Washington warns of the increase in violent transnational gangs, estimates that MS-13 has as many as 10,000 members

The Trump administration has drawn attention to an increase in violent transnational gangs in the United States, particularly the Mara Salvatrucha or MS-13, which maintains links to gang members in Central America's Northern Triangle. Although Trump has invoked this issue in a demagogic way, criminalizing immigration and forgetting that the Central American gangs were born in Los Angeles, the FBI notes that these organizations are recruiting more young people than ever before and demanding greater violence from their members. U.S. authorities believe that these gangs are governed to some extent from El Salvador, but that hierarchy is less clear.

Mara Salvatrucha graffiti

▲ Mara Salvatrucha graffiti [Wikimedia Commons]

article / Lisa Cubías

Never before has the word "animal" caused so much controversy in the United States as when it was uttered by President Donald Trump in reference to the members of the Marasalvatrucha or MS 13, on May 16. It initially appeared to refer to all undocumented immigrants, prompting widespread pushback; He went on to say that the label he had wanted to apply it to gang members who come to the United States illegally to commit acts of violence. Trump placed his war on gangs in the framework of its zero-tolerance migration policy and the reinforcement of national agencies such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement, in order to reduce migratory flows from Latin America to the United States.

The description of the phenomenon of Latino youth gangs as a migration problem had already surfaced in the United States. speech of the State of the Union that Trump delivered on Jan. 28. In the face of the congress Trump told the story of two teenagers, Kayla Cuevas and Nisa Mickens, who had been brutally murdered by six MS-13 members on their way home. He said that criminals had taken advantage of loopholes in immigration legislation to live in the United States and reiterated that the congress It had to act to close them down and prevent gang members from using them to enter the country.

Despite Trump's demagogic simplification, the truth is that Latino gangs are a product of the United States. They are, as The Washington Post has put it, "as made in America as Google." They were born in Los Angeles, first to children of Mexican immigration and then fueled by the arrival of emigrants and refugees fleeing armed conflicts in Central America. Thus, El Salvador saw the emergence of a twelve-year civil war between the government and leftist guerrillas during the 1980s. The duration and brutality of the conflict, along with the political and economic instability that the country was experiencing, drove the exodus of Salvadorans to the United States. The influx of young people from El Salvador, as well as Honduras and Guatemala, led to the emergence of the Salvatrucha and Barrio 18 gangs, both of which were linked to the pre-existing Mexican Mafia (La M).

When peace came to Central America in the 1990s, many of these young people returned to their countries, following their families or being expelled by U.S. authorities because of their criminal activities. In this way, the maras began to operate in the Northern Triangle, where they constitute a serious social problem.


According to the department According to the U.S., there are about 33,000 violent street gangs, with a total of 1.4 million members. MS-13, with about 10,000 young people enrolled, accounts for only 1% of that total and in 2017 only 17 of its members were prosecuted, and yet it deserves the full attention of the White House. Apart from the possible political interests of the Trump Administration, the truth is that the US authorities have been highlighting its increase and its danger, in addition to warning that certain orders are issued from El Salvador. This transnationality is viewed with concern.

The United States does not recognize MS-13 as a terrorist organization, and therefore has not included it in its National Counterterrorism Strategy released in October 2018. It is, on the other hand, classified as a transnational criminal organization, as described by adocument of the department April 2017. According to the report, several of the gang leaders are incarcerated in El Salvador and are sending representatives to cross illegally into the United States in order to unify the gangs operating in the United States, while forcing the U.S. MS-13 organization to send its illegal profits to the leaders of the United States. group in El Salvador and to exert more control and violence over their territories.

The FBI says MS-13 and Barrio 18 "continue to expand their influence in the United States." These transnational gangs "are present in almost every state and continue to grow in the United States." issue of members, now targeting recruits younger than ever before." As indicated by the grade of the department of Justice, the Attorney General warned that "in the last five years alone" the issue "has gone up significantly." "Transnational criminal organizations like MS-13 pose one of the most serious threats to U.S. security," he said.

Stephen Richardson, director attachment of the Division of research FBI criminal,told the congressIn January 2018, the mass arrests and imprisonment of MS-13 members and mid-level leaders over the past year in the United States have caused frustration for MS-13 leaders in El Salvador. "They're very interested in sending younger, more violent offenders through their channels into this country to be gang thugs," he told the committee House of Representatives.

The transnational nature of MS-13 is questioned by expert Roberto Valencia, author of articles and books on the maras. She works as a journalist at El Faro, one of El Salvador's leading digital media outlets; his latest book, graduate Letter from Zacatraz, was published a few months ago.

"In the beginning, Los Angeles gangs served as moral guides for those who immigrated to El Salvador during the 1990s. Some of the veteran leaders now living in El Salvador grew up in Los Angeles and have maintained personal and emotional ties with the Structures of the gangs they belonged to," Valencia tells Global Affairs. "However," he adds, "that doesn't imply an international connection: everyone, no matter where they live, believes they are the essence of the gang and are not subordinate to another country's organization." "Some leaders in El Salvador share a very close relationship. staff with the organization in which they started in the United States, and that doesn't dissolve so easily, but the link as a single organization was broken a long time ago," he says.

Valencia firmly rejects any interference by the U.S. MS-13 in El Salvador. He admits, instead, that there may be some subject Salvadoran gang members in the United States "can be deported to El Salvador and end up in Salvadoran prisons, where they can be punished by prison mafias."

Migrants: Cause or Consequence?

Roberto Valencia also speaks out about Donald Trump's references to gangs: "Trump talks about MS-13 to win votes under the premise of an immigration policy that ends up criminalizing all immigrants. It is outrageous that Trump presents them as the cause, when gangs started in the United States. In fact, the vast majority of migrants from the Northern Triangle come to the U.S. escaping gangs."

In Central America, gang control over a society that is poor ranges from demanding "rent" (extortion) from companies and people who have small businesses, to forcing older women to take care of babies that gang members have had, to "asking" young girls to be girlfriends of the gang's main leader if they don't want to be killed themselves and their families. The application of young girls is an extremely common cause of migration, which also denotes the misogynistic culture in rural areas of Latin American countries.

In most of his comments, Trump has described MS-13 as a threat to public safety and the stability of American communities. However, the programs of study of Immigration, a leading organization of research independent and non-profit, conducted aresearch on the impact of MS-13 in the United States and addressed the immigration measures that the Administration should take to control its presence. He considered that MS-13 and other gangs are certainly a threat to public safety, thus sharing Trump's point of view, but he disagreed with him by not linking immigration to the impact of gangs.

U.S. attorney Greg Hunter, who has been a member of the panel for Criminal Justice Law in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia since 2001 and has worked on gang-related matters, says that shoplifting and illegal immigration cases are far more prevalent than those that can be categorized as threats to public safety or the "American community." such as drug trafficking and murders. It also alludes to the fact that these organizations are not centralized, and although they operate under the same identity, they do not follow the same orders. He says the gangs have made efforts to centralize operations, but they haveresult Ineffective.

It is crucial to take into account the statistics on the influx of immigrants when assessing the recent caravans of migrants from the Northern Triangle that Trump has sought to link to gangs. The U.S. president called those migrants "stone-cold criminals."

However, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection record does not suggest this. In hisreport The 2017 Security Agency counts a total of 526,901 illegal immigrants who were denied entrance, of whom 310,531 were arrested and 31,039 arrested; of the latter, only 228 belonged to MS-13 and as many were members of other gangs (61 of them from Barrio-18).

Categories Global Affairs: North America Security and defence Articles Latin America

skill of the two powers to have instructions in the Indian Ocean and to be active in strategic neighboring countries.

Rumors of possible future Chinese military use of area in Gwadar (Pakistan), where Beijing already operates a port, have added a great deal of attention in the last year to the rivalry between China and India to secure access to points in the region that will allow them to control the Indian Ocean. India regards this ocean as its own, while for China it is vital to ensure the security of its energy supplies from the Middle East.

Chinese work to transform Subi Reef in the Spratly Islands into an island in 2015.

▲ China's work to transform Subi Reef in the Spratly Islands into an island in 2015 [US Navy].

article / Jimena Puga

The two major Asia-Pacific powers, China and India, are vying for regional supremacy in the Indian Ocean by establishing military instructions and economic agreements with bordering countries such as Pakistan. The Indian Ocean, which borders Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Australia, is home to one of the most crucial and strategic points for international trade. Nearly 40% of the oil extracted from the sea is produced in the Indian Ocean, which also has rich mineral and fishing deposits.

