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General Rafael Melara, Chief of the Joint Staff of the Armed Forces of El Salvador: “Transnational organized crime affects all of us equally”

General Rafael Melara, Chief of the Joint Staff of the Armed Forces of El Salvador: “Transnational organized crime affects all of us equally”

By Dialogo
December 24, 2014








On February 11, 2014, General Rafael Melara Rivera was inducted into the United States Army's War College Hall of Fame, located in Pennsylvania. His induction in particular was doubly significant because he was the first Salvadoran and the first Latin American military officer from among the War College’s international graduates to receive this distinction. His induction also reflects the positive impact the general has demonstrated year after year, not only within El Salvador but internationally as well.

Known as a strategic, affable and conciliatory leader, the rise to his current post is due to a rigorous workload and a great deal of effort at every rank, and in the various educational and training courses an officer must have to be able to lead a country’s armed forces.

As a part of this training, Gen. Melara gained additional skills in other parts of the world, which also contributed to his professional, academic and intellectual background. In addition, the general was part of one of the contingents in the rotations participating in Iraq as part of the Multinational Force during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Later, he was the commanding officer of the Special Operations Group under the Special Forces Command, and during this time he had repeated interactions with the U.S. Armed Forces through his assignment to A Company, Seventh Group, where he was a participant in a variety of activities, such as parachuting, combat diving, close quarters combat, and others. He not only participated in a wide variety of such interactions, but also enjoyed learning opportunities in a rescue vessel and in training to fight transnational organized crime.

All of these experiences have molded Gen. Melara perfectly to hold the highest-ranking military post in the Armed Forces of El Salvador; since July 31, 2013, he has served as the Chief of the Joint Staff of his country’s Armed Forces.

Since he assumed this position, his main challenge has been the fight against international organized crime, which he says, “does not fall to one country, but must be a common, multinational effort.” During an interview with Diálogo Digital Military Magazine
in San Salvador, El Salvador, Gen. Melara shared his perspective about this and other topics.

DIÁLOGO:
The Armed Forces and the National Civil Police of El Salvador are working side by side in the war on drugs. Up until three of four years ago, there was no thought in El Salvador about these two forces working together. How is this collaboration working in the fight against international organized crime and gangs?

Gen. Melara:
Currently, the Armed Forces of El Salvador are very actively involved in the country. We work together directly with the National Civil Police (PNC) through the president’s executive orders, under which we assist the PNC in penitentiaries, migration and alien affairs, and customs. This is part of our current duties on the national level as the Armed Forces.

DIÁLOGO:
Could you please specify some of the results achieved by this joint effort over the last few months?

Gen. Melara:
For example, the Navy just interdicted three ships at sea, one with 500 kilograms of cocaine; another with 266 kg; and the third with 50 kg, which happened just yesterday [December 17]. Later, the Cuscatlán Joint Group conducted the respective procedures, the task of prosecuting all the interdiction cases.

DIÁLOGO:
What is the Cuscatlán Joint Group?

Gen. Melara:
The Cuscatlán Joint Group is an organization with inter-institutional interoperability between the National Police, the Armed Forces, the Prosecutor’s Office, the Executive Port Commission, known as CEPA, and other necessary institutions to take action against international organized crime. This dynamic is already in operation.

DIÁLOGO:
So you mean, the Armed Forces’ job ends with the interdiction, and that is where the Federal Police come in?

Gen. Melara:
Yes, it could be the Police, through the Drug Enforcement Joint Group, or the Cuscatlán Joint Group, which also has personnel from both the Armed Forces and the drug enforcement division, but the point is that the initial work of search, interdiction and control, or rather the analysis of verifying the amount and determining whether or not the substance is a drug, is done by specialized agents.

DIÁLOGO:
General, was this part of Operation MARTILLO?

Gen. Melara:
The interdictions did occur within the framework of Operation MARTILLO, but they were also part of another operation, called Lionfish II [More than 27.5 tons of drugs were seized in Operation Lionfish II, an initiative led by INTERPOL, the international police organization, against illicit drug and weapons trafficking by organized crime groups in Central America and the Caribbean].


