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8ecuzIty ChaIIenges In
the 21st Centuzy
A Conference Report
held at the National Press Club
21 September 2009
With the Academic Support of
the Inter-University Center for
Table of Contents
Preface: Prof. Yonah Alexander…………………………………..………………………................3
Opening Remarks: Daniel S. Mariaschin………………………………………………………….5
Remarks of H.E. Arturo Sarukhan, Ambassador of Mexico to the United States……………...6
Remarks of H.E. Carolina Barco Isakson, Ambassador of Colombia to the United States….18
Remarks of H.E. Luis Diego Escalante, Ambassador of Costa Rica to the United States…....25
Remarks of U.S. Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY)……………………………………………..30
Remarks of H.E. Javier Rupérez, Former Ambassador of Spain to the United States………..39
PowerPoint presentation used by Amb. Rupérez during remarks…………………………...…49
About the Contributors………………………………………………………………………...…...74
Professor Yonah Alexander, Director, Inter-University Center for Terrorism Studies
Amb. Jaime Daremblum, Senior Fellow and Director, Center for Latin-America Studies,
Hudson Institute; Former Costa Rican Ambassador to the United States
Daniel S. Mariaschin, Executive Vice President, B’nai B’rith International
H.E. Arturo Sarukhan, Mexican Ambassador to the United States
H.E. Carolina Barco, Colombian Ambassador to the United States; Former Minister of
Foreign Affairs of Colombia
H.E. Luis Diego Escalante, Costa Rican Ambassador to the United States
Rep. Eliot L. Engel, Member of U.S. House of Representatives and Chairman, House
Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs
H.E. Javier Rupérez, Former Spanish Ambassador to the United States; Former Executive
Director of the United Nations Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee
Prof. Yonah Alexander
Inter-University Center for Terrorism Studies
On September 21, 2009, the Inter-University Center for Terrorism Studies, in
collaboration with B’nai B’rith International, organized a conference at the National Press Club
on the 21
century security challenges in Latin America.
The conference was moderated by Daniel S. Mariaschin, Executive Vice President at
B’nai B’rith International; Prof. Yonah Alexander, Director of the Inter-University Center for
Terrorism Studies; and by the Ambassador Jaime Daremblum, Senior Fellow and Director of the
Center for Latin-America Studies at the Hudson Institute.
The security panel included four Ambassadors and one U.S. Congressman. The following
were the panelists: Ambassador Sarukhan, the Mexican ambassador to the United States;
Ambassador Barco, the Colombian ambassador to the United States; Ambassador Escalante, the
Costa Rican ambassador to the United States; Ambassador Rupérez, the former Spanish
ambassador to the United States; and U.S. Congressman Eliot Engel, the Chairman of the House
Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs.
The speakers emphasized the security challenges that drug trafficking poses to both Latin
American and U.S. security interests. For example, Latin America confronts domestic issues
such as drug trafficking, human rights abuses, and other transnational security issues that
threaten to destabilize the region.
Ambassador Sarukhan explained that Mexico’s most vital security issue is transnational
organized crime, particularly the illicit and lucrative narcotics trade that uses Mexico as a key-
point of transit between drug producer states (i.e. Colombia) and drug consumer states (i.e. the
United States). He reasons the main problem that connects every national criminal security issue
in the Americas is the lack of a regional collective security regime that can confront regional
security issues such as the spread of transnational criminal activity and organizations from one
country to another.
In the meantime, Mexico believes that in order to reduce violence unleashed by the drug
syndicates upon Mexican society it must elevate the opportunity cost of the drug cartels using
Mexico as a transition point. Mexico therefore believes that by continuing its hard stance against
the drug syndicates it may one day have its illicit drug related issues transition from being a
national security issue to being a law and public security issue.
Ambassador Barco subsequently spoke about the security challenge of the transnational
narcotics trade and its relationship with organized crime and criminal activity. In her speech, she
believes that international collaboration is needed to solve this security challenge. She reasons,
that in the past, this security issue was in discussion by the Latin American states but was not
taken seriously as a regional security issue. Therefore, Latin America needed the deteriorating
security situation in Mexico to shed light on the growing threat of the transnational narcotics
trade to regional security and it must be dealt with great concern by Latin America.
Ambassador Barco also states that recent numbers in Colombia show that there is a sharp
decrease of crime and violence by 44 percent, yet the region has not reached a point of stability
that it desires. Therefore, in order to increase its security, Colombia believes it must work with
other countries to address this issue by sharing intelligence and other regional security measures.
Ambassador Escalante, subsequently following both Ambassadors Sarukhan and Barco,
highlighted the issue of transnational organized crime as a vital threat to the society and regional
security. He explains that while the security situation in Costa Rica has improved, in order to
reinforce the institutions of law and order and reduce criminality, cooperation between the public
and private sectors must continue to be a critical component. Costa Rica believes that the
illegitimate use of currency within international trade is another critical issue; however, Costa
Rica perceives the security issue is more important than the economic one.
The question raised by Ambassador Ruperez was, “Why do some Latin America
countries have higher counter-terrorism capacities?” He proposed a comparative study to
understand the causes behind different compliance levels in counter-terrorism legislation. The
compliance index was created with three components. The first component is the ratified
instrumental component, which measures the current level of compliance with international
legislation. The second component is the implementation of resolution 1373 which measures the
actual counter-terrorism capacity of each country in three aspects: legislation, institutionalization
and practice. The last component is compliance over time, which measures the way in which a
country has complied with legislation over time.
Representative Engel also insisted that any security challenge to Latin American is also a
U.S. national security challenge. According to Representative Engel, the U.S. must help solve
the drug and weapons trafficking problems in Latin America and be more sensitive to the
implications those problems have on the U.S.
Finally, some acknowledgements are in order. Both Dan Mariaschin and Adriana
Camisar of B’nai B’rith International have shown intellectual and professional commitments as
well as unending patience and dedication in organizing the conference and preparing the
materials for publication. Special thanks are also due to Rachel L. Beistel, Research Coordinator
of the Inter-University Center for Terrorism Studies, and her team: Patrick Cheetham (UCLA),
Samuel Dykstra (University of San Francisco) and Christian Herman (SUNY Buffalo). It is
hoped that this report will stimulate further study on security concerns and other related Latin
Remarks of H.E. Arturo Sarukhan
Ambassador of Mexico to the U.S.
It’s a pleasure to be here and thank you for organizing this very timely discussion. It’s a great
and distinct pleasure to be with Ambassador Rupérez in this first panel of a seminar which I
think will address, from the perspective of four nations, three of them hemispheric ones, one of
them extra-hemispheric-- but which has historically and traditionally left important footprints in
the Americas, Spain -- and their perspectives on a host of issues pertaining to security and
national security in the Americas today.
I will focus my remarks on the critical challenge that Mexico faces today, which is the fight
against organized crime and trafficking operations of syndicates in Mexico, for the obvious
Let me start by saying something obvious, which is an evident truth but just because it is self
evident does not make it less relevant. That is, we face what we face in Mexico today and we are
what are in Mexico today, because of we were what we were in Mexico ten to twenty years ago.
That is, a lot of what we are facing is a direct result of how Mexico was organized to confront
organized crime in the past, institutionally and bureaucratically. But also because a lot of the
challenges that come forward today are a direct result of what happened twenty years ago and
how Mexico after 2007 started to reorganize the way politics and policies are conducted in
One of the great and important success stories is Mexico’s sometimes haphazard road to full
democracy. The greater role and the greater autonomy of governors in our political system that
started to develop after the 2000 Presidential Elections is a good example. In many ways, what
is responsible – something of which on the face of it is a success story- is how power is being
devolved into the states and into the federation of Mexico. This has led to some of the challenges
we are facing today. We are, historically from a much more decentralized system and it has made
it much more difficult for the state to confront and take on the challenge of organize crime, so let
me start there.
It is very hard to understand what is going on in Mexico today if we don’t understand what has
happened in the 80s, in the 90s, and since 2000. In Mexico, as we have taken on organized
crime, I think it is very relevant if I can briefly go over some of the fundamental shifts that have
occurred to understand where we are today.
In the 1980s there was a fundamental shift in trafficking patterns, specifically cocaine coming
from South America into what is today the biggest drug consumer market on the face of the
Earth. The United States is not only the most lucrative but the largest market for narcotics and
What happened in the 1980s was that the United States was extremely successful in shutting
down what was then the main route for drugs coming into the United States market; the route
through the Caribbean and into Florida, particularly into the city of Miami and then from there,
the rest of the United States. You did a very good job.
The problem is as in most things in life, there are unexpected consequences. One of those
consequences was that the moment you shut down Florida as the conduit of drugs in the United
States, the traffickers moved to the point of least resistance, through Mexico and the land bridge
between South America and Mexico and the Central American region.
