Diálogo: Criminal gangs have also been a real scourge for the Colombian society. Are they still a serious problem today? Diálogo: Today you were very positive about the U.S.’s Plan Colombia, and what it has meant for your country. How important is the U.S. Military collaboration and of regional nations? Diálogo: Illegal mining has become a very important source of profit for the FARC. How are you addressing this problem? Diálogo: Minister Pinzón, you said that you hope Colombia becomes the most hostile territory for drug trafficking and that you aspire to reach a level of security that allows the State to access areas that were unreachable before. What steps is Colombia taking in this respect? More importantly, we are moving forward towards establishing the necessary measures to guarantee the protection of the civil population. By incorporating IHL standards into our legislation, we are incorporating the principles and concepts promoted by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for internal armed conflict situations. Colombian citizens are more and more concerned with everyday security; it is their routine situation. This shows the evolution that the security problem has undergone in Colombia. A few years ago, citizens were concerned with living and being free, but now the concern is more centered on having a normal life. Diálogo: Some of the latest changes in the field of security include the addition of 20,000 positions to the Colombian National Police. What does this measure respond to? Diálogo: What are the consequences of illegal mining on the Colombian environment? Minister Pinzón: The impact is very serious. It is perhaps our biggest concern. One of Colombia’s main assets – and of other countries in this hemisphere – is environmental wealth: non-renewable resources. As its main asset, it should be exploited in a sustainable, balanced way, with regulation that guarantees the use of that resource for centuries. Illegal mining, as well as drug trafficking, are predators. They pillage the environment and tropical forests; they leave pools filled with poisonous cyanide and mercury that are not degradable for hundreds, even thousands of years, according to experts. Minister Pinzón: Criminal gangs are the heirs to regional cartels and inaccurately-called paramilitary groups. These organizations used to have a national presence, and exercised control through violence and intimidation of territories where they had special interests in business involving drug trafficking and criminal mining. Through the efforts made by our current government and the National Police’s ‘Corazón Verde’ strategy against criminal gangs, in which the legal system and law enforcement are employed instead of military force, we have been able to disrupt each one of these gangs in the last 15 months. All those who in early 2012 led these organizations are now either dead or serving time in Colombian or U.S. prisons. As a consequence, we have destroyed their national command structures, and they now survive as local criminal organizations. The challenge now is to dismantle these local and regional criminal groups, which will obviously be affected by the strategies I previously referenced. We have to come up with a strategy for eradication, interdiction, and prosecution in areas where coca crops and cocaine production centers are still operational, but also have options and alternatives available for social order. About a year and a half ago, the Colombian government created the National Consolidation Agency in order to formalize, among other things, the state’s ability to introduce permanent policies that complement the use of force in isolated and deprived areas, and coordinate those with social policies from the rest of the government agencies. Now we must ensure that this agency is producing effective results in order to have a combination of a firm hand against drug trafficking and criminal organizations, and a helping hand ready to provide opportunities and alternatives to the community. By Dialogo April 16, 2013 Juan Carlos Pinzón, Colombian Minister of Defense: Drug trafficking is perhaps one of the greatest tragedies that affected Colombia, because it arrived several decades ago and found areas where state and public force presence was not strong enough, undoubtedly a situation with little opportunity. Hence, drug trafficking colonized these areas, and through the money it generated – because undoubtedly there’s consumption from richer countries – produced corruption, terrorism and violence. The influence and expansion of the drug trade was such that it became a threat against the Colombian state, not in terms of public health, but specifically of national security. Minister Pinzón: This is an ongoing plan. Currently, 10,000 out of the 20,000 positions have been filled, and we expect the other 10,000 to follow suit in the next 15 months. What we are trying to do is strengthen the capabilities of our Police to confront the challenges that affect the Colombian society; challenges that are closely associated with citizen safety and security, with the normal life that citizens should have. In a sense, a post-conflict stage is already taking place in several areas of the country. These, as seen in other nations, are characterized by the possibility of more common crime and violence. That’s why we’re gaining volume, so that the Police can address these challenges. Wheather peace is achieved by reason – as President Santos has suggested and as the Colombian people wish – or by force, which is how the Armed Forces have had to build this future for the Colombian people, the Armed Forces have a very important future in Colombia. On one hand, they will be devoted to protecting the environment, the water and natural resources, our borders to exercise our sovereignty. On the other hand, there is a great future for our Armed Forces, including contributing by means of security cooperation in the hemisphere, providing that experience to Central America, the Caribbean, South America, and to any partner nation in need. At the same time, due to their experience, the Colombian Armed Forces can collaborate in international peace and stabilization missions; they can contribute to development by effectively utilizing military aviation engineers, naval engineers in Colombian rivers and coastlines, bringing development, bringing work, responding to the humanitarian needs of Colombians in an effective way. Finally, disaster assistance is of crucial importance. Today they already play that role, but in the future it may gain even more relevance. Diálogo: What impact do the recent changes to the Colombian Constitution have on the work performed by the Colombian Military? Of course, the door towards a negotiated peace that was opened by President Santos would shorten the time for Colombia to reach the end of the conflict, at least with the FARC. Hopefully, peace in Colombia will be reached by means of reason, but it will continue to be built by force if necessary: the force of legality and democracy. Illegal mining is not only an attack on the Colombian environment, but against the planet and humanity as a whole. Minister Pinzón: First, let me respond to the present, and then the future. Currently, the Colombian Military and Police Forces will continue – and must continue – to exert pressure and weaken all criminal and terrorist organizations that