Mexico Joins Countries Receiving OAS Anti-Corruption Mission

first_imgBy Dialogo September 22, 2011 Mexico has joined a group of some fifteen countries that have consented to receive an Organization of American States (OAS) mission in 2012 that will evaluate their situation with regard to corruption, the organization announced in a statement issued on September 20. Mexico’s OAS delegation announced that it has agreed to receive the visit, planned for 2012 as part of the implementation of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption, a statement indicated. In addition, Mexico volunteered to be one of the first countries to be evaluated under the anti-corruption convention, the OAS announced. Up to now, the countries that have agreed to receive visits are Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Kitts and Nevis, the United States, and Uruguay. The OAS hopes that the other countries belonging to the hemispheric organization will agree to be audited, the statement added.last_img read more

A Friend for Life

first_img The Colombian Army’s K-9 Department currently has close to 3,500 active dogs, like Sasha, in 13 training centers distributed throughout the country’s main cities. The units fall under the Directorate of Military Engineers, which has been responsible for training and pairing up teams to confront natural disasters and enemy challenges since 1997. The dogs are specifically trained in one of five specialties, including mine and narcotics detection, search and rescue, installation security, and agility. Each dog is assigned to a human counterpart for life, and together they make up the teams that only end when one of the team members dies. Many of the noncommissioned officers (NCOs) and Soldiers who have trained in the different specialties agree that these dogs are “like a brother in the patrol, another Soldier.” The training is carried out in five phases of operational and terrain adaptation. Each is necessary to make the teams fully capable in their specialized field. As soon as the dogs reach one year of age, the trainings are set up as games. The phases include: According to data from the Colombian National Army and statistics from the Presidential Program for Mine Action, 1,079 members of the Armed Forces died between 2000 and 2009, while 3,711 were hurt, most of them mutilated. “The participation of canine-Soldier teams has been highly effective for our Army because the percentage of casualties and those injured by explosives – both, to our troops and to the civilian population – has been greatly reduced as a result,” said Captain Eliécer Suárez, chief of the Canine Department at ESING. During the search and rescue of anti-personnel mines in the operational field, dogs are trained to sniff through a given area until they successfully identify the exact place where the mines are buried. The dogs know that once their objective is detected, they must warn their trainer of the find through a passive sign. This is done simply by sitting close to the objective. “It’s difficult for a dog to make a mistake,” assures Sgt. Viveros, sitting next to Zeus, his German shepherd trained in search and rescue. FAC Colombia’s Air Force (FAC, for its Spanish acronym) has its own Military Canine Training Center that has trained and bred military dogs since 2006. Currently, the Military Canine Training Center (CICAM, for its Spanish acronym) has 158 dogs of varying ages, mainly Belgian shepherds. During a visit to the Colombian Military’s School of Engineers (ESING, for its Spanish acronym) Canine Training and Retraining Center in Bogotá, Diálogo talked to the NCOs responsible for the canine program. Sergeant First Class Rafael Viveros, director of the search and rescue program, explained that the use of dogs for this task is not only a logical move, but also one that greatly benefits the force. “[The dogs] have 250 million olfactory cells in comparison to the 5 million that humans have,” said Sgt. Viveros. “In addition to their agility and speed, this makes them an important asset to find a person that may need help.” The Army recruits or purchases the dogs from different breeding kennels, mainly Labs or golden retrievers, for their agility, intelligence, ease of learning, good-natured disposition and in general, for the positive results gained thus far. But they also work with German and Belgian shepherds. At the same time, the Army personnel look for specific profiles in the human counterparts. Psychological tests are used to select people with personalities that are kindred to animals and the work involving them. The courses for the dogs and their trainers vary in length. For example, the canine guide courses for search and rescue as well as the explosives detection course last 14 weeks each. These courses are carried out during 48 weekly training hours of classes. The classes include topics such as explosives detection techniques, first aid, canine training techniques, weaponry, as well as kennel hygiene and maintenance. The main difference between the two services is that the FAC’s canine units are not exposed to “hot zones” in the operating field, like those trained by the country’s Army. “The pups remain with their mothers for two months, at which point they are introduced to different processes of early stimulation,” said Lieutenant Omar Reátiga Rincón, veterinarian and instructor in charge of the training program at CICAM. Sasha served the Colombian National Army for most of her life; her colleagues saw her as yet another Soldier fighting on the frontlines against the country’s terrorist groups. From the beginning of her military career she was trained in explosives and anti-personnel mine detection, completing approximately 3,000 missions during six years of service. During this time, she detected more than 100 anti-personnel mines and saved innumerable lives. In September 2010, the Colombian Army’s Operation Sodoma led to the death of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) head Jorge Briceño Suárez, aka Mono Jojoy. During Operation Sodoma, Sasha detected eight anti-personnel mines close to Mono Jojoy’s shelter, but when her presence was detected, a grenade was thrown in her direction. Sasha’s untimely death became the institution’s only casualty during the operation. Sasha was a 7-year-old black Labrador retriever, trained by the Colombian Army since her first year of life. She represented half of her team — as human guides are coupled with a dog in the Army’s K-9 operations. Her human counterpart, who did not reveal his name during an interview in honor of the black Lab by local television program Vamos Colombia, remembered Sasha as being “a sweet, playful and very smart puppy who was completely devoted to her job.” center_img By Dialogo April 01, 2012 Association of smells: consists of permeating dog toys with different smells, including narcotics and explosives, and teaching the dogs to recognize these by way of positive reinforcement. Collar or leash-restricted tracking: accustoms the dog to only obey his master’s orders by use of these tools. Adaptation to extreme situations: familiarizes the canines with loud sounds, textures of different types of terrain, different environments, weather, etc. Systematized area registry: teaches the dogs exactly where to search, how to carry out searches, and what to search for and find. FOR 6 YEARS I WAS A CANINE GUIDE, AND IN 2006 I WAS A VICTIM OF IT…BUT I LOVED BEING A CANINE GUIDE IT HAS BEEN ONE OF MY BEST EXPERIENCES IN THE ARMY. I LOVE THE CANINES.last_img read more