Five years ago China began its major territorial reclamation in the South China Sea, and the country has established a territorial status quo in its favor without receiving any international impediments, in order to counter the US military presence in the region, established during the Cold War, and which controls the South China Sea and all goods coming from Africa, the Middle East and the Strait of Malacca. This territorial expansion of the Middle Empire began in December 2013; since then China has built more than average dozen more artificial islands, located in a strategic location through which a third of global maritime trade passes, and has deployed military assets on them.

However, the creation of these islands has caused great damage to the region's marine ecosystem. The coral reefs that China has destroyed in order to use them as a base for the establishment of its islands provided food and shelter for numerous marine species, as well as supplies for Asia's most important fishing companies. However, thanks to this territorial expansion China is in a better position not only for maritime and air control of the area but also to continue to advance its strategy of power projection in the Indian Ocean and part of the Pacific to satisfy its plans for power and supremacy in the region.


In early 2018, some reports suggested that China plans to set up a naval base next to the port it is developing in Gwadar, in Pakistan, although Pakistani authorities deny that Beijing has requested that the facilities be put to that use. In any case, the docking of military vessels at area in Gwadar would connect that point with the country's recent military and naval base built in Djibouti - the first China has abroad - as part of a growing network own of instructions air and naval along the Indian Ocean.

India, the greatest power among regional countries, is responding to Chinese expansion with unexpected strength. Delhi aspires to control the most strategic maritime trade points in the Indian Ocean including the Straits of Malacca and Hormuz and the Mozambique Channel. In addition, India is gaining access to the instructions of its foreign allies in the region. In 2017 it signed a logisticsagreement with the US that would mean free access to US military installations across the region (agreement which perhaps has something to do with the US desire to create an alternative to the Silk Belt and Road Initiative and curb the rapid growth of the Asian superpower).

In January 2018, India also announced the agreement logistical exchange with France involving free access to French military facilities in Djibouti, namely in the Red Sea and on the island of meeting, south of the Indian Ocean (perhaps to counter Sino-European agreements). Finally, India is also building strategic relations and infrastructure near the Persian Gulf. And after years of negotiations, Delhi has managed to formalize a agreement with Iran to modernize and expand the port of Chabahar, near the Strait of Hormuz. While it is true that the vast majority of agreements are commercial in nature, they have enough potential to increase India's access and influence in Central Asia.

In response to Beijing's military base in Djibouti, New Delhi has begun seeking access to new facilities in Seychelles, Oman and Singapore. From Tanzania to Sri Lanka the two Asian powers are attempting to increase their military and economic presence in countries along the Indian Ocean in their mission statement for regional supremacy. Finally, it is possible that India's 2017 request for drones from the US was aimed at goal monitoring Chinese activity in the ocean.

"My Chinese colleagues have explicitly told me that if the U.S. continues to fly over and navigate in what they self-described as 'their waters,' China will shoot down the corresponding intruder," said Matthew Kroenig, a CIA and Pentagon analyst. "Maybe it's just a bluff, but if China were to shoot down an American plane, it would be the perfect scenario for a U.S. military buildup. It's hard to see President Trump or any other American leader turn his back on this issue."


PEARL NECKLACE OF CHINA. 1-Hong Kong; 2-Hainan; 3-Paracel Islands (disputed); 4-Spratly Islands (disputed), 5- Sihanoukville and Raum (Cambodia), ports; 6-Itsmo de Kra (Thailand), infrastructure; 7-Cocos Islands (Myanmar), antennas; 8-Sittwe (Myanmar), port; 9-Chittagong (Bangladesh), port; 10-Hambantota (Sri Lanka), port; 11-Marao (Maldives), offshore exploration; 12-Gwadar (Pakistan), port; 13-Port Sudan; 14-Al Ahdab (Iraq), oil exploitation; 15-Lamu (Kenya), port. Chart from 2012; missing to note China's first overseas military base, in Djibouti, inaugurated in 2017 [Edgar Fabiano].



The moves by both powers stem from the fear that the other countries will join in coalition with their opponent in the future, but they also do not want to completely abandon the expansion of economic relations with each other by altering the regional order too drastically.

This power of the weak has limitations, but it has so far worked to the benefit of both India and China. Due to globalization, particularly in the economic sphere, weaker states have adopted asymmetric strategies to extract resources from their neighboring superpowers that aspire to be leaders on the international stage. Often, these border countries had to choose a superpower to obtain resources, as was the case during the Cold War. The difference in this era of globalization is that these states can extract concessions and resources from both Beijing and Delhi without formally aligning themselves with one of them, as is the case, for example, with Vietnam. The absence of a bloc rivalry, as was the case during the Cold War, and the high levels of economic interdependence between India and China make it easier for many of the smaller states to avoid signing an alliance with one of these leaders.

India's subtle strategy involves developing entente with Japan and the member countries of the association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), as well as with the United States. Specifically, the quadrilateral negotiations initiated between India, Japan, the US and Australia are another stabilizing mechanism vis-à-vis China.

However, the strategies of the smaller states in South Asia have limitations. Although China is offering greater economic attendance , these countries, except Pakistan, are unlikely to form military alliances with China because if they do, it would provoke a negative response from India, the dominant power in the region, and the United States, the international superpower that still has a strong naval presence in the Indian Ocean. We are witnessing a new dynamic of diplomatic relations in the Asia-Pacific region.

This new trend of rapprochement with smaller countries translates into an inclination to use economic appeal to persuade neighbors rather than military coercion. How long this trend will continue remains to be seen. India's new strategies with other international powers may be the key to complicating the freedom of action and decision that China is having in the military realm, especially in this time of peace. What is clear is that China's aspiration for supremacy is visible by all countries that are part of the Asia-Pacific region and will not be as easy to establish as the Empire at the Center thought.

Categories Global Affairs: Asia Security & Defence World Order, Diplomacy & Governance Articles

The US will pull out of the treaty if Russia doesn't 'return to full compliance'. Putin has taken the dispute to the UN

With all the conflicts and issues threatening worldwide security, the last thing the world needs is a new arms race, or what many are calling a new Cold War. European countries in particular are worried that US President Donald Trump pulling out of the INF Treaty might lead to exactly that. United States, supported by NATO, accuses Moscow of cheating on the missile treaty. At the beginning of December, the Trump administration gave 60 days to Russia to "return to full and veritable compliance". President Vladimir Putin has taken the issue to the United Nations.

Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan at the signing of the INF Treaty, in 1987

▲ Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan at the signing of the INF Treaty, in 1987 [Reagan Presidential Library]

ARTICLE / Nicole Davalos

To understand what the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty is about and why the possible US withdrawal concerns most of the international community, we have first to understand why it was created and what its purpose is. The INF Treaty was signed in 1987 following the deployment by the Soviet Union of missile SS-20 in Europe, which was retaliated by American cruise missiles and their Pershing II missiles. The issue with intermediate-range missiles back then was that their flying time was as little as 10 minutes, which was seen as a possible trigger to nuclear war. Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and US President Ronald Reagan signed the deal, prohibiting land-based cruise or ballistic missiles with ranges between 311 and 620 miles (500-1,000 kilometers, short-range) and between 620 and 3,420 miles (1,000-5,500 kilometers, intermediate-range).

It is important to note, however, that the treaty does not cover air or sea-launched weapons even though they can potentially fly the same distances. Russia's 3M-54 Kalibr, a sea-launched missile, is an example. The following charts retrieved from the official website of the US Department of State outline the affected missiles specified under the elimination protocol of the treaty:

The INF Treaty has helped not only to solve the problems of its time towards the end of the Cold War, but also serves still to this day as an umbrella of protection for US's allies in Europe. The INF provides a measure of strategic stability on the European continent.

According to the Stockholm National Peace Institute, by 1991, 2,692 missiles had been eliminated thanks to the treaty; 846 owned by the US and 1,846 owned by the USSR. The treaty also allows both parties to inspect each other's progress in eliminating the missiles to maintain transparency. So, if so much progress has been made as a result of the INF, then why is it that President Trump now insists on a US withdrawal?