So drug trafficking started manifesting itself in a qualitatively different way in Mexico in the
1980s. This is not to say that drugs weren’t being cultivated in Mexico decades before;
Marijuana and opium poppies were being cultivated in Mexico probably since the Second World
War. A lot of the poppy cultivation in Mexico was a direct result of us supplying you the
morphine that you needed in the Second World War. That was how a lot of the cultivation of
poppy started in Mexico but there was a very distinctive change in the way that trafficking
patterns were conducted into the United States from South America through Mexico in the
The next qualities of the jump which occurred, and that helps explain again where we are today,
is that the Colombian Cartels very quickly figured out that if they changed the nature of the
game, their Mexican colleagues and partners were going to be much better incentivized to insure
their cocaine reaches the United States market. So instead of paying them in cash, they would
pay them in cocaine.
Suddenly, in the mid-90s the Colombians, instead of paying their Mexican counterparts with
money to insure that a ton of cocaine reached the other side of the United States-Mexican border,
started paying them with cocaine. This had a dramatic, fundamental change and impact on the
way drug trafficking organizations started making money in Mexico.
First off, this allowed Mexican traffickers to establish a beach head in the United States’ retail
and consumer markets, something they had not been able to do before because it was fully
controlled by the Colombian cartels. Thus, overnight, by giving them cocaine as a form of
payment, the Mexican drug syndicates were able to do two things.
Number one, they were able start their own retail distribution networks in the United States; and
number two, they dramatically augmented the amount of money that was coming into their bank
accounts. This is what changed the dynamics of the drug trade in Mexico and this is what we are
The pervasive and very powerful ability of drug syndicates in Mexico to corrupt, to kill, to bribe
is a direct result of this systematic shift into the way Colombians started doing business with
their Mexican counterparts in the 90s.
And what is happening now in these last years?
Especially as a result of President Calderon’s determination after assuming office in December
2006 in deciding to shutdown and rollback the drug syndicates, we are already starting to see the
balloon effect at full work. You squeeze here and it’s going to bulge out over there.
Our ability, especially to stop air trafficking patterns into Mexico from South America are
having a direct impact on Central American nations and on some of the trafficking routes that are
leading into the Caribbean. In particular, Haiti and the Dominican Republic and from there,
Africa, from Africa to Spain, and from Spain to the United Kingdom and Germany, or from the
Dominican Republic and Haiti into the eastern seaboard of the United States.
So, as we move ahead in Mexico’s strategy of shutting down the drug syndicates – you’re
already seeing the same effects that we saw when the United States shutdown Miami as the drug
conduit. We’re already starting to see the same shifts not only in terms of routes but in regards to
methodology. We’re getting much more maritime trafficking routes coming up the western
seaboard of the United States and into the U.S. market.
In 2001, Mexico approach the OAS (Organization of American States)-- and I’ll give you the
date in a second--Mexico came to the OAS and declared that it was convinced that our countries
in the hemisphere were uniquely unprepared to take on the new challenges of security the
hemisphere had. As all of you have seen in this room know the Rio Treaty had been born of the
Cold War. Its purpose was to ensure an attack or invasion on a hemispheric country would be
taken as an attack on all. This has been the underpinnings of the national security and strategic
paradigm in which the Americas had worked for decades.
In 2001,when Mexico went to the OAS and said, A, we believe the Rio Treaty no longer
addresses the real security concerns of the Americas, and B, we need to find out new ways to
work together and take on challenges of international security.
There were many, and I’m sure many of those are in this room said, “What the hell are the
Now, let me give you the date this speech was given at the OAS on September 7
Exactly four days later, we had painful, powerful evidence of how what we had been dealing
with in the security challenges to the hemisphere had dramatically changed the face of the global
community, both across the river, in Virginia and in New York City.
The challenges are still there. The problem is we haven’t moved to develop a real hemispheric
security mechanism which can take into account some of the real challenges that we’re facing.
For Mexico, one of these is obviously transnational organized crime.
What are some of the effects we are starting to see already in Mexico as a result of our strategy
in our fight against drugs?
Number one, that as in most things in life, these things move in two directions. As Mexico seeks
to shutdown the flow of drugs coming from South America or organizations in Mexico which are
heading into the US Market, we need the support of the United States to shutdown the flow of
weapons and bulk cash coming from the United States into Mexican territory.
You can imagine that I am not the flavor of the month, or the year, at the National Rifle
Association (NRA). But we have said this clearly, Mexico, regardless of what I or the Mexico
government thinks of the 2
Amendment, is not out to challenge or to undermine the 2
Amendment. That is the prerogative of the United States Congress. It is the decision of the
American people, and regardless if we believe you should be able to buy armor piercing ammo
to hunt deer; this is a sovereign decision of the United States.
But we are convinced that the 2
Amendment wasn’t designed by the founding fathers to allow
organized crime to A, illicitly buy weapons in the U.S., B, illicitly cross them over the border
into Mexico, and C, sell them in a nation where those caliber of weapons or those types of
weapons are prohibited.
So what we are asking of the [Obama] Administration, and of Congress, is help us enforce what
is already on the books. Help us shutdown the illicit purchases of weapons in the United States
and the illicit crossing of these weapons from the United States and into Mexico. But we’re also
getting weapons from Central America and South America, especially grenades.
So as we develop a new paradigm we need to take into account these new patterns in arms
trafficking that have become so prevalent in the region.
We’re also seeing route displacement as I said; we’re seeing imported shipments from the
Andean region into the United States. ONDCP divides the United States into what it calls High
Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTAS).
It uses the HIDTAS to determine the price and purity of the drugs, hospital room admissions,
number of individuals in treatment and it tries to use this to piece a better view of what’s going
on in the United States against drugs.
In the past year, there has been a 33 percent decrease in the purity of cocaine and a 71-72 percent
increase in the price of cocaine. This is true in every single HIDTAS in the US except one, the
Pacific-Northwest. It is the only region you have not seen the decreases in purity and the increase
in price. The reason why we think we’re not see this is because increasingly the syndicates in
Colombia, with their Mexican counterparts, are shipping the drugs now because of our ability to
shut them down along our land border in Guatemala and through their transit and transshipment
points in Mexico.
They’re starting to ship containers straight into the Pacific Northwest either on the Canadian side
of the border, Vancouver or in Seattle and Portland. This is changing the dynamics of what you
are seeing and there is no surprise that the Canadian Government, for the first time, in the streets
of Vancouver, is seeing gang to gang violence of syndicates fighting over control of the drugs
coming into that part of the country.
The other phenomenon that we already are seeing is the production displacement, where Mexico
has successfully, these last two years, shutdown the production of pseudoephedrine and
ephedrine. These are the essential chemical precursors you need to manufacture
methamphetamine. Mexico basically became a methamphetamine-free country because we either
coerced or convinced our industries to move away from using pseudoephedrine or ephedrine and
other chemical precursor to develop anything from cold medicines to fertilizer. But what we’re
starting to see is other countries quite far south in the hemisphere are starting to pick up the
phone and say, “Help, we’re getting super labs of methamphetamine being developed and
installed in our country.” There is an immediate displacement of production sites as a result of
Mexico’s ability to shutdown these so-called super labs of methamphetamine. So we’re seeing
again production displacement in the region. We have also seen, for example, as we shutdown
the transit of cocaine through Mexico, the increased cultivation of marijuana.
I’m sure that many of you will be surprised to hear, everyone thinks cocaine is what makes drugs
syndicates go but it’s actually their Christmas bonus. A successfully delivered shipment of
cocaine to the consumer market in the United States will make up for that that group a year’s
worth of marijuana. Marijuana provides the drug syndicates with their bread and butter. So given
the transfer of marijuana production in the United States today it is not a surprise that we’re also
seeing a tendency from the organizations of criminal syndicates in Mexico to move away from
shipments of cocaine to the cultivation of Marijuana.
Money laundering is another area that we’ve also seen a very important shift. Mexico and the
United States within the last five years have been very successful in shutting down the formal
money laundering that exists between these two nations.
What the guys in the field call this process is “smurfing,” that is laundering the money through
the formal banking system or wired methods. What has happened, of course, again, no surprise,
it’s not rocket science, they have moved away from traditional money laundering to bulk cash
trafficking across the border to a tune of $8 billion dollars of bulk cash every year that crosses
the border from the United States into Mexico.
So how does Mexico move forward in taking on the challenge of organized crime?
First of all, we will have to continue on focusing on the key areas of operations. That is, the
region between Colombia and southern Mexico. Because what we’re starting to see is the
Colombian syndicates are trying to get shipments of cocaine no longer through the multi-ton
flights they used to implement in the 90s but through small, grasshopper flights, which are
coming up through Central America and then, from there coming in through the sea and into
Northern Mexico and the Southern U.S is another area of focus because that is the area where
you have the staging grounds on the Mexican side and you have the FFL (the federal firearms
licensees) and gun shows on the American side.
It’s not a surprise that due to Mexico’s stringent gun control laws, just on the Texas-Arizona
border with Mexico alone you have approximately 7,000 federal firearms licensees selling
weapons sometimes via proxy, sometimes unknowingly to the drug syndicates that are bringing
these weapons across the border. So, northern Mexico and the southern part of the United States
will continue to be a key area of focus as we seek to shutdown organized crime working on both
sides of the border and in both directions; Drugs going north, weapons and bulk cash moving
And then, there are the trends we are seeing to develop the western Pacific and the eastern
Caribbean as new routes develop from Colombia to Venezuela and the Dominican Republic and
Haiti. In the western Pacific we see more and more sophisticated trafficking techniques. An
example is the semi-submersibles the Colombians have started to use. Some of these we have
seen as a result of enhanced intelligence sharing between Colombia, Mexico, and the United
States in stopping some of these maritime routes coming into either northern Mexico or the
United States directly.
