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The avalanche of unaccompanied foreign minors suffered by the Obama Administration in 2014 has been overcome in 2019 with a new migratory peak

In the summer of 2014, the United States suffered a migration crisis due to an unexpected increase in the number of people in the country. issue of unaccompanied foreign minors, mostly Central Americans, who arrived at its border with Mexico. What has happened since then? Although oscillating, the volume of this subject Immigration prices fell, but in 2019 a new record has been recorded, hand in hand with the "caravan crisis", which has led to the rise again in total apprehensions at the border.

U.S. border agents search unaccompanied minors at Texas-Mexico border in 2014 [Hector Silva, USCBP–Wikimedia Commons]

▲ U.S. border agents search unaccompanied minors at Texas-Mexico border in 2014 [Hector Silva, USCBP–Wikimedia Commons]

article/ Marcelina Kropiwnicka

The United States hosts more immigrants than any other country in the world, with more than a million people arriving each year, either as legal permanent residents, asylum seekers and refugees, or in other immigration categories. While there is no exact figure for how many people cross the border illegally, U.S. Customs and Border Control (U.S. Customs and Border Control) measures changes in illegal immigration based on the number of apprehensions made at the border; Such arrests serve as an indicator of the issue total number of attempts to enter the country illegally. As for the data, it can be concluded that there have been notable changes in the demographics of illegal migration at the border with Mexico (southwest border, in official U.S. terms) in recent years.

The peak of apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border was during 2000, when 1.64 million people were apprehended trying to enter the United States illegally. The numbers have declined, across the board, since then. In recent years, there have been more apprehensions of non-Mexicans than Mexicans at the border with the neighboring country, reflecting a decrease in issue of unauthorized Mexican immigrants who came to the U.S. in the last decade. The increase, in fact, was largely due to those fleeing violence, gang activity and poverty in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, a region known as Central America's Northern Triangle.

The nations included in the Northern Triangle are among the poorest in Latin America – a high percentage of the population still lives on less than $2 a day (the international poverty line is $1.90); There has been little progress in reducing poverty in recent years. Within Latin America and the Caribbean, Honduras has the second highest percentage of the population living below the poverty line (17%), after Haiti, according to the latest data of the World Bank.

Unaccompanied Alien Minors

While fewer unaccompanied adults have attempted to cross the border without authorization over the past decade, there has instead been a surge of unaccompanied alien minors (MENAs) trying to enter the United States from Mexico. The migration of minors without accompanying adults is not new; What is new now is its volume and the need to implement policies in response to this problem. The increase in apprehensions of MENAs in FY2014 caused alarm and prompted both intense media scrutiny and the implementation of policy responses; Attention was maintained even as the phenomenon declined. The numbers dropped again to just under 40,000 apprehensions of minors the following year.

The international community defines an unaccompanied migrant minor as a person, "who is under eighteen years of age" and who is "separated from both parents and is not being cared for by an adult who by law or custom has the responsibility to do so." Many of these unaccompanied minors report immediately to U.S. border security, while others enter the country unnoticed and undocumented. Not only this, but children have no parents or legal guardians available to provide care or physical custody, which quickly overwhelms the services of local border patrols.

In 2014, many of the unaccompanied children said they were under the false impression that the Obama administration was granting "permits" to children who had relatives in the U.S., as long as they arrived no later than June. These false convictions and hoaxes were even more potent this past year, especially as President Trump continues to reinforce the idea of restricting migrants' access to the United States. The cartels have continued to transport a issue increasing number of Central American migrants from their countries to the United States.

Critical moments of 2014 and 2019

In 2014, during Obama's second term, total apprehensions along the border with Mexico reached 569,237 (this figure includes "inadmissible" people), a record only surpassed now. While the increase over the previous year was 13%, the increase was much more B regarding the arrests of MENAs; These rose from 38,759 in fiscal year 2013 to 68,541 in fiscal year 2014 (in the U.S. the fiscal year runs from October of one year to September of the next), an increase of almost 80%, more than four times those recorded in fiscal year 2011. In the case of minors from Honduras, the figure rose from 6,747 to 18,244 in one year; those of Guatemala rose from 8,068 to 17,057, and those of El Salvador, from 5,990 to 16,404 (those of Mexico, on the other hand, fell from 17,240 to 15,634). The Greatest issue The number of apprehensions occurred in May, a month in which MENA arrests accounted for 17% of total apprehensions.

Since 2014, apprehensions of unaccompanied minors, while fluctuating, have declined by issue. But in 2019 a new record has been recorded, reaching 76,020, with a maximum in the month of May. However, that month they accounted for only 9% of the total apprehensions, because this time it has not been a MENA crisis, but has been inserted into a B peak of total apprehensions. While overall apprehensions decreased significantly during the first six months of Trump's presidency, they then rose, reaching a total of 851,508 in 2019 (with the "inadmissible" the figure reached 977,509), which is more than double the number from 2018. The issue total apprehensions increased by 72% from 2014 to 2019 (in the case of MENAs the increase was 11%).

 

 

Apprehensions of unaccompanied alien minors at the U.S.-Mexico border, between 2012 and 2019 (Figure 1), and comparison of 2014 and 2019 by month (Figure 2). source: US Customs and Border Patrol.

 

Reaction

The U.S. had a variety of domestic policies aimed at dealing with the massive increase in immigration. However, with the overwhelming peak of 2014, Obama called for funding for a program for "the repatriation and reintegration of migrants to the countries of Central America and to address the root causes of migration from these countries." Although funding for the program has been fairly consistent over the past few years, the budget for 2018 proposed by the President Trump reduced the financial aid to these countries by approximately 30%.

The Trump Administration has made progress in implementing its diary on immigration, from the beginning of the construction of the wall on the border with Mexico to the implementation of new programs, but the hard line already promised by Trump in his degree program The U.S. government has proven ineffective in preventing thousands of Central American families from crossing the southwest border into the United States. With extreme gang violence running rampant and technicalities in the U.S. immigration system, migrants' motivation to leave their countries will remain.

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

Some U.S. and Canadian diplomats who were in Havana between 2016 and 2018 are still not fully recovered from ailments they suffered

U.S. Embassy building in Cuba [department de Estado] [ de Estado]

▲ Building of the U.S. Embassy in Cuba [department de Estado].

ANALYSIS / Eduardo Villa Corta

Three years ago, staff U.S. diplomats stationed in Cuba began to feel physical discomfort supposedly caused by strange sounds to which they had apparently been exposed; Washington spoke of a "sonic attack. However, although the symptoms suffered by those affected have been determined to be anomalous, it has not been possible to establish what caused them. Was it really an attack? Who was behind it? We review here the main hypotheses and conjectures that have been made, and point out their weaknesses.

In late 2016 and early 2017, several U.S. diplomats stationed in Havana, as well as members of their families, reported suffering from dizziness, vertigo and sharp pains in their ears that could be caused by strange sounds to which they had been exposed. According to their testimonies, the sounds came from a specific direction, and they had heard them in their own residences or, in some cases, in hotel rooms, while people staying in neighboring houses or adjoining rooms had not heard any special sounds. The phenomenon also affected Canadian diplomats in the Cuban capital. In all, some forty people were treated for these symptoms.

Acoustic attack

Echoing the facts reported by its staff in Cuba, in mid-2017 the U.S. State department stated that the symptoms could have been caused by a sonic attack by the Cuban government directed against diplomats and their families. In October 2017, President Donald Trump directly accused Havana: "I believe Cuba is manager; yes, I do."

At the beginning of 2018 the department of State issued a statement alert not to travel to Cuba due to a possible health crisis and withdrew a good part of the staff of the mission statement diplomatic in Havana, reducing the activity of this to the minimum possible. At that time, a total of 24 Americans had been affected.