DIÁLOGO:
Does El Salvador want to continue its participation in Operation MARTILLO?

Gen. Melara:
Of course we do. El Salvador is not only interested in continuing its participation in Operation MARTILLO, but we are also interested in having all efforts that make the fight against transnational organized crime more effective continue indefinitely. And in this case, Operation MARTILLO is a great aid to make this effort more decisive.

DIÁLOGO:
Returning to domestic problems, specifically the gang problem. In the last few years, there was an apparently successful truce: the number of homicides in the country decreased because of it. But more recently, the gangs seem to have gone back to fighting each other, and the number of homicides is again on the rise, according to a study published recently by the United Nations. Why does El Salvador once again find itself among the countries in our region with the highest homicide rates?

Gen. Melara:
As the Armed Forces, we were not involved at all in what has been called the Pacification Process. It was entirely a police action, through all of its agencies. This pacification process led by the Ministry of Justice and Security was fruitful because we had evidence that most of the deaths were due to the battles among the gangs. To the extent that the ministry sought a pacification process, there was a noticeable reduction in the country’s homicide rates. So we look very highly on any process that is done for the country’s benefit so long as it respects the independent involvement of each institution. I repeat: we as the Armed Forces were not involved at all in carrying out the pacification process.

DIÁLOGO:
But currently, the Armed Forces of El Salvador are very involved in the fight against drug trafficking. Do you believe there is going to be some change to the interoperability between the Armed Forces and the Police?

Gen. Rafael Melara:
From an optimistic point of view, the Armed Forces would like to have our involvement diminished in this fight, because this is a mission that belongs to law enforcement. But so long as those are not the circumstances, the decisive support of the Armed Forces to the Police will continue under executive orders, and we will continue to provide support with the best disposition, as we are ordered to do. The important thing is to protect the security of our people, and for now our involvement helps provide security to a large part of our nation’s populace because we are in the 33 zones with the highest crime rates.

Our troops are stationed in those zones and are familiar with the fight between the gangs in the criminal environment.

DIÁLOGO:
Do you agree with the creation of task forces consisting of members of the police and the Armed Forces working together and in a timely fashion against drug trafficking? Or, something like the Zeus Command, which helps the National Civil Police to combat violent street gangs like Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio 18 (M-18), among other criminals?

Gen. Melara:
The Zeus Joint Task Force was a joint-effort option proposed a few years ago when it was decided that the Armed Forces of El Salvador would participate in some way in the fight against the escalating violence in the country, especially against drug trafficking. The agreement was that Zeus would work in the zones with the highest crime rates, implementing ostentatious patrols, anti-crime operations, searches on persons, arrests in flagrante
, etc. And there has been a significant Armed Forces presence in those places. We could say that the work so far has been very effective; we have control over those areas that had the highest crime rates before, and now have some of the lowest crime rates, that is, where we are, there is evidence that crime has decreased in all its forms.

So, we have the example of Zeus, which has been very effective and, for now, our mission is to continue collaborating with the police in this regard. Within the Zeus [Task Force], there is also what we call joint operations, which are always focused on areas with high crime rates. So we are conducting inter-institutional work; a joint effort among the Police, the Prosecutor’s Office, specialized units, and the Armed Forces. We believe that the Armed Forces’ support to the police has been consistent and decisive, and we know that we must continue in this way for some more time.

DIÁLOGO:
General, do you think that this change that occurred in the Armed Forces – not only in El Salvador, but also in Colombia, Brazil, etc. – to support the police in the fight against drug trafficking and organized crime, will be permanent?

Gen. Melara:
No, it is not permanent. This support has always been characterized as exceptional and on-going, but not permanent.

DIÁLOGO:
Now, regarding the involvement of El Salvador in [humanitarian] aid and disaster response... El Salvador is known all over the world for its involvement and the high level of involvement in the UN peace keeping operations. Will this role become permanent for your country’s Armed Forces?