are threatening civil rights. The pressure will not only be maintained, but it will be intensified if possible, so that we can establish peace. If peace is ever achieved in Colombia, it will be due to the heroic work of Soldiers and Police members that have been undermining the FARC, the ELN [National Liberation Army], criminal gangs, drug traffickers… The country can now start to dream of peace and prosperity thanks to all this. However, to achieve this, we have to maintain this pressure and keep moving forward. Diálogo: Minister Pinzón, you grew up in a Colombia that was marked by conflict with guerrillas. As a Colombian citizen, do you foster hopes of having your two children grow up in a conflict-free Colombia? Minister Pinzón: The first thing, I insist, is to have the Armed Forces continue carrying out their duty: maintain pressure. On the other hand, the government should evaluate different alternatives. This is not the first time that a demobilization and reintegration process is presented in Colombia. Surely, the country will be able to look at our own experiences – as well as international experiences – to define the most adequate way to carry out this reintegration. In any case, I think the best way to do so is through an agency or group of agencies to guarantee that the fight against illicit crops conrinues, that works towards the development of isolated regions and, at the same time, to ensure that those who took to arms to spread terror and crime do not relapse. Minister Pinzón: Drug trafficking is still the main source of profit for terrorist groups. However, since this source of profit has been reduced by counter drug efforts from the Colombian government in close cooperation with the United States, some of of the armed groups have migrated to mining, exploiting it illegally to generate a similar significant income. We are confronting this problem through prosecution, with the National Police ‘carabineros’, whose mission is to protect rural areas and the environment, and the Military in support of that effort. The Military is responsible for pursuing armed groups that are profitting from this activity, while the Police operate in areas of illegal mining along with environmental and administrative authorities from each region. Diálogo: If peace talks in Havana end with a peace agreement, what will happen to the nearly 8,000 armed FARC members? We have been working on a concept called Armed Forces Transformation Plan, which seeks to strengthen the Armed Forces’ capabilities to fulfill those humanitarian, development, diplomacy and environmental and sovereignty protection missions that are so important to us, independently from the future scenarios we may face. Minister Pinzón: U.S. support through Plan Colombia has been a fundamental element in reaching the important achievements in the field of security that we have gained through a decade of close cooperation. We have created a great partnership with the United States. Between U.S. and Colombian Militaries there is a community of values regarding democracy, freedom, and the rights of every citizen in a modern society. Plan Colombia allowed a better approach through training, learning doctrine, executing joint operations. Important Colombia has made tremendous efforts and sacrifices to counter drug trafficking in a decisive way. It is due to these efforts that drug trafficking today is roughly 30 percent less than what it was 10 or 12 years ago. This means that we still have a challenge; we have to keep reducing that destabilizing factor in the Colombian society. However, we are exerting more and more pressure, and we have limited their operations severely, lessening the threat to the nation. Minister Pinzón: We have been working on a comprehensive reform of the legal framework upon which the Armed Forces are allowed to act and operate. This involved a constitutional amendment that very clearly defined the setting in which the Armed Forces can operate, in relation to International Humanitarian Law (IHL). This defines the limits of military penal law, defines its autonomy and generates basic guidelines to investigate cases that are familiar to that law under the framework of IHL. More recently, a statutory law was introduced in Congress to support these constitutional reforms. By blending Colombian Law with IHL, the law defines what are potentially legitimate targets as well as what can be considered an armed group, without implying that an armed group has political rights. With that in place, we can identify that an organization with a unified command and control could be considered an armed group if the intensity of violence they exert and the amount of weapons it uses surpasses its capacity to be handled by law enforcement or competent local authorities, and which, at the same time, supresses the authorities with that violence, generating certain control on the territory. Juan Carlos Pinzón, Colombian Minister of Defense, believes that his children will grow up in a country at peace. During a recent visit to the United States, Pinzón talked to Diálogo about the weakened guerillas, disrupted criminal gangs, and a nation that is getting closer to living a normal life. He said that thanks to the work of the Military and Police Forces, Colombia can now start dreaming of peace and prosperity. With the accumulated experience, Colombia has not only been able to change its security situation, but is now also in a position to help and cooperate with other nations in the hemisphere, always aiming to continue to learn and strengthen its capabilities. This is an act of humility by an Armed Force that is aware of the dynamic, ever-changing, environment of security. These forces have experience and capabilities available to support other nations with security problems, and which have something to gain from Colombia. Interview with the Colombian Minister of Defense, Juan Carlos Pinzón Minister Pinzón: I think so, because what is known as ‘conflict’ – the confrontation against the FARC, ELN and so-called Bacrims – is going to end sooner or later, due to the heroic efforts made by our Military and Police forces. Nowadays, all those organizations have been seriously weakened, and they dwarf the powerful organizations they were about 10 or 15 years ago. In the last five years, criminal organizations have been practically fragmented and crushed. This means that if we maintain this trend, in time, the problems of Colombian citizens will not be very different from the problems in other parts of the hemisphere; we have already gained ground in some areas. Within the framework of IHL, this measure allows proportional military force to be used against these organizations, or even that law enforcement authorities may act against them. This puts in place a proportional state response supported by a clear legal framework, depending on the type of threat that the Colombian society is facing. Furthermore, it assures the Armed Forces that if the necessary protocols for the use of military force are established, they will be legally allowed to operate whenever necessary, which also gives the Military and Police Forces legal certainty, an essential factor for their effective operation. Diálogo: Let’s talk about the future, hopefully the immediate future… What role will the Armed Forces have if peace talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) are successful?
