By: Jesús Aranda
Cozumel, Quintana Roo
With support from the United States Southern Command, the armed forces of Mexico and Guatemala impel “very important” task force project on their common border for carrying out land and air patrols and recognizance for the exchange of information and intelligence to fight organized crime, General Juan Manuel Pérez Ramírez, head of Guatemala’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, revealed.
Upon participating in a meeting of the media from the seven representatives of the nations that took part in the Central American Security Conference (Centsec 2017), which was held in Mexico for the first time and was organized by the Secretariats of National Defense and of the Navy, with co-sponsorship from the United States Northern and Southern Commands, the Guatemalan military emphasized that this task force project “has been working since more than five years ago,” and one of the bases of operations will be located in the Petén, a strategic area that borders on the Usumacinta River.
“There are tangible projects” for carrying out land, air and recognizance patrols on the border of more than 1,000 kilometers, besides the exchange of information and intelligence, standardization of protocols and procedures for carrying out interdiction operations with technology and intelligence support from the Southern Command.
‘‘Inside the exchange of information process there is a route for immigrants undocumented that passes through the Northern Petén; we have periodic tactical and strategic meetings with military commanders (of the Mexican Army and Navy), Governance does its own, he indicated, and added that these kinds of “face-to-face” meetings are invaluable.
“They are strategic meetings and key to define mechanisms, the routes for migrants, contraband cattle, and for using people to carry drugs. The absence of the State is not a secret in Guatemala; with these meetings we try to be better organized to generate governability and subtract strength from organized crime,” he maintained.
Without the presence of the Secretaries of National Defense, General Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda; of the Secretary of the Navy, Admiral Vidal Francisco Soberón Sanz, or of the chiefs of the Northern Command, General Lori J. Robinson and Admiral Kurt W. Tidd, who participated in the tasks and the closing, but not in the press conference, the Central American ministers agreed in pointing out that the biggest challenge they face in the area is the fight against organized crime.
In that regard, General David Munguía, El Salvador’s Defense Minister, emphasized that drug trafficking affects each country differently, and in this context, each nation must use “all its capacity” to confront it.
Such is the case of nations like Mexico, in which the armed forces, with respect to its legal framework in effect, participate in the fight against organized crime, he said.
The Vice Minister of Public Security of Panama, Jonathan Gabriel del Rosario Arosamena, said that drug trafficking is a transnational threat “that we must fight” with our best minds and abilities, not just in the ambit of public security, but also in the social ambit.
Initially, the conclusions of Centsec 2017 centered on the importance of information exchange based on trust as a necessity for responding effectively to threats.
A greater integration of nations was called for to make the regional security structures efficient and it was emphasized that the inequality in operational and logistical capacities would be a challenge to confront in the short term to achieve results that benefit the region.
Inside the work groups it was emphasized that it’s indispensable to establish action protocols and form strategic alliances among the area’s nations (Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Belize, El Salvador and Panamá), since the common enemy, which is transnational crime, does not respect borders.
Another agreement was the urgency in coordinating the internal agencies in each nation so that they share information and with other countries and impel the exchange, thereby fomenting trust.
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee