Is the OAS Up to the Challenges Facing the Region?

Failure to weaken the Organized Crime Group’s development platform is equivalent to providing these interests with a breathing space.

The deadlock surrounding the decision to label Venezuela as a non-compliant country vis-à-vis the Inter American Democratic Charter underlines the functional crisis affecting not solely the OAS but the whole international system. Undeniably, even those remotely linked to international affairs have witnessed the gradual decay of world order and the rise and enhanced frequency of conflicting situations that distract the international community from the most urgent task of creating avenues to accommodate emerging nations and young democracies while effectively fighting illicit transnational actors. And as restructuring of the international system is postponed disorder rises and with it the degree of civic support for the arrangement created after the most devastating world wars with a view to ensure cooperation and enshrine development.

Events like the absence of action aiming at sanctioning the non-complaint status of Venezuela to the Inter American Democratic Charter further debilitates the international system as nations can now pick and choose when (if ever) they will uphold international commitments without running the risk of being disciplined. this is an invitation to anarchy.  But perhaps the most damaging impact to the region is the signal sent to transnational illicit actors that the region is open for business. Because the regional community seems to have chosen Cancun to turn its back on money laundering; corruption and malfeasance which are the differentiating attributes of the Venezuelan regime. Lack of regional response entails an indirect blessing of Caracas’ operating model that fails to respect the Venezuelan constitution in order to effectively deploy the multinational oil platform provided by PDVSA in the illicit business; disrupt international sanctions imposed on other countries, launder corruption money and perhaps finance terrorism.

Failure to weaken the Organized Crime Group’s development platform is equivalent to providing these interests with a breathing space. Given the huge margins surrounding illicit businesses, the existence of an operating platform creates a world of opportunities to penetrate each and every country in the region and to diversify.  Processed cocaine for instance, is available in Colombia for $1500 dollars per kg. but its retail price in the US is $66,000 per kg. Cost of Heroin in Pakistan is $2,600/kg., but can be sold for $130,000/kg.). Synthetic drugs such as  methamphetamine are even cheaper to manufacture costing approximately $300 to $500 per kg. to produce in clandestine labs but is sold in the US streets for up to $60,000/kg. Document, currency and product counterfeiting enjoys similar margins. This provides transnational organized crime with enough resources to disrupt governance; penetrate law enforcement authorities and take over the political body of nations. Estimates of the global market for counterfeit goods range from $250 billion to $650 billion. Since making and selling counterfeit products requires a supply chain and a high degree of organization, these businesses are normally run by Organized Crime Groups (OCGs). Major OCGs originate in China and other Asian nations followed by the Camorra in Italy. Others include Japanese Yakuza, North African, Russian/Georgian and Turkish OCGs. All must be salivating at the new market opportunities sealed in by the OAs decision. Curiously enough in the OAS agenda for the 47th session of the General Assembly one of the most important items is the adoption of a resolution on a Multidimensional Approach to Security.

*The opinions published herein are the sole responsibility of its author.*