Larrea Is “Proud” To Have Participated In A Mission To Assist Hostages

first_imgBy Dialogo May 26, 2009 The Ecuadorian ex-minister of Internal and External Security Gustavo Larrea assured today that he feels “proud” of having participated in a mission to free hostages that were being held by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). “I feel that the road to democracy, the road to peace requires for people such as myself in this case, to intervene in humanitarian missions, and I feel proud of having done so, Larrea stated. During an interview with the local television station Ecuavisa, he added that he didn’t feel that that participation should be censored. “I do not feel that it goes against the law to fight for hostages to be freed (…), on the contrary, I think that it is an important humanitarian gesture and I feel proud of this”, as indicated by Larrea, who once met with Luis Edgar Devia, “Raúl Reyes”, the international spokesperson for FARC who was killed in a Colombian bombing on a guerilla camp site in Ecuador in 2008. Larrea,currently a member of Government, was Minister of the Interior and, according to presidentRafael Correa, he will return to work in his administration. So far, he hasn’t revealed the country in which he had met with “Reyes”. He said that he request permission from that country to reveal its name, but he is still waiting for a response to this request. “I still do not have this authorization. I would like to tell you where and when the meeting took place; but unfortunately, I will have to wait for a response from that country to release that information”, he stated. Last May 7th, the commission for Supervision and Political Control of the Ecuadorian Legislature ruled out holding a political trial against Larrea for supposed negligence in the performance of his duty. Four official legislators out of the seven which comprise that commission, decided to close the case, presented by the opponent Julio Logroño, who considered that Larrea was negligent in meeting with the leaders of that armed group, when he attempted to exchange the hostages held by the FARC for guerrilla fighters who were being held in Colombian jails. Diplomatic relations between Ecuador and Colombia are broken since the camp site bombing, where “Raúl Reyes” died”.last_img read more

Brazilian Army Carries Out Advanced Training Exercise

first_imgBy Dialogo November 01, 2011 From October 24 to November 1, 2011, Brazilian Army’s 2nd Division carried out Operation Quebra-Canalha (Crook Breaker) II – an advanced training exercise aimed at preparing the division’s command beyond the 11th and 12th Infantry Brigades and other military units belonging to the country’s Army in foreign defense operations. The exercise took place in Vale do Paraíba, and included various municipalities within São Paulo state. The troops concentrated on October 24. The day after, on October 25, the 2nd Division Command issued its Operations Order unchaining the brigades’ plans. At night on October 26, the 11th Infantry Brigade lead a night infiltration and repositioning opportunity in Paraíba do Sul River, with the support of the Divisionary Engineering unit and ended the action by surrounding and assaulting the locality of Cachoeira Paulista. On October 26, the 12th Infantry Brigade infiltrated its reconnaissance platoons aimed at the mobile air assault that took place on October 28. The Brazilian Army’s Aviation Battalion (BAvEx) was in flight during 110 hours, fulfilling mobile air assault missions, mobile air supply, command and control, and transport, employing the 2 HA-1 (Esquilo), 4 HM-1 (Pantera) and 1 HM-3 (Cougar) helicopters. The reconnaissance and attack and general use helicopter fleet bases, as well as their organic means, were deployed on the terrain. All the BavEx Operation Base’s deployments took place through means transported by helicopters that were specifically designed for this end. The unit employed specialized personnel along with air space control units, which proved vital in allowing the quick coordination of actions and avoiding conflict between the military operation and normal aircraft traffic, thus keeping air support constant, operational and safe.last_img read more

