HomeThe Latin America that Awaits Obama

The Latin America that Awaits Obama

15 MAR 2011 BY STEVEN DUDLEY EN

When President Barack Obama lands in Latin America on 19 March for his first visit since he became president, he will find a region locked in a low-intensity war that is virtually unseen and unheard in the rest of the world.

To cite but a few examples: Organized crime, and the fight to quell it, leaves more dead in Central America than the civil wars of the 1980s; by the time Mexican President Felipe Calderon leaves office in December 2012, there will be more drug-related homicides on record in Mexico than American dead on record during the Vietnam war; a crack epidemic, much like the one that swept through U.S. cities in the 1980s, is tearing through Brazil; Bolivia is facing down criminals from Eastern Europe; Venezuela is struggling to corral its own military, which is increasingly tied to organized crime.

The impact of organized crime in the region threatens to undo 30 years of economic and political progress. Fledgling and experienced democracies alike are folding under the criminals’ pressure (and campaign contributions). Militaries are being called in to police cities. Drug use is spreading, and health and educational services are ready to buckle.

To date, Obama has largely ignored the rising threat of criminal organizations in Latin America. The U.S. is cutting aid to Colombia, and its packages to Central America, the Caribbean and even Mexico are largely symbolic. In the case of Central America, for instance, the Obama administration is giving an average of $12 million to each of the seven countries involved in the regional security initiative.

But perhaps after his short, five-day visit, when he comes face to face with some of the reality on the ground, and hears the political voices of these nations plead for help, he will understand that these countries are struggling with forces they can no longer see, name, or uproot; that it’s time for the U.S. to look south again with same urgency it had when the enemy was called communism, lest some of these fragile nations enter into a tailspin that resembles something closer to anarchy.

InSight has been following the stories, the groups, the players and the trends regionwide, and, through this collection of reports, offers you a glimpse at the challenges the region is facing. It will also be adding stories and analyses as the week progresses.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…

THE ORGANIZATION

‘Ndrangheta Investigation, Exclusive Interview With Suriname President Make Waves

2 DEC 2022

Two weeks ago, InSight Crime published an investigation into how Italian mafia clan the ‘Ndrangheta built a cocaine trafficking network from South America to ‘Ndrangheta-controlled Italian ports. The investigation generated…