Exclusive Interview with Brig. Gen. Carlos Alberto Bordón, Paraguay

Exclusive Interview with Brig. Gen. Carlos Alberto Bordón, Paraguay

By Dialogo
August 18, 2010

Paraguay’s contribution to Haiti after the 12 January 2010 earthquake consisted of food, blankets, search-and-rescue teams, and a medical contingent with surgeons and specialists. The country also contributed to the effort with nearly thirty men to provide security at food-distribution points in Haiti as part of the permanent international contingent of the UN stabilization force, MINUSTAH.

Soon, the number of Paraguayans in MINUSTAH is going to increase substantially. In order to talk about this topic and other humanitarian-aid initiatives offered by Paraguay to other countries, Diálogo spoke with Brig. Gen. Carlos Alberto Bordón, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Paraguayan Armed Forces, during the 2d Annual South American Defense Chiefs (SOUTHDEC) Conference, held in Lima, Peru, on 3 and 4 August.

Diálogo: Can you comment for us on Paraguay’s participation in the humanitarian-aid efforts in Haiti?

General Bordón: We’re right now preparing people to go to Haiti at the end of the month (August). We’re preparing a multi-role engineering unit, and we could be sending it there possibly at the beginning of September.

Diálogo: Would this be to replace the troops who are already there, or in addition to them?

General Bordón: In principle, it’s in addition to them. Afterward, we’ll consider whether anyone is going to leave. It’ll be more than a hundred men, doing reconstruction work, demolition, all those kinds of things.

Diálogo: Gen. Douglas Fraser commented during the conference about the importance of exercises among different countries. What is your opinion in this regard?

General Bordón: I think that it’s a way of training our people, getting to know one another, and then on that basis, looking for the way to alleviate the difficulties that can appear in the situation of a disaster of some kind or an event that affects one of the nations.

Diálogo: And how do you see the participation of the armed forces along these humanitarian-aid lines? Do you believe that it’s necessary to create a force specifically for this, or not?

General Bordón: I believe that each country has to have a unit that is dedicated to this, I don’t mean one hundred percent, but that builds up its capabilities and that trains at certain times of the year and carries out joint exercises with other countries, yes. But having something permanent isn’t something we would be part of, because it’s very expensive and would also take us away from our normal mission.

Diálogo: How is Paraguay confronting the growing presence of drug traffickers and terrorists?

General Bordón: We’re not doing a lot, I’ll be honest with you, because we have a bit of a problem in Paraguay also, which is the EPP (Paraguayan Popular Army). We – the military as an institution, at least – are already taking a look at their possible association with drug traffickers, and we don’t have any actions prepared along these lines yet, but we are intensifying our work on intelligence issues, connecting the dots, because we don’t want to end up in the situation of other countries.

Diálogo: And the EPP is even in contact with Brazilian drug traffickers, true?

General Bordón: Yes, yes.

Diálogo: So, are the two countries already exchanging information?

General Bordón: Yes, in fact we are, but we’re not engaging in operational actions. But we do have intelligence elements, and I know this for a fact, because I always have a hand in activities of this kind. We’re studying all possible data and the connections there might be at the appropriate time.

Diálogo: In other words, it’s something for the future?

General Bordón: Exactly. The near future. Near and in accordance with the conditions we’re given, because what’s our problem? Our problem is the legal framework. We’re not in a position to operate autonomously.

Diálogo: Like the police?

General Bordón: Exactly. And suddenly, we see that the police aren’t doing their job. For this reason, countries like El Salvador and Brazil have been authorizing their armed forces to have this kind of power. I’m familiar with a law that gives the Brazilian army the authority to deploy its units against terrorist or criminal activities, especially along the borders.

Diálogo: Do you believe that this might be an option for Paraguay in the future, if this problem grows?

General Bordón: Yes, it’s an option. We would have to see how it would work, but it’s definitely an option.