Violence No Longer Costa Ricans’ Biggest Worry as Police Score Successes

first_imgBy Dialogo April 01, 2013 SAN JOSÉ, Costa Rica — A year-long investigation of a 14-member drug trafficking group came to an end on March 26, when local officials arrested the gang’s five remaining members. Costa Rica’s Drug Control Police (PCD) carried out the sting in collaboration with Panamanian officials who provided key information. Costa Rican Security Minister Mario Zamora told reporters that the group, led by a Colombian national, was shipping cocaine into the country from Panama to produce crack and selling it to locals and foreigners in Costa Rica. “This was what we call a ‘second level’ organization, which means that it also supplied other smaller groups with crack to be later distributed in our streets and neighborhoods,” he said. While the leader and another four members were arrested now, previous arrests of the same organized group were made in other four operations beginning in August last year. The group was made up of Nicaraguans, Costa Ricans and Panamanians. Police seized a total of 120 kilograms of cocaine and $17,000 in cash during the entire operation. This case is the most recent in a series of busts by the government in the last few weeks. On March 12, the police seized 1.7 tons of cocaine hidden in a cigarette-style speedboat off the Caribbean port of Limón. The boat was cornered to shore by the Coast Guard, but the people inside the vessel managed to escape. Costa Rica security budget nearly doubles since 2009 Zamora described the craft as having four motors, amounting to an approximate value of $50,000, and called it “a new resource for the ministry to combat organized crime.” Less than two weeks earlier, two boats flying Costa Rican flags were stopped at sea with half a ton of cocaine each. Seven people were arrested. “It’s possible that a part of that shipment came from Costa Rica, but it could’ve also made a quick stop on our shores to replenish its fuel and continue on to another destiny further north of Central America,” said Anti-Drug Commissioner Mauricio Boraschi. Despite Costa Rica’s accomplishments in tackling organized crime, the State Department’s 2013 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report says the country’s “lack of effective patrolling of both land and sea borders all contributed to Costa Rica’s status as a drug transshipment point.” It also noted “the rising consumption of illicit narcotics, the increasing presence of Mexican drug trafficking organizations and the level of drug-related violence.” It’s this concern that has convinced Zamora to nearly double the Security Ministry’s budget in the last four years, from $230 million in 2009 to $400 million this year. “We’ve never had, in our history, an increase as important as this one in the public security budget,” said Zamora, a former head of police. “But it’s important to point out that education and health remain the most important elements in the budget.” Boraschi points to 95% success rate in drug prosecutions Boraschi said that in the three years since President Laura Chinchilla took office, her security forces have dismantled 315 drug-trafficking organizations. Forty-eight of those are international in nature and 267 are domestic; in addition, 74 are identified as “narcofamilies” who have turned their homes into drug-selling businesses. Costa Rican officials say their strategy of containing violence and the illegal transit of drugs through the country is unlike most others in that they work to prosecute people they arrest. “Our country characterizes itself for having a 95 percent effectiveness in the cases it prosecutes,” said Boraschi, a lawyer by training and a former prosecutor. “The fight here is very different from other places, as we face drug traffickers by focusing on the use of intelligence and the rule of law.” A statement from Boraschi’s office said his department has seized more than 31 tons of cocaine in less than three years; if the drugs had made it to the United States, they would have generated $775 million in earnings for the cartels. Officials agree that the investment in security has paid off, not only because of the high percentage of criminals brought to justice, but because people are actually safer than they were before. Unimer poll: Insecurity no longer biggest concern in Costa Rica Costa Rica, which abolished its army in 1948, is the first Central American nation to drop out of the World Health Organization’s “violence epidemic” label given to places where the homicide rate exceeds 10 murders per 100,000 inhabitants. Costa Rica’s rate last year was 8.9 — compared to its peak in 2010, when its homicide rate reached 12 per 100,000. Nearby Honduras, the world’s most violent country, has a rate of 86 per 100,000, while El Salvador registered 71 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants in 2012. In late March, a public opinion survey by independent pollster Unimer on behalf of the newspaper La Nación showed that insecurity is no longer Costa Ricans’ biggest worry; unemployment and the rising cost of living have knocked crime off the top spot. Security ranked third for the first time in years, Zamora said, proving there’s been an overall decrease in criminal activity and that people are starting to notice that drop. “This is a regional success, because we see that in the piece of land from Mexico all the way down to Colombia and Venezuela, we’re the ones with the lowest crime statistics and the one that has managed to reduce it the most,” he said. “To be in Central America — the most violent region in the world — and have a public opinion survey show that in Costa Rica insecurity is no longer the No. 1 worry in people’s minds, is significant.” Thanks Isabella. Excellent work. Juan Antonio Marín I walk a lot through San Jose and I’ve noticed a substantial improvement in safety, the information provided by this article should be posted by the respective entities in order to leave behind that bad impression about this topic, which is printed daily by mediocre media sources that don’t contribute a thing to provide a vision of peace and progress for the country; the same goes with the national roads, I travel a lot and most of them are in good conditions, let’s work for a better CR, no petty interests and alarming publications, they are worthless and only cause damage, they aren’t sons of this homeland and only care about the salaries in their pockets. Did you not understand the report? It said that violence greatly decreased, and Costa Rica has the lowest homicide rate in Central America. My goodness, what are you talking about without knowing? You must be Brazilian because they often give opinions with no justification.last_img read more

