Wednesday, June 26, 2013

VOXXI: A necessary evil? Peru’s military draft

A Necessary Evil? Peru's Military Draft
W. Alejandro Sanchez
June 26, 2013
Originally published:
Peru’s First Constitutional Court has agreed to a request by the country’s Public Defender to temporarily suspend a proposed military draft lottery that the government wanted to implement.
There have been protests by civic society and opposition politicians against it, arguing that the law is discriminatory, as the majority of potential draftees would be poor, young Peruvians. The government is currently trying to organize counter-arguments to challenge the judiciary’s decisions.
While the draft is undoubtedly controversial, Peru’s internal and external security challenges are consequential, making it an imperative that the country increases its security forces.

Security and Defense Realities

Although the Andean nation has enjoyed economic growth and development over the past decade, it continues to face real security threats. At the domestic level, Shining Path, a narco-terrorist organization, operates in the Peruvian highlands, namely in the Huallaga Valley and the Valley of the Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro Rivers (known as VRAEM in Spanish).
The group is divided into two factions and has roughly 300-400 fighters altogether – its tactics focus on ambushing military and police patrols in the aforementioned areas.
Certainly the Shining Path today is less than a shadow of what it was in the 1980s, Peru’s era of terror, when it was present throughout most of the country and utilized car bombs to instill fear among the population (its trademark modus operandi). Nevertheless, the group remains a major security threat as there is a possibility that it could re-organize itself or form some kind of unholy alliance with Colombian FARC guerrillas or the Mexican Sinaloa cartel.
The fact that Peru is a major producer of cocaine, (second in the world according to the United Nations, but first according to the U.S.) serves as an incentive for transnational criminal groups to expand their operations to the Andean country. In particular, a renewed and rearmed Shining Path presents a significant danger for the country and a difficult challenge for Peru’s government, military and civil society.
Additionally, concerns remain regarding Peru’s Southern neighbor, Chile. The two nations have had tense relations since the 19th Century War of the Pacific. Currently, the countries have turned to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) of The Hague to settle a maritime dispute. The ICJ could make a decision as early as July.
While the realistic possibility of war between Lima and Santiago is arguably very small, there is a sincere concern within Peru of what could happen if the ICJ rules in Lima’s favor.
There have been several meetings of senior Peruvian and Chilean defense and diplomatic policymakers over the years that serve as confidence building mechanisms, but doubts remain whether Peru’s military is strong enough to be a deterrent to a potential Chilean aggression.

The Challenges of Insufficient Personnel

The aforementioned security challenges that Peru faces, ranging from narco-terrorism, drug trafficking and the possibility (in a worst case scenario) of war with Chile, puts the proposed military draft lottery in a new perspective.
The Andean country has a police force of around 106,000 members, but budget cuts have reduced the military’s personnel in recent years. This is not enough to properly address the security threats of a large nation like Peru, which has around 30 million citizens and borders that are not conducive to effective patrols.
President Ollanta Humala has admitted that the country has a deficit of 30,000 police officers. Meanwhile, if the draft lottery had taken place, it would have given the military an additional, badly needed, 12,500 new recruits.
Hence, the need to install a military draft (or actually re-install it, as one existed up to the late 1990s) has been heatedly debated by policymakers and NGOs. Moreover, the issue has been critiqued and politicized by individuals such as Oscar Valdes, a former minister, who has also declared his intention to run for the presidency in 2016.
Is the law discriminatory? Arguably yes, since the upper socioeconomic classes will be able to pay a fine in order for their family members to avoid being drafted. The fine is of 1850 soles (roughly USD $660-700). Therefore, most of draftees will come from the country’s lower classes. Due to the fact that members of the middle/upper classes are generally light skinned and the lower classes are indigenous, the proposed law takes a racial angle.
It is noteworthy to highlight that the Humala administration has tried to appease concerns by stating that there is no intention to send the recruits to the VRAEM to combat Shining Path.

Who Fights?

The Peruvian youth should be free to pursue their own interests and goals, instead of preparing to fight the country’s internal and external security threats. With that said, Shining Path, the drug-related violence, and the threat (real or not) originating from Santiago are not going away soon.
Moreover, if some sort of draft is not carried out, who will fight to protect Peru’s civilian society? Does the Peruvian population want to see Shining Path reinvigorated and see the nation return the era of terror of the 1980s? Even if a military draft is not implemented, the government, civic society and NGOs must find some kind of mechanism to appropriately augment the number of security personnel in the country (i.e. by making voluntary service more financially appealing).
A military draft may not be fair, but no one ever said war was fair. And Shining Path, to name just one of Peru’s clear and present dangers, has shown that they do not play fair.

