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Friday, March 11, 2011
- UNASUR, the Union of South American Nations, was formally launched today at a meeting of Foreign Affairs ministers in Quito, Ecuador. Before the group could become effective, the charter requested that nine members subscribe to the treaty. Of UNASUR's members, Brazil and Paraguay still have to comply with the approval of treaty.
Next on the agenda for UNASUR is to agree on a new Secretary General, a post which has been vacant since the death of Nestor Kirchner. Currently, the two main candidates are Venezuela's Electricity minister Ari Rodriguez, an energy expert, and Maria Emma Mejia, a former Colombian Deputy Foreign Affairs minister. UNASUR will convene again at a presidential summit in Venezuela in April, where some speculate the next Secretary General will be chosen.
- On Tuesday, the International Court of Justice ordered Costa Rica and Nicaragua to withdraw all troops, police and security personnel from the 1.2 square-mile contested border region. This ruling allowed both sides to claim victory for the moment. Costa Rica's President Laura Chinchilla called the decision an "overwhelming victory" for her country in using law to repel aggressors, while Nicaragua's representative before The Hague was satisfied with the ruling since it blocks Costa Rica's "offensive" against Nicaraguan sovereignty. The decision does not bring the two countries any closer to a solution for their tense standoff, however, and the legal process could take another four years to reach a final verdict.
- The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' (ATF) "Operation Fast and Furious" made it into multiple news stories this week, as more details about the operation are exposed. The Operation was meant to investigate gunrunning by cartels, and allowed 1,765 guns purchased in the United States to be smuggled into Mexico over a 15-month period--of which only 797 were recovered. According to a ranking Mexican legislator, at least 150 Mexicans have been killed or wounded by guns trafficked by smugglers being tracked by U.S. ATF agents. Investigators are now trying to determine if the gun that killed ICE agent Jaime Zapata in February was one of those missing guns. Yesterday, the Mexican Senate called a hearing on Operation Fast and Furious and voted to summon U.S. Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan to discuss the issue, though a date has not been set.
- Last week, the New York Times reported that Marisol Valles García, the 21 year old police chief of Praxedis G. Guerrero, a small town 60 miles southeast of Ciudad Juárez, had not been to work for three days. She had been granted a leave of absence to take her baby son, who was ill, to the United States, but failed to return as agreed. By Monday, Valles had been fired by the town's mayor for abandoning her post. It turns out, as the El Paso Times reported, that Valles fled to the United States last week to seek asylum after receiving death threats. According to the Chihuahua Human Rights Commission, Valles is staying in the United States, and keeping a low profile, until her case is heard by an immigration judge.
- Other news from Mexico this week included the appointment of Julian Leyzaola, former Tijuana police chief and lieutenant colonel, to the post of public safety secretary of Ciudad Juárez, more arrests of suspected gang members linked to the death of ICE agent Jaime Zapata, and an in-depth piece in the Washington Post on the effects of drug violence on Monterrey. CIP Intern Erin Shea's blog on recent violence in Mexico provides more details about these news stories and more. Read it here.
- Haiti is starting to prepare for its March 20th presidential and legislative runoff election. On Wednesday, the two presidential candidates, Michel Martelly and Mirlande Manigat, faced off in a televised debate, trying to distinguish their policies from the other, despite their similar platforms: education, national production and the reestablishment of a Haitian military.
According to the Los Angeles Times, personality, not politics, is the true divide between the two candidates: "With not much in the way of politics dividing the two right-of-center candidates, voters may be left to weigh backgrounds and styles, which are as different as those of a lampshade-wearing uncle and tsk-tsking grandmother."
The Miami Herald lists several fixes that are being made to prevent the fraud and disorganization that "marred November's first round of balloting." These changes include increased education requirements for poll workers and supervisors, cleaning up the list of voters, and using color tally sheets to help deter fraud.
- The Guardian's Rory Carroll wrote a long piece on gang violence in Caracas, Venezuela. In the article, "Drugs, murder and redemption: the gangs of Caracas" Carroll notes that gang violence played a large role in the fact that in 2010 14,000 people were murdered in Venezuela, three times more than in Iraq.
- The largest cocaine processing lab ever, capable of producing about a ton of cocaine a month, was found in Honduras. Some say it is another sign Mexican drug trafficking organizations are spreading into Honduran territory. Steven Dudley, of InSight, called this discovery a "game changer." Dudley writes, "the presence of an HCl lab means the calculus region wide may be changing. The assumption is that so much pressure is on the traffickers in Colombia and neighboring states that they are moving their raw material north." Boz also wrote about this discovery today, and closes his blog by asking: "How many more labs are there? If this lab was found, and it's a significant lab, it's probably not the only one."
- InSight also provides an overview of the evolution of the drug submarine.
- Guatemala's first lady Sandra Torres announced her candidacy for president to succeed her husband, Alvaro Colom, in the presidential elections in September. Her announcement came despite a constitutional ban prohibiting close relatives of a president from standing to replace him or her. Guatemala's constitutional court will have the final decision on whether or not Torres will be able to run.
- The Christian Science Monitor published an interview with Ecuador's President Rafael Correa, in which Correa told interviewer Abraham Lowenthal that "I have personal respect for President Obama and for the positive changes he seeks to introduce, but the U.S. system and the power of vested interests have prevented significant changes." In the interview, Correa and Lowenthal also talk about political and social change in Ecuador and the possibilities for Peru under a new leadership.
Friday, February 25, 2011
- This week saw an increase in tension between the United States and Mexico as President Felipe Calderón expressed his frustration with comments made in U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks. In an interview with El Universal, President Calderón noted that U.S. "cooperation on an institutional level has ended up being notoriously insufficient" and complained that the United States' intelligence and security agencies act like rivals, instead of coordinating with each other. Read more on the Just the Facts blog.
- In the 24 hours after El Universal released President Calderón's interview, various steps were taken to improve U.S.-Mexico relations, including the announcement that Calderón will travel to Washington next week to meet with President Obama, where they will discuss bilateral relations. While in Washington, Calderón will also meet with Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio).
- Within those 24 hours, Mexico's Army also announced the capture of Julian Zapata, a reputed cell leader of the Zetas cartel and the main suspect in the murder of ICE Agent Jaime Zapata. Five others tied to the February 15th murder were also detained. According to Zapata, the shooting was the result of confusion that the two belonged to a rival gang because of the SUV they drove.
