Honduras and Nicaragua Strengthen Military Security
By René Novoa/Diálogo July 26, 2016The Honduran Armed Forces and the Nicaraguan Army are coordinating their efforts in the fight against drug trafficking, organized crime, and human smuggling in the zone along their common border. During a meeting in Tegucigalpa on June 30th, Major General Francisco Álvarez Urbina, chairman of the Honduran Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army General Julio César Avilés Castillo, commander of the Nicaraguan Army, signed a work protocol for the fourth edition of the Morazán-Sandino coordinated operation, a security and surveillance maneuver that the two military institutions have been conducting.
The Morazán-Sandino coordinated operation began on April 25, 2014, when a bilateral treaty was signed by the two Central American neighbors to initiate joint work protocols.
Maj. Gen. Álvarez stated that the bilateral meeting will strengthen the operations conducted by both countries’ military institutions. "During the meeting, we were able to evaluate the implementation of the agreements on bilateral operations to combat organized crime, and we agreed to expand our cooperation in border areas in 2016."
He explained that Honduras and Nicaragua share a 966-kilometer border that is separated by Cabo Gracias a Dios, where 16 communities have been established: Las Manos, Trojes, Arenales, Concepción de María, Boca de Español, and Yari (in southern, eastern, and northeastern Honduras); El Espino, Palo Grande, Las Varas, Las Manos, Vado Ancho, Jalapa, Raití, Kitaski, Waspam, and Cabo Gracias a Dios (in northern Nicaragua).
The joint operations have helped improve the border communities’ coexistence. "We have a close relationship with the Nicaraguan Army, which has allowed us to create an atmosphere of peace and security for these populations, who now trust that their governments and armies are fighting crime in those places," added Maj. Gen. Álvarez.
At the same time, he added that the militaries are meeting with local authorities to provide an immediate response to public-safety emergencies. "Organized crime activity was preventing people from peacefully carrying out their daily activities, so we, along with the Nicaraguan Army, help encourage community development in an environment of normalcy," confirmed Maj. Gen. Álvarez Urbina.
Asdrúbal Amador, a 32-year-old resident of the community of Trojes, in the eastern Honduran department of El Paraíso, confirmed that, "During the two years that the military has been in our community, we have seen a huge difference [in the reduction of crime] because they have captured many criminals in these operations, and they even arrest people who are trafficking in livestock [cattle and swine]."
Operations Shown to be Effective
The two countries are satisfied with the effectiveness of their joint work, according to General Avilés Castillo.
"The coordinated work and the exchange of information has allowed us to prevent the commission of crimes in the border zones and break up criminal groups that have tried to get into these areas.
"I can confirm that all of the operations in these areas have been carried out strictly within the framework of the law and human rights," he continued. "We recognize all the personnel involved for working intensely to strengthen security along the entirety of the common border with highly positive results."
The success of the Morazán-Sandino coordinated operation was reflected in data provided by Infantry Colonel Manuel Guevara Rocha, director of Foreign and Public Relations of the Nicaraguan Army.
So far this year, the Honduran Armed Forces have arrested 40 individuals for various crimes. Of these, three had outstanding arrest warrants, 363 were detained for illegally transiting the country, and six others were arrested for drug trafficking. Honduran authorities confiscated 9,000 marijuana plants and 18joints, in addition to five firearms and six rounds of ammunition of varied caliber.
They also confiscated $20,932, five automobiles, three motorcycles, 10 motorboats, 556 gallons of fuel, as well as 307 boardfeet of wood, 113 boxes of medication, 64 pairs of shoes, 300 quintals of sorghum, and 300 pigs. A clandestine landing area used by drug traffickers was taken also out of commission.
For his part, Col. Guevara Rocha reported that so far this year, the Nicaraguan Army has arrested 25 individuals for various illegal acts, detained 139 undocumented migrants, and confiscated 17 kilos of processed marijuana, as well as 25,723 marijuana plants and five pounds of marijuana seeds.
They also seized 26 weapons of varied caliber and 206 rounds of ammunition; $1,508 in cash; 16 vehicles; three motorcycles; 1,700 boardfeet of wood; 148 farm animals; and 33 containers of contraband merchandise.
Since its inception, the effort has continued to yield results, said Col. Guevara Rocha. For instance, he noted, in 2015, the Morazán-Sandino coordinated operation identified and took control of 11 unauthorized border crossings that had been used for trafficking drugs, humans, and contraband livestock.