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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

VOXXI:Why is Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa granting Edward Snowden asylum?

Why is Ecuador's President Rafael Correa granting Edward Snowden Asylum
W. Alejandro Sanchez
June 25, 2013
Originally published:

Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who publicized a surveillance program carried out by the National Security Agency (NSA), may spend his immediate future in Ecuador, which has agreed to grant him asylum.
This recent development has put the small South American nation at the center of the global media, something akin to what happened in June 2012, when Quito granted asylum to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.
What is the logic behind Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa’s recent foreign policy decisions, particularly his granting asylum to individuals such as Snowden?

A Collision Course?

Correa’s lengthy presidency (he was first elected in 2006) has been characterized by his recurrent clashes with Washington and his intention to distance his county from U.S. influence. The country made global media headlines in 2012 when it granted asylum to Julian Assange, founder of the website Wikileaks and wanted by the Swedish government on charges of sexual assault.
Assange, an Australian citizen, has been living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for the past year, and it is unclear if he will leave the embassy anytime soon.
Now, Ecuador may be the future home of Edward Snowden. Snowden is currently in Moscow, where he should have boarded a flight that would have taken him to Havana, Cuba and then to Ecuador. However, the American whistleblower reportedly was not on his scheduled flight to Cuba.
The Edward Snowden affair is not the first time Washington and Quito have clashed. Back in 2009, President Correa refused to renew an agreement that allowed the U.S. military to operate a base in Manta. This base had been a critical cornerstone of Washington’s anti-drug operations in South America.
Most recently, Ecuador declared its intention to leave the Inter-American Defense Board (IADB), which is based in downtown Washington. The IADB is an autonomous agency within the Organization of American States, which has been historically critiqued for being Washington’s watchdog over the Western Hemisphere.
Quito justifies its decision by arguing that Ecuador must focus its multilateral defense relations on fellow South American nations, particularly via the Union of South American Nations.
Although Quito has decided to leave the IADB, it is simultaneously trying to influence other Western Hemisphere agencies. Namely, Ecuador recently put forth suggestions for major reforms within the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights which included moving the Commissions’ headquarters from Washington to Argentina.

Correa takes Center Stage

The question is: Why did Correa accept Edward Snowden when he knew the United States would disapprove? The South American leader was re-elected this past February with a comfortable margin – he obtained 56 percent of the vote while his closest opponent, Guillermo Lasso, obtained only 23 percent.
This striking victory (which suggests that he is supported by the majority of the population) may have emboldened him to execute other aggressive foreign policy decisions. Even before granting asylum to Assange and Snowden, Correa was regarded as having an anti-Washington ideology. Recent events only further reinforce this view.
Nevertheless, Ecuador is a small country with limited natural resources to make it a global economic powerhouse. It does possess significant quantities of oil, which has helped the country survive the global financial crisis.
Ecuadorian financial officials have continuously praised the country’s economic growth in recent years, but while economic stability affords Correa the luxury of focusing on foreign policy instead of domestic economic issues, his country’s oil reserves are not abundant enough to be utilized as a diplomatic weapon to gain allies, like the late Hugo Chavez did in Venezuela.
The extent to which Ecuador is isolating itself from the international community is debatable. Certainly, Washington and countries across Europe will not look upon the decision to grant asylum to Julian Assange and Edward Snowden with friendly eyes.
One can only wonder how Ecuador’s foreign policy is being debated in Quito, and what type of advice Correa is receiving from his ministerial cabinet, including the minister of foreign affairs, Ricardo Patiño, and diplomatic corps when it comes to his recent decisions.
On the other hand, such bold moves that upset “el imperio” (as the United States is commonly labeled) will likely make the nations of ALBA (Chavez’s pet project)—including Bolivia, Cuba, and Venezuela—declare their diplomatic support for Ecuador. In a March meeting, ALBA nations expressed their support for Ecuador in its ongoing dispute with the oil company Chevron.
It is likely that La Paz, Havana, and Caracas will similarly display their support for Correa’s decision to accept Snowden.
At the same time, it is debatable to what extent Washington will be able to exercise pressure on Ecuador for its role in the Edward Snowden scandal. Washington could push for some kind of trade sanction, but Correa clearly has little interest in cementing trade relations with the United States, as Quito is seeking more integration with fellow ALBA states.
For example, this past April, ALBA’s members came together for a summit in Guayaquil to discuss further integration initiatives, such as the group’s virtual currency (the Sucre), and the creation of a new agency, Eco ALBA, to promote financial aid between the bloc’s members.
Understandably, future analyzes will debate whether the Ecuadorian president should be regarded as Chavez’s successor, and if he is indeed actively trying to embrace this role. While Correa is not trying to become the new Chavez, he is nonetheless trying to make a mark and give the impression that his country is no “pushover.”
But because Ecuador is not profiting in any real way from accepting Snowden, other than by angering the United States even further, the real question here is who is formulating Ecuador’s foreign policy – is it created by a consensus of senior policymakers, or solely by Correa.