One of the key deliverables we need to focus on in the coming years is sustaining the level of
attrition that we have led against drug syndicates operating in Mexico.
Number one, gaining intelligence superiority over our drug syndicates. They’re much better; they
don’t have to deal with bureaucracies or congress, or permits, or end-user certificates. They are
much more flexible than we are, than we governments are, so the only way we can remain one
step ahead is intelligence and intelligence driven operations. Also, ensuring our agencies on both
sides of the border are sharing intelligence in real time is critical to our using that intelligence to
deliver the endgame.
Second is maintaining operational security.
Third is maximizing the effectiveness of the Special Forces that are being created to take on the
drug syndicates along the border and operating in Mexico.
Fourth is enhancing the use of fix and rotary-wing aircraft capabilities to be able to deliver the
endgame. What do we want fix and rotary wing capabilities for? Because from Key West, we
get intelligence saying we think we’re getting an aircraft or semi-submersible or a go-fast boat at
these coordinates, the key aspect that we need to ensure is Mexican forces can then deliver and
be in the right place, at the right time to intercept or to interdict those shipments. And so fixed-
wing or rotary-wing aircraft for either monitoring or for providing interception capabilities will
The fifth one is upholding the rule of law, or how we can continue strengthening judicial reform
system in Mexico and how you can continue to insure the judges have the will and ability to put
these guys behind bars.
Winning active support of public opinion; this is a critical battle not only against the drug lords
or traffickers but by insuring the public opinion in Mexico stays with the president and the
president’s strategy. So far, the polls we’re seeing in Mexico demonstrate that a great majority of
Mexicans, in lower 70s percent, have and will continue to support the president’s efforts to shut
these syndicates down, but we have to produce deliverables and we have to produce success
stories because the worst thing could happen is if public opinion starts thinking twice and starts
believing the old way of doing business was the better way of doing business because that was
the way levels of violence were contained. That is a very critical challenge that we continue to
Rebuilding and strengthening institutions: how do we ensure that as we move forward, we have
the ability to rebuild civilian police units so we can bring the armed forces back into the
barracks? There’s a good reason why in the United States you have the Pos Comitias Act: the
armed forces are not trained to do law enforcement. That is not their mission statement. And so,
the President of Mexico, Calderon had no other choice but to deploy the armed forces to stop that
measure, obviously at the end of the day, what you want to be able to do is to bring back the
armed forces into the barracks, and substitute them with newly trained, newly vetted police units.
So that will continue to be a very important process as we rebuild and strengthen our institutions.
Finally, can the effort and force projection sustained: the amount of resources and efforts that are
being put into the field by the Mexican Government can be sustained. Last year alone Mexico
spent $3.9 Billion dollars in fighting organized crime. If you stop for a minute and think of the
Merida Initiative, however important it is, for three years, is equivalent to $1.3 billion dollars,
you can get a sense of the amount of resources that the Mexican Government is putting into the
fight against organized crime in Mexico.
Let me end with the endgame: What is Mexico trying to achieve in the medium and the long
There is no victory if we continue to understand victory in the terms of a soccer game or a
traditional armed conflict- a war. For starters, because the demand and the supply for drugs in
completely inelastic. Secondly, because regardless how many we put into jail and how many we
extradite to the United States there will always be individuals standing in line to occupy the place
of the person you’ve just put into jail. So, it’s very hard to come here and say we will be able to
declare victory very soon. Victory is quite evasive in this fight.
So what is Mexico trying to do?
Number one; bring down the level of violence being unleashed upon our society by organized
crime. For every 100,000 inhabitants in Mexico we have 11 violent deaths. By the way,
something in very few people seem to understand, in the United States today, for every 100,000
inhabitants you have 10 violent deaths, one less than in Mexico. And in places, like New Orleans
you have 33 for every 100,000 inhabitants. I am throwing this out not because the ambassador is
brushing under the carpet the challenge of violence being posed by these drug syndicates but
because I think it does help put into context what is and what is not happening in Mexico today.
But the challenge is, how do we bring down these levels of violence being unleashed by drug
syndicates in Mexico?
The second objective is contrary to what I would do if I were to be speaking at the United State’s
Chamber of Commerce; we are elevating the opportunity cost of doing business in Mexico. We
want to make it so prohibitively expensive for the drug syndicates to operate in Mexico that they
pack up and go somewhere else. It’s the ambassador diplomatically saying that we want them to
move away and that’s what we’re doing. That’s why it’s so important, with the United States and
others, that we develop a regional approach to fighting crime and drugs. Our success means that
today several countries in the Caribbean and in Central America have a growing and huge
challenge because of precisely what I mentioned at the beginning, the displacement of trans-
shipment points, trafficking routes, and of storage sites in other places which are not prepared
institutionally to take on the challenge of organized crime.
But at the end of the day that is what we are doing. We are raising the opportunity cost for these
guys of doing business in Mexico and much in the same way of what you did in Florida and
Miami in the 80s; we’re trying to make sure they go somewhere else to do their business
And finally, that we can transition from having this is a national security challenge to this being a
law and order and public security challenge in Mexico. In the United States, no one would
probably say that drugs and drug trafficking is a national security problem, despite the fact that
people get killed every day on the streets of America because of a drug deal gone wrong or
because there are retail and distribution operations in the United States which ensure that drugs
reach the consumers. That’s what we need to ensure in Mexico. Today drug trafficking and drug
trafficking organizations in Mexico are a direct challenge to the state and to our institutions, they
are a national security challenge, and we need to be able to ensure we move them from the
drawer of national security challenge to a law and order, public security and policing challenge.
That has to be the endgame for Mexico, and that is in the direction in where we’re moving.
There won’t be easy answers and this fight won’t be over tomorrow. Both our countries will
have to work together, because we will either succeed or we will fail together. These are areas
our two countries need to work on and need to continue moving forward together. We’re
extremely encouraged by the signs that we are seeing from the Obama Administration’s
understanding of what is at stake, in terms of the political capital and involvement of the Obama
Administration in the relationship with Mexico and in the efforts currently getting underway by
both the Department of Justice and Homeland Security. Such as increasing manpower and
resources in south-bound interdiction and inspection of conveyances going into Mexico and
being able to root out weapons and cash, but it’s not going to be over tomorrow, it’s not going to
be easy and it’s probably going to continue a “Churchill-ian” quota of blood and tears. But there
is no u-turn, despite what has been suggested in some editorials, in terms of what Mexico is
willing to do, in terms of what President Calderon is willing to do, to shut down the drug
syndicates and ensure that we can reclaim the well being of society visa-a-vie these violent
Remarks of H.E. Carolina Barco
Ambassador of Colombia to the U.S.
I would like to begin by thanking B’nai B’rith for this kind invitation. For over 165 years you
have been an example to the rest of the world on how a united, strong community can improve
the lives of ordinary citizens. In Latin America, and more specifically in Colombia, B’nai B’rith
has led various initiatives in the health area, which have made the difference for both the
livelihoods of Jewish and non-Jewish communities.
For years the Cold War stretched a security view throughout the world that limited its scope to
the defense of territorial integrity and political independence. For close to four decades, the
security problems we faced in Latin America had to do with the advance of communism and the
revolutionary guerrilla movements that were trying to fight their way into power. In the eighties
the growth of the illegal drug trade changed the nature and depth of national security issues.
With the fall of the Iron Curtain, the lens we used to look at security challenges was replaced.
New concepts started to emerge. Governments all over the region were confronted with new
Human and natural disasters, corruption, migration, terrorism, cyber-crime, pandemics and arms
trafficking, to name a few, were identified as part of the challenges we faced. Poverty was
included as a threat. Security was given a multidimensional reach. Within this view, the new
security challenges were not limited to interstate conflicts but rather had the capacity to affect
States and their societies equally.
However, the issues of crimes related to illegal drugs became one of the major threats to
democracies and to peace and development in many areas. This concern led to a wide range of
international binding instruments and regulations at the global, regional and bilateral levels. The
1988 Vienna Convention on illicit drugs, and UN Resolution 1373 on terrorism, the 2003
Security Declaration of the Americas as well as various Resolutions by Inter-American
Committees such as CICAD and CICTE were adopted to address this issue.
Unfortunately, as President Uribe highlighted in the last Summit of the Americas, too many
efforts have been targeted at the definition of the problem and many times, the same interest has
not been spent on the responses our countries have developed over the years. As our recent
history shows, defining the threat is just part of the problem. The other part, equally or more
important, is the way we confront it. There, I would say, Latin America still has a pending
When we first addressed the issue of illegal drugs, 30 years ago, there was a clearer line
separating producer and consumer countries. I remember the first Presidential meeting between
the Presidents of Colombia, Bolivia and Peru and the President of the United States. This was a
problem to be addressed between the largest exporters of cocaine and the largest consumer. The
Andean Trade Preferences are a concrete result of this meeting.