At the time, the Canadian government also indicated that its diplomats had experienced similar discomfort. Ottawa decided to evacuate the families of its employees in Cuba and in early 2019 proceeded to reduce the staff of the embassy in the face of what appeared to be the appearance of a fourteenth case.

The Cuban government denied from the outset being involved in any harassment operation against the U.S. or Canada. ˝There is no test about the cause of the reported ailments, nor is there any evidence to suggest that these health problems have been caused by an attack of any kind˝, Havana assured. Raul Castro's government offered its cooperation in the research of the facts, with nothing coming to light that could explain the case. No devices that could have provoked the sounds appeared.

Adding confusion to the status, at least two US diplomats stationed in China, busy at the consulate general in Guangzhou, the largest that the US has in the country, presented in early 2018 also the symptoms already described. Washington evacuated them and issued a health warning about missions in mainland China.

The Associated Press published in October 2017 a recording of the alleged sounds causing the reported ailment, and indicated that government agencies had been unable to determine the nature of the noise and explain its relationship to the bodily disorders caused. Months later, he noted that internal FBI reports did not even establish that there had been an "attack". Other media highlighted the poor cooperation in the research, due to jurisdictional zeal, between the department of State, the FBI and the CIA.

Symptoms of "Havana syndrome".

A medical team from the University of Pennsylvania, at the request of the U.S. Government, examined 21 people affected by what the press began to call "Havana syndrome". The research, initially published in March 2018 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), indicated that most of the patients reported problems with report, concentration, and balance, and determined that they appeared to have suffered injuries to extensive brain networks.

data Further MRI scans of the same team extended to 40 patients, released in July 2019, led to the conclusion that the diplomats had experienced some craniocerebral trauma. The results of the MRI scans, compared with those of a group of healthy people, showed differences in the volume of the white and gray substances of the brain, in the integrity of the cerebellar microstructures and in the functional connectivity of the subnetworks for hearing and spatial vision, but not for executive functions.

This report concluded that the staff diplomat had been physically injured, although it could not determine the cause. He also noted that patients do not experience a usual recovery, as they are not recovering quickly from symptoms, as is the case in other cases of similar "concussions" or ear problems.

IF IT WASN'T AN ATTACK, WHAT WAS IT?

As no clear cause has been established as to what caused the ailments suffered by the US and Canadian diplomatic staff and some members of their families, the very reality of an attack has been called into question. Although various alternative explanations have been put forward, none of them are fully convincing.

1) Collective hysteria

Formulation. Some neurologists and sociologists, such as Robert Bartholomew, have suggested that it could be a case of mass hysteria. Given the pressure to which some of the diplomats working in very unfriendly environments are subjected, and the endogamic relationship in which they live, living almost exclusively among themselves, it could explain a mutual conviction of an external attack that even has somatic consequences.

Weak spot. Both the research of the University of Pennsylvania and the doctor of the department of State, Charles Rosenfarb, who appeared before the committee of Foreign Relations of the Senate, came to rule out that the symptoms suffered by the diplomats were due to a mere mental mechanism. It is very difficult that about sixty people, including Americans and Canadians, convinced each other of an aggression of this kind subject and then almost all of them developed the same brain lesions.

2) Microwave

Formulation. The researcher team at the University of Pennsylvania, while not pointing to any possible cause of the ailments, did not rule out certain assumptions, such as that of microwave affectation. This aspect was insisted upon by a research published in 2018 in the journal Neural Computation, which considered the symptoms consistent with exhibition to electromagnetic microwave (RF/MW) radiation.

Weak point. Not all the symptoms shown by patients could be a consequence of the exhibition of such a radiation subject, which also has a diverging literature on its effects on the human body. In addition, there is no known microwave weapon that can affect the brain.

3) Ultrasound

Formulation. A team of computer experts at the University of Michigan suggested in 2018 that it could be a case of exhibition to some subject ultrasound, perhaps coming from malfunctioning listening equipment mixing multiple ultrasonic signals.

Weak point. The recording of one of the sound episodes - the sample broadcast by AP - is not sufficient to be able to determine its nature. It is also possible that the sound was somewhat different in other cases.

4) Crickets

Formulation. A research from the Universities of California-Berkeley and Lincoln, from the existing sound sample , considered in January 2019 that the possible cause of the attacks was made by cricketsThe study, specifically crickets Anurogryllus muticus. The research was a comparative study between the sound emitted by that variant of crickets and the sample of one of the Havana acoustic episodes.

Weak point. The sound perceived by the diplomats was directional, so it was not heard by neighboring people. If they had been crickets in their natural environment, the sound would have spread around.

5) Neurotoxins

Formulation. A joint study by two Canadian research centers in May 2019 attributed the symptoms suffered by diplomats to exhibition to neurotoxins from pesticides used to spray mosquitoes, a internship common occurrence in embassy buildings.

Weak point. The diplomats affected related the beginning of their physical discomfort to situations experienced in their own residences or in hotel rooms, where there was no fumigation.

IF IT WAS AN ATTACK, WHO DID IT?

Given that the previous explanations do not seem entirely solid, the US Government maintains the hypothesis of an attack. If it really happened, who was behind it? Here, too, there are various conjectures.

1) Castro regime

The first option considered, assumed in principle by the US given the public accusations made from Washington, has been to attribute the alleged attacks to the Cuban regime itself. With them, Havana would try to maintain pressure on the Americans, in spite of the formal reestablishment of diplomatic relations, with the goal to mark each other's territory.

Weak point. The incidents began to occur during the Obama Administration, in a context of a ˝honeymoon˝ marked by the reopening of embassies and the visit of Barack Obama to Havana. The normal thing is that at the end of 2016, in view of the U.S. elections, the Castro regime would not want to give reasons to the next U.S. president to twist the diplomatic line opened by Obama. It could make sense that after Donald Tump's later revocation of the previous openness measures, Cuba would want to punish the new Administration, but not before seeing the direction it would take; in any case, the attacks would only justify the hard line followed by Trump, which does not benefit the island.

2) A sector of Castroism

Fidel Castro was attributed with an unaccommodating attitude towards his brother Raul's decision to reestablish diplomatic relations with the United States. Although he died in November 2016, people around him might have tried to torpedo that rapprochement, convinced that hostility with Washington was the best way to ensure the survival of the regime as conceived by its founder.

Weak point. Although Fidel Castro's reluctance towards rapprochement with the U.S. is true, it is difficult to think that the most conservative sector within Castroism would dare to boycott so directly Raul Castro's fundamental political line. It is another thing that, after he handed over the presidency of Cuba to Miguel Díaz-Canel in April 2018, some sectors within the regime could make internal movements to send certain messages, but the changeover occurred when most of the acoustic episodes had already taken place.

3) A third country (Russia, China)

The third option would be that a third country generated the attacks. American intelligence indicates that the most viable option in this case would be Russia. Moscow has been keen to return to operating in the Caribbean, as in the Cold War, and aggression against U.S. diplomats in Cuba would fit in with its strategy. It has also been suggested that China might want to repay Washington in its backyard with the same harassment that the Chinese believe they feel from the US in their nearest seas.

Weak point. The return of Russia to the Caribbean is certainly documented, and it is conceivable that Moscow could have promoted a punctual action against some specific goal , but it seems difficult that it would have sustained over time an operation that harms Cuba's sovereignty. As for China's presence in the US neighborhood, it is a less confrontational move than the one carried out by Russia. Moreover, if Beijing had chosen foreign soil in order to better erase the traces of an action against US diplomats, then the cases recorded in Guangzhou would not have occurred.

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

With its mega-city and technology zone project , the Saudis are seeking to consolidate an economic alternative to oil.

NEOM, an acronym for New Future, is the name of the new economic-technological city and area , with an area three times the size of Cyprus, which Saudi Arabia is promoting in the north-west of the country, opposite the Sinai Peninsula. In addition to seeking alternatives to oil, with NEOM the Saudis aim to rival the urban innovations of Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha. The project also involves shifting Saudi interest from the Persian Gulf to the Red Sea and closer neighbourhoods with Egypt, Jordan and Israel.