Gen. Melara:
Yes; apart from the Constitutional missions to defend the nation and its territorial integrity, we have an obligation to support peace and public well being, as well as to support the country in the event of disasters and in efforts for public benefit. These are Constitutional mandates. So when a natural emergency occurs, for example, which are recurrent in our country –be they earthquakes, mudslides, floods, etc.­– all the resources of the Armed Forces are placed at the country’s disposition to do everything within our power in cooperation with the civilian authorities, which in the case of emergencies is directed by the Civil Protection Bureau, although the Armed Forces provide the most resources.

It is a task that we perform in a comprehensive way in all areas of logistics, human resources, communications, search and rescue, storage, distribution of different resources and others. This also is, shall we say, a temporary effort while the disaster is occurring, however it is a Constitutional mission of support, just like being ready and prepared for any emergency.

DIÁLOGO:
Could you further discuss the participation of El Salvador’s Armed Forces in the international sphere?

Gen. Melara:
We also have a mission to cooperate with international peace efforts. And we have done so as part of our foreign policy and also in gratitude for the peacekeeping efforts that occurred in El Salvador, which ended in 1992. [The Chapultepec Peace Accords were a set of agreements signed on January 16, 1992, between the Government of El Salvador and the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) at the Chapultepec Castle in Mexico, which put an end to 12 years of civil war in the country].
Now, we cooperate with international peace efforts. So much so that we have participated in missions in Iraq, we have sent contingents for three-and-a-half years to Afghanistan, we now have a contingent in Lebanon – where we have had a presence for six years – and we have been in Haiti for two years, working on the reconstruction efforts in that country.

DIÁLOGO:
Is El Salvador participating in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL)?

Gen. Melara:
Exactly. Our participation there is primarily done together with Spain, which made a request as a NATO member so we could participate, even though we are not NATO members.

DIÁLOGO:
Does El Salvador have an interest in one day being a leader and not only a participant in some of these UN peace keeping missions, as Brazil has done, for example, with the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH)?

Gen. Melara:
Before I answer, I want to mention that El Salvador is part of the Chilean Battalion in Haiti, which itself is part of MINUSTAH, with a Mechanized Infantry Company, conducting security and patrol activities. Currently, we are in a preparation and development stage until all resources are available, and the legal part is completed, with a goal not yet of being leaders of missions like these, but instead of independent missions.

It could be the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in Mali (MINUSMA)...

I would like to take this opportunity to mention that in our preparations for this mission, we have received a great deal of support from the United States Department of Defense, through the Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) and the U.S. Security Cooperation Office in El Salvador.

DIÁLOGO:
There was even a training event organized by SOUTHCOM to fight Ebola, which ended at the beginning of December, specifically for El Salvador’s mission in Mali, conducted together with the Uruguayan military, correct?

Gen. Melara:
Yes. We are going to a continent where, unfortunately there is a threat of Ebola, and all joint efforts to try to minimize the effects of this disease, making preparations, etc., are very important. In addition to the training with the Uruguayans and the support of SOUTHCOM we mentioned, we have also trained our pilots on flying in the desert, which is something we do not have here, so they could learn and take lessons for this mission [ MINUSMA
].

DIÁLOGO:
Returning to our region, does El Salvador intend to work even more closely – primarily with Guatemala and Honduras – through intelligence exchanges and joint trainings, especially in the fight against drug trafficking?

Gen. Melara:
The Central American Armed Forces Conference is a military organization that consists of the Armed Forces of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. One of its principle pillars is the fight against transnational organized crime, that is, the fight against current threats that are no longer merely national threats, but international ones. Transnational organized crime effects all of us equally. In this way, we have ongoing exchanges both at a bilateral level and a regional level in this fight, and in seeking to unite our efforts.

DIÁLOGO:
Could you please give us an example?