- Meanwhile, more than 100 suspects were arrested in nine U.S. cities in a drug trafficking sweep launched by U.S. authorities this week. The sweeps involved more than 3,000 federal, state and local law enforcement agents, and resulted in the seizure of approximately 300 kilograms of cocaine, 150,000 pounds of marijuana, and 190 weapons. According to the Los Angeles Times, officials declared the crackdown a retaliatory strike against the U.S. operations of Mexican drug cartels. "If you attack a U.S. law enforcement officer, we are not going to back down," said Derek Maltz, special agent in charge of special operations for the DEA.
- The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights released its annual report on the situation of human rights in Colombia. The report can be downloaded in English or Spanish here. While the UNHCHR does recognize the Santos Administration's commitment to human rights and "welcomes the drastic reduction" in false-positives, it continues to cite that the persistence of the internal armed conflict in Colombia gets in the way of the full enjoyment of human rights. The report authors write, "this situation is exacerbated by the violence caused by illegal armed groups emerged after the demobilization of paramilitary organizations, and disputes among illegal armed actors to control drug trafficking."
- Lisa Haugaard, of the Latin America Working Group, published a new article in The Huffington Post on the implications of the budget battles in the United States for Latin America. According to Haugaard, the House Republican leadership's proposal for this year's budget slashes important programs that "show the generous face of our nation abroad," while maintaining funding levels of military aid and training to the region's security forces. In contrast, the Obama Administration's budget for 2012 makes mostly "smart cuts" to aid for Latin America, "economic aid is reduced by 5 percent from 2009, while military and police aid programs would go down by 43 percent." Haugaard closes with this:
As the White House and Congress consider budgets for this year and next, the sensible course is to preserve already very limited economic and institution-building programs for Latin America that lend a helping hand. These programs help farmers grow food, not coca; provide immunizations for deadly diseases; strengthen courts, and help those fleeing from wars and recovering from disasters. Their impact on the U.S. budget is microscopic, but their return, measured in increased goodwill, security, and protection for human rights, is substantial.
- Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota was in Washington this week in preparation for President Obama's visit to Brazil in mid-March. Patriota met with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday and the two held a brief press conference where they told reporters that the "U.S.-Brazilian relationship has developed into a solid partnership in areas that include trade and investment, contacts between civil societies, combating racial discrimination, promoting gender equality, and in emerging areas such as science and technology." The full transcript of the press conference is here.
- Bolivia's Cambio reported on a new trilateral counter-narcotics agreement that would include Bolivia, Brazil, and the United States. Brazilian and Bolivian officials are to meet this week to finalize the technical details of the agreement, although there is little information about what role the United States would play in the project.
- The U.S. Office on Colombia, Lutheran World Relief and the Instituto de Estudios para la Paz y el Desarrollo (INDEPAZ) released a new report this week. Closer to Home: a critical analysis of Colombia’s proposed land law provides and initial review of the most prominent gaps in the proposed bill and recommendations for how U.S. policy-makers can support a more equitable land policy in Colombia. Download the report here.
Friday, February 4, 2011
Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) electoral board announced that the Preval government's candidate, Jude Celestin, will not advance to the second-round presidential runoff on March 20. Instead, Michel Martelly will face off against Mirlande Manigat.
This decision came after many groups and governments voiced their opinions and concerns about who should advance to the runoff--and debated whether an entirely new election should be held. The list of people voicing their concerns included Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who traveled to Haiti on Sunday. Secretary Clinton encouraged the Haitian government to accept the OAS recommendation to drop Celestin from the second-round runoff. While in Haiti, Secretary Clinton met with President Preval, and held individual meetings with Celestin, Martelly and Manigat.
Former Haitian dictator "Baby Doc" Duvalier, who returned to Haiti over three weeks ago after 25 years in exile, was interviewed on Univision on Tuesday. When asked about being described as a tyrant, "Baby Doc" laughed, saying "When they talk of me as a tyrant, they make me laugh, it gives me the impression that people suffer from amnesia, they've forgotten the way in which I left Haiti, how I left voluntarily." He also said that he was the "first person" to start a democratic process in Haiti.
Continuing with Haiti, former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's lawyer announced that the Haitian government has agreed to issue a diplomatic passport to the former president, who has not returned to Haiti since he was ousted in 2004, if he asks for one.
The Washington Post reported on Monday that proposed budget cuts might threaten the future of Project Gunrunner, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' (ATF) effort to stem the flow of guns from the United States to Mexico. The preliminary budget document obtained by the Post outlined a 12.8 percent reduction in the ATF's budget--amounting to a $160 million cut. However, on Wednesday, an editorial in the Post noted that "the adminstration wisely - and in this political climate, bravely - appears to have had a change of heart." A spokeswoman from the Office of Management and Budget announced this week that "As part of the president's commitment to strengthening core law enforcement and homeland security functions - even as we make tough choices across the government - the 2012 budget includes robust support for Southwest border security, including an increase above current funding levels for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives."
Guatemalan President Álvaro Colom announced last week that Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador are talking about forming a combined special operations force to fight Mexican organized crime. The new force will count on the support and shared responsibility of the United States, and will work with both Mexico and Colombia, says Colom. The plan is to be discussed in more detail at the upcoming Summit on the Central American Integration System in June.
John Lindsay-Poland of the Fellowship of Reconciliation writes that despite the Colombian constitutional court's decision to stike down the U.S.-Colombia military base agreement, "U.S. military agencies in September 2010 signed contracts for construction at Tolemaida, Larandia and Malaga bases in Colombia worth nearly US$5 million."
Adam Isacson looks at "Why Latin America is Rearming" in his recent article in the February 2011 issue of Current History.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez celebrated 12 years as president on Tuesday, and said he was ready to battle for six more years in next year's election, according to the Associated Press.
Argentina's Foreign Minister, Héctor Timerman, criticized Buenos Aires Mayor Mauricio Macri's decision to send the capital police officers to the U.S.-run International Law Enforcement Academy in El Salvador. Timmerman said via Twitter:
Organized crime is both a global and regional problem. It's frequently said that "Los Zetas" are a Mexican organization, but it's also true that we have captured Guatemalans, Honduras, and Salvadorans. This criminal group has been globalized, and so the solution to their serious aggression of which we are all victims has to be regional – I call it a "Mesoamerican Plan of Security and Justice."
