The threats of drug trafficking and corruption grow for Central America

Summoned in Guatemala by Dionisio Gutiérrez at the Fundación Libertad y Desarrollo, in an event prior to the Public Forum on Wednesday, the Latin American presidents Luis Alberto Lacalle of Uruguay; Jorge Quiroga of Bolivia, Felipe Calderón of Mexico and Andrés Pastrana of Colombia warned: drug trafficking is increasingly taking over politics and governments. Venezuela is another factor of instability in the region. It is urgent that citizens return to politics. "When candidates are placed by organized crime it may be too late," Calderón warned.

The statements were made by the Latin American presidents Luis Alberto Lacalle of Uruguay; Jorge Quiroga, from Bolivia; Felipe Calderón, from Mexico; and Andrés Pastrana, from Colombia
The statements were made by the Latin American presidents Luis Alberto Lacalle of Uruguay; Jorge Quiroga, from Bolivia; Felipe Calderón, from Mexico; and Andrés Pastrana, from Colombia

Andrés Pastrana, president of Colombia between 1998 and 2002, warned: "It is increasingly difficult to win elections, we have to win them to organized crime." He recalled that with 80% of intention to vote, he lost the presidential election in 1994 in his country after denouncing that the narco had bought the campaign. In the 1998 presidential elections, it achieved the highest vote in the history of Colombia.

A fundamental axis of his mandate was to combat the capture of the State by drug trafficking, he said, a phenomenon that affects not only Colombia but the region. "With Presidents Clinton and Bush, we created Plan Colombia, and the country went from decertification to becoming the third recipient of American aid," he recalled. But from then to now, the narco has been strengthened, he warned, and has become a disturbing element in electoral processes not only in Colombia, but in countries such as Guatemala and Mexico, where there is a symbiosis between corruption and drug trafficking.

Pastrana warned that in recent years the cultivation of cocaine has rebounded in Colombia. "When we started Plan Colombia, there were 180,000 hectares planted with cocaine. When I finished my administration, 80 thousand hectares. During the management of Álvaro Uribe it was reduced to 40 thousand hectares ". During the negotiations of the current government with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the former guerrilla group demanded to ban the fumigations in Colombia. The demand was accepted and after this prohibition, in the first year the cultivated hectares of cocaine rose to 90 thousand, in the second year, they grew to 150 thousand, they shot up to 250 thousand in the third. In the fourth year the area sown with cocaine could reach 300 thousand hectares. "That will affect Guatemala, Mexico, the United States, Europe," the former president said.

An extreme case of state capture by criminals is Venezuela, said Jorge Quiroga, president of Bolivia between 2002-2003. "It is a State co-opted by elements of drug trafficking, by criminals, subjected and managed by Cuba, in which murders have multiplied by 6 and poverty by 8".

Narco State and State Narco are different, Pastrana clarified. "In Colombia they wanted to become a narco-state. They wanted to take justice and we proposed faceless judges, they wanted to take the police and we created a search block to prosecute drug trafficking crimes concentrated in Bogotá and isolated from the rest of the operation, which ended with the Cali and Medellin cartels. " Venezuela, on the other hand, is a Narco-State, said the Colombian, where drug trafficking is promoted from his head. "Nicolás Maduro is a narco-dictator, and the Venezuelan government a destabilizer of Peru, Brazil and Colombia," he said.

In Mexico, recalled his former president Felipe Calderón, the capacity of criminals grew while the capacity of the state declined. At first the business of the drug traffickers was logistics, transportation, but when they began to sell locally a new business arose, with variables that changed the criminal behavior.

"If the old business just needed to control routes and camouflaged transport, the new business needed control of the cities, it is not the same to spend a ton of drugs that locally sell a ton of drugs, a million bags of coca, leading to hire armies of people and control territory."

The narco began to control the politicians, the police, and when it reached that degree of cooptation it looked for additional businesses: extortion, contraband, prostitution, alcohol sales business. "When I arrived at the government, I broke the taboo that there was no need to confront the criminals. It was necessary to rebuild the institutions at an accelerated pace, police, Public Prosecutor's Office, reliable and efficient judges. Go at an accelerated pace so that the capacity of the State is superior to that of the criminals. Then we had to rebuild the social fabric. When candidates are placed by organized crime, it may be too late, "said Calderón.

Quiroga said that resolving the crisis in Venezuela is key. "We must recover democracy in Venezuela. Having democracy in Colombia and Cuba goes through democracy in Venezuela, for having stable, solid institutions and parties, building political projects with renewed leadership. If Maduro consolidates the establishment of a new Cuba, the same will happen in Nicaragua. It will cause a contagious effect, "he said.

GUATEMALA ELECTORAL CHALLENGES

In a meeting with businessmen, union leaders, candidates for public office in Guatemala, analysts, social leaders and opinion leaders held at the facilities of the Freedom and Development Foundation on Tuesday, prior to a Public Forum held on Wednesday, Luis Alberto Lacalle, former president of Uruguay (1990-1995) proposed to the candidates for elective positions "to propose fair and possible goals. To arrive without deception, not to win in any way ".

Convened under the theme "Free elections or captured democracy?", And moderated by Dionisio Gutiérrez, the exmandatarios shared their experiences from the campaigns and in the exercise of power. For Quiroga, in Guatemala "the challenges are complex in a politically fragmented scenario, and with a president (in the United States) who do not want our products or our migrants".

He argued that issues of trade, drug trafficking and migration, the countries of the region should negotiate in the block, with Mexico at the head, against the United States, and not separately, as today is warned. "In the world, there have been two countries under the magnifying glass for their efforts to end impunity: Guatemala and Brazil," he recalled.

The Mexican ex-president, Felipe Calderón, affirmed that the first ethical challenge for citizens is political participation. As for the candidates, he stressed, not necessarily fulfilling the duty to be ethical implies an electoral disadvantage.

"Those of us who have taken charge of ending politics have been politicians and political parties, unable to promote reforms to strengthen the parties," Pastrana acknowledged. Today, in the face of corruption scandals and prosecuted politicians, the fear of young people are the prosecutors, the prosecutors, because they fear to fall into these investigations and decide to stay out of politics, he said.

While citizens have turned their backs on politics, politics has been debased, said Calderón. It is necessary, he said, for politicians to be authentic citizens and for citizens to get involved in politics. "Do your policy, if it will not continue corrupting," he demanded.

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