A New Telescope 42,164 km From Earth Will Replace The Hubble In 2013

first_imgBy Dialogo February 15, 2010 A new ultraviolet telescope that will be put into orbit 42,164 kilometers from Earth and that will make it possible to make astronomical observations without interference from the atmosphere will be the successor to the Hubble beginning in 2013, its launch date. The Complutense University of Madrid (UCM) announced the World Space Observatory-Ultraviolet (WSO-UV) project, led by the Russian space agency Roscosmos with the participation of Spain, Germany, Ukraine, and China. The WSO-UV mission will fill the gap left by the Hubble space telescope at the end of its mission and will become the planet’s only astronomical observatory for ultraviolet imaging and spectroscopy in the 2013-2023 period, the UCM reported in a statement. The Hubble, launched in 1990, was the first telescope in space and is considered one of astronomy’s most valuable instruments. It has captured images of phenomena never before observed, such as stars surrounded by cosmic dust and the collision of galaxies, and has found evidence that the majority of the constellations have black holes at their centers, as well as determining the age of the universe.last_img read more

Obama to Ease Export Controls on Thousands of Military Items

first_imgBy Dialogo April 22, 2010 The Obama Administration is moving to ease export controls on thousands of military items sought by allies and other friendly countries, while toughening controls on the most sensitive high-technology material. The plan was announced by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who said it would likely increase exports, but is mainly aimed at improving security for the United States and its partners. Secretary Gates says the current system, last updated more than 20 years ago, makes it difficult for the United States to provide critical items to allied troops. He said it also hurts critical U.S. defense industries by driving some of the best scientists and engineers to work in other countries. Speaking to a business group in Washington, Gates outlined a plan to streamline the process of approving exports of most military gear, while enabling officials to focus on the most sensitive items. “We need a system that dispenses with the 95 per cent of easy cases and lets us concentrate our resources on the remaining five per cent,” said Robert Gates. “By doing so, we will be better able to monitor and enforce controls on technology transfers with real security implications, while helping to speed the provision of equipment to allies and partners who fight alongside us in coalition operations.” The current system involves two lists of restricted items maintained by two government departments, and two processes for approving export applications. Secretary Gates used words like Byzantine (ancient and complex), labyrinthine (complicated) and confusing to describe the system. Gates said it is even sometimes difficult to sell spare parts to countries that have already been allowed to purchase a major weapons system, like a fighter jet or military cargo plane. And he said even simple items, like nuts and bolts or low-technology gadgets available in stores, are often difficult to export if they have military origins. Gates said the administration will move in the coming months to consolidate the lists and the processes in a new agency, to create a new enforcement mechanism, and to seek congressional approval for further steps it wants to take by the end of this year. And he mentioned one other part of the plan.last_img read more

Brazilian Trains Colombian Men’s and Women’s Team in Military Pentathlon

first_img The 5th Military World Games have peace as its motto. In the Military Pentathlon, collaboration between countries is the mission. Major Hildebrand is Brazilian and acts as the coach of Colombia. According to his words, the love for his country continues. “It’s a very good experience for those who began the sport as an athlete cadet. Being Brazilian and training Colombia is my mission. But I only root for Brazilian athletes,” said the Major, who’s trained for 18 years in the Military Pentathlon. The man who since February of this year has trained the male and female teams of Colombia explained the work that’s being done in his current country. “Brazil and Venezuela, which are among the five best in the world [in Military Pentathlon], joined together to help Colombian Military Pentathlon grow. The intention is to place Colombia amongst the top ten,” said Major Hildebrand. By Dialogo July 19, 2011last_img read more

