"One of the most dangerous areas in Central America is located along the border of Guatemala with Honduras. The murder rate is among the highest in the world. The absence of effective law enforcement has allowed wealthy traffickers to become de facto authorities in some areas, dispensing jobs and humanitarian assistance but also intimidating and corrupting local officials."
Showing posts tagged as "drug trafficking"
Showing posts tagged drug trafficking
"Over the past decade, drug routes through Central America have become more viciously competitive."
Corridor of Violence: The Guatemala-Honduras Border
Guatemala City/Bogotá/Brussels | 4 Jun 2014
Ending bloodshed in this neglected border region requires more than task forces: credible institutions, access to state services and continuing security are also needed.
Competition between criminal groups over drug routes has made the frontier between Guatemala and Honduras one of the most violent areas in Central America, with murder rates among the highest in the world. In the absence of effective law enforcement, traffickers have become de facto authorities in some sectors. Crisis Group’s latest report, Corridor of Violence: The Guatemala-Honduras Border, examines the regional dynamics that have allowed criminal gangs to thrive and outlines the main steps necessary to prevent further violence as well as to advance peaceful economic and social development.
The report’s major findings and recommendations are:
- The border corridor includes hotly contested routes for transporting drugs to the U.S. Traffickers, with their wealth and firepower, dominate some portions. On both sides of the border, violence, lawlessness and corruption are rampant, poverty rates and unemployment are high, and citizens lack access to state services.
- The arrest of local drug lords has been a mixed blessing to local populations, as the fracturing of existing groups has allowed a new generation of sometimes more violent criminals to emerge.
- To prevent further violence, an urgent shift in national policies is needed. The governments should send not just troops and police to border regions, but also educators, community organisers and social and health workers. If criminal structures are to be disrupted and trust in the state restored, these regions need credible, legitimate actors – public and private – capable of providing security, accountability, jobs and hope for the future.
- Guatemala and Honduras should learn from other countries facing similar security threats. The Borders for Prosperity Plan in Colombia and the Binational Border Plan in Ecuador and Peru can serve as examples for economic and social development in insecure areas. The U.S., Latin American countries and multilateral organisations should provide funds, training and technical support to embattled border communities to help them prevent violence and strengthen local institutions via education and job opportunities.
“Troops alone will not stop bloodshed where the state has long failed to provide law enforcement and economic growth” says Mary Speck, Mexico and Central America Project Director. “Tackling criminal violence requires sustained, concerted efforts to promote local development and guarantee rule of law”.
“Thus far, most international help has focused on border control and drug interdiction”, says Javier Ciurlizza, Latin America Program Director. “Guatemala and Honduras need a more comprehensive approach and the advice and support of other Latin American countries with similar experiences”.
Cocaine-related graft erodes Guinea-Bissau governance | IRIN News
Drug-trafficking in Guinea-Bissau is undermining the country’s stability, distorting its economy and intensifying the competition for power among political and military leaders, say analysts and observers.
“Because drug-trafficking stokes instability, it affects every citizen. Moreover it gives the country a deplorable image, which tends to discourage donors. In a country where access to credit is difficult, some observers say that drug money has been used to fund the cashew nut trade, the country’s main export and a key revenue source for the rural population,” Vincent Foucher, a researcher with the International Crisis Group (ICG), told IRIN.
He said drug money is also funding the personal security networks of top politicians and military personnel - an important element in ongoing power struggles and political strife.
“But regarding drugs, the security forces have a comparative advantage [to the politicians],” said Foucher.
Christian Science Monitor | Child drug traffickers: What can be done?
By Edward Fox, Guest blogger
A report on child recruitment by Colombia’s criminal groups draws attention to the prevalence of the tactic across the region, as gangs exploit a low-cost, low-risk, and highly expendable source of manpower.
The report by Watchlist on Children in Armed Conflict, entitled “No One to Trust: Children and Armed Conflict in Colombia,” is the result of two field studies conducted in 2011. Its findings paint a grim picture of minors entangled in an endless web of violence, helping to fuel it in some cases as they are forced or manipulated into becoming participants.
According to Watchlist, estimates on the number of child soldiers in Colombia vary from 5,000 to 14,000. Most troubling is the downward trend in the age of recruitment. Guerrillas and drug gangs have steadily lowered the bar, with the average age of those absorbed into these groups falling from 13.8 years in 2002 to 11.8 in 2009, said the report.
