Category Archives: SOUTH AMERICA

COLOMBIA and extrajudicial killings scandal

Colombia and Extrajudicial Killings Scandal


By Lee Jay Walker
Tokyo Correspondent

Above, the FARC commander Raul Reyes who was killed in 2008.

The government of Colombia which is supported by the United States of America, Canada, the United Kingdom, and others, is now in the spotlight because of the continuing grisly finds of dead corpses. The killings have been carried out by sections of the armed forces and it is a grim reminder of events in Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala, and other nations throughout the region, with regards to events in the 1970s and 1980s.

If this scandal had happened in modern day Cuba or Venezuela, then America, Canada, the United Kingdom, and others, would be the first to call for “a major enquiry” and more severe action would be taken. However, for all the above named nations, then it is complex because they have supported the current government of Colombia. So how will these nations respond to the government of President Alvaro Uribe?

It would appear that “cracks are emerging” because the British government is alarmed by recent events. For example, David Miliband, the British Foreign Secretary, stated that “The challenge for the Colombian government is to ensure the strategic human rights principles we have helped to promote are embedded and consistently practiced by all members of their armed services.”

Therefore, the British government will divert part of its military aid because of the gross violations of human rights in Colombia. Alan Campbell, from the British Home Office, said that aid would not be given to any areas which had links to the “false positives.” This applies to the extrajudicial killings in Colombia; however, can the British government be assured that the “chain”in this scandal is so limited?

Now pressure is mounting in America, after all, President Obama talked about “a new history” and the need to support human rights. Also, before being elected, Obama criticized the human rights record of Colombia and he spoke about linking this before signing the proposed USA-Colombia Free Trade Agreement.

However, according to Gary Leech, a much acclaimed journalist and writer, he is skeptical. He states in the Colombia Journal on May 4th, 2009, “that in an apparent reversal, Obama recently called on U.S. trade representative Ron Kirk to work with the Colombian government and Congress in order to address the obstacles to the trade agreement and get the deal signed.”

Gary Leech also makes it clear that the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, is “…currently pushing Parliament to ratify the free trade agreement signed last November with Colombia’s President Uribe. “According to Gary Leech, this is contrary to what the majority of Canadians want because a poll in July 2007 indicated that “73 percent of Canadians said their federal government should not negotiate free trade agreements with countries that have dubious human rights records.”

However, it would appear that Prime Minister Harper is a firm supporter of President Uribe. Harper commented that “We’re not going to say, ‘Fix all your social, political and human rights problems, and only then will we engage in trade relations with you.’ That’s a ridiculous position.”

So according to the leader of Canada, it is more important to concentrate on stabilizing Colombia under the current government of Colombia and to focus on mutual self-interests. Yet, like Gary Leech points out, this means that Canada is supporting Colombia without any strings being attached despite this nation being” … the country with the worst human rights record in the hemisphere.”

Yet in recent times it is abundantly clear that events in Colombia are extremely alarming because we are talking about the deaths of thousands of people by the armed forces, paramilitaries, and murky “overt operations.” Given this, the governments of America, Canada, the United Kingdom, and others, must do more to pressurize the government of Colombia.

Also, economic and military aid must be made accountable because if the “human rights mantra” is violated then once more we are going to enter a period of “tainted democracy.” So it is important that international pressure is increased because the people of Colombia have been victims for too long, irrespective if victims of right-wing or left-wing groups, or via government sponsored paramilitaries or by landowning militias.

Of course the issue is very complex and Jeremy McDermott, writer for the BBC, stated on May 7th, 2009, that the democratic security policy “has been a great success. It has pushed back Marxist rebels from around the cities and deep into their mountain and jungle strongholds. It has demobilized 30,000 members of an illegal right-wing paramilitary army, the United Self Defence Forces of Colombia. It has seen a massive drop in kidnapping and a fall in the murder rate, once among the highest in the world.”

However, Jeremy McDermott also highlights the tremendous pressure which was put on the armed forces in order to obtain results. Therefore, the government of President Uribe put great pressure on the armed forces and other areas.

But much of the blame for this current crisis must be blamed on elements within the Uribe government. After all, like Gary Leech points out, “There has also been a dramatic escalation in the number of extra-judicial executions perpetrated by the Colombian military since Uribe assumed office. Investigators are currently looking into 1,296 cases of extra-judicial executions that have occurred since 2002. In a process known as “false-positives,” soldiers execute civilians and then dress the corpses in camouflage fatigues and pass them off as guerrillas killed in combat.”

