REPORT #61 March 2003

Produced by the Belize Development Trust

When it comes to politics and bandit armies in Central and South America, here on our American Continent, the Pentagon is seeking to find ways to sell military intervention to Congress for funding. One of the new phrases are "ungoverned spaces"

South America has huge ungoverned areas that cross local national frontier borders if you use a GPS set of coordinates. In theory, national sovereignty looks good on a map with pretty little lines. Belize has it's own "ungoverned area" right alongside the Guatemalan border in the 100 mile long Chiquibul Reserve. Wherein there is no government, no infra-structure and violence and bandits rein supreme.

In South America, a lot of the area of the Amazon basin, is sparsely populated and crosses pretty little map lines from country to country. But there is no government in these places and no infra-structure. Just a sparse rural population. How does the Pentagon sell to the US Congress the intervention in fights with Latin bandit armies, when the lines on paper maps say the area is owned by a country? Therein lies a problem! Should the USA be able to intervene in the Belize Western Chiquibul Forest bordering with Guatemala and cross those imaginary map lines seen on the ground, through thick jungle foliage only by a GPS?

The biggest "ungoverned areas" are the triple frontier with Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil. Banditry is king here, not any particular national government. The Lago Agrio area on Ecuador's border with Colombia is another. The Darien jungle gap between Colombia and Panama is ruled by drug lord bandit groups. Yet local national governments claim sovereignty, not by the presence of police and villages and central plazas, but simply by lines on a paper map, that are meaningless to rural farmers on the ground, when a raping, torturing, kidnapping murdering bunch of desperados come calling at your farm.

Not only are there competing bandit groups within these areas, there are also huge bandit armies mostly in the narco-trafficing and kidnapping, extortion trade. In Belize it is more to do with jungle plants and lumber, as nearby Guatemala had cut down their forests for ranch lands. These bandits only have to say they are counterrevolutionaries and profess some ridiculous political idealogy for the European press, and they become not terrorist groups committing atrocities, but enjoy favored status in the European press and national conscience.

The same sovereignty issues that would face the Government of Belize, face most Latin Countries with vast wild jungle areas that are filled with lawlessness and no protection for a sparse population. In the case of ours, we have very limited narco drug traficking in this Chiquibul Forest area along the Guatemalan border to warrant any USA sniper combat teams to wipe out the banditry going on in Belizean territory from over the border in Guatemala. Elsewhere though, the question of sovereignty and the failure to apply law and order accompanied by justice very much effects the USA National Interest on it's WAR ON DRUGS. Should they, the USA be able to fund counter terrorism banditry US Military teams in Congress and trespass on what are from paper map lines and GPS coordinates are LAWLESS AREAS, supposedly sovereign territory of a nation?

The USA is trying to define and come to terms with some sort of cross national border policy for "ungoverned areas", including our own Chiquibul Forest Reserve. Myself, I think it is time, we plan a ten mile wide swath of farms and civilization, with roads and services along our Guatmalan border in this Chiquibul Forest Reserve. Nothing would deter banditry more, or define problems better, nor better justify a government presence, than infra-structure implemented in this Westernmost band. For if we do not, we are going to lose it, for sure!

Other lawless areas are in Surinam, or the Tabatinga-Leticia corridor on the Brazilian/Colombian border, over into Peru. Bandits are free to cross borders to commit atrocities. They often build their own infra-structure hidden from spy planes. The new threats are international operating criminal groups, sometimes terrorists occupying empty spaces on the maps, in jungles, mountains and other remote areas. They are then able to disrupt central governments in urban areas and decoy military intervention from venturing into the empty spaces, through calculated terrorist assassinations and bombing in more urban and city areas. Belize is financially helpless to patrol it's own Guatemalan frontier and protect our resources, or even develop them. It is time to think of some new strategies! Today's threats are not invasion by Guatemala, or by any other neighbor in Latin America, it is by the lawless, ungoverned areas, looking empty on a map, over which pretty little lines and GPS coordinates are drawn by central governments, claiming sovereignty.

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