Guatemala Slowly Winning War Against Corruption and Impunity — CICIG

first_img Once in 2005 and again in 2006, the head of criminal investigation of Guatemala’s National Civil Police took justice into his own hands. In the overcrowded prisons of Pavón and El Infiernito, Víctor Hugo Soto Diéguez and three subordinates executed 10 prisoners. But in August, something unusual happened to the perpetrators: all four of them went to jail. Soto Diéguez and three others received sentences ranging from 17 to 33 years for the killings — marking a major success for the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG in Spanish) and its outgoing leader, Francisco Dall’Anese of Costa Rica. On Aug. 22, Dall’Anese told Guatemalan leaders that impunity had fallen from 93 to 70 percent since CICIG’s formation in 2007 at the invitation of then-President Oscar Berger. The UN-backed human rights body — made up of international prosecutors and judicial officials — said that its goal was “to help Guatemala disband illegal groups and clandestine security structures.” Dell’Anese, who was replaced Sept. 2 as head of CICIG by former Colombian Supreme Court magistrate Iván Velásquez Gómez, then scorned his detractors. Dall’Anese commends 23% drop in impunity “Allow me to thank all those individuals who have criticized the commission and sought to damage the public image of the institution and the commissioner, because in any prosecution office of the world, it would be taken as a sign of success,” he said. Dall’Anese acknowledged that the numbers are not optimal, but said a 23 percent reduction in impunity signaled a major step forward. In a region burdened by some of the world’s highest homicide rates, Guatemala has begun to curtail the number of killings while convicting more crime suspects. Since 2007, CICIG has removed about 2,500 corrupt officers from the national police force. The organization — which operates under the auspices of the United Nations — has forced out higher-ups including dozens of police chiefs and two attorneys general. During his tenure, Dall’Anese went after judges too. In November 2012, CICIG released “Judges of Impunity,” a report that accuses 18 judges in Guatemala of protecting criminals and corrupt government officials. In the case of the extra-judicial killings, prosecutors believe some high-ranking officials were in on the plot. They are pursuing trials against an ex-head of the Interior Ministry, a former national police chief and several others. Homicide rate falls over last four consecutive years The commission has made world headlines by solving high-profile cases, the most prominent of which occurred under previous CICIG director Carlos Castresana of Spain. Dall’Anese and his investigators probed the mysterious April 2009 murder of lawyer Rodrigo Rosenberg — an affair that nearly ended the presidency of Alvaro Colom. Dall’Anese said the efforts of CICIG as well as Guatemala’s attorney general, Claudia Paz y Paz, have led to impressive results. The homicide rate still ranks as one of the world’s highest — 35 per 100,000 inhabitants, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. However, that figure has been falling for the last four years. President Otto Perez Molina praised CICIG, telling reporters that criticism leveled at the commission was a sign that things are being done correctly. “We are not condemned to live with impunity,” he said. “And therefore we are making these efforts.” CICIG will remain in Guatemala another two years. Molina has extended the organization’s mandate until September 2015, though any extension beyond that appears unlikely. Paz y Paz: ‘The justice system protects us all’ In the final two years of the commission, Interior Minister Mauricio López Bonilla wants the organization to start training Guatemala’s police force on how to better handle investigations. Paz y Paz expects CICIG leadership to vet candidates for the newly founded General Criminal Investigations Bureau (Digicri in Spanish). Since the appointment of Paz y Paz as attorney general in December 2010, “the number of cases resolved has nearly doubled,” according to a Reuters profile published May 2012. Paz y Paz, praising CICIG’s conviction of the four officials involved in the extra-judicial executions as key to demonstrating respect for human rights, she said “the sentence sent a message out that no public official or citizen can violate the rule of law, because the justice system protects us all — even individuals who break the law.” The CICIG turned out to be a problem instead of a solution. As we say in Guatemala, the remedy was more expensive than the disease. The reasons for its establishment were many, they had very high expectations, but people are very dissatisfied, starting with the work done by the first one, Castresana, and up to the departure of the second on September 2nd of 2013. By Dialogo September 09, 2013last_img read more