Gen. Melara:
With Honduras, we have what we call a bilateral patrol with us on the Salvadoran side and the Armed Forces of Honduras on their side, and we do this continuously. We have a permanent means of contact established with them along the entire border and everything that could affect these efforts negatively is being minimized. Apart from that, there is a continuous exchange of information about what threats they are experiencing, which threats we are experiencing, and which of those we have in common so we can confront these problems. This not only has to do with drug trafficking, but also trafficking in persons, weapons, and is related to terrorism, in addition to other ills.

Currently, we are working at the most remote points on the border, which we call blind spots. We have a similar program with Guatemala. We are in constant contact with our region and others, such as the United States.

DIÁLOGO:
Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Gen. Melara:
Mainly, I want to say that our Armed Forces are apolitical, we are determined to maintain the rule of law, and the legally constituted authorities deserve all our respect. Our mission ought to be always to follow what is in our Constitution, and I can confirm that our work is performed with that in mind.

Our Armed Forces are an institution that is permanently at the service of the State, everything for the good of our country. The training, information and other exchanges with the United States are also very important, and we have always had their support when we needed it. Our military relationship with the United States has always been excellent, and we hope that it stays that way and that it remains a lasting relationship.







On February 11, 2014, General Rafael Melara Rivera was inducted into the United States Army's War College Hall of Fame, located in Pennsylvania. His induction in particular was doubly significant because he was the first Salvadoran and the first Latin American military officer from among the War College’s international graduates to receive this distinction. His induction also reflects the positive impact the general has demonstrated year after year, not only within El Salvador but internationally as well.

Known as a strategic, affable and conciliatory leader, the rise to his current post is due to a rigorous workload and a great deal of effort at every rank, and in the various educational and training courses an officer must have to be able to lead a country’s armed forces.

As a part of this training, Gen. Melara gained additional skills in other parts of the world, which also contributed to his professional, academic and intellectual background. In addition, the general was part of one of the contingents in the rotations participating in Iraq as part of the Multinational Force during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Later, he was the commanding officer of the Special Operations Group under the Special Forces Command, and during this time he had repeated interactions with the U.S. Armed Forces through his assignment to A Company, Seventh Group, where he was a participant in a variety of activities, such as parachuting, combat diving, close quarters combat, and others. He not only participated in a wide variety of such interactions, but also enjoyed learning opportunities in a rescue vessel and in training to fight transnational organized crime.

All of these experiences have molded Gen. Melara perfectly to hold the highest-ranking military post in the Armed Forces of El Salvador; since July 31, 2013, he has served as the Chief of the Joint Staff of his country’s Armed Forces.

Since he assumed this position, his main challenge has been the fight against international organized crime, which he says, “does not fall to one country, but must be a common, multinational effort.” During an interview with Diálogo Digital Military Magazine
in San Salvador, El Salvador, Gen. Melara shared his perspective about this and other topics.

DIÁLOGO:
The Armed Forces and the National Civil Police of El Salvador are working side by side in the war on drugs. Up until three of four years ago, there was no thought in El Salvador about these two forces working together. How is this collaboration working in the fight against international organized crime and gangs?

Gen. Melara:
Currently, the Armed Forces of El Salvador are very actively involved in the country. We work together directly with the National Civil Police (PNC) through the president’s executive orders, under which we assist the PNC in penitentiaries, migration and alien affairs, and customs. This is part of our current duties on the national level as the Armed Forces.

DIÁLOGO:
Could you please specify some of the results achieved by this joint effort over the last few months?

Gen. Melara:
For example, the Navy just interdicted three ships at sea, one with 500 kilograms of cocaine; another with 266 kg; and the third with 50 kg, which happened just yesterday [December 17]. Later, the Cuscatlán Joint Group conducted the respective procedures, the task of prosecuting all the interdiction cases.

DIÁLOGO:
What is the Cuscatlán Joint Group?

Gen. Melara:
The Cuscatlán Joint Group is an organization with inter-institutional interoperability between the National Police, the Armed Forces, the Prosecutor’s Office, the Executive Port Commission, known as CEPA, and other necessary institutions to take action against international organized crime. This dynamic is already in operation.

DIÁLOGO:
So you mean, the Armed Forces’ job ends with the interdiction, and that is where the Federal Police come in?