What is clear is that the numbers of deaths will continue to rise and both left-wing and right-wing views will try to manipulate events. However, the real tragedy belongs to the people of Colombia and the counter-insurgency strategy and paramilitary-political scandal must usher in a new period of transparency and fresh hope.

Therefore, it is essential that nations like America, Canada, the United Kingdom, and others, do much more because “democracy” can not be turned-on and turned-off when it suits. It is now up to internal forces and external forces to pressurize the government of President Uribe and recent events must be fully scrutinized. Also, accountability must apply to all people within the chain of events.



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USA is looking at Plan Colombia in order to tackle AFGHANISTAN

USA Is Looking at Plan Colombia in Order to Tackle Afghanistan

By Lee Jay Walker  
Tokyo Correspondent    – THE SEOUL TIMES


Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff

The United States is clearly worried by the crisis in Afghanistan and now a new policy is being viewed in order to tackle the growing insurgency. Therefore, the Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, indicated that Plan Colombia may be a new approach to the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan. However, would Plan Colombia change the current situation in Afghanistan and how successful is Plan Colombia anyway?

Before focusing on this new approach which is being touted in important circles in Washington, it is vital to state the major differences between Colombia and Afghanistan. After all, do both nations share the same common problems and history?

I would clearly argue that both situations are very different and Plan Colombia may merely lead to yet another failed policy. For how do you equate The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) with the radical Sunni Islamic insurgency in Afghanistan? Surely it must be obvious that both movements use different tactics with regards to military objectives and political desires.

FARC is merely interested in installing a Marxist-Leninist government and this movement is a lot older than the Sunni Islamic Taliban and Al Qaeda threat in Afghanistan. Also, insurgents in Afghanistan want to turn this naiton into an Islamic state which will be governed via Islamic Sharia Law.

Then if we focus on military tactics it becomes clear that FARC and radical Sunni Islamists in Afghanistan are very different. After all, suicide bombings and countless splinter groups within the Islamic insurgency in Afghanistan is very chaotic, however, FARC is much more military based and centralized and the leadership is clear. Yet many insurgency fighters in Afghanistan are in charge of themselves or based in very small groups and you clearly do not have any major centralized fighting machine. Instead, you have sporadic and chaotic attacks which causes major carnage but often this is done by a very small number of people and then they either melt away or if a suicide bomber, then clearly they die on the battlefield.

However, Admiral Mullen and other senior members have touted the need to look at Plan Colombia and possibly use aspects of this policy in order to tackle the growing insurgency in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Admiral Mullen stated ” … that I think many of us from all over the world can learn from what has happened with respect to the very successful developments of Plan Colombia. As in all plans, there are parts of it that would be very applicable in other parts of the world and specifically to Afghanistan and there would be other parts that would not apply at all.”

Admiral Mullen further continued by linking both insurgencies because he stated ” … the counter-insurgency approach, the providing security for the people, the need for governance upon which the people can depend, not just national governance, but local governance, the ability to create jobs and opportunities for people who feel secure in those jobs are fundamentals that apply here and apply in Afghanistan. I’m actually encouraged based on the briefings that I’ve received here, since I’ve been here, about the plans for the future.”

So it is apparent that senior military and political leaders are looking at Plan Colombia with regards to implementing aspects of this policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Therefore, Admiral Mullen continued by stating ” .. there is great learning which has occurred for all of us—applying that learning to a place like Pakistan and Afghanistan is certainly part of the approach that I take in this review for that strategy.”

Admiral Mullen does state that many differences apply between both situations, for example geography, however, it is noticeable that many aspects of Plan Colombia do appear to appeal to him and other senior members of the military and Obama administration. However, some people question the effectiveness of Plan Colombia because of important human rights violations and the ongoing narcotic menace which is reaching the streets of so many nations.

Therefore, Garry Leech, a senior writer for and a writer of many books, for example Beyond Bogotá: Diary of a Drug War Journalist in Colombia and The Failure of Global Capitalism: From Cape Breton to Colombia and Beyond, states a very different point of view about Plan Colombia. For according to Garry Leech, a much acclaimed journalist and writer and a free thinker, we must not ignore the negative aspects of Plan Colombia.