Cooperation between Guatemalan and U.S. authorities is proving to be an effective tactic in the fight against international drug trafficking. For the third time since March, Guatemala has extradited a drug trafficking suspect to the United States: Byron Linares Cordón, who was delivered into U.S. custody September 23. There, federal prosecutors in the District of Colombia have charged Linares Cordón with trafficking massive amounts of cocaine into the United States. And federal prosecutors in Florida have charged him with conspiracy to import drugs into the country. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency places him as second in command under Otto Herrera García – another narco-trafficker who, in 2008, was extradited from Guatemala to the U.S.. In the spring, prior to Linares Cordón’s departure from Guatemala, the country extradited two other alleged major drug traffickers to the United States: Juan Alberto Ortíz-López – also known as “Chamale” and “Juanito” – and Waldemar Lorenzana Lima. Lorenzana Lima, also known as “The Patriarch,” was captured in April 2011 by Public Ministry anti-narcotics agents and National Civil Police (PNC) agents. The arrest came after an extradition request from the United States. The Patriarch filed multiple motions to avoid delivery to the U.S., but a Guatemalan appeals court denied the last in July 2013. The Patriarch conspired with the Sinaloa Cartel, a Mexican transnational criminal organization, to traffic large amounts of drugs. He pleaded guilty in the U.S. to conspiring cocaine to the United States. No sentencing date has been sent. “For years, members of the Lorenzana family smuggled cocaine to the United States with impunity,” Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Acting Special Agent in Charge Robert Patterson said after The Patriarch’ guilty plea. Meanwhile, two of The Patriarch’s children – also alleged members of his drug trafficking organization – have been captured by Guatemalan security forces and are awaiting extradition to the U.S. A third remains at large. The other suspect recently extradited to the U.S., Chamale, faces a possible sentence of life in prison if he is convicted of drug trafficking charges in Florida. Guatemalan soldiers and police captured Chamale at his home in the city of Quetzaltenango on March 30, 2011. At the time, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration alleged that Chamale led one of the largest drug trafficking organizations in Guatemala. His organization allegedly transported multi-ton shipments of cocaine from Guatemala through Mexico and into the U.S., according to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). U.S. federal prosecutors have charged Chamale with “conspiring with other persons, to possess with the intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine” as well as “knowing and intending that such substance would be unlawfully imported into the United States,” according to an FBI press release. The best of the best it is already signed By Dialogo September 26, 2014
One vessel, the patrol boat Almirante Didiez Burgos (PA-301), ARD., paid an official visit to the port of Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, and sailed around the Netherlands Antilles. Meanwhile, the other two — Coast Guard boats Orion GC-109, ARD., and Altair, GC-112, ARD. — conducted exercises and patrols in Dominican territorial waters. “In 2013 in Colombia some of our cadets participated in the Unitas exercises and in 2014 some participated in the Basic Course Regional Training Command for Peacekeeping Operations (CREOMPAZ) in Guatemala,” said an ARD spokesman, who asked not to be identified by name. “They have also participated in International Sails Cruises aboard the training ships of Venezuela, Colombia, Argentina, Chile, etc.” After completing the other phases of their training, the crew of the Almirante Didiez Burgos laid a wreath at the bust of Brigadier General Juan Pablo Duarte Diez, (1813-1876), one of the founding fathers of the Dominican Republic, during a ceremony at the Almirante Padilla Naval Cadet School of the city of Cartagena de Indias. That presentation was made by Dominican Republic Navy Commander V. Bisonó and Captain Juan Camilo Forero Hauzeur, the Deputy Director of the Naval School of Cadets, who said the event was an opportunity “to strengthen ties between members of the two Armed Forces and strengthen the ties that bind the sea, such as Naval tradition.” Partners throughout Latin America are helping the ARD train to counter such threats. For example, during its visit to Cartegena, the Almirante Didiez Burgos visited the country’s Almirante Padilla Naval Cadet School; there, four Dominican Caders are studying to become Naval Officers through a cooperative agreement between the countries’ navies. ARD service members participate in joint training operations through such arrangements in Latin America throughout the year. Midshipmen Summer 2015 helps ARD service members prepare to meet the challenges imposed by organized crime groups trying to take advantage of the country’s location in the Caribbean. Such organizations often use maritime routes in the Caribbean to traffic narcotics, weapons and people. The Dominican Navy evolves to confront new threats Three Dominican Republic Navy (ARD) vessels recently completed Midshipmen Summer 2015, an annual two-week training course where Midshipmen perform on a ship what they were taught in classrooms. They carried out search and rescue missions, plotted navigation courses on charts, performed electronic and celestial navigation and administered first aid, among other exercises, before returning to the Naval Post station of Sans Souci on June 30. The Dominican Navy’s traditional role has been focused on “civil-Military operations, defense and coastal security, environmental care and protection, disaster mitigation, both natural and man-made, and maritime security, among other [responsibilities],” said an ARD spokesman, who asked not to be identified by name. But today, he added, Dominican Navy personnel trains “in the fight against drug trafficking, illegal fishing, smuggling (contraband in general), organized crime, common crime, terrorism and other challenges that may arise.” The training has proven useful in efforts such as that launched on January 18, when the Dominican Navy deployed three cutters and two interceptor go-fast boats as part of Amphibious Shield, a security operation in the country’s northern and southern regions to combat organized crime groups who exploit natural resources and traffic narcotics, weapons, humans and contraband, such as untaxed cigarettes. By Dialogo July 31, 2015
By Marian Romero / Diálogo June 09, 2017 Testing, please do not approve. The Armed Forces of Colombia launched in January the National Instant Response System for Stabilization Progress (SIRIE, per its Spanish acronym) as an instability monitoring tool for the country. The system is operating nationwide with the purpose of monitoring, verifying, and analyzing factors of instability in regional security in order to adopt appropriate measures that will help improve the quality of life of the citizens. “SIRIE was planned as a tool for building communication bridges with the civilian population, community leaders, indigenous reservations, and other organizations. They can provide valuable information on alleged factors of instability,” said Major General Juan Pablo Amaya, inspector general of the Armed Forces of Colombia. Colombia is going through a period of significant transformation. The end of the armed conflict and the implementation of the accords established in Havana have created rapid changes that are new for everyone in the country. “The speed of these transformations demands efficient adaptations, from an institutional point of view, in order to face persistent threats and emerging threats, and to ensure that the agreements between the national government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia [FARC, per its Spanish acronym] are fully implemented,” said Maj. Gen. Amaya. “With SIRIE, we are looking to have a more complete overview and to restore trust with the population through efficient solutions.” Command center The system has a national call center that can be used by any citizen to report any irregular event that threatens his or her peace or safety. It relies on 13 verification teams for nationwide coverage. Each problem is handled by