Gen. Melara:
Yes, it could be the Police, through the Drug Enforcement Joint Group, or the Cuscatlán Joint Group, which also has personnel from both the Armed Forces and the drug enforcement division, but the point is that the initial work of search, interdiction and control, or rather the analysis of verifying the amount and determining whether or not the substance is a drug, is done by specialized agents.

DIÁLOGO:
General, was this part of Operation MARTILLO?

Gen. Melara:
The interdictions did occur within the framework of Operation MARTILLO, but they were also part of another operation, called Lionfish II [More than 27.5 tons of drugs were seized in Operation Lionfish II, an initiative led by INTERPOL, the international police organization, against illicit drug and weapons trafficking by organized crime groups in Central America and the Caribbean].


DIÁLOGO:
Does El Salvador want to continue its participation in Operation MARTILLO?

Gen. Melara:
Of course we do. El Salvador is not only interested in continuing its participation in Operation MARTILLO, but we are also interested in having all efforts that make the fight against transnational organized crime more effective continue indefinitely. And in this case, Operation MARTILLO is a great aid to make this effort more decisive.

DIÁLOGO:
Returning to domestic problems, specifically the gang problem. In the last few years, there was an apparently successful truce: the number of homicides in the country decreased because of it. But more recently, the gangs seem to have gone back to fighting each other, and the number of homicides is again on the rise, according to a study published recently by the United Nations. Why does El Salvador once again find itself among the countries in our region with the highest homicide rates?

Gen. Melara:
As the Armed Forces, we were not involved at all in what has been called the Pacification Process. It was entirely a police action, through all of its agencies. This pacification process led by the Ministry of Justice and Security was fruitful because we had evidence that most of the deaths were due to the battles among the gangs. To the extent that the ministry sought a pacification process, there was a noticeable reduction in the country’s homicide rates. So we look very highly on any process that is done for the country’s benefit so long as it respects the independent involvement of each institution. I repeat: we as the Armed Forces were not involved at all in carrying out the pacification process.

DIÁLOGO:
But currently, the Armed Forces of El Salvador are very involved in the fight against drug trafficking. Do you believe there is going to be some change to the interoperability between the Armed Forces and the Police?

Gen. Rafael Melara:
From an optimistic point of view, the Armed Forces would like to have our involvement diminished in this fight, because this is a mission that belongs to law enforcement. But so long as those are not the circumstances, the decisive support of the Armed Forces to the Police will continue under executive orders, and we will continue to provide support with the best disposition, as we are ordered to do. The important thing is to protect the security of our people, and for now our involvement helps provide security to a large part of our nation’s populace because we are in the 33 zones with the highest crime rates.

Our troops are stationed in those zones and are familiar with the fight between the gangs in the criminal environment.

DIÁLOGO:
Do you agree with the creation of task forces consisting of members of the police and the Armed Forces working together and in a timely fashion against drug trafficking? Or, something like the Zeus Command, which helps the National Civil Police to combat violent street gangs like Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio 18 (M-18), among other criminals?

Gen. Melara:
The Zeus Joint Task Force was a joint-effort option proposed a few years ago when it was decided that the Armed Forces of El Salvador would participate in some way in the fight against the escalating violence in the country, especially against drug trafficking. The agreement was that Zeus would work in the zones with the highest crime rates, implementing ostentatious patrols, anti-crime operations, searches on persons, arrests in flagrante
, etc. And there has been a significant Armed Forces presence in those places. We could say that the work so far has been very effective; we have control over those areas that had the highest crime rates before, and now have some of the lowest crime rates, that is, where we are, there is evidence that crime has decreased in all its forms.

So, we have the example of Zeus, which has been very effective and, for now, our mission is to continue collaborating with the police in this regard. Within the Zeus [Task Force], there is also what we call joint operations, which are always focused on areas with high crime rates. So we are conducting inter-institutional work; a joint effort among the Police, the Prosecutor’s Office, specialized units, and the Armed Forces. We believe that the Armed Forces’ support to the police has been consistent and decisive, and we know that we must continue in this way for some more time.