As a [Buenos Aires resident] I'm frightened that Macri continues sending police to study 'antiterrorism' in courses taught and financed by the USA.... In the past, they were dedicated to training the military in coup techniques and courses in torture and persecution of political enemies. It seems to me that these are limits that we shouldn't cross.
In an opinion piece, Timerman explained that transit police don't need terrorism experts. He wrote, "obviously ... Macri hopes to count on a repressive shock force trained in intelligence operations. All of this is very far from the law that created the police." Joshua Frens-String has more details on his Hemispheric Brief blog.
There has not been much good news coming out of Mexico recently:
Next week, two Obama Administration officials will travel to Latin America:
- Only one month after taking the job, the police chief of Nuevo Laredo, General Manual Farfan, two bodyguards and his personal assistant were killed this week.
- Mexico's second- and third-largest cities both experienced a series of attacks by suspected drug cartel members this week, as reported by the Associated Press.
- A woman who distributed newspapers in Ciudad Juárez, Maribel Hernandez, was shot to death by a drug cartel member because "his gang thought she threatened their control over street vendors," reports the Associated Press.
- BBC Mundo reports on the failure of "Todos Somos Juárez," the anti-violence program announced by the Mexican government one year ago, after 15 youth were killed at a birthday party in Ciudad Juárez. Despite the tens of millions of dollars spent on the program, the border town "has changed very little."
Colombia's Minister of Defense, Rodrigo Rivera, traveled to Miami and Washington this week, where he met with government officials, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates. According to El Tiempo, during his meeting with Secretary Gates, Defense Minister Rivera expressed his concern about potential cuts in U.S. aid to Colombia this year.
In two weeks, presidents from South American and Arab countries will meet in Peru.
- Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) William R. Brownfield (former Ambassador to Colombia) will travel to Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Colombia February 6-11, 2011. "Assistant Secretary Brownfield’s visit will demonstrate U.S. support and encourage continued partnership between the U.S., the governments of Central America, and other international donors to improve citizen security in the region," according to the State Department's press release.
- Timothy Geithner will travel to Brazil on February 7th, where he will meet with government and economic leaders in the country and "will discuss the importance of cooperating economically and financially with the growing South American nation."
Friday, January 21, 2011
- One of this week's top stories was the return of dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier to Haiti. Speculation is still flying about why "Baby Doc" returned, including the theory that he intended to act as some sort of pressure on the current political situation with the country's stalled elections. A more plausible theory emerged recently, however, that has to do with $4.6 million currently frozen in a Swiss bank account. Joshua Frens-String explains:
The story begins in Switzerland where that country's top court, in a ruling made just hours before last January's devastating earthquake, decided that at least $4.6 million under Mr. Duvalier's name and still frozen in a Swiss bank account could be released back to Mr. Duvalier. In a response to the high court's decision, Swiss officials promptly passed new legislation, calling it the “Duvalier Law,” which would allow the Swiss government "greater discretion" in deciding to whom it should return frozen assets that lingered in its world-famous bank accounts. That law will go into effect on Feb. 1. But, says the paper, under until Feb. 1, states making claims to money in Switzerland "must show that they have begun a criminal investigation against the suspected offender before any funds can be returned."
As the New York Times put it: "[If] Mr. Duvalier had been able to slip into the country and then quietly leave without incident, as he was originally scheduled to do on Thursday, he may have been able to argue that Haiti was no longer interested in prosecuting him — and that the money should be his." However, since his return, court investigations into corruption and embezzlement have been opened and formal complaints for human rights abuses during his 15-year rule have been filed. As "Baby Doc's" lawyer puts it, he now "must have mixed feelings about" his decision to return.
- The return of former dictator "Baby Doc" Duvalier to Haiti prompted questions about whether former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, exiled in 2004, would also try to return. Aristide wrote a letter to the governments of Haiti and South Africa, where he currently lives, in which he expresses his desire to return to Haiti quickly. He writes: "So, to all those asking me to return home, I reiterate my willingness to leave today, tomorrow, at any time."
- "Baby Doc's" return and the potential for Aristide's return diverted attention from the problems surrounding Haiti's stalled elections. The United States began to increase pressure on Haiti to resolve the disputed president election this week. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, called on Haiti to "outline a very clear way forward that will lead promptly to the inauguration of a legitimate and democratically elected government." Rice continued, "Sustained support from the international community, including the United States, will require a credible process that represents the will of the Haitian people, as expressed by their votes."
While a statement released on Tuesday by Haiti's provisional electoral council signaled that they are not bound by the Organization of American States' "recommendations to drop the ruling party's candidate from [the] disputed presidential race," as reported by the New York Times, Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive told the Miami Herald that the country is following the OAS recommendations "exactly."
- The United States filed its formal objection to Bolivia's bid to amend the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs to end an international prohibition on coca-leaf chewing. Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca is currently traveling through Europe in an attempt to garner support for Bolivia's proposal, and has already visited Spain, France and Belgium. You can learn more about what is happening on this podcast and in this Foreign Policy in Focus article by WOLA's Coletta Youngers.
- White House Office of National Drug Policy Director (or "Drug Czar") Gil Kerlikowske visited Colombia this week, where he met with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos to discuss "the United States' valued relationship with Colombia, ongoing counternarcotics cooperation between the two nations and support for hemispheric drug prevention, treatment and alternative development programs." During his visit, Kerlikowske hailed a sharp drop in cocaine production in the Andes. However, on this blog, Adam Isacson points to a problem with the U.S. government's estimates:
If 690 tons [of cocaine] were produced and 495 were interdicted in these countries, it would leave only 195 tons to satisfy global demand. And these 495 tons don’t include any U.S. seizures on international waters, seizures on U.S. soil by state or municipal police, or seizures in Europe, Asia or elsewhere – which would reduce supplies still further.
- The Center for International Policy's Global Financial Integrity program released a new report this week that estimates the quantity and patterns of illicit financial flows coming out of developing countries. The report, "Illicit Financial Flows from Developing Countries, 2000-2009," (PDF) places both Mexico and Venezuela in the top ten countries with the highest measured cumulative illicit financial outflows between 2000 and 2008. According to the new report, from 2000 to 2008 $416 billion in illicit money flowed out of Mexico, placing Mexico third on the list, just behind China ($2.18 trillion) and Russia ($427 billion). Venezuela falls eighth on the list, with $157 billion in illicit financial outflows between 2000 and 2008. Read more here.
