The navies of both countries strengthen the bonds of friendship through education.
In early January 2018, a Honduran naval cadet entered the Vice Admiral César Augusto De Windt Lavandier Naval Academy in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Cadet Darwin José Pinto Osorto will study at the Dominican Naval Academy until 2021.
His enrollment is part of an educational exchange both countries agreed to. The objective is to strengthen cooperation and increase interoperability of the naval forces. The exchange also reflects the trust between both countries and bolsters the bond of friendship of future military officers.
“The benefits are wide ranging,” Navy Commander Alexander Carvajal Bocanegra, commandant of the Honduran Naval Academy, told Diálogo. “They begin with education, knowledge of other cultures, and friendship among colleagues who will be able to coordinate the naval forces’ affairs in the future.”
The Honduran Navy received a female Dominican Navy cadet for the first time. Midshipman Nikaury Yaribel Nuñez de Oleo began her military academic training in January 2015 at the Honduran Naval Academy located in La Ceiba, a port city in the northern coast of Honduras. When she graduates in 2018, Midshipman Nuñez will be the first Dominican woman with a degree in Naval Sciences from the Honduran Naval Academy.
The exchange of Honduran and Dominican cadets dates back to 1988, when the two countries signed the educational agreement. In 1989, the first Honduran cadet traveled to Santo Domingo to begin his studies at the Dominican Naval Academy.
“Honduras didn’t have a naval academy until 2000,” said Cmdr. Carvajal. “The goal was to start having officers with naval training at the beginning of their studies.”
Today, military academy exchanges between the two countries are regulated by the Central American Armed Forces Conference (CFAC, in Spanish), which was created in 1997 and comprises Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic. Together, partner nations not only analyze and combat shared threats, but also work on training their troops and future officers.
“The opportunities we can enjoy are numerous,” Midshipman Nuñez told Diálogo. “Although this career isn’t easy, it is very rewarding for me to know that, through my profession, I can make my loved ones proud and motivate others who want a military career.”
After completing competitive examinations and evaluations to study abroad, the selected grant recipients are sent to a CFAC naval school chosen by the organization. Every year, an average of 30 navy cadets participate in the scholastic exchange between CFAC member countries. Hundreds of cadets from Central America benefited from the program since its inception.
“A few colleagues were sent to other countries,” said Midshipman Nuñez. “[I am] pleased that Honduras has a naval academy that, despite being relatively new, has instructors and officers who graduated abroad, and those in charge hold the education to high standards.”
The navy cadets’ program consists of theoretical training in the morning made up of general classes, classes specific to navy and military issues, and sciences. In the afternoon, cadets carry out physical education geared toward military training and sports activities.
“From 07:00 to 12:00, they receive academic instruction, fostering a spirit of self-sacrifice in the exercise of their work,” said Cmdr. Carvajal. “From 18:30 to 21:00, cadets have mandatory study time to reinforce the topics they learned about during the day.”
The future officers will graduate with a degree in Naval Sciences with the rank of ensign. During their studies, they will develop skills and abilities to become competent in the navigation of surface units to be able to carry out operational functions during missions for their respective naval forces.
For Midshipman Nuñez, the experience with her classmates from the Honduran school was enjoyable. “Over the years, we learned to work and struggle as a team in a wide range of activities,” she said. “Also, I’m from an island, and I like the sea. Being in the Navy is the best way for me to do everything I like.”
Cadet Pinto also appreciates the opportunity and hopes to be able to serve his homeland one day. “It’s a great experience to share with my foreign colleagues, who have been a great help since I entered the school,” Cadet Pinto said. “I’m achieving a goal that I’ve had since childhood, and I’m very happy to represent my country, Honduras, in our sister nation, the Dominican Republic.”