President Trump has accused Russia of repeatedly violating the treaty. In fact, former President Obama first accused Russia of violations in 2014 during the Ukraine crisis, when Moscow allegedly deployed a prohibited missile. "I don't know why President Obama didn't negotiate or pull out" were the words of the current president, "... we're not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and go out and do weapons and we're not allowed to... so we're going to terminate the agreement. We're going to pull out." Recently, the NATO confirmed Russia's violations. Jens Stoltenberg, NATO's Secretary General, urged Russia to address these concerns in a "substantial and transparent manner."

These accusations have truly created tensions between both parties of the treaty. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has repeatedly denied the violations. He even went as far as claiming that it was, in fact, the US who first violated the treaty, with "armed US drones" that "fly within the ranges prohibited by the treaty". As for the president, Vladimir Putin, he has replied with questionable threats such as "revenge is inevitable and they will be destroyed. And we, as victims of aggression, will go straight to heaven as martyrs while they will just croak." In general, the Kremlin sees a US withdrawal as a confirmation of how "unreliable" a partner the United States is when it comes to other countries' interests since it would be acting completely unilaterally and pulling out implies security concerns for many other countries, especially European countries.

Europe shows the most concern for the possible dissolution of the INF Treaty since it is believed that Russia's intermediate range missiles would pose the biggest threat to them. Many analysts agree that this is a particularly bad time for the US to make a decision that would further raise tensions within Europe since security-related tensions such that of immigration exist in the region already. EU spokeswoman for foreign affairs and security policy Maja Kocijancic stated that the United States and Russia should definitely engage in dialogue and try to preserve the treaty, since "the world doesn't need a new arms race."



The most unexpected and interesting role in all of this, however, is China's. It is no secret to anyone that what displeases President Trump the most about the INF Treaty is that China is not a signatory. If Russia is violating the treaty, and China, on the other hand, is not part of such an agreement that restricts its missile force, then the US seems to be at a disadvantage. "If Russia's doing it and if China's doing it and we're adhering to the agreement, that's unacceptable," stated President Trump last October. In fact, according to Admiral Harry Harris, head of the US Pacific Command, if China were part of the INF Treaty right now, around 95% of its missile force would be violating it. When it comes to China's reaction to the White House's desire to withdraw, to "think twice" is what Beijing wishes Washington would do. Hua Chunying, a foreign ministry spokeswoman, said US withdrawal would lead to a "multitude of negative effects."

What's now left to be seen is whether President Trump will, in fact, pull out from the treaty. Presidents Putin and Trump both met in Paris in November, but although many different issues were discussed, a potential meeting to formally discuss the future of the INF Treaty was not part of the conversation. But if the US does withdraw, will that really mean a new Cold War? According to many analysts, an arms race like the one the world was experiencing back when the treaty was originally signed, might definitely become a reality. The Kremlin has also hinted several times at the possibility of a new arms race; the Russians would be "forced to develop weapons" to "restore balance in the sphere" if the US were to pull out.

For now, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on December 4 that the US "will suspend its obligations as a remedy effective in 60 days unless Russia returns to full and veritable compliance". Ten days later, Russia submitted a draft of resolution to the UN General Assembly in support of the INF Treaty calling on all sides to fulfill their obligations. It seems to be a move towards a bilateral negotiation, but 2019 will begin with uncertainty in a matter so critical as this.

Categories Global Affairs: Central Europe & Russia North America Security & Defense Articles

[Robert Kagan, The Jungle Grows Back. America and Our Imperiled World. Alfred A. Knoff. New York, 2018. 179 p.]


review / Emili J. Blasco

The Jungle Grows Back. America and Our Imperiled World

At this point in the century, it is already clear that the consecration of the liberal system in the world, after the breakup of the communist bloc at the end of the Cold War, is not something that will happen inexorably, as was thought. It's not even likely. The divergent models of China and Russia are gaining traction. Democracy is in retreat, even in Western societies themselves.

It is the jungle that grows again where a garden had been extended. This is the image that Robert Kagan uses in his new book to warn about the desirability of the United States not shirking its responsibility to lead the effort to preserve the liberal world order. For Kagan, the liberal system "was never a natural phenomenon," but a "great historical aberration." "It has been an anomaly in the history of human existence. The liberal world order is fragile and not permanent. Like a garden, it is always besieged by the natural forces of history, the jungle, whose vines and weeds constantly threaten to cover it," he says. It is an "artificial creation subject to the forces of geopolitical inertia," so that the question "is not what will bring down the liberal order, but what can sustain it."

Kagan is outlived in the media by the label He is a neoconservative, although his positions are in the central current of American Republicanism (majority for decades, until the rise of Donald Trump; in fact, in the 2016 campaign Kagan supported Hillary Clinton) and his work is developed at the rather Democratic Brookings Institution. He does defend clear U.S. leadership in the world, but not out of self-assertion, but as the only way for the liberal international order to be preserved. It is not that, by sponsoring it, the United States has acted disinterestedly, because as one of its builders, Secretary of State Dean Acheson, said, in order to protect the "American experiment in life" it was necessary to create "an environment of freedom" in the world. But the other Western countries, and others where the regime of freedoms of democratic societies has also been extended, have also benefited.

The thesis Kagan's central point is that, although there was America's own interest in creating the international architecture that ordered the world after World War II, it benefited many other countries and guaranteed the victory of free societies over communism. Crucial to this, according to Kagan, is that while Washington at times acted against the values it preached, it generally played by certain rules.

Thus, the U.S. "did not exploit the system it dominated to gain lasting economic advantages at the expense of the other powers of order. Put simply: he could not use his military dominance to win the economic competition against other members of the order, nor could he treat the competition as zero-sum and insist on always winning. It's true that the U.S. benefited from being the main player both economically and militarily, "but an element of core topic to hold the international order together was the perception of the other powers that they had reasonable opportunities to succeed economically and even sometimes surpass the United States, as Japan, Germany, and other nations did at various times."

Kagan admits that Washington's willingness to engage in large doses of fairplay on the economic plane "did not extend to all areas, particularly not to strategic issues." In these, "order was not always based on rules, because when the United States deemed it necessary, rightly or wrongly, it violated the rules, including those it claimed to defend, either by carrying out military interventions without UN authorization, as it did on numerous occasions during the Cold War, or by engaging in covert activities that had no international backing."

It has been an order that, in order to function, "had to enjoy a certain Degree of voluntary acceptance by its members, not to be a competition of all against all, but a community of like-minded nations acting together to preserve a system from which all could benefit." "Order was kept in place because the other members viewed U.S. hegemony as relatively benign and superior to other alternatives." test This is why the countries of Western Europe trusted Washington despite its overwhelming military superiority. "In the end, even if it didn't always do so for idealistic reasons, the United States would end up creating a world unusually conducive to the spread of democracy."

Kagan disagrees with the view that after the dissolution of the USSR, the planet entered a "new world order." In his view, what was called the "unipolar moment" did not actually change the assumptions of the order established at the end of World War II. That is why it made no sense that, with the fall of the Berlin Wall, the world was thought to be entering a new era of unstoppable peace and prosperity, and that this made America's role as a gardener unnecessary. The withdrawal from the world carried out by Trump and initiated by Obama (Kagan already in 2012 published The World America Made, in defense of American involvement in the world), would be allowing the return of the chaotic vegetation of the jungle.

The Jungle Grows Back is in the format of a small book, typical of a essay It is a restrained film that aspires to convey some fundamental ideas without wanting to overwhelm the reader. Despite pointing out the dangers of the liberal order, and noting that the United States is in retreat, the book offers an optimistic message: "This is a pessimistic view of human existence, but it is not a fatalistic view. Nothing is determined, neither the triumph of liberalism nor its defeat."

Categories Global Affairs: North America World Order, Diplomacy & Governance Book Reviews Global

The text attempts to avoid stagnation, but does not open the door to decisive transformation

Cubans will vote in referendum next February 24 on the project of the new Constitution C by the National Assembly in December after a period of enquiry popular. In the preamble of the project the reference letter was introduced at the last minute to the goal communist which already existed in the 1976 Constitution, but which had not been initially incorporated in the draft, so that the final text is even less novel.