Without Everyone’s Participation, There is No Hemispheric Defense

first_imgBy Dialogo September 07, 2012 Interview with Army General, Daniel E. Castellá, Uruguayan Chief of Defense Army General, Daniel E. Castellá, Uruguayan Chief of Defense, took a break from his participation at the South American Defense Conference (SOUTHDEC 2012), in Bogotá, Colombia, from July 24-26, to grant Diálogo an exclusive interview. Gen. Castellá reflected on the role that the military has in unconventional and sometimes controversial, yet essential tasks for the country; as well as the need to carry out military operations in coordination with the hemispheric ministries of Defense. Diálogo: General Castellá, your presentation was on the modernization of the Armed Forces in Uruguay. Could you talk to us about this issue? General Daniel E. Castellá: The state’s need for professionalization, modernization and improvement in the efficiency of the Armed Forces, like any modernization process, necessarily involves an investment. This raises the need for balance in between the need for change, the budgetary possibilities (that are characterized by a process of planning the five-year expenditure), the political priorities and objectives that the National Defense Policy sets, in the assumption of the risks of political deficiencies that are not achieved. Modernizing and improving the efficiency of our Armed Forces, partly involves the modification of the structure of expenditure, readjusting the percentage of the budget destined for investments and operating costs destined for the operational aspects, and therefore, leading to a balanced distribution between them. The five-year budget allocation is fundamental for our modernization process to flourish. Currently, the budget of the Armed Forces is unbalanced. Of the 77 percent of the gross domestic product that the State intended for military defense, only 5 percent goes to investment, and a large percentage of it is assigned to supplies for administrators and not for operational purposes. Additionally, there is a trend to increase the proportion of operating costs (salaries and supplies) to the detriment of investment. Diálogo: In Uruguay, do the Armed Forces support the police as occurs in other countries in the region? Gen. Castellá: The Armed Forces make up the organized branch, equipped, educated and trained to execute the military acts that the National Defense imposes. Its fundamental mission is to defend the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, safeguarding the country’s strategic resources and contributing to the preservation of the republic’s peace. In times of peace, without failing to fulfill its core mission and under the express authorization of the Minister of Defense, the Armed Forces may provide services or collaboration in socially relevant or publicly convenient activities, which are framed precisely for public safety. Therefore, the fundamental mission of the Armed Forces should be the main criterion in organizing their forces’ design and use, while all secondary missions must not interrupt the required capabilities for the fulfillment of the primary mission. In accordance with Article 20 of the Constitutional Law of National Defense, , the Armed Forces could eventually participate in supporting the public security forces in tasks related to the preservation of order and peace in internal affairs, when called upon by the Armed Forces high command in the event of a serious internal crisis that has exceeds the capacity of state agencies and institutions, as defined by the Constitution. Diálogo: And when it comes to a natural disaster, relief to a neighboring country, is it also something that has to be authorized by the president? Gen. Castellá: The involvement of Military defense in extraordinary situations includes support during civil defense activities (conflict situations) and civil protection (catastrophic situations or natural disasters), with the goal of mitigating the negative effects and achieving prompt restoration of normal conditions of the lives of citizens. The participation of the Armed Forces during defense activities and civil protection is conducted by the National Emergency System (SINAE). Coordination and response is executed by management at the highest level, through the General Defense Staff’s advice to the Defense Minister to determine the scope and capabilities available for crisis and emergency response, both nationally and internationally. Diálogo: General Castellá, Brazil and Argentina have ceased to be drug transit countries, and have become consumers. Is this also occurring in Uruguay? Have you seen an increase in the violence as a result of drug trafficking? Gen. Castellá: Research from the Interior Ministry indicates there is an increase in violence from the consumption of drugs. It should be clear that these are issues that currently are not directly related with the mission assigned to the Armed Forces. Diálogo: What is importance of the bilateral or multilateral military agreements in combating this and other threats? Gen. Castellá: The general concept is to continue with the bilateral, regional and hemispheric meetings. We’re part of the regional Union of South American Nations; a defense system is also identified in Central America and the Caribbean, and there is another system certified by the United States, Canada and Mexico. We need to look for a way to coordinate these systems, perhaps through the hemisphere’s Defense Ministers. For this, these meetings must continue. The Defense Ministers of the Americas meeting would be the cusp, and from which all possible coordination would be conducted to guide the process of hemispheric security. So I think that it would be difficult to have a hemispheric defense system that does not take into account all the above mentioned systems. Picture 091012-General Daniel E Castellálast_img read more

