The protection of natural resources, the reduction of technological dependence, the fight against organised crime and the defence of cyberspace are the current major priorities in defence and security in Latin America, a region in which political differences between two large blocs such as UNASUR and PROSUR are detrimental to cooperation in these matters.
These are the main conclusions of the report Seguridad y Defensa en Latinoamérica: De los Libros Blancos de la Defensa a la Cooperación Regional (Security and Defense in Latin America: From Defense White Papers to Regional Cooperation), prepared by researchers Xira Ruiz and Francisco Verdes-Montenegro for Fundación Alternativas.
Practically all the White Papers of the different countries analyzed by the authors show “a very flexible and practical defense that, in addition to assuming the traditional roles linked to the defense of the territory, assumes two additional tasks: the protection of cyberspace and internal security, such as the fight against organized crime, protection in the event of disasters and the defense of natural resources”, Ruiz explained during the presentation of the document.
In general, Latin America is presented as “an area of peace, without major inter-state conflicts and free of weapons of mass destruction, in which international law is respected and with consolidated democracies”, continued the researcher during the event, which took place last Monday at the headquarters of the Foundation. The report does not include the cases of Venezuela or Cuba due to lack of data.
In addition, according to the report, Latin America is a region characterized by the important weight played by the so-called “summit diplomacy”, materialized in a series of forums (such as the OAS, Ibero-American Summits or conferences of Ministers of Defense, American Armies, Central American Armed Forces or Hemispheric Security) that help build trust among neighboring countries and improve integration in security and defense.
However, the existence of these forums and the absence of inter-state conflicts do not prevent, according to the report, the greatest problem faced by Latin American countries in facing their major challenges being the lack of an adequate “regional security and defence architecture”.
According to the other co-author of the report, Francisco Verdes-Montenegro, the progress made at the time by the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR, currently made up of Bolivia, Uruguay, Guyana, Suriname and Venezuela) in military cooperation, technology and the defence industry, The decision of several countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay and Peru) to abandon this organization and create last March (at the initiative of the presidents of Colombia and Chile, Iván Duque and Sebastián Piñera), the Forum for the Progress of South America (PROSUR) has tarnished citizen security or strategic natural resources.
“With a defenestrated UNASUR and a PROSUR that has not yet materialized, the security and defense architecture in the region takes a step backwards when it comes to continuing to work with a matrix of inward cooperation and outward deterrence”, the report says. “The justification for betting on a new organism was the ‘ideologization’ and ‘bureaucratization’ of UNASUR, but, paradoxically, what is observed is that PROSUR has a more marked ideological bias”, warned Verdes-Montenegro.