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This volume explores the repercussions of a changing world order on regional security in Latin America. It examines how global and regional power shifts impact on the evolution of regional institutions as well as on state policies adopted in response to regional security challenges such as border conflicts, political instability, migration, drug-trafficking, organized crime, and terrorism.

Contributions to this volume analyze the topic from three angles: power dynamics and its effects on regional security governance; the contribution of regional institutions to the management of security challenges; and the impact of power dynamics on states’ shifting security priorities.

Written by specialists from Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, the United States and Europe, the chapters weave theory and case studies to provide a rich description of the impact of power and politics on regional security in Latin America. This book is an invaluable resource for students, scholars and practitioners interested in Latin American politics, regional cooperation, and war and conflict studies, as well as international security and international relations in general.



Re-Thinking Latin American Regional Security: The Impact of Power and Politics

Latin American security is still viewed through a Cold War lens. Yet, the regional scenario has changed since then and is characterized by developments like the disengagement of the United States, the emergence of ‘regional powers’, the creation of ever more multilateral security institutions, and new interpretations of the concepts of regionalism and regional integration. We argue that we cannot understand the management of security challenges without accounting for regional and global power shifts and political dynamics. Therefore, the introductory chapter presents an analytical framework to assess the impact of global and regional power shifts on the regional governance of specific security challenges such as interstate disputes, internal political violence, terrorism, drug-trafficking, and illegal migration. It will also give an outlook on how the different contributions substantiate our argument.
Brigitte Weiffen, Rafael Duarte Villa

Power Shifts and Regional Security Governance


Regional Security in Latin America after US Hegemony

The legacy of US hegemony makes it difficult for Latin American nations to exercise their agency in international affairs. The urge to escape that hegemony precipitated the creation of new organizations without the USA. Complicating the effectiveness of these organizations will be the following: historical differences among nations, the asymmetry of power between the USA and other nations in the hemisphere, older regional organizations, and the rapprochement between Cuba and the USA which removes the symbol of defiance to hegemony that was so important in Latin America. The chapter reviews the geopolitics of the new organizations and expressions of agency by individual countries and concludes that each nation will decide how it wants to use the new organizations in realizing their agency.
Joseph S. Tulchin

Security Governance in Latin America

This chapter argues that power shifts in Latin America have operated not only at the hemispheric level with the relative decline of the presence of the United States and the emergence of Brazil, but also at the level of individual states when countries have experienced a domestic fragmentation of power. The chapter examines the main sources of security threats in the region and the security instruments for addressing them from the perspective of four political levels of aggregation (hemispheric, regional, bilateral and domestic); furthermore, it argues that the capacity of these instruments varies depending on the centrality of the main actors (states or regional organizations) and the strength of security mechanisms (i.e. their legal capacity and the resources allocated).
Roberto Dominguez

Security Community or Balance of Power? Hybrid Security Governance in Latin America

This chapter argues that the Latin American region shows a paradoxical coexistence of two mechanisms of regional security governance, balance of power, and security communities, which are characterized by different approaches to conflict resolution and ways of conceiving power. These mechanisms overlap: while most military institutions in the region continue to adhere to the concepts and practices of balance of power, other institutions such the foreign policy bureaucracies have internalized discourses and practices of security community. This chapter introduces the idea of overlapping mechanisms of balance of power and security community and presents empirical evidence for both mechanisms in concrete historical practices among Latin American states. Furthermore, it explores the main causal mechanisms that could explain the hybrid pattern of security governance.
Rafael Duarte Villa

Role Theory and Geopolitical Thinking in South America

Geopolitical thinking has a long tradition in Latin America. This chapter analyzes the development of current geopolitical thinking in South America in particular, and how this influences the development of security conceptions and practices at the state and at the regional levels. It develops an analytical approach based on role theory with the objective to understand the type of geopolitical roles policy-makers seek to advance on behalf of the state and regional groups of states in order to confront pressing security challenges. Empirically, the chapter analyzes the traditional geopolitical narratives, their evolution and how they merge with new geopolitical issues/narratives such as the geopolitics of regional integration and natural resources protection and extraction.
Leslie E. Wehner, Detlef Nolte

Regional Institutions and the Management of Security Challenges


Regional Organizations, Conflict Resolution and Mediation in South America

This chapter approaches regional conflict resolution and mediation in South America, focusing on the role regional organizations and arrangements have played as social spaces where shared meanings and collective representations of peace and security are produced, contested and (re)negotiated. In the case of South America, the images that constitute the regional experience in conflict resolution are (a) a plural institutional architecture; (b) a legalist framework with strong preference for non-interventionism and peaceful conflict resolution; (c) a separation between domestic violence and international peace; and (d) ad hoc arrangements based on presidential involvement. These four images are part of public life, constituting a particular symbolic frame developed by the local elites and reproduced through decision-making practices on peace and conflict in the region.
Monica Herz, Maira Siman, Ana Clara Telles

Is Regionalism Still a Viable Option for the Creation and Maintenance of Peace and Security in Latin America?