Authorities Seize 25 Kilos of Marijuana from Colombian Soldiers

first_img Colombian authorities seized a total of 25 kilos of marijuana from soldiers that arrived in Tolemaida (central Colombia) at a military fort for a break, the Army said in a statement on December 13. According to the communiqué, intelligence reports indicated that military service members from Mobile Brigade 17, which arrived in Tolemaida on December 12 coming from the Cauca department (southeast), “were apparently carrying hallucinogens.” A verification procedure led authorities to seize “25 kilos of marijuana in several packages,” added the report. According to the Colombian Army, Military Commands were ordered to move forward with “investigations, to determine the responsible parties of this embarrassing situation, and then penalize them accordingly.” Cauca, a region with mainly indigenous population, is one of the most troubled areas in the Andean country, with a significant FARC presence and extensive coca and poppy crops (raw material for the development of cocaine and heroin), as well as marijuana. By Dialogo December 17, 2012last_img read more

Violent Deaths of Youth Increase in Honduras

first_imgBy Dialogo February 04, 2013 Violent deaths of young people under the age of 23 have increased in Honduras during the three years of Porfirio Lobo’s government, compared to former administrations, Casa Alianza, a non-governmental organization for the protection of children, reported on January 31. “During the 35 months (January 2010-December 2012) in the current administration of Porfirio Lobo, 2,782 deaths of young people in that age group have been reported”, the institution said in a 41 page statement. Casa Alianza, which started operations in Honduras in February 1998, has counted 8,005 executions of youngsters under the age of 23 as a result of a monthly based mass media monitoring. While in 1998 the rate was of 44.44 cases per month, during the current administration it climbed up to 79.48. “It can be seen that the monthly rate of violent deaths and/or executions of children and young people in Honduras are progressively increasing,” said the report. Only in December 2012, 80 young people under 23 died, of which 20 were children between 0 and 17 years old (25%), and 60 were between 18 and 23 (75%). A firearm was used in 87% of cases, and a knife or similar weapon in 7% of cases. According to the organization, “there is an execution pattern in cases where the corpses were found with signs of torture, shots in the head and torso, tied by the hands and feet, wrapped in sheets, heads in plastic bags and scotch tape, neck and shoulder wounds, dismembered corpses inside bags or left by some river or ravine.” Honduras is facing a wave of crime by which the country ranks first in homicides worldwide, with 92 per 100,000 inhabitants, according to the United Nations.last_img read more

Latin American Forces Help Haiti Even as MINUSTAH Reduces Presence

first_imgBy Dialogo March 18, 2013 PORT-AU-PRINCE — The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) was born out of UN Security Resolution 1582, ratified in April 2004 after the resignation of Haiti’s then-president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The resolution cited concerns of “human rights violations, particularly against civilians” as the prime cause for intervening in Haiti. MINUSTAH marks the first United Nations campaign that’s been led by and comprised almost exclusively of Latin American forces. Both Chile and Brazil have taken lead roles within MINUSTAH, with Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, Ecuador and Guatemala, among others, contributing to the effort. On Jan. 30, Brazil’s Ministry of Defense announced it would start to gradually reduce the number of military personnel sent to Haiti as part of MINUSTAH three years after the earthquake that devastated the Caribbean nation. At present, Brazil has 1,910 troops deployed, but this number will fall to 1,450 in June with the change of contingents, returning to the same number before the January 2010 earthquake struck Port-au-Prince and its environs, killing more than 250,000 people. The binational Chiecuengcoy contingent Its name is a tongue-twister, but the Chiecuengcoy contingent — formed by Ecuadorian and Chilean soldiers serving in MINUSTAH — has been crucial in the rebuilding of Haiti. Chiecuengcoy is an abbreviation for “Compañía de Ingenieros Chileno-Ecuatoriano de Construcciones Horizontales” [Chilean-Ecuadorian Horizontal Construction Company]. Its 156 soldiers — 90 from Chile and 66 from Ecuador — start each workday at 6 a.m. They’re involved in a variety of tasks, ranging from fixing roads and cleaning drainage ditches to building new structures and demolishing unstable ones that might collapse at any moment. MINUSTAH is in charge of assigning tasks, according to priorities set by the Haitian government and the resources provided by donor countries. “The Haitians are witnessing how we help to rebuild their country. Every day, they come to us to help us and look after us,” said team member Luís Fernando Guamán, who like his fellow soldiers works 12 to 16 hours a day. Meanwhile, El Salvador will also send 34 soldiers to join Chilean peacekeepers in Haiti. During a March 1 visit to San Salvador, Chilean Defense Minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter signed a memo of understanding with his Salvadoran counterpart, Defense Minister and Division Gen. José Atillo Benítez Parada. Under that agreement, Salvadoran soldiers will be trained in Chilean defense institutions and study under Chilean professors at defense academies in El Salvador. Benítez told the San Salvador newspaper El Mundo that his men already received “intense training” in Chile late last year. Ecuador focus on Artibonite area Ecuador’s work in Haiti did not begin with the magnitude-7.0 earthquake. It’s been sending peacekeepers here since 2004, when MINUSTAH was established. The current mission here is the 16th, with each contingent made up of 60 men. Members of the Chiecuengcoy contingent spend their days building roads and other infrastructure in Artibonite, three hours from Port-au-Prince. A major rice-growing area, Artibonite is one of Haiti’s 10 departments, comprising nearly 5,000 square kilometers and just over 1.3 million inhabitants. Ecuador also has given $13 million in grants, with that money going towards bridges and houses. A bilateral agreement signed between the two countries in July 2012 has made another $15 million available for construction of schools and clinics. Ecuador’s “Blue Helmets” have built 138 bridges and 145 kilometers of roads, according to MINUSTAH. Its peacekeeping troops have also cleared irrigation canals and provided water to shelters and orphanages in densely populated areas. “At first, I suffered so much discomfort because of the heat,” said one Ecuadorian soldier, Darwin Cusquilcuma. “But living in this country, with so many disadvantages, has helped us to appreciate what we have. Our daily interactions with Haitians — especially the children — are one of our warmest memories.”last_img read more

