Colombian Defense Attaché Promotes Bilateral Cooperation with the US
By Geraldine Cook/Diálogo June 29, 2021
Diálogo interviewed Colombian Army Major General Javier Alonso Díaz Gómez, Colombia’s Defense attaché to the United States, who recently visited U.S. Southern Command’s facilities in Florida.
Diálogo: How important is it for the Colombian Military Forces to have a Defense attaché in the United States?
Colombian Army Major General Javier Alonso Díaz Gómez, Colombia’s Defense attaché to the United States: The Defense Attaché Office is very important, because it promotes and encourages the development of defense and security cooperation between Colombia and the United States. We follow the guidelines of the [Colombian] Ministry of Defense and the [Colombian] Military Forces’ General Command, and those concerning defense and security of embassies, bilaterally with the United States, as well as the impact of the permanent mission of the Organization of American States.
Diálogo: What is your main contribution to U.S.-Colombia relations?
Maj. Gen. Díaz: Fostering trust and security through regular defense and security talks on bilateral and multilateral issues of mutual interest, strengthening relations between the two countries, with the aim of contributing to security and regional and hemispheric stability.
Diálogo: How does Colombia cooperate with the United States in the fight against threats to regional security?
Maj. Gen. Díaz: We have several agreements, such as the U.S.-Colombia Action Plan (USCAP) for Regional Security, which develops the cooperation action plan for the fight against the worldwide drug problem, as well as terrorism and transnational organized crime. Similarly, we have the international security cooperation model, which we implemented through South-South cooperation and triangulated efforts with the United States, enabling the Colombian Military Forces to reposition Colombia at the regional and international levels, through a strategy of international cooperation in comprehensive security, as one of the most experienced security forces in the world. We also take part in the development of joint international operations, in coordination with different Latin American and Caribbean countries, and we have the Command against Drug Trafficking and Transnational Threats.
Diálogo: What new resources do the military forces have to counter narcotrafficking activities?
Maj. Gen. Díaz: Despite the support received in this triangular cooperation, there are several needs; therefore, we hold continuous meetings with anti-drug agencies, such as the Drug Enforcement Administration and others such as the Defense Intelligence Agency, in order to articulate and stimulate joint efforts in the fight against these threats that affect the region.
Diálogo: What threats from international crime, including the growing flow of narcotrafficking, affect stability and security in Colombia?
Maj. Gen. Díaz: Colombia faces large-scale transnational threats, such as criminal organizations dedicated especially to narcotrafficking, with cartels from some Central and South American countries that constantly send emissaries to the country, tasked to verify drug quality and to secure drug’s export routes, especially to Central America and Europe.
The presence of extremist and terrorist group members in the region, such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda, especially in Venezuelan territory, increases the risks for Colombia. We know that these people could be holding meetings with officials and soldiers belonging to this regime, and especially with some leaders and members of the National Liberation Army and residual organized armed groups of the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.
Another phenomenon is the issue of illegal mining, which generates much greater economic dividends than narcotrafficking itself in some regions in the country. Similarly, cyberattacks against the country’s strategic infrastructure are another threat that Colombian authorities face, as do public and private companies, since organizations that are dedicated to hacking see this as an opportunity to increase extortion and blackmail.
Finally, irregular migration, since the Nicolás Maduro dictatorship has caused an exodus of more than 5 million Venezuelans throughout the continent’s southern region, and much of this population with limited resources gets captured by organized armed groups and criminal organizations, especially for drug trafficking, recruitment, and exploitation in violent protests.