- Colombian Vice President Angelino Garzón will be in Washington next week. According to the Vice-Presidency's press release, Garzón's visit has two objectives: To request that the United States extends Colombia's ATPDEA preferences for two years, and to push for the approval of the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement. VP Garzón's agenda is available for download as a PDF.
- Colombia also announced that Minister of Defense Rodrigo Rivera will travel to Washington in February to meet with U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. This week Defense Minister Rivera party blamed reduced U.S. aid for budget cuts that will prevent Colombia from creating eight new battalions.
- Peruvian President Alan García and Chilean President Sebastián Piñera met on Wednesday, where they said they would leave behind hard feelings between the two countries based on a border dispute currently before The Hague and strengthen commercial ties between the two countries.
- Bolivia's Air Force announced it will receive six Chinese K-8 interceptor planes in April that will be used to combat narcotrafficking. The planes cost US$57.8 million.
- Four months after the September 30th police uprising in Ecuador, the Government of Ecuador assumed direct administrative control of the police. This decision implies that the Ministry of the Interior will assume "legal, judicial and extrajudicial" representation of the 40,000 member entity and will take on all economic obligations, including credits, income, daily expenses and investments.
- Former Mexican President Vicente Fox reiterated his calls for the legalization of the production, transit and sale of prohibited drugs, especially marijuana. Fox:
Prohibition didn't work in the Garden of Eden. Adam ate the apple.... "We have to take all the production chain out of the hands of criminals and into the hands of producers — so there are farmers that produce marijuana and manufacturers that process it and distributors that distribute it and shops that sell it ... I don't want to say that legalizing means that drugs are good. They are not good but bad for your health, and you shouldn't take them. But ultimately, this responsibility is with citizens.
- Colombian Army Major César Maldonado, imprisoned for his role in a 2000 assassination attempt against union leader (now congressman) Wilson Borja, escaped for the second time from the military stockade where he has been held in lieu of a regular prison. Though he was quickly recaptured, Maldonado's escape from the Tolemaida army base raised questions about the lenient conditions under which military human-rights violators are imprisoned at military bases. These conditions apparently even include weekend leave time, as witnesses have reported seeing Maldonado at large in the nearby resort town of Melgar.
- The Washington Post, The Economist, and IPS all had articles this week on the spread of both gang and cartel violence in Central America.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
The Center for International Policy's Global Financial Integrity program released a new report this week that estimates the quantity and patterns of illicit financial flows coming out of developing countries. The report, "Illicit Financial Flows from Developing Countries, 2000-2009," (PDF) finds that approximately $6.5 trillion was removed from the developing world from 2000 through 2008, averaging $725 billion to $810 billion per year.
Most notable for Latin America, the new GFI report, authored by Dev Kar and Karly Curcio, places both Mexico and Venezuela in the top ten countries with the highest measured cumulative illicit financial outflows between 2000 and 2008. According to the new report, from 2000 to 2008 $416 billion in illicit money flowed out of Mexico, placing Mexico third on the list, just behind China ($2.18 trillion) and Russia ($427 billion). Venezuela falls eighth on the list, with $157 billion in illicit financial outflows between 2000 and 2008.
CIP's Global Financial Integrity program explains that the term "illicit financial flows" pertains to
the cross-border movement of money that is illegally earned, transferred, or utilized. Illicit financial flows generally involve the transfer of money earned through illegal activities such as corruption, transactions involving contraband goods, criminal activities, and efforts to shelter wealth from a country's tax authorities.
The report does not include estimated amounts of illicit flows leaving countries as a result of strictly cash transactions, which is often how narcotrafficking and organized crime transactions are conducted. As Karly Curcio, one of the report's authors, states in a recent blog post, "The model is not able to capture illegal, cash-only transactions and smuggling related activities, so the negative economic impact of illicit flows from [Mexico] is almost certainly understated."
The policy implication, according to GFI, of this huge amount of illicit flows out of the developing world is that for every $1 in economic development assistance that goes into a developing country, $10 is lost via illicit outflows. "Illicit outflows deprive governments of tax revenues crucial for providing public goods like domestic security, ... [and] also drain capital needed for various investment projects, poverty alleviation, and economic growth," writes Curcio. Using Mexico as an example, GFI's new estimates put the flow of illicit money out of Mexico at some $46.24 billion each year, while, over the last eight years for which data are available, the country received an average of just $212 million in Official Development Assistance. Given the ratio of inflows to outflows, it is unclear how countries like Mexico can address their development needs when such a large amount of money pours out of their economies each year.
While Mexico and Venezuela rank third and eighth in the developing world, here is a list of the average annual illicit financial outflows from Latin American & Caribbean countries, from highest to lowest:
1. Mexico ($46.24 billion)
2. Venezuela (17.5 billion)
3. Argentina ($10 billion)
4. Chile ($7.8 billion)
5. Costa Rica ($4.4 billion)
6. Panama ($3.9 billion)
7. Honduras ($2.8 billion)
8. Brazil ($2.6 billion)
9. Colombia ($2.1 billion)
10. Ecuador ($1.5 billion)
11. Guatemala ($1.5 billion)
12. El Salvador ($1 billion)
13. Uruguay ($837 million)
14. Nicaragua ($774 million)
15. Jamaica ($706 million)
16. Bolivia ($590 million)
17. Paraguay ($476 million)
18. Peru ($311 million)
19. The Bahamas ($121 million)
20. Belize ($43 million)
21. Antigua and Barbuda ($16 million)
22. St. Kitts ($16 million)
23. St. Lucia ($9 million)
24. Dominica ($66 million)
You can find more information about illicit financial flows on GFI's website.
More information on the report can be found here, or download the full report (PDF).
Friday, January 14, 2011
- The trial of suspected anti-Castro Cuban terrorist Luis Posada Carriles began in El Paso, Texas this week. While Posada Carriles has been linked to bombings in Havana and the downing of an airliner in the 1970s, he is being charged with "perjury, obstruction of federal proceedings and making false statements during a naturalization hearing" -- not terrorism. However, this trial, according to the New York Times, marks the first time American prosecutors will present evidence in open court that Posada Carriles played a major role in carrying out bombings in Cuba, as he is being tried for lying to an immigration judge about his role in the bombings.
