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1 / XIII / zima 2011 / winter 2011Recenze / Book reviewsTisk / PrintDownload

Stojarová, Věra – Hrabálek, Martin – Springerová, Pavlína: Security in the Andean Community of Nation: The Member States in the 21st-Century. Brno: Centrum pro studium demokracie a kultury, 2009, 188 pages, ISBN: 978-80-7325-198-7.

Robin Kvěš

The reviewed book by V. Stojarová, M. Hrabálek and P. Springerová sets the main goal to analyse questions of security in the area of Andean Community of Nations (ACN). The authors decided to analyse questions of security inside a very specific region (or regional integration grouping) with a long-lasting political, ideological, as well as social instability and facing to many varied and closely interconnected security threats (whose number have had a growing tendencies in recent years). Though we can find some general characteristics which are common to all states in the region (common history, language, culture), simultaneously there is a need to label the Andean region as internally strongly heterogeneous because the relatively considerable differences between individual states have outlasted for long time there. The research of security inside such region with a great number of specific and interconnected threats is undoubtedly a very onerous task. Fortunately, at the beginning of this review we can say that the authors of the book managed this difficult task in an excellent way.
The key reason of their success lies in (in company with their erudition) electing of the suitable approach to study. The authors left themselves to inspire (inspired themselves with) by the Copenhagen school and used their broad and deep conceptualization of security for the analysis of security problems in the Andean region. The application of Copenhagen perception of security facilitates the study of questions of security in a deeper way and in huger social, political or environmental context. This concept is therefore very suitable for study of security in the Andean region where we can find many security problems of different natures which are mutually interconnected. All case studies of states under investigation (Bolivia by P. Springerová; Columbia by M. Hrabálek; Ecuador by V. Stojarová; Peru by V. Stojarová; and Venezuela by M. Hrabálek – if Venezuela is not a member state of CAN today, including this state is right because it is a central actor in the Andean region) therefore, thanks to application of the Copenhagen school conceptualization of security, give attention to description and analysis of the wide range of questions and problems related to economic, societal, political and environmental dimensions of security in all five states of the analysed region. A great advantage of this publication is also the fact that their authors managed to keep a unified structure of particular chapters (case studies) what makes content of publication clearer and more intelligible to their readers.
In each case study the particular security problems are described and analysed in more detail within the framework of individual security dimensions of the Copenhagen school. The authors describe the basic causes, development and current situation of specific problems in case of each country under investigation and do not neglect to point to the mutual interconnection between the particular security problems (threats) as well as between the particular dimensions of security. Although it is natural that all of the case studies are primarily focused on the description and analysis of the specific security problems within boundaries of single states, in view of the complex study of security in whole region, it is well that this focus is not absolute. In any case when some of the analysed security threats have evidently the cross-boundary character, the authors do not neglect to mention this fact and to explain their interstate nature and links. The authors, mainly thanks to this approach, do not offer “only” the description and analysis of security threats in particular states in the framework of their single case studies. All case studies together give gradually the readers opportunity to make a complex picture of unsatisfactory security situation in the region as a single whole as well as to understand the difficulty of its effective solution and quick improvement.
As mentioned above, the authors of publication utilize the conceptualization of security by the Copenhagen school, and therefore they aim at the security problems in the economic, societal, political and environmental dimension. Although the individual states under investigation differ from each other in many particular security questions, the contents of chapters also clearly prove that some of problems are symptomatic of all states in the region (or most of them) and that the current situation in the region is unsatisfactory in all security dimensions of the Copenhagen school.
In the sphere of economic dimension of security, the publication reveals that the states of the Andean region have been facing the relatively similar problems. Although the economic power of states under investigation is slightly different (mainly Venezuela differs from other states due to its wealthy oil and gas reserves), the common feature of all states is the considerable economic instability. For all countries it is symptomatic that they have poorly diversified economies, they are highly dependent on export of limited number of commodities (oil, gas, wood etc.) and they are highly dependent on limited export market (mainly on the USA). These factors and many other factors make the economies of the Andean region highly dependent on their surroundings and de facto incapable of effective defence against the negative development on the world markets. Negative consequences of these facts are then repeated economic depressions, waves of rapid economic declines, rapid growth of inflation, unemployment etc., against which the national governments have not any instruments of defence.