Building of the committee Central of the Communist Party of Cuba

▲ Building of the committee Central of the Communist Party of Cuba [framework Zanferrari].

article / Alex Puigrefagut

Six decades after the Revolution, Cuba leaves behind the surname Castro, with the arrival in April 2018 of Miguel Díaz-Canel as head of state, and is preparing to approve a new Constitution, which will replace the one promulgated in 1976, to symbolize this new time. This new Magna Carta, whose initial text was C by the National Assembly in July 2018, then submitted to three months of popular enquiry for the presentation of amendments and finally C as by the deputies on December 22, has as its goal main objective to seek the modernization of the Cuban State and the sustainable development of the same, without losing the essence and the main ideals of the socialist ideology of the State.

entrance At the end of the Castro era at the helm of Cuba, the State has found it necessary to include in the new essay the socioeconomic transformations carried out in the country since the previous Constitution came into force, as well as to partially modify the State structure to make it more functional. It is also worth mentioning the willingness to recognize more rights for citizens, although with limitations.

When examining the constitutional project , four aspects are particularly noteworthy: the specification of the ideology of the State, the figures and Structures of the State and the government, the question of private property and finally the redefinition of citizens' rights.

Maintenance of socialism

The text C initially by the National Assembly did not include the reference letter at goal to reach a communist society, a fundamental point that was present in the previous Constitution. The article 5 of the 1976 Magna Carta established that society "organizes and orients common efforts towards the high goals of the construction of socialism and the advance towards a communist society".

The omission of this point was really only a change of language, since at no time was the idea of socialism abandoned, in fact, the socialist character of the Cuban State was ratified. In the words of Esteban Lazo, president of the National Assembly, this new Constitution "does not mean that we are renouncing our ideas, but rather that in our vision we are thinking of a socialist, sovereign, independent, prosperous and sustainable country". However, in case there were any doubts, after the period of popular deliberation, the Assembly introduced as an amendment the express accredited specialization to communism in the preamble of the final text, given the alleged pressure from the most immobilist sectors.

The new Constitution reaffirms the socialist character of the Cuban regime, both in the economic and social spheres, giving a leading role to the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) as the highest power in society. The socialist nature of the Cuban State is underscored by the maintenance of the single-party system.

Presidential limits

The new Constitution includes some changes in the state structure. The most outstanding characteristic is that the Antillean country will have a president of the republic as head of state and a prime minister as head of government, in contrast with the current status of the same position for both functions: president of the committee of State and of Ministers. Everything indicates that this distinction will result more in a distribution of work than in a division of powers between the two positions, so this change will not be transcendental, given the control that will continue to be exercised from the PCC.

Another transformation in the political system is the elimination of the provincial assemblies for the creation of provincial governorships, with the goal to give a greater decentralization to the administrative power and a greater dependence of the legislative command on the executive.

As for the presidential term, the new Constitution limits it to five years, with the option of a single reelection for the same period. This change is important since it should lead to a rotation of members, and it is assumed that with this there would also be a renewal of ideas both within the Party and the Executive. The purpose is to avoid the stagnation of a historic generation without new ideas.

Finally, the president will be elected directly by the deputies of the National Assembly; in other words, Cuba does not give entrance to the direct election of its leaders, but maintains the indirect election system.

Private property

The document includes several forms of property, among them socialist property, mixed property and private property. The accredited specialization to the latter does not imply its formal recognition, but the confirmation of a internship whose extension the new Constitution endorses. This implies, therefore, the recognition of the market, a deeper participation of private property and the welcome to more foreign investment to enliven the country's Economics .

This need to reflect in the Constitution the greater participation of private property has occurred because, in many cases, the contribution of property and foreign investments have exceeded in the internship what was established in the previous constitutional framework . But this step will also lead to greater control in this area.

These changes in the economic sphere are aimed at goal to support the adjustments initiated by Raúl Castro a decade ago to boost economic growth and counteract the embargo established by the United States more than fifty years ago; in addition to fixing some of the country's labor force in the private sector as self-employed workers, especially in micro and small enterprises.

Citizen's rights

Finally, regarding the redefinition of citizens' rights, the constitutional project establishes a new functioning in the interaction of the State with the population through the flexibilization of economic, legal and civil rights. From the approval of the new text, the Cuban State must guarantee citizens the extension of Human Rights, although only in accordance with the international treaties ratified by the Caribbean country.

This, which despite this limitation could be seen as an opportunity for citizens, in reality has little of an opening, because although Cuba has signed United Nations agreements on political, cultural, civil and economic rights, it has not actually ratified them. Thus, in principle, Cuba should not be obliged to recognize these rights.

Another highlight of the relaxation introduced is article 40, which criminalizes discrimination "on grounds of sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnic origin, skin color, religious belief, disability, national origin or any other distinction harmful to human dignity". In the initial text that went to instructions , the recognition of same-sex marriage was introduced, but citizen rejection led to an amendment that finally withdrew the express protection of same-sex marriage.

After analyzing the main novelties of the constitutional project , it can be determined that the Cuban regime perceives a certain need for change and renewal. The new Constitution goes somewhat in that direction, but although it tries to avoid stagnation, it does not open the door to a decisive transformation either: neither complete continuity -although there is more of this- nor revolution within the system. It is clear that the new generation of leaders, with Miguel Díaz-Canel at the helm, can be seen as a continuity of the Castro regime, for the simple fact that the Castros directly determined the successor, in addition to the fact that many of their ideals are the same as those of the generation that made the revolution. But on the other hand, Cuba is certainly forced to slightly modify its course in order to be more present in the international system and to seek a more functional state and government.

(Updated January 3, 2019)

Categories Global Affairs: World order, diplomacy and governance Articles Latin America

The United States remains attentive to the innovation of methods that can also serve to introduce terrorist cells or even weapons of mass destruction.

In the last ten years, the proliferation of submersible and semi-submersible, with difficult detection, has monopolized a third of the drug transport from South America to the United States. The incorporation of GPS systems by the cartels also makes the global fight against narcotics difficult. A possible use of these new methods for terrorist purposes keeps the United States on high alert.

Narco-submarine found in Ecuador's jungle in 2010

▲ A narco-submarine found in the jungle of Ecuador in 2010 [DEA].

ARTICLE / Marcelina Kropiwnicka[English version] [Spanish version].

Drug trafficking to large consumer markets, especially the United States and Europe, is especially innovative: the magnitude of the business leads to attempts in overcoming any barriers placed by the States to prevent their penetration and distribution. In the case of the United States, where the illicit arrival of narcotics dates back to the 19th century-from opium to marijuana and cocaine-, authorities have continuously managed to intercept many shipments of drugs, but traffickers find new ways and methods to introduce significant volumes of narcotics.

The most disturbing method in the last ten years has been the use of boat submersibles and semi-submersibles, which have commonly been given the name of narco-submarines. They allow several tons of substances to be transported-five times more than a fishing boat can transport-dodging the US Coast Guard's surveillance [1]. Satellite technology has also led traffickers to drop drug loads into the sea, then be collected by recreational boats without raising suspicion. Those methods are referenced in recent reports from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the US anti-narcotics agency.

Through the waters of Central America

For many years, the conventional way of transporting drugs that leave South America to the United States has been through fishing boats, speedboats and light aircraft. Advances in airborne detection and tracking techniques have pushed drug traffickers to look for new ways to take their loads to the North. Hence the development of narco-submarines, whose number, from a first interception in 2006 by the US authorities, has seen a rapid progression.

This means of transport is one of the reasons that since 2013 there has been a 10% increase in trafficking of drugs that travel from Colombia (the country that produces 93% of the cocaine consumed in the US) to Central America and Mexico, the location where the shipments are introduced to the US. According to the DEA, this corridor today represents an estimated 93% of the movement of cocaine from South America to North America, compared to 7% of the route that passes through the Caribbean islands (mainly the Dominican Republic) to reach Florida or other places on the East American coast.

For a while, among US Coast Guard service members spread a rumor that the drug cartels were using narco-submarines. Without having seen one up to that moment, the agents gave it the name of 'Bigfoot' (like the supposed ape-like animal that would inhabit Pacific forests in the US).

The first sighting occurred in November 2006, when a patrolman from the US Coast Guard detected a blurred shape in the ocean, about a hundred miles off the coast of Costa Rica. As the agents approached the blur, they discovered three tubes of plastic that emerged from the water, which came from a submersible ship that was two meters below the surface. Inside the submersible they found three tons of cocaine and four men armed with an AK-47 rifle. The coastguard named the discovery as 'Bigfoot I'.