- The Organization of American States released its report on Haiti's electoral crisis (the report has not been made public, but a version is available for download on the Center for Economic and Policy Research's website: PDF), recommending that the country's electoral officials prevent government-backed candidate, Jude Celestin, from moving on to a second round run-off vote. Haitian President Rene Preval officially received the report on Thursday, though the Associated Press reports that he is "unhappy with their recommendation that his preferred candidate be cut from the presidential runoff vote" and is reported to have requested revisions to the document.
- Meanwhile, former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who completed his second term as governor in December, was named special envoy for the OAS.
- The Mexican government released a new set of official drug war statistics, citing over 34,612 drug-related murders since President Felipe Calderon took office in 2006. The government broke this statistic down, showing that of the 34,612 murders, 30,913 were execution-style killings, 3,153 were the result of shootouts between gangs, and 546 involved attacks on authorities. In 2010 alone, 15,273 people were killed - a 60 percent increase from 2009.
- In other news related to violence in Mexico, over the weekend, and in less than 24 hours, more than 30 people were killed - at least 16 of them were found decapitated - in Acapulco.
Also, three mayors have already been killed in 2011 in Mexico, compared to a total of 14 in 2010. On Thursday, the mayor of a "remote mountain town in southern Oaxaca state" was shot to death. On Monday, the mayor of Temoac (Morelos), was killed, and last Friday, the mayor of Zaragoza, of the Coahuila state, was found dead.
- Freedom House released the 2011 edition of its Freedom in the World index, which scores 194 countries and territories on their levels of political rights and civil liberties. This year, Mexico dropped from "free" to "partly free." According to Freedom House, this drop results from the state's failure to "protect ordinary citizens, journalists, and elected officials from organized crime."
- U.S. Representative Sandy Levin (D-Michigan) traveled to Colombia this week on "a fact-finding mission to observe first-hand conditions relevant to the Colombia [Free Trade Agreement]."
- Many articles were published on Haiti's slow-going reconstruction efforts this week, as the one-year anniversary of the earthquake that devastated the country on January 12, 2010 passed. This includes an op-ed by Senator John Kerry (D-Massachusetts), in which he writes:
Partnership entails commitment and maturity on both sides. Haitians across society -- from the economic and political elite, to the nascent and unsteady civil society, to the masses of poor -- have to realize that our concern for their welfare does not give them leverage to shun our demands for progress. We cannot do the tasks that only they can do.
- Chile's Minister of Defense, Jaime Ravinet, resigned from his post following a scandal over untransparent purchases made in the wake of last February's earthquake in the country.
- Colombia's new Attorney General, Viviane Morales, assumed her post this week and noted that the extradition of paramilitary leaders to the United States was a bad idea, as it served as an excuse for them to stop collaborating with the Justice and Peace Process in Colombia.
- Honduras' congress approved constitutional reform measures that would allow referendums on re-election and term limits. As the Associated Press notes, these "once taboo subjects" were the "hot-button issues behind the coup that ousted President Manuel Zelaya in 2009." The measures must be approved again when the new congressional session begins on January 25th before they go into effect, however the Attorney General or Supreme Court could still challenge the measures' constitutionality.
- And finally, according to the Brazilian newspaper Folha de S. Paulo, Brazil is planning to spend $6 billion on radars, armored vehicles and unmanned aircraft to carry out a new project to protect its borders from smuggling and arms trafficking.
Monday, December 6, 2010
The news story of the week last week was certainly WikiLeaks. The Washington Post's Juan Forero offers a quick summary of many of the Latin America-related cables here. Or you can find links to extended coverage of the leaked cables on Just the Facts. One cable about Mexico suggests that the United States has lost a great deal of confidence in the Mexican military and its ability to take on the country's drug cartels:
Haiti's presidential elections on Sunday, November 28th, resulted in calls of fraud, violence and voter confusion. Official election results are not expected until tomorrow, but the joint Organization of American States-Caribbean Community observer mission noted that despite serious irregularities, the results should stand.
A leaked memo by former U.S. Ambassador Janet Sanderson to Haiti said that President René Préval's primary concern ahead of the election was to ensure the winner would not force him into exile. The memo, dated seven months before the earthquake destroyed Port-au-Prince, read President Préval's "overriding goal is to orchestrate the 2011 presidential transition in such a way as to ensure that whoever is elected will allow him to go home unimpeded. Based on our conversations, this is indeed a matter that looms large for Préval."
At least four of the nineteen Haitian presidential contenders marched with demonstrators in a protest in Port-au-Prince on Thursday to demand a rerun of the elections. The two front-runners, Michel "Sweet Mickey" Martelly and Mirlande Manigat, as well as current President René Préval's candidate, Jude Célestin, are calling for the vote to stand.
Paul Farmer had a good piece in Foreign Policy last week on "5 lessons from Haiti's Disaster: What the earthquake taught us about foreign aid."
After a weeklong battle in the Rio favela of Alemao, Brazilian security forces seized the shantytown and announced that 2,000 troops will stay in the "re-conquered" favela for at least six months.
Calderon has aggressively attacked Mexico's drug trafficking organizations but has struggled with an unwieldy and uncoordinated interagency and spiraling rates of violence that have made him vulnerable to criticism that his anti-crime strategy has failed. Indeed, the GOM's inability to halt the escalating numbers of narco-related homicides in places like Ciudad Juarez and elsewhere - the nationwide total topped 7,700 in 2009 - has become one of Calderon's principal political liabilities as the general public has grown more concerned about citizen security. Mexican security institutions are often locked in a zero-sum competition in which one agency's success is viewed as another's failure, information is closely guarded, and joint operations are all but unheard of. Official corruption is widespread, leading to a compartmentalized siege mentality among "clean" law enforcement leaders and their lieutenants. Prosecution rates for organized crime-related offenses are dismal; two percent of those detained are brought to trail. Only 2 percent of those arrested in Ciudad Juarez have even been charged with a crime.
IPS's report on the seizures argues that human rights abuses committed during the raids "are jeopardizing local residents' newfound support for security forces."