Gary Leech states “Not surprisingly, Mullen and others who advocate transferring the Plan Colombia model to Afghanistan point to improved security in Colombia’s major population centers and a dramatic reduction in murders and kidnappings in recent years. While a significant percentage of the Colombian population has indeed benefited from these successes, Mullen and others conveniently ignore the humanitarian crisis that has resulted from this establishment of “security” and Plan Colombia’s complete failure as a counter-narcotics initiative.”

Gary Leech continues by stating other valid points for he states that “ In recent decades, Colombia has endured one of the most under-reported humanitarian crises in the world … With almost four million internal refugees, Colombia ranks second in the world after the Sudan. And while supporters of Plan Colombia repeatedly point to improved “security” in urban areas, critics note that the internal refugee crisis has worsened in recent years, in part because of the Colombian military’s aggressive counter-insurgency tactics in rural regions.”

Therefore, it is abundantly clear that many aspects of Plan Colombia have failed and many people in Colombia have been uprooted, killed, or kidnapped. For example you had more than one thousand disappearances in 2008 in Colombia and clearly the motives are political and undemocratic. Also, many extrajudicial executions have taken place throughout this nation and the counter-narcotics initiative appears to have failed because cocaine production is still on the increase.

Overall, I believe that you can not overlook the huge differences between Colombia and the crisis in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This applies to political ideology and religious ideology, and different military tactics which are used by FARC and radical Sunni Islamists. Other factors, for example terrain, motivation, suicide attacks, centralized structures via decentralized structures, and other important factors must not be ignored.

More important, like Gary Leech points out, you have many failings within Plan Colombia and you also have many human rights violations. Therefore, if the Obama administration and senior military leaders want to focus on Plan Colombia, they must also look at the terrible consequences of this operation. More importantly, Obama hinted at “a new history” for mankind but surely to focus on Plan Colombia then this is not “a new history” but merely a continuing policy of mass intervention and the violation of rights.



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USA – Proposed solution to America’s long lost war on drugs

Proposed Solution to America’s Long Lost War on Drugs

Special Contribution
By John Gorrindo    –  THE SEOUL TIMES


Operation Mallorca, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, 2005 US Department of Justice press release

It was refreshing to hear a United State’s Secretary of State actually admit America’s fair share of culpability for the plague of death the drug cartels have perpetrated on the Mexican people.

“Our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade. Our inability to prevent weapons from being illegally smuggled across the border to arm these criminals causes the deaths of police officers, soldiers and civilians,” Secretary Clinton said upon her official State visit to Mexico on March 25th.

As a high ranking member of the U.S. government, Clinton’s admission is laudable, but no prescription for winning the war itself is therein expressed. If history is any guide at all, no amount of police or national guardsmen will ever change America’s appetite for illegal drugs. The demand will always be there, and the rules governing this multi-billion dollar underground economy is no different than the so-called legitimate market place: If there is a demand, there will always be a supply. The crux of the war with Mexico’s drug cartels boils down to a question of whether Obama and his administration have the guts to act with a bold, new tack on the question of illegal drugs. The question is, “How innovative and courageous are you really, Mr. President? During your campaign you called for change in America- here’s your perfect opportunity, sir.”

Tragically, despite decades of opportunity, America’s ruling class has not shown the political courage to steer a rational course as per policies concerning illegal drugs. If pragmatism had held its own against demagoguery, Mexico and America wouldn’t have presently found themselves embroiled in such a devastating war against narcoterrorism.

Drugs have always been a powerful wedge issue in America’s long running culture wars- so much so that the first thing that comes to mind when talking about illegal drug use is the word war itself. It was then President Nixon who in 1971 first officially declared a War on Drugs, calling drugs “public enemy number one.” But Nixon’s real political intent was to pit his vaunted “silent majority” against the “moral degenerates” that threatened America’s very soul.

Nixon’s War on Drugs was a calculated tactic in a broader divide-and-conquer strategy that he hoped would help him remain on top of the political heap. The strategy was as simple as it was time-honored: create a life-threatening enemy; demonize that enemy; and then call for aggressive “law and order” solutions to defeat that enemy. Such fear-mongering was sure to rally the masses behind a president leading the charge, Nixon believed. American politicians have a nasty habit of fed off the diversion a common enemy provides.

