Drugs and the peace process in Colombia: a moderate radical step

The third point of agreement reached in the Havana negotiations may finally pave the way for the gradual end to the “war on drugs”, and defuse one of the issues – the drug trade – that has most hindered peace in Colombia.

The national security blindspot in Colombia's FOI law

A new transparancy law guarantees Colombian citizens greater access to information on public spending, but corruption in the defence sector and links to organised crime still remain obscured, and matters of 'national security' are exempt altogether.  

Venezuela: taking the counter- out of revolution

Venezuela is politically polarised and so is much of the coverage of it. But just as the violence is now kaleidoscopic the international response must become more complex.

Back to basics for Colombia's rebels

As on-going peace talks in Havana address narco-trafficking amidst Colombia's continued economic growth, remnants of the FARC are more likely to turn to what were once the very seeds of the rebel movements: social banditry. 

Mexico: terror and “terrorism”

A little-noticed security reform in Mexico threatens a major erosion of liberty by exploiting public fear to introduce a sweeping definition of “terrorism”.

EE UU y Colombia: construyendo un modelo exportable de seguridad

El laboratorio del Plan Colombia ha ayudado a EE UU a desarrollar su modelo de "estabilización" para operaciones de contrainsurgencia. Con un potencial acuerdo de paz con las FARC en el horizonte, ¿cuál puede ser el futuro de las sobredimensionadas fuerzas armadas colombianas? English

The US and Colombia: building an exportable model of security

Through the laboratory of Plan Colombia, the US has developed its 'stabalization' model for counter insurgency operations. With a peace agreement with the FARC on the horizon, what is the future for Colombia's overinflated military? Español.

Towards a lasting peace: reforming drug policy in Colombia

A group of experts offer 11 recommendations Colombian and FARC negotiators can use to address and reform drug policy alongside negotiations for a lasting peace. Español

Murder and Mexico’s security dilemma

Why is Mexico mired in organised, drug-related murder? In an extreme case of security dilemmas increasingly familiar elsewhere, the state has ceded its monopoly of legitimate force to irregular security companies—and is now considering legitimising vigilante groups.

Los mortales costos del “libre comercio”

Mientras grupos paramilitares luchan por el control de los puertos en Buenaventura, la violencia y desplazamiento internal es un fuerte recuerdo de la fuerza brutal en las manos de grupos paramilitarios en Colombia, y el legado del comercio libre en America Latina. English.

The deadly wages of “free trade”

As armed paramilitary groups battle for control of the ports in Buenaventura, the growing violence and internal displacement is a stark reminder of the brutal hand of paramilitary groups in Colombia and the legacy of free trade in Latin America. Español.

Peru's painful mirror

10 years after Peru's Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its final report following two decades of armed conflict, what is the impact on Peruvian society? Español

A mixed record: Peru struggles to face its past

A new report from the International Center for Transitional Justice highlights delays in implementing a national reparations program for victims of Peru's 20-year internal armed conflict. But even with compensation, can Peruvian society achieve the reconciliation and inclusion it strives for? 

From bust to boom: Chavez's economic legacy

Chavez leaves behind an inconsistent report card on 'pro-poor' policies that will only fuel a polarizing legacy as Venezuelans look to address future economic challenges.

Honduras, the politics of violence

The incidence of targeted social violence in the central American country is a growing political concern as presidential elections approach, finds Matt Kennard in Tegucigalpa.

Killing them softly in Medellin

More than sixty musicians were threatened with death immediately after El Duke´s funeral. The ceremony was considered a provocation by armed criminal groups, or BaCrim as they are known in Colombia. But ultimately, the police must demonstrate that they are in the business of protection and not punishment.

Femicide in Central America: is creating Female-Friendly Urban Zones really the solution?

Female-friendly spaces are on the rise as a means to combat gender-based violence. But do women need to be separated to be protected? 

Colombia's peace process: three challenges

As peace talks begin between the FARC and the Colombian government, military victory is still espoused as a final solution by some, while other recall when past negotiations have failed. But there is historical success to learn from too.