Two years later there would be detection of a 'Bigfoot II'. In September 2008, a frigate of the US Navy working with the Coast Guard seized a similar apparatus 350 miles from the border between Mexico and Guatemala. The crew consisted of four men and the position reached 6.4 tons of cocaine.

By then, the US authorities calculated that more than one hundred submersibles or semi-submersibles had been crafted. In 2009 they estimated that they were only able to stop 14% of shipments, and that this method of transport provided at least one third of the total cocaine shipment reaching the US market. The Colombian, Mexican and Guatemalan armies have also confiscated some of these narco-submarines. In addition to being located in the Pacific, they have also been detected in the Caribbean and the Atlantic. Crafted in the jungle, perhaps the most striking discovery was in the interior of Ecuador, in the waters of a river.

Its technical innovation has often surprised counter-narcotics officials. Many of these self-propelled narco-submarines measure fifteen meters, are made of synthetic materials and fiberglass and have been designed to reduce their detection by radar or infrared. There have also been models with systems of GPS navigation to refuel and receive food at agreed points along their established route.

GPS tracking

The development and generalization of the GPS system has also served drug traffickers to introduce greater innovations. One procedure, for example, has been to fill a vessel shaped like a torpedo with drugs-like a submersible, but without a crew-, and attached to a buoy and a signal emitter. The container can hold up to seven tons of cocaine and be fastened to the bottom of a ship by a cable. If the boat is intercepted, the container can simply be dropped deeper into the water, and can later be recovered by another boat thanks to satellite locators. This makes it extremely difficult for authorities to seize the drugs and stop the traffickers.

The GPS navigation system is also used to deposit drug cargos at points in the territorial waters of the United States, where they can be collected by recreational craft or by a small group of people without raising suspicion. The package containing the cocaine is coated with several layers of material and then waterproofed with a type of foam. The package is placed inside of a canvas bag that is then deposited into the bottom of the sea to be recovered by others later on.

As indicated by the DEA in its 2017 report, "this demonstrates how trafficking organizations have evolved their methods for conducting cocaine transactions through technology Organizations transport kilograms of cocaine in waterproof packaging to a predetermined location, anchor it to the ocean floor for retrieval by other DTO [Drug Trafficking Organization] members who have the contraband GPS location. This allows members of trafficking organizations to compartmentalize, as it separates maritime transporters from land-based cocaine distributors."


Cocaine travel from South America to the U.S. in 2017

Cocaine routes from South America to the United States in 2017 [DEA].


Terrorist risk

The possibility that these difficult detection methods are being used to introduce weapons or for terrorist operations worries the United States authorities. Retired Vice Admiral James Stravidis, former commander of US Southern Command, has warned of the potential use, especially of the submersibles, "to transport more than just narcotics: the movement of cash, weapons, violent extremists, or, at the dark end of the spectrum, weapons of mass destruction".

This risk was also referred to by Rear Admiral Joseph Nimmich when, as commander of the Joint Interagency Task Force South, he faced the emergence of submersibles. "If you can carry 10 tons of cocaine, you can carry 10 tons of anything," he told The New York Times.

According to this newspaper, the furtive elaboration of homemade submarines was developed first in Sri Lanka, where the rebel group of the Tamil Tigers used them in confrontation with government forces. "Tamil will go down in history as the first terrorist organization to develop underwater weapons," said the Ministry of Defense of Sri Lanka. In 2006, as the NYT states, "a Pakistani and a Sri Lankan provided plans to the Colombians for building semisubs quickly, stealthily and out of cheap, commonly available materials."

Despite its origin, related to the Tamil rebels, and the terrorist potential presented by the submersibles used by the drug cartels, the fact is that Washington has not yet reported evidence that these new methods of drug transport developed by organized crime groups are being used by other extremist actors. Nevertheless, the US maintains on high alert due to an increased rate of shipments arriving to their destination without detection.


[1] REICH, S., & Dombrowski, P (2017). The End of Grand Strategy. US Maritime Pperations in the 21st Century. Cornell Univesity Press. Ithaca, NY. Pages 143-145.

The U.S. is keeping an eye on the innovation of methods that could also be used to introduce terrorist cells or even weapons of mass destruction

In the last ten years, the proliferation of submersible and semi-submersible vessels, which are difficult to detect, has accounted for a third of drug transport from South America to the United States. The incorporation of GPS systems by the cartels also hinders the global fight against narcotics. A possible use of these new methods for terrorist purposes keeps the United States on its toes.

Narco-submarine found in Ecuador's jungle in 2010

▲ Narco-submarine found in the jungle of Ecuador in 2010 [DEA]

article/ Marcelina Kropiwnicka

Drug trafficking to large consumer markets, especially the United States and Europe, is particularly innovative: the magnitude of the business means that attempts are made to overcome any barriers put in place by States to prevent its penetration and distribution. In the case of the United States, where the illicit arrival of narcotics dates back to the 19th century – from opium to marijuana to cocaine – the authorities' continued efforts have succeeded in intercepting many drug shipments, but traffickers are finding new ways and methods to smuggle a significant volume of drugs into the country.

The most disturbing method in the last ten years has been the use of submersible and semi-submersible vessels, commonly referred to as narco-submarines, which allow several tons of substances to be transported – five times more than a fishing boat did – evading the surveillance of the coast guard [1]. Satellite technology has also led traffickers to leave loads of drugs at sea, then picked up by pleasure boats without arousing suspicion. These methods make reference letter recent reports from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Through the waters of Central America

For many years, the usual way to transport drugs out of South America to the United States has been by fishing boats, speedboats, and light aircraft. Advances in airborne detection and tracking techniques have pushed drug traffickers to look for new ways to get their loads north. Hence the development of the narco-submarines, whose issue, since a first interception in 2006 by the US authorities, has seen a rapid progression.

This means of transport is one of the reasons why since 2013 there has been a 10% increase in trafficking on the drug route that goes from Colombia (a country that produces 93% of the cocaine consumed in the United States) to Central America and Mexico, from where the shipments are introduced into the United States. According to the DEA, this corridor now accounts for an estimated 93 percent of the movement of cocaine from South America to North America, compared to 7 percent of the route that seeks the Caribbean islands (mainly the Dominican Republic) to reach Florida or other places along the U.S. coast.

For a while, rumors spread among the U.S. Coast Guard that drug cartels were using narco-submarines. Without having seen any of them so far, the agents gave him the name 'Bigfoot' (as an alleged ape-like animal that would inhabit forests in the US Pacific is known).

The first sighting occurred in November 2006, when a U.S. Coast Guard patrol boat detected a blurred shape in the ocean, about 100 miles off the coast of Costa Rica. When agents approached, they discovered three plastic tubes emerging from the water, which came from a submersible craft that was making its way two meters below the surface. Inside they found three tons of cocaine and four men armed with an AK-47 rifle. The Coast Guard dubbed it 'Bigfoot I'.

Two years later there would be a 'Bigfoot II'. In September 2008, a U.S. Navy Coast Guard frigate seized a similar aircraft 350 miles from the Mexico-Guatemala border. The crew consisted of four men and the cargo was 6.4 tons of cocaine.

By then, U.S. authorities estimated that more than 100 submersibles or semi-submersibles had already been manufactured. In 2009, they estimated that they were only able to stop 14 percent of shipments and that this mode of transport supplied at least a third of the cocaine reaching the U.S. market. The navies of Colombia, Mexico and Guatemala have also seized some of these narco-submarines, which in addition to having been located in the Pacific have also been detected in the Caribbean and the Atlantic. Made by hand in the jungle, perhaps the most striking episode was that of having found one of them in the interior of Ecuador, in the waters of a river. 

Its technical innovation has frequently surprised counternarcotics officials.  Many of these self-propelled narco-submarines are up to fifteen meters long, made of synthetic materials and fiberglass, and have been designed to reduce radar or infrared detection. There have also been models with GPS navigation systems to be able to refuel and receive food at agreed appointments along the way.

