Honduras and Chile Strengthen Cooperation on Defense and Security

Honduras and Chile Strengthen Cooperation on Defense and Security

By Julieta Pelcastre/Diálogo
April 06, 2017

con todA la esperanza de que se consoliden objetivos de cooperación en el continente. The Honduran and Chilean governments have agreed to strengthen their bonds of cooperation on security. This was one of the outcomes of the visit that Colonel Rafael Pizarro, Chile’s military attaché in El Salvador, made to Honduras. He met with Major General Francisco Isaías Álvarez Urbina, chief of the Joint Staff of the Honduran Armed Forces, to reiterate the Chilean government’s support in the areas of defense, security, and education of the Navy. The meeting took place on February 22nd in Tegucigalpa, within the framework of the Central American Armed Forces Conference (CFAC, per its Spanish acronym). The purpose of the visit was “to coordinate a series of cooperation activities that we will be doing this year [2017] exclusively in the military and naval area,” Col. Pizarro told the Armed Forces television network of the Central American nation. The Chilean government has offered to share and exchange experiences in the naval sector to boost the Honduran Navy’s presence and operational capacities in order to achieve greater security over its maritime space. “Chile has reached a level of excellence in its naval industry with regard to operations, logistics, training, and technology transfer. Chile’s contribution can boost our own capabilities in combat, chiefly in our fight against drug trafficking,” Colonel Jorge Alfredo Cerrato Paz, director of Public Relations for the Honduran Armed Forces, told Diálogo. “Drugs that go through Honduras destined for the United States first pass through South America. Therefore, South American nations such as Chile can really help us be more efficient in that fight,” Col. Cerrato noted. “Honduras is trying to diversify its partnerships in the context of the new challenges that it sees itself facing,” added Eugenio Sosa, a security and violence analyst at the National Autonomous University of Honduras. Military commanders also agreed to study the need for scheduling training and academic exchanges to improve the operational capabilities and procedures of the Central American nation’s military units. Col. Cerrato said that for the Armed Forces, diplomatic relations to tighten their bonds of friendship and cooperation is what matters most. To that end, a group of 11 cadets and two officers from the General Francisco Morazán Military Academy of Honduras were invited by the Chilean government to represent the Honduran Armed Forces in the bicentennial celebration of the founding of Bernardo O’Higgins Military School. The Honduran students participated in the International Patrol Competition from March 13th to 14th, which brought together the patrol forces of nine guest nations. In this international competition, the cadets performed a series of tests associated with leadership, physical stamina, teamwork, and combat abilities. “In addition to the huge interest that the Chilean Armed Forces have in assisting us with training and academics, this meeting between military leaders gave us the chance to understand the experiences that other countries have had in successfully combating terrorism and organized crime structures, and that serves as a model that we can replicate,” Col. Cerrato highlighted. Honduras and Chile have cooperated on defense and security issues for years. In 2016, a specialized unit of the Chilean Navy’s Rapid Response Group from the General Office of Marine Territories and the Merchant Marine (DIRECTIMAR, per its Spanish acronym) trained the naval forces and marines of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala on the gradual use of force, personal defense, armed tactical deployment, treating wounds under fire, and boarding techniques for responding to risky situations such as piracy, drug trafficking, human trafficking, and interdiction operations, according to the Vigía magazine (issue 380), a publication of the Chilean Navy. The Armed Forces of Honduras have officers who are former members of the Chilean Army and the Chilean Carabineros, the country’s police force. Honduras has a military contingent in Haiti working under the Chilean flag in collaboration with the UN mission to reclaim peace and security in that Caribbean nation. “To the extent that Honduras sees Chile as an authority in the areas of education, training, and consulting on military doctrine, our cooperation can lead to military accords that may benefit both nations, as has happened with the governments of the United States and Colombia,” Sosa said. Honduras and Chile agreed to schedule a follow-up meeting to move forward with cooperation activities, according to Col. Cerrato. “Honduras is giving this its best effort so that in the not-too-distant future we see reductions in all of the indicators of violence and drug trafficking that our country has experienced.”
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