Interview with Rear Admiral Homero Luis Lajara Solá of the Dominican Republic

first_img very interesting On October 1, 1979, Homero Luis Lajara Solá did not hesitate to predict his future. Neither the rigors of the entrance exam for the Dominican Navy nor his youthful inexperience held him back when the dentist asked him, “And what are you here for?” “I came to be the boss here,” he answered. Thirty years later, the day that he took command of the General Staff of the Dominican Navy, Lajara Solá received an unexpected visit. “I came to greet you because you warned me many years ago, and I know that you’re going to do well,” the dentist told him. The heir of a “genetic” vocation for military life, Lajara Solá, now a rear admiral (upper half), is proud of having risen through the ranks to take command of a military branch, the same post held by his father several decades before. “A unique case,” he affirms. Only two months after the publication of his book La Armada del Milenio: Bitácora de una Nación [The navy of the millennium: Compass mount of a nation], a summary of the Dominican Navy’s history, the admiral spoke with Diálogo during the 2012 Caribbean Nations Security Conference (CANSEC), which took place in St. Kitts and Nevis and was attended by defense and security leaders from 17 nations in the region. Diálogo: In your presentation at CANSEC 2012 you referred to the specific threats that the Dominican Republic is facing: murder-for-hire, illegal migration … Could you explain this a bit more for us? Rear Admiral (Upper Half) Homero Luis Lajara Solá: In the past, people fought for ideals. Now, the enemy doesn’t have ideals, only the ruthless search for money, whatever the cost and however it is acquired. There are no rules of engagement; that’s why the war is more savage. We have the malignant phenomenon of murder-for-hire, which arose in recent years and has had an enormous impact on the roots of our society. We weren’t prepared for a situation of that kind, in which hitmen come to carry out commissions, chiefly in relation to drug trafficking, which is the axis around which all criminal activity revolves. Ninety-five percent of crimes are linked to drug trafficking. In the Dominican Republic, when the DEA [U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency] started working with us, there was a limited focus on preventing the Dominican Republic from being a bridge across which drugs could reach the United States. Subsequently, a new phenomenon appeared; payment in kind, leaving part of those drugs in the country. That was the start of small-scale trafficking, and they started to exploit violent situations in the family, at work, assaults without scruples, such as killing you to steal your cellphone, or that a member of the military, who is trained to defend your country, might become involved with that malignant tentacle of drug trafficking and act as an infiltrator in order to provide information or support to particular drug-trafficking networks, as has happened in our country. In the Dominican Republic, we also have the problem of illegal migration. There are Dominican nationals and nationals of other countries who come into the country and leave illegally for Puerto Rico in fragile vessels known as ‘yolas.’ Previously, someone who made an illegal trip in a ‘yola’ was in search of a better future; now, people deported from the United States in drug cases try to get back to American territory in those vessels in order to resume their drug-trafficking activities. The forceful response of the Dominican Government, and the Ministry of the Armed Forces, has been key. The overarching drug-trafficking cases are where they should remain forever: in prison and with their assets seized. Diálogo: You frequently speak about the “multi-purpose military” and about the role of the military in today’s society. Could you explain to us what this refers to in your country’s particular case? Rear Admiral Lajara Solá: In addition to the constitutional missions of the Armed Forces, which are the country’s integrity and sovereignty, we’re struggling with emerging threats such as drug trafficking, organized crime, terrorism, and human trafficking, and also training our personnel to preserve the marine environment and provide humanitarian aid to nations that need it … That’s what I call the multi-purpose military. We have to be versatile and justify our reason for being in peacetime and at times of conflict. Diálogo: You’ve said that technology is key in the fight against organized crime and drug trafficking, and as an example, you mentioned the Dominican Maritime Operations Center, created with the support of the U.S. Southern Command. What does that center consist of? Rear Admiral Lajara Solá: In the Navy, we have the Maritime Operations Center, which really has naval aviation functions, because as an island, we focus on the aspects of maritime surveillance and aerial surveillance, due to our geographical position and the way in which the drug traffickers like to act. At that center, we have available technological platforms such as CNIES [the Cooperating Nations Information Exchange System], which enables us to share information with allied nations. Thanks to that system, we’ve been able to detect illicit flights in our airspace, with support from the U.S. Southern Command. We also have the OTHTIS system [Over-the-Horizon Tactical Information System], which makes it possible to communicate with the Navy’s interceptor boats via satellite; the HARRIS system, which allows us to know which Navy ship we’re communicating with, where it is, and how far away it is; and the AIS system [Automatic Information System]. AIS, which is a requirement of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), has been very useful for us. According to IMO rules, every ship with more than 500 tons of displacement is supposed to install a receiver that is connected by satellite to our operations center and provides data such as the type of ship, the outfitter, the type of cargo, the captain’s name, the origin, and the destination, which helps identify maritime traffic in the region. If you see a vessel that doesn’t have the AIS system, well, that vessel needs special attention from intelligence and operations personnel. At the same time, with the new system that will replace CNIES, CSII [Collaborative Sensor and Information Integration], technology is becoming ever more integrated into this battle. Diálogo: During the conference, you offered your country as a possible regional maritime operations center, building on the experience you have in that field. Could you go into greater depth on that topic? Rear Admiral Lajara Solá: We have direct orders from the president, Dr. Leonel Fernández Reyna, through the defense minister, Lieutenant General Virgilio Pérez Féliz, to publicize the fact that regional bodies have our constant and absolute support to strengthen regional peace and security, which are the foundation for the development of our countries. In the arena of the CARICOM countries, we’ve proposed to them that we will be the spokespersons for the Dominican political determination that integration entails evaluating what we have and uniting the components in order to form a powerful entity in the fight against drug trafficking and organized crime, preserve the environment, and be ready to respond to humanitarian needs. During the conference, I showed a photo of a speedboat that left Puerto Rico with $1.2 billion dollars. JIATF-South informed us that the boat was approaching our territorial waters, we coordinated with the U.S. Coast Guard, with the American customs service, and when the boat reached our 11 nautical miles, we took the case, and the result was a successful interception with a seizure turned over to customs. This was done with interceptor boats donated through the “Enduring Friendship” program with SOUTHCOM. That was one of the examples that we wanted to share with the CARICOM nations; that’s why I said at the conference that training, the donation of equipment, and personnel who know how to use that equipment equal success, especially when we also have the exchange of information, trust, and transparency. Diálogo: What is the significance of collaboration with military forces from other nations for your country? Rear Admiral Lajara Solá: In the U.S. case, General Douglas Fraser’s vision since he arrived at the Southern Command has brought a special dynamism to bilateral and multilateral relations, to the hemispheric commitment to regional security. That kind of military policy first of all encourages countries to participate; second, when you provide results, more support arrives, as in our case; and third, we’re creating the strategy of the future in order to get ahead of the problem, as the military personnel that we are. We’ve also been offering for some time the Las Calderas Naval Base, in Baní, in the southern part of the country, for conducting joint exercises. It’s a bay that’s set aside by law for military use. Training and any needed repairs of naval units from allied countries can be conducted there. This would minimize costs and optimize the use of time, resources, and the plans that exist to attain operational readiness of the military, defense, and police forces in the Caribbean region. At the same time, we have a series of agreements, including the bilateral agreement with the United States that allow aircraft to enter our airspace in pursuit of drug traffickers. We have a quite extensive training agreement with Colombia; we have the Tradewinds exercises with the Caribbean countries; we participate in the Panamax exercise; we work with the United States, South America, Central America, and the Caribbean in UNITAS; and we have two traditional exercises with Curaçao, through the Dutch Government, and Martinique, through the French Government. With this vision, we continue to improve our capacities, skills, and coordination, as they are called, and our joint and combined operations, in order to continue in 2012, attaining more objectives and above all, obtaining safer seas and the regional peace and stability that can enable the economic, political, and social development of our countries. By Dialogo January 04, 2012last_img read more