Colombia advanced, and with the support of many, the principle of shared responsibility; the
concept that illegal drugs and their related crimes are not only the responsibility of those who
grew the drugs but also that of those who produced the chemical precursors that transformed the
coca leaf into coca paste and finally to cocaine. It is the responsibility of those who trafficked as
well as of those who allowed the laundering of the illegal profits, and of those who supported the
small arms trafficking. Responsibility for the world's drug problem was borne multilaterally, and
required concerted and shared efforts.
The simple view of a clear division between producers and consumers has also broken drown.
Consumption is a major issue in almost all countries. Many developed countries are
manufacturing hubs for synthetic drugs or grow marijuana. Thus, producer countries find that
consumption at home has increased, and transit countries find that cash and drugs are the forms
of payment, which therefore increases the use of drugs. Countries are facing the challenges of
both production and consumption.
In Colombia, freedom, democracy and the rule of law have been threatened by terrorist groups
from the right and left who finance themselves through drug trafficking. A decade ago my
country was labeled by many as a failed state. Large swaths of territory had no State presence.
Legitimate authority was being contested by FARC, ELN, AUC and other terrorist groups. By
2002, 168 municipalities had no police presence. Homicides were among the highest in the
world, peaking at 28,900, and 130 mayors could not work from their towns because of the
constant threat to their lives.
Thanks in part to the cooperation we received, especially the cooperation we received from the
US, and our President's strong leadership, Colombia has been transformed. A virtuous circle
begun as an investment in security, lead to renewed control over the whole of the territory. This
in turn generated the necessary security and confidence for national and international investors to
direct their resources in the country, which has contributed to sustained economic growth for the
past seven years. In turn, higher growth has meant more investments for social programs that
have increased the population's well being. As Colombians continue to demand more security,
this virtuous circle continues.
Today, homicides are down by almost 44% while kidnappings have decreased by a staggering
86%. Police presence is permanent in all of the 1,102 municipalities of Colombia. All mayors are
working in their cities and towns, and democracy has been strengthened. But far more remains to
As we seek to address the issue of illegal drugs, we are seeking more effective ways to stop
production with a new consolidation strategy. It will aim all of our efforts at the areas of the
country where the greatest challenges lie. For the first time, military, counter-narcotics, social,
and economic programs will be carried out in a closely sequenced fashion in the six main areas.
The pilot project at this new strategy has been in place since 2007 and has shown very important
results. In La Macarena, 150km south of Bogota and a traditional FARC stronghold, illicit crops
have decreased by 75% during the 2007-2008 period according to SIMCI, the UN satellite
imagery service. More than 1.500 families have organized, voluntarily entered into crop
eradication programs, and explicitly abandoned coca cultivation. The State comes in with
security but also justice, health and education programs. The State is there to stay and support the
families economic programs to provide new income immediately.
Food security programs have been put in place together with other initiatives to ensure that
comprehensive State presence gradually replaces the vacuum that existed for so long. The United
States’ cooperation has been fundamental throughout this effort.
Plan Colombia has made and will continue to make a difference for my country. It is one of the
greatest examples of how a commitment to deliver effective cooperation can become the best
instrument in the fight against security threats. Fighting illegal drugs required regional
cooperation; therefore we have also built other successful examples of cooperation with our
The ever deepening ties with the Peruvian authorities have yielded important results both in
aerial and riverine drug interdiction and criminal high value target arrests. Intelligence sharing
and personnel exchange have also strengthened investigations in both our countries.
With Panama alike, cooperation has been increasing over the last few years. In 2003 we signed
an agreement to establish the COMBIFRON – a bi-national border commission, where military
and police authorities meet regularly to analyze joint threats, exchange information and establish
cooperation needs to better address drug trafficking, terrorism, and criminal transnational
networks. The same agreement is in place with Brazil, and cooperation has improved the security
situation along the border and inside our countries as well. There is also a tripartite agreement
among Brazil, Peru, and Colombia.
Cooperation is starting to yield results. But more needs to be done.
As our expertise has increased, Colombia has sought to play an active role in providing support
to other countries. For the last years our Military and National Police have worked together with
their counterparts in Guatemala, Mexico, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Trinidad, and Tobago
amongst others, in developing new capabilities against drug trafficking organizations, terrorist
groups or transnational criminal networks.
In the Greater Caribbean we have led an effort to strengthen security cooperation. In 2008
Colombia hosted a regional Summit on security and cooperation which gathered the Presidents
of El Salvador, Guatemala, México, Panamá y República Dominicana, and Ministers of 13
countries of the Caribbean Basin to develop a counter-narcotics Joint Action Plan. Colombia also
participated in a Presidential meeting on transnational crime convened by the President of
Panama earlier this year.
With Mexico we have institutionalized mechanisms such as a High Level Group on Security and
Justice, which gathered last August and covered an action plan in the different cooperation areas
This past April we launched a Maritime Interdiction International Course where officers from 12
Latin American countries had the opportunity to participate and work to share and develop the
practices necessary to improve their record in facing crime. Moreover, with the continued
cooperation of the United States, we have upgraded our pilot training schools to be able to
incorporate students from other countries such as Peru and Mexico; enhancing our overall
In Haiti, Colombia has contributed to MINUSTAH, with initiatives intending to strengthen the
institutional capacity through the increase of the number of police experts in the areas of the fight
against kidnapping, drug trafficking, police training, and judicial police training.
Colombian presence will also be strengthened through a bilateral Memorandum of
Understanding with the Haitian Ministry of Justice and Public Security to face the challenges of
transnational organized crime, drug trafficking, kidnapping and extortion through training,
equipment donation, and the construction of institutional capacities. Following this agreement, a
High Level Mission from the Colombian National Police visited Haiti to advise the local police
on strategic planning and institutional architecture of the force and on the necessary capabilities
to deal with security challenges. Additionally, police support equipment will be delivered to
MINUSTAH, and training programs in Human Rights and equipment operation will be offered
by our country.
But we have not limited our cooperation to the region; we know security threats have a global
reach. Therefore we will be participating in Afghanistan as part of the International Security
Force under the sponsorship of the Spanish Government. We will also send a Special Forces
contingent to stand alongside the United States special operations units. Although Colombia and
Afghanistan are very different countries, the lessons that have cost us dearly in Colombia can be
valuable if correctly adapted to this new scenario.
But we cannot succeed if we don’t integrate our efforts at the regional level. Illegal drugs and
related crimes know no borders. To tackle the present security threats, we must strengthen
hemispheric cooperation. We have many appropriate sets of instruments at the sub-regional,
regional, and global levels; we need to work with them against these threats.
In fighting the drug problem, crime control measures must integrate all elements of the drug
chain. In this sense, much has been achieved by the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control
Commission (CICAD) and its different groups of experts in chemical precursors, money
laundering, alternative development, and demand reduction. It is also important to recognize the
1996 Hemispheric Strategy and Action Plan, which is currently being updated according to the
latest Vienna Declaration launched in March 2009 and the cooperation framework of the United
Nations Office on Drugs and Crime - UNDOC.
At the sub-regional level, the presidents of UNASUR gathered this month and reaffirmed in the
Joint Declaration of Bariloche the commitment to strengthen the cooperation against terrorism
and transnational organized crime and its related crimes: drug trafficking, small and light arms
trafficking, in addition to the rejection of the presence or action of illegal armed groups. The
presidents also instructed the South American Council on the Fight Against Drug Trafficking to
urgently develop a joint strategy in the fight against illicit drugs, and to strengthen the
cooperation between specialized investigative organizations.
Before I finish, I would like to thank B’nai B’rith for opening up this important space to
exchange ideas about the security threats we currently face in Latin America. I have focused on
illegal drugs because for Colombia and much of the region, this is the greatest threat to our
societies. In doing so, I strongly believe that we must recognize the transnational capacity of this
threat and the need for all of us to join in our efforts through effective cooperation.
Let us be clear about one thing; these threats know no boundaries. We need to focus on working
together, based on our experiences, towards common goals. That is the path Colombia is seeking
and the path we invite others to join with us.
Remarks of H.E. Luis Diego Escalante
Ambassador of Costa Rica to the U.S.
I would like to start with a definition of SECURITY:
• Security is defined as a degree of protection against danger, loss, and criminals.
• Security has often been compared to and contrasted with other related concepts such as
safety, continuity, and reliability.
• The key difference between security and those other concepts is that security must take into
account the actions of the people attempting to cause the destruction.
• There exists a vast literature on the analysis and categorization of security. Part of the reason
for this is that, in most security systems, the "weakest link in the chain" is always the most
• This situation is asymmetric, since the defender must cover all points of the attack while the
attacker needs only to identify a single weak point upon which to concentrate.
We should all be very clear on this concept, and Costa Rica has done its part over the last 60
years working with issues such as: 1) free and compulsory education; 2) the abolition of the army
and the replacement of it with the support of an army of teachers; and 3) an established free and
universal health care and social security system in the country.
