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Interpol

Tag Archives | Interpol

Panama’s Untold Story: Security and Police Forces Step up their Game

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Xinhua
Xinhua

Xinhua

To say Latin America is not considered a safe area would be an understatement. Indeed, the UN Office of Drugs and Crime paints Latin America as the most dangerous spot in the world and the only place where homicide rates keep rising. However, is the region really to blame for its years of violence and bloodshed?

It all began with the infamous “war on drugs” announced by Richard Nixon in 1971, rooted in the belief that all drugs are evil and that we must ensure their ultimate destruction using any means necessary. More than 4 decades and some $1 trillion later, US drug policy is now more militarized than ever, focused solely on conducting army and police operations. The results are usually expressed in cold numbers linked to the area of drug crops destroyed or the unprecedented number of arrests made after each operation. But is this enough?

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Asia and Airline Security

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Pictured: A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 in Melbourne. Photo: Mehdi Nazarinia

From 2000 to 2003 I lived in Singapore, and from 2003 to 2007 I lived in Manila. Anyone who has been to both cities knows what a dichotomy they represent on a variety of levels – from degree of development to cost of living to perceived level of safety and comparative chaos involved in getting through the day.

Pictured: A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 in Melbourne. Photo: Mehdi Nazarinia

Asia is of course about as diverse a landscape as exists on the planet, and these two cities are truly representative of just how different an air traveler’s experience can be in places just three hours flying distance apart. Singapore exudes stability and confidence while Manila feels like perpetual uncertainty. The same may also be said of air travel security in Asia. During my time living there I traveled to more than 20 countries and have seen every conceivable version of airport security, from the gleaming, fabulous airports in cities such as Beijing and Seoul to a dirt strip in rural Papua New Guinea. A couple of years ago I was in rural PNG on business and went to a one room air terminal that had a single security guard, armed with a machete and sling shot! No x-ray machine, no security protocol for passengers – nothing. So much for post 9/11 security!

I have no way of knowing whether the disappearance of Malaysia Air 370 was a result of terrorism, a hijacking, a structural failure, or a conspiracy, but its disappearance got me thinking about some of my travel experiences in Asia over nearly 30 years. I recall living in Singapore in 2001, when 9/11 happened, and the tremendous response the Singapore government made to identify and root out several active cells of Jemaah Islamiyah in the city. The threat was very real, and the tension was palpable. The headlines were dramatic, but not all the important stories made the news.

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