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Monday, June 24, 2013

Quote: Univision: Why Ecuador Is a Good Asylum Destination for Edward Snowden

Why is Ecuador a Good Asylum Destination for Edward Snowden
By: Manuel Rueda
ABC Univision
June 24, 2013
Originally published:

He was recently called a traitor by Secretary of State John Kerry, and is now officially wanted in the U.S. for espionage. But Edward Snowden, the NSA leaker who flew from Hong Kong to Russia over the weekend, probably made a good move for himself on Sunday, by asking for asylum in Ecuador.

Snowden's asylum request was read out on Monday morning by Ecuador's foreign minister Ricardo Patino. In the letter, Snowden asks the Ecuadorean government to consider granting him political asylum because he is being persecuted in the U.S. for using his right to free speech to reveal information on government abuses. He also says that chances of a fair trial are slim in the U.S., where he may be charged with treason and is likely to face life in prison or the death penalty.

Patiño explained that the asylum request was currently "under review." But the foreign minister also made some "reflections" on this case, which will sound like music to Snowden's ears.

"The government of Ecuador puts principles above [political and commercial] interests," Patiño said. "In this case human rights principles."

"We would have to ask ourselves who has betrayed who, [in the Snowden case]" Patiño continued. "Did [Snowden] betray the interests of humanity, or did he betray the interests of certain political elites, in a certain country."

These statements suggest that Snowden will probably get asylum in Ecuador. An interesting twist of fate if you consider that this whistleblower had initially said that he would seek refuge in Iceland, because of its strong internet freedom laws.

But why did Snowden go for Ecuador, and not some other country that would happily host a CIA nemesis? Consider this:

1. Ecuador is already protecting Julian Assange

The Wikileaks founder has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for a year, avoiding British officials who want to extradite him to Sweden. Assange has not been allowed to head to Ecuador, which granted him asylum last year on humanitarian grounds because British officials will not allow him to leave the embassy without arresting him.

Since Assange took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy last summer however, the South American nation has not buckled to pressure from British officials who say that they are obliged to arrest Assange and send him to Sweden where he faces sexual assault charges. In fact, Ecuador's foreign minister recently visited London to present the British government with a series of legal arguments that would force the British to allow Assange to board a plane to Ecuador. The UK did not budge, but Ecuador proved that it is quite a plucky nation when it comes to defending high-profile refugees.

2. Ecuador has weak extradition treaties with the U.S.

Like many countries in the western hemisphere, Ecuador has an extradition treaty with the U.S. But as BBC Mundo notes, the treaty between Ecuador and the U.S. excludes crimes that are committed with "political motifs." As long as Snowden can prove that he broke his oath of secrecy for political reasons instead of, say, for personal profit, he will not be eligible for extradition to the U.S.

3. The Government of Ecuador profits politically from having Snowden around

Unlike Iceland, the Ecuadorean government has a proven record of saying no to U.S interests, so it is much more likely to tell the U.S. government to take a hike when it asks for Snowden's extradition.

President Rafael Correa has backed environmental lawsuits, against Chevron for example, that accuse the U.S. company of polluting large swathes of the Amazon rainforest. In 2009, Correa also refused to renew the U.S. military's lease on an airforce base in the Pacific port of Manta despite requests by U.S. diplomats to renew the lease, as the base was being used for anti-narcotics flights.

