Seguridad Regional Americana 2023

American Regional Security 2023: A year of war in Ukraine without involvement of most of the region.


14 | 04 | 2023


report SRA 2023: Ukraine war draws Russia and China to hemisphere with an eye on Darien and drugs in Ecuador

In the picture

U.S. naval personnel pick up wreckage of Chinese balloon shot down in early February 2023 [US Navy].


The invasion of Ukraine in the last year has brought the return of a war of conquest to Europe. As in so many other world conflagrations, the Western hemisphere is far from the focus of the conflict and the American countries are able to remain on the sidelines: most of them condemning the aggression, but not a few, at the same time, trying to maintain an apparent equidistance. Only Washington and Ottawa have been involved in helping Kiev.

In this status of war with Russia -and we could say 'pre-war' with China in view of a possible future confrontation over Taiwan-, Moscow and Beijing are interested in gaining a foothold in the United States' zone of influence par excellence: Latin America. Thus, throughout 2022 there were commitments from several countries in the region to extend the Russian Glonass satellite navigation system, and in early 2023 we witnessed the Chinese 'balloon crisis'. None of these pose any particular threat to the defense of the United States or its neighbors, but they do constitute monitoring elements.

In this report SRA we also address the main migration issue of 2022, seen from a security perspective: the breach in the Darien jungle on Panama's border with Colombia. From being an impassable passage, it has experienced an exponential increase in the flow of migrants, so that overland migration to the United States is no longer just a Central American phenomenon, but also a South American one.

The past year also saw an increase in violence in a number of areas. Although in subject of citizen security there were other notable issues, such as the controversial policy against gangs in El Salvador or the persistence of the emergency in the United States for fentanyl overdose, here we look at the emergence of drug trafficking in Ecuador, which has triggered the homicide rate in the country, with its epicenter in Guayaquil, and the opening of the negotiations of the new Petro government to achieve a 'Total Peace' in Colombia. We also include other noteworthy issues this year: the fishing incidents in the disputed waters between Colombia and Nicaragua; the boost given to the Alcantara space launch base in Brazil; and the naval progress of this same country, which in early 2023 saw its only aircraft carrier, now disused, disappear under the waters. 

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summary EXECUTIVE / Ukraine war draws Russia and China to hemisphere with an eye on Darien and drugs in Ecuador

EXTRAHEMISPHERIC PRESENCE / Russian satellite navigation system Glonass expands its stations in Latin America -Liznora Catañeda

EXTRAHEMISPHERIC PRESENCE / Chinese balloons to spy on the U.S. fly over the Western Hemisphere -Sara Hernández Calabrés

degree program SPACE / Brazil attracts space operators to its Alcantara launch base -Elena Martínez Álvarez

MIGRATORY PRESSUREThe Darien Gap is broken and migration to the U.S. becomes continental. -Denisse Guevara Torres

PUBLIC SAFETY / Ecuador is sliding into a hole of violence and drug trafficking -Emili J. Blasco

PUBLIC SAFETY / The ambition and difficulty of goal of 'Total Peace' in Colombia -Miguel García-Miguel

BORDER CONFLICT / Isolated fishing incidents in the Caribbean waters disputed between Colombia and Nicaragua -Diego Tagliaferro O'Higgins

DEFENSE / Atlantic aspirations and naval progress of the Marinha do Brasil -Gonzalo Vázquez Orbaiceta