the general command, which strategically checks the call. It coordinates inspections of the Army, Navy, Air Force, National Police, and Attorney General’s Office. Additionally, the Strategic Command for Transition is charged with securing the Provisional Demobilization Zones (ZVTN, per its Spanish acronym). All of these government entities have a very valuable pool of information. Each one provides solutions to problems within its specialty. “When a call is received, the information is corroborated with government institutions and citizens who can provide details pertinent to the case. When possible, there is a military deployment to the scene of the crime to confirm the situation and to obtain a complete overview,” Colonel Daniel Ricardo Morales, deputy inspector of the General Command of the 7th Army Division, told Diálogo. “Later, an analysis is done at central command and the most efficient strategy is chosen to resolve the problem. From the time the call is received until a solution is found, there is a maximum period of 24 hours,” he added. The SIRIE information network is quite broad. It receives data from the Organization of American States’ Mission to Support the Peace Process in Colombia, the United Nations, non-governmental organizations, government institutions, and the community at large. All of these elements make SIRIE invulnerable to possible disinformation. Immediate response in Chocó The Pacific department of Chocó has Panama at its northern border, where the so-called Darién Gap — a jungle area that acts as a natural barrier — is located. On its eastern border is the western Andes mountain range. Throughout its history, these geographical conditions have made Chocó a propitious area for armed organized groups to operate in. In March, there were deployments in the municipality of Alto Baudó, in Chocó, due to fighting between the National Liberation Army (ELN, per its Spanish acronym) and the Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia. Because of the fighting, 500 people moved to the municipal seat of government. To get a more complete view of the problem, Gen. Amaya visited Chocó with a special team and independently met with military, police, and civil authorities. “From all of these conversations, we obtained a truly comprehensive view of the situation. Thus it was possible to formulate a rapid analysis tailored to the circumstances. Of course, it wasn’t an in-depth investigation but rather rapid responses to a crisis moment,” Gen. Amaya said. “In this case, an order was given to increase the operation, to move the Pacific Naval Force’s river units to the river, to control the drug-trafficking routes through military operations, to secure the population, and to move up by one day our development aid for the population. All of that on the same day,” Col. Morales said. The rapid response of the military forces and the strengthening of the military presence made possible the liberation of eight people kidnapped by ELN, the return of people to their homes, and the re-establishment of security in the area. Gen. Amaya stated that the case of Alto Baudó is emblematic because it is a region where trust in the military has been historically low because of the influence of armed organized groups. “Getting to this region involves a change; it means breaking the old paradigms in a population that is warned against the legitimate forces of the state. But when they see that there are quick solutions, they start to trust in lawful channels again. SIRIE is the beginning of that return of trust,” Gen. Amaya concluded.
By Gonzalo Silva Infante/Diálogo September 13, 2018 In April and August 2018, the Ecuadorean and Peruvian air forces carried out two Hercules transport aircraft crew exchange exercises. The exchanges took place in April at Cotopaxi Air Base in Latacunga, a town in central Ecuador, and in August at Callao Air Base in Lima, Peru. The objective of the exercises was to improve both institutions’ operational capabilities in the use of the Hercules aircraft. Participants exchanged experiences to apply what was learned in their respective institution, and become multiplying forces. “It’s good to know what happened to others, so it won’t happen to us,” said Ecuadorean Air Force (FAE, in Spanish) Captain Christian Terán, who took part in the August exchange. “The operational exchange makes us both grow [and see] what we do and what they do.” Mutual learning The Peruvian delegation visited Ecuador to learn how their Ecuadorean counterparts used the Hercules aircraft, April 23rd-27th. Service members of the Peruvian Air Force (FAP, in Spanish) joined FAE’s 1111th Heavy Transport Squadron, which operates C-130 Hercules and L-100-30 Hercules. “I was very interested in the air systems and how they teach their courses, train their pilots, and apply Crew Resource Management,” FAP Lieutenant Colonel Carlos Begazo told Diálogo. “In Ecuador I learned about the references, capabilities, and how they organize the cargo based on its type; how they do it, how they get help, [and] the equipment they use. They are very methodical.” During a visit to Callao Air Base August 19th-22nd, the Ecuadorean delegation had a similar experience. Ecuadorean participants joined the Eighth Air Wing, the FAP transport unit that operates L-100-20 Hercules aircraft. During their visit, Ecuadorean service members took part in theoretical instruction on the ground with their Peruvian counterparts, reviewing the aircraft systems and load capacity, as well as performance, maximum takeoff weight, and fuel consumption, among other features. We analyzed FAP’s planning, especially emergency procedures,” FAE Captain Daniel Valencia told Diálogo. “There are slight differences from our [way of doing it], but we adopted them because they will help and complement us; we seek to take the best of each.” Ecuadorean service members also participated in air exercises and post-flight briefings, and learned about training and maintenance procedures of FAP aircraft. Main transport aircraft The Hercules is a medium-heavy transport aircraft made by U.S. manufacturer Lockheed Martin. With four turbo-prop engines, the aircraft is the main airlifter of many air forces in the world, and is used for military and humanitarian assistance operations. Its load capacity of more than 23,000 kilograms makes the aircraft ideal to transport personnel and cargo to remote areas or provide disaster relief. Several variants of the Hercules aircraft with specific characteristics exist. Crews who can familiarize themselves with different models enhance their capabilities, said FAP Lieutenant Colonel Elard Granda Alviar, who took part in several regional exchanges. Each region’s different geographic and climate characteristics, he added, influence aircraft performance and each air force’s operational competencies. Lt. Col. Granda knows first-hand about the Hercules’ performance in different environments. He flew a Hercules at Vice-Commodore Marambio Air Base in the Argentine Antarctica, where temperatures can drop as low as -40 °C. The experience taught him a lesson about the aircraft’s capacity in extreme weather conditions and the type of airstrips used in this environment. “I’ve learned that the aircraft is designed to be used under any condition,” Lt. Col. Granda told Diálogo. For his part, Lt. Col. Begazo highlighted the recent visit to Ecuador. “In addition to exchanging technical experiences and tapping their capabilities, we get to know the field,” he said. “If anything were to happen in Latacunga, having been there, we would know what to consider and how much load we can take in.” Exchanges between Peru and Ecuador were agreed upon at the 11th Chiefs of General Staff meeting between FAP and FAE, held June 26, 2017. These experience exchanges also fall within the System of Cooperation Among the American Air Forces to strengthen regional members’ capabilities. The exercises also contribute to improving cooperation and trust between the armed forces of countries in the region. “These exchanges help us strengthen bonds of friendship,” Capt. Valencia said. “If we can help them, we will do it gladly, just like they would.” The Peruvian and Ecuadorean delegations expect to continue exchanging experiences in combined events. “These exchanges should evolve gradually,” Capt. Valencia said. “Perhaps we’ll be able to share academic and operational courses. We will definitely have good results from these exchanges.”