Brazil to Test Border Surveillance During Military Operations

first_imgThe Brazilian Military is preparing to subect Project Sisfron (Comprehensive Border Surveillance System) to its first test. In June, the Armed Forces will deploy the system as part of Operation Ágata. Soldiers installed the system in the Southern Mato Grosso do Sul region under the auspices of the 4th Mechanized Cavalry Brigade in Dourados, a city in Mato Grosso do Sul. This will be the ninth edition of the operation, coordinated by the Armed Forces Joint Chiefs of Staff (EMCFA). The Military carries out the initiative at strategic points along Brazil’s borders as part of the country’s strategy to prevent crimes such as drug trafficking, smuggling, weapons trafficking, environmental crimes, immigration, and illegal prospecting. Brazil’s Army Project Office (EPEx), created in 2012, evaluates, proposes, coordinates, and integrates efforts toward the realization of the Army’s large-scale, technologically and financially complex strategic projects. So far, those projects have included Guarani, Cyber Defense, Air Defense, Proteger, Astros 2020, and Sisfron. By Dialogo May 12, 2015 Brazil’s Army Project Office (EPEx), created in 2012, evaluates, proposes, coordinates, and integrates efforts toward the realization of the Army’s large-scale, technologically and financially complex strategic projects. So far, those projects have included Guarani, Cyber Defense, Air Defense, Proteger, Astros 2020, and Sisfron. Sisfron is one of seven Brazilian Army strategic projects and consists of an integrated system of sensors to be used to strengthen the government’s presence and readiness along the border. To deploy Sisfron, the Armed Forces will install a comprehensive set of technological resources in the border region; the sensors will provide crucial information to Military commanders. Project solidifies its pilot phase and acquires drones “This will be our first chance to verify the system functions. We are going to test whether the data is transmitted satisfactorily, so we can make any necessary adjustments,” said Sisfron supervisor, Colonel Ary Pelegrino Filho. Military authorities expect the pilot phase will end in 2016. Since Sisfron’s creation in 2013, the government has invested approximately 1.3 billion Brazilian reals ($430 million) in the initiative, which is nearly 11 percent of the overall project budget. “We have delivered 100 percent of the action support subsystem for the pilot project and 50 percent of the requirements for the sensor system,” Col. Pelegrino said. “As for the engineering work, we can safely say that it is almost 70 percent complete.” These subsystems are in the integration phase, which is why they will be tested during Operation Ágata. “This will be our first chance to verify the system functions. We are going to test whether the data is transmitted satisfactorily, so we can make any necessary adjustments,” said Sisfron supervisor, Colonel Ary Pelegrino Filho. The Brazilian Military is preparing to subect Project Sisfron (Comprehensive Border Surveillance System) to its first test. In June, the Armed Forces will deploy the system as part of Operation Ágata. Soldiers installed the system in the Southern Mato Grosso do Sul region under the auspices of the 4th Mechanized Cavalry Brigade in Dourados, a city in Mato Grosso do Sul. Military authorities expect the pilot phase will end in 2016. Since Sisfron’s creation in 2013, the government has invested approximately 1.3 billion Brazilian reals ($430 million) in the initiative, which is nearly 11 percent of the overall project budget. An investment of 480 million reals ($158 million) is budgeted for 2015 to follow up the installation of the pilot project in the region under the responsibility of the 4th Brigade. Col. Pelegrino stated that a small part of this amount – 40 million reals ($13 million) – already has been received and is being forwarded mainly to the consortium of companies responsible for the integration of the devices installed in Dourados. Project solidifies its pilot phase and acquires drones In the south, Sisfron will be set up in the area under the responsibility of the 15th Mechanized Infantry Brigade in Paraná, a state that borders Paraguay (208 kilometers) and Argentina (293 kilometers). The 4th Mechanized Cavalry Brigade in Dourados is home to the Sisfron pilot project, which began in November 2014. The pilot project is divided into three subsystems. The first is the sensor system and decision-making support, which includes all command equipment, fixed and mobile control equipment, radars, sensors, and data software. The Armed Forces anticipates the Sisfron project will be completed by 2022, and will ultimately cover 17,000 kilometers of Brazil’s borders. The Military plans on cooperating with neighboring countries to reduce crime rates along the borders through partnerships between the Army and the various law enforcement agencies. The Armed Forces anticipates the Sisfron project will be completed by 2022, and will ultimately cover 17,000 kilometers of Brazil’s borders. The Military plans on cooperating with neighboring countries to reduce crime rates along the borders through partnerships between the Army and the various law enforcement agencies. Any military move to keep the nation under surveillance is very important. Very good. This project is important. We have a long border. We are in need of serious articles on social networks.This article shows how seriously servicemembers work and their great importance to our country. There is a strategic way of innovation, science and technology, which is not only strategic for Brazil, but can also be applied to areas of the private sector.Congratulations to the Brazilian Army. Congratulations to the Brazilian Army. This mission is patriotic for guarding our sovereignty. Warm regards to all. The Brazilian government is taking too long to implement this border monitoring project.The government has failed to raise more than $240 billion dollars annually in taxes.Also, the government has fails to create thousands of jobs in Brazilian industries, and the worst is the violence resulting from the weapons and drugs entering across our borders.http://www.derlyemarcelinho.com/ The project is very interesting considering that it’s intended to support the work undertaken by civil public officials working in customs and as police. The have been working “unsuccessfully” in fighting smuggling and embezzlement crimes, as well as drug trafficking and immigration. There