On Tuesday, the Uruguayan Senate voted to officially ratify the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) charter, giving the organization "full legal effectiveness." The three nations that have yet to ratify are Brazil, Colombia and Paraguay.
A must-have reference and free download: RESDAL released its new Comparative Atlas of Defense in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Colombia's Supreme Court elected Viviane Morales as the country's first female attorney general. Soon after the Supreme Court's vote, Morales announced that "the first thing we’ll do is meet to learn the real legal situation of the (illegal spying cases)." This ends 16 months of vacancy of this key post.
Reuters published a series looking at the narcotrafficking and public security crisis in Michoacán, Mexico. In December 2006, President Felipe Calderón launched his war on drug cartels in the western state of Michoacán. Yet, "despite heavily armed patrols, hundreds of drug lab busts and thousands of arrests, locals say gangs in the president's home state wield huge power, ramping up drug output while using terror and bribes to control towns mired in poverty."
Peter Kornbluh and Marian Schlotterbeck write in the Santiago Times, "How U.S. President Reagan Broke With Chile's Pinochet." Using declassified White House documents, recently obtained by the National Security Archive, the two authors shed light on "how the conservative Reagan Administration concluded that Pinochet no longer served U.S. national interests and should be forced from power."
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on Latin America in 2010 last week. On Haiti, Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) remarked that "political uncertainty now threatens to exacerbate human suffering" in the country. Senator Lugar continued, "But our willingness to direct funds through the Haitian government depends on the fair, transparent, and legal resolution of the current political crisis." In his opening remarks, Senator Lugar called for the passage of the Colombia Free Trade Agreement, more coordination to help Mexico fight drug cartels, placing more attention on the situation in Venezuela, and the elections in Haiti. According to Senator Lugar,
Our foreign policy in Latin America continues to struggle with perceptions that the United States has neglected the region in the past. These perceptions often have been inaccurate or incomplete, but there is little doubt that U.S. engagement with Latin America over a period of decades has been crisis driven.
If you missed the hearing, you can watch it online.
We posted the Department of Defense's FY2009 Humanitarian and Civic Assistance report to Just the Facts last week. Download the PDF here. This report includes U.S. military activities in foreign countries that involve providing medical, dental and veterinary care, constructing roads, bridges, schools, clinics and other public buildings, drilling wells and constructing basic sanitation facilities. Soon, we'll post the FY2009 totals to the Humanitarian and Civic Assistance program page on Just the Facts.
The Mexican army discovered several mass graves holding at least 20 bodies in the northern state of Chihuahua. The 20 bodies, which had been buried for between four and eight months, were distributed in 12 graves in the town of Puerto Palomas.
Monday, November 8, 2010
- Last Tuesday's elections resulted in significant changes to the make-up of the U.S. Congress. Republicans gained a majority in the House of Representatives and the Democrats narrowly maintained a slim majority in the Senate. What does this mean for U.S. policy to Latin America? Many Latin Americanists worked on answering that question throughout the week. Some good reads:
- Adam Isacson explains what a Republican majority in the House means for Latin America, and provides background information on the new House committee chairs;
- New America Foundation's Anya Landau sees little change, positive or negative, on Cuba policy in the new U.S. Congress;
- Josh Rogin "introduces" us to the new House Foreign Affairs Chairwoman, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen; and
- Andres Oppenheimer suggest that "there will be a huge pressure to cut foreign aid, which could include anti-drug programs such as Plan Merida for Mexico and Central America, Plan Colombia and aid to earthquake-devasted Haiti."
- Tuesday's elections also resulted in the defeat of Proposition 19 in California, which would have allowed for the regulation of marijuana in the state. In the lead-up to the election, the implications of Proposition 19 for Latin America, and the "drug war" in the region, was the topic of many debates. Regardless of the results of the vote on Proposition 19, WOLA's Coletta Youngers wrote that "the genie has been let out of the bottle" and "Prop 19 has furthered an international debate on alternatives for regulating cannabis that will no doubt continue and even expand after the polls close on November 2."
- Last Sunday, Brazil elected a new president: Dilma Rousseff of the ruling Workers' Party won a 55-to-44-percent victory in the country's second-round vote. She will take office - succeeding her close ally, popular two-term president Luis Inacio Lula da Silva - and become the first woman to serve as president of Brazil on January 1, 2011.
Many analysts took the opportunity to speculate about the implications of Dilma Rousseff's victory for the future of Brazil. Definitely not an exhaustive list, but some of the analyses include those by Adam Isacson, Jeffrey Rubin, Julia Sweig, Peter Hakim, and David Rothkopf.
- October was the bloodiest month so far in 2010 in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, with a total of 350 murders registered. The violence continues into November, and this weekend at least 20 individuals were killed in the Mexican border city, putting local death toll estimates for the year at more than 2,600.
- A mass demonstration in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, brought somewhere between 500 and 1,000 people to the streets to demand the demilitarization of their city, after a student was shot by two police officers at a protest last week.
- Also demanding demilitarization of the drug war in Mexico via a halt to U.S. military and police aid to Mexico under the Mérida Initiative, are dozens of U.S. and Mexican organizations. The organizations are circulating a sign-on letter right now that insists that the U.S. government focuses instead "on attacking the causes and structures of organized crime within the United States' drug addiction and the demand for black-market drugs, international financial transactions and transborder corruption, arms trafficking--and aid Mexico in eliminating the roots causes of the spread of crime such as poverty, inequality, unemployment and the lack of opportunities for youth." You can read, and sign-on to, the letter here.
- The United Nations Development Program released a new report on inequality last week, in which it ranks 10 Latin American and Caribbean countries among the 15 worst in terms on inequality. These countries include Haiti, Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil, Colombia, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay and Chile. The report also ranks Uruguay as the region's most equal country.
- A dispute over the Costa Rican and Nicaraguan border emerged after Costa Rican officials alleged that Nicaraguan troops crossed into Costa Rican territory. Costa Rica took the dispute to the Organization of American States last week, however, Google also became an unintentional third party after Costa Rica claimed that the border line on Google Maps were incorrect. On Friday, Google changed the border line in Google Maps, granting the disputed territory to Costa Rica, after consulting data supplied from the U.S. Department of State. The blog on the Google Earth and Maps team's "Lat Long Blog" explaining the dispute and the boundary line move gives a brief history lesson, too, explaining that the dispute in the area goes back to at least the mid-19th century.
