By Dialogo April 16, 2009 Costa Rica has created an antivenin serum to combat the venom of three Nigerian serpents which bite a total of 150,000 people a year, official sources told Efe today. Yamileth Angulo, director of the state institute “Clodomiro Picado” (Instituto Clodomiro Picado), which produces these kinds of sera, told Efe that Costa Rica will send Nigeria a total of 20,000 bottles of antidote for the poison of three African snake species: echis ocellatus, bitis arietans, and naja nigricollis. Two to three of these bottles are used per patient, depending on the severity of each case, Angulo said. The researcher explained that the project is part of a World Health Organization (WHO) program to provide Africa with antidotes for snake bites, which are a problem that in that continent affects half a million people, among which 20,000 cases are fatal. In 2001, the WHO called on countries producing antivenin to offer their services at low cost to the African continent. Following this, Instituto Clodomiro Picado joined the working group Echitab, formed by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (United Kingdom) and the Ministry of Health in Nigeria. “Because there are no such snakes here, the Liverpool laboratory sent us a sample of their venom, with which we created the serum,” said Angulo. The researcher stressed that to test the antidote, a clinical study was developed in Nigeria “in which 400 people, one of the largest medical samples in the case of snake venoms, participated.” The study used two different antidotes, one created by the Instituto Clodomiro Picado and the other by Micropharen, an English company, and both sera passed the test successfully. “The idea is to sell inexpensive antidote to the Nigerian government so the doses can reach the largest possible number of patients,” Angulo emphasized. The doctor stated that the serum was prepared in six months, but the study took two years because, after the clinical study in Nigeria, a preclinical examination and analysis of the results were required. According to the specialist, now the antidote “is ready, so at the middle or end of the year the first samples could be exported to the African country.” At first, the antivenin will be used in Nigeria, but Angulo did not rule out that in the future it could be provided to other African countries where these snakes live. Instituto Clodomiro Picado, a branch of the University of Costa Rica, was established in 1970 to develop antivenin for snake bites, and currently exports its products to various parts of the world, including Africa, Japan, and Taiwan.
“More recently” Uribe was also added to that list, the ruling said. The judge charged six suspected members of ETA and seven members of FARC in connection with the plot. Judge Eloy Velasco also charged Venezuelan government cooperated in the plot, according to a copy of his ruling. The judge charged Fontan and two FARC members, Edgar Gustavo Navarro Morales and Victor Ramon Vargas Salazar, with conspiracy to commit terrorist murders. The FARC member reported that “it would not be difficult to carry out an attack on those two targets as long as they could count on the help of ETA,” the ruling said. ETA, which figures on several terrorist blacklists, including those of the European Union and the United States, is blamed for 828 deaths in its 41-year campaign for independence in the Basque region of northern Spain and southwestern France. Fontan was in charge of ETA operations “in this part of Latin America since 1999” and “coordinated relations between FARC and ETA and the participation of ETA members in courses on explosives and urban guerrilla warfare,” Velasco said. He said a member of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) had carried out surveillance on the Colombian embassy in Madrid and the routes taken by former Colombian president Andres Pastrana, who lives in Spain. By Dialogo March 01, 2010 Charging that it was the target of the deal, Venezuela retaliated by freezing ties with Colombia. Simmering tensions between Bogota and Caracas have sharpened since Colombia signed an agreement with Washington last year granting the US military access to bases on its territory for counter-drug and counter-insurgency operations. The FARC therefore asked ETA to follow Pastrana, as well as the former ambassador to Spain Noemi Sanin, current Vice President Francisco Santos, the former mayor of Bogota Antanas Mockus “with the aim of assassinating one of them when they were in Spain.” Among those charged was ETA member Arturo Cubillas Fontan, who was named to a post in Venezuela’s agriculture ministry in 2005 and whose Venezuelan wife, Goizeder Odriozola Lataillade, is an official in the government of President Hugo Chavez. Uribe has rejected a political dialogue with the FARC, which has battled the government in Bogota for 45 years. A Spanish judge Monday charged 13 members of the Basque separatist group ETA and the Colombian rebel group FARC over a plot to assassinate Colombian officials, including President Alvaro Uribe.