In the recent past, Costa Rica has committed to creating a comprehensive program for the multi-
language capabilities of our new generations under an ambitious program called Costa Rica
We also have another program called Costa Rica Avancemos, which provides economical
subsidies to low income families so that they don't have to send their kids to work early in their
childhood, and instead provide for them to remain in school and continue with their education.
Most recently, the conversion of the Ministry of Justice into the first Ministry in Latin America
called Ministry of Justice and Peace was established in order to advance and promote the civil
society for the prevention of violence and for the promotion of peace. This will be achieved by
creating community organizations to monitor and execute new special programs, both on
security and on peace.
And on a special final note, Costa Rica has declared Peace with Nature: an initiative intending to
guarantee carbon neutrality in our country by the year 2021. This initiative calls for the
conservation of our national parks and forest reserves, rationalization of the uses of energy, and
the correction of the disposal of waste. This is now a national goal both for the private and the
The definition of security challenges for Costa Rica are naturally different from those of the rest
of the world, but we are aware that if we do not strengthen, modify, and adapt our institutions
and governmental institutional work, there could be Problems in Paradise.
Costa Rica has not escaped from the impact of global security issues such as illegal trafficking,
organized crime, and immigration issues. The main challenge that security is now posing to our
society is the need to enact updated and comprehensive policies.
Criminality has changed in quantity and quality, forcing governments and law enforcement
agencies to keep abreast of this new reality.
Costa Rica has recently seen a growing transit of drug traffickers’ business in their route from
South to North, to East and West due to stronger controls in Mexico. Drug cartels have begun
using Central America as a place to transit, store, and re-embark drugs from our territorial
The strong control of money related to the illegal “narco” activity, like the payment of services
and rights being made with “white currency", have reached the police forces and other law
enforcement agencies that are associated with trafficking gangs who retail “white money”. This
situation is growing to the point that we are now seeing this effect even in the vicinity of our
schools in the heart of our communities.
As with the rest of the Central American countries, Costa Rica now has to face the positive
results of the efforts of Colombia and Mexico in the war against drug trafficking. This action
results in a “sandwich effect” that stimulates the use of the land, the air and the sea of Central
America to reach the objective markets.
Drug cartels operating in Costa Rica, disguised as investors in industry and tourism development
activities, have increased their presence dramatically during the last several years.
There has been international evidence of the presence in Costa Rica of members of the
Colombian guerrillas (FARC) that are also members of the drug cartels in their country.
Today, we can easily say that “the rivers of illegality now run from north to south, to east and to
During the last ten years insecurity has become a public problem for Costa Ricans, while in the
recent past our population did not perceive this problem as an issue. Today, one third of Costa
Ricans consider security to be their main concern, surpassing their concern for the financial
Security is of course, a problem that cannot be solved by one institution; it requires the
involvement of many sectors trying to design policies flexible enough to adjust to the evolution
Parallel to crime fighting, it is very important to have well prepared civil servants and to go
beyond the police level, since security problems demand a total public sector involvement. With
this new vision, we can expect to bring back to our citizens the security and safety that they are
As you know, the current financial crisis has increased the gap between rich and poor all around
the world including Costa Rica:
• A financial crisis forces governments to promote jobs and infrastructure, thereby
resulting in increased public expenditure with less income, as the desired growth
of commerce and investments show the signs of the global crisis.
• The negative impact of the drug trafficking and related illicit activities requires
new specific actions and resources.
Costa Rica requires continually retuning and adjustment of its institutions and further
advancement of its technological capabilities to plan and fight these new security challenges for
our people and our country.
Naturally, it is also important that all international donors, governments, and institutions like the
Merida Initiative, the Millennium Challenge, and USAID, embark on a comprehensive re-
evaluation of the rules and regulations by which the assignment of economic resources and
logistical support is being implemented.
Taking into consideration that the theme of this conference is Security in Latin America, I would
like to quote extracts of President Arias’ speech during the celebration of our Independence, on
188 years ago, a group of men gathered at the National Palace of Guatemala signed the
certificate of birth of the Central American nations.
Our Declaration of Independence concluded with the ordinance of a decree that stated that
thereafter, "three days of enlightment" were to be observed in the city of Guatemala, symbolizing
that reason should prevail in the coming future of the Central American people from the time of
Nearly two centuries later, today we feel compelled to issue the same decree. We feel compelled
to ask again for three days of enlightment on the realities of the Central American isthmus and
on the rest of the "Continent of Freedom.” Because we are once again confused about our
destiny. We are once again walking in the shadows of ambiguity.
Latin America is walking in shadows when it insists upon strengthening its armies, instead of
feeding its children.
When it insists on defending itself against imaginary and magnified foreign enemies, instead of
combating its internal enemies: these enemies are hunger and ignorance, inequality and
sickness, violence and insecurity. No one has been able to kill poverty with guns. There is no
proof that illiteracy has been eradicated with the inauguration of a new military defense
program. And yet, the 200 million Latin-Americans that live with less than two dollars a day are
condemned to suffer their own hell while at the same time, almost 60 million dollars were
allocated for military expenses this year.
Latin America walks in shadows when it insists on propitiating confrontation instead of
cooperation. When it insists on harvesting enmities instead of forging alliances in benefit of
A region that, together, could be one of the strongest in the world, and yet advances lost in the
paths of history, wasting every day the opportunity to progress side by side.
Latin America walks in shadows when again and again it insists on ignoring institutional
weaknesses, thereby provoking violations of human liberties in the region. When it insists on
strengthening soldiers instead of strengthening institutions. Many of the nations of this continent
bet on force and not on reason; bet on weapons and not on laws. This is a threat to the survival
of our political system and constitutes an open betrayal to the ideals that inspired our
Remarks of U.S. Congressman Eliot L. Engel
It’s very, very nice to be here. Let me, first of all, before I start, wish everyone who is celebrating
the New Year as I am, l’shanah tovah, happy and an healthy new year, a good year for
everybody. I can think of no other way of starting the New Year than coming to a forum of
B’nai B’rith. So, thank you.
B’nai B’rith, of course, is something I have been well aware of for many, many years even
before I came to Congress. This is my 21
year in Congress. I have always been aware of the
good work B’nai B’rith International does, and when you combine it with the Inter-University
Center for Terrorism Studies, you certainly have a winning combination.
I want to also commend the speaker who was here before me, my very good friend, Ambassador
Carolina Barco. Let me tell you about Ambassador Barco. She is one of the most distinguished
ambassadors on Capitol Hill and in Washington. Everyone knows her; everyone likes her. She is
a constant joy to work with and is always knocking on the door and really representing her
country in the very best way. So, Carolina, it’s good to be with you on this panel today. And a
new friend, the new Ambassador of Costa Rica, Luis Diego Escalante, so Mr. Ambassador,
welcome. I want to tell you as well that my door is always open and I hope you feel free to come
It has been my pleasure to serve as Chairman of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee of the
House Foreign Affairs Committee. When I came to Congress, they asked me, “What committees
do you wish to serve? Put your first three choices.” And I wrote Foreign Affairs, Foreign Affairs,
and Foreign Affairs. I was always interested in it and had many opportunities to go to other
committees, but would not leave the Foreign Affairs Committee. I had the good fortune of
getting on the Energy and Commerce Committee several years ago, which this year, as you
know, is dealing with energy, cap and trade and all that controversy, and also health care… just a
little controversy in health care. But, it’s an honor to be here to discuss security challenges in
Latin America in the 21
Century. We certainly have many.
Let me first start by saying that the panel is supposed to talk about Latin America’s security
challenges. I just want to say that Latin America’s security challenges are the United States’
security challenges as well. There is no way of disassociating ourselves from them or breaking
away from them, as Ambassador Barco said. One of the problems is that we are a drug-
consuming nation, unfortunately. I will talk about this later- what goes on south of our border
invariably spills over to north of the border. I know the Ambassador of Mexico was just here, a
very distinguished ambassador and a good friend, and I’m sure he spoke very well of the
problems there and the drug cartels and everything else. If we think that we can put our heads in
the sand as ostriches do and not realize that what goes on in Latin America, particularly Mexico,
certainly affects us, then we’re just kidding ourselves and it transcends politics, it transcends
Democrat or Republican, it transcends anything. It is a direct threat to our society and a major,
major security challenge.
I am very happy that when President Obama was elected, he said to me and to others that he
wants to make the relationship with Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Western Hemisphere
When I first became chairman, I have been chairman for three years and I was the ranking
member for about a year before that, and one of the things I saw first hand was that all our
friends and neighbors in the Western Hemisphere were saying to me: “Where has the United
States been? The United States has not been engaged in the area, the United States has not made
the area a priority while we are in Iraq and other places in the Middle East.” Of course, it is
important to us all. We cannot neglect what is happening in our own backyard. We cannot
neglect it, because what happens there affects us over here.
But I think President Obama has in eight months, with his policy toward Latin America, gotten
off to a running start and set a new tone for the U.S.-Latin America relations. It emphasizes
partnership and more cooperation. We have had this image south of the border as this big
country that just wants to dictate to other countries what to do, with arrogance and with all kinds
of attitudes. We’ve been suffering that for a long time. Well, it’s time to change. I think we are
trying to change, and I think Obama really understands that change.