By Taciana Moury/Diálogo September 28, 2018 The Marine Corps (FN, in Portuguese) of the Brazilian Navy (MB, in Portuguese) has been taking part in security operations in the city of Rio de Janeiro since Brazilian authorities sanctioned the use of the Armed Forces in operations to guarantee law and order (GLO, in Portuguese) on July 28, 2017. FN intensified activities after the government ordered federal intervention in the state of Rio de Janeiro via Decree No. 9288, February 16, 2018. In the past six month, the Fleet Marine Squad (FFE, in Portuguese) participated in more than 30 operations. According to FN Lieutenant General Paulo Martino Zuccaro, FFE commander, the participation of FN increased in unison with siege operations in Rio de Janeiro, which also last longer than those carried out in 2017. With federal intervention, public safety management moved from the state to the federal level, with Brazilian Army General Walter Braga Netto, public safety federal intervenor in Rio de Janeiro, responding directly to the president. “The technical aspects of the operations are similar to that of prior GLOs conducted in other states,” Lt. Gen. Zuccaro said. Following the intervention, authorities established an Intervention Joint Command comprised of officers from each service branch in the Eastern Military Command to conduct security operations, and coordinate and plan support operations for the National Public Security Plan. Within this context, MB assists Rio de Janeiro’s Public Security Secretariat, through a Marine Corps Operations Group (GptOpFuzNav, in Portuguese). “FN activities make up just one piece of the puzzle that contribute to the success of the operation as a whole. We can offer our amphibious capability to the Joint Command, which is a great advantage when the area of operation is close to the sea,” Lt. Gen. Zuccaro said. Currently, 300 FFE service members conduct daily patrols in the city within the most risky communities of the south side and in the Lins Complex of slums. FN also handles security on the main urban streets of Ilha do Fundão, near the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. A GptOpFuzNav was initially established to conduct various operations, such as perimeter security, assault, blockade, road clearance, and patrol. The increase in operations following federal intervention led to the creation of the Marine Corps Operations Group ARPOADOR-2018 to meet the needs of GLO’s operations. FN Colonel Reinaldo Reis de Medeiros, commander of ARPOADOR-2018, said the number of service members vary with the type of operation. “Some more complex operations may have an average of 850 to 1,000 Navy members,” he said. Maritime and ground operations On August 29th, an operation brought together more than 2,500 members of the Armed Forces, and Federal, Military, and Civil Police at the Salgueiro Complex of the city of São Gonçalo, in Rio de Janeiro’s metropolitan area. According to the Intervention Joint Command, members of MB, the First Naval District, and the Federal Police took part in ground operations and carried out a naval blockade and siege at Guanabara Bay, a maritime area adjacent to operations on the ground. “We estimate operations to directly and indirectly benefit about one million people, covering a land area of 32 square kilometers and a maritime area of 61 km². Two ships and 10 vessels, including an armored speedboat were used,” the Joint Command stated in a release. MB’s capabilities and equipment favor activities in the maritime environment, Col. Medeiros said. “Most of the operations conducted to date were on land,” he added. The Armed Forces in Rio de Janeiro conducted show of force, perimeter control, and dynamic stabilization operations such as road clearance, assault, and lockdown, among others. Nearly all of FFE equipment is available for security operations. Military motorcyclists of the Naval Battalion Police, known as scouts, also take part in the Rio operations. Patrol ships and rotary-wing aircraft of the Navy Fleet Command and Naval Operations Command also intervene when necessary. Population safety For Col. Medeiros, conducting activities in an urban environment with civilians is one of the biggest challenges with the operation in Rio de Janeiro. “The concern with collateral damage to the population imposes certain considerations and limitations, especially when we face irregular adverse forces that take advantage of people’s proximity,” he said. “The population’s safety is a priority and requires adjustments, often significant, to the modus operandi of military forces.” Careful preparation at the core of FN training ensures the safety of participating service members. Amphibious and riverside operations, limited use of force, including peacekeeping, GLO, non-combatant, and humanitarian evacuations are among the skills FN units count on. For Lt. Gen. Zuccaro, the intervention in Rio de Janeiro is a great opportunity to put to the test knowledge and techniques gained in different trainings and exercises, while adjusting to the reality of GLO operations. “It enables FN to improve performance in this type of operation,” he said. Authorities intend to keep up with operations until year-end, based on the Joint Command’s plan. “The marines are, by nature, an expeditionary troop always at the ready, which allows for immediate deployment to different types of environments and missions, anywhere, with the ability to adapt to various conditions,” Lt. Gen. Zuccaro concluded.