- Uruguay's Supreme Court ruled that amnesty was unconstitutional in a number of cases involving human rights violations committed during the country's 12-year dictatorship.
Friday, October 22, 2010
- Mexican authorities seized 134 tons of marijuana on Sunday near the Mexico-U.S. border. On Wednesday, the 15,300 bales were set ablaze. One heavily quoted excerpt from the New York Times on the "bonfire" no longer appears in the article, but is included in the slideshow of the event. It reads:
And so up in smoke went the equivalent of a few hundred million joints in what Mexican authorities called the largest seizure of the drug in the country’s history, a dash of hype befitting the elaborate ceremony to both get rid of it and highlight a success, any success, in a bloody, lingering drug war.
- 30 members of Congress sent a letter (PDF) to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton requesting a suspension of U.S. aid to the Honduran government. This letter argues that "assassinations, arbitrary arrests, beatings and death threats targeting political activists and the human rights workers who attempt to protect them" continue with impunity. LAWG's Lisa Haugaard provides more information about recent attacks against human rights defenders and journalists in Honduras in this Huffington Post article.
State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley responded to a question about the letter on Wednesday, stating that the State Department does not intend to cut off assistance to Honduras, as requested in the letter.
... I think where we disagree with our congressional colleagues is that they conditioned progress on the human rights as a precondition for the return of Honduras to the OAS. We think they go hand in hand – improving the democratic performance of the government is vitally important, but also reintegrating Honduras into the community of democratic nations in this hemisphere is also important. And in fact, the election of the Lobo government was itself a major step forward for Honduras.
- Mexican President Felipe Calderón sent Congress a proposal that would reform Mexico's military justice code, requiring troops to be tried in civilian courts for three types of human rights abuses: torture, rape and forced disappearance. Mexican and international human rights organizations argue that the proposal "falls short of what was expected from Mexico," and "fails to hold armed forces accountable." Here are some responses to the proposed reform from LAWG, WOLA, Human Rights Watch and 13 Mexican organizations.
- Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Arturo Valenzuela met with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez on September 24th on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly "to encourage the release of Alan Gross," a USAID contractor arrested in Cuba on December 3, 2009 after being accused of spying.
- In response to the news that Russia is to build a nuclear power plant in Venezuela, President Obama said, "We have no incentive nor interest in increasing friction between Venezuela and the U.S., but we do think Venezuela needs to act responsibly."
- A new report by the National Commission on Human Rights in Honduras says that every 88 minutes someone is murdered in Honduras.
- In Colombia, a former high-ranking DAS official, Martha Leal, said that ex-DAS director Andres Peñate ordered her to spy on opposition figures at the "express request of former President Alvaro Uribe." Leal has been ordered to testify in the investigation into former President Uribe's involvement in the illegal wiretapping of his opponents.
- A new report by the Third National Survey on the Verification of the Rights of the Displaced in Colombia says that, as a result of violence, 6.65 million hectares of productive lands were abandoned in Colombia between 1980 and July 2010.
- The Houston Chronicle's Dudley Althaus writes about police reform in Mexico.
- Assistant Secretary of State David T. Johnson traveled to Guatemala and Honduras this week. While in Guatemala, Assistant Secretary Johnson ratified the United States' support in the country's fight against organized crime. "The United States is committed to working with Central America and Guatemala to combat corruption and organized crime through security services and rule of law," he said during a press conference at the National Civilian Police headquarters. In Honduras, he met with President Porfirio Lobo and convened the U.S.-Honduras Merida-CARSI Task Force. Johnson said, "I do not think that Honduras is about to become a 'narco-state', but I do think that the country has the challenge to confront it and I think that working together they can build institutions that can confront this challenge."
- Over the weekend, Brazilian presidential candidate José Serra promised a "great war against drugs" if elected president in the upcoming runoff election against Dilma Rousseff. A recent Vox Populi poll shows Rousseff with 51 percent of vote intention compared to 39 percent for Serra.
- A high-level delegation of U.S. officials will arrive in Colombia on Sunday. The group will include Undersecretary of State James Steinberg, Assistant Secretary of State, Arturo Valenzuela, and Maria Otero, Undersecretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs. Officials say that good governance, democracy, human rights, energy and science and technology will be the main issues discussed--notably absent from these bilateral talks is the word "drugs."
Friday, October 15, 2010
On November 2nd, California voters will head to the polls to vote on, among many other things, Proposition 19. Also known as the "Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010" (the text of the proposed law can be downloaded here), Proposition 19 is a ballot proposition which would legalize and regulate recreational marijuana use in California. "Adults could possess up to one ounce of the drug and grow small gardens on private property. Local governments would decide whether to allow and tax sales of the drug," explains the Associated Press.
California's Proposition 19 has sparked a debate about the potential effect the end of prohibition of marijuana in the United States could have on drug cartels, and whether other countries should follow suit. Proponents argue that Proposition 19 will cut off funding to drug cartels via a reduction in revenues from marijuana sales and provide an important first step toward the end of the current drug war policies. Opponents argue that the impact on revenues will be insignificant, as marijuana is not as lucrative for drug cartels as other drugs, such as cocaine and heroine, and other criminal enterprises, including kidnapping, extortion, and human smuggling.
The main group advocating for the passage of Proposition 19, Yes on 19, argues that Proposition 19 will "cut off funding to violent drug cartels across our border who currently generate 60 percent of their revenue from the illegal U.S. marijuana market." However, a new RAND paper released this week counters that argument. The authors of "Reducing Drug Trafficking Revenues and Violence in Mexico: Would Legalizing Marijuana in California Help?" find:
- Mexican DTOs' gross revenues from illegally exporting marijuana to wholesalers in the United States is likely less than $2 billion;
- The claim that 60 percent of Mexican DTO gross drug export revenues come from marijuana should not be taken seriously;
- If legalization only affects revenues from supplying marijuana to California, DTO drug export revenue losses would be very small, perhaps 2-4 percent;
- The only way legalizing marijuana in California would significantly influence DTO revenues and the related violence is if California-produced marijuana is smuggled to other states at prices that outcompete current Mexican supplies. The extent of such smuggling will depend on a number of factors, including the response of the U.S. federal government.
- If marijuana is smuggled from California to other states, it could undercut sales of Mexican marijuana in much of the U.S., cutting DTOs' marijuana export revenues by more than 65 percent and probably by 85 percent or more.