But there were plenty of antecedents to Nixon’s call to war. America had already long been held hostage to a coterie of policy makers whose self-righteous indignation towards mind-altering substances were the determining factor in the government’s approach to regulating drug and alcohol use. Federal drug policy was founded on ideological and religious grounds. Drug use was considered a moral failing, and called for punitive action. Few saw it as a public health or medical issue.

During and after World War I, a consortium of socially conservative organizations succeeded after years of effort in persuading federal and state governments to outlaw alcohol through amending the U.S. constitution. During that same time, the Harrison Act of 1914 was also passed. This federal law was the first to criminalize drugs in the United States. These vice laws were passed not in response to the argument that drug use caused crime. It was not law enforcement that lobbied for the Prohibition, for instance, but religious groups such as Protestant missionary societies in China, and the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. Their stance against alcohol and drug use was that it was “sinful,” and that sinners should go to jail. It was the drug user’s very soul that was at stake, and the government’s obligation was to save that soul from its own devices.

Prohibition on alcohol proved to be an abject failure. A powerful underworld of organized crime led by figures such as Al Capone was spawned to slake the unquenchable American thirst for liquor. Alcohol had such strong roots in American culture that Prohibition was impossible to enforce. After a thirteen year reign, it took another amendment to the U.S. constitution to rescind Prohibition in 1933.

During that same time period, the use of drugs such as marijuana and opiates was not nearly as culturally widespread in the United States. With xenophobia in America abounding in the World War I era, such classes of drugs were considered culturally foreign; their effects damaging to a person’s ambitious drive, and as such could be propagandized as foreign threats to the moral health of America. Ultimately, as compared to alcohol, it proved easier to legislate against their use.

The cultural revolution of the 1960’s swept through America with a violent wind. Social experimentation and personal explorations into the worlds of sex and drugs were all part of a new preoccupation with individual freedom. Over the course of the next fifty years, drugs such as marijuana and cocaine have become rites of passage for not only millions of young Americans, but also American presidents as well. The last three presidents have all admitted to the use of either marijuana and/or cocaine. No longer foreign were these “exotic drugs.” In fact, marijuana had become America’s number one agricultural cash crop! Some estimates cite the number of Americans to have experimented with illegal drugs to be well over one hundred million.

In 1996, the National Review and its editor William F. Buckley published a daring symposium under the title The War on Drugs is Lost. (

Its authors were in the main conservative, and Buckley himself was considered America’s intellectual Godfather of the conservative revolution which had helped produce the Reagan era.

To quote Buckley’s lead-in sums up the frustration, citing the War on Drugs as a plague equal to drug use itself: “We are speaking of a plague that consumes an estimated $75 billion per year of public money, exacts an estimated $70 billion a year from consumers, is responsible for nearly 50 percent of the million Americans who are today in jail, occupies an estimated 50 percent of the trial time of our judiciary, and takes the time of 400,000 policemen — yet a plague for which no cure is at hand, nor in prospect.”

The symposium’s message was simple: it was time to decriminalize drugs in America. The most honest of conservatives now understood that America would have to become a police state sacrificing its dearly held values of freedom in order to win that war. It was a message whose time had come amongst even many conservative intellectuals, but to this very day, American politicians consider such a policy as tantamount to political suicide.

Where is there voice given to decriminalization as a weapon in the current war against the Mexican Drug Cartels? American establishments of government and the mainstream press have stubbornly refused to publically consider it. But if the violence spilling over the border into America begins to take an uncontrollable toll on American lives, one can predict that the “D” word- decriminalization- will start to be heard. It seems nothing short of desperation will overcome the American inertia and lack of political courage when it comes to at least testing-out decriminalization.

American politicians have routinely been deathly afraid of the “D” word, yet for years polls show the American public basically amenable to the following: The War on Drugs has failed, at least some illegal drugs should be decriminalized, and a public health approach should be tried as opposed to filling American prisons with casualties of that war.

And decriminalization of marijuana is exactly where the next phase of the War on Drugs should begin. Marijuana sales account for 50% of Mexican Drug Cartel income, and if the American government would establish new regulations for the legal production, distribution, tax, and conditional use of marijuana, it would threaten the Cartel with potential loss of half its income.

There already is provision for the medical use of marijuana in several American states. The door to decriminalization has already been cracked open as marijuana is widely acknowledged as having unique and proven medical applications nowhere else found in the pharmacopeia. Decriminalization becomes a matter of sorting out the various competing jurisdictions of state and federal law. No easy task, this, but doable.

