Entries with label Peace Missions .

Uruguay contributes 45.5% of the Latin American workforce and El Salvador is second with 12%, both ahead of the regional powers.

  • Of the total of 82,480 troops in the fourteen UN peacekeeping missions at the beginning of 2020, 2,473 were from Latin American countries, mostly military and police.

  • Almost all troops from the region serve in missions in Africa; 45.4% serve in the DRC stabilisation plan.

  • After Uruguay and then El Salvador come Argentina, Brazil, Peru and Guatemala, while Mexico is one of the lowest contributors (only 13 experts and employees, not troops).

Bolivian soldier in training exercises for UN peacekeeping missions, 2002 [Wikipedia].

Bolivian soldier in training exercises for UN peacekeeping missions, 2002 [Wikipedia].

report SRA 2020 / Jaime Azpiri[PDF version].

Latin America's contribution to international peacekeeping missions sponsored by the United Nations is below the weight of its population and Economics in the world (around 8% and 7%, respectively). Of the 82,480 people participating in the various UN missions as of 31 January 2020, only 2,473 were from Latin American countries, which represents 2.9% of the total. A similar percentage (3%) was recorded when considering only the military or police staff of the missions (around 2,150 uniformed personnel, out of a total of 70,738; the rest corresponded to employees and experts).

This is a smaller external presence than might be expected, given the insistence of many countries in the region on multilateralism and the desirability of strong international institutions that limit the expansionist impulses of the great powers. A special exception is Uruguay, precisely the most coherent nation in its defence of international arbitration, which, despite its small population, is by far the largest contributor to peace missions staff . Its 1,125 envoys make up 45.5 percent of the total Latin American contingent.

While Uruguay's strong contribution is not surprising, it is surprising that the second country with the highest participation is El Salvador, with 293 people (12% of Latin America's contribution). This is followed by two very important countries, Argentina and Brazil (272 and 252 envoys, respectively); then Peru (231) and Guatemala (176). On the other hand, Mexico, despite all its economic and human potential, is particularly absent from these international missions (only 13 people, moreover, as employees or experts, not troops), both due to constitutional restrictions and political doctrine. In the case of Colombia (only 2 experts), this may be due to the need to devote its military force entirely to the pacification of the country itself, although one would expect greater capacity and availability from a global NATO partner , the only designation in Latin America that it achieved in 2018.

The international mission with the largest number of envoys, accounting for 45.4% of the region's total contingent, is the UN's mission statement mission for the stabilisation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, whose French name is derived from the acronym MONUSCO. A total of 1,123 Latin Americans are participating, the majority of whom are Uruguayan envoys (934), with the greatest participation of Guatemalans on military missions abroad (153).



Previous highlights of missions

Although Latin American countries generally participate little in military missions abroad, the sending of troops abroad is not alien to the history of the American republics after their independence. A first intervention was the so-called "ABC", a coalition formed by Argentina, Brazil and Chile in the context of the Mexican Revolution at the beginning of the last century to prevent civil war in the North American country. Another conflict that required mediation was the Chaco War in the 1930s. In this confrontation between Paraguay and Bolivia, the interventions of Chile and Argentina were crucial to subsequently define the reaffirmation of the nationality of the Chaco region.

At the end of the 20th century, the most important was mission statement aimed at pacifying the former Yugoslav republics, known by the UN as UNPROFOR. Argentina was the Latin American country with the largest presence of troops in this scenario. Shortly afterwards, in the 1990s, two international missions were implemented, this time in the Western Hemisphere itself, to secure the agreements that put an end to the civil wars in El Salvador (ONUSAL) and Guatemala (MINUGUA). At the end of the decade, MOMEP was set up to impose an armistice between Peru and Ecuador, which were at war in the Cenepa War.

deadline In Colombia, too, some leaders at some point considered the possibility of apply for the presence of blue helmets in order to control and, in the long term, put an end to the FARC insurrection. In 1998, Colombian President Álvaro Uribe proposed the presence of international troops in the face of the government's inability to control the situation, but the initiative was not carried out. Following the peace agreement agreement in 2016, the signatory parties asked the UN to set up a UNVMC ( mission statement ) to monitor compliance with the terms of the agreement, which operates with a maximum of 120 people (some civilians and around 100 military and police personnel), of whom 94 were from Latin American countries as of January 2020.



The contrast between Uruguay and Mexico

Today, the countries of the region are present in 14 different peace missions (out of the total of 21 promoted by the UN), especially in Africa but also in other parts of the world. Nine Latin American nations participate in MINUSCA, convened for the pacification of the Central American Republic, the same issue as in UNVMC, the mission statement verification of the peace accords in Colombia. In UNMISS, mission statement of attendance in South Sudan, 8 countries participate, and in MONUSCO, implemented in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 7 do so.

