FIU conference examines how to keep the Americas more secure

miami heraldWith challenges from drug, arms and people trafficking, corruption, poverty and potential terrorism threatening the countries of the Americas, the military deputy commander of the U.S. Southern Command said Thursday that the nations of the region can’t go it alone and need to help each other.

Speaking at Florida International University’s Hemispheric Security Conference, Lt. Gen. Joseph P. DiSalvo said that over the last two years “partner nations are realizing they can’t do it alone. We can’t do it alone.”

That potentially could include military relations with Cuba when the timing and environment is right, he said. “We are waiting on word from the president and the secretary of defense to say when.” Since the rapprochement with Cuba, no U.S. military delegations have visited the island, but DiSalvo said “the Coast Guard has a very good relationship with their Cuban counterparts.”

The Southern Command is open to establishing new relationships with militaries in the Americas, he said. With the Argentine government now more receptive to the United States under President Mauricio Macri, for example, that made it “fairly easy” to renew military ties with the South American country, he said.

Panels at the day-long conference examined topics ranging from terrorist financing, cybersecurity and street gangs to energy security that have an impact on hemispheric security. They also looked at the influence of both China and Russia in the region as well as the current crises in Venezuela and Brazil. …

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During the last several decades, the United States has invested billions of dollars in trying to help the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean deliver better lives for their citizens. This has meant helping them increase internal security by combating the illicit growing and trafficking in narcotics and the activities of terrorist groups, as well as helping them to shore up their democratic and free market institutions.

Unfortunately, in recent years, continued progress in these areas has been threatened, not least by the elections of radical populist governments in Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador. These governments have instituted retrograde agendas that include the propagation of class warfare, state domination of the economy, assaults on private property, anti-Americanism, support for such international pariahs as Iran, and lackluster support for regional counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics initiatives.

We are a group of concerned policy experts that fear the results of these destructive agendas for individual freedom, prosperity, and the well-being of the peoples of the region. Our goal is to inform American policymakers and American and international public opinion of the dangers of these radical populist regimes to inter-American security.