Colombia Fights FARC’s Recruitment of Minors

first_img Recruitment of minors on the rise since 2002 The campaign reaches beyond seminars, pamphlets, and radio and TV commercials. As part of the initiative, the Colombian federal government has trained thousands of members of the Armed Forces in prevention efforts and protocols to be followed when dealing with minors who escaped or were rescued from the FARC. Since the defense minister launched the program, the campaign has reached more than 33,500 people in dozens of high-risk municipalities throughout the country. Colombian military authorities are working cooperatively with civilian agencies to prevent the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) from recruiting children and adolescents. The campaign reaches beyond seminars, pamphlets, and radio and TV commercials. As part of the initiative, the Colombian federal government has trained thousands of members of the Armed Forces in prevention efforts and protocols to be followed when dealing with minors who escaped or were rescued from the FARC. In addition to conferences and a broad media campaign that includes t-shirts, pamphlets and radio and television commercials, “Enough, here I am free” also sponsors “Play for Life,” a series of seminars conducted in 14 municipalities to promote sports such as soccer as positive alternatives to drugs and violence. The soldiers took care of her and quickly placed her in the custody of Colombia’s Family Welfare Institute. “Illegal recruitment happens every day,” said Col. Carlos Lasprilla, chief of the Illegal Recruitment Prevention Unit for the Ministry of Defense. “It is a systematic practice for the FARC, the National Liberation Army (ELN) and criminal gangs (BACRIM)”. Soldiers put those protocols to use on October 21 in the Department of Antioquia, where the Colombian National Army engaged in a series of gun battles with FARC operatives. After the fighting, they found a 14 year-old-girl crying next to the lifeless body of a man known by the alias “Chamaría,” who was the leader of FARC’s Fifth Front. The 36-year-old terrorist illegally recruited the girl in 2012, when he removed her from her family. Helping children who once worked for the FARC Soldiers put those protocols to use on October 21 in the Department of Antioquia, where the Colombian National Army engaged in a series of gun battles with FARC operatives. After the fighting, they found a 14 year-old-girl crying next to the lifeless body of a man known by the alias “Chamaría,” who was the leader of FARC’s Fifth Front. The 36-year-old terrorist illegally recruited the girl in 2012, when he removed her from her family. The FARC is the largest terrorist group involved in the recruitment of children and teenagers, but other illegal organizations also target the young. Since 2002, more than 4,000 minors have been linked to illegal armed groups, according to the Group for the Humanitarian Assistance to the Demobilized (GAHD), which is a Ministry of Defense entity. Between 5,000 and 18,000 minors are currently in the ranks of Colombian terrorist groups and criminal gangs, according to estimates by the United Nations (UN). “Minors do not think about risks. The recruiters are taking advantage of that,” said Col. Lasprilla. “In 50 years, the guerrillas have not made one, single gesture towards freeing these children. We must rescue them.” In fact, some FARC fronts rely heavily on minors. For example, about 60 percent of the FARC’s Seventh and First fronts consist of children and adolescents, according to federal government estimates. The FARC, ELN, and BACRIMS are particularly active recruiting minors in Antioquia – the most severely affected department – as well as Guaviare, Tolima, Meta, Norte de Santander, Cauca and Nariño, according to the Ministry of Defense. “These groups have been committing this crime for 50 years now, and unfortunately, these crimes have been invisible,” Col. Lasprilla said. Since the defense minister launched the program, the campaign has reached more than 33,500 people in dozens of high-risk municipalities throughout the country. Since Pinzón announced the program, the Ministry of Defense has organized hundreds of workshops to educate children, adolescents and parents about