GPS Tracking

The development and the generalization of GPS has also helped drug traffickers to introduce greater innovations. One procedure, for example, has been to fill a torpedo-shaped container – like a submersible, but this time without a crew – with drugs, attached to a buoy and a signal emitter. The container can hold up to seven tons of cocaine and is attached to the bottom of a ship by a cable. If the ship is intercepted, it can simply drop the container deeper, and then be retrieved by another vessel thanks to the satellite locator. This makes it extremely difficult for authorities to capture the drugs and apprehend traffickers.

The GPS navigation system is also used to deposit drug loads at points in U.S. territorial waters, where they can be picked up by pleasure boats or a small number of people. group of people without arousing suspicion. The package containing the cocaine is coated with several layers of material and then waterproofed with a subject foam. The package is placed inside a duffel bag that is deposited on the seabed to be later retrieved by other people.

As indicated by the AED in its report from 2017, "This demonstrates how drug trafficking organizations have evolved their methods of carrying out cocaine transactions using technology." And quotation the example of organizations that "transport kilos of cocaine in waterproof packages to a predetermined location and attach it to the ocean floor to be later removed by other members of the organization who have GPS location," which "allows members of drug trafficking organizations to compartmentalize their work, separating those who do the sea transport from the distributors on land."


Cocaine travel from South America to the U.S. in 2017

Cocaine Journey from South America to the United States in 2017 [DEA]


Terrorist risk

The possibility that these hard-to-detect methods could be used to smuggle weapons or could be part of terrorist operations worries U.S. authorities. Retired Vice Admiral James Stravidis, former head of the U.S. Southern Command, has warned of the potential use of submersibles especially "to transport more than just narcotics: the movement of cash, weapons, violent extremists or, at the worst end of the spectrum, weapons of mass destruction."

This risk was also referred to by Rear Admiral Joseph Nimmich when, as commander of the group South of work A joint Inter-Agency Agency, it faced the rise of submersibles. "If you can transport ten tons of cocaine, you can transport ten tons of anything," he told The New York Times.

According to this newspaper, the stealth production of homemade submarines was first developed in Sri Lanka, where the group Tamil Tiger rebels used them in their confrontation with government forces. "The Tamils will go down in history as the first terrorist organization to develop underwater weapons," Sri Lanka's Defense Ministry said. In 2006, as the NYT states, "a Pakistani and a Srinlancan provided Colombians with blueprints to build semi-submersibles that were fast, quiet, and made of cheap materials that were commonly within reach."

Despite that origin, ultimately written request In light of the Tamil rebels, and the terrorist potential of the submersibles used by drug cartels, Washington has reported no evidence that the new methods of drug transportation developed by organized crime groups are being used by extremist actors of a different nature. However, the U.S. is keeping its guard up given the high rate of shipments arriving at their destination undetected.



[1] REICH, S., & Dombrowski, P (2017). The End of Grand Strategy. US Maritime Pperations in the 21st Century. Cornell University Press. Ithaca, NY. Pg. 143-145

Categories Global Affairs: North America Security and defense Articles

[Pedro Baños, The World Domain. Elements of power and geopolitical keys. Ariel. Barcelona, 2018. 366 p.]


review / Manuel Lamela

  World domination. Elements of Power and Geopolitical Keys

If your previous submission, The Keys to World Domination, served as a guide to introduce us to the vast world of geopolitics and international relations, in his new work, Colonel Pedro Baños Bajo, unveils us and gives us a glimpse of the sample the key elements and instruments for world domination and how these are used by the various actors in their constant struggle for power on a global scale. We are on the verge of a paradigm shift on the international scene, and this process, as the author explains, will be led by demography and technology.

In his business In order to democratize geopolitics, Pedro Baños uses clear and precise language to facilitate the understanding of the work. There will be numerous illustrations present in the book that will be accompanied by brief explanations to get a broader vision of the topic to be treated.

The Elements of World Power is the name given to the first half of the book, it is divided into nine different parts that according to the author are key when it comes to understanding the global power game. In this first half, issues of rigorous relevance and tremendously important on the international scene will be discussed. From the hybrid threat, which represents a new way of waging war, to the role of intelligence services today, to the transcendental importance of natural resources and demographics. It is certainly a fairly comprehensive analysis for those looking for a brief explanation of the greatest challenges that threaten to destabilize our current social order. It is true that some of the explanations can be defined as simple, but this does not have to be understood as a pejorative characteristic. The author's ability to synthesize extremely complex issues can encourage the reader's curiosity and make the leap to other great works where they can delve into more specific topics.

In the second part of the book we find a more concrete analysis in which the author focuses on only two factors: technology and demographics. The population imbalance, the large migratory flows and what some call the fourth industrial revolution are some of the issues that Colonel Baños highlights in his analysis. In the author's opinion, the transformations to which these two elements will be exposed will mark the course of humanity in the coming years. In this more incisive study, the author sample how vulnerable human society is to the future changes that are to come and how this alleged weakness will make conflicts difficult to avoid in the near future. Pedro Baños argues that despite the belief we have of living in a perfectly organized and structured society, the reality is far from the latter, since it is a small group The human being charged with directing and leading the destiny of all humanity as a whole.

Despite distilling a certain pessimism throughout the work, Pedro Baños decides to conclude his analysis with a message of hope, advocating for a united humanity. manager and in solidarity with their environment.

Categories Global Affairs: World order, diplomacy and governance Book reviews Global

Global interest in this trendy grain has brought additional income to Andean communities

The location of quinoa production, especially in Peru and Bolivia (together they account for almost 80% of the world's exports), has given these nations an unexpected strategic value. The high protein component of this pseudocereal makes it attractive to those countries that have food security as a priority.

Quinoa field in the Andes of Bolivia

▲ Quinoa field in the Bolivian Andes [Michael Hermann-CC]

article / Elisa Teomiro

Quinoa, which is also called quinoa (in Latin Chenopodium quinoa), is an ancestral grain more than 5,000 years old cultivated by pre-Columbian Andean cultures. After the arrival of the Spaniards in America, it was partly displaced by the cereals that were brought from the peninsula. It does not belong to the grass family but to the chenopodiaceae family (spinach, chard or beets); Therefore, it is more correct to consider it as a pseudocereal.

It is the basis of the diet of the Andean population of South America, especially in the high Andean areas of Bolivia and Peru (between the two countries they concentrate approximately 76% of the total volume of quinoa exported in the world, 46% Bolivia and 30% Peru). At present, due to its adaptation to different climates (it survives frost, high temperatures, lack of oxygen in the air, lack of water and high salinity), its production has diversified and more countries produce it: Ecuador, Venezuela, Colombia, Chile, Argentina, USA and Canada. in the Americas, as well as Great Britain, Denmark, Finland, France, Sweden, Holland, Spain, Australia and the USSR, outside of it.

Quinoa has gone from being a perfect unknown, for the majority of the non-American population, to suffering a spectacular rise in a very short time. One of the reasons for this was the decision by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to declare 2013 as the International Year of Quinoa. FAO wanted to reward the great effort being made by the Andean peoples to preserve grain in its natural state, as food for current and future generations. The activities carried out during that year made quinoa and its nutritional properties known to the world.

Price Increase

The interest aroused by this grain tripled its price between 2004 and 2013, which curiously generated a discussion on a possible negative impact on producer populations. Thus, it was alleged that the high demand for this crop by developed countries had turned quinoa into a "article in the producing countries, where it already cost more than chicken or rice. It was considered that this status It could cause malnutrition in the Andean population, as they are unable to supplement their scarcity per diem expenses with quinoa.

A follow-up on this issue later showed that the quinoa boom was actually helping the communities at source. A study carried out by the International Trade Centre, a joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations based in Geneva, carried out over the period 2014-2015, pointed out that the consumption of quinoa by developed countries improved the living conditions of small producers; most of them are women.

Of agreement With this study, the rise in prices between 2004-2013 meant that both producers and consumers in producing regions benefited financially from trade. Thus, there was a 46% increase in their well-being in this period, measured through the value of goods and services consumed by families. The report It also highlighted how, on the contrary, the 40% drop in the price of quinoa grain, suffered towards the end of 2015, caused a decrease in the well-being of rural households (food consumption fell by 10% and wages by 5%). The study reached two clear conclusions: the continued decline in quinoa consumption in Peru since 2005 was probably due more to the change in consumer preferences due to globalization and the increased supply of products, than to the variation in grain prices; The global consumption of quinoa in developed countries undoubtedly contributed to the development of communities in the highlands with a lack of resources.

