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Security Brief: SOUTHCOM Week of February 28, 2022

Updated: Apr 3

Week of Monday, February 28, 2022 | Issue 61

Stacey Casas, Jhamil Moya, Daniel Ruiz, SOUTHCOM Team


Protest against the war in Ukraine[1]


Date: February 28, 2022

Location: Brazil

Parties involved: Brazil; Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro; Ukraine; Russia; Ukrainian refugees

The event: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is willing to admit Ukrainian refugees into the country, declaring Brazilian neutrality in the Russia-Ukraine war.[2]

Analysis & Implications:

  • The recent rise of economic ties between Brazil and Russia likely affected President Bolsonaro's neutral position in the Russia-Ukraine war. Relying heavily on its agribusiness sector, Brazil will very likely continue importing nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (NPK) fertilizer from Russia, despite rising international sanctions.

  • If Brazilian companies begin hiring Ukrainian immigrants, the national labor market's competition will very likely increase and generate tension in Brazilian employees. Escalated tensions between Brazilian and Ukrainian workers could likely lead to violent acts against Ukrainian immigrants. Discrimination and marginalization against Ukrainian migrants will likely lead them to move to other countries in Latin America.

  • Ukrainian migration to Brazil will likely strengthen existing migrant smuggling networks to Latin America. Ukrainian migrant smuggling networks will likely exploit the document forgery industry and other criminal industries to enable the flow of migrants to Brazil. Migrant smuggling networks could likely cooperate with criminal organizations, likely bribing or coercing Ukrainian migrants to engage in illicit activities, such as drug trafficking.

Date: March 1, 2022

Location: Paraguay

Parties involved: Paraguayan National Anti-Drug Secretariat (SENAD); Rural Association of Paraguay (ARP); Federation of Production Cooperatives (FECOPROD); The Union of Production Guilds (UGM); National Chamber of Commerce of Paraguay; Paraguayan Supreme Court of Justice; Paraguayan Industrial Union (UIP); Paraguayan Public Ministry

The event: Paraguayan productive and industrial unions expressed concern about the infiltration of the financial system by organized crime.[3] The "Ultranza PY" operation that began on February 22, 2022, which has carried out more than 100 raids, investigates money laundering from drug trafficking and organized crime in Paraguay.[4]

Analysis & Implications:

  • Organized crime infiltration in Paraguay’s financial system will likely lead to national economic and financial instability within the framework of international cooperation. The low economic and financial cooperation between the US and Paraguay will likely negatively impact the local economy, decreasing the gross domestic product (GDP).

  • Paraguayan employees working for companies under investigation by Paraguayan authorities for money laundering will very likely lose their jobs. Increased unemployment and money laundering-related asset seizures will likely reduce Paraguayans' confidence in the private sector. This distrust will likely decrease the amount of foreign and domestic business investment in the country, likely leading citizens to protest against rising unemployment levels.

  • Operation "Ultranza PY" will likely produce more operational results in the coming weeks, such as raids and arrests. Confessions of those arrested will likely allow authorities to collect more information on money laundering networks. If money laundering networks are exposed, criminal organizations will very likely seek out new methods to transfer illicit funds, such as through Bitcoin, which makes detecting illegal transfers of money more difficult.

Date: March 1, 2022

Location: Cauca department, Colombia

Parties involved: Colombian National Police; Colombian National Army; Cauca department local population

The event: The Colombian National Police and National Army seized a truck conditioned for launching explosive material including 112 grenades and 224 kilograms of explosives in the Cauca department. Explosive ordnance disposal technicians safely detonated the truck’s contents.[5] Social insecurity in Colombia is rising. Legislative elections will be held on March 13, 2022, and presidential elections later in May.[6]

Analysis & Implications:

  • Insecurity in Colombia from these attacks with explosives on public roads will very likely affect the local economy in the Cauca department. Lack of product transportation security will almost certainly decrease the availability of goods originating from the Cauca department, very likely increasing their final market price.

  • Colombians’ political discontent will likely rise if the government cannot guarantee security for free transit. Political discontent will very likely result in riots and protests, leading to increased social insecurity, which will likely affect the upcoming presidential and legislative elections.

  • Insecurity in the Cauca department will likely cause internal displacement in Colombia. The displaced will likely move to neighboring regions and other municipalities in Cauca, which will likely not have sufficient capacity to attend to the displaced due to improper infrastructure and public services. This lack of capabilities to assist the displaced will likely lead to a deterioration in the socio-economic conditions of many displaced individuals.

  • The seizure of explosives likely suggests that illegal armed groups will conduct more intensive terrorist attacks, likely increasing fear and insecurity among the population. If illegal armed groups continue to injure civilians, Colombian security forces will very likely increase counterterrorism efforts and operations, likely leading to more captures and casualties among illegal armed groups.


________________________________________________________________________ The Counterterrorism Group (CTG)

[1]No to war in Ukraine” by Garry Knight licensed under CC 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0)

[2] Brazil's Bolsonaro says humanitarian visas to be given to Ukrainians, National Post, February 2022, https://nationalpost.com/pmn/news-pmn/brazils-bolsonaro-says-humanitarian-visas-to-be-given-to-ukrainians

[3] Gremios, preocupados por infiltración del crimen organizado en el sistema financiero, Diario Hoy, March 2022, https://www.hoy.com.py/nacionales/gremios-preocupados-por-infiltracion-del-crimen-organizado-en-el-sistema-financiero (translated by Daniel Ruiz)

[4] «A Ultranza Py»: incautan bienes por más de US$ 100 millones de red de tráfico y lavado, IP, February 2022, https://www.ip.gov.py/ip/a-ultranza-py-incautan-bienes-por-mas-de-us-100-millones-de-red-de-trafico-y-lavado/#:~:text=Foto%20Ministerio%20P%C3%BAblico.,m%C3%A1s%20de%20US%24%20100%20millones (translated by Daniel Ruiz)

[5] Incautan camión con 224 kilogramos de explosivos en Cauca, El Nuevo Siglo, March 2022, https://www.elnuevosiglo.com.co/articulos/03-01-2022-incautan-camion-con-220-kilogramos-de-explosivos-en-cauca (translated by Jhamil Moya)

[6] La ONU, preocupada por la violencia en Colombia a puertas de las elecciones, Yahoo Noticias, March 2022, https://es.noticias.yahoo.com/2021-aumentaron-masacres-colombia-78-161203181.html?guccounter=1 (translated by Jhamil Moya)

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