Alex Sanchez, an international security analyst at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs says that providing asylum to Snowden wins political points for Ecuador's leftist president.

"Correa wants international recognition, [as a defender of human rights]," Sanchez said. "This also allows him to show [domestically] that he is not a lackey of the U.S. like previous presidents of Ecuador."

The decision to grant asylum to Snowden would, of course, generate diplomatic tensions between Ecuador and the U.S. But Sanchez said that such tensions might not be too risky for Ecuador.

Sanchez noted that Venezuela is still allowed to sell oil to U.S. refineries, for example, even while its government blasts out anti-U.S. rhetoric in international forums and accuses U.S. embassy personnel of being part of plots to "destabilize" that country. If the U.S. government fails to take any reprisals for such matters, Ecuador is probably figuring that there will be few reprisals from the U.S. over Snowden's asylum claim, Sanchez said.

4. President Correa will be around for a while

From Snowdens perspective, the political situation in Ecuador provides another important bonus. President Correa was just re-elected this year and has four years left in his current term. If Correa pushes for a law that allows for an unlimited number of re-elections like Chavez did in Venezuela, he could also be around for more than that.

Snowden will probably be safe in Ecuador while Correa is at the helm. Though as Foreign Policy magazine notes, he will have to come up with a long-term strategy to ward off legal challenges, and even with a way to make a living for himself, after the Ecuadorean government tires of paying for his bills.

Journal Active Measures: Should High-Profile Terrorists and Cartel Leaders Be Eliminated? Targeted Killings in Latin America

Should High-Profile Terrorists and Cartel Leaders Be Eliminated? Targeted Killings in Latin America
W. Alejandro Sanchez
Active Measures
Volume II, Spring 2013
P. 14-20
PDF available:

 In September 2012, the Mexican newspaper Proceso reported that the U.S. government had plans to eliminate Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the leader of the Sinaloa drug cartel, without notifying Mexican authorities.1 The revelation, while explosive, did not appear to have damaged bilateral relations. Nevertheless, the prospect of an American military strike team entering Mexican territory to eliminate a high value target such as El Chapo Guzman is comparable to the May 2011 U.S. operation in Pakistan that eliminated Al Qaeda terrorist leader, Osama bin Laden.
The practice of targeted killings is controversial and complicated, not only for operational and legal reasons, but also from a moral standpoint. Arguably, there are a number of “bad guys” in the Western Hemisphere in addition to El Chapo Guzman who could qualify for this treatment, ranging from terrorist leaders to major cartel bosses. Regardless, determining which method is more effective, assassination or imprisonment of high-level criminals, requires a case-by-case study.
Most current analyses on targeted killings focuses on violent movements, such as al-Qaeda, the Taliban and Hezbollah. This paper analyzes target killing opera- tions from a Latin American perspective due to of current Western Hemispheric security issues.