Ten next specific problem of the Andean region presents the illegal cultivation and trade with coca. The cultivation and the production of coca has been under the control of non-state actors (drug cartels, guerrillas etc.) with which the governments in the region have been leading the long-lasting and vain fights. The coca cultivation has had a deep-rooted tradition in the Andean region and the part of population is existentially dependent on the coca business (or drug trafficking). These factors make from the fight against coca cultivation an all-embracing problem which has strong societal, political and environmental consequences. The successful fight against cultivation of coca is complicated by the weakness of national economies and by their limited capacity to ensure any alternatives to these people. Because most of these inhabitants belong to the poorest group of society or to groups of indigenous peoples, the impossible success in the fight against the coca production would have also negative consequences in societal as well as in economic dimension (deepening of poverty, worsening position of indigenous peoples etc.).
The fight against the coca cultivation has also negative implications for the quality of environment in the Andean region (for example the chemical attacks against the illegal coca cultivation devastate country, natural resources, wealth vegetation etc. and they only lead to the transferring of coca cultivation to new areas where existing vegetation must yield to the new fields of coca). Generally, the weak position of governments in the region, the tradition of coca cultivation and many negative impacts lead to the resignation of government fights often. Some governments tolerate coca cultivation; some of them even support it openly (the Morales regime in Bolivia) or take fight against coca as a part of fight against the illegal business and the many non-state actors (drug cartels, guerrillas etc.).
The economic problems (instability, inflation, unemployment etc.) are very closely interconnected with the societal dimension of security in the Andean region (even the authors of this publication study both dimensions of security together; in single chapter in their case studies). Generally, we can say that the authors concur that the economic problems in the Andean region have strongly complicated the long-range and successful progress in the fight against the basic societal problems (i.e. high rate of poverty, low rate of education, rapid growth of population etc.) which are typical problems for most of the underdeveloped countries in the world. But the authors in their case studies reveal other, more specific societal problems of the Andean region which has often had huge historical causes and they are connected with other security dimensions, too. One of these typical problems is the presence of long-lastingly excluded groups (the groups of indigenous inhabitants, former members of guerrillas, the poorest inhabitants etc.) whose position in society had been neglected for long time of history in the Andean region. Despite the politicization of this theme during last decades (in each case study the author pays a part of chapter to a brief outline of the emergence and the activities of political subject representing the indigenous groups) and despite certain government efforts (we can find a special government programmes for solutions of this question in all states of region) to fully incorporate these disadvantaged groups into society, this process has been very slow for last years. The solution of this as well as of the other societal problems inside the Andean region is complicated by existence of too many problems which are interconnected and cross particular dimensions of security (although the individual states differ from each other in many questions naturally, the typical example presents above mentioned incompatibility of government fights against the coca cultivation and government efforts to improve the living conditions of the poorest inhabitants). This illustrative example (one of many similar patterns in the region) clearly show that it is right that the authors of reviewed book do not perceive the individual problems separately and do not neglect to point out their links to the other dimensions of security and they look on the various problems in the wider connections.
The next important factor in the huge conceptualization of the Copenhagen school is the factor of political security. At the beginning of every case study the authors briefly descript the political development and the transformation of “old orders” in direction to the new political structures (the birth of new political parties, new political leaders, transformations of character of political systems etc.) which has took place in most of states under investigation during last decades. Authors then pay a special attention to more detail description of political situation and general features of political regimes in the present age.
If the basic evaluations of states in the Andean region are very similar (to certain extent naturally) in the context of the other dimensions, the political dimension of security presents exception. The authors concur that for all states under investigation (de facto without regard of the nature of regime) the problems of political instability, corruption, oligarchic and clientelist form of organization, closed political elite etc. are typical. The evaluations of the next factors of political security are more divergent in the Andean region. The contents of the particular case studies reveal that the individual states differ in the character of their main internal political problems, their ideological profile as well as the basic orientation of their foreign policy.