As mentioned above, Uruguay is the largest contributor to ongoing missions (1,126 personnel as of 31 January). This staff is basically assigned to MONUSCO (934) and to a lesser extent to UNDOF (170), which ensures security on the Golan Heights as a force separating Syrians from Israelis; in total, Uruguayan blue helmets are present in six different missions. This service has been especially recognised by the United Nations, which values Uruguay's long history in this area subject: for example, it highlighted its attendance in the mission statement carried out in Haiti after the disaster caused by Hurricane Dean, to which it assigned 13,000 troops between 2007 and 2014. The contribution of Uruguay, a country of barely 3.5 million inhabitants, is greater than that of Spain (648), France (732) or Italy (1084).

On the other hand, the case of Mexico is the most striking due to its very limited participation in peace missions, considering that it is one of the region's powers. The North American country is the second Latin American nation that spends the second most resources on development for its armed forces, with a total of 7 million dollars, far behind Brazil's first place, with a total of almost 29.5 million dollars. Historically, Mexico has participated in more than 80 peace missions, lending troops from the Federal Police and the army, generally under issue. The previous president, Enrique Peña Nieto, announced in 2014 that Mexican units would once again participate decisively in armed operations in support of the UN, but today their contribution is reduced to 13 people (9 experts and 4 employees), which represents only 1% of Latin American participation. The most relevant reason to explain the Mexican phenomenon is the long tradition in favour of the Estrada doctrine of non-intervention in the internal affairs of other countries. Moreover, the Mexican Constitution restricts the deployment of troops abroad unless Mexico has declared war on an enemy.

Categories Global Affairs: Security and defence Articles Latin America

Regional security in the Americas has been the focus of concern over the past year in Venezuela. We also review Russia and Spain's arms sales to the region, Latin America's presence in peacekeeping missions, drugs in Peru and Bolivia, and homicides in Mexico and Brazil.

Igor Sechin, director Rosneft executive, and Nicolás Maduro, in August 2019 [Miraflores Palace].

▲ Igor Sechin, director Rosneft executive, and Nicolás Maduro, in August 2019 [Miraflores Palace].

report SRA 2020 / summary executive[PDF version].

Throughout 2019, Latin America had several hotspots of tension - violent street protests against economic measures in Quito, Santiago de Chile and Bogotá, and against political decisions in La Paz and Santa Cruz, for example - but as these conflicts subsided (in some cases, only temporarily), the constant problem of Venezuela as the epicentre of insecurity in the region re-emerged.

With Central American migration to the United States reduced to a minimum by the Trump administration's restrictive measures, it has been Venezuelan migrants who have continued to fill the roadsides of South America, moving from one country to another, and now number more than five million refugees. The difficulties that this population increase entails for the host countries led several of them to increase their pressure on the government of Nicolás Maduro, approving in the OAS the activation of the Inter-American Reciprocal Treaty of attendance (TIAR). But that did not push Maduro out of power, nor did the assumption in January 2019 by Juan Guaidó of the position as president-in-charge of Venezuela (recognised by more than fifty countries), the failed coup a few months later or the alleged invasion of Operation Gideon in May 2020.

While Maduro may appear stabilised, the geopolitical backdrop has been shifting. The year 2019 saw Rosneft gain a foothold in Venezuela as an arm of the Kremlin, once China had stepped back as a credit provider. The risk of not recovering everything it had borrowed meant that Russia acted through Rosneft, benefiting from trading up to 80 per cent of the country's oil. However, US sanctions finally forced the departure of the Russian energy company, so that in early 2020 Maduro had no other major extra-hemispheric partner to turn to than Iran. The Islamic republic, itself subject to a second sanctions regime, thus returned to the close relationship it had maintained with Venezuela in the first period of international punishment, cultivated by the Chávez-Ahmadinejad tandem.

This Iranian presence is closely watched by the United States (coinciding with a deployment of the Southern Command in the Caribbean), which is always alert to any boost that Hezbollah - an Iranian proxy - might receive in the region. In fact, 2019 marked an important leap in the disposition of Latin American countries against this organisation, with several of them classifying it as a terrorist organisation for the first time. Argentina, Paraguay, Colombia and Honduras approved such a declaration, following the 25th anniversary in July of the AMIA bombing attributed to Hezbollah. Brazil and Guatemala pledged to do so shortly. Several of these countries have drawn up lists of terrorist organisations, which allows them to pool their strategies.

The destabilisation of the region by status in Venezuela has a clear manifestation in the reception and promotion of Colombian guerrillas in that country. issue In August, former FARC leader Iván Márquez and some other former leaders announced, presumably from Venezuelan territory, their return to arms. Both this dissident core of the FARC and the ELN had begun to consolidate at the end of the year as Colombian-Venezuelan groups, with operations not only in the Venezuelan border area, but also in the interior of the country. Both groups together have some 1,700 troops in Venezuela, of which almost 600 are Venezuelan recruits, thus constituting another shock force at Maduro's service.