Ecuador Lures Drug Traffickers, Organized Crime Syndicates

first_imgBy Dialogo June 11, 2012 Ecuadorians who for years thought themselves immune from the drug-related violence and organized crime plaguing their Andean neighbors now realize their country could be next. In recent months, warning signs have popped up all over the place. On May 13, a light aircraft with $1.3 million in cash aboard crashed in the northwestern province of Manabí, killing its Mexican pilot and co-pilot. No official flight plan had been logged for the Mexican-registered plane, which was flying low, presumably to evade radar detection. “It was without lights, an illegal operation,” Interior Minister José Serrano told a TV news program in Quito. “We presume that the money was to be laundered or used to pay for the drugs it would transport back to Mexico.” Ecuador’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation said in a statement that it would seek help from its Mexican counterpart to verify the aircraft’s origin and identify the dead crewmen. A few days after the plane went down, troops found a drug-processing laboratory near the crash site, seized half a ton of cocaine paste and detained three people. Since coca is not cultivated in Ecuador, such labs are rare finds. This is the fourth one uncovered so far this year — possibly testimony to the impact authorities in neighboring Colombia are having in their own crackdown on Colombian processing labs. In an interview with the Quito-based newspaper El Universo, Serrano said transnational crime organizations are not necessarily located in Ecuador, but that his country is growing in importance as a transit point for Colombian and Mexican cartels. Report warns situation could get ‘out of control’ This clearly worries ordinary Ecuadorians, who this spring have been flocking to see “Pescador” — a new movie by director Sebastian Cordero. The film’s plot is the discovery by local fishermen of cocaine packets that wash up on the shore of a small coastal village. Ecuador’s top military strategists have also taken note. In March, they warned of the threat posed to their country by powerful groups like Colombia’s Rastrojos crime syndicate and Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel. The warnings were contained in a 225-page report. “If the right measures are not taken, the situation will easily get out of control of the government — in the short or medium term — and levels of extreme violence will be reached,” the report warned. Drug trafficking and organized crime might soon overwhelm Ecuador, and that the military might not have adequate resources if ordered to confront the problem, the report concluded. President Rafael Correa soon unveiled a plan to train 4,000 military personnel to fight the encroaching cartels. Government officials say they hope to build on an accord signed last October with neighboring Peru to combat trafficking on their shared border. Drugs are being smuggled across the border into the towns of Macara, Tulcan, San Lorenzo and Nueva Loja, officials said The narcotics are then sent to Pacific port towns; from there, smugglers use everything from fast boats to small semi-submersibles to ferry the loads to bigger ships for transport to Central America — for onward transportation to Mexico and the United States. Drug consumption up 300 percent Last July, Ecuadorian police seized a 70-foot submarine capable of transporting up to seven tons of cocaine. Speedboats carrying drugs and destined to make long runs themselves up the Pacific coast have also been refueling in the Galapagos Islands. Cocaine is coming across the Colombian border as well. According to the military review, three of the four main entry points for drugs are on that border. In 2008, Ecuadorian police seized in one raid alone 4.7 tons of cocaine, and this winter, Correa dispatched 7,000 soldiers and 3,000 police officers to the border in an effort to stop the flow of drugs. Since the beginning of 2012, authorities have seized more than 1.6 tons worth of narcotics in Quito alone — a sign Quito security analyst Ricardo Camacho says points to a 300 percent growth in domestic drug consumption since 2007. Some 98 percent of the drugs confiscated so far this year by volume consists of marijuana, and most of the remainder is cocaine, says Bogotá-based consultancy InSight Crime. In total, the drugs have a combined value of $1.53 million. Also 327 people — 305 of whom are citizens of Ecuador — have been arrested in anti-narcotics operations, said National Police Chief Patricio Franco. Semi-submersibles and secret drug drops Recent arrests and drug seizures put into stark perspective the enormous challenge Ecuador faces as the country — which historically has had one of the lowest rates of domestic drug consumption in Latin America — grows in importance for drug traffickers. In February, as a result of a tip-off from Colombian authorities, police in the port city of Guayaquil captured Heriberto Fernández Ramírez, a key go-between for Colombian trafficker Daniel Barrera Barrera, alias “El Loco,” and Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel, according to anti-drug police in both Colombia and Ecuador. Just days before Ramírez’s capture, Ecuador’s anti-narcotics chief, Nelson Villegas, announced the seizure of 1.3 tons of cocaine and the impounding of a semi-submersible used for drug smuggling in the Gulf of Guayaquil. The 1,177-package shipment had been stored on the island of Puna, while the sub itself was discovered on the island of Santa Clara, 25 miles south of Puna. In early January, Ecuador’s Navy detected another semi-submersible 60 miles off the coast of Puna, but the three-man crew scuttled the vessel before being arrested. “These vessels are difficult from the air and hard for surface units to detect,” said Coast Guard Commander, Mauritius Alvear. Study: Ecuador part of a trafficking ‘pipeline’ Signs of the presence of Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel have increased, with nine Sinaloa operatives arrested last year. Mexican criminal organizations have been keen in recent years to extend their reach deep into Ecuador’s drug supply chain and organize their own drug shipments. The arrest of Ramírez doesn’t seem to have warned off the Colombians. In April, Quito police apprehended Juan Carlos Calle Serna, brother of one of the leaders of the Rastrojos gang. For two scholars, Douglas Farah and Glenn R. Simpson of the Washington-based International Assessment and Strategy Center, these trends appear increasingly worrisome. In a recent study, the pair warned of the “growing presence in Ecuador of Mexican drug trafficking organizations … and the growing role of Ecuador as a money laundering center for multiple transnational criminal organizations.” They said Ecuador is becoming “an important part of a pipeline that moves not only cocaine but human cargo, weapons, precursor chemicals and hundreds of millions of dollars a year.”last_img read more