The future NEOM megacity, from agreement with the vision of its promoters [NEOM Project].

▲ The appearance of the future NEOM megacity, from agreement with the vision of its promoters [NEOM Project].

article / Sebastián Bruzzone Martínez

Middle Eastern states are seeking to diversify their revenues and avoid potential collapse of their economies in order to counteract the end-of-oil crisis expected in the mid-21st century. Arabs' preferred sectors are renewable energy, luxury tourism, modern infrastructure and technology. Governments in the region have found ways to unify these four sectors, and Saudi Arabia, along with the United Arab Emirates, seems to want to position itself at the forefront of the Arab technology degree program .

While the world looks towards Sillicon Valley in California, Shenzhen in China or Bangalore in India, the Saudi government has begun preparations for the creation of its first independent economic and technological zone: NEOM (short for the Arabic term Neo-Mustaqbal, New Future). The project was until recently headed by Klaus Kleinfeld, former CEO of Siemens AG, who has been replaced by Nadhmi Al Nasr as CEO of NEOM since his appointment as an advisor to the Saudi Crown.

On 24 October 2017, at the Future Investment Initiative lecture in Riyadh, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced the $500 billionproject , part of the Saudi Vision 2030 policy programme. average The territory where NEOM will be located is in the border area between Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, on the shores of the Red Sea, through which almost ten percent of world trade flows, has a temperature 10ºC lower than that of the rest of the countries of the Gulf Cooperation committee , and is located less than eight hours' flight from 70% of the world's population, so it could become a major passenger transport hub.

As announced by the Saudi government, NEOM will be a special economic city, with its own civil and tax laws and Western social customs, covering 26,500 square kilometres (the size of Cyprus multiplied by three). The main objectives are to attract foreign investment from multinational companies, diversify the oil-dependent Saudi Economics , create a free market space and home to millionaires, "a land for free and stress-free people; a start-up the size of a country: a blank sheet of paper on which to write the new era of human progress", says a promotional video on project. All this under the slogan: "The world's most ambitious project: an entire new land, purpose-built for a new way of living". According to the website and official accounts of project, the 16 sectors of energy, mobility, water, biotechnology, food, manufacturing, communication, entertainment and fashion, technology, tourism, sport, services, health and wellness, Education, and livability will generate 100 billion dollars a year.

Thanks to a report published by The Wall Street Journal and prepared by the consulting firms Oliver Wyman, Boston Consulting Group and McKinsey & Co., which, according to them, had access to more than 2,300 confidential planning documents, some of the ambitions and luxuries that the futuristic city will have have have have come to light. These include flying cars, holograms, a Jurassic Park-style robot dinosaur theme park and edition Genetics , never-before-seen technologies and infrastructure, luxury hotels, resorts and restaurants, cloud-creating mechanisms to cause rainfall in arid areas, glow-in-the-dark sandy beaches, and even an artificial moon.

Another aim of project is to make NEOM the safest city on the planet, through state-of-the-art surveillance systems including drones, automated cameras, facial and biometric recognition machines and AI capable of reporting crimes without the need for citizens to report them. Similarly, the leaders of the urban development initiative themselves predict that the city will be an ecological centre of great projection, basing its power supply system solely on solar and wind energy obtained from panels and windmills, as they have a whole desert to install them in.

At the moment, NEOM is only a project in its infancy. The land on which the big city will be located is a desert terrain, mountains up to 2,500 metres high and 468 kilometres of pristine coastline of turquoise blue water, with a palace and a small airport. NEOM is being built from scratch, with an initial outlay of $9 billion from the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund Saudi Arabia Monetary Authority (SAMA). Apart from foreign business investment, the Saudi government is looking for workers from all professional sectors to help in their respective fields: Jurists to draft a civil, criminal and tax code; engineers and architects to design a modern, efficient and technological infrastructure and energy plan; diplomats to collaborate in its promotion and cultural coexistence; scientists and doctors to encourage clinical and biotechnological research and welfare; academics to promote Education; economists to make income and expenditure profitable; personalities specialising in tourism, fashion and telecommunications... But, above all, people and families to inhabit and give life to the city.

As reported by the Arabic daily Rai Al Youm, Mohammed bin Salman has C a proposal prepared by a joint Saudi legal committee with the UK, which consists of providing a VIP document that will offer special visas, residency programrights to investors, senior officials and workers in the future city. Contracts business have already been awarded to the US engineering firm Aecom and construction contracts to the UK's Arup Group, Canada's WSP, and the Netherlands' Fugro NV.

However, not everything is as ideal and straightforward as it seems. Despite the strong interest of 400 foreign companies in project, according to the local government, there is uncertainty about its profitability. Problems and scandals related to the Saudi crown, such as the imprisonment of family members and dissidents, corruption, unequal rights, the military intervention in Yemen, the case of the murder of journalist Khashoggi and the possible political crisis following the future death of King Salman bin Abdulaziz, Mohammed's father, have caused investors to tread carefully. Moreover, in the region where the city is to be built there are villages of locals who would be relocated, and "compensated and supported by social programmes", according to the Saudi government, which will be criticised by human rights groups.

In conclusion, NEOM is a unique project and a match for the Arab sheikhs themselves, who have adopted a far-sighted economic vision. It is expected that by 2030 it will be possible to live in the city, even if construction is still underway and not yet fully completed. According to the markets, the project, still far from completion, seems to be on track. It already has a structural financing commitment with BlackStone of 20 billion euros, and a technology financing commitment with SoftBank of 45 billion euros. Because such a project has never been seen before and therefore there are no references, it is difficult to determine whether the visionary plan will be successfully consolidated or whether it will remain just smoke and mirrors and a huge loss of money.

Categories Global Affairs: Middle East EconomicsTrade and Technology Logistics and infrastructure Articles Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf

In the largest countries in the region, there are four times as many private guards as police officers and ten times more weapons than in Europe

The high rates of violence in Latin America and the deficient presence of the authority of the respective States in parts of the territory have led to the proliferation of private security companies throughout the region. His issue It now has more than 16,000 companies, in an industry that involves more than 2.4 million people. The sector faces significant challenges, such as vague legality in many cases, a lack of experience, ways that are incompatible with civil and human rights in certain places, and the risk of escalating stockpiles.

The private security boom in Latin America

article / Martín Biera Muriel

The proliferation of private security companies in Latin America is linked to crime and violence statistics in the region. It is estimated that 19 out of every 20 violent crimes that occur in the world take place in Latin America, where 17 of the 20 most violent cities in the world and 4 of the 5 most violent countries are located.

The status has led to an "explosive growth" in the privatization of security in Latin America, as the report "Security for Sale" by the Inter-American Dialogue. The rise of the issue of Private Defense and Security Companies (PMSCs) has occurred not only in countries with marked conflicts, such as Colombia, where in the last ten years there has been an increase of 126%, but also in countries of greater social peace and institutionality such as Chile, which in five years has seen an increase of 50%. The total number of companies engaged in this function in Latin America reached 16,174 in 2017, as specified at the time by the Center for the Democratic Control of the Armed Forces in Geneva (DCAF).

The PMSC sector

The term PMSC includes both security companies in use in developed countries, normally dedicated to the safekeeping of establishments or individuals, as well as defence companies that can replace functions usually reserved for the State. The latter developed after the end of the Cold War and have become an important player in international relations, with participation in conflicts of interest. leave and even high intensity.

These defence companies operate in a framework The regulation of which was attempted to be standardized in 2008 with the Montreaux Document, a compilation of legal obligations and good practices aimed at guaranteeing the sovereignty of States and protecting Human Rights. While the text applies more directly to situations of armed conflict, it also provides a framework for security companies in general, given the tenuous boundary between a subject Especially in Latin America, where the authority of the State often does not extend to the entire national territory, some civil conflicts are especially virulent and some use the Armed Forces in the fight against criminal violence and the maintenance of public order.

