Drug and Human Trafficking, Major Regional Challenges for SOUTHCOM
By José Pernalete/VOA June 10, 2021
Drug and human trafficking in the hemisphere are challenges that U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) must address together with partner nations in the region, high-ranking military officers told Voice of America.
According to U.S. Navy Admiral Craig S. Faller, SOUTHCOM commander, nations such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, and Honduras are his strongest partners in the fight against core challenges facing the region.
The challenges are countered through interagency coordination and cooperation in the fight against “transnational criminal organizations,” which he said “are murderous, criminal organizations that control territories and are very well funded, and we even face a lot of corruption as well.”
This problem, although not exclusive to the region, is a scourge that Latin America must fight, along with numerous consequences that stem from narcotrafficking.
For his part, U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant General David Bellon, who currently serves as commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South (a SOUTHCOM component), and of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Reserve, highlighted the importance of continuous teamwork among all military forces in the hemisphere to counter organizations that are also closely tied to terrorism.
“We understand that these threats generate weaknesses in the region and undermine democracies, and other governments want to take advantage of our friends in the region. So our message is that we are watching them, and together we are going to confront these threats,” Lt. Gen. Bellon said.
Venezuela under scrutiny
Adm. Faller warned that the situation in Venezuela is under SOUTHCOM’s scrutiny, due to the instability it causes in the region.
“What is happening inside Venezuela is essentially a lawless state, with the ELN [National Liberation Army], with the FARC [Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia], who are gaining territory and who work directly with the Maduro regime for their own benefit, despite the suffering of their people.”
Adm. Faller’s statements coincide with information that the Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict revealed in its April report.
Both Adm. Faller and Lt. Gen. Bellon agreed that COVID-19 has become another element of weakness for the nations of the continent.