DIÁLOGO:
General, do you think that this change that occurred in the Armed Forces – not only in El Salvador, but also in Colombia, Brazil, etc. – to support the police in the fight against drug trafficking and organized crime, will be permanent?

Gen. Melara:
No, it is not permanent. This support has always been characterized as exceptional and on-going, but not permanent.

DIÁLOGO:
Now, regarding the involvement of El Salvador in [humanitarian] aid and disaster response... El Salvador is known all over the world for its involvement and the high level of involvement in the UN peace keeping operations. Will this role become permanent for your country’s Armed Forces?

Gen. Melara:
Yes; apart from the Constitutional missions to defend the nation and its territorial integrity, we have an obligation to support peace and public well being, as well as to support the country in the event of disasters and in efforts for public benefit. These are Constitutional mandates. So when a natural emergency occurs, for example, which are recurrent in our country –be they earthquakes, mudslides, floods, etc.­– all the resources of the Armed Forces are placed at the country’s disposition to do everything within our power in cooperation with the civilian authorities, which in the case of emergencies is directed by the Civil Protection Bureau, although the Armed Forces provide the most resources.

It is a task that we perform in a comprehensive way in all areas of logistics, human resources, communications, search and rescue, storage, distribution of different resources and others. This also is, shall we say, a temporary effort while the disaster is occurring, however it is a Constitutional mission of support, just like being ready and prepared for any emergency.

DIÁLOGO:
Could you further discuss the participation of El Salvador’s Armed Forces in the international sphere?

Gen. Melara:
We also have a mission to cooperate with international peace efforts. And we have done so as part of our foreign policy and also in gratitude for the peacekeeping efforts that occurred in El Salvador, which ended in 1992. [The Chapultepec Peace Accords were a set of agreements signed on January 16, 1992, between the Government of El Salvador and the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) at the Chapultepec Castle in Mexico, which put an end to 12 years of civil war in the country].
Now, we cooperate with international peace efforts. So much so that we have participated in missions in Iraq, we have sent contingents for three-and-a-half years to Afghanistan, we now have a contingent in Lebanon – where we have had a presence for six years – and we have been in Haiti for two years, working on the reconstruction efforts in that country.

DIÁLOGO:
Is El Salvador participating in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL)?

Gen. Melara:
Exactly. Our participation there is primarily done together with Spain, which made a request as a NATO member so we could participate, even though we are not NATO members.

DIÁLOGO:
Does El Salvador have an interest in one day being a leader and not only a participant in some of these UN peace keeping missions, as Brazil has done, for example, with the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH)?

Gen. Melara:
Before I answer, I want to mention that El Salvador is part of the Chilean Battalion in Haiti, which itself is part of MINUSTAH, with a Mechanized Infantry Company, conducting security and patrol activities. Currently, we are in a preparation and development stage until all resources are available, and the legal part is completed, with a goal not yet of being leaders of missions like these, but instead of independent missions.

It could be the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in Mali (MINUSMA)...

I would like to take this opportunity to mention that in our preparations for this mission, we have received a great deal of support from the United States Department of Defense, through the Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) and the U.S. Security Cooperation Office in El Salvador.

DIÁLOGO:
There was even a training event organized by SOUTHCOM to fight Ebola, which ended at the beginning of December, specifically for El Salvador’s mission in Mali, conducted together with the Uruguayan military, correct?

Gen. Melara:
Yes. We are going to a continent where, unfortunately there is a threat of Ebola, and all joint efforts to try to minimize the effects of this disease, making preparations, etc., are very important. In addition to the training with the Uruguayans and the support of SOUTHCOM we mentioned, we have also trained our pilots on flying in the desert, which is something we do not have here, so they could learn and take lessons for this mission [ MINUSMA
].

DIÁLOGO:
Returning to our region, does El Salvador intend to work even more closely – primarily with Guatemala and Honduras – through intelligence exchanges and joint trainings, especially in the fight against drug trafficking?