More Guards Than Cops

The more than 16,000 PMSCs in Latin America employ around 2.4 million people. While security guards outperform in issue to members of the police around the world, in many Latin American countries there is a particular imbalance between the issue components of the police forces and that of private agents: in Colombia, Brazil and Mexico, the ratio is one police officer to four members of EMSP; in countries of extreme violence such as Honduras and Guatemala, the ratio is even as high as one to seven. It is also the case that many members of the police resort to moonlighting, acting as police officers during the day and becoming security agents at night in some neighborhood. business or building.

The largest companies are those that are engaged in the surveillance and escort of VIP clients. The largest are of European and American origin and specialise in a part of the sector, especially in the protection of private property. Most of them operate in cities or in centres of natural resource extraction isolated from urban areas. In relation to the frequent criticism that these companies receive, for alleged supplanting of functions proper to the legally constituted authority, it is necessary to emphasize that the framework The legal system in which large companies operate is strict and supervised.

degree program Armament

It can be argued that the skill among operators has generated a kind of degree program armaments in which each business You want to offer more efficient services. At the same time, as there is a greater issue With more modern weapons, criminals also tend to increase their firepower and their capabilities to meet their objectives, which consequently leads companies to also increase the caliber of their weapons, in a spiral that is difficult to control. Statistics show that Latin America has the highest ratio of firearms to security guards in the world outside of conflict-affected areas. This ratio is ten times higher than that of small arms in Europe.

This has led to the fact that certain PMSCs have been criticized in the Latin American scenario for having contributed, directly or indirectly, to illegal arms trafficking and the increase in armed gangs, generating a vicious circle. For example, in 2015 ninety people were arrested in San Francisco (some of them linked to PMSCs) for belonging to a network of arms trafficking linked to the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13). There have also been cases of theft and loss of weapons imported from the region, both by individual private security contractors and by the military itself; These weapons then enter the black market. Thus, more than 40% of illegal weapons in El Salvador are linked to some 460 private security companies, despite the obligation to have an official registry for their identification.

Challenges

Reducing high levels of insecurity is one of the main challenges for many Latin American countries. The reasons for the persistent violence in their societies are manifold; These include political corruption and economic inequality. The richer classes can be considered targets of attempted robberies or kidnappings, but the working classes also suffer from high crime figures, in their case without the possibility of resorting to private security.

Private security in Latin America faces two major challenges. One is illegality on the part of the sector: illegal companies grow faster than in the legal sector; in Brazil, for example, the issue of guards employed informally outnumbered formal ones. The other is the lack of training or experience of a certain volume of private guards. To meet the need for greater legal regulation, and for a regulation more adjusted to national specificities, and to the convenience of greater training It will help to reduce the grey area in which in many cases it operates and the violations of Human Rights.

Categories Global Affairs: Articles Security and defence Latin America

The deterioration of recent years seems to have been corrected in several indicators on democratic health and economic environment.

Costa Rica has traditionally been a model of democratic functioning in a region with serious institutional deficits, which has earned it a mediating role in different conflicts. The increase of internal problems -strikes, citizen protests, bipartisan crisis...- have seemed to have diminished Costa Rica's international prestige in recent years. Is Costa Rica suffering from democratic and institutional deterioration?

Facade of the National Theater of Costa Rica, in San José [Pixabay].

▲ Facade of the National Theater of Costa Rica, in San José [Pixabay].

article / Ramón Barba

The political unrest of recent years in Costa Rica, in a regional context of the "angry vote" and the consequent "outsider phenomenon", has given the impression of a setback in the country's institutional virtues. The goal of this article is to determine, based on different indicators on democratic health and economic and political satisfaction, if there are objective data that ratify this perception.

For this purpose we will first analyze a set of indicators, elaborated by the World Bank, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and The Economist magazine, and then we will also take into account some results of the survey Latinobarómetro. We will compare the values recorded in 2010, 2013, 2016 and, when possible, 2018.

Indicators

Regarding the Democracy Index elaborated by The Economist, although Costa Rica maintains its second place among Latin American democracies, behind Uruguay and ahead of Chile (these are the three countries that usually obtain better grade in the different institutional parameters of the region), in the last decade a Costa Rican democratic decline is observed, apparently overcome in the most recent report. From a score of 8.04 achieved in the 2010 Democracy Index, Costa Rica dropped to 8.03 in 2013 and 7.88 in 2016, to regain ground in 2018 with an 8.07. The country remains the best democracy in Central America, followed at a distance by a stable Panama.

The deterioration of recent years has also been picked up by the Index of development of Democracies in Latin America (IDD-LAT), of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, which has not yet published data referring to 2018, so this index cannot endorse whether there has been a recent recovery. In 2010, Costa Rica had a score average of 9.252; it barely varied in 2013, with a figure of 9.277, but dropped clearly in 2016, with 8.539 points. The components of the index that suffered the most were welfare policy creation and economic efficiency, where it dropped from 1st and 5th place, respectively, to 8th and 12th. The fact that Costa Rica remained between 1st and 3rd place in civil and political rights and in institutional and political efficiency in those years sample shows that the social concern of those years was more in the economic sphere than in the institutional sphere.

The World Bank's Good Governanceindicators also registera small regression in the case of Costa Rica between the years 2013 and 2016 (data more recent ones have not yet been published). Regarding the Rule of Law and Government Effectiveness scales the score dropped from 0.6 and 0.5, respectively, to 0.5 and 0.4. There has been little change in the Control of Corruption scale.

 

evaluation citizen

The above indicators are prepared by experts who, by applying standardized criteria, seek to offer an objective estimate. But we also wanted to take into account the opinion of the citizens themselves, as expressed in the survey Latinobarómetro. These can be useful to indicate the perception that exists among the population regarding the institutional health of the country: the satisfaction that exists regarding the government system and the economic system.

The value of democracy is maintained in high percentages in Costa Rica, despite a negative trend in the region as a whole. Attending to four values that Latinobarómetro has included in its surveys corresponding to the years here chosen for our comparison, we see that indeed in 2016 the citizen perception was that of a worsening of status, but in 2018 an improvement is observed, reaching even more positive levels than in 2013. As for the evaluation of democracy, its consideration as the best system of government dropped from 77% to 72% and then has risen again to 77%, while its cataloging as a preferable system has been increasing: 53%, 60% and 63%.

The perception of the economic environment, for its part, had a blip in 2013, but today it is in better condition. The statement "progress is being made" fell from 15% to 12%, but in 2018 it reached 22%, while satisfaction with future personal economic prospects fell from 45% to 20% to stand in 2018 at 52%.

 

Political unrest

Costa Rica is a country that retains strong institutions, although the political landscape is more divided. test of this is the end of the two-party system (1953-2014), brought about by less support for the National Liberation Party (PLN) and the Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC) and the emergence of the Citizen Action Party (PAC), to which the country's current president, Carlos Alvarado, belongs.

Corruption issues such as the "cimentazo case", the high public debt that has forced cutbacks in a country with certain well-established social benefits and a regional and international environment prone to populist solutions may be behind the political unrest observed in Costa Rica in recent years.

This occurs in a context of the "angry vote" in Latin America, which arises as a consequence of the political actions of the last twenty years in the region and a strengthening of the middle classes. Citizen dissatisfaction has led to the emergence of outsider politicians: people with relative popularity, short degree program political, without a determined strategy and with an "anti-political" speech . This is a patron saint that, although it is in the emergence of the PAC, in any case does not fully correspond to the personality of President Alvarado, who actually seems to have contributed to redirect the Costa Rican restlessness.