One of the main culprits in child recruitment is the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which exploits social disenfranchisement in rural Colombia, where many feel abandoned by the state. By offering education and food, the guerrillas convince young people to “sign up,” and to recruit their peers, said the report. The average age of a recruits to the FARC is roughly 12 years old, with 85 percent doing so “voluntarily,” according to the International Crisis Group.
Photo: “Poor in Bogota” Darwinist/Wikimedia Comons
McClatchy Newspapers | Tiny Guinea-Bissau has big role in drug smuggling, and seems likely to keep it
BY Chris Collins
BUBAQUE, GUINEA-BISSAU — Last year, as children played on the beach of this tropical island, splashing in the ocean and kicking soccer balls through makeshift goals in the sand, a small turboprop plane flew overhead, drowning out conversations below with the steady hum of its engine.
Calvario Ahukharie, the head of Interpol in Guinea-Bissau, had been resting in the shade while sipping wine from a plastic cup. He looked up.
Another drug plane, Ahukharie recently recalled thinking. Another criminal turning my country into a cocaine warehouse.
Guinea-Bissau, on the west coast of Africa, is one of the smallest and poorest countries in the world, but it has a big claim to fame: It’s become a key hub for South American drug traffickers looking to make a few hundred million dollars a year shipping their goods to Europe via West Africa.
As a way station, it is ideal, just a four-hour flight from Brazil, with dozens of unpopulated islands for drug-bearing planes to land. And it is virtually risk free. Other than the underfunded Interpol office, Western police agencies, including the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, don’t have much of a presence. More importantly, the country’s military is known to be deeply involved in the drug trade, guaranteeing that even if a shipment is detected, police intervention is useless.
Indeed, protecting the drug trade is thought to have been one of the primary motives behind a military coup here last month that saw the army take control of the nation just two weeks ahead of a presidential runoff election. The target of the coup, former Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Jr., had been widely expected to win the presidency and had promised to approve internationally backed plans to downsize the bloated and unwieldy military and put an end to the drug traffickers’ payoffs that privates and officers alike have come to rely on.
Javier Ciurlizza, International Crisis Group’s Latin America Program Director, discusses the FARC’s recent decision to release hostages on Al Jazeera.
By Kimberly Abbott
Positioned at the midpoint between narcotics producers in South America and U.S. consumers, Guatemala has become a major hub for overland drug trafficking. Violence and corruption, byproducts of the drug trade, pose a major challenge to Guatemala’s nascent democratic institutions, and call into question the government’s capacity to protect its citizens.
The torrent of narcotics, weapons and foreign money flowing through Guatemala’s borders complicates the ongoing process of democratic state-building. Wealthy and well-armed cartels take advantage of Guatemala’s weak police and judiciary systems, bribing and threatening judges, prosecutors, bureaucrats and police officers. Cartels also influence electoral outcomes via campaign contributions to pliable candidates. In a recent report, Drug Trafficking and Violence, Crisis Group reported that at least some government officials have cooperated with organized crime, particularly on the local level.
Widespread poverty and marginalization among Guatemala’s indigenous communities exacerbates the country’s vulnerability to traffickers. High unemployment and poor social services create an ample pool of cheap, disposable labor for gangs and cartels. While Guatemala’s economy is expanding steadily, the state must intervene to ensure that the benefits of this growth reach people in rural areas, especially youth.
Guatemala has taken some recent steps to shore up its institutions against the influence of traffickers, including prosecuting corrupt officials with the help of the International Commission Against Impunity (CICIG). Most of Guatemala’s major politicians pay lip service to anti-trafficking reforms, but fundamental reforms have yet to take place. Whoever wins the 6 November second round of the presidential race, a first test will be whether they support the anti-corruption efforts of Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz, the work of Helen Mack and national police reform and the CICIG. Guatemala must act more vigorously to strengthen its law enforcement and legal institutions to combat the corrupt and violent influence of drug cartels and organized crime. The more time they have to deepen their social roots, the harder cartels will be to eradicate and the greater danger they will pose to Guatemala’s future.
But the onus does not lie only with Guatemala. As the primary market for narcotics trafficked through Central America, the United States must do more to combat domestic drug consumption, and offer serious assistance to the Guatemalan government in its efforts to keep the drug trade at bay.
I spoke with Mark Schneider, Crisis Group’s Senior Vice President and Special Advisor on Latin America, about how Guatemala can roll back the growing threat of drug-related violence and corruption. Listen to our conversation below.
Mark Schneider, Crisis Group’s Senior Vice President and Special Adviser on Latin America, discusses the growing threat of drug traffickers in Guatemala.