BOGOTA, Oct. 9 (UPI) -- Latin America's immediate security concerns got an airing at the International Security Fair, which opened in the Colombian capital Wednesday.
About 300 defense and security companies from Latin American and other international industry segments are taking part in the three-day fair, which aims to profit from growing regional concerns about personal and corporate security.
Latin America's commodities-driven economic boom has transformed the regional economic landscape, though dramatic disparities in income distribution and uneven business development remain major challenges, delegates said in published comments.
This year's fair has set sights on businesses audiences that want security for their businesses, including platform security and defenses against cyberattacks. The fair has been returning to Bogota each year for nearly two decades.
Colombia until recently was at the center of an armed insurrection by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People's Army, known by its Spanish acronym FARC. FARC resistance to successive Bogota governments since 1964 has led to more than 200,000 deaths.
The rebel group and aides of President Juan Manuel Santos are in talks in Cuba in an attempt end to the violence and integrate the guerrilla group into the political mainstream.
Until that happens, however, Colombia remains a land of opportunity for security companies hired to protect individuals, families, businesses and high-profile corporate individuals.
Neighboring countries with newly expanded middle-income groups and increasing numbers of wealthy individuals have also seen growth in security security services.
Many countries, especially in Central and South America, have witnessed the privatization of public security functions, says Katitza Rodriguez, international rights director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which has its headquarters in San Francisco.
"This is particularly true of those countries with a history of internal wars and military regimes, and later democratization" Rodriguez wrote in a January survey published by the foundation.
"In these contexts, state security operations have sometimes been funded by governments [both international and national] and delegated to private sector companies."
Not all of the growth trends are healthy, however. In Guatemala, a transition to democracy produced a formal institutional reform of the security sector that in turn, allowed former military personnel to maintain "informal mechanisms of control through the private sector," Otto Aragueta said in an article cited by Rodriguez.
To counter market downturns in North America and Europe, security manufacturers have turned to emerging markets, securityinfowatch.com said.
Industry analysts said Latin America, including the Caribbean, was now one of the biggest emerging markets for security products.
The video surveillance market for Latin America is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate of about 20 percent within five years, Oliver Philippou said in a report last year.
Security companies have placed bets on security industry growth in Latin America, said Luiz Camargo, Brazilian head of the Paramus, N.J., firm NICE Systems Inc.
Brazil's electronic security equipment market, said to be worth $$592 million last year, could more than triple by 2017, reaching $1.8 billion, Camargo said citing data from a Security Industry Association report.