Targeted Killings in the Western Hemisphere

It is inaccurate to consider terrorists, drug traffickers, transnational gangs, and insurgents as the same class of criminals, in spite of their similarly destructive modus operandi. The motivations, ideology, and objectives, as well as structures, of the numerous Latin American criminal entities are different. There are, however, common threads among organizations such as the Medellin cartel in Colombia, the Shining Path in Peru, and the Sinaloa cartel in Mexico, as all have become major security threats inside, and sometimes outside of, their respective nations. As Latin American countries are increasingly confronted with violence and security threats, regional governments may resort more often to targeted killing operations instead of search-and-capture operations. Nevertheless, it is debat- able if the elimination of a group’s leadership may necessarily halt its operations permanently. For example, terrorist movements may react differently than drug cartels when a leader is eliminated. Furthermore, there are cases in which search- and-capture operations have been successful in affecting a criminal organization’s structure, as was the case when Peruvian security forces captured major terrorist leaders.
Eliminated Targets. Among the leaders of violent organizations killed by targeted killing operations in recent years, Osama bin Laden’s assassination stands out in the Western world, but Israel has also employed targeted killings to elimi- nate leaders of Hezbollah and Hamas.2 Such operations are likely to continue, with the missions increasingly carried out by predator drones instead of Special Forces.3
Latin American governments, too, have resorted to targeted killings. Pablo Escobar, head of Colombia’s infamous Medellin cartel, was shot to death in 1993 during a police raid.4 Escobar rose to prominence in Colombia during the 1980s, becoming infamous for acts violence against drug rivals, civilians, and govern- ment officials. In one of his boldest operations, Escobar ordered the death of Colombian presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galan in 1989.5
Colombian security forces carried out a targeted killing operation against the leadership of the insurgent movement, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in 2008, bombing an Ecuadorian camp where members of FARC’s leadership, including the group’s then-leader Raul Reyes, were suspected of hiding.6 The bombing raid killed Reyes and several other insurgents, but the backlash brought Colombia to the brink of war with Ecuador, which viewed the operation as a violation of its sovereignty. To further complicate matters, the Ven- ezuelan government deployed its army to the Colombian border and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez declared the possibility of going to war with Colombia to protect Ecuador’s sovereignty.7 In recent years, the Colombian military has been successful in eliminating other major FARC leaders: Jorge Briceno (aka Mono Jojoy) in September 2010, and Alfonso Cano in November 2011.
Similarly, the Mexican military has managed to eliminate the leadership of some of Mexico’s major drug cartels. For example, Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano (aka El Lazca) of the Zetas Cartel, was shot to death by Mexican marines last October.8
High-Profile Individuals Still Free. In Latin America, numerous lead- ers of violent organizations remain at large and are likely subjects for targeted killings. Some examples of potential targets in Mexico include El Chapo Guzman, the ruthless head of one the most powerful and violent drug cartels in Mexico with significant wealth from drug trafficking;9 Miguel Angel Trevino (aka Z-40), leader of the dreaded Zetas cartel; and Fernando Sanchez Arellano (aka The Engi- neer), head of the Arellano cartel.10
Leaders of hemispheric insurgent movements that could be targets for TK operations include Rodrigo Londono (aka Timochenko), current leader of the FARC; Nicolas Rodriguez Bautista (Gabino), the insurgent group’s second in command; Jose Benito Cabrera (aka Fabian Ramirez),11 current commander of the National Liberation Army (ELN); and the leader of Peru’s Shining Path, Vic- tor Quispe Palomino (aka Jose), who is believed to be operating in the Peruvian highlands.12
High-Profile Individual In Prison. On the other hand, various opera- tions have led to the capture and imprisonment of high-profile targets in Latin America, including Abimael Guzman, the leader of Shining Path, and Victor Polay Campos, the head of the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) in Peru. These criminals have been in maximum-security prisons since 1992, under life sentences. Other high-profile criminals include Salvador Alfonso Martinez (The Squirrel), a Zetas leader linked to more than 300 murders, one of which was an American citizen.13 In Brazil, several leaders of the gang known as the First Capi- tal Command (PCC) have been placed under arrest. These examples of successful imprisonments demonstrate that viable options exist that do not involve targeted killings.


Whether targeted killings are more effective than capture and imprisonment in removing high profile criminals from power depends largely on the capacity of a country’s judicial and penal system to conduct fair trials of criminals and to keep them successfully in prison. Peru has been successful in keeping top ter- rorist leaders behind bars, but this hasn’t always been the case. For example, the MRTA’s leader, Polay Campos, was captured in 1989 and escaped from prison, along with 47 other MRTA members in 1990.14 He was finally recaptured two years later. In addition, Pablo Escobar spent little over a year in a Colombian prison (1991–1992) before escaping. He remained on the run until he was shot in 1993.15
Meanwhile, the Mexican penal system’s ability to handle a “big fish” such as El Chapo is questionable. There have been several recent jailbreaks in Mexico and dozens of cartel members have managed to escape.16 Moreover, imprisoned criminal leaders are able to continue communicating with their subordinates out- side of prison—the leadership of the Brazilian PCC, for example, has conducted conference calls from behind prison walls.17 Hence, targeted killings for major criminal leaders may be the only option for some security forces, given the state of many Latin American penal systems that allow jailed criminals to continue giving orders to their henchmen.
The question remains as to whether targeted killing operations are successful in affecting a criminal organization’s leadership structure. Osama bin Laden’s death crippled al-Qaeda, and Escobar’s death dissolved the Medellin cartel. On the other hand, imprisonment of Abimael Guzman and Polay Campos was enough to severely cripple the Shining Path and the MRTA respectively.
As previously mentioned, a critical factor is the leadership structure of criminal movements. FARC’s leadership, unlike that of the Shining Path, does not revolve around one individual. Rather, a secretariat selects a new leader when one is eliminated,18 thereby enabling the group to withstand the loss of major leaders. Furthermore, the structure and lack of political and ideological objectives of drug trafficking groups, such as Mexico’s cartels, make it likely that the Sinaloa cartel could survive if El Chapo Guzman was eliminated. The result would likely be a factionalized Sinaloa cartel and continued drug trafficking operations. A September 14, 2012, blog post in the Houston Chronicle argues that cartels such as the Gulf Cartel and Felix Arellano Organization have survived the arrest of their major leaders by aligning themselves with stronger cartels (such as the Sinaloa or the Zetas). In addition, the Gulf Cartel “has deep connections in the social fabric of northeastern Mexico [and] it boasts of extensive U.S. domestic wholesale transportation networks.”19 With such a history and network, this cartel has survived the fall of its major bosses over the past decade, demonstrating that targeted killings do not always have the intended effects.