By Dialogo April 08, 2010 The deputy commander of the military task force set up after a devastating Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti said the U.S. military will continue to support the work of Haiti´s government and international agencies after the task force is deactivated at the end of May. Maj. Gen. Simeon G. Trombitas, deputy commanding general of Joint Task Force Haiti, noted during a DoDLive Bloggers Roundtable yesterday that the mission in Haiti is out of the usual military lane. “In a traditional military mission, we can designate the enemy and do those things easily,” he said. “Here, really, the adversaries are the forces of nature and time.” Another difference, Trombitas explained, is that instead of commanding and controlling the mission, the U.S. military has played a support role, “coordinating and collaborating” with lead agencies such as the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti, which provided security. Trombitas said he is impressed by how well combat skills have transferred to the relief mission. He observed that servicemembers´ experiences working with civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq have paid off in Haiti. The general recalled that the Haiti mission started with work to bring “order from chaos” at the airport. He added that the Seabees performed “a Herculean effort in fixing the main pier [and] the south pier, with some underwater engineering there, bolstering the pylons that the pier stands on.” Current efforts are focused on preparing for the coming rainy season by relocating some of the 1.3 million displaced people from camps that are at risk for flooding, Trombitas said. He described the greatest needs as shelter, settlement and sanitation.
At least 9 of the 13 people kidnapped on September 13 by a criminal gang led by former paramilitaries were released due to pressure from the Colombian Army, official sources announced on September 14. “We don’t know the location of the other four, but the search is continuing,” the interior secretary of the province of Nariño, Fabio Trujillo, said. The kidnapping was denounced by Ombudsman Volmar Pérez, who attributed it to the Los Rastrojos criminal gang and revealed that two rural workers were murdered in the same action, which took place in the department of Nariño. The aggressors, who were armed and dressed in military attire, identified the two victims and after murdering them, threw their “dismembered bodies into the Patia River,” the ombudsman said in a press release. “Subsequently, they proceeded to kidnap and transport to the district of Sanchez (Cumbitara) a group of 13 people, including 9 motorboat operators,” according to the report, which identified several of the victims, whose ages range between 18 and 38 years old. Los Rastrojos is a gang led by former members of extreme-right-wing paramilitary groups linked to drug trafficking. According to the director of the Colombian police, General Oscar Naranjo, the criminal gangs formed by remnants of the demobilized United Self-Defense Units of Colombia (AUC) are currently the chief threat to the country’s domestic security. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a Marxist guerrilla group and the country’s most significant with around 8,000 fighters, also operates in Nariño, according to an estimate by the Defense Ministry. According to official figures, between January and July of this year there were 193 kidnappings in Colombia, 58 of them attributed to the FARC, 14 to the National Liberation Army (ELN), another guerilla group, and 121 to former paramilitaries and criminals. In 2010, 282 people were kidnapped in Colombia, 32 percent more than in 2009. By Dialogo September 16, 2011
The Brazilian government said on February 27 it would provide air transport and a support team to help Colombia’s leftist rebels release their remaining hostages. The day before, Colombia’s FARC rebels pledged to stop kidnapping for ransom and to release all 10 remaining “prisoners of war,” marking a historic shift in Latin America’s last major insurgency. The Brazilian Defense Ministry said through a spokesman that it would provide two helicopters and a support aircraft with a team for the operation. Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry confirmed that Brasilia was ready to provide the assistance pending an official request from Colombia. Brazil has taken part in previous such release operations, the last one of which took place a year ago when it provided military aircraft bearing Red Cross markings. Earlier this month, Colombian deputy Defense Minister Jorge Bedoya said that Brazil had accepted a request from Bogotá to take part in the release of the detainees still held by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). FARC made the concessions three months after it set off massive anti-rebel protests throughout the country by allegedly executing four long-time hostages during a government raid. “We have often talked about the kidnappings of men and women from the civilian population, that we, the FARC, have carried out for financial reasons to help support our struggle,” it said in its statement on February 26. “We are announcing that, from this date, we are outlawing these practices in the framework of our revolutionary activity,” read the statement, released via their website. The FARC statement however stopped short of agreeing to cease hostilities with the government and failed to spell out if Colombian security forces would still be considered legitimate targets for hostage-taking. The Brazilian Government is playing two cards at the same time. With one there is an offer to help in the release of prisoners of war between the guerrillas and Colombian Government. With the other, it sells 200 tucanos aircrafts to the Colombian Government so it can bomb the guerrillas and simultaneously destroy the eco system and the civilian population in each bombing. Ah, those are the Governments that Colombia has as friends. By Dialogo February 29, 2012
After eight long days of strenuous and arduous tasks, Exercise Fuerzas Comando came to an end during the final closing ceremony June 14. For the fifth time in the history of the exercise, Colombia earned the coveted title of Champion. Ecuador took second place and Uruguay took third place. Established in 2004, Fuerzas Comando is a U.S. Southern Command-sponsored special operations forces skills competition and senior leader seminar, which is conducted annually in the Western Hemisphere. This year, Fuerzas Comando was sponsored by the Colombian Army and held at the Colombian National Training Center at Fort Tolemaida. Special Operations Command South serves as the U.S. execution agent for the exercise. The Colombian Minister of Defense, Juan Carlos Pinzon Bueno, kicked off Fuerzas Comando 2012 with an inspirational speech to the troops and special operations forces with words that specifically recognized the multinational cooperation between all the participants. “I am glad to welcome many countries who are friends of Colombia today; countries that have contributed not only to our training, but have also helped us counter the threats facing our nation,” said Pinzon. This year’s competition consisted of military and police forces from 21 countries: the Bahamas, Belize, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, the United States and Uruguay. “Invitations are sent to partner nations in the U.S. Southern Command’s and U.S. Northern Command’s area of responsibility,” said U.S. Navy Cmdr. Dale W. Bopp, lead planner for SOCSOUTH’s Joint Training and Exercise section “The 21 countries participating this year, eagerly accepted the invitation to participate in the events.” Nations participating in the competition provided a judge, a five-person ‘assault’ team and a two–person sniper team to compete in this spirit of camaraderie. The eight-day contest provided the toughest mental and physical test of special operations skills, tactics, techniques and procedures, which included aquatic, strength, and conditioning contests principally employed in special operations missions. “The team leaders of today who compete amongst each other may very well be the same individuals who return years later to take part in the Distinguished Visitor Program and Senior Leader Seminar, not as competitors, but as partners,” said Bopp. “With that, we can utilize the friendships forged years ago to meet the challenges of the day.” Exercise Fuerzas Comando 2012 spanned eight days of intense competition. The events included a physical fitness event, rifle and pistol qualifications, distance and FBI “T” shoot, sniper stalk, road march, critical tasks, snaps and movers, a field shoot, obstacle course, combined assault, aquatic event, stress tests, and night shoots. There was also an multinational airborne operation on the last day, which is not an annual competition, but incorporated to help build upon the friendships that were forged throughout the exercise. “The focus of these competitions is to test the abilities of special forces soldiers. The participants will be tested on things like marksmanship and physical fitness, which are an important part of the training for any special forces soldier,” said Colombian Lt. Col. Juan Carlos Vargas Carvajal, operations officer for the Colombian Joint Special Forces Command and officer-in-charge for the Fuerzas Comando 2012 events. “After eight days of competition, the participants are physically exhausted,” said Maj. Juan Carlos Blanco of the Colombian Army. “This event really puts to the test the competitors’ physical and mental condition.” Another main aspect of Fuerzas Comando was the Senior Leaders Seminar, which