Navies of Brazil, Colombia, and Peru Join Forces to Fight Drug Trafficking

first_imgPhase two will take place from July 31 to August 5 with the departure from the city of Iquitos down the Amazon River, arriving at the Tri-Border point, where naval participants will conduct a trilateral river-based enforcement exercise. Officials from the three navies met to plan the operation at the Amazon Coast Guard Command in the port city of Leticia, Colombia. The operational chiefs of the Colombian Navy’s Southern Naval Force, the Brazilian Navy’s Ninth District, and the Peruvian Navy’s Amazon Region and Fifth Naval Zone General Operations Command participated in the gathering. “The naval operation is aimed at developing interoperability through joint tactical exercises and at increasing the capabilities of the Brazilian Navy, the Colombian National Navy, and the Peruvian Navy in the fight against criminal organizations in the Amazon region,” said Peruvian Navy retired Rear Admiral Juan Rodríguez Kelley. Bracolper encourages international Military cooperation “The Amazonian Trapezoid is an ideal area for drug traffickers working with criminal gangs or the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC),” Rodríguez Kelley said. Bracolper will have three phases In this regard, the Bracolper operations “acquire significance, not only in terms of security cooperation, but also in sharing and exchanging blueprints for contributing to sustainable development in the region,” Rodríguez Kelley said. Organized crime groups engage in other criminal enterprises in the region, such as illegal mining, smuggling flora and fauna, and unauthorized logging. Organized crime groups engage in other criminal enterprises in the region, such as illegal mining, smuggling flora and fauna, and unauthorized logging. Drug trafficking complicates border situation In the last few decades, drug traffickers have increased their activities in the Tri-Border Area, often by transporting drugs through neighboring countries. The Bracolper exercises are scheduled to begin on July 24 in Leticia, after a series of ceremonial events to help the ships’ crews learn about the cultures and customs of each participating country. “Bracolper is unique among operations because it takes place in an Amazonian environment; the largest benefit falls to the three navies, it is cooperation, and the high degree of mutual trust the three navies have achieved,” Rodríguez Kelley said. Following the ceremonial activities, Bracolper will proceed in three distinct phases, involving exercises involving river gunboats, barges, rapid interdiction boats, helicopters, and Marine battalions, Rodríguez Kelley said. Officials from the three navies met to plan the operation at the Amazon Coast Guard Command in the port city of Leticia, Colombia. The operational chiefs of the Colombian Navy’s Southern Naval Force, the Brazilian Navy’s Ninth District, and the Peruvian Navy’s Amazon Region and Fifth Naval Zone General Operations Command participated in the gathering. In this regard, the Bracolper operations “acquire significance, not only in terms of security cooperation, but also in sharing and exchanging blueprints for contributing to sustainable development in the region,” Rodríguez Kelley said. “These dynamics in violation of the constitutional framework of each country are a general threat, keeping in mind the close relationship between the local populations and the consequences of these offenses,” Rodríguez Kelley explained. Fighting drug trafficking and other illegal enterprises helps protect the environment of the Amazonian Tri-Border area, which encompasses the largest water basin in the world, covers over a third of the Southern hemisphere’s land mass, and is home to Earth’s most diverse ecosystems, species, and gene pools. The area is also a repository for significant hydroelectric, petroleum, and mineral resources. From September 9-15 the Bracolper Naval Operation will depart Manaus, and travel up the Rio Negro and the Amazon River until arriving at the Tri-Border point. “Bracolper is designed to be a significant naval operation that strengthens the bonds of brotherhood among neighboring countries working in the river areas under their responsibility with the common goal of closing off spaces from drug trafficking,” according to the Colombian Navy on a video from July 2014. International drug trafficking groups operate in the Tri-Border Area between Brazil, Colombia, and Peru, a region which is also known as the Amazonian Trapezoid. International drug trafficking groups operate in the Tri-Border Area between Brazil, Colombia, and Peru, a region which is also known as the Amazonian Trapezoid. “The yearly increase in the complexity of these operations clearly shows the high degree of professionalism and commitment each Navy has towards executing the naval exercised.” Phase three will unfold in two stages: from August 26 to September 5, where naval forces will meet at the Tri-Border point, then travel down the Amazon River until they reach the Rio Negro, culminating in their arrival at the Rio Negro Naval Station in the city of Manaus, Brazil. Bracolper encourages international Military cooperation By Dialogo May 29, 2015 Bracolper will have three phases Outside the framework of the Bracolper operations, bilateral operations between Peru and Brazil on the Yavarí River as well as bilateral operations between Colombia and Peru on the Putumayo River “contribute effectively and continually to the fight against new threats.” These operations include humanitarian aid, medical Brigades, maintenance work, and improvements to public infrastructure. Bracolper aims to fight these illegal activities by encouraging the navies to cooperate in the fight against organized crime in the Tri-Border Area. The operation will strengthen “the friendly ties between the institutions responsible for protecting and safeguarding the network of water ways in the Amazonian Trapezoid,” the Colombian Navy said in a statement after the 2015 Naval Operation planning meeting. “The naval operation is aimed at developing interoperability through joint tactical exercises and at increasing the capabilities of the Brazilian Navy, the Colombian National Navy, and the Peruvian Navy in the fight against criminal organizations in the Amazon region,” said Peruvian Navy retired Rear Admiral Juan Rodríguez Kelley. Fighting drug trafficking