In this article for US Northern Command’s magazine, The Watch, Dr. William Godnick describes the contours and challenges faced at the United States’ "third border" in the Caribbean, specifically the multi-island state of the Bahamas. Dr. Godnick outlines the long-standing bilateral relationship between the United States and the Bahamas and how increased Chinese investment presents a new set of challenges for the relationship. He calls for re-thinking how security cooperation relationships should be forged with high, middle-income countries to avoid security gaps in our shared neighborhood.

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Plan Colombia and the Mérida Initiative are the two most significant US security assistance efforts in Latin America in the twenty-first century. At a time when US objectives in the Middle East and Central Asia were flagging, Colombia was a rare US foreign policy victory—a showcase for stabilization and security sector reform. Conversely, Mexico struggled to turn the tide on the country's scourge of crime and violence, even with an influx of resources aimed at professionalizing the country's security, defense, and judicial institutions.

As Washington reconsiders its approach to stabilizing crisis countries after a challenging withdrawal from Afghanistan, From Peril to Partnership's comparative analysis of Colombia and Mexico offers lessons for scholars and policymakers alike, providing insights into the efficacy of US security assistance and the necessary conditions and stakeholders in partner nations that facilitate success. Crucially, private sector support, interparty consensus on security policies, and the centralization of the security bureaucracy underpinned Colombia's success. The absence of these features in Mexico contributed to the country's descent into chaos, culminating in the country's highest-ever homicide rate by the end of the 2010s.

Drawing on extensive fieldwork, From Peril to Partnership evaluates to what extent security assistance programs helped improve the operational effectiveness and democratic accountability of Washington's partners—Colombian and Mexican security forces. It answers why Plan Colombia achieved its objectives and why the Mérida Initiative underdelivered in Mexico. Most importantly, it goes beyond drug war theatrics and the “one-size-fits-all” approach to US-led stabilization—at once, restoring agency to institutions on the receiving end of US security assistance and helping chart a course toward more nuanced and effective US policy.

Angelo, Paul. From Peril to Partnership: US Security Assistance and the Bid to Stabilize Colombia and Mexico. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2024.

Only available commercially

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Dr. Paterson’s article shares the results of the William J. Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies threats survey conducted in late 2022. The survey generated almost 650 responses from Perry Center graduates who selected from 35 threats in the Americas. The results illuminate how leading Latin American and Caribbean scholars – particularly those who work in the security and defense field – see the conditions in the Americas and can help inform policy makers and scholars who follow events in the Americas.

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In celebration of Women’s History Month and as part of the Perry Center’s 2024 Inclusive Security and Defense course, Dr. Arturo Sotomayor moderated a discussion with retired General Linda Urrutia-Varhall. The Perry Center is pleased to share excerpts from this conversation, which honors General Urrutia-Varhall’s distinguished career, accomplishments, and mentorship. This tribute highlights the inspiring power and resilience demonstrated by women across the Americas.

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Dr. Patrick Paterson, Associate Dean for Research and Publications at the WJPC, has published a fascinating almanac that compiles the most historically significant events in Latin America and the Caribbean from 1800-2020, containing vignettes of more than 700 events organized per month and specific calendar day. It focuses on major political and security incidents starting from the period of independence—including armed conflicts, famous battles, births and deaths of important figures, military coups, significant presidential elections, and independence dates.

Also included are detailed appendices addressing important economic, political, and social conditions, as well as an index with over 2,000 keywords.

Paterson, Patrick. The Almanac of Latin American History, Political and Security Events from 1800 to the Present, Rowman & Littlefield, 2024.

Only available commercially

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Latin America and the Caribbean are home to just 9 percent of the global population but account for a third of the world's homicides. A lethal mix of drugs, readily available firearms, and unemployed youth is fueling a wave of violence that has taken on epidemic proportions. Ecuador is now ground zero for the region's gang brutality. Whether Quito succeeds in containing the violence will depend as much on how it manages corruption and political instability as it does on the brute force called upon to suppress organized crime. The region's downward spiral need not be a chronicle of a death foretold. In Ecuador, newfound national resolve and emerging offers of international cooperation can be an effective antidote to expanding gang violence. Indeed, the success of one of South America's smallest countries in dismantling gangs and the corrupt institutions that protect them could be a promising start in turning the tide on Latin America's new crime wave.
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Food insecurity is an urgent problem in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), and the LAC region’s susceptibility to food insecurity is poised to worsen with the accelerating effects of climate change. Food insecurity is not in itself a phenomenon that necessitates a military response. Indeed, food insecurity is “not” a traditional security threat to territorial borders and national sovereignty. Rather, it should be seen as an amplifier of political, economic, social, and ecological strain and vulnerabilities that can be exploited by malign actors and, thus, contributing to heightened security concerns. In this view, investments in food security should be considered as necessary, proactive, and preventative security measures, in support of civilian government agencies and the private and nonprofit sectors. Through a limited role focused on humanitarian assistance, disaster response, and interagency and international collaboration, the United States can leverage the capacities and resources of the DOD to support its regional partners in combating food insecurity. Anything less would risk losing a strategic, humanitarian, and moral imperative.

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The interference of external antagonistic groups can destabilize and weaken States, while their operational networks are strengthened. Several factors facilitate the interference of actors such as China, Russia and Iran in Latin America. Facing these risks, some countries in the region, security institutions, and national and international organizations are collaborating to fight this external antagonism. Karina Perez’s paper proposes the idea of combating these threats by inhibiting the influence of external actors, analyzing the key factors that have favored their influence in Latin America, and how their presence has been linked to various transnational threats.

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In the past decade, South American vulnerable populations have increasingly become victims of human trafficking via cybersex venues like live webcam sites such as Chaturbate and My Free Cams. Given the increasing prevalence of cybersex trafficking, the complicated nature of addressing the crime, and South American governments’ previous reliance on militaries to address other forms of trafficking (i.e., drug trafficking), this paper answers the following question: should the region’s militaries be called upon to confront the pervasive crime? Ms. Nelson’s paper defines what human trafficking, sex trafficking, and cybersex trafficking are, and their distinctions; it discusses the advent of cybersex trafficking and its contemporary proliferation, challenges in fighting the crime, and possible responses.
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This document was created for the celebration of Perry Center AlumniDay, and its purpose is to share some of the bibliographic contributions published in 2023 by its graduates in various formats and modalities. They contribute to reflect, debate and research security and defense issues, evidencing the impact generated by the Perry Center within the framework of these issues at the national and regional level.

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