I was at the Summit of the Americas earlier this year in Trinidad and Tobago; I was the leader of
the official U.S. Congressional delegation. I know that Carolina was there as well. President
Obama put it best, he said– and I’m going to quote him: “I pledge to you, we seek an equal
partnership. There’s no senior partner or junior partner in our relations. There is simply
engagement based on mutual respect and common interest and shared values. So, I’m here to
launch a new chapter of engagement, that will be sustained throughout my Administration,” end-
quote. That’s what he said. He was a superstar there, everybody was talking about it and how this
really changed the way the United States is going to be looked upon south of the border.
Now, talk is cheap. Talk is easy and it’s going to take policies to really show that talk means
something. But the way you start it off is to talk, exchange views, and to explain that policy is
When President Obama went to the Summit of the Americas, I can tell you I met with over
twenty heads of state in bilateral meetings, including President Uribe, who, as the ambassador
has said and in my estimation, has done a fantastic job in making his country safer by taking on
drugs and taking on crime. We were walking in places in Colombia where you couldn’t even
walk a year before. Largely, as the ambassador said, a great result of Plan Colombia and all the
other things we have done, these two countries together. I think this is very, very important to
remember because when I think countries are working with the United States, in show with their
good friends and allies in the United States, I think the United States needs to respond in kind
and that is the kind of relationship that the United States and Colombia has had.
At the Summit of the Americas, I can tell you in the bilateral talks with all the heads of state –
there was so much enthusiasm, not one leader had a kind of skepticism; there was a good feeling
all around. He shook hands with President Chavez, you all remember that. There was some
criticism in that path, but others said, “well, what do you expect if someone offers and puts out
his hand and you are in the international scene? You need to shake that person’s hand.” The
President even accepted a book from Chavez which blames all of the evils of the region on the
Now, I want to talk about the U.S-Venezuelan relationship, because it is important when we talk
about security in the Western Hemisphere and Latin American security challenges. So, I’m glad
that the our countries, the United States and Venezuela, have restored ambassadors to each
other’s capitals, but unfortunately the rhetoric out of Caracas on many fronts has become even
I don’t know how many of you noticed, but it is fitting with B’nai B’rith when I say this,
President Chavez recently traveled to Iran and Syria. By the way, I was the sponsor of the Syria
Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act. Several years ago we passed it, and it
was the first sanctions the United States had leveled in Syria because Syria has been a bad player
in the Middle East and around the world. We’re talking about terrorism and if we learn one
thing, it is that the world is shrinking and we can’t think terrorism happens in one part of the
world and doesn’t affect us over here.
Over there in Afghanistan, we know that the Taliban are plotting attacks against the United
States. I’m a New Yorker, and suppose many of you live in New York. Our lives will never be
the same after September 11
, and we need to make sure we eradicate all forms of terrorism.
We’ll never be able to totally do that, but we need to keep them on the run. So, President Chavez
recently traveled to Iran and Syria. Iran and Syria are the leading sponsors of terror in the Middle
East. It was said in Damascus, and this is the leader of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, that said “Israel
has committed genocide against the Palestinians” and obviously it was a vile attack on Israel and
I immediately issued a statement condemning these offensive and absurd remarks.
Part of what I said was, “President Chavez’s rhetoric in the past has created a climate of
government-inspired anti-Semitism in Venezuela. Such continued demonization of the State of
Israel can only foster that climate. I find it ironic that President Chavez could sit in Damascus,
which houses the headquarters of Hamas and other terrorist groups, while condemning the State
of Israel. If anything, it is Hugo Chavez who has allowed Iran and its extremist allies to have a
foothold in South America. I remind President Chavez that the Iranian-backed Hezbollah has
already carried out two deadly terrorist attacks in South America.” Of course, I was referring to
the terrorist bombings in Buenos Aires, two of them, against the Jewish cultural center and other
Now, I plan to hold hearings in my subcommittee within the month on Iran and the Western
Hemisphere to look into Iran’s penetration into Latin America and the concerns regarding its
cooperation with Venezuela and other countries. So, when you talk about security concerns in
the hemisphere; Venezuela and Iran is all very, very relevant.
Today, Venezuela is buying Russian weapons, including advanced Sukhoi fighter jets and has
recently announced nuclear cooperation with Moscow. Now, not only are these developments
spurring an arms race in South America, but President Chavez is taking actions which heighten
tensions and raises the risk of military conflict. This is where, of course, Ambassador Barco is
well-schooled in this and came to tell us all about what really was happening on the ground.
When there was a border dispute between Ecuador and Colombia earlier this year, Venezuela
rushed thousands of troops to its border with Colombia. Well, while it’s obvious to us in this
room that the United States has no military designs on Venezuela, it merely wishes for a
peaceful, respectful relationship with Venezuela and all of the countries in the region, President
Chavez still clings to this paranoid fear.
In the future, instead of confrontational rhetoric and relationships with state sponsors of
terrorism, like Iran, it is my hope that the countries of the region, including Venezuela, can talk
about cooperation and partnership. For me, talking about partnership means taking responsibility
for actions taken against the United States that also negatively impact the security of our
neighbors in the region and the rest of the Americas.
President Obama and Secretary Clinton have quickly taken leadership in asserting that the
United States must reduce its demand for illicit drugs while we help out partners in the region
stem supply that supports the drug wars.
The Obama Administration also has taken up efforts to curb the illegal flow of U.S. guns to
Mexico and other countries in the Americas. Now, in February of this year, I visited both Mexico
and Jamaica and spoke with the heads of both countries. I had lots of meetings with the
leadership, and spoke with the heads of both countries, Prime Minister of Jamaica Bruce Golding
and President of Mexico Felipe Calderon, as well. They said to me the same thing that of the
weapons involved in drug-related crimes that are recovered and traced by police, 90 percent
come from the United States. This is simply unacceptable. If we think it only affects crime down
there, we are kidding ourselves.
Shockingly, a Government Accountability Office report, that I commissioned, found that until
recently, no U.S. interagency strategy existed to combat illicit firearms trafficking to Mexico.
Shocking, just shocking… it was mind boggling to me. For a year and a half, we had no inter-
agency strategy to address this major problem, but instead we relied on uncoordinated efforts by
a variety of U.S. Government agencies. That simply needs to change. It’s changing, but it needs
to change more.
I’ve also urged President Obama to once again enforce the 1968 Gun Control Act, which bans
the importation to the United States of military weapons not for sporting purposes. This ban was
previously enforced by the administrations of George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, but not
enforced by the administration of George W. Bush. Far too often, these military style weapons,
which were not used for sporting purposes, are imported into the United States and are then
illegally trafficked to Mexico and other countries in the Americas. This practice must end. It is
insane that we are not doing anything to stop this. Now, let me be clear to those of you
concerned about Second Amendment rights, this is not a Second Amendment issue as this import
ban only applies to import shipments of military style weapons with non sporting purposes, at
and before they are at the U.S. Borders. Enforcing this import ban would need no legislation,
since it was passed in legislation many, many years ago, in 1968. It would be a win-win for the
United States and our partners in the region.
Finally, let me note, I am pleased that President Obama has urged the Senate to ratify the Inter-
American Convention Against Illegal Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms,
Ammunition and Explosives and Other Related Materials called the CIFTA Treaty. The Treaty
was signed in 1997, but was never ratified by the U.S. Senate. It should be. Not only would that
show a significant commitment to our friends in the Americas, but it would have important
For example, with the ratification of CIFTA, the United States would be able to extradite arms
and explosive traffickers from countries with which we have extradition agreements. This would
mean that drug cartel leaders and would-be terrorists could be extradited to the Untied States for
trafficking arms and explosives, not just for drug trafficking.
According to the State Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms the United
States is already in compliance with CIFTA, so without National Rifle Association (NRA)
resistance, we should be able to ratify the treaty.
Let me briefly talk about the U.S. demand for drugs that Ambassador Barco referred to, but mea
culpa we are culpable. I truly commend the new Obama Administration for being candid about
our own responsibility for fueling the illegal drug trade. We have to continue to halt the supply
of illicit drugs to the United States and should do everything possible to help countries stop the
production and the trafficking of narcotics. We must also robustly fund prevention and treatment
programs that would cut down on domestic drug usage. Now listen to this interesting statistic I
was shocked to learn: the United States accounts for five percent of the world’s population in
2007, while an estimated 17 percent of the world’s users of illegal drugs were found in the
United States. That’s unacceptable.
In April, I introduced a bi-partisan bill in Congress called the Western Hemisphere Drug Policy
Commission Act 2009; the bill is H.R. 2134. This bill is also sponsored by the ranking member
of my subcommittee, Congressman Connie Mack. Again, I’m a Democrat and he is a
Republican, so it’s a bi-partisan bill.
This would create an independent commission to evaluate U.S. policy and programs aimed at
reducing illicit drug supply and demand. Billions and billions of dollars a year have been used to
fight the drug war in Latin America and the Caribbean. Yet, in spite of efforts since the 1980s,
the number of U.S. lifetime drug users of marijuana, cocaine, and heroin has steadily risen.