and other illegal enterprises helps protect the environment of the Amazonian Tri-Border area, which encompasses the largest water basin in the world, covers over a third of the Southern hemisphere’s land mass, and is home to Earth’s most diverse ecosystems, species, and gene pools. The area is also a repository for significant hydroelectric, petroleum, and mineral resources. The first phase will take place from July 24-27, in the Tri-Border Area, traveling up the Amazon River toward Iquitos. Phase two will take place from July 31 to August 5 with the departure from the city of Iquitos down the Amazon River, arriving at the Tri-Border point, where naval participants will conduct a trilateral river-based enforcement exercise. Following the ceremonial activities, Bracolper will proceed in three distinct phases, involving exercises involving river gunboats, barges, rapid interdiction boats, helicopters, and Marine battalions, Rodríguez Kelley said. “These dynamics in violation of the constitutional framework of each country are a general threat, keeping in mind the close relationship between the local populations and the consequences of these offenses,” Rodríguez Kelley explained. The first phase will take place from July 24-27, in the Tri-Border Area, traveling up the Amazon River toward Iquitos. Bracolper aims to fight these illegal activities by encouraging the navies to cooperate in the fight against organized crime in the Tri-Border Area. The operation will strengthen “the friendly ties between the institutions responsible for protecting and safeguarding the network of water ways in the Amazonian Trapezoid,” the Colombian Navy said in a statement after the 2015 Naval Operation planning meeting. The navies of Brazil, Colombia, and Peru will join efforts in Bracolper Naval 2015, a military operation to combat transnational criminal activities in the Amazon region shared by the three countries. The navies of Brazil, Colombia, and Peru will join efforts in Bracolper Naval 2015, a military operation to combat transnational criminal activities in the Amazon region shared by the three countries. International drug trafficking organizations operate in the the Amazonian Trapezoid to try to take advantage of two large rivers, the Putumayo and the Marañón, which flow from coca-producing valleys in Colombia and Peru to the Atlantic Ocean. Drug trafficking organizations use fishing boats and other vessels to transport drugs on these rivers. “The yearly increase in the complexity of these operations clearly shows the high degree of professionalism and commitment each Navy has towards executing the naval exercised.” This initiative began in 1974 as a result of a sense of brotherhood and fraternity among Brazil, Colombia, and Peru; it began with the ceremonial visit of Brazilian river vessels to the city of Iquitos in Peru, and later to Leticia. This initiative began in 1974 as a result of a sense of brotherhood and fraternity among Brazil, Colombia, and Peru; it began with the ceremonial visit of Brazilian river vessels to the city of Iquitos in Peru, and later to Leticia. Drug trafficking complicates border situation During these voyages, the ships will conduct practical exercises in communications, formations, semaphore (sending signals by holding flags in certain positions), light cargo transfers, and rapid response, among other exercises that will help bolster the ships’ operational abilities. “Bracolper is unique among operations because it takes place in an Amazonian environment; the largest benefit falls to the three navies, it is cooperation, and the high degree of mutual trust the three navies have achieved,” Rodríguez Kelley said. International drug trafficking organizations operate in the the Amazonian Trapezoid to try to take advantage of two large rivers, the Putumayo and the Marañón, which flow from coca-producing valleys in Colombia and Peru to the Atlantic Ocean. Drug trafficking organizations use fishing boats and other vessels to transport drugs on these rivers. Outside the framework of the Bracolper operations, bilateral operations between Peru and Brazil on the Yavarí River as well as bilateral operations between Colombia and Peru on the Putumayo River “contribute effectively and continually to the fight against new threats.” These operations include humanitarian aid, medical Brigades, maintenance work, and improvements to public infrastructure. The only strategy is to block drug trafficking in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans and this can be done only with the participation of Central American countries. Drugs are the blood of the drug traffickers and the FARC. Without this element, their financial support drowns. Behind them are the weapons traffickers, who live off of violence. Mexico from one day to the next inundated with AK 47 rifles. The Bracolper exercises are scheduled to begin on July 24 in Leticia, after a series of ceremonial events to help the ships’ crews learn about the cultures and customs of each participating country. Phase three will unfold in two stages: from August 26 to September 5, where naval forces will meet at the Tri-Border point, then travel down the Amazon River until they reach the Rio Negro, culminating in their arrival at the Rio Negro Naval Station in the city of Manaus, Brazil. In the last few decades, drug traffickers have increased their activities in the Tri-Border Area, often by transporting drugs through neighboring countries. “Bracolper is designed to be a significant naval operation that strengthens the bonds of brotherhood among neighboring countries working in the river areas under their responsibility with the common goal of closing off spaces from drug trafficking,” according to the Colombian Navy on a video from July 2014. “The Amazonian Trapezoid is an ideal area for drug traffickers working with criminal gangs or the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC),” Rodríguez Kelley said. From September 9-15 the Bracolper Naval Operation will depart Manaus, and travel up the Rio Negro and the Amazon River until arriving at the Tri-Border point. During these voyages, the ships will conduct practical exercises in communications, formations, semaphore (sending signals by holding flags in certain positions), light cargo transfers, and rapid response, among other exercises that will help bolster the ships’ operational abilities. last_img read more