Conclusions

Thus, from the analysis of the data observed here, it can be concluded that there was indeed a slight deterioration in both institutional circumstances and especially in economic conditions or expectations between 2013 and 2016, but the different scales have returned in 2018 to previous values, even improving in some cases to levels of ten years ago. This is something that can be observed both in the indicators at position of experts that follow standardized objective procedures and in the surveys of subjective citizen perception.

The sample used and the temporal tastings carried out have not been exhaustive, so it is not possible to specify whether the variations noted here are circumstantial fluctuations or part of a trend pointing in a certain direction.

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

The management given to a Chinese business prompts US threat not to sell technology to Israel.

The Trump administration's protests over the awarding of management of the port of Haifa to a Chinese business have so far not prompted the Netanyahu government to review the contract, which was dealt with at ministerial level without plenary session of the Executive Council knowledge of its geopolitical implications. China's penetration of Israel - in the wider Middle East context - as well as the US reaction, highlights a complicated triangle of relations: Israel wants Chinese investment, but fears losing US favour.

management container port in the port of Haifa, northern Israel [Wikipedia].

▲ management of containers in the port of Haifa in northern Israel [Wikipedia].

article / María Martín Andrade

The port of Haifa is one of the main ports in Israel in terms of volume of goods handled. It also has a strategic character: the port, in the north of the country, hosts the US Sixth Fleet in its movements. The latter could be altered following the announcement of Israel's contract with the Chinese business Shanghai International Port Group (SIPG) to operate the port for the next 25 years from 2021, which has not been very well received by Washington. management The company, which has pledged to invest $2 billion to expand the facility into Israel's largest port, describes its functions as including the construction and installation of equipment and the day-to-day running of port activities, classifying this project as part of the One Belt, One Road initiative.

This initiative has its origins in the Silk Road, a trade pathway linking China with various Asian countries all the way to Europe, dating back to the first centuries BC. The new version is based on the early schemes and aims to boost China by creating a network of infrastructure, investment and trade, and by establishing multilateral and bilateral ties with the various states along the Silk Road, as well as with international companies.

All of the above, added to the growing industrial and transport expansion that China is experiencing, also justifies the Asian country's interest in some of the natural resources that the Middle East offers, such as oil, the import of which amounts to 50%, constituting another of the reasons why China wants to gain a presence in different parts of the region and which is manifested in, among other ways, investment in canals and ports such as those of Haifa and Ashdad in Israel, Cherchell in Algeria, Said and Alexandria in Egypt, and Kumport in Turkey. Specifically, its commitment to the port of Haifa is also contributing to the development of what is known as the Israel-Gulf Economic Corridor (IGEC), whose goal is to create a railway line running from the port of Haifa to the Jordanian-Israeli border, linking up with the Jordanian railway system.

However, China's ambitions to gain a greater presence in the Middle East collide with the pretensions of another "robust rival", the United States, which is also driven by economic and security interests and has no intention of sharing it. Thus, after learning of the plans in the port of Haifa, the US response is manifested in threats that it might stop sharing data intelligence with Israel and reconsider holding future long deadline exercises by the US navy in that port.

It is important to note that this is not the first time that the US has intervened to hinder relations between China and Israel. The conditions under which the latter country was established, coupled with the hostile environment surrounding it and the need to possess weapons to maintain and protect it, have contributed to the development of its technology, especially in subject defence, whose broad scope is due in part to the United States, which has been supplying the country with the latest military technology since the 1960s. This has contributed to Israel's exports of subject technology, mainly defence subject technology, becoming the source main source of revenue for its industry.

During the 1970s, China's Economics began to modernise, and the next step was to extend this modernisation to the military domain, and China began importing defence developments from Israel. These relations continued to expand until 2000, when the Middle Eastern country, due to US pressure, decided to cancel the agreement that allowed China to obtain four Phalcon radar systems. The reason given by the US at the time for opposing the agreement was the possibility that China would benefit from the technology in a military conflict in Taiwan. However, China is not the only country with which Israel has had difficulties exporting its technology. In 2008 Washington denied that it could submit Heron drones to Russia.

Despite all this, Sino-Israeli relations have managed to survive, with China becoming Israel's second largest trading partner in 2012, partner and developing new partnership R&D ties, consisting of a series of agreements and collaborations between academic institutions and companies in both countries.

However, considering the US reaction to China's involvement in the port of Haifa, it is not unthinkable to envisage a scenario in which American pressure would be repeated and in this case would succeed in abolishing the existing agreement with the business Shanghai International Port. If this happens, Israel would lose an important part of the investments it receives and trade relations with China would cool, while Beijing could see one of its plans to create its ambitious Silk Road frustrated, although this would not mean its decline in the Middle East.

 What is unquestionable is that the United States no longer enjoys hegemony in this part of the world and has to come to terms with the idea that it will have to share influence with other great powers. It may therefore make more sense to engage in new forms of cooperation with China in order to establish mutually favourable terms.

In conclusion, this new Chinese investment affirms what was already known: China's international presence is growing and increasing in volume, and it is wiser to adapt to the new changes than to get involved in love triangles that never have a happy ending for anyone.

Categories Global Affairs: Middle East Logistics and infrastructure Articles Israel and Palestine

Evolving US space strategy in the face of growing rivalry with China and Russia

The prospect of battles in space, as an extension of wars that may be fought on Earth, seeking to interfere with the capabilities provided by satellites, has led the Trump Administration to promote a specific division of the US Armed Forces dedicated to this domain, the US Space Force. Although its constitution has yet to be approved by the congress, the new Pentagon component will already have its own budget.

The X-37B orbital vehicle in operations at test in 2017, at Kennedy Space [US Air Force].

▲ The X-37B orbital vehicle in operations at test in 2017, at Kennedy Space [US Air Force].

article / Ane Gil

More than 1,300 active satellites encircle the globe today, providing global communications, GPS navigation, weather forecasting and planetary surveillance. The need to protect them from attack, which could seriously disrupt countries' national security, has become a priority for major powers.

Since he arrived at the White House, Donald Trump has insisted on his idea of creating a Space Force, giving it the same rank as the five existing branches of the Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard). Trump signed the directive for the creation of the US Space Force on 19 February, the final approval of which has yet to be given at congress. It would be the first military branch to be created in the United States since 1947, when the Air Force was launched. The Pentagon expects it to be operational by 2020.

As US Vice President Mike Pence announced almost a year ago, this new Space Force will have its own facilities, although for the time being it will draw on the support and resources of the Air Force. According to Pence, the Space Force's goal is intended to deal with alleged threats from Russia, China, North Korea and Iran in space. Although its ultimate aim is specifically to contain Russia and China, who for some years now have been developing their own methods of conquering space.

Obama-era strategy reports

The Trump Administration has called for such a military specialization in space in the face of China and Russia's skill in the same domain, which during the Obama Administration was still embryonic. However, while during Barack Obama's presidency the White House placed less emphasis on military developments in space capabilities, it also sought to promote the US presence in space.

In the 2010 National Space Policy of 2010, in a rather inclusive essay , the United States defended the right of all nations to explore space and called for all countries to be able to work together to ensure respectful space activity manager in an framework of international cooperation. The policy that was then being set looked primarily to the commercial and civilian dimension of space, where the US aspired to strengthen its leadership.

The document did, however, include a section on security. Thus, it made reference letter the need to develop and operate information systems and networks that provide national security coverage, facilitating defence and intelligence operations both in times of peace and in times of crisis and conflict. In addition, it called for the development and implementation of plans, procedures, techniques and capabilities to ensure critical national security missions, using space assets while taking advantage of non-space capabilities of allied countries or private companies.

What was presented there in a more generic way, the Obama Administration fleshed out in a subsequent strategy document, the 2011 National Security Space Strategy of 2011, in which space was presented as a vital area for US national security. The text warned that space is "increasingly congested, contested and competitive", which urged the US to try to maintain its leadership, but without neglecting the international partnership to make space a safe, stable and secure place.