Anti-corruption measures in Security Sector Reform: necessary and achievable

SSR cannot be effective unless efforts are made to tackle corruption, but often this issue is felt to be too politically sensitive to address. Approaching corruption as a systemic issue opens the space for defence officials to become engaged.

Indigenous people 'provoke' peace in Colombia

Standing between the government, FARC and international mining companies are the indigenous people of Cauca: unarmed, but capable of reducing a sergeant to tears.

Impunity returns to Peru

Acknowledging that the crimes committed by the Colina Group death squad were part of official state policy, Peru’s Supreme Court has nevertheless described human rights protests that these were ‘crimes against humanity’ as ‘whining’. 

The struggle for Maya land, oil, and gold.

After two very recent attacks on Maya community leaders in Guatemala, the challenges faced by the lawyers applying domestic law and international indigenous rights legislation to these conflicts are revealing, as legal concepts are reinterpreted by governments in indigenous communities across the Maya region of Central America. View slideshow.

Will UK and Argentina ever reach reconciliation over the Falklands / Malvinas

Interstate conflict used to be the norm. Now, as old battles are being put behind us, Ivan Briscoe asks if the UK and Argentina can reconcile their differences over the Falklands/Malvinas.

Honduras - three years after the coup

On the third anniversary of the coup, the resistance movement faces formidable obstacles in attempting to recreate the space for progressive politics which began to open up under Zelaya, but which led to his downfall. 

Deals with the devil

Talk of a pact with criminals is beyond the pale in Mexico’s presidential election campaign. But the tentative success of a deal with gang leaders in one of Central America’s most violent countries suggests the time may have come to explore a new style of negotiations aimed at reducing appalling levels of violence.

The transnational expansion of military urbanism

While military budgets of states are increasingly subject to cuts, the intelligence and weapons industries turn to police corps and local authorities as customers.

Colombians need to debate the conflict, but not as a condition of Langlois' freedom

On April 28 French journalist Romeo Langlois was captured by the FARC. The leftist guerrillas demanded a debate on freedom of information as a condition of his release. Instead, this case raises the need for a debate on this never-ending conflict, and on the role of national and international media in covering invisible conflicts.

The Patriotic March and the struggle for peace in Colombia

A powerful new political movement bringing rural and urban Colombian civil society onto a common platform poses the real possibility for sustainable peacebuilding in Colombia. The reaction of the government to its emergence will be a path-setting moment.

The politics of mourning

Last April more than 35,000 people marched in Cuernavaca, Mexico, following the murder of a teenager. Four years into president Felipe Calderón’s diastrous ‘drug war’, the line between remembrance and protest has started to blur. Should the thousands of dead be stigmatised or martyred? Silenced or given meaning?

The Mexican penitentiary system: how prisons became tools for the cartels

Far from being an instrument aimed at fighting crime and reintegrating former inmates in society, Mexican prisons act as a recruiting ground for the cartels. The lack of government response to this challenge illustrates its powerlessness in the war on drugs.

Mexico’s war on drugs: can you expect the military to function as police?

A side-effect of the war on drugs launched by President Calderon was to involve the army in carrying out police operations against gangs. However, this blurring of lines between both security institutions resulted in an increase in human rights violations.

Colombia, a state of flux

A decade of violence and insecurity has deeply marked Colombia's society, politics and institutions. For Colombia to move on, its beleaguered yet independent justice system will have a vital role to play, says Adam Isacson.

Mexico, war crimes and a slippery slope

The drug war in Mexico has left tens of thousands of people dead and the country in peril. What difference will a new war crimes charge brought against the government make?

In the shadows of globalisation: drug violence in Mexico and Central America

The wave of violence afflicting Mexico and the northern triangle of Central America (Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador) is caused by three developments: changes in the global drug market, the effect of the war against organised crime and the international financial crisis, making the problem not just a criminal one.

The courage of Cheran: organizing against violence

Mistrust in government systems of rule has led the town of Cherán in Mexico to create its own institutions. The community faces many challenges, not the least of which is the non-violent defence of their people in an area where armed gangs are a constant threat.

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