was held in Bogota. The seminar is designed for military leaders to exchange ideas and to improve military-to-military relations and discuss regional issues, such as countering transnational organized crime. “Fuerzas Comando is an important opportunity for us to demonstrate the role the U.S. plays in linking special operations forces in the region and improving our capabilities and sharing ideas on how to face common threats like dangerous non-state actors,” said Navy Rear Adm. Thomas L. Brown, Commander, Special Operations Command South. The 9th annual Fuerzas Comando event was aimed at enhancing training and strengthening regional and multinational cooperation, mutual trust, readiness and interoperability of special operations forces in the region. “At the end of the day, especially in special operations, it’s all about relationships and trust and confidence and understanding each other’s perspective and situation,” said Brown. “It’s all about those relationships and knowing enough about each other to know where the areas of cooperation are that we need to reinforce.” The airborne operation signaled the end of the competition. One paratrooper from Special Operations Command South, jumped for the first time since graduating from airborne school. “It was an awesome experience, especially jumping from the back of the bird,” said Sgt. Samuel Diaz. “The view was great!” Exercise Fuerzas Comando 2013 is scheduled to take place in Chile next summer. By Dialogo July 10, 2012
By Dialogo August 24, 2012 Approximately 1,600 inhabitants of Wapí and other surrounding towns, about 186 miles from the Nicaraguan capital, benefited from medical and dental care services sponsored by the United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) and U.S. Joint Task Force-Bravo, based out of Soto Cano, Honduras. According to the U.S. Embassy in Nicaragua, the mission, which took place between August 15 and 18, consisted of 40 people, including medical, technical crews and support personnel who arrived in three U.S. Air Force helicopters. This mission is an integral part of the assistance program that the U.S. Military provides each year to Central American, South American and Caribbean countries. The medical missions in Wapí were supported by the Nicaraguan Army, municipal authorities, and personnel from the Comprehensive Health Care System, NicaSalud, the Peace Corps, and the U.S. International Development Agency. U.S. Military medical missions have assisted tens of thousands of Nicaraguans in recent years. In 2011, the humanitarian mission of the hospital ship Comfort offered medical and veterinarian services to residents of the Rivas Department. That same year, 45 members of the U.S. Air Force treated more than 10,000 patients in the Matagalpa Department.
The organization mandated a 15% reduction in the Military contingent maintained by 19 countries in Haiti. The number of police officers will also be reduced. By Dialogo November 15, 2012 On November 4, a total of 130 troops from the Brazilian Navy, Army, and Air Force (FAB) boarded a KC-137 airplane bound for the Haitian capital of Port au Prince, where they will form part of the new Brazilian contingent in the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). These numbers tend to reduce gradually, according to the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2070, adopted on October 12, 2012. The document extended the MINUSTAH activities until October 15, 2013. In order to reinforce the logistic activities of the MINUSTAH, the Brazilian Navy had already deployed the Combat Vehicle Landing Ship “Garcia D’Avila”, the week before. The vessel will transport material from the Squadron and Army Marine Force to supply the contingents of the Brazilian troops in Haiti, and replace material that will be repatriated and requires maintenance. Nine extra flights have been assigned to transport 1,300 Soldiers to the Caribbean nation before the beginning of December. This will be Brazil’s 17th contingent deployment to Haiti. The country has been leading MINUSTAH since the mission was created, in 2004. Brazil is the country with the highest headcount in the Caribbean nation due to its leadership in the mission’s Military component. Currently there are 1,878 Brazilian Blue Berets working in Haiti: 249 from the Navy, 1,599 from the Army, and 30 from the Air Force. The “gradual withdrawal of the troops” from the Caribbean country was a request from Brazilian Defense Minister Celso Amorim. Since taking office approximately 18 months ago, Amorim stated that “there cannot be a permanent stay, nor an irresponsible withdrawal” from Haiti. In his statements and interviews, the Minister has been supporting a favorable exit strategy for both countries. According to Amorim, it is necessary to make the Haitians capable to gradually providing their own security.