the false promises of FARC recruiters. FARC operatives often try to lure children and adolescents with the prospect of money, but those inducements are hollow; many end up working in remote camps for little or no money, with little food, and with no opportunities to contact their families. Helping children who once worked for the FARC Through various programs, more than a half-dozen military and civilian organizations are participating in the effort, including the Colombian National Army, the Ministry of Defense, the Prosecutor’s Office, the Office of the Ombudsman, the Police Group to Protect Children and Adolescents, the Family Welfare Institute, and others. Minister of Defense Juan Carlos Pinzón launched the initiative in November 2011, when he announced the “Enough, here I am free” program. This is a national campaign to raise awareness about the FARC’s efforts to recruit youngsters. Throughout the country, military and police authorities have made similar rescues of teenagers and children who had been recruited by the FARC. In mid-October, police in the Department of Tolima rescued a girl, 13, and a boy, 15, who reported that they had been physically and psychologically abused during the several months they were with the guerrilla group. And in September, the Army freed five minors from the FARC in the Department of Cauca. The terrorist group had forced one of the minors, who was only 10, to participate in grueling physical training. The FARC is the largest terrorist group involved in the recruitment of children and teenagers, but other illegal organizations also target the young. In fact, some FARC fronts rely heavily on minors. For example, about 60 percent of the FARC’s Seventh and First fronts consist of children and adolescents, according to federal government estimates. The FARC, ELN, and BACRIMS are particularly active recruiting minors in Antioquia – the most severely affected department – as well as Guaviare, Tolima, Meta, Norte de Santander, Cauca and Nariño, according to the Ministry of Defense. Illegal armed groups take advantage of the poverty that thousands of minors and their families endure in rural areas, according to the GAHD. Additionally to promising them money, terrorist recruiters lure children and teenagers with promises of power and material goods that they would otherwise be unable to purchase on their own, such as cellphones and computer tablets. In addition to conferences and a broad media campaign that includes t-shirts, pamphlets and radio and television commercials, “Enough, here I am free” also sponsors “Play for Life,” a series of seminars conducted in 14 municipalities to promote sports such as soccer as positive alternatives to drugs and violence. Since 2002, more than 4,000 minors have been linked to illegal armed groups, according to the Group for the Humanitarian Assistance to the Demobilized (GAHD), which is a Ministry of Defense entity. Between 5,000 and 18,000 minors are currently in the ranks of Colombian terrorist groups and criminal gangs, according to estimates by the United Nations (UN). The FARC, the ELN, and organized crime groups began stepping up their recruitment of minors since about 2002. Some of the FARC’s leaders have established specific goals for the number of children and teenagers they want to recruit, and to meet those quotas they’ll target children as young as 8 years old. Recruitment of minors on the rise since 2002 Illegal armed groups take advantage of the poverty that thousands of minors and their families endure in rural areas, according to the GAHD. Additionally to promising them money, terrorist recruiters lure children and teenagers with promises of power and material goods that they would otherwise be unable to purchase on their own, such as cellphones and computer tablets. By Dialogo December 05, 2014 Colombian military authorities are working cooperatively with civilian agencies to prevent the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) from recruiting children and adolescents. “Illegal recruitment happens every day,” said Col. Carlos Lasprilla, chief of the Illegal Recruitment Prevention Unit for the Ministry of Defense. “It is a systematic practice for the FARC, the National Liberation Army (ELN) and criminal