Shielded Against Drug Trafficking

first_img Lt. Gen. Peña: We have a structure similar to UNASUR, or the South American Council of Defense, where there are not only several aspects of coordination, but cooperation in regard to drug trafficking, especially on information exchange. Diálogo: In recent years, Argentina and Brazil, which were once transit routes for drug trafficking, have become heavy drug consumers. Do you think this could also happen in Ecuador, a country that has been shielded from drug trafficking for several years? Lt. Gen. Peña: Ecuador is not shielded from this problem, but what we don’t have are coca crops. Even though there are few hectares that are controlled and destroyed, we can confirm that our country does not manufacture narcotics. However, we are a transit country, and we have become a nation that stores drugs for export. Drug trafficking submersibles constructed in the country have been found, and we detected illegal drug-related flights. There are also large drug trafficking rings that use our country as a transit country. We are not immune to the effects of this menace; although we are not producers, it is a warning sign that we have become a transit country. So we are urged to take strong action against it. On the other hand, drug use in other countries, such as Argentina and Brazil, has increased, as in Europe and the United States, where it is extremely high. Ecuador is not immune to this problem, because society can be influenced by this trend. As a policy of the Ecuadorean Ministry of Health, campaigns are carried out to avoid this problem, because there is evidence that young people are coming into this world [of drugs]. There is an alarming amount of microtrafficking of drugs in our country, but we have not reached the levels of other nations. We want to avoid it, so the state is taking action to prevent this problem. Lt. Gen. Peña: We have several commitments for relief efforts internationally. Hemispherically, we are engaged in assisting any of the countries that need our help if a natural disaster takes place. We have sent humanitarian assistance and teams to countries such as Chile, when the earthquake and the tsunami happened; to El Salvador, Honduras and to Colombia when they had floods. Furthermore, we have assisted Haiti with humanitarian assistance, in addition to our contribution to the United Nations. We have not only sent assistance, but we have also received it when disasters battered our territory. For example, during last year’s floods, we were immediately assisted by countries such as Colombia, Venezuela and Chile, based on particular agreements. This is also the case of transnational crime and drug trafficking. In our country, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Justice and the National Police are in charge of dealing with these issues, which also have assistance protocols, especially for information exchange, allowing them to have state jurisdiction to combat these scourges. Besides, as the Armed Forces, we are seeking to increase collaboration efforts with the United States Southern Command, since we know that they have an interagency organization [Joint Interagency Task Force–South] in Key West, which can be of great help. We are eager to establish further contact with that institution for countering drug trafficking and organized crime successfully. Diálogo: Can you tell us about Ecuador’s bilateral or multinational agreements in the region? After his participation in the IV South American Defense Conference from July 24 to 26, 2012, in Bogotá, Colombia, Lieutenant General Jorge Peña Cobeña, chief of the Joint Command of the Armed Forces of Ecuador, talked with Diálogo. He stressed that interagency cooperation at national, regional and hemispheric levels is essential to humanitarian missions and the fight against drug trafficking and transnational organized crime. Diálogo: Lieutenant General Peña Cobeña, what is the role of Ecuador’s Armed Forces in humanitarian assistance and relief efforts in case of natural disasters? Lieutenant General Jorge Peña Cobeña: In Ecuador, the national secretary of risk assessment is in charge of preventing and dealing with natural disasters. Obviously, there is close coordination with the Armed Forces, based on already established planning and protocols developed with this office, so that in case of disaster, we can act immediately as Armed Forces in a direct way, with our infrastructure and support personnel genuinely committed. Diálogo: What are your thoughts about having a regional institution to coordinate humanitarian assistance and natural disaster relief, as well as having an organization against drug trafficking? center_img By Dialogo January 01, 2013 IF WE DON’T LEARN FROM WHAT HAPPENED IN COLOMBIA AND ACT ACCORDINGLY NOT ONLY AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL BUT ALSO REGIONAL AND WHY NOT, EVEN GLOBALLY, WE WILL LEAVE OUR GRANDCHILDREN WITH QUITE A CRAPPY WORLD, IT WILL BE WORSE THAN THE ONE WE GOT FROM OUR PARENTS AFTER THE END OF WWII – [email protected] last_img

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