This is a source for analysis, interviews, and commentary on security in Latin America. Herein you will find rumors, the results of off the record interviews, and information you'll not find in international or United States news media.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

South Am Security Paradigm Continues Shifting

Not two days after I published a piece with the ISN on how we're seeing a paradigm shift on security in South America, Brazil follows up on the Obama/Lula meeting and takes the lead on suggesting that the MercoSur countries - Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, and Paraguay - develop a sub-regional police force modeled after Interpol.

Here is the story in Portuguese (thanks Mr. H. for sending this along).

The premise of the piece is that Brazil will present at the next MercoSur meeting a proposal to create "Mercopol" - a security organization that brings together the federal police units of each member country.

A few reactions:

First, it seems that Brazil is testing the geopolitical waters. By floating this idea within a forum that it closely controls (albeit with some bickering from Argentina), Brazil can get a sense of how the region as a whole would cozy up to the idea of a South American police force formed under UNASUR, as Lula mentioned in his meeting with Obama.

Second, this proposal will give all countries involved in MercoSur, even the observers and the associate members - thinking Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador here - a chance to approve or disapprove, again within a forum that is not too heavy in terms of political liability on the regional level.

Third, if Mercopol were to be formed, I suspect there would be a heightened opposition to Venezuela's full entry into MercoSur (still held up in the Brazilian Congress much to Chavez's chagrin).

Finally, this is yet another example of Brazil taking a leadership role. The UNASUR Defense Council (Brazil's idea) has already stated that it will not place drug trafficking and organized crime on its agenda because these are not military problems. And this is absolutely correct. What we need, however, is a federal police complement to UNASUR's Defense Council.

Mercopol could easily morph into such an organization and perhaps feed into Ameripol, which to date has done little more than meet and talk.
Bottom line, Brazil is making moves to become South America's head cop. We will see if some of the region's top cop countries - Colombia and Chile specifically - fall in line behind Mercopol.

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