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Latin America: Terrorism Issues

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Publication Date: March 2009

Publisher(s): Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service

Series: RS21049

Topic: International relations (International peace and security)


U.S. attention to terrorism in Latin America intensified in the aftermath of the September 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, with an increase in bilateral and regional cooperation. Latin American nations strongly condemned the attacks, and took action through the Organization of American States (OAS) to strengthen hemispheric cooperation. OAS members signed an Inter-American Convention Against Terrorism in 2002. The Senate agreed to the resolution of advice and consent on the Convention in the 109th Congress and the United States ratified it in November 2005.

In its April 2006 report on global terrorism, the State Department highlighted threats in Colombia, Peru, and the tri-border area of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay, but noted that there were no known operational cells of Islamic terrorists in the hemisphere. Cuba has remained on the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism since 1982, which triggers a number of economic sanctions. In May 2006, the Department of State, pursuant to Arms Export Control Act, added Venezuela to its annual list of countries not cooperating on antiterrorism efforts, which triggered prohibitions on the sale or license of defense articles and services to that country. Cuba also has been on that list for many years.

The 110th Congress will likely continue to monitor potential terrorist threats in Latin America and the region's cooperation with the United States on antiterrorism efforts, and will consider the Administration's FY2008 request for Anti-Terrorism Assistance to the region in Foreign Operations appropriations legislation.