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
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. ...
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.
December 17, 2004 Minorities at Risk Project // Center for International Development and Conflict Management // University of Maryland
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....
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....
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....
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....
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."...
October 7, 2009 Small Arms Survey // Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva // Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
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....