By Marcos Ommati/Diálogo December 17, 2020 It doesn’t matter how many times you look at it: It’s always impressive to see 23,000 pounds of cocaine and nearly 8,800 pounds of marijuana. That’s the amount of drugs — with a street value of over $411 million, according to U.S. authorities — the crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter James offloaded on December 16, at Port Everglades, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.“This patrol highlights our crew’s continued commitment to protecting the American people from our adversaries,” said U.S. Coast Guard Captain Todd Vance, commanding officer of USCG James, during a press conference on the dock at Port Everglades. “Despite COVID, the James crew demonstrated supreme resilience, and the results of their exceptional performance are being showcased today.”Crew members of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter James offloaded approximately $411 million worth of drugs on December 16, 2020, at Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (Photo: Steven McLoud/Diálogo)The drug busts were done with help from partner nations’ coast guards, including international crews from France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. The drugs were interdicted in international waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean off the coasts of Mexico, Central and South America, including contraband seized and recovered during 20 interdictions of suspected drug smuggling vessels.“The [U.S.] Coast Guard’s strong international relationships, with key partners like the United Kingdom, France, and the Netherlands, along with our specialized capabilities and unmatched authorities, allow for a unity of effort to disrupt transnational criminal organizations, which threaten America and our partner nations,” asserted U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Karl Schultz.According to the U.S. Coast Guard Public Affairs Office, during at-sea interdictions, a suspicious vessel is initially detected and monitored by allied, military, or law enforcement personnel, coordinated by Joint Interagency Task Force South based in Key West, Florida. The law enforcement phase of counter-smuggling operations in the Eastern Pacific is conducted under the authority of the Coast Guard’s 11th District, headquartered in Alameda, California. The interdictions, including actual boardings, are led and conducted by members of the U.S. Coast Guard.“I am honored to be able to pay tribute to the successes of the team here today, and recognize the role the Royal Navy and U.K. National Crime Agency have played in this joint operation,” said Commodore Phil Nash, naval attaché at the United Kingdom Embassy in Washington. “Working seamlessly with U.S. and international colleagues, the presence of RFA [Royal Fleet Auxiliary] Argus has prevented the $54 million of drugs offloaded here from reaching the streets in the last few months; taken together with a wider effort this year by U.K. ships HMS Medway and RFA Mounts Bay, around $650 million of drugs have been stopped. This has been a genuine team effort — the key to success continues to be the close working relationship and collaboration between our nations.”Also at the event were Colonel Jarst de Jong and Captain Cédric Chetaille, naval attachés from the Netherlands and France respectively; Jean-Sébastien Conty, a political counselor of African and Western Hemisphere Affairs from the French Embassy in Washington; and Paul Jenkins, head of region for North America and the Caribbean at the National Crime Agency.
March 15, 2001 Gary Blankenship Senior Editor Regular News House bill would rewrite Art.V Senior Editor A proposed constitutional amendment that would do away with all judicial nominating commissions, require appellate judges up for retention to get a two-thirds approval rate, and dismantle The Florida Bar has been proposed in a rewrite of Article V introduced in the Florida House. HJR 627, by Rep. Fred Brummer, R-Apopka, would allow the governor to fill directly all appellate vacancies with the consent of the state Senate. It would also set a two-year minimum limit on writs of habeas corpus and give the legislature vastly increased powers over court procedural rules. And those are only some of the changes in the 36-page measure. Bar President Herman Russomanno said many of the changes in bill are “troubling” and some of the proposals would have the state revert to systems and practices which were purposefully changed decades ago to provide accountability and remove politics from the system. “Floridians expect fairness and impartiality in the court system and their expectations are justified and attainable,” Russomanno said. “But the efforts to stampede the judicial branch and the legal profession with unwarranted changes such as those proposed in HB 627 are completely contrary to what Floridians clearly want.” Bar President-elect Terry Russell said the bill ignores several past problems with the judiciary and court system that the current constitution fixes. “It’s regressive,” he said. Tallahassee attorney Barry Richard, the Bar’s outside counsel, said the overall effect of the proposal would be to increase the influence of politics in the court system. “This resolution would set our state back 100 years,” Richard said. “It would remove all checks on the politicization of judicial selection, place incumbent judges at the whim of the legislature or any groups of persons dissatisfied with a particular decision, and significantly reduce the independence of the judiciary, a critical element in the maintenance of a just and democratic society,” Richard said. The Bar has also picked up indications that the House Committee on Judicial Oversight could consider Brummer’s bill early in the Regular Session, which opened March 6 as this News went to press. At deadline, no companion bill had been introduced in the Senate. As a constitutional amendment, it must get a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate before it can be submitted to voters next year. Russomanno also said in many respects the Bar was “stunned” by the bill, particularly in that it addresses many issues studied extensively by legislative directive in recent years by the 1995 Article V Task Force, the 1997-98 Constitution Revision Commission and the 2000-01 Supreme Court Workload Study Commission. HJR 627 makes changes throughout Article V. One provision appears aimed at Secretary of State Katherine Harris’ actions in last year’s disputed election that were challenged in court. A new subsection (b) in Section 1 provides that there must be some legal or equitable claim for a court to issue a quo warranto writ. It also limits cases when those writs could be used, which apparently would drastically limit citizens’ ability to challenge a public official’s action in court. The language specifically provides: “The power to issue a writ of quo warranto does not establish power to review any right, power or duty of a public official other than the right to hold the particular office claimed by such official, and the writ of quo warranto shall not be used for any purpose except to test a person’s authority to continue holding an office when challenged by competing claimant to such office.” The section would also allow the legislature by law to set a statute of limitation on the writs. Other sections on specific courts’ powers affect habeas corpus writs. The amendment adds language that judges may issue the writs “provided that such writs are subject to statutes of limitation of not shorter than two years from the final judgment or mandate on direct appeal in a criminal case.” Judicial Restraint Several other sections are aimed at restricting the power and activities of the courts. Section 1 would have language added that, “Subject to any additional limits in this constitution, the jurisdiction of such courts shall extend only to actual cases in law, equity, admiralty and maritime jurisdiction, and to