gangs (BACRIM)”. Throughout the country, military and police authorities have made similar rescues of teenagers and children who had been recruited by the FARC. In mid-October, police in the Department of Tolima rescued a girl, 13, and a boy, 15, who reported that they had been physically and psychologically abused during the several months they were with the guerrilla group. And in September, the Army freed five minors from the FARC in the Department of Cauca. The terrorist group had forced one of the minors, who was only 10, to participate in grueling physical training. The soldiers took care of her and quickly placed her in the custody of Colombia’s Family Welfare Institute. Through various programs, more than a half-dozen military and civilian organizations are participating in the effort, including the Colombian National Army, the Ministry of Defense, the Prosecutor’s Office, the Office of the Ombudsman, the Police Group to Protect Children and Adolescents, the Family Welfare Institute, and others. Minister of Defense Juan Carlos Pinzón launched the initiative in November 2011, when he announced the “Enough, here I am free” program. This is a national campaign to raise awareness about the FARC’s efforts to recruit youngsters. “These groups have been committing this crime for 50 years now, and unfortunately, these crimes have been invisible,” Col. Lasprilla said. The FARC, the ELN, and organized crime groups began stepping up their recruitment of minors since about 2002. Some of the FARC’s leaders have established specific goals for the number of children and teenagers they want to recruit, and to meet those quotas they’ll target children as young as 8 years old. Since Pinzón announced the program, the Ministry of Defense has organized hundreds of workshops to educate children, adolescents and parents about the false promises of FARC recruiters. FARC operatives often try to lure children and adolescents with the prospect of money, but those inducements are hollow; many end up working in remote camps for little or no money, with little food, and with no opportunities to contact their families. “Minors do not think about risks. The recruiters are taking advantage of that,” said Col. Lasprilla. “In 50 years, the guerrillas have not made one, single gesture towards freeing these children. We must rescue them.” Every action taken to benefit youth is welcomed, but as long as there is poverty and marginalization of education, health and employment, there will always be other illegitimate forms of survival. The government must enforce the rights of every Colombian using the public forces in all of Colombia. Please, the channel has been damaged since Sunday and we have not been able to see the news or any programs. All you can see are lines Sadly, the Santos administration and the military forces have knelt before the FARC and outlaw groups. Great for the good job they do in saving human beings Santos subjugated the military forces in order to keep the FARC criminals happy It means to be with family and all together share something very special Congratulations Colombia President Dr. Juan Manuel Santos God the most Holy enlighten the paths of our Colombian army to move forward with the peace process so that the insurgents return to the path of freedom they are human beings to be reintegrated into their families, in their homes in spite of being kept away from the light of hope and its strengthening hope shines to bring back their rights the holy Virgin and the Lord will enlighten them. We are nothing, we are all the same, no to discrimination long live decency and human development of a person’s being. Mr. Alvira talking about the pothole filling machine on the news, I don’t know how supervision works on how it effectively carries out its assigned function, but in April-March 2014 they came to Hwy 8 and 69 and filled the craters and today we again see the deterioration of this highway, more precisely in front of Hwy 8, Num. 69-70 THE COLOMBIAN PEOPLE SHOULD SUPPORT, EXPRESSLY AND TACITLY, THE COLOMBIAN ARMY IN THIS EFFORT AGAINST TERRORISM As long as the media continues to teach youth how those who commit crime do it, youth will continue to learn how to commit crimes…HUMBERTO GUARIN GOMEZlast_img read more

