Turmoil in Latin America

By Robert Elliott

The president of one private security company in Venezuela had a banner year in 2005, but the same insecure circumstances that accelerated his business made staying in his homeland untenable. Last July, gun-wielding thieves kidnapped his wife and youngest daughter, dragging them from their car and forcing them to withdraw cash from various ATMs before dumping them in a Caracas neighborhood. Three months later, the security professional’s son was also taken hostage along with his girlfriend. The thieves took their car, money, and even their shoes, and ditched them alongside a highway. “After that, I decided to move to Miami and set up my business there,” says the security expert, who prefers to remain anonymous.

Venezuela, led by rabble-rouser leftist Hugo Chavez, is at the forefront of a period of political change in Latin America characterized by the election of governments with socialist, populist, or nationalist underpinnings. The political shift and its accompanying social ramifications, along with a changing threatscape in the post-9-11 world, have prompted foreign and domestic companies to take a hard look at the safety of their operations and personnel around Latin America.

“People are watching events very closely. Their guard is up,” says Odalys Fajardo-Guerrero, managing director of global investigation and security in Latin America for Vance International Security Services and Consulting.

Security Management takes a look at the political shifts occurring in several countries in the region, the implications for businesses, and the security countermeasures being adopted to address evolving threats.



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