Production and trade

The reasons why this grain has become so attractive to consumers in Europe and the USA – increasingly also in China and Japan – are several: its protein content is very high, between 14% and 18%, and it is also proteins of high biological value that would allow it to be a substitute for animal protein (it contains the 10 essential amino acids for the production of animal protein). per diem expenses human). This factor, together with its high iron content, make it an ideal pseudocereal for vegetarians; It does not contain gluten so celiacs can also consume it; it has a low glycemic content and this allows it to be consumed by diabetics; Its fiber and unsaturated fatty acid content (mainly linoleic acid) is high, so all those concerned about their health have an option in quinoa. It's also a source It is rich in vitamin E and B2 (riboflavin) and is high in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and iron. For all these reasons, the FAO considers that due to its high nutritional value financial aid to eradicate hunger and malnutrition.


Main Quinoa Producing Countries


The ranking of quinoa-producing countries is headed by Bolivia (its 118,913 hectares of cultivation accounted for 60% of the total quinoa planted area in the world in 2016), followed by Peru (64,223 hectares, representing 30% of the world's planted area) and Ecuador (2,214 hectares) [Table 1]. From 1990 to 2014, the area planted with quinoa went from 47,585 hectares to 195,342 hectares. The global value of exports increased from $135.5 million in 2012 to $321.5 million in 2015.

In terms of export volume in tons, Bolivia was the leading country in 2012 (more than 25,000 tons), which together with exports in 2013 represented an income of 80 million dollars for the country. In that same year, Peruvian quinoa exports exceeded 10,000 tons, which brought the country 38 million dollars into revenue. In 2014, Peru took over and dominated the market in 2015 and 2016 as well [Table 2].

The U.S. is the world's leading importer of quinoa, with 40%; it is followed by the European Union, with more than 30% of the total (France, Holland, Germany, Great Britain, Italy and Belgium mainly) and then Canada. The average price per kilogram of quinoa was $3.2 in 2012 and $6.2 in 2014. In 2015 it dropped to $5. Per capita consumption is logically led by the two main producers: Bolivia consumes 5.2 kilos and Peru 1.8 kilos, followed at a distance by Ecuador, with 332 grams per person.

In non-producing countries, quinoa was first introduced into the organic sector, with consumers concerned about healthier diets, although today it is no longer exclusive to this market. The largest consumer of quinoa per capita worldwide is Canada, with more than 180 grams, followed closely by the Netherlands; France and Australia consume between 120 and 140 grams. In Spain, consumption is still small, around 30 grams. Global forecasts until 2025 are that per capita consumption of 200 grams will be reached (an achievement that Canada already has within reach) and that even traditional rice-consuming countries, such as Japan and South Korea, will also embrace quinoa.

Quinoa production has problems for the future of both subject environmental and market. Before its boom in 2013, nearly 60 different varieties of the grain were grown in the Andean highlands and virtually all quinoa was organic. Today, unbridled trade and large-scale production on large farms has reduced biodiversity to fewer than 20 different types.


Top quinoa exporting countries


The forecasts of the market research A study commissioned by the Trade for Development Center in 2016 on current and future markets for quinoa indicates that in ten years it is very likely that the global market will double, especially with conventional quinoa produced not only in Peru, but also in Australia, the United States and Canada. The production of organic quinoa, produced by small farmers in the highlands, will remain relatively stable. The skill The market will continue to be fierce, so farmers in the highlands will have to look for measures that will allow them to continue maintaining a market niche with certified organic quinoa, grown from traditional and fair trade methods.

Categories Global Affairs: Energy, resources and sustainability Articles Latin America

The cancellation of the new CDMX airport, already more than 31% built, sows doubts about the economic success of the new administration.

Andrés Manuel López Obrador arrives to the presidency of Mexico facing the economic world, to which he has put up a fight with his advertisement to paralyze the works of the new airport of the capital, despite the fact that a third of the works have already been carried out. The desire to make clear to the economic power who rules the country and to bury what was to be an emblematic bequest of the PRI -whose historical hegemony he hopes to replace with his own party, Morena- may be behind the controversial decision.

Image of the projected NAICM created by Fernando Romero Enterprise, Foster and Partners

▲ Image of the projected NAICM created by Fernando Romero Enterprise, Foster and Partners.

article / Antonio Navalón

The Mexican PRI returned to the presidency of the country in 2012, led by Enrique Peña Nieto, with the promise of making a major investment in public infrastructure that would put Mexico in the world's showcase. The stellar work chosen was the construction of a new airport, whose project was commissioned to architect Norman Foster and which the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) saw as the inheritance that would always be attributed to it.

This great project was to overshadow any negative bequest of Peña Nieto's term, which has been especially marked by corruption cases and historic record violence figures. Although useful for political marketing, increasing the air traffic capacity of Mexico City (CDMX), whose metropolitan area has 23 million inhabitants, is a necessity for boosting the national Economics .

The US$13.3 billion project was one of the largest investments in the country's history. Named Nuevo Aeropuerto Internacional de Ciudad de México (NAICM, later simplified as NAIM) and located at area in Texcoco, a little further away than the current facilities in use, the new infrastructure was to be developed in two phases. The first phase consisted of the construction of a large terminal and three runways, which were initially planned to be ready by 2020, but whose entrance in service had been postponed to 2022 due to construction delays. The second phase would see the construction of three additional runways, plus a second terminal, which would be ready for operation from 2035.

Plans called for NAICM to have the capacity to transport between 70 and 135 million passengers annually, thanks to an operating volume of between 115 and 135 slots per hour. These figures gave a long-term deadline potential benefit of more than $32 billion, according to government estimates.

The project sought first of all to solve the serious air saturation problem suffered by the current Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City, caused by the low performance capacity of the two runways that operate simultaneously. In addition, the construction of the NAICM was based on the hope of turning CDMX into a world logistics hub, with the potential to multiply the current airport's cargo transport capacity fourfold.

The level of freight transport in this macro project would be able to reach 2 million tons per year, thus becoming, as its promoters assured, the main distribution center in Latin America. NAICM's ambition, therefore, was to become a reference not only in the American continent but also worldwide, both in the transfer of tourists and in the transport of goods.

NAICM construction began in 2015 and to date 31% of the work has been completed. Although this Degree of completion represents a slight delay compared to the original schedule, the foundation and channeling works are already finished and high Structures intended to hold the wide roof can be seen on the surface. However, despite this progress and the investment already made, the country's new president has announced that he is completely burying the project.

Elections and enquiry

The presidential elections of July 1st were won by the leftist Andrés Manuel López Obrador (inaugurated on December 1st). Former leader of the PRI, thanks to which he served as mayor of the capital, over time he drifted to the left: he first joined the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and, after losing two elections for the presidency of the country, he created the National Regeneration Movement (Morena). In July, Morena won a majority in both chambers of congress and also conquered the CDMX government, giving AMLO, as the new president is commonly known, broad powers to carry out his policies. While he fell 17 votes short of a qualified majority in the Senate that could change the Constitution, he could gain allies for that purpose.

During the election campaign, Lopez Obrador defended the cancellation of the new airport project alleging its high cost, and raised the possibility that, as an alternative, some improvements could be made to the current airport and the Santa Lucia airport, a military base in the area of the Mexican capital that could be enabled for international flights. But Morena's candidate assured that he would make a enquiry to know the opinion of the Mexican people and that he would abide by the results.

Without waiting to take office as President, Lopez Obrador had Morena carry out this enquiry, which was not organized by the Government but by a political party, and furthermore did not take place in the whole country but in 538 municipalities out of the 2,463 that exist in Mexico. The ballot boxes, set up between October 25 and 28, voted "no" to NAICM: with a participation of only 1% of the national electoral body, 69% voted for the alternative of Santa Lucia and 29% voted to continue the works in Texcoco. López Obrador announced that, in application of result, he will halt the works for the new airport, despite the investment already made.

Some popular movements and also naturalists calling for the preservation of the natural environment applauded the advertisement, but there were also protest marches against the decision in the streets of downtown CDMX. The private sector has greatly regretted the purpose decision to cancel the NAICM project . Leading businessmen in the country and organizations such as the Confederation of Mexican Industrial Chambers (CONCAMIN), which represents 35% of Mexican GDP and 40% of employment in the country, came out in defense of the original project and asked López Obrador to reconsider his decision. Their argument is that any alternative will fall short of the demands of growing air traffic, weighing down the country's development . They also argue that any decision other than continuing with the construction of the NAICM will be more expensive than completing the planned airport [1].