Colombia Launches New Efforts Against Illegal Mining Operations

first_imgThis is the only way to produce true change and avoid a greater environmental catastrophe, Lt. Col. Luque said. “The real losers of this phenomenon are Colombia’s future generations.” “Corruption is the backbone of illegal mining,” Lt. Col. Luque said, “and unless we stop it, we won’t have a chance at success.” Security forces destroyed five backhoe loaders worth nearly $800,000 (about $2.4 billion pesos) that allegedly belonged to the ELN and halted all illegal mining activities in a 360-hectare area. Repairing the environmental damage caused by the illegal mining operation will cost almost $100 billion pesos (approximately $30 million), according to the Army. This was the first coordinated effort of the Army’s Special Brigade against Illegal Mining, an elite unit that security authorities formed in October. The Brigade’s mission is to battle the proliferation of illicit gold, coal, emerald, and gravel mines. These illicit operations have replaced drug trafficking as the main source of income for many organized crime groups. The underground gold mines in Buriticá, in the department of Antioquia, are good examples. Canadian company Continental Gold has the only mining permit to operate in the area. Legal miners working for the company extract around 6,000 ounces of gold annually. Meanwhile, illegal miners have dug nearly 900 kilometers of tunnels in the mountain under precarious conditions and have extracted about 60,000 ounces of gold annually, according to Continental Gold records corroborated by the Special Brigade against Illegal Mining. Those engaging in illegal mining are motivated by money. An illegal miner can earn more than $8 million pesos (approximately $2,500) a month, more than 10 times the monthly minimum wage, and several times more than they could earn as a legal miner or even as an illegal coca producer. Currently, a kilogram of coca – the main ingredient used to make cocaine – can be sold in Bogotá for about $4.5 million pesos (approximately $1,500), while a kilogram of gold can reach prices of up to $90 million pesos (about $30,000), according to Army intelligence. Environmental damage By Dialogo February 25, 2016 Illegal mining has grown exponentially in Colombia in recent years, according to Colombian Military Intelligence. Organized crime groups have increased their income from such enterprises, according to Lt. Col. Luque, and the rising price of gold and the devaluation of the Colombian peso have increased their monetary yield. A growing problem Criminal organizations throughout the country have tried to exploit these trends. Some, for example, have extorted miners who are not affiliated with organized crime, providing them with equipment and forcing them to extract precious metals, such as gold and gems, including emeralds. In some instances, organized crime groups directly run illegal mining operations. For example, in December, National Police agents captured 14 alleged members of the Clan Úsuga organized crime group suspected of running an illegal mining operation in the Urabá Gulf region, near Colombia’s border with Panama. Current numbers are not available, but according to the most recent mining census released in 2011 by the Ministry of Energy and Mines, at least 63 percent of all mines in Colombia operate illegally. The census also stated that when it comes to gold mines, that figure rises to 90.9 percent, meaning that about one out of every 10 gold mines in the country is paying taxes and operating under the minimum legal requirements dictated by the Ministry of Energy and Mines. The Special Brigade against Illegal Mining is starting an investigation into the importers of mining materials and the entities in charge of overseeing them. It is also preparing new, interagency-coordinated operations that aim to destroy mining equipment, offer financial options for miners, and establish a sustained Military presence that prevents illegal groups from returning. Criminal organizations like the ELN, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, Clan Úsuga, and other so-called BACRIMs (criminal groups) all charge a fee for every ounce mined in their territories, and then an extra fee for any ounce that leaves or for any machinery or any materials that come in or out. Therefore, they can earn around $6 billion pesos (approximately $2 million) a month from a mining complex like the one near the San Bingo River in Cauca – all of it without their men having to mine a single gram of gold. Colombian National Army Troops, police officers, and Attorney General’s Office agents dismantled a major illegal mining operation run by the National Liberation Army (ELN) along the San Bingo River, a once fast-flowing waterway in the jungles of the southwestern department of Cauca. The environmental damage caused by illegal mining is also growing exponentially, as the San Bingo River clearly demonstrates. A recent report by the country’s Office of the Ombudsman carried out in six departments reveals that Colombia is losing almost 16,700 hectares of forests to illegal mining every year, and wasting more than 13 million cubic meters of water, the total used on average each year by more than 4,500 U.S. citizens. And that does not take into account the water that is poisoned by the mercury used in the gold mines next to river beds, according to Col. Luque. The reasons are clear: 3.4 kilograms of imported mercury are sold for $7 million pesos (about $2,300), while a kilogram in the black market can be sold for about $12 million pesos (approximately $4,000). As for heavy machinery, it is often illegally insured in such a way that criminals are often repaid for the backhoe loaders and other equipment that are destroyed as part of any Police and Army operations, according to an investigation by the Special Brigade against Illegal Mining. “Drug trafficking is now a part of history,” said Lieutenant Colonel Carlos Eduardo Luque of the Special Brigade against Illegal Mining. “It’s not as it used to be before. Today, the money is in illegal mining.” This specific illegal activity can all be traced to corruption by some business people, according to Lt. Col. Luque. Colombia has strict laws regulating the import and distribution of the main elements required for large-scale underground or river mining, such as mercury, explosives, and heavy machinery. Nevertheless, criminals procure these elements by corrupting key people in the industries that can legally acquire them. last_img read more