Clearly, the time has come to reexamine our counternarcotics efforts here at home and
throughout the Americas. This is not to say that we should not continue our efforts in supporting
our friends in the Americas as they combat drug cartels in their own countries. But, I believe our
approach to U.S. drugs policy must be more holistic and better coordinated. If there were fewer
people who needed the drugs in the United States, there would be less demand for drugs and
therefore, would have an effect of knocking it off all the way down to where the drugs are grown
There are several regional pieces to the U.S. counternarcotics strategy in the Americas: the
Andean Counter Drug Initiative mostly focused on Colombia but also in Peru, Bolivia, and
Ecuador. The Merida Initiative with its main focus on Mexico, but also Central America. I have
been the leading supporter of the Merida Initiative in the U.S. House of Representatives. It is
absolutely imperative that we fund it more than we are funding it now, and that we continue to
push for those things. And, the newly started Caribbean Basin Security Initiative is very
important. I strongly support these initiatives and continue to fight with the countries involved to
help fight this scourge of illegal narcotics trafficking.
For too long we have focused our counter-narcotics efforts on one specific country, only to see
the drug trade move quickly to the next place in the hemisphere. That’s what the drug cartels do.
Whenever you put the pressure on them they move someplace else. We need to focus our
counter-narcotics efforts in many different countries and the sub-regions in Latin America.
For example, as Mexican President Calderon bravely fights drug traffickers in Mexico. Let me
tell you, I don’t know what the Mexican Ambassador Sauukhan has said before, but I think
President Calderon and Mexico deserve wonderful applause for taking on the drug cartels
directly. It is really affecting the stability of his regime because they are pushing back hard and
he is determined to defeat the drug cartels and we in the United States should do everything to
help him succeed.
The drug trade is quickly moving from Mexico to Guatemala. Guatemala is the southern border
of Mexico; we’re the northern border, obviously. In Guatemala, it’s a country with much weaker
institutions that Mexico, so it has a significantly lower capacity to go after the drug cartels. So,
we need to help Guatemala. We have to keep helping countries where we see drug cartels go.
This balloon effect results in pressure in one region causing the drug trade to move to another
region. So, if we want to see real results in the counternarcotics front, for greater security in our
own neighborhood, we have to move away from the current piecemeal approach to
counternarcotics and embrace a whole, more holistic strategy.
Now, I want to say one thing before I close, with my good friend, Carolina Barco, here. I would
be remiss not to mention, the U.S.-Colombia Defense Cooperation Agreement, DCA, an
agreement between our two countries which I strongly support. This is agreement is another
example of the robust bilateral relationship between the Untied States and Colombia.
The Defense Cooperation Agreement will further strengthen our outstanding bilateral
relationship and facilitate even deeper bilateral cooperation on security matters in Colombia.
In spite of false reports to the contrary, in spite of Hugo Chavez’s rhetoric, in spite of all the anti-
American nonsense that we hear from time to time, this relationship will regularize cooperation
between the United States and Colombia. In other words, we are just codifying what is already
there. It envisions no permanent U.S. bases or increased military deployments. It is important to
state the facts precisely as they are, since a number of unfortunate myths about the Defense
Cooperation Agreement have been generated and certain countries have opposed it before they
even read it. So it is important for us to say that.
And again, before I conclude, I’d like to thank the new ambassador from Costa Rica for the
leading role his country has played in resolving the current crisis in Honduras. President Oscar
Arias of Costa Rica deserves very high praise for putting forward a reasonable compromised
plan which all Honduran parties should sign, and which I strongly support. I strongly support it
and I urge Presidents Zelaya and Roberto Michelletti to sign the San Jose Accords at once.
Remarks of H.E. Javier Rupérez
Former Ambassador of Spain to the U.S.
Let me start by thanking both Professor Yonah Alexander and Daniel Mariaschin, they are both
old friends of mine who invited me to take part in this seminar. I’d also like to express my
satisfaction in meeting my old friend Jaime Daremblum.
Let me start by congratulating Ambassador Sarukhan for his excellent presentation, perhaps it is
not the book that will tell him what I am going to tell him, but we fully sympathize with your
fight. We have a similar fight, which is one against terrorism in Spain.
We know what it takes: it takes determination, time, political will, and our conviction that at the
end of the day there will be victory. At one point we decided that we know that the solution is to
learn not how to live with violence but how to defeat the violence.
Now, I’m sure what Mexico is doing under the direction of President Philippe Calderon is very
much that fight. So I’m sure that all of us around here, many people from all over world, would
like to express mercy and purpose, the full solidarity with you in your fight, and wish you all the
luck in that fight.
I’m trying to give you something that is not the Spanish perspective on the Latin American
security, but rather the United Nations perspective; I am not working for the United Nations right
now, I am working for Spanish Government, so the opinions are going to be a very personal
ones. You probably know from my “bio”, but I had the chance, opportunity, and honor for four
years, to work for the United Nations as the executive director of counter-terrorism. As executive
director I learned a couple of things that keep that relationship on how best to fight against
Now what I am going to present to you are a number of reflections which are of direct
application to the case of Latin America. I’m sure through the good services of Arianna you’ve
got the presentation and I would invite you to follow it with me.
Let me tell you a few things about the United Nations and Terrorism. The United Nations has
been trying to fight terrorism within the possibilities that the United Nations have, and you know
very well that the United Nations are what the members of the United Nations would like the
organization to be, no more, no less.
So in many occasions we are confronted with a number of shortcomings and contradictions,
which come from the United Nations being the political will of 193 countries. It is true that what
I’m telling you comes from experience of a more reduced body – what is the UN Security
Council –which is the sovereign will of the countries which count.
In any case, we need to take into account how the nations are reacting to modern terrorists
through the use of international instruments, which goes back to the 70’s of the last century and
through a number of international agreements. The Security Council has been extremely active in
the last three years. Before, let me remind you, that in 1999 the Security Council approved a very
important resolution that was 1267; the one trying to curtail the activities of Al Qaeda and the
Taliban around the world through a number of political and financial missions, and the assembly
had been approving those treaties.
In October 2001 a few days… a few weeks after the terrorist attacks against the U.S. in New
York, Washington, and Pennsylvania, the Security Council passed what I will call the center of
anti-terrorist activities of the United Nations, Resolution 1573. On that basis are international
agreements and activities on the Security Council, and compliance over time. I’ve tried to put
together the number of approaches which are the ones you have in front of you, that tried to
respond in a very preliminary way on the reasons why some Latin American countries have
higher counterterrorism capacities. This is a comparative study that was based on what
eventually would become a project based on the information that has been gathered by the
United Nations involving the Latin American nations and countries.
I would like to evaluate the counter-terrorism activities of each country and at the same time
understand the factors, which explain or could explain the different levels of counter terrorism
capacities. I think that the study, if done properly, we will be able to find countries in need of
assistance, because the United Nations not only tries to assist, which is the compliance, but at the
same time tries to find out missions or means that could be put to the disposal the countries.
We need to evaluate the pace of each Latin American country’s compliance with all the
instruments, and to understand at the end of the process the political reasons and political factors
that motivates countries to comply or not to comply.
To follow that project, I think it would be useful to have a methodology, which could be divided
into three different steps. The first step would be to find out, what I would call a compliance
index, which goes from SEATO to one and to each Latin American country; that compliance
index is based on three different facts: the implementation of international instruments to prevent
and fight terrorism, the implementation of Resolution 1373, and the compliance with
international terrorism legislation over time.
This is what I would like to do. I am proposing it to the organizers who I would like to
eventually sponsor the publication of a policy paper on this basis.
The compliance index takes into account three factors: the first one is the ratified instruments, I
don’t need to tell you how international instruments are taken into account – you have to sign
those documents, then you have to ratify, and then you need to coffer them into national
legislation. From that viewpoint, ratified instruments form the first basis and the first column of
the compliance index. There are 13 international instruments, and a value of one would mean all
the international instruments are considered. For technical reasons there are 16, there are 13
international instruments, 2 protocols, and one amendment to existent treaties that should be
considered, but this will not change approach.
The second component should be the ratification of Resolution 1373. I would encourage you to
take a look at that resolution in detail. It’s a long, detailed, and important resolution that covers
the aspects of all the nation-states who should take into account the fight against terrorism: from
the legal, from the financial, from the political, and from law enforcement side. It is an extremely
important resolution, but unfortunately all the members of the United Nations do not follow it.
As a matter of fact, many countries felt that that was resolution was approved simply because it
was presented to the Security Council immediately after September 11
, which is a rather sad
reflection of the current state of affairs right now. It still remains the law of the Security Council,
and the law of the international land, and it should be taken into account with respect and good
relation up to the maximum points of the page.
Again, I would like to signal to one implementation. The resolution could be, and I’m not going
to go through the detail of it, analyzed through 36 different factors, the points being: legal,
financial, economic, and law enforcement, which can be considered social. Component number
three is compliance over time. But it’s not just the fact of ratifying one resolution, it’s not one
international treaty, it’s not the fact of ratifying what treaty, it’s how those international decisions
take place over time and how those countries – Latin American countries to be specific- are
given the reality of implementation of those instruments.