Caribbean Human Rights Initiative Conference

first_imgBy By Captain Jessica Plummer, Security Cooperation Office, U.S. Embassy Port-au-Prince, Haiti July 14, 2016 The Security Cooperation Office – Haiti (SCO-Haiti) and theLouisiana National Guard (LANG), in partnership with the U.S. Southern Command(SOUTHCOM) Human Rights Office, sponsored The Caribbean Human Rights Initiative(HRI) Conference on May 24th-25th, 2016 at the Jackson Barracks in New Orleans,Louisiana. The conference included participants from SOUTHCOM’s Human RightsOffice, SCO-Haiti, LANG, and military/security force personnel, andrepresentatives of human rights and civil society organizations from partnernations, including Barbados, Belize, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, DominicanRepublic, Haiti, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago. The theme of the conferencefocused on the shared human rights and security challenges faced today byCaribbean partner nation security and defense forces. Representatives from Colombia and Brazil served assubject-matter experts, sharing their expertise on areas such as human rightsconsiderations in humanitarian assistance/disaster relief efforts, and theimportance of institutionalizing respect for human rights within the armedforces by establishing a strong program at all levels of the defenseinstitution. Trinidad and Tobago described their recent efforts of integratinghuman rights within the Armed Forces, while the Inspector General of theHaitian National Police (HNP) provided an overview of the country’s successfulCommunity Policing program. The conference initiated dialogue and enhanced cooperationbetween SOUTHCOM and Caribbean partner nation defense and security forces in aneffort to begin building a regional network focused on human rights andsecurity challenges for our Caribbean partner nations.Over the years, the security and defenseinstitutions in the Caribbean and Latin America have made steady progresstoward respect for human rights, but many countries still face dauntingchallenges in the face of rising levels of violence and the use of defenseforces in public security missions throughout the region. During each day ofthe conference, working group break-out sessions allowed participants todiscuss and share best practices and challenges on specific areas of concern ina smaller setting. Some of the challenges facing security and defense forces inthe region discussed by participants included gang violence, the need foradequate use of force protocols, human trafficking, high crime rates, poverty,transnational organized crime, narcotics trafficking, and politicalinstability. The May 2016 Caribbean HRI Conference followed last year’ssuccessful Human Rights Initiative conference in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Incoordination with SOUTHCOM’s Human Rights Office, SCO-Haiti and LANG willcontinue to support human rights initiatives with our military and securitypartners in the Caribbean. For more information about the last year’s human rightsconference in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, follow the link below: http://www.southcom.mil/newsroom/Pages/SOUTHCOM-ho…last_img read more

Colombia Blocks Maritime Routes to Narcotrafficking

first_imgBy Myriam Ortega/Diálogo May 08, 2019 In late March, the Colombian Armed Forces dealt another significant blow to narcotrafficking in three operations, resulting in the seizure of more than 3 tons of cocaine, a semisubmersible, and the arrest of three criminals. The Colombian Navy, with the support of the Colombian Air Force (FAC, in Spanish), the National Police, and the Office of the Attorney General, led combined operations in Nariño department, in the Colombian Pacific coast, as well as in Sucre and Bolívar departments, on the Caribbean coast. According to the Navy, the drugs seized would be valued at $50 million in the international market. Authorities also estimated that criminal groups invest around $1 million to build a semisubmersible, which represents a considerable loss for narcotrafficking. Semisubmersible in the Pacific Navy intelligence work and information from sources, which reported a semisubmersible carrying drugs that had departed from Nariño, led to the first operation conducted March 23. Units of the Pacific Naval Force and an FAC surveillance platform located the vessel after a six-hour search. “We were really close but couldn’t see it, because that equipment is difficult to detect,” Colombian Navy Lieutenant Commander Juan Camilo Ocaña, commander of the Tumaco Coast Guard Station, told Diálogo. “At 60 miles west of Sanquilanga Natural Park, and thanks to cutting-edge technology equipment, we located a semisubmersible with three people aboard, on its way to Central America.” Upon seeing the security units, the semisubmersible crew tried to sink the vessel by opening valves. Their efforts, however, failed. “There was a depth of more than 350 meters at their location. It would have been very difficult and expensive to bring it [the semisubmersible] afloat,” Lt. Cdr. Ocaña said. Aboard the semisubmersible, the Navy seized 1,562 kilograms of cocaine hydrochloride and arrested the crew: two Colombians and one Ecuadorean. Naval units then took the vessel to the Tumaco Coast Guard Station dock so it could be searched while they brought detainees and drugs before the Office of the Attorney General. “They were prosecuted for two crimes: navigating in an unauthorized naval artifact, and producing and trafficking drugs,” said Lt. Cdr. Ocaña. “The capture was made legal […]. At this time, they are being held locally until their situation is defined.” According to the Navy, the operation surpassed all drug seizures carried out so far in 2019 in the Colombian Pacific coast. By mid-April, naval units had seized 19 tons. The vessel is the ninth the Pacific Naval Force seized in 2019. Clan del Golfo’s cache During an operation conducted March 28 in Cartagena Port, Bolívar, Navy units found 42 packages of cocaine in a container coming from Bogotá. Antinarcotics personnel, coast guard units, and dog-handler teams seized 1 ton of cocaine. “This operation was conducted with intelligence from the Navy that identified a container at [port terminal] Contecar,” Colombian Navy Commander Jorge Enrique Uricoechea, commander of the Cartagena Coast Guard Station, told Diálogo. “During the road trip, the Clan del Golfo contaminated it.” Local patrol and surveillance operations near Berrugas Beach in Sucre the next day, led the Marine Corps First Brigade’s 13th Battalion to find 42 packages of drugs. The illicit substance was hidden in the swamp, within a wooded area. “Criminals take advantage of these areas to hide drugs. These can be special hideouts, abandoned houses, or any kind of place,” Cmdr. Uricoechea said. “They hire security, two or three armed subjects, who wait there while drugs are gathered to be taken by speedboat.” Naval units collected the packages and confirmed they contained 1,127 kg of cocaine. According to the Navy, the drug likely belonged to the Clan del Golfo, as it was labeled with logos similar to those from the Cartagena Port containers. Between January and mid-April 2019, the Caribbean Naval Force seized more than 12 tons of cocaine. “We have intelligence agents with special networks throughout the Colombian Navy’s jurisdiction to anticipate these events, these new ways of smuggling drugs, storing, loading, and shipping toward Central America and the United States,” said Cmdr. Uricoechea. “We try to evolve, to be one step ahead of those criminals.”last_img read more