Airport Infrastructure Proposals


Economic impact

For CONCAMIN, "the current airport lacks the infrastructure and any improvement would not fix the fundamental problems it has", and a bet on the Santa Lucia base "would be a waste of time and money, which will create problems rather than solve them", according to the president of this business association , Francisco Cervantes.

José Navalón, of CONCAMIN's Foreign Trade and International Affairs Commission, of which he is a member, warns that López Obrador's decision will be a major blow to Mexico's macroeconomic and financial system. In his words, "it is still too early to assess possible consequences, but it will be necessary to see if Mexico has the appropriate airport infrastructure, in terms of competitiveness and connectivity, for what is the second largest Economics in Latin America". In any case, for the moment "there has been a problem of lack of confidence in the markets, which has been immediately reflected in the fall of the peso and the markets" [2].

Indeed, while López Obrador was greeted in July with a rise in the markets, because his resounding victory seemed to augur stability for Mexico, his inauguration in December is being accompanied by an "exodus" of investors. The peso has fallen nearly 10% against the dollar in August, the stock market is down 7.6% and in October alone investors sold 2.4 billion dollars in Mexican bonds.

"The main questions that investors are asking today," Navalón continues, "is whether it is safe to invest in Mexico and how often this subject of decisions that do not follow any subject of legality will be taken," as important companies will be affected by the cancellation of a project in progress. He also warns that "the election of Bolsonaro in Brazil, whose profile is a magnet for foreign investment, may directly affect investment in Mexico".

The big question is why López Obrador maintains his decision against the new airport, in spite of the economic penalty it will mean for the Government and the risk of investor flight. We must understand that Mexico has always been a country that has been led by economic power. With its attitude towards NAICM, it aims to clearly mark the line of separation between political and economic power, making it clear that the era of economic power is over. A second reason is that NAICM was going to be the PRI's inheritance and López Obrador probably seeks to destroy any subject of association of this macro project with the party he intends to bury.



[1] CONCAMIN Document "Airport Proposals" 2018.

[2] Personal interviews with Francisco Cervantes and José Navalón.

Categories Global Affairs: North America World order, diplomacy and governance Articles Latin America

Publicador de contenidos

Carrera por los recursos espaciales: de la minería al control de rutas

▲ proposal of lunar base for obtaining helium, taken from [Christopher Barnatt]. GLOBAL AFFAIRS JOURNAL / Emili J. Blasco [8-page document.... ReadmoreAboutRace for space resources: from mining to route control "

Conexión eléctrica entre Ceuta y la Península: un asunto de seguridad energética y medioambiental

The routeing of a submarine cable for power transmission to Spain's place has been stalled since 2016 The project of electrical interconnection between Ceuta and the Peninsula, of the network Eléctrica... ReadmoreAboutElectrical interconnection between Ceuta and the Peninsula: a matter of energy and environmental security "

Ecuador desaprovecha su salida de la OPEP y pierde producción petrolera

The country left the cartel in order to expand its pumping, but the Covid-19 crisis has cut extraction volumes by 10.8%. Construction of a variant of the pipeline that crosses the... ReadmoreAboutEcuador misses out on OPEC exit and loses oil production "

Argentina ve en Vaca Muerta una tabla de salvación, pero falta más capital para su desarrollo

The hydrocarbon field is the central axis of the Gas 2020-2023 Plan of President Alberto Fernández, which subsidizes part of the investment Activity of YPF, Argentina's state-owned oil and gas... ReadmoreAboutArgentina sees Vaca Muerta as a lifeline, but more capital is needed for its development "

El gas natural licuado cambia el juego en el hemisferio americano

U.S. LNG sales to its neighbors and exports from Latin American and Caribbean countries to Europe and Asia open new perspectives Not to depend on gas pipelines, but to be able to buy or sell... ReadmoreAboutLiquefied natural gas is a game changer in the American hemisphere "

Could Spain partner up with Morocco in the field of solar energy?

The two countries are greatly exposed to solar radiation and they already share electricity interconnectors Spain was an early developer of solar energy, but it didn't keep the pace with the... ReadmoreAboutCould Spain partner up with Morocco in the field of solar energy? "

Surinam sigue a Guyana en el ‘milagro’ petrolero

The finding of a "significant" amount of oil in off-shore wells places the former Dutch colony in the footsteps of neighboring Guyana. The intuition has proved to be right and the... ReadmoreAboutSuriname follows Guyana in the oil 'miracle' "

Climate Refugees will raise, nations should find the way for shelter them

▲ Flood rescue in the Afghan village of Jalalabad, in 2010 [NATO]. ESSAY / Alejandro J. Alfonso In December of 2019, Madrid hosted the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP25,... ReadmoreAboutClimate Refugees will raise, nations should find the way for shelter them "

La nueva guerra de precios petroleros

March and April 2020 will be remembered in the oil industry as the months in which the perfect storm occurred: a drop of more than 20% in global demand at the same time that the oil industry... ReadmoreAboutThe new oil price war "

Was the Madrid COP25 useful?

The UN Conference did little to increase international commitment to climate change action, but did at least boost the assertiveness of the EU In recent years, the temperature of the Earth has... ReadmoreAboutWas the Madrid COP25 useful? "

La minería ilegal, la otra destrucción de la Amazonía

Gold mining and oil transport pollute Amazonian rivers It is not only the fires that are negatively affecting the Amazon, which is undergoing an accelerated reduction of... ReadmoreAboutIllegal mining, the other destruction of the Amazon "

Centroamérica aprovecha sus volcanes para generación eléctrica

Geothermal energy already accounts for 7.5% of the Central American electricity mix, with installed capacity still far below the estimated potential. Volcanic activity and tectonic movement... ReadmoreAboutCentral America harnesses its volcanoes for power generation "

Jordan River Basin: Hydropolitics as an arena for regional cooperation

▲Satellite imagery of the Jordan River [NASA]. ANALYSIS / Marina Díaz Escudero Water is an essential natural resource, not only for individual survival on Earth, but also for nation-states... Read moreAboutJordan River Basin: Hydropolitics as an arena for regional cooperation "

Qué hará Bolivia con su gas natural cuando Brasil y Argentina ya no lo necesiten

The upcoming gas self-sufficiency of its two major gas-buying neighbors forces the Bolivian government to seek alternative markets Yacimientos Pretrolíferos Fiscales gas plant in... ReadmoreAboutWhat Bolivia will do with its natural gas when Brazil and Argentina no longer need it "

Blood diamonds keep going through Antwerp

The Belgian city, the world's capital of diamonds, has applied more regulations, sanctions and scrutiny on the industry, but still there are some bad practices ▲ The diamond industry has... ReadmoreAboutBlood diamonds keep going through Antwerp "

Cumbre del Clima 2018, un paso hacia adelante

The meeting COP24 made progress in regulating the Paris agreement , but "carbon markets" remained blocked. Mobilizations in favor of governments taking more drastic measures... ReadmoreAboutClimate Summit 2018, a step forward "

La nueva Guyana petrolera y su proyección internacional

One of the poorest countries in the Americas may become the world's largest oil producer per capita, disrupting the relationship with its neighbors. The promising oil discoveries... ReadmoreAboutThe new oil Guyana and its international projection "

Acuífero Guaraní: mejor que otros, pero pervivencia no asegurada

Geopolitical misgivings about perceived foreign interests should not distract beneficiary countries from implementing sustainable use. The Guarani Aquifer has given rise to a... ReadmoreAboutAquifer Guarani: better than others, but survival not assured "

El 'boom' de la quinoa

Global interest in this fashionable grain has brought additional income to Andean communities. The localization of quinoa production, especially in Peru and Bolivia (together they account for... ReadmoreAboutThe quinoa boom "

Impulso a la conexión gasística de los países de la Iniciativa de los Tres Mares

Poland-Germany struggle for influence in the European region between the Baltic, the Adriatic and the Black Sea The latest summit of the Three Seas Initiative (TMI) was attended by the... ReadmoreAboutBoosting the gas connection of the Three Seas Initiative countries "