By the end of 2015, the member countries of the South American Defense Council (CDS/UNASUR) will have the first prototype of a basic trainer aircraft. On April 9, the project’s advisory committee, composed of representatives from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Uruguay and Venezuela, signed a joint statement for the prototype. When flight conditions are favorable, the airplane will be used to train Air Force pilots of member countries of UNASUR. During a meeting, the Argentine minister and his Brazilian counterpart, Celso Amorim, signed the Declaration of Rio de Janeiro, which states that “defense relations between the two countries were restated during their business meeting. The full execution of the document, which established a committee to initiate negotiations for the new airplane, took place during a ceremony on April 9 at the UNASUR booth during the LAAD Defence & Security 2013 exhibition, in Rio de Janeiro. In December of last year, Puricelli introduced the project to create the airplane during the 4th Meeting of the CDS/UNASUR held in Lima, Peru. The proposal was approved by the member nations of the Council and was integrated into the CDS Action Plan for 2013. The ministers also reiterated “the strategic importance of projects such as UNASUR-I, which contribute to increased integration, complementation, and strengthening of the productive capabilities of both countries.” By Dialogo April 16, 2013 The document emphasized the countries’ “advancement in developing the Primary-Basic Training Aircraft Project, known as UNASUR-I, under the Union of the South American Nations Defense Council’s Industrial Cooperation Action Plan for 2012.” “This is a developing pilot project that will soon be used in our region”, said Argentinean Defense Minister Arturo Puricelli. In the declaration, Amorim also congratulated the decision of the Argentinean government to acquire 14 armored Guarani vehicles, developed and produced in Brazil. The dignitaries confirmed that the initiative promotes product design and integration projects between the two countries. In addition, Argentina expressed “satisfaction with Brazil’s interest in the Southern Cross Combined Joint Peacekeeping Force, along with the Armed Forces of Chile, to form an operational military nucleus, highly qualified and readily available, to reinforce the regional contribution to peacekeeping operations of the United Nations.” Furthermore, the ministers described the cooperation between the two respective Armed Forces as excellent. They also mentioned a new cooperation project in the field of military engineering, which will exchange experts from the military organizations of both countries.
“It will be a very dynamic body, which will support Federal Police functions, but it will not invade its competence,” Toledo added. By Dialogo May 10, 2013 The Mexican government is planning to introduce its first gendarmerie during the national festivities in September, in order to counter the high violence rates that derive from drug trafficking, according to Carlos Humberto Toledo, General Inspector of the National Commission of Public Security. “The gendarmerie in Mexico will start operating soon. Most likely, you will see them parading on September 16,” the country’s Independence Day, Toledo said. Toledo added that the plan is for the gendarmerie to have 40,000 elements in six years. The official added that the security force unit has already been created, with 10,000 elements, of which 8,500 are Soldiers and the rest are Marines, which are “being trained so that their military mindset is transformed and adapted closer to what a police officer should be (…),” Toledo added during the Fifth Forum about Security and Justice, carried out in Mexico City. Human rights organizations think that taking 50,000 Soldiers from their headquarters to counter drug trafficking was the main cause of the increased violence during Calderón’s government. So far during the government of Enrique Peña Nieto, who took office in December 2012, and who has not stated if he will order the Military to go back to theirheadquarters, 4,249 homicides presumably related to organized crime were reported. The Federal Police “will be on the roads and cities (…) and the gendarmerie will be located in strategic places,” such as Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) facilities. According to official figures, over 70,000 people died during the government of former President Felipe Calderón (2006-2012) during confrontations between criminal gangs and military operations against them.