Latin American countries are celebrating 200 years of independence, photo: John K/flickr
While much of Latin America is focused on celebrating 200 years of independence from Spain and Portugal, numerous security challenges are begging for answers – and soon. This week the ISN examines the opportunities and obstacles Latin America must face if it is to succeed in its third century of Republican history.
This ISN Special Report contains the following content:
- An Analysis by Dr Markus Schultze-Kraft, director of the Latin America and Caribbean program at the International Crisis Group, on the security challenges facing Latin America after 200 years of Republican rule.
- A Podcast interview with Sam Logan on the drug-trafficking challenges that plague Mexico in the midst of its 200th anniversary celebration of independence from Spain.
- Security Watch articles about organized crime rings from Mexico to Brazil and Paraguay, US-Mexico border tensions, and much more.
- Publications housed in our Digital Library, including CrisisWatch updates on emerging and ongoing conflicts around the globe, including across Latin America.
- Primary Resources, like the full-text of the Mercosur Free Trade Agreement between Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.
- Links to relevant websites, such as the Observatory on Latin America’s page on ‘Building Latin American Bicentennials in the Age of Globalization’.
- Our IR Directory, featuring the Latin American Network Information Center, affiliated with the University of Texas at Austin, which boasts one of the largest guides for Latin American content on the internet.
In Ciudad Juarez, Federal Police were deployed in attempts to stop the drug-related violence, courtesy of Jesus Villaseca Perez/flickr
Mexico is at a crossroads. As last week’s gubernatorial elections demonstrated, the Mexican state can no longer provide basic security and ensure the rule of law in many urban environments, signaling that Mexico might soon join the ranks of international failed states like Somalia, Afghanistan, and Haiti.
The New York Times adopted an optimistic perspective, noting the strength of the Mexican democracy amidst all the violence perpetrated by the drug cartels, as evidenced by the surprisingly positive voter turnout in many areas. These elections, however, also witnessed “the most blatant evidence of traffickers interfering in politics since Calderon came to power in late 2006,” with voter turnout at historic lows. Coming close to a stand-still in areas where drug violence has been prominent—in Ciudad Juarez, voter turnout was only 20 percent, and in the state of Chihuahua as whole, only one-third of voters showed up—turnout can be explained by the violence surrounding electoral campaigns. Leading up to the elections, candidates had been killed and threatened, campaign offices had been bombed and general fear of the power of Mexico’s infamous drug cartels had uncomfortably set into everyday life in the country. » More
At a beach in Tijuana, a balloon vendor attempts to bring some joy, photo: Romel Jacinto/flickr
Almost 12 million people live in the US-Mexico border area: hundreds of thousands cross the 3000 km-long border every day – legally and illegally. It is the most protected US border, with no less than 90 percent of all US border patrol agents working there. In addition to immigration and associated human rights challenges, cross-border security issues include organized crime, drug trafficking and human smuggling.
Here’s an overview of some ISN website highlights:
- The ISN Special Report Desperation Route, in which Sam Logan offers a first-hand account of the circumstances that keep the drugs, guns and desperate people pouring across the US-Mexico border
- The CGD’s Don’t Close the Golden Door by Michael Clemens in our Policy Briefs section, outlining policies on immigration for the US administration
- New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson’s speech on comprehensive immigration reform in our Primary Resources section
World distribution of dengue viruses and their mosquito vector, Aedes aegypti, in 2008
A recent Miami Herald article sparked my interest for the small insect. Its name is Aedes Aegypti, one of the 3500 mosquito species identified so far, known for spreading dengue fever, but also the Chikungunya and yellow fever viruses.
The Miami Herald article describes how Mexico is currently struggling to counter a resurgence of dengue fever. It is not the only Latin American country dealing with the buzzing issue. Brazil and Argentina have apparently reported record numbers of cases this year.
At first, hearing about yet another disease striking Mexico alarmed me. It was only after reading more on the issue – as in the case of the H1N1 virus – that I was settled. Dengue fever has a relatively low death rate. Only 2.5 percent of hospitalized patients do not survive the disease. However, the tropical febrile disease is particularly costly, with patients requiring constant and long-term monitoring. Therefore, in the case of Mexico this we know for sure: The spreading disease will strike tourism and the economy as a whole yet another blow.
With the fever increasing rapidly in tropical and subtropical areas, we ask: What can be done against the dangerous disease and its carrier – the mosquito? Researchers all over the world are testing dengue fever vaccines and at the same time considerable efforts are being invested in mosquito eradication.
Of the existing population policies and programs the ones of Singapore appear to be the most developed ones. After the 2005 dengue outbreak the country launched enhanced measures, including the introduction of fines for those who allow mosquitoes to breed in their homes and also for those found with standing water at construction sites (standing water being the larval hatching grounds of the Aedes Aegypti).