Now, we come to table number one, which is the main result that I would like to present to you
in this respect that is the compliance index for Latin America by competence, taking into account
all those competencies.
You have one, two, and three: each one is considered in the numerical criteria that I told you
about and if you look at the table you can see the first six countries, which are in the top, at least
in the compliance according to the ratification of international agreements; the 1373 resolution,
and compliance over time that Chile, Panama, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, and Ecuador. Later on,
you have Peru, Colombia, and Uruguay. After that you have Cuba, Bolivia, and 28
The last ones are Belize, Suriname, Saint Lucia, Haiti, and Saint Kits.
This graphic can be expanded to graphic number one: which is how to identify countries in need
of assistance or that have been left behind. I will then go into detail on why those countries have
been left behind; which could be because of the lack of resources, lack of political ability or will,
but I will draw a line after Uruguay going down to Saint Kitts, to see the second half of Latin
American countries have in some way, or rather not been able to, comply with all of those three
Then we have the components of the ratification of international instruments to prevent and fight
against terrorism, and that is a real easy approach because you take into account the key
instruments, and you pair those instruments with countries that have actually been ratifying those
components in those countries.
Certainly, the number of international instruments and treaties being ratified by Latin American
countries has been increasing over-time and in 2005; there is a side-note here, an increase which
got a sponsored approval of four new instruments.
I was interested to see the number of instruments ratified per country, only half (51% of the
region) have approved 12 or more instruments and there have only been a few countries who
have approved all 13. There are also a number of countries that have not ratified some of the
In table number two, you have a description of each of the international instruments. The last
one, which is not in your paper, is the one dealing with acts of nuclear terrorism. This wasn’t
approved by the General Assembly in 2005, and has not largely been ratified by them.
You will notice for instance that the oldest ones are the ones logically to be more ratified, but
then the one that is extremely important and rather recent, is the suppression of financing of
terrorism, which was approved by the General Assembly in 1999 and has gotten only 27
ratifications. Still, there is time for more ratification, but I would like to point out that that
international agreement, which has all the financial consequences of it, has been the basis of the
fight against terrorism.
If you look at Resolution 1373 again, the mother of all the counter-terrorism resolutions, we will
find out that those aspects of that resolution that have been more faithful are those concerning bi-
lateral interventions, judicial cooperation, and information change. While at the same time, some
basic aspects of that resolution have not been dually taken into account by the Latin American
countries, and I will refer to the no-use of territory by terrorists, the extradition of terrorists, and
the denial of safe havens to terrorism.
I would like to point out that unless those three points are duly covered by political will, because
there is no other thing to do, there is no other way to aid the Latin American countries with the
fight against terrorism within the hemisphere, and it will rather be difficult to succeed.
Graphic number five is implementation of resolution by type of action: you have the legal, you
have the practice, and you have the institutions.
There is a need to try for all the Latin American countries, and countries not necessarily Latin
America, to try to take the necessary measures to make the national legal systems comply with
the international legal systems which are Resolution 1573; because it is one of the criteria of
equalization, which would allow for all the countries in the world to have the same legal
approaches. As much as Ambassador Sarukhan said before, the legal is based is on the rule of
law to fight against terrorists. So, if we look at the overall implementation of 1573 by countries
we would find that Brazil, Argentina, and Colombia have implemented 87 percent, 81 percent,
and 76 percent of the resolution respectively. I am referring to a go, so probably something might
have changed. While the last ones, Suriname, Guinea, and Haiti, have implemented a limited
percentage - 24 percent, 20 percent, and 19 percent, respectively.
On graphic number seven, you will see the top and bottom implementers of the region, which
will correspond to what I have told you before.
Graphic number eight is something I would like to point out, which is one of the conditions in
which appear to the international fight against terrorism which is not always a good legislation,
but will correspond to a good practice.
Well, this is something that could appear in the fight against terrorism from the view of the
United Nations, which could appear in many sectors of the United Nations. That disparity
between the legislation and the practice, and I want to underline that from certain viewpoints of
Peru, Costa Rica, Argentina, Belize, Saint Kitts, Uruguay, and Chile. Chile is doing very well in
many respects; at the same time I think they should make the legislation appear into the practice
of the country.
The Graphic number nine shows the general compliance strength over time. If you look at the
chart, it is very clearly shown that in 2001, the compliance starts to improve and this is not a
coincidence, because of September 11
and there was a new caution about the fight against
Graphic ten, general compliance strength from bottom and top compliers based on development
within the region shows that the more developed do much better than the less developed. South
America does slightly better than Central America.
One final comment that I would like to show is how the components relate to each other. Well,
not all the countries are good compliers on the three components, and that is to be expected. I
don’t think perfection belongs to this as well.
Mexico, by far, has the highest number in ratified instruments and the best compliance over time.
But it has a very limited implementation; its compliance index lies in the fifth position, which
again can be viewed as one of the contradictions of the system. So Mexico has a very serious
fight right now, as Ambassador Sarukhan has told us very brilliantly, against activities related to
drug trafficking, and it does not mean that we are forgetting about the need to fight organized
violence from criminality.
On the other side, Colombia has only ratified 9 instruments and has not been a good complier
over time, but still has the second best level of implementation. I suppose in some cases that the
lack of ratification of international instruments is in many cases due to the raw complexity in
constitutional system of the Colombia.
But this point shows what I will call a question of relativity, while compliance reflects
accommodation to the wishes of international rules; it is to be taken to account it does not
encompass all the judgments in the fight against terrorists. I think both Mexico and Colombia are
the best examples of it. Then you have compliance and the compliance ranking, and the ranking
for each component where things change. Colombia could be up or down, Mexico could be up or
down, Uruguay could be up or down. Always keep in mind the first chart that I have given you.
Again, on graphic 12, the graphic allows me to draw a number of conclusions: the first one is the
number of ratified instruments is not a good indicator of implementation. Guyana, Grenada,
Bolivia, Mexico, Honduras, and El Salvador have ratified a number of instruments but have not
fully implemented Resolution 1373, while the Dominican Republic and Colombia has
implemented an important share of the 1373, but have not fully ratified the international
Where can we go from here? Well, I think as this project goes forward, it would be useful to
discuss these very preliminary approaches with regional experts who evaluate its validity and
accuracy. I think it would be extremely useful at the end of the project to try and find the causes
for high or low compliance using statistical techniques.
But there are four hypotheses that I would like to put forward, which are if you want to use
common sense approaches, but at the same time hypotheses; but they have the very merit of
being very easy to understand but not too easy to take account, and it is extremely important for
the compliance of all those international instruments.
It’s quite obvious that the countries with the higher bureaucratic efficiency are better compliers
and that is being shown in all the lists I have been talking to you about. Countries with more
economic development are better compliers, which is quite obvious at the same time. Countries
with better relationships with the United States are better compliers. It could not have been
common sense but I think it helps explain that United States is ready and willing to cooperate
with countries that are in need of that cooperation. And obviously, countries with the higher
possibility of having a terrorist attacks are better compliers; they feel the need to do it. All those
considerations lead me to my final comments.
International cooperation against organized crime is fundamental and vital. That cooperation
does not take place only bilaterally or multilaterally, it would be extremely difficult for any
isolated country to fight. We’ve seen it everyday, and again Ambassador Sarukhan’s examples of
what Mexico is trying to achieve is a very good example of that, how a good international
cooperation, in this case bilateral cooperation and multilateral cooperation, can lead to some
significant degree of success.
In the case of Colombia, the same reason can be applied, though Colombia could in some
respects complain of the lack of cooperation of some of its neighbors in that fight. And certainly,
any lack of cooperation in the international fight against terrorism creates a number of distortions
in that fight, and we in Spain know something about the fight against terrorism right now has
been helped by the full cooperation of France, which was not there some years back.
The second point is – we beyond the international agreements, beyond what the law says, beyond
what the solutions of the Security Council could tell us, we have to have very clearly in our
minds what terrorism is about. You know very well the United Nations has been discussing the
definition of terrorism and has not been yet able to find that definition. I find that ludicrous and
obscene because we all know too well what terrorism is about. Whenever a group, a non-state
group, uses violence against civilians, yes, to produce or achieve a number of political aims, this
is to be called terrorism.
And I’m extremely worried with some American leaders that make the difference between
insurgents and terrorists. For us, for me, they are exactly the same. There shouldn’t be any moral
dithering or doubt about what we are talking about. We’re talking about terrorists trying to
disrupt the very basis of co-existence and our life.
And finally, I don’t want to go any further, let me tell you the international cooperation through
the United Nations is producing a number of good results in the financial field. Ambassador
Sarukhan, again, was just telling us about the methods used by terrorists. Yes, the narcotics
traffickers, in this particular case, use the same methods to evade law enforcement. And yes, the
terrorists use the same methods. The bulk transfer of funds, what in the Middle East we call the
“wahalla”, is exactly the same methods they use. I think from that viewpoint by looking at record
and performance of the Latin American countries in keeping the clarity of their own accounts
concerning the financing of terrorists will be extremely important in the fight against terrorism.
I won’t name any names but certainly, in the Caribbean case there is much to improve in their
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