Some experts who have written on targeted killing operations against groups such as al-Qaeda argue that Washington and Tel-Aviv have set “a dangerous prec- edent for abusive regimes around the globe to conduct drone attacks or other strikes against persons who they describe in vague or overly broad terms as ter- rorists.”20 In Latin America, this precedent has arguably already been set with the 1993 raid on Pablo Escobar and the 2008 Colombian military raid in Ecuador to eliminate a FARC leader.
In sum, it is not certain that targeted killings have had, or ever can have, a crippling effect on criminal entities in the Western Hemisphere. Arguably, the Sinaloa Federation could survive the elimination of its leader, El Chapo Guzman. Analysts have argued “the Federation is just that—a loosely knit alliance of smaller cartels that owe allegiance to El Chapo and his people. When a kingpin is cap- tured or killed, such alliances tend to fracture as it becomes a case of every man for himself.”21 In other words, while the elimination of El Chapo might weaken or even break apart the Sinaloa cartel, it would probably just lead to a factionalized organization, with little to no effect on drug trafficking itself.
Criminal entities in the Western Hemisphere range from narco-terrorist groups in Peru and Colombia, to expanding drug cartels in Mexico, and powerful gangs in Brazil and Central America. Each entity has its own raison d’etre and leadership structure, which means that some could arguably better withstand the fall of its leader more than others (for instance, the Sinaloa cartel compared to the Shining Path). Thus, specific analyses of each organization are essential to better understand whether a targeted killing of its leader would be successful. So far, the effectiveness of targeted killing operations, as compared to search-and-capture operations, has yet to be proven in the Western Hemisphere.