Honduras and the Dominican Republic Promote Navy Cadet Exchange

first_imgBy Kay Valle/Diálogo May 04, 2018 In early January 2018, a Honduran naval cadet entered the Vice Admiral César Augusto De Windt Lavandier Naval Academy in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Cadet Darwin José Pinto Osorto will study at the Dominican Naval Academy until 2021. His enrollment is part of an educational exchange both countries agreed to. The objective is to strengthen cooperation and increase interoperability of the naval forces. The exchange also reflects the trust between both countries and bolsters the bond of friendship of future military officers. “The benefits are wide ranging,” Navy Commander Alexander Carvajal Bocanegra, commandant of the Honduran Naval Academy, told Diálogo. “They begin with education, knowledge of other cultures, and friendship among colleagues who will be able to coordinate the naval forces’ affairs in the future.” The Honduran Navy received a female Dominican Navy cadet for the first time. Midshipman Nikaury Yaribel Nuñez de Oleo began her military academic training in January 2015 at the Honduran Naval Academy located in La Ceiba, a port city in the northern coast of Honduras. When she graduates in 2018, Midshipman Nuñez will be the first Dominican woman with a degree in Naval Sciences from the Honduran Naval Academy. Lasting cooperation The exchange of Honduran and Dominican cadets dates back to 1988, when the two countries signed the educational agreement. In 1989, the first Honduran cadet traveled to Santo Domingo to begin his studies at the Dominican Naval Academy. “Honduras didn’t have a naval academy until 2000,” said Cmdr. Carvajal. “The goal was to start having officers with naval training at the beginning of their studies.” Today, military academy exchanges between the two countries are regulated by the Central American Armed Forces Conference (CFAC, in Spanish), which was created in 1997 and comprises Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic. Together, partner nations not only analyze and combat shared threats, but also work on training their troops and future officers. High standards “The opportunities we can enjoy are numerous,” Midshipman Nuñez told Diálogo. “Although this career isn’t easy, it is very rewarding for me to know that, through my profession, I can make my loved ones proud and motivate others who want a military career.” After completing competitive examinations and evaluations to study abroad, the selected grant recipients are sent to a CFAC naval school chosen by the organization. Every year, an average of 30 navy cadets participate in the scholastic exchange between CFAC member countries. Hundreds of cadets from Central America benefited from the program since its inception. “A few colleagues were sent to other countries,” said Midshipman Nuñez. “[I am] pleased that Honduras has a naval academy that, despite being relatively new, has instructors and officers who graduated abroad, and those in charge hold the education to high standards.” The navy cadets’ program consists of theoretical training in the morning made up of general classes, classes specific to navy and military issues, and sciences. In the afternoon, cadets carry out physical education geared toward military training and sports activities. “From 07:00 to 12:00, they receive academic instruction, fostering a spirit of self-sacrifice in the exercise of their work,” said Cmdr. Carvajal. “From 18:30 to 21:00, cadets have mandatory study time to reinforce the topics they learned about during the day.” The future officers will graduate with a degree in Naval Sciences with the rank of ensign. During their studies, they will develop skills and abilities to become competent in the navigation of surface units to be able to carry out operational functions during missions for their respective naval forces. For Midshipman Nuñez, the experience with her classmates from the Honduran school was enjoyable. “Over the years, we learned to work and struggle as a team in a wide range of activities,” she said. “Also, I’m from an island, and I like the sea. Being in the Navy is the best way for me to do everything I like.” Cadet Pinto also appreciates the opportunity and hopes to be able to serve his homeland one day. “It’s a great experience to share with my foreign colleagues, who have been a great help since I entered the school,” Cadet Pinto said. “I’m achieving a goal that I’ve had since childhood, and I’m very happy to represent my country, Honduras, in our sister nation, the Dominican Republic.”last_img read more