Analysis: The role of spies in Latin America

Latin America

Latin America

These days it’s a full-time job keeping up with intelligence news coming out of Latin America. In recent weeks alone, there were major spy scandals involving the busting of an alleged Colombian espionage ring in Venezuela, the acknowledgment by Bogotá that it spied on Ecuador, and the ongoing high-level intelligence scandal that some say may cause recalls of diplomats between Chile and Peru. So what is going on in Latin America? How widespread is espionage in the continent and is it on the rise? The BBC’s Juan Paullier has consulted several regional and international experts for his well-written analysis on the subject. The broad consensus seems to be that current intelligence activity in Latin America may be heating up, but cannot be compared to its Cold War levels. Moreover, even though there is more spying between and within nations, much of it appears to be done in haste and without much precaution, leading to “an increase in the cases that are becoming public”. Overall, operations are sloppily put together and lack method and quality. One London-based expert suggests that “maybe only Argentina, Brazil, and perhaps Mexico, are capable of actually spying outside of their borders”. Most of the remaining countries tend to focus on what they perceive as “internal threats” (see Colombia).

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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