Potential for defense cooperation between India and Latin America

Most countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) enjoy conditions free from external conflicts. Major conflicts between even hostile neighbors are distant memories. The Treaty of Tlatelolco signed by all the nations of the region in 1967 banned nuclear weapons from the region and was also ratified by the nuclear powers. Most of the region also voted for the 2013 United Nations Arms Trade Treaty, although organized crime continues to plague several countries. There are very few conflicts in the region, and none of them threaten the peace. Security policy is therefore more focused on the protection of natural resources and the control of criminal movements.

Large countries like Brazil have developed aircraft manufacturing capabilities, but overall the region is a net importer of arms and defense equipment. The armed forces play an important role in several countries, mainly as guardians of public order, although they are sometimes accused of supporting undemocratic regimes. The existence of leftist and guerrilla movements in some countries elicits a military response. In recent decades, the United States and some other powers have helped countries like Colombia with defense equipment to counter these threats. Some countries like Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador tried to distance themselves from the United States and Europe, which created an incipient rivalry in the last century, which led Russia and China to intensify their security cooperation.

“Transnational criminal organizations and drug trafficking organizations are one of the most significant threats currently facing the entire region. These organizations have evolved over time to become extremely organized in nature and are heavily armed with the latest weapons. To combat this threat, the police of specific drug control units in most Latin American countries have become highly militarized, which requires similar logistical support in the context of weapons, tactile equipment, armored vehicles and textiles,” explained a senior diplomat from the region who wished to remain anonymous.

Adding, “This is where Indian companies specializing in security equipment and technology, cyber security experts, small arms, patrollers, night vision equipment and bulletproof vests will find plenty of export opportunities. In the region”.

Guerrilla movements or rebel groups such as the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELM) are a permanent threat to peace in Colombia and often have spillover effects in neighboring countries. The rest of the countries are not devoid of guerrilla movements, although they are not as notorious as the FARC, most of the countries suffer from rebel groups which pose a constant threat to the people and the government and are also responsible for a high crime rate in the area. .

Political instability and volatility in Venezuela has led to a mass exodus of Venezuelans from the region. While at first the Colombians welcomed the refugees, it is now perceived as a threat by neighboring countries and has led not only to an increase in social tensions in the region but also to the partial militarization of the Amazon by Brazil. Venezuela has also been actively engaged in border skirmishes with Guyana, and these are expected to increase as Venezuela continues to lay claim to newly discovered crude oil deposits in Guyanese waters.

The region is also facing a growing cyber threat and the trend since 2017 has been of an increasing number of cyber attacks and ransomware cases. Countries in the region are struggling to cope due to limited technical expertise and are looking for partners in cybersecurity.

LAC also suffers from some of the highest crime rates in the world, and as racial, socio-economic and political volatility increases, the crime rate is also set to increase. There is also the potential for non-traditional security threats such as the rapid deforestation of the Amazon, the sinking of the Caribbean and the general increase in public discontent would manifest itself in mass movements of people, increased crime rates and new rebel movements.

Also read: India to challenge China’s incursion into South America; Explore defense export opportunities

To a large extent, the LAC region does not face the type of security threat that most countries face. The absence of border disputes and disputes between countries in the region means that most countries in Latin America and the Caribbean do not need the kind of large-scale weaponry that most countries aim to acquire. The high crime rate due to organized crime in the region has forced intensive militarization of the police. “The immediate need in the region is for small arms, tactile vehicles, bulletproof vests, as well as surveillance equipment. These products do not require the kind of investment that is usually required by bigger guns and weapons and can also become the niche that India can capitalize on, in this sector,” another diplomat said.

Another problem that is getting worse every day is IUU fishing propagated by Chinese vessels. This growing threat from Chinese ships in and near the territorial waters of Latin American countries has made most countries aware of their shortcomings in maritime security, which has opened up a market for the equipment of maritime security ranging from radars to small patrols. ships.

Indian expertise in this sector stands to benefit from this niche market and as the relationship between India and Latin America has grown and deepened in recent times, it is only natural that this market should also be explored.

Dual-Use Technologies

Earlier this week, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh had unveiled around 75 technologies for use by the Indian Armed Forces as well as for civilian use. These technologies also included cybersecurity management. Some of them are for export to friendly countries

During an interaction with the media recently, the Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of Defense, Sanjay Jaju, had indicated that several technologies and products unveiled included: cybersecurity, analysis of human behavior, intelligent surveillance system, systems automation/unmanned/robotics; Surveillance and reconnaissance systems (C4ISR) and operational data analysis; Command, control, communication, computing and intelligence; and logistics and supply chain management, speech/voice analytics.

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