1. Jorge Carrasco and Jesus Esquivel, “Mision del Pentagono: Atrapar a ‘El Chapo’…. O acabar con el,” Proceso (Mexico), August 11, 2012. Accessed December 10, 2012: http://www.
2 “Israel’s Targeted Assassinations: An Overview Of Militants Killed By Israel (PHOTOS),”Should High-Profile Terrorists and Cartel Leaders Be Eliminated? The Huffington Post, November 14, 2012. Accessed December 22 Also see: Gal Luft, “The Logic of Israel’s Targeted Killing,” The Middle East Quarterly, Winter 2003, Volume X, No. 1, Winter 2003, p.3-13.Accessed December 22, 2012, targeteded-killing
3 Joshua Fost, “Targeted Killing, Pro and Con: What to make of U.S. Drones in Pakistan,” The Atlantic, September 26, 2012. Accessed December 18, 2012 international/archive/2012/09/targeted-killing-pro-and-con-what-to-make-of-us-drone-strikes- in-pakistan/262862/ Also see: Akbar Nasir Khan, “The US’ Policy of Targeted Killings by Drones in Pakistan,” IPRI Journal, XI, no 1, (Winter 2011), p. 21-40
4 Mark Bowden, Killing Pablo, (New York: Penguin Books, 2002).
5 “El sacrificio y la impunidad en el caso Galan,” El Espectador (Colombia), September 13, 2012. Accessed December 22, 2012 el-sacrificio-y-impunidad-el-caso-galan
6 “La muerte de ‘Raul Reyes’ desencadena una crisis diplomatica entre Colombia, Venezuela y Ecuador,” El Pais (Spain), Internacional, March 2, 2008. Accessed December 21, 2012 http://in-
7 Ian James, The Associated Press, “ Chavez Deploys Troops to border with Colombia,” The Spokesman Review, March 3, 2008. Accessed December 21, 2012 stories/2008/mar/03/chavez-deploys-troops-to-border-with-colombia/
8 Silvia Otero and Doris Gomora, “Confirman la muerte de Lazcano, lider de ‘Zetas,’” El Universal (Mexico), October 10, 2012. Accessed December 17, 2012 mx/notas/875733.html
9 “NARCO BLOG: Sinaloa Cartel Welcomes Police Chief with Tortured Body,” El Blog del Narco, Hispanically Speaking News, March 12, 2011. Accessed Decembe20, 2012 http://www. police-chief-with-tortured-body/6033/ . Regarding Guzman’s known wealth see: Erin Carlyle, “Billionaire Druglords: El Chapo Guzman, Pablo Escobar, The Ochoa Brothers,”,  March 3 2012. Accessed January 4, 2013
10 For other cartel bosses see: “De Siete al Inicio del Sexenio, los carteles mexicanos se multiplicaron: Calderon dejara por lo menos 25,” Tiempo Real (Mexico), August 20, 2012. Accessed January 4, 2013
11 “Reaparece importante jefe de las FARC dado por muerto en Colombia,” Univision, July 31, 2012. Accessed December 16, 2012 article/2012-07-31/reaparece-jefe-farc-dado-por-muerto-television-colombia#axzz2Fw5cCurP
12 Hans Huerto Amado, “Quien es el proximo cabecilla de Sendero Luminoso a ser neutral- izado?” El Comercio (Peru), February 13, 2012. Accessed December 18, 2012 http://elcomercio. pe/politica/1373857/noticia-quien-proximo-cabecilla-sendero-luminoso-neutralizado
13 Allison Jackson, “Mexico arrests Los Zetas drug cartel leader ‘The Squirrel’ over migrant massacres, US tourist murder,” The Global Post, October 8, 2012. Accessed December 20, 2012 zetas-drug-cartel-the-squirrel-migrant-massacres-murder-US-tourist
14 Ana Murillo, “Detenido en Peru el jefe del Tupac Amaru,” El Pais (Spain), Febru- ary 5, 1989. Accessed December 12, 2012 cional/602636409_850215.html . Also see: Carlos Castillo, “A 20 anos de la fuga de Victor Polay,” El Comercio (Peru), May 31, 2010. Accessed December 12, 2012 noticia/487763/20-anos-fuga-polay
15 See Bowden’s book for in-depth details of Escobar’s lavish lifestyle behind bars.
16 Oscar Villalba, “Mexico Prison Break: More than 130 Inmates Escape from facility near U.S. border,” Huffington Post, September 17, 2012. Accessed December 15, 2012 http://www. . Mexico also has problems in its judicial system. See: Patrick Corcoran. “Corruption could be undoing of Mexico’s judicial reforms,” MexicoData.Info, March 17, 2008. Accessed January 4, 2013: http://mexidata. info/id1754.html
17 Jack Davis, “Brazil Prison Gang conducted 10-Hour Conference Call,” InSightCrime, De- cember 5, 2012. Accessed December 22, 2012 prison-gang-conducts-10-hour-conference-call
18 “Colombia Peace at last?” International Crisis Group, Latin America, Report N. 45, Sep- tember 25, 2012, p.13.
19 Nathan Jones, “Gulf Cartel will likely survive arrest of high-level leaders,” Houston Chronicle, September 14, 2012. Accessed, December 23, 2012. blog/2012/09/gulf-cartel-will-likely-survive-arrest-of-high-level-leaders/
20 “Letter to Obama on Targeted Killings and Drones,” Human Rights Watch, December 7, 2012. Accessed December 21, 2012 targeted-killings
21 Sylvia Longmire, “Why arresting ‘El Chapo’ might be a bad thing,” Small Wars Journal, October 31, 2012. Accessed December 21, 2012 arresting-%E2%80%9Cel-chapo%E2%80%9D-might-be-a-bad-thing

Saturday, June 22, 2013

VOXXI: A bad omen for Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff?