actual controversies arising under the constitution and the laws of the State of Florida and of the United States.” Richard noted that could be read to eliminate the court’s authority to issue declaratory judgments and also to exercise oversight of the practice of law. The legislature also would be given power in that section to designate that a district court of appeal could exercise statewide jurisdiction “respecting any subject matter granted. . . by general law.” Richard said this provision could be read that the legislature could assign a matter to a DCA to the exclusion of the Supreme Court. Some observers have suggested the legislature could use the section to create a statewide court of criminal appeals. Court procedural rules “may not be inconsistent with statutes in place at the time of adoption of such rules, shall be revised to conform to subsequently adopted statutes that regulate substantive rights, and may be repealed by general law. Rules adopted pursuant to this section shall neither abridge, enlarge, nor modify the substantive rights of any litigant, but additional rulemaking power may be expressly delegated to courts by general law.” Richard noted that language eliminates the distinction between substantive and procedural rules and allows the legislature to write court rules. He said there has not been any criticisms or problems with rules that would justify such a change. Dropped from the constitution would be a provision requiring a two-thirds vote of both the House and Senate to override a court rule. The court would be allowed to issue advisory opinions on the request of the attorney general or governor, but opinions issued at the request of the governor “shall not be binding upon any party not voluntarily participating in such proceeding.” The measure would also limit the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to items enumerated in the constitution, including judicial discipline. Section 9 of Article V would be rewritten. Currently, when the Supreme Court certifies the need for new judges or to reduce judges, the legislature can change the number, but it requires a two-thirds vote. The bill would simply allow the legislature to set the number of judges by law, including the number in each circuit and county court. The Supreme Court would be able to make recommendations on increasing or decreasing the number of judges and also on changing the district and circuits. The proposed revision did keep the number of Supreme Court justices at seven. Retention Upped Section 10 would be changed to require that Supreme Court justices and district court of appeal judges get a two-thirds “yes” vote in their merit retention referenda. That could have a potentially devastating impact on the First District Court of Appeal and substantial impacts on other appellate courts. While all three First DCA judges on last November’s ballots would have been retained, it would have been very close if they were retained with 68 to 69 percent of the vote. However, all six judges on the 1998 merit retention ballot and all four on the 1996 ballot would have lost, as they garnered 63 to 64 percent “yes” votes less than the 66.67 required in the proposed amendment. Results from 1994 were not immediately available, but in 1992, all six First DCA judges on the ballot would have lost, as well as all five on the ballot in the Fifth DCA and two in the Second DCA. In 1992, there was organized opposition to then Chief Justice Rosemary Barkett and she wound up with 60.9-percent approval a landslide by most standards, but not enough under the bill. In addition, the other three justices on the ballot Justice Major B. Harding and former Justices Ben F. Overton and Parker Lee McDonald would have fallen short of the two-thirds vote, by one to less than two percent. As Richard noted, “Judges, who among public officers should be the least sensitive to public opinion, would be made more subject to the sway of public sentiment than executive or legislative officers.” Trial judges would remain elected, but midterm vacancies, as well as all vacancies on the appellate courts, would be filled directly by the governor without using judicial nominating commissions. Those appointments would be subject to “the advice and consent of the Senate.. . . ” The Article V provisions setting up the JNCs and governing their actions would be stricken under Brummer’s measure. The bill provides that if the Senate is not in session when the appointment is made and does not call itself into session to consider a nomination within 30 days, then the nomination is deemed approved. If the Senate is in session and fails to confirm a nominee within 30 days, then the nomination is rejected, unless Senate rules allow for an exemption. If judges find their jurisdiction and powers limited, they could become more politically active. Brummer’s bill would constitutionally override judicial canons that prevent judges from becoming involved in partisan politics or expressing their views on issues likely to come before them on the bench. The bill specifically provides, “No judicial rule of conduct or other court rule may limit the political rights of candidates for election or appointment to judicial office, including, but not limited to, serving a political organization, endorsing or opposing other candidates for public office, making speeches, attending political functions, or making statements with respect to issues; however such limits consistent with other provisions of this constitution may be imposed by general law.” The amendment, while not mentioning it by name, would do away with or substantially reduce The Florida Bar by changing Section 15. That revised section would allow the legislature to assume at least some oversight of the profession. The section provides that the Supreme Court would have exclusive jurisdiction over admission and discipline for those practicing, according to a new phrase added to the section, “before the courts of this state.” Also added to the section is this provision: “The cost of such regulation and discipline shall be funded by appropriations, disciplinary penalties, and fees paid to the Supreme Court as authorized by general law. No attorney may be required to pay dues to any organization and no fees may be otherwise assessed by the court as a condition to admission to practice law before the courts of this state. The professional practice of law other than before the courts of this state may be regulated by general law.” “This provision would eliminate the Bar as an arm of the Supreme Court and make the court’s ability to regulate [the] practice [of law] entirely dependent upon the willingness of the legislature to fund the regulation,” Richard wrote. With the Judicial Qualifications Commission, the Bar’s four lawyer appointments would be taken away and given to the legislature. Among other changes proposed in Brummer’s bill are: • An addition to Section 14 that, “Any prevailing party in any civil proceeding or any defendant convicted in any criminal proceeding may be assessed, as provided by general law, the full cost of all services utilized and expenses incurred in such proceeding as determined by the clerk of the circuit or county court, to the extent that such services or expenses are provided by appropriations, fees, or service charges.. . . Such assessments may be enforced as any money judgment or tax obligation.” • An addition to Section 3(b)(5) that when a case is certified to the Supreme Court as being of great public importance, “the district court’s jurisdiction shall be retained unless and until the Supreme Court issues an order accepting jurisdiction.” • The opt-in, opt-out merit selection plan for trial judges added to the constitution in 1998 by voters would be stricken. (That was a two-part process. The voter approval in 1998 set up a referendum in every circuit and county last November, on whether voters wanted to continue electing their trial judges or switch to a merit system. By a decisive margin in every jurisdiction, voters chose to continue with elections.) • A provision of Section 14 that says courts have no power to fix appropriations would be changed to read that courts “have no power to fix or order any modification of appropriations.” • The requirement that one Supreme Court justice come from the jurisdiction of each of the five district courts of appeal would be removed. • The section that allows retired judges over the age of 70 to sit in temporary assignments would be removed. • Various requirements to hold law-related offices, such as judgeships, or elected state attorneys or public defenders, would remain unchanged except that those office-holders would not be required to be Florida Bar members. Instead they would have to be “authorized to practice law in Florida.” House bill would rewrite Art.V
