Vice Admiral José Jorge Fortín Aguilar, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Honduran Armed Forces, is committed to focusing his country’s Armed Forces on teamwork, as one of the institutional branches resolute to combating criminal organizations and helping citizens in emergencies.
Vice Adm. Fortín spoke with Diálogo to discuss his approach during the Human Rights Initiative Seminar coordinated by the Honduran Ministry of National Defense (SEDENA) and the Human Rights Office of U.S. Southern Command(SOUTHCOM), August 9–11, 2022.
Diálogo: One of the agreements reached at the Central American Armed Forces Conference (CFAC) held in July 2022 was to expand combined patrols along the borders between Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua to prevent illicit activities and strengthen surveillance at blind spots. Why is that important?
Vice Admiral José Jorge Fortín Aguilar, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Honduran Armed Forces: We must work as a team. We know that the regional problems we have are common, and we just held a CFAC meeting where several important issues were discussed concerning the issue of illegal activities on the border, because we are aware that only by unifying criteria and working as a team will we be able to achieve the results that we have set for ourselves.
Diálogo: At CFAC you spoke about the importance of standardizing execution plans with strategic information and operation directors in order to curbsecurity issues migrant caravans and human trafficking, among others, are generating. Why is it important to talk about this standardization?
Vice Adm. Fortín: The heads of the different directorates of operations and intelligence met to analyze a series of criteria in this regard, and we are carrying out various operations and missions aimed at resolving a series of issues, so we must unify criteria, strategies, and objectives so that all the armed forces that make up CFAC can follow along a single path.
Diálogo: What progress has been made in the participation of women in the Honduran Armed Forces? Do you collaborate with SOUTHCOM’s Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) initiative?
Vice Adm. Fortín: The role of women within our institution has been enormous and we can talk a lot about this, keeping in mind that at the end of the 1990s our women entered our training academies such as the Military Aviation Academy and the Naval Academy. From then on, women have been entering many fields and have been of great value. We currently have in the Air Force women officers with the rank of lieutenant colonel who are base commanders. The important role that women have played within our institution, their professionalism, their dedication, and enthusiasm has been very advantageous,dedication and importance that contribute to the strengthening of our Armed Forces,day by day. And we hope very soon to have women within the leadership of the board of commanders, and why not, to have a woman as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the future, which sooner or later I’m sure is going to happen.
Diálogo: What kind of cooperation exists between the Honduran Armed Forces and Joint Task Force Bravo (JTF-Bravo)?
Vice Adm. Fortín: This is a relationship that goes back to the 1980s, and we couldtalk all day long about the close cooperation tha exists between both parties. For example, we can recallemergencies such as hurricanes Mitch , Eta and Iota , and the difficult times when we were hit by forest fires, for which JTF-Bravo always brings continued support.
Diálogo: How does the Humanitarian and Rescue Unit prepare to respond to emergency situations?
Vice Adm. Fortín: Since its foundation, this unit has demonstrated its enormous use and commitment to our Honduran people. All of its members continue to be trained in various courses, both here and abroad, knowing that we must have rigorous preparation and training so that when our population needs it, they can go out to provide the necessary help.
Diálogo: What is the importance of holding a seminar on human rights,coordinated by SEDENA and SOUTHCOM in the city of Tegucigalpa,for the Honduran Armed Forces?
Vice Adm. Fortín: In my opening remarks at the seminar, I mentioned that this issue has been very important, and I explained in my speech that there have been mistakes and successes, and our institution has sincerely been judged due to this problem. What matters is that this seminar is one more step that shows the increasing attention that our commanding general and the Minister of Defense have for strengthening human rights within our institution.
To see the full interview with Vice Admiral José Jorge Fortín Aguilar, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Honduran Armed Forces, please click on the following link: https://dialogo-americas.com/articles/a-conversation-with-vice-admiral-jose-jorge-fortin-aguilar/#.Yw_JTnZByUk