A Bad Omen for Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff?
W. Alejandro Sanchez
June 19, 2013
Originally published:

It certainly was not the start of the sports season that President Dilma Rousseff was expecting. Since the start of the FIFA Confederations Cup — the first of three major sports tournaments that Brazil will host over the next few years — Brazilian citizens have taken to the streets to protest.
The head of state was even severely booed during her opening speech before the Brazil-Japan football match that kicked off the Confederations tournament.
Besides this championship, Brazil will also host the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Currently, the economic situation in the South American state is not particularly dire. In fact, the country has enjoyed growth over the past decade. Nevertheless, Brazilians decided to air their disgust for several of the government’s recent financial decisions, primarily the rising costs of public transportation and the costs of numerous construction projects that have been planned to prepare the country for the aforementioned events.

Interpreting the situation

As with anything that has to do with economics, interpreting Brazil’s economic status, both at the macro and micro level, depends on what data is analyzed.
For example, a May 31 article in The Washington Post has the provocative — and very optimistic — title of how Brazil and other emerging economies “could save the world economy.” The article goes on to explain that, even if the growth of Brazil, India and China is slowing down, it is “not necessarily a bad thing in a world that is trying to cultivate a more sustainable and less combustible era of economic expansion.”
On the other hand, the financial agency Standard & Poor’s recently changed Brazil’s economic outlook from “stable” to “negative.” Moreover, it seems that many Brazilian citizens have a different way of interpreting Brazil’s slowing pace and recent financial actions than the author of the aforementioned Washington Post commentary.
According to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, the country’s GDP grew 1.9% in the first quarter of 2013 relative to the same period last year. The country’s economy grew at an impressive 7.5% in 2010, so the current slow pace is troubling to some analysts and the general population alike.
As previously mentioned, economic performance is interpreted differently depending on whether you are an analyst for a major financial institution in New York or a low-income citizen in a favela (a shantytown). Recent polls indicate that Brazilian citizens fear their economy is taking a turn for the worse. In one case, most respondents to a recent poll believe that they “expected health and education not to improve or worsen,” in the coming months.
The raise in the price of transportation fares has been enough to jumpstart protests across the country. Several protests recently took place in major Brazilian cities like Sao Paulo, Porto Alegre and Curitiba. These public manifestations seemed to have worked, as several cities have declared that they will reduce the price of local transportation fares.
Unsurprisingly, a less-than-ideal financial situation has hit President Rousseff’s popularity, which has slipped from 57% in July 2012 to 54% currently. At first sight, this is not a great loss, as most Brazilians still approve of the president’s mandate. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that Brazil will have presidential elections on October 2014, not long after the end of the FIFA World Cup.
Rousseff is still a favorite to be re-elected, but if the economic situation worsens — and if more corruption scandals regarding the construction projects for the sporting events explode in the coming months — her re-election bid could be in jeopardy.

Justified protests?

Besides the outrage over the increasing price of public transportation, another reason for the Brazilian protests is the concern regarding the costs of the major construction initiatives the Brazilian government has been carrying out in recent years in preparation for the international sporting events. These include the renovation of football stadiums and the construction of roads.
Unsurprisingly, there is the well-founded worry that the government is spending too much for these events, which could promote bribes and corruption among government officials who decide on which company gets these expensive contracts. In October 2011, then-Sports Minister Orlando Silva quit after been accused of accepting kickbacks for sports projects.
Certainly, the Brazilian citizenry is right to voice their outrage about the construction contracts that have been handed out and are worth millions of dollars. Moreover, yours truly would add that, as much international pedigree and good PR as these events will bring to Brazil, the aforementioned new sports venues may end up being abandoned as soon as the sports events are over.
Other cities that have hosted Olympic Games spent millions on expensive sports venues only to see that the buildings that were built specifically for them go to waste. A similar situation has already occurred in Athens.
Hopefully, the Brazilian sports ministry has a long term plan for using these new and state-of-the-art sports venues.

Possible Solutions

The Rousseff administration would be well-advised to revise their decision on the transportation price increases, as it seems clear that such an unpopular move will only promote more protests in the near future. Meanwhile, it is arguably too late to cancel major renovation or construction projects for the upcoming sports events, and doing so would just bring further criticism of governmental incompetency.
The best option the president and her cabinet has is to explain to the population that the sports-related contracts were conducted in a transparent and corruption-free way (the Silva scandal notwithstanding).
In addition, a publicly available master plan for the future uses of the new venues would also help to show that the Brazilian government has not placed short-term business contracts over long-term vision for national economic growth.
This may not be enough to appease the protesters and their (numerous) demands and concerns, but it’s a start.

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