Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Chile's Military Goes All in Against Drug Trafficking

Chile's armed forces have a new mission: They are the latest weapon against drug trafficking, especially in border areas. President Sebastian Piñera signed a decree that gives the military expanded powers and sets guidelines for their new role. The Army, Navy and Air Force will collaborate with police agencies to combat illegal drugs and organized crime. It's a landmark decision because governments have been reluctant to put the military in domestic security tasks since military rule ended in 1990. Piñera, however, says drug trafficking is an epidemic that must be fought with all available tools. Those tools are surveillance equipment, electronic sensors and logistical support the military can provide to watch over a porous border in the north of Chile. There are reservations, if not criticism, of the plan by some government officials, especially among the opposition. Determined to keep memories of the military junta in the past, some want assurances that the military's role will be limited and that the police will not become subordinate to the generals. Others are skeptical that the military can be an effective crime-fighter. The country's comptroller has requested more details and wants Piñera to better define what he means by "collaboration."  

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