The document then set out strategic objectives and approaches. Specifically, the US aimed to "provide enhanced space capabilities" in order to improve system procurement, reduce the risk of mission failure, increase launch success and system operability, and train national security professionals to support all these space activities.

Another stated objective was to "prevent and deter aggression against the space infrastructure that supports US national security", which at its core included denying adversaries the significant benefits of an attack by strengthening the resilience of their systems architecture. However, the document specified that the US retains the right to respond in self-defence if deterrence fails.

Precisely in the latter case, the strategic text called for preparing one's capabilities to "defeat attacks and operations in a degraded environment". It indicated that military and intelligence capabilities must be prepared to "combat" and defeat attacks on their space systems and support infrastructure. 

China and Russia's rivalry in the Trump era

Donald Trump became US president with his motto "America First", which he has also applied to space strategy, prioritising US interests in a context of increased rivalry with Beijing and Moscow. His space policy emphasises the dynamic and cooperative interaction between the military, civilian and commercial interests, respectively, of the Pentagon, NASA and private companies interested in extra-atmospheric spaceflight. 

The first national security strategy document of the Trump era is the National Security Strategy (NSS) of December 2017. National Security Strategy (NSS) of December 2017. reference letter Although report barely mentions space, the text declares China and Russia to be "rivals", giving the US an opportunity to confront the opposing interests of these countries, also outside the Earth. The NSS proclaims that the US must maintain its "leadership and freedom of action in space", and warns of the risk of "other actors" achieving the capability to attack US space assets and thus gaining an "asymmetric advantage". "Any harmful interference or attack against critical components of our space architecture that directly affects this vital US interest will be met with a deliberate response in a time, place, manner and domain of our choosing," the document warns.

Some of these military issues are further elaborated in the Pentagon's report . In the April 2018 Space Operations document, the military leadership notes that several nations are making significant advances in offensive space control capabilities, with the intention of challenging the use of space by the US and its allies by threatening their space assets. It therefore advocates the importance of off-ground operations, which have the goal purpose of securing and defending space capabilities against the aggressive activities of others.

"Our adversaries' progress in space technology," notes report, "not only threatens the space environment and our space assets, but may also deny us an advantage if we lose space superiority". To mitigate these risks and threats, the US is committed to "planning and conducting defensive and offensive operations".

The broad outlines of Trump's space policy are set out in the March 2018 National Space Strategy document. National Space Strategy of March 2018. It is a policy based on four pillars: reinforcing space architectures; strengthening deterrence and warfighting options; improving foundational capabilities, Structures and processes; and fostering enabling domestic and international environments.

Directives and budget

In addition to the security aspects already noted, the Trump Administration has also expressed a desire to "promote space commerce" by "simplifying and updating regulations for commercial space activity to strengthen competitiveness".

To oversee these activities, which open up the space business to US private companies and at the same time set a horizon for mineral exploitation of asteroids and planets, Trump revived the White House's National Space committee in June 2017, 24 years after it was disbanded. In December 2017 Trump signed Space Police Directive-1, which ordered NASA to send US astronauts to the Moon once again, and in June 2018 he signed a directive on the management of traffic in space (Space Policy Directive-3). The fourth directive is the one signed in February 2019 for the creation of the Space Force.

Trump's new policy has not been immune to criticism, as it is argued that erecting the Space Force as an additional division of the Armed Forces could weaken the resources of other divisions, putting the country at risk in the event of an attack or emergency on Earth. In fact, General James Mattis, secretary of defence during 2017 and 2018, publicly expressed some reluctance at first, although he later began to implement the president's plans.

agreement According to data provided at the recent presentation of the budgets for the next fiscal year, the Space Force could have a staff of 830 people (divided between the Headquarters, the Space Agency development and the Space Command, which will require 300 million dollars for its installation) and a budget of about 2 billion during the first five years. At the end of those five years it could have a payroll of 15,000 people.

Categories Global Affairs: North America Security and defense Articles Space

The positive consequences of the free trade agreement will derive more from the end of uncertainty than from the new provisions introduced.

After a year and a half of negotiations, the new treaty between the United States, Canada and Mexico (this country has named it T-MEC, the other two speak of USMCA) is still pending approval by the legislative chambers of each country. In Washington, the political discussion should begin shortly; it will be important what effects are foreseen for the US Economics and that of its two neighbors. The first programs of study disagree on some aspects, although they agree that the changes introduced in the renegotiation of the agreement that existed since 1994 will not have a special impact.

signature of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada free trade agreement at framework of the G-20 in November 2018 [Shealah Craighead-White House].

▲ signature of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada free trade agreement at framework of the G-20 in November 2018 [Shealah Craighead-White House].

article / Ramón Barba

The renegotiation of the formerly North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA, or NAFTA for its acronym in English) and now baptized as the Treaty of the United States, Mexico and Canada (T-MEC or, in its Anglo-Saxon version, USMCA), has been one of the main points on the Trump Administration's diary . C by the three negotiating parties at the end of 2018, now the treaty is pending ratification by the legislative chambers of each country.

Launched in 1994, the agreement had been described by Trump as "the worst trade agreement in history". From the beginning of his presidency, Trump set out to modify some aspects of agreement to reduce the large trade deficit with Mexico (some $80 billion, double the deficit the US has with Canada), and at the same time refund activity and jobs to the US Rust Belt, where the echo of his promises had been decisive for his electoral victory.

What has each country gained and what has each country lost in the renegotiation of the treaty? And, above all, what effects will it have on each country's Economics ? Will the United States improve its trade balance? Will Mexico or Canada be negatively affected by some of the modifications introduced? We will first examine how the claims of each of the partners were left at the end of the negotiations, and then we will look at the possible economic effect of the new version of the treaty in the light of two recent reports programs of study, one by an independent body of the U.S. Administration and the other by the IMF.

Tug of war

In the negotiations, which dragged on for nearly a year and a half, Mexico and Canada managed to "maintain the status quo in many important areas," but while the actual changes were modest, as analyzed by the Brookings Institution, they "went almost uniformly in the direction of what the United States wanted." "Trump's aggressive and threatening approach ," which challenged with breaking the treaty for good, "succeeded in obtaining modest concessions from his partners."

In the automotive industry core topic , the US managed to increase from 62.5% to 75% the proportion of the production of a car that must be made within the free trade area , to force 30% of the work needed to manufacture a car to have a wage of $16/hour (40% as of 2023) -a measure aimed at appeasing the US unions, since in Mexico the average wage of an automotive worker today is $4/hour-, and to set a tariff of 25% for cars coming from outside the country.

Mexico and Canada were granted their demand that an autonomous termination clause not be introduced after five years if there was no prior consensus for the renewal of the agreement, put on the table by Washington. Finally, the T-MEC will last for 16 years, renewable, with a review in the sixth year.

Justin Trudeau's government had to make some concessions to the U.S. dairy sector, but preserved what had been its main red line from the beginning: the validity of Chapter 19, concerning the settlement of disputes through independent binational arbitration.

Mexico, for its part, gained the peace of mind that comes with the survival of the agreement, avoiding future uncertainty and guaranteeing close trade relations with the large U.S. market. However, the labor conditions of Mexican workers can work as a double-edged sword for the Aztec Economics , since on the one hand it can favor an improvement in the standard of living and encourage consumption, but on the other hand it can affect the location of companies due to less competitive salaries.

Regardless of these changes in one direction or another, the update of the treaty was necessary after 25 years of a agreement that was signed before the Internet revolution and the digital Economics that it has brought. On the other hand, the change of name of the treaty was a "gimmick" devised by Trump to sell to his electorate the renewal of a agreement whose previous name was associated with criticisms made over the last two decades.