Attacking the Cartel’s bottom line will be as powerful as any weapon or tactic imaginable. The Cartel is no less susceptible to a siphoning-off of funds as was Al Capone. Cutting off money supplies will quickly undermine the Cartel’s ability to buy weapons- many of them supplied by the American marketplace- and to continue financing private armies as populated by corrupted Mexican police and military personnel.

As President Obama, Secretary Clinton, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano roll out their plans for engaging the Mexican War Cartels, we shall see just how bold their thinking really is. America’s longest war is also its longest lost war. The War on Drugs was lost long ago and America continues to be intent on losing it.

If Obama confidentially agrees with the concept of decriminalization, would he be willing to spend the political capital necessary to fight for it? The question will not doubt soon be answered.

Many political pundits are quick to summarize the Mexican-American drug war as one where “drugs flow north; money and weapons flow south.” The dynamic is used to describe the sick symbiosis that plagues relations between the two countries. Even with direct military intervention, America couldn’t ever hope to forever destroy the cross-border drug trade. It would resurrect itself in the blink of an eye. Interventionist policies have failed with disastrous results in South American countries such as Columbia and Peru, for instance.

But America can tackle the problem domestically. America’s anachronistic, counterproductive domestic prejudices and laws have been as responsible as any single factor in shaping the current horrors being played out in not only Mexico and America, but across the Americas itself.

Morality is a poor substitute for pragmatism in the War on Drugs.


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BOLIVIA under Morales and the indigenous issue

Bolivia under Morales and the Indigenous Issue

By Lee Jay Walker
Tokyo Correspondent – THE SEOUL TIMES

President Evo Morales of Bolivia

President Evo Morales of Bolivia promised to challenge the status quo when he was elected and he is still sticking to this policy despite the complex political situation. Therefore, the indigenous issue alongside social disparity and implementing radical reforms are still part and parcel of the Morales political camp. Despite this, the political situation is still tense therefore can Morales overcome many countless obstacles that he faces?

It must be remembered that President Morales re-wrote the history books because he became the first fully indigenous head of state since the Spanish Conquest changed the landscape of South America. This in itself was revolutionary but more important, Morales firmly believes in socialism and the need to create a nation based on social equality. However, while the political landscape may be changing, it is apparent that elite vested interests remain and the future of this divided nation is far from certain.

For this reason, Morales called a referendum on August 14, 2008, in order to increase his power base. Of course this was a gamble but the gamble was rewarded because 67.4% of the electorate supported Morales. Therefore, the opposition was dealt a severe blow because Morales was given a fresh mandate but differences still remain in many parts of Bolivia.

From the outset the indigenous population and the marginalized believed that they had a head of state that would help to redistribute power, wealth, and land. After all, the Movement for Socialism (MAS) had been involved in many social protests prior to taking power. For example, during the Cochabamba protests of 2000 the socialist movement made it clear that their loyalty was with the alienated and dispossessed. Therefore, MAS promised to help the marginalized via genuine reforms and part of these reforms would come via the redistribution of gas wealth and by implementing land reforms.

However, you still have major opposition towards Morales and in the past tensions have erupted over many different issues. For example, in early 2007 around 20,000 miners took to the streets after Morales introduced a tax hike. While more threatening for Morales, six of the nine governors who have power throughout Bolivia are opposed to him. The Santa Cruz region, for example, is blessed with an abundance of oil and agricultural resources, and clearly the political leaders of this region are not happy about Morales. Similar ill-feelings can be felt in La Paz, Cochabamba, Beni, Pando, and Tarija.

The major issues in these areas are varied but clearly centralization and declining revenues are at the heart of the matter. The same can be said about challenging the status quo and undermining the traditional nature of Bolivian society, whereby the landowning class had major power. Given this, many governors are demanding greater autonomy and the need to introduce de-centralization policies.

Morales and MAS responded towards this major threat via the introduction of a new Bolivian constitution. Therefore, Morales lambasted the opposition in Santa Cruz last year for “fomenting and funding the autonomy movement in a bid to grab national resources.” He further added that he would not tolerate the break-up of Bolivia because the demise of Bolivia would merely create more chaos and lead to greater poverty.

At the moment, however, the opposition appears to be too divided and they are mainly concerned about regional issues or preserving their power base. These divisions mean that Morales can further bypass the opposition by appealing to the masses and by rallying them around the unity of Bolivia. Also, it is still apparent that Morales is widely respected amongst the indigenous population, the marginalized, within the socialist movement, and amongst other groups which are represented in Bolivia.