Gen. Melara:
The Central American Armed Forces Conference is a military organization that consists of the Armed Forces of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. One of its principle pillars is the fight against transnational organized crime, that is, the fight against current threats that are no longer merely national threats, but international ones. Transnational organized crime effects all of us equally. In this way, we have ongoing exchanges both at a bilateral level and a regional level in this fight, and in seeking to unite our efforts.

DIÁLOGO:
Could you please give us an example?

Gen. Melara:
With Honduras, we have what we call a bilateral patrol with us on the Salvadoran side and the Armed Forces of Honduras on their side, and we do this continuously. We have a permanent means of contact established with them along the entire border and everything that could affect these efforts negatively is being minimized. Apart from that, there is a continuous exchange of information about what threats they are experiencing, which threats we are experiencing, and which of those we have in common so we can confront these problems. This not only has to do with drug trafficking, but also trafficking in persons, weapons, and is related to terrorism, in addition to other ills.

Currently, we are working at the most remote points on the border, which we call blind spots. We have a similar program with Guatemala. We are in constant contact with our region and others, such as the United States.

DIÁLOGO:
Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Gen. Melara:
Mainly, I want to say that our Armed Forces are apolitical, we are determined to maintain the rule of law, and the legally constituted authorities deserve all our respect. Our mission ought to be always to follow what is in our Constitution, and I can confirm that our work is performed with that in mind.

Our Armed Forces are an institution that is permanently at the service of the State, everything for the good of our country. The training, information and other exchanges with the United States are also very important, and we have always had their support when we needed it. Our military relationship with the United States has always been excellent, and we hope that it stays that way and that it remains a lasting relationship.
How can I comment on the character who went to Havana? We are proud to count on military officers such as General Rafael Melara, whom I congratulate for his honorable distinction by the Army of the United States for Latin America. Crime has become organized because the government has not organized itself. I really liked the interview. It informed me of the existing partnerships and agreements with the United States, which I didn't know about. It is important for South and Central America to understand the procedures and advanced technologies used in the first world. Constitutionally, the role of a country's armed forces is to defend their sovereignty and freedom.
However, in certain cases, cooperation is always welcome. In natural disasters like the one in Haiti, aid is fundamental and necessary. I even believe that if politics in powerful countries were involved, Haiti would already be rebuilt. It would not be a favor at all for developed countries to help in the reconstruction. It wouldn't really be aid, but rather, a huge social and human investment. The return for both parties would be worthwhile because the people would not need to flee.
In Brazil, the end of violence is the solution for security. It begins with education and extends to compulsory military service as of age 16 for both sexes (with the potential for a career plan after 2 years of service). As for children ages 5 to 15, full-time school with all conventional materials, including music, dance, theater and visual arts.
The most important thing to teach starting in Year 1 is how to sing the national anthem before entering the classroom.
Social and political education, ethics and notions of citizenship. Gentil de Jesus Stocker Excellente outstanding work by the Division General Melara, whose abilities I know first hand, having shared in developing the course on National Security and Development. Joyous congratulations go out to him, as well as for Lieutenant Colonel Gutierrez Sariles, by which I am aware of the excellent teamwork Division General Melara enjoys. Congratulations. It makes us proud that our country and the United States of North America acknowledge the worth and dedication shown by Division General Melara by giving him this very well deserved recognition. Joyous congratulations go to him, a sign of many more successes to come, on a professional and personal level. Congratulations. I know General Melara and his time as general lately has been of the best. He was always a good officer and I think he is very noble and gentlemanly...Congratulations to you, my general. I didn't know about General Melara, from what I can see he is a professional member of the military and respectful of democracy. Congratulations, general I like all that information given to us, many readers. Everything that has been discussed is very true, the Salvadoran Air Force is an armed Institution which deserves the respect of every Salvadoran, it overcame the post-war period and today, with renewed splendor, it is an important institution within the country's democratic activity. We have to take into account the huge range of work that it carries out with a weak budget, which is something that needs attention.
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