Russia's exit from Venezuela comes at a time when Moscow is apparently less active in Latin America. This is certainly the case in the field of arms sales. Russia, which had become a major exporter of military equipment to the region, has seen its sales decline in recent years. While during the golden decade of the commodity boom several countries spent part of their significant revenues on arms purchases (which also coincided with the spread of the Bolivarian tide, better linked to Moscow), the collapse in commodity prices and some governmental changes have meant that in the 2015-2019 period Latin America is the destination of only 0.8 per cent of Russia's total arms exports. The United States has regained its position as the largest seller to the rest of the continent.

Spain occupies a prominent position in the arms market, as the seventh largest exporter in the world. However, it lags behind in the preferences of Latin American countries, to which it sells less defence materiel than it would be entitled to in terms of the overall volume of trade it maintains with them. Nevertheless, the level of sales increased in 2019, after a year of particularly low figures. In the last five years, Spain has sold 3.6% of its global arms exports to Latin America; in that period, its main customers were Mexico, Ecuador, Brazil, Peru and Colombia.

Better military equipment might suggest greater participation in UN peacekeeping missions, perhaps as a way of keeping an army active in a context of a lack of regional deployments. However, of the total of 82,480 troops in the fourteen UN peacekeeping missions at the beginning of 2020, 2,473 came from Latin American countries, which represents only 3 per cent of the total contingent. Moreover, almost half of staff was contributed by one country, Uruguay (45.5% of regional troops). Another small country, El Salvador (12%), is the next most committed to missions, while large countries are under-represented, notably Mexico.

In terms of public safety, 2019 brought the good news of a reduction in homicides in Brazil, which fell by 19.2% compared to the previous year, in contrast to what happened in Mexico, where they rose by 2.5%. If in his first year as president, Jair Bolsonaro scored an important achievement, thanks to the management of the super security minister Sérgio Moro (a success tarnished by the increase in accidental deaths in police operations), in his first year Andrés Manuel López Obrador failed to fulfil one of his main electoral promises and was unable to break the upward trend in homicides that has invariably occurred annually throughout the terms of office of his two predecessors.

In terms of the fight against drug trafficking, 2019 saw two particularly positive developments. On the one hand, coca crops were eradicated for the first time in the VRAEM, Peru's largest production area. Given its difficult accessibility and the presence of Shining Path strongholds, the area had previously been excluded from the operations of subject. On the other hand, the change of presidency in Bolivia meant, according to the US, a greater commitment by the new authorities to combat illicit coca cultivation and interdict drug shipments coming from Peru. In recent years Bolivia has become the major cocaine distributor in the southern half of South America, connecting Peruvian and Bolivian production with the markets of Argentina and especially Brazil, and with its export ports to Europe.

Categories Global Affairs: Security and defence Latin America Reports

Venezuelans leaving the country to seek a livelihood in a host country [UNHCR UNHCR].

Venezuelans leaving the country to look for a livelihood in a place of refuge [UNHCR UNHCR].


[download the complete PDF]


report SRA 2020 / presentation

The Covid-19 pandemic has radically altered security assumptions around the world. The emergence of the coronavirus moved from China to Europe, then to the United States and then to the rest of the Western Hemisphere. Already economically handicapped by its dependence on commodity exports since the beginning of the Chinese slowdown, Latin America suffered from the successive restrictions in the different geographical areas, and finally also entered a crisis of production and consumption and a health and labour catastrophe. The region is expected to be one of the hardest hit, with effects also in the field of security.

This annual report , however, focuses on American regional security in 2019. Although in some respects it includes events from the beginning of 2020, and therefore some early effects of the pandemic, the impact of the pandemic on issues such as regional geopolitics, state budgetary difficulties, organised crime and citizen security can be found at report next year.

To the extent that other security developments in 2019 have been somewhat transitory in recent months, Venezuela has remained the main focus of regional insecurity over the past year. At report we analyse Iran's return to the Caribbean country, after first China and then Russia preferred not to see their own economic interests harmed; we also note the consolidation of the ELN and part of the ex-FARC as binational Colombian-Venezuelan groups.

In addition, we highlight the progress made in the first time that Hezbollah has been designated by several countries as a terrorist organisation, group , and we provide figures on the drop in Russian arms sales to Latin America and the relative lack of marketing in the region of the defence material produced by Spain. We also quantify the contribution of Latin American troops to UN peacekeeping missions, as well as Bolsonaro's success and AMLO's failure in the evolution of homicides in Brazil and Mexico. In terms of drug trafficking, 2019 saw the first coca crop eradication operation in the VRAEM, the most complicated area of Peru in the fight against drugs.

Categories Global Affairs: Security and defence Latin America Reports