In the question of the internal security there have been the most serious security threats as the long-lasting presence of non-state military actors (left-wing guerrillas, drug cartels – the strongest in Columbia and in Peru) or autonomist movements (in Bolivia) which weaken and limit the power of some central governments in the Andean region and defend to them in the effective control over the whole state territory (so there we can find failed states /Columbia/ as well as states with relatively strong government /Venezuela/ in the Andean region). The next political division results from the ideological-political partition of this region – there we can find the strongly leftist orientated regimes (regime of H. Chávez in Venezuela, regime of E. Morales in Bolivia and to a large extent regime of R. Correa in Ecuador) which have been refusing the neoliberalism and the role of the USA in the region, and their common features are socialism, social populism, nationalization of energy and mining industry, or strong anti-Americanism. The direct political-ideological opposition to these leftist regimes has presented the regime of A. Uribe in Colombia (Uribe’s presidency expired in 2010). Moreover, this political-ideological tension in the region has been strengthened by existence of several territorial disputes between states (the authors mention the disputes between Venezuela and Columbia, Peru and Ecuador etc.)
This sharp political-ideological partition of the region is one of the main problems (causes) which splits up the ACN, hinders the progress in integration and sharply limits the willingness of the individual states to cooperate in solution of the most security problems in the Andean region (the authors mention /for example/ the Chávez’s Venezuela and its support of the leftist guerrillas in Columbia or the unwillingness of leftist regimes to fully join in fighting against the coca cultivation, what is demanded by Columbia and USA).
The individual states do not differ from each other in the issue of the environmental security. The authors unanimously point out that the all states of this region rank among those with the richest biosphere and vegetation in the world (all of them belong to the top ten states of the world). But the authors simultaneously point out that all the states belong to the group of states with the fastest pace of environment devastation in the world. Generally, the authors mention the serious problem of deforestation, the pollution of air, soil or underground water, the reduced availability of drinking water etc. But the environmental problems have not presented a priority theme in the region so far. The state profits from the exploitation of natural resources (the mining of oil, gas, wood etc.) are still more important than the questions of the environment at this moment.
The authors, as in the cases of the other security dimensions, do not describe only the existing threats but they also define their causes and reveal the connection of the environmental threats to the other security dimensions, and therefore they outline the general complicatedness of their solution in practice.
The gradual devastation of the environment has the connections to the other dimensions of security in the Andean region – to the political dimension (the typical examples represent the often terror attacks of guerrilla’s on the pipelines, the chemical attacks of governments against coca cultivation etc.) and to the economic and societal dimension (the reduction of mining would result in lowering of the incomes and successive worsening the living conditions of the large majority of population).
The short survey of the content clearly document that the reviewed book is very valuable and interesting work. The book (by V. Stojarová, M. Hrabálek and P. Springerová) is the complex study of security in the Andean region. The authors do not offer “only” the description and analysis of security threats in particular states but they give the readers opportunity to make a complex picture of unsatisfactory security situation in the Andean region as well as to understand the difficulty of its effective solution and quick improvement. The using of the conceptualization of security by Copenhagen school reveals the mutual interconnection of all the dimensions and it outlines the “vicious circle” of the security in the Andean region.
The book uncovers the internal heterogeneity of the Andean region, too. It presents the main political, ideological and cultural disputes which hinder the integration of the region and sharply limit the willingness of the individual states to cooperate and jointly resolve the most of security problems in the Andean region in these days. Although the conclusions of the book are not too positive, they are realistic and build up on the very strong arguments. Therefore, we can recommend book Security in the Andean Community of Nation: The Member States in the 21st-Century to everyone who wants to learn of the unsatisfactory (not only) security situation in the Andean region and who wants to understand the complicatedness of its solution in the wider connections.

Poznámky / Notes

[1]Contact: Department of Politics and International Relations, Faculty of Philosophy and Arts of the University of West Bohemia, Sedláčkova 38, 306 14 Plzeň, Czech Republic; e-mail:

1 / XIII / zima 2011 / winter 2011Recenze / Book reviewsTisk / PrintDownload

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