Jim Shultz, director of the Democracy Centre, which is a human rights organization located in Bolivia, states that “This is a country that has existed in a state of de facto apartheid for decades, centuries, millennia, depends on how you want to count it.” He further added that “For people who were used to being marginalized, even though they’re the majority, to see somebody who looks like them, who dresses like them, who talks like them, become the president of their country, you can’t underestimate the emotional symbolism of that.”

For now, Morales remains popular amongst the poorest in society and within the indigenous population. Yet poverty remains a major issue and the boom years of past high prices for petroleum is over at the moment, so an easy source of revenue will not apply in 2009 if prices remain in the doldrums. Therefore, Morales needs to implement “real reforms” because an economic downturn could unleash new political forces and the opposition will try to make the most of any natural divisions.

At the same time, Morales needs to become more pragmatic with regards to international foreign investments because many international investors are worried about past infringements. This applies to nationalization and a less than fluid legal framework.

Overall, it would appear that the road ahead is still rocky and the opposition will pounce on any major internal crisis given the opportunity. Given this, it is essential that Morales implements more pragmatic reforms and steadies the socialist power base. He also must try to reach-out to the opposition because they are not united, and he can reduce their collective threat via genuine compromise when it is applicable and in the interest of Bolivia.

For now, the downtrodden still have a leader who can appeal to them and indigenous people now see hope. Yet with each passing year, it will become apparent that words will no longer be enough, therefore, more reforms are needed. However, Morales must do this by being more open to fresh international capital and by utilizing the energy and mineral reserves of Bolivia.




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MEXICO – Drug cartels and the American market

Mexico — Drug Cartels and the American Market

By Lee Jay Walker
Tokyo Correspondent – THE SEOUL TIMES

Mexican President Felipe Calderon

Another day passes in Mexico, and once more it is another bloody day because five more beheadings have just taken place. This is modern day Mexico, it is a nation in crisis and the drug cartels are causing carnage and mayhem in Mexico, and in other regional nations. Therefore, how can President Felipe Calderon prevent this chaos from spreading?

Before pointing the finger at Mexico, it must be stated once more (like I reported last year) that America is also the cause of this mayhem. After all, it is the lucrative illegal drug market which is the cause of this problem. This is often overlooked by other nations, but sadly America is the biggest consumer of illegal drugs in the world, therefore, Mexico, and other regional nations, are faced by this reality.

So it is apparent that Mexico is in a weak position because of external factors. Therefore, because of geography and the major illegal drug market in America, this crisis is now growing out of control. When we add this to abject poverty in parts of Mexico alongside weak centralization in parts of this nation, then it is apparent that drug cartels can manipulate the situation to their own advantage.

The American factor is a serious issue because drug cartels in Mexico are fighting over the control of this lucrative trade route. If America could put “its own house in order” then clearly Mexico would be in a much more stronger position. Therefore, you have to have some sympathy for the leader of Mexico because President Calderon is not in control of the narcotic crisis in America.

Given this, it is vital that America spends more money on launching an internal crackdown against the usage of drugs in America. At the same time, the border between America and Mexico must be brought under control because illegal immigration is a major problem. This applies to poverty within America, which in turn means that drug cartels can manipulate this situation to their own respective advantage. Also, drug cartels can move between both nations and this is a real problem.

The four main drug cartels are the Sinaloa cartel, the Gulf cartel, the Juarez cartel, and the Tijuana cartel. However, you have many other drug cartels and a power vacuum is also causing mayhem, for ironically, every time a major leader is killed or put in chains, then others try to take over and internal and external violence is unleashed. Therefore, the size of the problem is enormous and police corruption is also a major issue, because it is apparent that Calderon fully trusts the armed forces.

In recent times, the US anti-narcotic drive in the Caribbean and Florida was stepped up and this led to some success. However, for the drug cartels in Mexico, this meant that the flow of drugs would increase through their territory and again it was boom time. After all, we are talking about a drug business which is estimated to be between $12 billion dollars to $14 billion dollars a year.

So clearly, Mexico is blighted by geography and the illegal drug consumer culture of America. Mexico is therefore caught in the middle and the lucrative illegal drug market which flows between the suppliers in South America and the consumers in the United States is a nightmare. Therefore, it is apparent that the government of Mexico does face real problems, but these problems are both internal and external.

