Guatemala Trains Partner Nations in Peacekeeping
By Manuel Ordoñez/Diálogo September 01, 2016Since July 1st, 2004, a section of cloud forest located in the northern department of Alta Verapaz, Guatemala, has served as a United Nations foreign military training center for peacekeeping missions. Known as the Regional Training Command for Peacekeeping Operations (CREOMPAZ, for its Spanish acronym), the training center is certified for Staff and Military Observer Courses by the United Nations. Because all the countries comprising the Central American Armed Forces Conference (CFAC, for its Spanish acronym) send their officers to these facilities for Peacekeeping Operations training, CREOMPAZ has the characteristics of a "regional training center," according to Lieutenant Colonel Karen Pérez, spokesperson for the Guatemalan Ministry of Defense. Troops that have passed through CREOMPAZ classrooms have carried out missions in several countries, including Haiti, Colombia, Ivory Coast, Burundi, Congo, South Sudan, North Sudan, the Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Lebanon, and Nepal. CREOMPAZ facilities are located in a place previously called the Army Instruction and Training Center, which was used by the Guatemalan Army's Artillery School, Professional Non-commissioned Officer School, Public Relations, and Peacekeeping Operations School. "They are prepared to be in Peacekeeping Operations environments or wherever their countries decide to send them, according to their acquired specialization and capacities," Lt. Col. Pérez added. As a member of the General Directorate for Integral Risk-Reduction Management of the Guatemalan Ministry of Defense, retired Colonel Luis Fernando Román went through the training offered by CREOMPAZ. A unique experience Col. Román's experience at the helm of the Humanitarian Rescue Unit led to his participation in a team that provided assistance following the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti in 2010. "The training at CREOMPAZ allowed me to be able to speak the same language as colleagues from other armies who also served during the emergency. We all knew what to do and how to do it, without putting ourselves or the civilian population at risk," explained Col. Román. "At CREOMPAZ, we all go through a common training, which consists of standards and protocols for all the peace forces to follow – whether they are observers, military police, or others – to be able to coexist with the civilian population and the other troops. Afterwards, they take the specialization courses," added Col. Román. The Guatemalan Army participates in peacekeeping missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Africa, as well as in Haiti, where the troops serve as military police for the UN peacekeeping forces. In addition to in-person classes at the school, CREOMPAZ has a partnership with the U.S.-based Peace Operations Training Institute (POTI) to offer online courses on peacekeeping completely free of charge.