The director of the U.S. Office on National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), Gil Kerlikowske, applauded the new RAND report and emphasized that "this report shows that despite the millions spent on marketing the idea, legalized marijuana won't reduce the revenue or violence generated by Mexican drug-trafficking organizations." However, with the release of RAND's new paper, many analysts have zeroed in on the report's fifth key finding listed above: "If marijuana is smuggled from California to other states, it could undercut the sales of Mexican marijuana in much of the U.S., cutting DTOs' marijuana export revenues by more than 65 percent and probably 85 percent or more," a scenario which RAND estimates could lead to a 20 percent loss of total drug export revenues for drug trafficking organizations. On the Foreign Policy blog, Joshua Keating asks, "with this caveat, couldn't the report be viewed less as a case against legalization in California than an argument for extending it nationwide?"
Many proponents of the end of marijuana prohibition are calling Proposition 19 just that--a first step toward the end of prohibition nation-wide and the beginning of an exit strategy from the "disastrous" war on drugs. On the other hand, opponents to Proposition 19, including Mexican President Felipe Calderon and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, argue that it will undercut international efforts to combat the drug cartels and drug trade.
Below are excerpts of quotes that both support and negate the argument that Proposition 19 will affect the revenues of international drug trafficking organizations.
Arguments in support of Proposition 19 in relation to its impact on the fight against drug cartels:
Stephen Gutwillig, California state director of the Drug Policy Alliance:
Creating an exit strategy from the disastrous war on marijuana has to start somewhere. Ending marijuana prohibition, bringing the multi-billion dollar marijuana market into the light of day and under the rule of law, will deal a major blow to criminal syndicates on both sides of the border. California can't put these cartels out of business by itself, but Prop. 19 is a crucial first step.
Former Mexican President Vicente Fox:
According to the Los Angeles Times, former President Vicente Fox is calling for legalization and regulation of all drugs as the best way to cripple the drug cartels economically. Fox recently said that "passage of Proposition 19 would be a 'great step forward' and could 'open the door to these ideas for us.'"
The Economist magazine:
...The United States remains steadfast in its commitment to the prohibition of drugs, in the face of all the evidence that this policy fails to curb their consumption while creating vast profits for organised crime. It is welcome that California is now debating before a referendum on November 2nd, whether to legalise marijuana. This newspaper would vote for the proposition, because we believe that drug addiction, like alcoholism and tobacco consumption, is properly a matter of public health rather than the criminal law.
If California votes in favour of legalisation, Mexico would be wise to follow suit (the bottom would anyway fall out of its marijuana business). The drug gangs would still be left with more lucrative cocaine and methamphetamines. But it would become easier to defeat them. And Mexicans should make no mistake: they must be defeated. The idea of going back to a tacit bargain that tolerates organised crime, favoured by some in Mexico, is inimical to the rule of law, and thus to democracy and a free society. The sooner Mexico turns its new-found sense of urgency into a more effective national policing and law-enforcement strategy the better.
Mary Anastasia O'Grady, op-ed columnist for the Wall Street Journal:
To help Mexico deal with this "antitrust" problem, the U.S. has to recognize that competition in the narcotics sector is preferable to the monopolistic syndicates that threaten the state and could move north. But this would require greater flexibility from U.S. drug warriors. ...
Mexican officials estimate that the marijuana business makes up more than half of the Mexican cartels' income. Legalizing grass in the U.S. would mean increased competition for Mexican exporters and lower profit margins, thereby depriving the monopolies of important income.
Edward Schumacher-Matos, op-ed columnist for the Washington Post:
In the upcoming California referendum on legalizing marijuana for recreational use, Mexican President Felipe Calderón and U.S. drug czar Gil Kerlikowske have something in common. Both are missing the forest for the weed. ...
Calderon's assertion that this is a hypocrisy is right, "but only if you don't see the California referendum for what it is: a step. And a very big one, considering that California represents one-seventh of American marijuana consumption and has long been a first-mover in American cultural and political trends."
But what all this means for the United States and Mexico is that more steps away from prohibition need to follow. Issues such as pricing, taxation and other drugs also need careful confronting. But marijuana and California are good beginnings.
Ruben Aguilar, former Mexican government spokesman under President Vicente Fox:
People in California will be in their supermarkets and their Walmarts with their legal pot, and down here we'll be killing each other. Things will have to change here. It makes no sense for us to keep killing.
Stephen Downing, former Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief of Police:
Proposition 19 is a giant step toward a much-needed, new direction for our marijuana policies. We've tried the prohibitionists' way, for over forty years, and the only result has been more and more drugs flowing into our country and more and more profits going into the pockets of organized criminals. There's one reason we don't see wine cartels growing grapes in our national parks, and that's because alcohol is legal. We have to move away from prohibition and toward controlling and regulating the market for marijuana, just as when we ended alcohol prohibition to put Al Capone's smuggling buddies out of business.
Arguments against Proposition 19 in relation to its impact on the fight against drug cartels:
Both Mexican President Calderon and Colombian President Santos have come out against Proposition 19, claiming that its passage would generate a "peculiar paradox" and a "hypocrisy" if the United States legalizes consumption domestically, but still encourages other countries to combat drug production within their borders. The two presidents have argued that such a decision would have international implications and therefore cannot be made unilaterally. "Unilaterally we cannot legalize drugs because they are a problem not only for national security but also have international implications," noted President Santos.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon:
"I think they have very little moral authority to condemn Mexican farmers who out of hunger are planting marijuana to feed the insatiable [U.S.] appetite for drugs."
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos:
Legalizing marijuana in California as the region combats illegal drug use and trafficking will "generate a peculiar paradox."
"How does one explain to indigenous people that they are not to grow marijuana at the risk of being thrown into jail, but that in the richest state of the United States, they have legalized its production, sale, and consumption?"
Secretary General of the Organization of American States Jose Miguel Insulza:
While Secretary General Insulza has argued that "the war on drugs, as it has been carried out, has not produced the expected results," and that the fundamental flaw of the strategy is that we have not attacked the finances of the narcotraffickers, he appears to come out against Proposition 19. He has said that if Prop 19 passes, it will mean people abroad will no longer be ready to "fight to their death against a product that is going to be legal at the other side of the border."