
d’Ivoire, seemingly beyond the ingenuity and
the powers of the 75 governments represented
in the Kimberley Process (KP) and the
world’s entire diamond industry. But the KP
challenge today is not just Côte d’Ivoire; the
larger challenge is to ensure that diamonds are
controlled and tracked in ways that prevent a
return of the much more deadly diamondfuelled
wars of the past.
Diamonds are not just symbols of love, fidelity
and purity, they are the most concentrated
form of wealth on earth, and because of that,
they attract problems. A raid on a Damiani
showroom in Milan netted thieves as much as
$30 million in diamond jewellery in February.
That was just one of many diamond heists. If
you Google “diamond theft 2008” you will
find more than five million articles. It stands to
reason, therefore, that conflict diamonds could
return to countries where development is
stunted and governance weak. That is why
organizations like the Diamond Development
Initiative (DDI) are so important, and why
efforts to bring greater transparency to the
extractive sector need all the support they can
get. The intergovernmental Extractive
Industries Transparency Initiative and the NGOled
Publish What You Pay Campaign are key
elements in this.
Partnership Africa Canada (PAC) has been a
leader in the campaign against conflict diamonds
since 1999. It has been, and remains an
active member of all Kimberley Process meetings
and working groups. We have produced
several background studies on diamond-related
issues, 17 occasional papers and a quarterly newsletter, "Other Facets". All are available on
the PAC website (www.pacweb.org).
Starting in 2003, we began to publish standalone
Annual Reviews of the Diamond Industry
on Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of
the Congo and Angola. The Annual Reviews,
published in English (all), French (DRC) and
Portuguese (Angola) aimed to provide governments,
civil society and investors with information
that would be helpful in the promotion of
greater transparency and more positive developmental
outcomes. The Annual Reviews have
been widely quoted and have become documents
of record on the diamond industries in
For 2008 we have taken a different approach,
expanding the project to cover more countries,
but producing one report rather than three.
This report — Diamonds and Human Security
Annual Review 2008 — concentrates on the
three countries most seriously affected by diamond-
fuelled conflict – Angola, DRC and
Sierra Leone – but we have also included articles
on countries touched by those conflicts, or
where internal controls over diamonds, and
where development considerations, remain
Abstract: As European cocaine use has increased, heightened sea interdiction by the U.S. and the EU has pushed more traditional transatlantic cocaine trafficking routes -- and their profits -- further south in the Americas, making Venezuela and Brazil, via West Africa, Europe's main suppliers of cocaine. While it is unknown exactly how much of the estimated 250 metric tons of cocaine that enters the EU by sea or air each year arrives from Africa, it is believed that the cocaine smuggled across the continent's fragile Western region has a street value of at least $2 billion. Of this, 50 percent originates in Brazil, which borders each of the major coca-producing Andean nations, while another 30 percent comes from Venezuela. The shift is reflected in the 15.8 million tons of cocaine seized in Brazil in 2005, more than double the amount confiscated in 2004, according to the State Department's 2006 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report. Brazilian authorities have fought back, adopting a policy in 2004 to shoot down drug-transporting planes. But that appears to have only pushed the cocaine overland. Organized crime by urban gangs, meanwhile, has also proven to be a considerable challenge for Brazilian authorities.
A major factor sending European-bound cocaine through Brazil, Venezuela and on to Africa has been the dismantling of Colombia's once-feared Cali and Medellin drug cartels by Colombian law enforcement (with the help of U.S. forces) in the early 1990s. Since then, according to Vanda Felbab-Brown, a fellow for foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution and an expert on illicit economies and conflict, Colombian criminal organizations have lacked the muscle to move their cocaine over any meaningful distance outside their own borders. At most, criminal gangs operating on Colombian soil can only ship as far as Guatemala. Vicious Mexican cartels, meanwhile, have filled the resulting vacuum in the American market, delivering Colombian cocaine to the U.S.
Simultaneously, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and other law enforcement entities have stepped up interdiction and surveillance across the Caribbean. This, too, has hampered the smuggling abilities of Colombian criminal enterprises, forcing them to rely on the outright hospitality of one country to ship cocaine internationally: Venezuela. While authorities in Brazil might lack the resources and manpower to combat criminal gangs and intercept cocaine within that country's borders, corrupt officials in Venezuela have proven far more mercenary in their active encouragement of the trade.
Abstract: It has been 10 years since Hugo Chávez was elected president of Venezuela and set
out to overhaul the country’s largely discredited political system. His first major
achievement, the enactment of a new constitution in 1999, offered an extraordinary
opportunity for the country to shore up the rule of law and strengthen the protection
of human rights. The 1999 Constitution significantly expanded human rights
guarantees by, among other things, granting Venezuela’s international rights
obligations precedence over domestic law. It also created a new Supreme Court and
sought to provide this court with the institutional independence it would need to
serve as the ultimate guarantor of these fundamental rights.
But this historic opportunity has since been largely squandered. The most dramatic
setback came in April 2002 when a coup d’état temporarily removed Chávez from
office and replaced him with an unelected president who, in his first official act,
dissolved the country’s democratic institutions, suspending the legislature and
disbanding the Supreme Court. Within 40 hours, the coup unraveled, Chávez
returned to office, and the constitutional order was restored. But while this
derailment of Venezuelan democracy lasted less than two days, it has haunted
Venezuelan politics ever since, providing a pretext for a wide range of government
policies that have undercut the human rights protections established in the 1999
Discrimination on political grounds has been a defining feature of the Chávez
presidency. At times, the president himself has openly endorsed acts of
discrimination. More generally, he has encouraged his subordinates to engage in
discrimination by routinely denouncing his critics as anti-democratic conspirators
and coup-mongers—regardless of whether or not they had any connection to the
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.