The discussion on the text will take place in the fall at the US congress , where Democrats will insist on strengthening assurances that Mexico will implement the committed labor measures. Prior to the vote the US must apply a exemption to Canada and Mexico of the steel and aluminum tariffs that the Trump Administration has imposed internationally.

 

U.S. Trade

 

Economic effect

The United States International Trade Commission (USITC), an independent body that has the status of a government agency, considers that the T-MEC will have a limited but positive impact on the US Economics . Thus, in a report published in April, it estimates that the entrance in force of the reformulated agreement will increase US production by 0.35%, with an increase in employment of 0.12%, figures somewhat lower than those predicted when NAFTA came into force in 1994, when the US expected a 0.5% increase in its Economics and a 1% rise in employment.

In any case, this timid impact would not be so much due to the content of the agreed text, but to its mere existence, since it eliminates uncertainties about US trade relations with its two neighbors.

The report believes that the T-MEC will lead to an increase in the production of automotive accessories in the US, dragging up the employment in that country, but making the products more expensive and, therefore, negatively affecting exports. The report also foresees that maintaining the current arbitration system, as demanded by Mexico and Canada, will discourage US investments in the Mexican market and boost them in the US.

These conclusions do not coincide with the assessment of the International Monetary Fund, although both bodies agree with agreement in ruling out major effects of agreement. Thus, an IMF study published in March believes that, at the aggregate level, the effects of the new wording "are relatively small". The new provisions "could lead to less economic integration of North America, reducing trade among the three North American partners by more than $4 billion (0.4%), while giving their members combined gains of $538 million". It adds that the real GDP effects of the free trade area are "negligible," and qualifies that many of the benefits "would come from trade facilitation measures that modernize and integrate customs procedures to further reduce trade costs and border inefficiencies."

The result of the study sample that the more demanding rules of origin in the automotive sector and labor value content requirements, issues that especially concern the US-Mexico relationship, "would not achieve their desired consequences". According to the IMF, "the new rules lead to a decline in vehicle and parts production in the three North American countries, with shifts toward increased sourcing of vehicles and parts from outside the region. Consumers will find higher vehicle prices and will respond with lower quantity demand".

As for Canada's dairy market, an issue of particular relevance in the US-Canada trade relationship, the effects of increased US access "would be very small and macroeconomically insignificant".

This disparity in forecasts between the USITC and the IMF is due to the fact that several variables are undetermined, such as the future of the trans-Pacific agreement , in which Canada and Mexico are involved, or the ongoing trade discussions between the US and China. One sample where the ground is especially shaky is the data that in January and February 2019 Mexico became the first trade partner of the US (a exchange of $97.4 billion), ahead of Canada ($92.4 billion) and China ($90.4 billion). That raised the US trade deficit with Mexico by $3 billion, just in the opposite direction of the Trump Administration's claims.

Categories Global Affairs: North America EconomicsTrade and Technology Articles

The change of government and its stricter vision have slowed down the implementation of agreement, but it is making progress in its application.

The implementation of the agreement peace agreement in Colombia is proceeding more slowly than those who signed it two years ago expected, but there has not been the paralysis or even the crisis predicted by those who opposed the election of Iván Duque as president of the country. The latest estimate speaks of a compliance with the stipulations of the peace agreement agreement close to 70%, although the remaining 30% is already not being complied with.

Colombian President Iván Duque at a public event [Efraín Herrera-Presidencia].

▲ Colombian President Iván Duque at a public event [Efraín Herrera-Presidencia].

article / María Gabriela Fajardo

Iván Duque arrived at the Casa de Nariño - the seat of the Colombian presidency - with the slogan "Peace with Legality", degree scroll that synthesized his commitment to implement the peace agreement , signed in November 2017, but reducing the margins of impunity that in his opinion and that of his party, the Democratic Center, existed for the former combatants of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). One year after his election as president, it is worth analyzing how the implementation of the peace agreement agreement is going.

agreement About 70% of the provisions of agreement have already been fulfilled, totally or partially, or will be fulfilled within the stipulated time, according to the estimate of high school Kroc, in charge of making the official estimate of the implementation of the peace process. According to its third report, published in April, 23% of the commitments have been completely fulfilled, 35% have reached advanced levels of implementation, and 12% are expected to be completely fulfilled by the stipulated time. However, almost 31% of the content of the agreement has not yet begun to be implemented, when it should have been underway.

The United Nations, to which the agreement grants a supervisory role, has underlined the efforts made by the new Government to activate the various instances provided for in the text. In his report to committee Security, the University Secretary of the UN, António Guterres, highlighted at the end of 2018 the launching of the Commission for the Follow-up, Promotion and Verification of the Implementation of the Final agreement (CSIVI) and of the committee National Commission for Reincorporation (CNR).

As indicated by Raúl Rosende, chief of staff of the UN Verification mission statement in Colombia, Guterres' report positively estimated that it had "obtained the approval of 20 collective projects and 29 individual projects of ex-combatants in the process of reincorporation, valued at 3.7 million dollars and which will benefit a total of 1,340 ex-combatants, including 366 women". These projects have involved the participation of the governments of Antioquia, Chocó, Cauca, goal, Santander, Sucre and Valle del Cauca, which have facilitated departmental reincorporation roundtables to coordinate local and regional efforts, thus involving Colombian civil society to a greater extent.

The UN has also expressed some concerns, shared by Colombian civil society. The main one has to do with security in some of the historical conflict zones where a high issue number of social leaders have been killed. The murders have been concentrated in Antioquia, Cauca, Caquetá, Nariño and Norte de Santander. Thus, throughout 2018 at least 226 social leaders and Human Rights defenders were killed, according to data of the high school of programs of study for development and Peace(Indepaz). The Ombudsman's Office put the figure at 164.

In addition, as Rosende has recalled, many of the indigenous communities have suffered assassinations, threats and forced displacement. This has occurred in ethnic territories of the Awá, Embera Chamí and Nasa peoples in Caldas, Cauca, Chocó, Nariño and Valle del Cauca.

Along with the successes and concerns, the UN also points to a series of challenges that lie ahead in the post-conflict period. On the one hand, there is the challenge of guaranteeing former combatants the necessary legal security, generating confidence and producing real progress in terms of social and political reintegration. Another great challenge is to achieve the autonomous and effective functioning of mechanisms core topic such as the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) and the Commission for the Clarification of Truth, Coexistence and Non-Repetition or Truth Commission. In addition, there is also the social challenge to attend to the communities affected by the conflict, which demand security, Education, health, land, infrastructure and viable alternatives against illegal economies.

Controversial aspects

Issues related to the SJP have been the focus of Duque's most controversial actions. In March, the president presented formal objections to the law regulating the SJP, which he wants to modify six points of its 159 articles. Two of them refer to the extradition of former combatants, something that is not contemplated now if they collaborate with the transitional justice system, especially in the case of crimes committed after the signature of agreement. Duque also proposes a constitutional reform that excludes sexual crimes against minors from the JEP, determines the loss of all benefits if there is recidivism in a crime and transfers to the ordinary justice system the cases of illegal conducts started before the agreement and continued after. The objections were rejected in April by the House of Representatives and also by the Senate, although the validity of the result in the latter was left in question, thus lengthening the discussion.

A new controversy may arise when the Territorial Spaces of training and Reincorporation (ETCR) are to be closed in August. Around 5,000 ex-combatants are still in or around them. The High Counselor for the Post-Conflict, Emilio Archila, has stated that by that time, with the financial aid of the FARC (the political party that succeeded the guerrilla) and the Government, the ex-combatants must have work, be clear about what their residency program will be and be prepared for reincorporation into civilian life.

Within the reincorporation process, the lack of compliance by FARC leaders with their commitment, stipulated in the peace agreement agreement , to remain until the end in the ETCRs in order to contribute with their leadership to the smooth running of the process, is a cause for concern. However, in recent months, several leaders have left these territories, among them "El Paisa", who has not presented himself before the JEP, which has demanded his capture.

