In a briefing at the Pentagon, Commander General Douglas Fraser of the U.S. Southern Command (Southcom) stated that the ‘Northern Triangle,’ made up of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, has likely become the deadliest region on earth outside of active war zones. He said that the United Nations (UN) put Iraq’s 2010 murder rate at 14 per 100,000, whilst Honduras and El Salvador’s rates soared to 77 and 71 per 100,000 respectively. The commander attributed this to the influence of the transnational crime organizations (TCOs) which are active throughout the region.
- Beginning in August, Brazilian drones will carry out surveillance over Bolivian territory as part of an agreement to help combat drug trafficking in the Andean country, La Razon reports. Brazil will deliver financial aid and offer training to Bolivian anti-narcotics authorities, cooperation that will start this year and run until 2013. It will also help combat related crimes such as money laundering, with special training for police and targeted anti-laundering software. With this move Bolivia joins Colombia and Mexico, which have also been allowing foreign unmanned aircraft, from the U.S. in their cases, to help tackle organized crime in their territories. According to a cable released by WikiLeaks via the Washington Post, Colombia has been using the drones since 2006, but Mexico only began doing so this year.
- El Colombiano reports that despite Colombian President Santos’ declaration that this month would be a “Dark March” for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC), the guerrilla group was able to strike blows at the security forces, killing 21 and carrying out some 20 attacks nationwide. In the same period the authorities killed some 40 guerrillas. Experts consulted by the newspaper said that the rebels’ counter-offensive could be a way to distract attention and trick the public into thinking they are not weak. InSight considers that, in either case, the FARC certainly saw an important loss when the security forces killed Arquimedes Muñoz, alias ‘Jeronimo,’ and since it’s a regional election year it is most likely that they will keep up attacks in key municipalities.
- In other news from Colombia, Caracol Radio reports that the Integrated Electoral Intelligence Center (Centro Integrado de Inteligencia Electoral), led by the ministers of the interior and defense and the National Electoral Council, has identified certain municipalities that are being targeted in the upcoming regional October elections, by the BACRIM (criminal bands, heirs to the United Self Defense Forces of Colombia, Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia – AUC). According to the body, the BACRIMs want to place mayors in key municipalities with big revenues in order to take advantage of the royalties paid by foreign companies, such as oil firms in Vichada and Putumayo.