FARC and UNASUR: Internal security threats endangering South American prosperity
By Yakir Pimentel, Edited by Col. (ret.) Gordon Forbes
Latin American security in the 20th century has been much less characterized by interstate conflict and international threats, and in turn has experienced a significant spike in domestic threats to the central government due to the activity of rebel militant groups. This tendency has been analyzed by Salehyan (Salehyan, 2010) who argues that global security trends have shied away from direct interstate conflict and allowed for internal civil violence to compose the majority of international conflict. In the past century we have seen successful military revolutions led against the central governments in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Guatemala, Peru, and Uruguay. The keen observer will notice that two of these countries are major political and economic drivers of the nascent South American socio-political economic trading bloc, the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR). Created by unifying two South American regional trade blocs in 2008 – the Andean Community of Nations (CAN) and the Mercado del Sur (MERCOSUR) – UNASUR was created to unify the social, political, economic and cultural aspects of South American countries into a single identity akin to that of the European Union (EU).
Unfortunately, unlike the member states of the EU, South American nations are still rife with struggling economic structures, political instability, rampant underdevelopment, and most importantly, heavily-active, internal revolutionary militants. The presence of these military groups coupled with the history of successful political revolution creates a completely distinct area of concern with respect to intrastate security and the stability of the heads of state composing UNASUR that distinguish it from the EU. This creates a gaping hole in the possibility for successful interstate relations. Without consistent leaders or a stable political system, a country cannot ascribe to economic interdependence or take advantage of the merits of free trade within a regional trade bloc. This raises the question as to whether or not UNASUR should involve itself in the internal security threats of its member states or leave these issues for the members to resolve themselves.
This paper presents evidence indicating that regional economic blocs such as UNASUR should be directly involved in the resolution of internal conflicts within its member states. The paper analyzes the actions of a Colombian rebel group, the Revolutionary Forces of Columbia (FARC), and the impact that its continued hostility towards the central Colombian government has had on political solidarity within the nation, as well as the threat that a lack of stability poses to regional political unification. Furthermore, this analysis is extrapolated to UNASUR to show how it can achieve its aforementioned goals as a regional organization. The goals of economic and political stability within the region clearly show that UNASUR should be exceedingly apprehensive of the activity of rebel militants within the borders of its member states.
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