Nor is former ringleader Ivan Marquez cooperating with the transitional justice system, successively delaying his appearance before the JEP citing security concerns. Márquez has cited the murder of 85 former guerrillas since the signature of the peace agreement , and has accused the government of serious failures to comply.

There is also the case of Jesús Santrich, who like Márquez had acquired a seat in the congress thanks to the implementation of the peace process. Santrich has been detained since April 2018 based on an Interpol red notice at the request of the United States, which accuses him of the shipment of 10 tons of cocaine made after the signature of the agreement peace .

A topic quite addressed from the time of the negotiations has to do with forced eradication and crop spraying. The illicit crop substitution program began to yield results in 2018, resulting in thousands of peasant families agreeing with the government to replace their coca crops with other licit crops. Although in some Departments such as Guaviare there was voluntary crop eradication, this was not enough to offset the increase in plantings in 2016 and 2017. In 2018, close to 100,000 families - responsible for just over 51,000 hectares of coca - signed substitution agreements and this issue is expected to continue to increase throughout 2019. According to the Colombian government, citing figures from the U.S. State Department's department , more than 209,000 hectares of coca leaf have been planted, far more than in the era of Pablo Escobar, according to figures presented by President Iván Duque last month before the Constitutional Court.

The benefits of peace are indisputable and much remains to be done to consolidate it. It is a task that cannot be left in the hands of the Government alone, but requires the support of former combatants, their former leaders and civil society. The great challenge is to accelerate the implementation of agreement and reduce political polarization, all in the search for national reconciliation.

Categories Global Affairs: Security and defence Articles Latin America

Thierry Baudet's electoral surprise and the new Dutch right wing

The Netherlands has seen in recent years not only the decline of some of the traditional parties, but even the new party of the populist Geert Wilders has been overtaken by an even newer training , led by Thierry Baudet, also markedly right-wing but somewhat more sophisticated. The political earthquake of the March regional elections could sweep away the coalition government of the liberal Mark Rutte, who has provided continuity in Dutch politics over the past nine years.

Thierry Baudet, in an advertisement for his party, Forum for Democracy (FVD).

▲ Thierry Baudet, in an advertising spot for his party, Forum for Democracy (FVD).

article / Jokin de Carlos Sola

On March 20, regional elections were held in the Netherlands. The parties that make up the coalition that keeps Mark Rutte in power suffered a strong punishment in all regions, and the same happened with the party of the famous and controversial Geert Wilders. The big winner of these elections was the Forum for Democracy (FvD) party, founded and led by Thierry Baudet, 36, the new star of Dutch politics. These results sow doubts about the future of Mark Rutte's government once the composition of the Senate is renewed next May.

Since World War II, three forces have been at the center of Dutch politics: the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), the Labor Party (PvA) and the liberal People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD). All three accounted for 83% of the Dutch electorate in 1982. Due to the Dutch system of proportional representation, no party has ever had an absolute majority, so there have always been coalition governments. The system also means that, because they are not punished, small parties always achieve representation, thus providing a great ideological variety in Parliament.

Over the years, the three main parties lost influence. In 2010, after eight years in government, the CDA went from 26% and first place in Parliament to 13% and fourth place. This fall brought the VVD to power for the first time under the leadership of Mark Rutte and triggered the entrance of Geert Wilders and his Party for Freedom (PVV), a right-wing populist training , in Dutch politics. Shortly thereafter Rutte formed a Grand Coalition with the PvA. However, this decision caused Labour to drop from 24% to 5% in the 2017 elections. These results meant that both the VVD and Rutte were left as the last element of old Dutch politics.

These 2017 elections generated even greater diversity in Parliament. In them, parties such as the Reformed Party, of Calvinist Orthodox ideology; the baptized 50+, with the goal to defend the interests of retirees, or the DENK party, created to defend the interests of the Turkish minority in the country, achieved representation. However, none of these parties would later be as relevant as the Forum for Democracy and its leader Thierry Baudet.

Forum for Democracy

The Forum for Democracy was founded as a think tank in 2016, led by 33-year-old French-Dutchman Thierry Baudet. The following year the FvD became a party, presenting itself as a conservative or national conservativetraining , and won two MPs in regional elections. Since then it has been growing, mainly at the expense of Geert Wilders and his PVV. One of the main reasons for this is that Wilders is accused of having no program other than the rejection of immigration and the exit from the European Union. As celebrated as it was controversial was the fact that PVV presented its program on only one page. On the contrary, Baudet has created a broad program in which issues such as the introduction of direct democracy, the privatization of certain sectors, the end of military cuts and a rejection of multiculturalism in general are proposed. On the other hand, Baudet has created an image of greater intellectual stature and respectability than Wilders. However, the party has also suffered declines in popularity because of certain attitudes of Baudet, such as his climate change denialism, his relationship with Jean Marie Le Pen or Filip Dewinter, and his refusal to answer whether he linked IQ to race.

Regional Elections

The Netherlands is divided into 12 regions, each region has a committee, which can have between 39 and 55 representatives. Each committee elects both the Royal Commissioner, who acts as the highest authority in the region, and the executive, usually formed through a coalition of parties. The regions have a number of powers granted to them by the central government.

In the provincial elections last March, the FvD became the leading party in 6 out of 12 regions, including North Holland and South Holland, where the cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague, which had been traditional VVD strongholds, are located. In addition to this, it became the party with the most representatives in the whole of the Netherlands. These gains were achieved mainly at the expense of the PVV. Although these results do not guarantee the FvD government in any region, they do give it influence and media coverage, something Baudet has been able to take advantage of.

Several media linked Baudet's victory to the murder a few days earlier in Utrecht of three Dutch nationals by a Turkish citizen, which authorities said was most likely terrorist motivated. However, the FvD had been growing and gaining ground for some time. The reasons for its rise are several: the decline of Wilders, the actions of Prime Minister Rutte in favor of Dutch companies such as Shell or Unilever (business where he previously worked), the erosion of the traditional parties, which in turn damages their allies, and the rejection of certain immigration policies that Baudet linked to the attack in Utrecht. The Dutch Greens have also experienced great growth, accumulating the young vote that previously supported Democrats 66.

 

result of the Dutch regional elections on March 20, 2019 [Wikipedia].

result of the Dutch regional elections on March 20, 2019 [Wikipedia].

 

Impact on Dutch Policy

The victory of the Baudet party over Rutte's party directly affects the central government, the Dutch electoral system and the prime minister himself. First of all, many media welcomed the results as a evaluation of the Dutch people on Rutte's government. The biggest punishment was for Rutte's allies, the Democrats 66 and the Christian Democratic Appeal, which lost the most support in the regions. Since coming to power in 2010, Rutte has managed to maintain the loyalty of his electorate, but all his allies have ended up being punished by their voters. Therefore, it is possible that Rutte's government will not be able to finish its mandate, if his allies end up turning their backs on him.

The result of the March regionals may have a second impact on the Senate. The Dutch do not appoint their senators directly, but the regional councils elect the senators, so the results of the regional elections have a direct effect on the composition of the upper house. It is therefore very likely that the parties that make up Rutte's government will suffer a major setback in the Senate, which will make it difficult for the Prime Minister to pass his legislative initiatives.

The third consequence directly affects Rutte himself. In 2019 Donald Tusk finishes his second term as president of the European committee and Rutte had a good chance of succeeding him, but with him being the main electoral asset of his party, his departure could sink the VVD. It could then happen as it did with Tusk's departure from Poland, which resulted in a conservative victory a year later.

Whatever the outcome, Dutch politics has in recent years shown great volatility and a lot of movement. In 2016 it was believed that Wilders would win the election and previously that D66 would wrest the Liberal leadership from the VVD. It is difficult to predict which way the wind will turn the mill.

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