The internal factors are weak central government in parts of Mexico, police corruption, geography, poverty, the infrastructure, and limited control over the border area with America. Yet the external factors appear even more problematic and clearly these problems are out of the control of Mexico. These apply to drug cartels throughout South America which use Mexico in order to export their illegal drugs, the enormous consumer market in America, the failure of America to solve their own drug problems, geography, and the lack of transparency amongst regional drug agencies and national governments.

Currently, around 40,000 troops from the Mexican army are trying to stem the tide of this crisis and in time they hope to crush the drug cartels. Yet since the armed forces entered the fray, it is apparent that the situation is still ongoing. Of course, Calderon is doing is best to defeat “this terrible cancer” which is eating away at parts of Mexico.

However, until the domestic illegal drug market is brought under control in America, I believe that Calderon and Mexico are merely banging their head against a brick wall. So it is vital that America and Mexico work hand-in-hand in order to fight against this growing menace. At the same time, other regional governments, for example in Colombia, must also forge a joint strategy because the problem in Mexico is not made in this nation, but it belongs to both the suppliers and consumers.

America also must stop being so complacent and the enormous drug culture of this nation needs to be tackled. Also, genuine action is needed and it is needed now. This applies to law enforcement agencies throughout the region, numerous national governments working together, the military, and other organizations, must all try to solve this enormous crisis. Another major area applies to poverty reduction measures. Yet will collective policies be implemented or will the emphasis be just put on the armed forces of Mexico?

Lee Jay Walker



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Bolivia is facing meltdown so can a solution be found?

Bolivia Is Facing Meltdown So Can a Solution Be Found?

By Lee Jay Walker
Tokyo Correspondent  – SEOUL TIMES – SOUTH KOREA

President Evo Morales of Bolivia

President Evo Morales of Bolivia faces a major internal crisis because his left-wing ideology is not going down well amongst the elites of this nation. Therefore, the most wealthy parts of this nation desire to obtain autonomy and this is clearly a threat to the Bolivian nation state. Because five out of nine states which make up Bolivia desire to obtain greater autonomy in order to control their own respective internal fiscal policies? However, can Bolivia afford such a patchwork system and will both sides abide by such major differences? Or will the internal political dynamics of Bolivia unravel and create mayhem?

If President Morales does not either seek a “genuine” compromise or clampdown on the pro-autonomy regions of Pando, Beni, Tarija, Chuquisaca and Santa Cruz, then surely events will only get worse? You can not have two governments within a nation and obviously for tax reasons, Santa Cruz is vital because of rampant poverty within Bolivia. Given this, President Morales must respond in either a positive and compromising way or if they decline this offer, then he must clampdown on this serious threat to Bolivia. His options, therefore, could be forced if the opposition is unwilling to seek a solution because both sides need to take a step back in order to solve this tense crisis.

However, does President Morales have the power to do this? After all, it is clear that in the past the extreme rich often paid for private militias in many nations throughout South America. Also, the armed forces were nothing more than a military unit which looked after the extreme rich and strong families who dominated society. This applied to the Somoza family in Nicaragua before the Sandinista Revolution and this same scenario was played out in other nations during the Cold War period. At the same time the judiciary may also cause political mayhem alongside the military and the police because these institutions may challenge the power base of Morales? So it is clear that divide and rule based on massive economic disparity was often the way in this part of the world and Morales must be getting worried.

Also, the issue of racial politics is very serious because the indigenous people have been marginalized since the Spanish conquest. Martin Arostegui wrote in the Washington Times (June 24, 2005) that “A growing indigenous movement has helped topple successive governments in Bolivia and Ecuador and, angered by the destruction of Andean coca crops, now threatens the stability of other countries where Indians are in the majority.

Drawing support from European leftists and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the long-marginalized Indians are tasting political influence for the first time since the Spanish conquest and beginning to wrest power from South America’s white elites…” This statement highlights the natural divisions within Bolivia, Ecuador, and other nations throughout the region. So it is clear that you have ethnic factors, economic reasons, and others, which have been fused together with the theory of socialism but the real underline cause of this is both economic and social alienation.