April 1, 2002 Managing Editor Regular News ‘I didn’t know anyone was watching’ Wagner wins Tobias Simon Pro Bono Service Award Mark D. Killian Managing EditorIn 1950, a young lawyer defending a black man in Florida had the audacity to refer to his client as “mister,” an act that so outraged the justice of the peace the lawyer was cited for contempt and jailed.Instead of cowing him into accepting the social norms of the day, the incident ignited a passion for social justice within Maurice Wagner that burns to this day.For more than half a century, Wagner, 80, has been a crusader for civil rights by taking on the cause of those who do not have the financial resources to pay for legal representation.“The overriding theme of his career became the quest for equal rights and he is still working on it today,” said Chief Justice Charles Wells, who presented Wagner the 2002 Tobias Simon Pro Bono Service Award — the profession’s highest honor — during a special ceremony at the Supreme Court.“I started back in 1950 and here we are 52 years later,” said Wagner, in most likely the shortest acceptance speech in the history of the Simon Award. “I didn’t know anyone was watching.”Also honored during the ceremony March 14 was the Miami firm of Markowitz, Davis, Ringel & Trusty, which received the Chief Justice’s Law Firm Commendation, and the Jacksonville Bar Association, which won the court’s Voluntary Bar Association Pro Bono Service Award.A lawyer from each circuit also was honored with The Florida Bar President’s Pro Bono Service Awards, and Lawrence H. Kolin received the Young Lawyers Division Legal Aid Public Service Award for his work as a guardian ad litem.Chief Justice Wells told the award recipients it is they “who are carrying out on a daily basis the promise that each of us who are lawyers have made — and that is the promise of justice for all.”Wells said since 1845 the Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized that the practice of law is a privilege that carries with it certain responsibilities and obligations, including providing access to the justice system to those who could otherwise not afford it.“Too often we read and hear statements disparaging our legal system in general and lawyers in particular,” the Chief Justice said. “Yet, despite an all too prevalent public perception to the contrary, you and I know that our profession is unselfish.”Wells noted that in 2000 Florida’s lawyers provided $1.2 million worth of pro bono work and contributed another $1.6 million in cash contributions to legal aid organizations. That, he said, is in addition to the “many more hours” of volunteer work lawyers provide in their communities.Bar President Terry Russell said the award recipients are role models for the profession because they lead by example.“Today is a day of celebration,” Russell said. “Today we honor special people; we honor lawyers that care. Lawyers who share a passion and commitment to access to justice for those less fortunate.” Simon Award One of Wagner’s earliest experiences as a law clerk in Miami was having the honor of actually working with Tobias Simon on a beach access case. Though they were unsuccessful in removing the barriers in that case, the experience was one Wagner said he never forgot. He attributes his work with Simon as part of his lifelong commitment to pro bono.Wagner’s wife, Fay, said her husband’s passion for helping others took root during the early days of the civil rights movement when he “saw injustice and wanted to correct it.” She said growing up poor also contributed to his calling to assist those less fortunate than himself.Jeffery Wagner, his son, said he takes on the causes of others because it is the right thing to do. “He has a great sense of right and wrong and pursues justice the right way,” he said.“In the last 20 years I really haven’t done anything except pro bono work,” Wagner said after the ceremony, adding that he is currently representing a small farmer trying to save his 10-acre orange grove. “I’m always available.”Admitted to The Florida Bar in 1950, Wagner settled in Volusia County, where he quickly became known as a advocate for minority clients without the financial resources to pay for legal representation. In the 1950s, Wagner represented anyone who came to him for assistance whether they could afford to pay for his services or not, including the late Mary McLeod Bethune and Bethune-Cookman College. Wagner worked closely with Bethune-Cookman faculty member Alvis Lee on civil rights matters.Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Wagner handled all of the NAACP local chapter organization and legal documentation, and worked with the organization in its efforts to release jailed civil rights protesters. In the 1960s, Wagner became a lifetime NAACP member and continues to serve the local NAACP.In 1957, Wagner represented a client in Brevard County who had lost her husband in a jailhouse fire because no staff was on the scene when the fire broke out. The man had no way to escape the flames and smoke. As a result of his efforts, Wagner was successful in changing Florida state law in a landmark stare decisis ruling. ( Hargrove v. Town of Cocoa Beach, 96 So. 2d 130).In addition to his pro bono work with various clients and the NAACP, Wagner has made himself available to Central Florida Legal Services’ pro bono endeavors in whatever capacity his services are needed. He has represented CFLS clients and provided brief advice at legal advice clinics since the CFLS Pro Bono Program began in 1966. He continues to meet with clients and provide brief services at the CFLS legal advice clinics in DeLand.Wagner said young lawyers should make time for pro bono work because “it will give them a lot of satisfaction that you don’t get when you get a fee.”Wagner also said he has no plans to rest on his laurels.“I’m going to do this right on,” he said. “I’m always on call and I’m glad to do it.”For more coverage of the award winners, please see the following articles: Law Firm Commendation Voluntary Bar Association Service Award President’s Service and YLD Service Awards ‘I didn’t know anyone was watching’: Wagner wins Tobias Simon Pro Bono Service Award
December 1, 2002 Letters December 1, 2002 Letters L etters Stresslines This guy is joking, right? (“Boomers discover mortality,” November 1 News. ) Personally, I hope to extend middlesence as long as I can; and thus be more able to impart my legacy to others as long as I can (if they will listen anyway) — and make my life stand and stand and stand for something, and then when the time comes I am forced to lie down I will be ready, and feel that I well deserve the rest. And that includes embracing the oblivion of death, which I only hope comes so quickly and quietly, I don’t have time to pack a bag or see my entire life flash before my eyes. After all, I have lived a full, active life without fear of risk and with time for examination and self awareness, and have no reason to despair or regret what has been. I wish only this: That in my last times, I will be able to remember as many people that have touched my life as possible.Denise A. Scott (retired) Panama City