has been talk for many years about effective border control using technology. In addition, society needs the integration of federal and related public services and agent training. The project is worth the hope that it leads to good and effective results. Let’s wait and see. Congratulations! To support the expansion, during 2015 the Military will acquire light vehicles, cranes, patrol boats, and individual equipment for service members, which will be supplied to units participating in Sisfron stage two. The plan is for stage two to begin in 2016, with the contracting process beginning in 2015. This will be the ninth edition of the operation, coordinated by the Armed Forces Joint Chiefs of Staff (EMCFA). The Military carries out the initiative at strategic points along Brazil’s borders as part of the country’s strategy to prevent crimes such as drug trafficking, smuggling, weapons trafficking, environmental crimes, immigration, and illegal prospecting. Sisfron is one of seven Brazilian Army strategic projects and consists of an integrated system of sensors to be used to strengthen the government’s presence and readiness along the border. To deploy Sisfron, the Armed Forces will install a comprehensive set of technological resources in the border region; the sensors will provide crucial information to Military commanders. In addition to the progress toward completing the pilot phase, the plans for 2015 include seeking the requests for proposals to provide remote-piloted aircraft which will be used to conduct surveillance in the areas where the sensors will be deployed. In the next phase, the project will be expanded to the northern and southern areas of Brazil. In the north, Sisfron will be used by the 13th Motorized Infantry Brigade and the 17th Jungle Infantry Brigade. The 13th Brigade is located in Cuiabá, Mato Grosso, a state that has a 780-kilometer border with Bolivia. The 17th Brigade is headquartered in Porto Velho, the capital of Rondônia, but it also has units in the state of Acre. Rondônia has a 1,342-kilometer border with Bolivia, while Acre has a 1,430-kilometer border with Peru. The Military is well-deployed to carry out the initiative; most of the units in the 4th Mechanized Cavalry Brigade are stationed along the border with Paraguay, covering almost 600 kilometers in Mato Grosso do Sul. The goal of the Armed Forces is to have the Sisfron pilot project cover that entire length. The third subsystem is composed of engineering works, which include the construction of physical facilities, vehicle garages, and Troop housing, in addition to any retooling necessary to support or use the electronic equipment acquired. “We have delivered 100 percent of the action support subsystem for the pilot project and 50 percent of the requirements for the sensor system,” Col. Pelegrino said. “As for the engineering work, we can safely say that it is almost 70 percent complete.” These subsystems are in the integration phase, which is why they will be tested during Operation Ágata. In addition to the progress toward completing the pilot phase, the plans for 2015 include seeking the requests for proposals to provide remote-piloted aircraft which will be used to conduct surveillance in the areas where the sensors will be deployed. Diálogo is presenting each of the projects, their objectives and challenges, as well as new developments, in a series of weekly reports. This week’s report features Sisfron. The second subsystem is designed to support actions and refers to equipment for individual Soldiers, vehicles, ships, and “anything necessary to allow the Army to take action to contain an adversary,” the Colonel said. The 4th Mechanized Cavalry Brigade in Dourados is home to the Sisfron pilot project, which began in November 2014. The pilot project is divided into three subsystems. The first is the sensor system and decision-making support, which includes all command equipment, fixed and mobile control equipment, radars, sensors, and data software. Sisfron stage two brings the project to Brazil’s north and south The second subsystem is designed to support actions and refers to equipment for individual Soldiers, vehicles, ships, and “anything necessary to allow the Army to take action to contain an adversary,” the Colonel said. The Military is well-deployed to carry out the initiative; most of the units in the 4th Mechanized Cavalry Brigade are stationed along the border with Paraguay, covering almost 600 kilometers in Mato Grosso do Sul. The goal of the Armed Forces is to have the Sisfron pilot project cover that entire length. The third subsystem is composed of engineering works, which include the construction of physical facilities, vehicle garages, and Troop housing, in addition to any retooling necessary to support or use the electronic equipment acquired. Sisfron stage two brings the project to Brazil’s north and south In the south, Sisfron will be set up in the area under the responsibility of the 15th Mechanized Infantry Brigade in Paraná, a state that borders Paraguay (208 kilometers) and Argentina (293 kilometers). In the next phase, the project will be expanded to the northern and southern areas of Brazil. In the north, Sisfron will be used by the 13th Motorized Infantry Brigade and the 17th Jungle Infantry Brigade. The 13th Brigade is located in Cuiabá, Mato Grosso, a state that has a 780-kilometer border with Bolivia. The 17th Brigade is headquartered in Porto Velho, the capital of Rondônia, but it also has units in the state of Acre. Rondônia has a 1,342-kilometer border with Bolivia, while Acre has a 1,430-kilometer border with Peru. Diálogo is presenting each of the projects, their objectives and challenges, as well as new developments, in a series of weekly reports. This week’s report features Sisfron. To support the expansion, during 2015 the Military will acquire light vehicles, cranes, patrol boats, and individual equipment for service members, which will be supplied to units participating in Sisfron stage two. The plan is for stage two to begin in 2016, with the contracting process beginning in 2015. An investment of 480 million reals ($158 million) is budgeted for 2015 to follow up the installation of the pilot project in the region under the responsibility of the 4th Brigade. Col. Pelegrino stated that a small part of this amount – 40 million reals ($13 million) – already has been received and is being forwarded mainly to the consortium of companies responsible for the integration of the devices installed in Dourados. last_img read more