The only major difference between now and the past, is that in most nations it is left-wing forces which are in power, therefore, regional nations may assist President Morales? Also, he does have a strong power base amongst the poor and marginalized, and he will surely take some comfort in this reality. However, wealthy leaders who are against him could easily cause havoc but some may fear retribution if they fail. Therefore, divisions may emerge within the five regions which desire greater autonomy or self-rule?

For now the situation is very delicate and President Morales must act in a brave way but he must not be naive because if he shows any weaknesses, then he may lose power? This situation needs to be solved quickly because the death total keeps on rising. Therefore, Bolivia needs a strong unitary state which can function but which allows some concessions in order to placate the leaders of Pando, Beni, Tarija, Chuquisaca and Santa Cruz. Yet “a new Bolivia” needs to be open to all the people of this nation and not just the rich elite like in the past.

Also, America must not meddle in this crisis because this will make the situation even worse. Therefore, regional leaders have rebuked past negative forces and the leaders of Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Venezuela, have also pointed the finger at America and this feeling is shared in other nations. For example Brazil is also very unhappy about the current crisis and the presidential aide, Marco Aurelio Garcia, stated Brazil “…will not tolerate a rupture in Bolivia’s democratic order.”

But the struggle within Bolivia goes on between the western Andean half of this nation, which is mainly populated by the marginalized indigenous population, and the more prosperous and conservative eastern lowlands which is dominated by the ruling European and mixed descent population. Also, economics and the desire to control the lucrative gas fields is also at play and of course Morales needs to exploit this wealth in order to develop a more equal and just society. However, the traditional ruling elites do not want to relinquish their economic and political power base, therefore, the current crisis is very complex and Bolivia is on the brink of meltdown. So can a compromise be found in the near future given the huge gaps in thinking?

Lee Jay Walker Dip BA MA


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MEXICO — President Calderon Is in a Flux because of the Growing Drug Insurgency

MEXICO — President Calderon Is in a Flux because of the Growing Drug Insurgency

By Lee Jay Walker
Tokyo Correspondent   –  SEOUL TIMES – SOUTH KOREA


Felipe de Jesús Calderón Hinojosa, the President of Mexico

The United States went to war in both Afghanistan and Iraq, however, some would argue that the real war should be in Mexico and America itself. This does not mean a war with Mexico or the people of America, but it does mean the need to contain both drug cartels and illegal immigration. Once containment is reached, then it is vital to eradicate major drug cartels. Therefore, can President Calderon contain these drug cartels or will democracy be further eroded in Mexico?

In 2008 more than one thousand people have been killed in Mexico because of drug cartels and growing crime. Therefore, what happened to democracy, the North Atlantic Free Trade Association, and America`s war on drugs and terror? After all, Mexico along the border with America is a no-go zone for the majority of people. Added to this is the internal crisis within American society because President Calderon made it clear that the USA must be held accountable. This applies to America having the largest number of drug consumers in the entire world.

The flow of immigrants into America from Mexico also undermines the national security of America because how can you have genuine drug and terrorist prevention policies, when you can not even control your own border? This fact alone should wake up a complacent America because sooner or later this information will be manipulated by would be terrorists. However, getting back to the narcotic issue, then once more America can not solely point the finger at Mexico because these drug cartels are mingling within the immigrant population. Also, drug cartels can find new gang members easily because of social inequality in both nations.

Turning back to Mexico, it is clear that President Calderon can not contain forces within Mexico. After all, the military now have 30,000 troops on the frontline but these forces still can not contain the countless number of drug cartels in Mexico. At the same time, international business leaders are increasingly worried about this crisis because it does not look good for the image of Mexico and you will have capital flight if this conflict is not contained or repulsed.

Mexico, therefore, is at a crossroads and this nation can not turn back because criminal organizations and drug cartels will merely go on the offensive. So America must also give a guiding hand in order to crush these cartels and criminal organizations on both sides of the border. Given this, it is clear that the current problem applies to both Mexico and America, however, it is Mexico which is suffering the most because these drug cartels are creating many no-go areas.

Once the world focused on Colombia with regards to narcotics and this nation suffered because of this with regards to international finance. Therefore, Mexico must wake up and control these negative forces which are destroying the fabric of society. After all, who really rules Mexico, is it the national government backed by the military or are drug cartels and major crime syndicates in control?

Also, America can not be complacent because it is the drug market in America which is creating this crisis and this can not be ignored. So will both nations stand up and forge a common policy or will the current crisis lead to mutual antagonism? The time for action is needed badly because this crisis will continue to grow.



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