Inter-American Air Forces Academy Welcomes Partner Nations

first_imgBy Raúl Sánchez-Azuara/Diálogo June 12, 2019 The U.S. Inter-American Air Forces Academy (IAAFA) hosted an event for military officers and delegates from Belize, Brazil, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and Uruguay. The nations took part in the IV Western Hemisphere Exchange Symposium (WHES IV) in San Antonio, Texas, on May 20-24, 2019. The yearly symposium gathers nations of the hemisphere to exchange information and experiences on disaster relief and humanitarian assistance operations, counternarcotics operations, and air and maritime strategies. “We are here fundamentally about education and training, on IAAFA’s mission. We work to solve our challenges, our problems, to share perspectives, knowledge, ideas, and to make a difference for our people across this hemisphere,” said U.S. Air Force Major General Mark E. Weatherington, Deputy Commander, Air Education and Training Command, Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas. The symposium is an open forum for regional high commanders to present their progress and challenges, with organized crime as a common issue. “The U.S. initiative enables us to [figure out] what is happening to us, our problems, and also to meet in person, so that we can work in a combined way,” Brigadier General Javier Rene Barrientos Alvarado, commander of the Honduran Air Force, told Diálogo. “It’s a great opportunity for all countries to cooperate and operate with better outcomes.” In the case of El Salvador, narcotrafficking and gangs cause unrest among the population. “That gang-narcotrafficking combination causes grief and death to families and countries threatened by these scourges,” said Army Colonel Carlos Alberto Tejada Murcia, head of the Salvadoran Armed Forces’ Engineering Command. “One of the Salvadoran gangs, the so-called MS-13 [Mara Salvatrucha], has the scope of a transnational criminal organization.” For four days, the officers presented the most efficient ways to confront common threats. Experiences and information shared helped attendees to find specific solutions to local problems. “Honduras was one of the most violent countries in the world,” Gen. Barrientos told Diálogo. “We did a deep restructuring and purge of the National Police and Armed Forces to strengthen both institutions.” “The changes implemented in our country in the last six years have worked,” Army Colonel Hugo Lorenzo Coca Cantarero, Operations deputy director of the Honduran Armed Forces, told Diálogo. “In 2012 we had 86 murders per 100,000 inhabitants, and we have now reduced it by 50 percent.” In 2018, the average murder rate went down to 40 per 100,000 inhabitants, after authorities fired 4,000 corrupt police agents, increased education, training, and wages, and hired new personnel in security institutions, the Inter-American Development Bank indicated in its report How Did Honduras Cut its Homicide Rate by Half The goal now is to train and certify 23,000 new agents by 2023, the report said. Guatemala’s initial solution was a considerable investment to improve the Armed Forces’ capabilities. “We bought planes, recovered helicopters, optimized 3D radar systems for airspace surveillance, and conducted a combined, comprehensive effort to counter transnational crime,” Brigadier General Timo Hernández Duarte, commander of the Guatemalan Air Force, told Diálogo. The rule of law is under constant attack from traffickers and other criminals. “They control sections of towns and cities, bribing government officials, murdering judges and police officers, as well as friends and partners of ours, and common citizens,” U.S. Air Force Lieutenant General Michael T. Plehn, U.S. Southern Command deputy commanding general, said at the meeting. “[For] the U.S. Southern Command, the competition is deadly; many of you take part in it on everyday, and it destroys tens of thousands of lives in our neighborhood every year. It’s a competition [where] we all participate actively,” said Gen. Barrientos. “We have to work together; we must trust each other so that we can conduct better operations,” he concluded.last_img read more

The Path to Democracy in Venezuela

first_imgBy ShareAmerica September 03, 2020 What is the best way for Venezuela to restore democracy?Venezuela is at a crossroads. The country has been on the path to authoritarianism since Nicolás Maduro took power in 2013.Since then, he has led Venezuela down a road of economic and democratic destitution.Interim President Juan Guaidó is offering Venezuela a new path, one that leads the country back to democracy and prosperity. Most of Venezuela’s neighbors support Guaidó as he begins to forge this new path.In March, Guaidó called for an emergency government to help move Venezuela past the current political crisis. Soon after, the U.S. government proposed a plan — the Democratic Transition Framework for Venezuela — that calls for both Maduro and Guaidó to cede authority to an emergency governing council, called the Council of State.This five-person governing council would be a temporary executive branch that oversees the democratic transition and ensures that all levels of the Venezuelan government are following the steps of the framework.These representatives would be from both sides of the current divide and would be agreed upon by both parties to oversee a free and fair democratic electoral process.As the framework details, both Maduro and Guaidó would step aside during this transition period while a new electoral system is established. This would allow them to be legitimate candidates for the presidency during the next election cycle, should they choose so.The framework culminates when Venezuelans can participate in free and fair elections.Once this happens, the U.S. will review and possibly lift sanctions on individuals linked to the Maduro regime.This is only a suggested proposal. The true path forward must be agreed upon by all Venezuelans through free, fair, and credible elections.“Democracy will not be intimidated,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on July 3. “We remain committed to supporting Venezuela’s peaceful, democratic transition and free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections.”last_img read more