“Gender, Peace, and Security” Workshop Promotes Equitable Conditions

first_imgBy Gonzalo Silva Infante/Diálogo July 24, 2017 The role of women in society is occupying new spaces, and their presence in different settings, such as the armed forces, is being promoted. In the Americas, there are 16 nations with women in these institutions, and the process of integration has evolved over the years. This theme was presented during the “Gender, Peace, and Security” workshop, held from May 8th to 17th at Chorillos Military Academy in Lima, Peru. The workshop was sponsored by the Canadian government and organized by the Peruvian Ministry of Defense. In all, 47 officers participated – male and female – from Argentina, Colombia, Guatemala, Jamaica, Mexico, and Peru. The level of female participation in the armed forces of Latin American is below 10 percent, on average. Only the Dominican Republic has reached an honorable 21.76 percent. The Dominican Republic is closely followed by Uruguay (18.92 percent), and Argentina (17.17 percent), according to the 2016 edition of the Comparative Atlas of Defense in Latin America and the Caribbean. This shows that there is still a lot of work to be done in Latin America to create true gender integration. “The women got very excited because they found out that in [other] countries, women do their military service under the same conditions as men,” Peruvian Army General (R) Baltazar Alvarado Cornejo, the director general of Doctrine and Education at the Vice Ministry of Defense Policy for the Ministry of Defense, told Diálogo. “As for the nations that didn’t join us, the reality there is quite similar. However, those giving us the workshop were Canadians, and you could tell there was a big difference between their experience and that of the other countries,” added Peruvian Air Force Major Grace Peralta Fleming, who was one of nine women in Peru’s first coed class. Equitable conditions The workshop was an opportunity to demonstrate the progress that has been made and the challenges that remain for the armed forces and their members, both male and female. “The workshop revealed the opportunities available in all fields of military endeavor, whether academic, cultural, or physical, for competing with equal opportunity,” Gen. Alvarado said. Equality and not discriminating based on gender are two concepts that are quite clear in the armed forces. That is why the importance of equitable integration and, thus, the ability to equalize opportunities were addressed during the workshop. “We are given some opportunities in the admission process so that we can have the same access as the men,” Maj. Peralta said. “The idea is that, to the extent that things are balanced, those differentiations will be done away with.” “Women are treated with equality. There is equity according to your gender and your physiology,” said another workshop participant, Peruvian Army Captain Elizabeth Mercado Cortez, from Legal Services at the Army’s Public Graduate Technical Institute. “We are placed into military life but following the scale of equity,” she added. The humanitarian side An important aspect of the role of women in the armed forces involves their more sensitive side and dealing with situations that go beyond their military training. “We’ve managed to fill some gaps, such as the humanitarian aspect, both in wars and negotiations. It was explained to us that during negotiations, women can achieve better things,” Maj. Peralta confirmed. When women participate in peacekeeping processes, the probability of reaching an agreement increases by 20 percent. The probability that that agreement will last at least 15 years increases by 35 percent, the United Nations reports. During the workshop, a case was presented which exemplifies this situation. During a peacekeeping mission, there were many complaints filed concerning rapes committed against the local population. The resentment towards the service members was evident. The seven women in the battalion on that mission calmed the situation and, thus, avoided a conflict. “In any mission, women need to go. We can all be trained to meet the objectives and the assigned duties,” Capt. Mercado said. The experiences at the workshop showed that there is still a long way to go but they also provided a good reference point. “It was hugely important to learn about other realities, to know that we are not an exception. Twenty years ago other countries were going through what we are going through now,” Maj. Peralta concluded.last_img read more

Youth Protests Against Cuba’s Dictatorship Increase in 2019

first_imgBy Julieta Pelcastre / Diálogo January 14, 2020 Social media has emerged as an effective tool against the socialist regime.Although many Cubans lack internet access because of the State’s costly and controlled internet connection, young people are using technology to question the island’s political system. In 2019, dissident groups initiated protests via social media to show their disapproval of the Miguel Díaz-Canel government, which led to intervention from police forces.“There were more protests against the dictatorship during 2019. The Cuban society woke up and is taking advantage of new technologies and internet access,” Cuban activist Liu Santiesteban, head of the program Despierta Cuba, which livestreams on Facebook from the United States, told Diálogo. “In the past, we didn’t have this mechanism and tool, not only for information, but also for internal coordination.”The allegations against the Cuban government, which doesn’t allow any form of social expression, “spurred a wave of police repression in 2019 against hundreds of people, both opponents and activists of human and economic rights, including the right to change the political system,” Javier Larrondo, president of Prisoners Defenders, a Spanish nongovernmental organization dedicated to legal and defense matters, told Diálogo.September 8 saw a surge of arrests against members of dissident organizations Patriotic Union of Cuba and Cuba Decide, after they urged people via social media to demonstrate with a sunflower in their hand to express solidarity with victims of State abuse.A Cuban woman in Havana buys a wifi device on the black market to clandestinely receive the state-provided Internet signal on July 29, 2019. (Photo: STR / AFP)“The repression against those promoting and calling for the sunflower protest was carried out via a large-scale police operation all over the island,” Cuban activist Rosa María Payá, coordinator of the movement Cuba Decide, in exile in the United States since 2012, told Diálogo. “The march scared the system so much that more than 180 activists went to prison. The level of fear the regime projects is ridiculous.”Before this protest, users and administrators of the first grassroots network, created in 2001, protested in front of Cuba’s Ministry of Communications on August 12, against regulations banning the network that allowed thousands of people to share content and opinions in virtual forums. After authorities dispersed the protest, the state confiscated the network’s infrastructure.“Now, claims of discontent are more varied, because they come from different sectors in society and not exclusively from the organized opposition, as was the case of the May 11 protest in Havana, in response to the banning of the traditional gay parade, a march the pro-government Center for Sexual Education organizes every year,” Paya said. “More than 300 members of the gay community were repressed, while three were detained by police agents, for peacefully defending the rights of sexual minorities.”The regime also attacked hundreds of protesters who took to the streets on February 23 to reject the text of the new Cuban Constitution, which was approved against the people’s will the following day. “The police increased detentions and torture against all those campaigning against the constitutional referendum,” Larrondo said. “More than 2 million Cubans said no to the regime.” The new constitution irrevocably ratifies the implementation of socialism on the island.In Cuba, social media serves to level the playing field and force verbal interaction with the government. “The populism that lapsed into dictatorship will be dismantled by young Cubans with the help of new technologies and social media, a realm where the regime won’t be able to beat them,” Santiesteban concluded.last_img read more