Latin America is, at the same time, one of the most peaceful regions in terms of military conflicts, whilst being the most dangerous in terms of criminal violence, as well as being home to the world’s longest-running civil conflict in Colombia. Regionalism has been seen as a way of addressing this changing security panorama, Latin America being, after Europe, the region which has most experimented with regionalism in the world. However, the stagnation of regional initiatives in Latin America has put a question mark over the role regionalism can play in the resolution of problems of security which are mainly seen as domestic concerns. Taking Central America and the Colombian conflicts as case studies, the chapter asks whether regionalism is still a viable resolution strategy and how organizations like the Organization of American States (OAS) will need to adapt their approach in relation to regional security problems in order to stay relevant.
Kai Enno Lehmann

Institutional Overlap and Responses to Political Crises in South America

The current regional security architecture in South America is characterized by a proliferation of institutions. Most regional organizations have by now adopted mechanisms to respond to domestic political crises and unconstitutional changes of government. This chapter studies whether overlapping mandates and activities in the management of political crises are harmful or beneficial for regional cooperation. The first part theorizes the effects of overlap on member states’ strategies, regional organizations’ interaction patterns, and the policy outcome. The second part explores overlapping democracy clauses in South America and analyzes six episodes where OAS, MERCOSUR, and/or UNASUR have simultaneously taken action in defense of democracy. The results show that, in the face of power shifts and competitive inter-organizational dynamics, overlapping actions by regional organizations might jeopardize the norms they set out to protect.
Brigitte Weiffen

Interstate Conflict Management in South America: The Relevance of Overlapping Institutions

The objective of this chapter is to analyse existing institutions related to interstate security in South America and their respective roles and to highlight, if so, any overlapping purposes that might contribute to preventing interstate conflicts in the region. To achieve the proposed objective, the chapter is divided into three sections. The first section identifies current interstate conflict management institutions in South America and analyses their purposes and responsibilities. In the second section, some of the main potential conflicts among South American states and the roles of institutions to prevent the onset of armed conflict, or to cause them to be quickly resolved, are addressed. The third, concluding section briefly discusses these institutions’ performance in a regional scenario where interstate peace should prevail.
Marcos Valle Machado da Silva

Power Shifts and Security Priorities


The Zone of Violent Peace

This chapter argues that, in contrast to widely held beliefs, militarized behaviour has not been eliminated from the Latin American region and is actually incentivized by the way in which diplomats and scholars approach the security issues facing the region. To substantiate these claims, the first section looks at the empirical record of militarized interstate disputes (MIDs) between Latin American states and demonstrates that the region is not especially peaceful. The second section discusses the causal logic of MID occurrence. The third section examines why the contemporary situation in Latin America does not dissuade militarization but continues to encourage it, particularly via a ‘moral hazard’ mechanism.
David R. Mares

Defense Management in South America: Bureaucracy and Diplomacy

This chapter analyses the difficulties of defense management in South America and highlights the difficulty of cooperation between diplomacy and defense policy. While diplomacy was viewed as an issue of the state, defense would generally fall within the realm of an autonomous military. The first section focuses on the idea of defense neglect, manifested in a defense bureaucracy that suffers from a lack of professionalism and high level of militarization. Secondly, the chapter examines advances and setbacks in the intention to create a national and regional defense identity. The third section deals with tensions between foreign and defense policies and outlines the concept of defense diplomacy and its effects for defense cooperation.
Rut Diamint

Counterterrorism Policies in Brazil: A Securitization Syndrome?

This study aims to address some promises and pitfalls of an excessive consideration of topics as ‘security issues’. We employ the analytical framework offered by the Copenhagen School of security studies. We consider the concept of securitization as key to understand the issues related in this chapter, as well as the constellation of threats that the methodological division of security in sectors deals with. To illustrate such hypothesis we’ll analyse the Brazilian counterterrorism policies. The overall goal of this chapter is to dispel some myths, highlight discursive constructions and demonstrate the perils of the political uses of the concept of terrorism.
Marcial A.G. Suarez, Fernando L. Brancoli, Igor D.P. Acácio

Desecuritizing the ‘War on Drugs’

This chapter makes use of Colombian-US bilateral relations as a window to trace the evolution of the US-designed ‘war on drugs’, highlighting the role of securitization in the development of counternarcotics activities in Colombia and discussing the process through which the shortcomings of this policy have created opportunities to engage in desecuritization and to design alternative strategies. It explores the principles that have sustained the ‘war on drugs’ and the evolution of Colombian-US relations since 1998, providing an overall assessment of the anti-drug strategy that helps to analyse the possibilities of desecuritization in the light of the Copenhagen school’s securitization theory. Finally, the chapter identifies the challenges that drug policy reform currently faces in Colombia and Latin America more generally.
Carolina Cepeda Másmela, Arlene B. Tickner

Mexico and Its Role in North America’s Security: Between Terrorism and Organized Crime

This chapter analyses the development of interdependence between the United States and Mexico in the wider context of North American regional cooperation. While international security has focused on fighting terrorism, organized crime is regarded the much more dangerous security threat in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. The first section discusses the historical security relationship of United States, Mexico, and Canada and considers key elements for building shared security. The following sections examine terrorism and organized crime in the region, and the impact of these factors on US and Mexican foreign policy as well as on the regional security agenda. While the United States is a difficult neighbour for Canada and Mexico, the countries have engaged in generally stable cooperation.
Raúl Benítez Manaut


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