In the throes of a war based on Washington’s interpretation of its national interests, the United States insists that Latin America invest billions of dollars in a war on terrorism in which the region’s involvement has been proven to be minimal. It is the home truth that Washington rarely has allowed Latin America to be exempt from the consequences flowing from the White House’s decades-long crusade against worldwide terrorism.
At another time, the word “terror” would not automatically be invoked to describe ordinary criminal acts. So-called acts of “terror,” allegedly have carried with them a new dimension to the ordinary conflict between traditional adversaries that involved traditional actions now classified as criminal in nature. These include the war on drugs, money laundering, human trafficking, illegal migration, and anti-guerrilla warfare. By thrusting all of these traditional species of criminal activity together in a mixed bag of “new” as well as “old” crime, which hitherto have seldom been a part of an arsenal of crimes that are now being rebranded as “terrorist” acts. The rationale for this uncommon nomenclature can only be attributed to Washington’s quest for clarity. It was accompanied by new and freshly contested behavior now no longer burdened by ordinary handicaps, which automatically has imposed on ordinary citizens the possibility of being looked upon as invalid, lesser beings. The prospect of being seen in a spirit of blind justice (at least until the defendant is judged) prohibits the suspects from being fairly adjudicated.
In a very important respect, Latin America has been done lasting damage by Washington’s over-emphasis on its war against terror, even though Washington’s base instinct may not have been fortified by convincing hard evidence of the dangers posed by terrorism in the region. This lack of convincing evidence has come about due to a weakened criminal justice system that presumes the defendant guilty in crimes classified as being in the terrorist category. The above fact alone has brought about speculation that Washington harbors more reservations than ever before in its anti-terrorist cause.
This reality has weakened the constitutional equity of the individual in the eyes of the law. It has also distorted the concept of innocence before the law, formerly equal in all categories of alleged criminal activity. Another cost that Latin America has had to bear has been the lost stability and internal discord that the terror campaign has carried with it. Washington must stop the imposition of damaging anti-terror policies on Latin America, and consider the damage they have done to judicial freedoms and civil liberties worldwide.