Call for Brazilian leadership on small arms trafficking in South America

Professor Matias Spektor, Director of the International Relations Program at the Rio de Janeiro campus of the Fundação Getúlio Vargas University and current Rio Branco Visiting Chair at King’s College, University of London, has put forward a very interesting idea in his regular column in the leading Brazilian newspaper Folha de São Paulo. You can find the original column in Portuguese here. A quick Google translation is below. Bottom line — Spektor wants Brazil to step up and take leadership for controlling small arms trafficking in the region and end the ongoing civil war-like bloodbath caused by these illegally traded weapons. He’s got a point, and the Brazilian people might push the idea as we move to a presidential election in 2014 — a few years back Brazilians voted down a referendum proposal banning handguns precisely because they were terrified of the illegal weapons rife in certain areas of major cities.


Anti-Bullet (anti-ballistic) Diplomacy
Prof. Matias Spektor
Brazil had more homicides by firearms than Iraq or Afghanistan, Colombia or the United States, India or Pakistan. The data refers to 2010 show an average of four deaths per hour, or 108 per day. Victims have low education, are young and darker than white.

Works such as the Violence Map, Julio Jacobo Waiselfisz, publications and the Small Arms Survey, Viva Rio and Sou da Paz show that the problem has no easy solution because it is associated with the most stubborn dramas Brazilian inequality.

To reverse this ominous dynamic that resembles a civil war, foreign policy can make all the difference.

Over half of the 16 million firearms circulating in the country are not properly registered because they object to theft, diversion or smuggling. This illegal trade is regionalized, linking the Brazilian market weapons to neighboring Paraguay, Bolivia, Uruguay and Argentina.

Despite a modest recent progress, coordination between these countries is meager.

Only Brasília has a diplomatic force to discipline the region under the auspices of a project of collective responsibility.

Moreover, Brazil shares the rank of champion homicides by firearms in Central America and the Caribbean region where has enough clout to launch high-impact initiatives.

Firearms not just shred thousands of Brazilian families. Also hinder the ascension process of the country. After all, arguing that we have something useful to say about peace and stability in the world when statistics show that between 2004 and 2007, there were more Brazilian citizens shot dead than the sum of all 12 victims of the bloodiest conflicts of the world ? Here’s a radical idea.

Imagine if the President of the Republic created a task force with Foreign Ministry, Ministry of Defence and Federal Police to deal with the international dimensions of the problem.

The Brazilian ambassadors in South America would offer hefty packages of technical cooperation to local governments. Mercosur and Unasur would consequently training and standardization of procedures, especially in border areas. The BNDES continue helping the Brazilian industry of firearms to regionalize, but in exchange for broader and intelligent controls of which she would also benefit.

Dilma announce the initiative during the passing of Pope Francisco by Brazil, next June. Passionate about regional integration and obsessed with the eradication of poverty, the Pope would be a powerful and faithful ally of the cause.

When you do something, the Brazilian foreign policy would be acting in self-interest (unlocking the ascension process and building an environment of peace) and moral imperative (facing a horror in everyday life for the majority).

The current reality demands nothing less than a true ballistic diplomacy.

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