Family Law Section proposes access options

first_img October 1, 2001 Gary Blankenship Senior Editor Regular News Family Law Section proposes access options Senior EditorA proposed Bar rule amendment clarifying that attorneys should not take mortgages on clients’ property to guarantee their fees has been opposed by the Family Law Section. The section executive council, meeting September 6 at the Bar’s General Meeting, said that change would limit citizens’ access to lawyers and the courts. And after passing a motion to express that to the Bar Board of Governors, the council also passed motions supporting efforts for “unbundled” legal services and to allow lawyers to receive a percentage of property divided between a couple in a dissolution action. Both, council members said, would improve access to justice. Those actions came as part of a busy meeting where the section also created a new contest for law students, prepared for next year’s legislative session, and worked on plans for upcoming section retreats. The section had been asked to comment on a proposed change to Rule 4-1.8(i), which is pending before the Bar’s Disciplinary Procedure Committee. The committee is seeking to clarify the rule which prohibits attorneys taking a financial interest in their clients’ cause of action, and is proposing to add language that taking a mortgage constitutes taking an interest. (DPC meets again October 18 and has invited the section to present its views.) The section had asked its Ethics and Attorneys Fees Committee to study the DPC proposal and the committee in turn prepared a report recommending against the change. “It really speaks to the heart of what public policy is in Florida, which is public access to the court,” said Beverly Vesel, chair of the fee committee. “We believe their rule change would limit access to the courts and limit access to counsel, particularly for the impecunious spouse who could not come up with money during litigation.” In addition, she said, “We very strongly believe that this rule is problematic because it interferes with clients’ rights to control their own property.” But council member Alan Rubenstein said he was concerned that lawyers might have conflicts if they desired some client’s property – such as a diamond ring – in which they had acquired a lien or interest. “I don’t know why I should become a hock shop,” he said. And circuit Judge Linda Vitale said she’s seen cases where one party quits working to force attorneys’ fees to be paid from the assets and attorneys who have taken interests in corporations and residences to secure fees. “You’re taking assets away from the courts that should be divided between the spouses,” she said. Section Chair Norman Levine disagreed. “The rules already provide a remedy for lawyers who charge unreasonable fees or take unreasonable actions with reference to fees,” he said. “The conduct that you’re talking about is conduct that has always existed. This is delineating conduct that in the past has been acceptable.” The council eventually rejected submitting the fee committee’s report, but authorized Levine by a 12-3 vote to write a letter to the DPC expressing the section’s opposition to the rule change and using information from the committee’s report. Levine then asked the council to consider two other access related issues. One was to reiterate the section’s strong support for unbundled legal services, or allowing an attorney to handle only part of a case while the client does the remainder. The second was to allow attorneys to charge percentage or contingency fees in a dissolution case based on the amount of the distributed assets. “They are throwing us an issue to restrict access [with the proposed change to Rule 4-1.8], and we are saying to this we are opposed to this rule and in fact we think a rule should be developed to expand access,” Levin said of his proposals. The council discussed problems associated with unbundling and then overwhelmingly approved Levine’s proposal. On the fee issue, council members said that could present many challenges, including a public relations problem because it could be seen as lawyers trying to grab higher fees rather than as a way to improve access. Judge Renee Goldenberg said it might be better to seek a statutory change from the legislature rather than a rule change. Rubinstein agreed and noted it would be similar to the fee that estate attorneys and personal representatives get for their work. Vitale warned that the issue could be perceived as “family lawyers want to take X percentage away from the family’s assets and the children and their college funds.. . . This is probably one of your worst public relations issues that you have faced in a long time. This is going to be poorly received by the public.” The council voted to refer the matter to the Ethics and Attorneys Fees Committee to draft a specific proposal and recommend whether it should be pursued statutorily or through a rule change. (Research by Bar staff shows that current Bar Rule 4-1.5(f)(3) prohibits contingency fees in domestic relations cases. Also, caselaw has been against such fees as bad public policy. The grounds for both has been that lawyers getting a percentage of the assets would have a conflict if the parties wanted to reconcile.) On other matters, the council set up the Family Law Practice Competition open to all students at Florida law schools. As approved the competition will have two levels, one intra-school among all interested students and then a final contest among the winners at each law school. The competition will cover such areas as litigation, appeals, mediation, counseling, and courtroom skills including cross examination. The first finals will tentatively be held at the January 2003 Midyear Meeting. “We have a virtual nonpresence in the law schools and hopefully this will give us a presence,” Levine said. The section’s next retreat is scheduled for December 12-15 and will focus on families and raising children. That will be followed by a May 15-18 retreat where courses in law office management will be offered, including free training from Atticus, a management consulting company, for attendees. Both retreats, Levine said, will feature many family related activities. Legislatively, the section discussed a recent meeting of the House Judicial Oversight Committee that dealt with child support guidelines. Section members noted there is interest in overhauling the guidelines, but the committee appeared reluctant to budget the $200,000 or more it would take to do the thorough study needed. Family Law Section proposes access optionslast_img read more