Colombia and Panama Reinforce Joint Strategy against Drug Trafficking
By Dialogo March 30, 2012
At the conclusion of a meeting in Bogotá on March 28, Colombian Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón and Panamanian Public Safety Minister José Raúl Mulino agreed to reinforce their countries’ joint strategy in the fight against drug trafficking and signed an aerial interdiction agreement.
According to an official statement, the agreement “establishes the possibility that in aerial interdiction operations conducted by Panama, Colombian officials may be contributing and collaborating with information they have with regard to aircraft that might be affecting the two countries’ stability.”
During their meeting, Ministers Pinzón and Mulino also agreed “to strengthen coordination in the area of intelligence exchange, reason for which it was decided to connect the two Governments’ databases in order to improve performance in the fight against criminal organizations active on both sides of the border,” the statement said.
“We have to incorporate those marginalized towns along the border into all our strategies, in order to actively involve them in the productive life of our nations and thereby disconnect any impulse to collaborate with terrorist groups or drug traffickers,” Mulino said.
It was also decided at the meeting that the Colombian Army will include officers from the Panamanian National Border Service (SENAFRONT) in its special-operations and infantry courses. For their part, the police will conduct training programs in aviation intelligence and aircraft maintenance for Panamanian officers.
Meanwhile, the Colombian Navy will send a group of maritime interdiction experts in July to hold a course for Panamanian units, while the Colombian Air Force will hold a course on aerial intelligence for the Central American country’s authorities in August.
“We’ve agreed to provide complete collaboration to the Panamanian government to train its officers in the various public-safety services in each one of the specialties and by each branch of the Armed Forces and the police in Colombia,” Minster Pinzón said in that regard.