US Contributes $40k of Parts and Equipment to Regional Security System

first_imgBy U.S. Embassy in Barbados July 21, 2020 The U.S. Embassy in Barbados recently furnished the Regional Security System (RSS) with nearly $40,000 worth of maritime equipment and upgrades, to assist in the maintenance and longevity of patrol boats of the RSS Maritime Training Center. The patrol boats are used to train police and coast guard forces throughout the Caribbean.“Our U.S. partners continue to support the maritime training vessels through the supply of spares and other accessories,” said Barbados Coast Guard Lieutenant Rolerick Sobers, regional maritime officer for the RSS. “The refurnished fleet of training vessels will enrich the maritime training activities that will support the transfer of knowledge and skill sets that are necessary to have desired, effective, and positive outcomes of operational missions.”Originally donated by the U.S. government, these vessels have played a key role in developing the collective seafaring capacity of Eastern Caribbean coast guards and police forces. The recent purchase of parts ensures the RSS is able to train and prepare coast guard and police officers well into the current decade.“This donation is part of the larger U.S. commitment to our assisting our Eastern Caribbean partners to protect their sovereignty and ensure security of their territorial waters,” said U.S. Air Force Major Shane Moran, deputy chief for the U.S. Military Liaison Office. “As the region has seen an uptick in illicit activities and trafficking, ensuring that Caribbean maritime security officers are well prepared and well equipped continues to be at the forefront of U.S. Southern Command’s priorities as both a regional ally and neighbor.”Donated by the U.S. government in the early-2000s, the patrol boats have been an integral component of the RSS’s maritime training institute, with coast guard and police officers throughout the Eastern Caribbean training and honing their seafaring skills on the vessels. The collaborative efforts of the RSS and regional partners ensure sailors are equipped with a common set of seafaring skills and a high degree of interoperability between organizations.“The importance of skilled mariners in the Maritime Law Enforcement units in the RSS maritime security cannot be understated. As maritime crime continues to evolve, so too must the skill set of officers be kept current,” said Lt. Sobers. “An active and operational suite of training platforms is a great utility from which to deliver maritime training while ensuring that a common set of core competencies are spread across the various maritime units.”In addition to this handover, the United States has provided $3 million in COVID-19 response assistance to the Eastern Caribbean. It also supports the U.S.-Caribbean Resilience Partnership, a collaborative effort to build regional capacity to confront disaster response and promote strong communities.last_img read more

Panel pushes plan to empower jurors

first_img March 1, 2002 Jan Pudlow Associate Editor Regular News Panel pushes plan to empower jurors Associate EditorThe Jury Innovation Committee, said Third District Court of Appeal Judge Robert Shevin, was on a mission to join the nation’s “jury reform revolution” and “push the envelope” to empower Florida’s jurors.“The traditional adversarial courtroom model, which views jurors as passive triers of fact, is being correctly challenged,” Shevin, the committee’s chair, said in oral arguments February 4 at the Florida Supreme Court.“It is antiquated. It does not reflect the way that adults learn and process information. The new learning model treats jurors not as children, but as intelligent, informed adults who possess the ability to multitask and interactively process information. It recognizes that jurors are not and should not be bystanders, but, rather, full partners in the trial proceedings.”Of the committee’s 48 recommendations — that include allowing jurors to ask witnesses questions and take notes during trial — “the most cutting-edge” and “probably the most important one,” Shevin said, was allowing jurors in civil trials to discuss the testimony as a group before actual deliberations begin.The “most hotly debated issue,” Shevin said, was whether to reduce or eliminate peremptory challenges, when lawyers get to dismiss prospective jurors from serving without giving a reason. In the past, the justices noted, peremptory challenges were abused to exclude racial groups and others from serving on juries.Even though the Jury Innovation Committee, of the Judicial Management Council, merely suggested studying the peremptory challenges matter further, even thinking about changing the status quo sparked strong concern from both Tom Scarritt of Tampa, chair of The Florida Bar Trial Lawyers Section, and Dave Dunlap, Jr., of Tallahassee, on behalf of the American Board of Trial Advocates.“Peremptory challenges is a subject that is very dear and near to the hearts of trial lawyers,” Scarritt said. “We state it plainly that we do not think that there should be any change whatsoever.. . . It is really a de-selection process, some people think, and judges do not have as good of knowledge, and they can’t, of the facts of a particular case, than do the advocates. And so the advocates should be allowed to have some control over the de-selection process, with the peremptory challenges.”Justice Harry Lee Anstead asked how they would explain the need for peremptory challenges to the public at large, when it is something as amorphous as “the vibes weren’t there” with a particular prospective juror.Dunlap responded: “Is that a good reason for doing away with it, if it is difficult to explain to the general public? I don’t think so.”The litigants involved have the right to a fair and impartial jury, Dunlap said.“They are the ones that we ought to focus on, and not whether this is going to be something that we can easily explain to the general public, in my opinion.”Peremptory challenges are very necessary, Dunlap said, “because they fill the gap between challenges for cause and those situations in which you inherently know that someone is not going to be objective.”On that contentious issue, Shevin said, “We took many votes, and most of them turned out to be ties. Just as many people supported reducing or eliminating and going to challenges for cause and having them issued more rapidly, readily, and liberally. And half of our group took the position it shouldn’t be changed at all. So we kind of punted and said, ‘OK. Let’s recommend this study.’ We recognized that, because of the financial condition of the state, a study would be very, very difficult to fund at this point. At the same time, we felt that at least it merited more review. And I do believe that there ought to be more liberalization of the court’s ability and desire to challenge for cause, so that we wouldn’t need peremptory challenges. But we understand the lawyers’ viewpoint that they know the case better than anyone else, and that they have views and feelings and instincts that they need to carry out through peremptory challenges.”The Jury Innovation Committee was firmer in its recommendation that jurors be allowed to discuss witnesses’ testimony before retiring to deliberate at the end of a civil trial.Justice Barbara Pariente had two questions: Why was the recommendation limited to just civil cases, and “is there some concern that this may be an adverse affect, as far as jurors making up their minds at the beginning of the case, when they are supposed to have an open mind?”Shevin said his committee followed what has been tried for four years in Arizona and proven successful: Jurors in civil trials can only discuss testimony when they are in the jury room together, and they can only discuss it as a group. This practice is not only allowed in Arizona, but also in North Dakota, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Washington, D.C.Arizona has a proposed rule before its supreme court to extend the practice to criminal cases, as well.“We felt that because it may run into some constitutional restraints, that we ought to tread lightly, and that is why we recommended it at the present time only for civil cases,” Shevin explained.A survey in Arizona showed that up to 44 percent of jurors admitted to discussing evidence even though the judge directed them not to, anyhow.Shevin shared the findings of a study presented to the Arizona Supreme Court:“Juror discussions during breaks in the trial help them understand the evidence as it comes in,” Shevin said. “It serves as an aid in remembering the evidence. It allows deliberations to be more focused, because they have already discussed much of the evidentiary foreground, and it helps reduce juror stress. Judges in Arizona report no known instances of new trials having to be granted at the trial level or on appeal, due to jury discussions.“And the study dispels the notion that allowing such discussion will encourage premature judgments about who should prevail. In addition, the report reflects high levels of judge and juror support for the change. Notably, jurors reported that, as a result of the discussions, they gained a much better grasp of the evidence. And that has been the report in all of the states that have tried it. We think it is a very important recommendation that was made by our committee.”For a synopsis of all 48 recommendations of committee, see the sidebar to the right. To read the complete 111-page report on the Supreme Court’s web page, go to www.flcourts.org/pubinfo/summaries/briefs/01/01-1226/index.html. Panel pushes plan to empower jurorslast_img read more

McFarlain to lead Judicial Qualifications Commission

first_img October 15, 2002 Associate Editor Regular News McFarlain to lead Judicial Qualifications Commission McFarlain to lead Judicial Qualifications Commission Jan Pudlow Associate Editor Richard McFarlain — the governor’s quick-witted golf partner, former general counsel of the Republican Party, former chief legislative counsel to The Florida Bar, and now general counsel of Florida State University—has a new role the first of the year.McFarlain has been elected chair of the Judicial Qualifications Commission, the constitutional state agency that investigates ethics complaints against state court judges and recommends discipline to the Florida Supreme Court. His two-year term begins January 1, 2003.“It’s the first time I’ve ever been elected to anything,” quipped McFarlain, 69.Elected as vice chair for the same term was First Judicial Circuit Judge John P. Kuder of Pensacola.First District Court of Appeal Judge James Wolf, the JQC’s current chair, nominated McFarlain, who was elected by the JQC at a meeting held in Tampa September 12.“Richard has a lot of experience both as a member, and he has both prosecuted cases and defended a number of judges. He knows the workings of the commission as well as anyone,” Judge Wolf said.“He’s an experienced lawyer who knows what goes on in the courtroom. And he’s one of the smartest lawyers I’ve met.”McFarlain began his work with the JQC in 1978, when he was retained as a special counsel to prosecute judges and continued in that role through 1984.At that point, McFarlain said, “I decided to switch sides. I guess I represented a judge or two every year until I came to FSU.”Last year, McFarlain became general counsel of FSU, where, he said, “I learn something new three times a day. It’s like a city of 35,000 people, most under age 25, and 1,800 with Ph.Ds.”He’ll still keep his challenging day job, while chairing the JQC — a sideline Judge Wolf said takes him about eight hours a week to accomplish.“It’s time-consuming,” Judge Wolf said. “People don’t realize what goes on behind the scenes. It’s very interesting and sometimes very stressful to do the right thing.”McFarlain said a large number of cases are about “people cranky about losing a case.”But he knows the solemnity of standing beside judges seriously reprimanded, too, shielding them from reporters’ questions as they left the Florida Supreme Court in shame.Before graduating from Stetson College of Law in 1964, McFarlain served as a top secret control officer with the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission in 1955-56, then served in Army Intelligence at The Pentagon, in 1956-58, followed by a stint as budget analyst with the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission in 1958-62.After he got his law degree, McFarlain worked at the Bar, first as assistant staff counsel from 1965-69, then as assistant executive director for legal affairs from 1969-76.On loan as special counsel for the American Bar Association Center for Professional Responsibility, McFarlain was involved during the Watergate Investigation in Washington, D.C., from 1973-74.He became general counsel for the Republican Party of Florida in 1990 and was often quoted in worldwide media accounts of the presidential election fiasco of 2000.last_img read more