Major General Julio Ernesto Florián Pérez assumed the position of vice minister of Military Affairs of the Dominican Ministry of Defense on August 22, 2022.
Maj. Gen. Florián, who has more than 40 years of service to his country, occupying high positions in the command echelon, spoke with Diálogo about his ministerial challenges and the Defense approach to countering criminal organizations, among other topics.
Diálogo: What is your challenge as head of the Vice Ministry of Military Affairs?
Major General Julio Ernesto Florián Pérez, vice minister of Military Affairs of the Dominican Ministry of Defense: The main challenge that we have, not only myself, but all the Dominican military, is to continue to serve the country in an effective way, as we’ve been doing all along. Our focus is for the citizenry to accept us, to support us, and to be able to contribute to national development.
Diálogo: Has the Dominican Republic become a transit hub for cocaine from Venezuela bound for the United States or Europe, and what actions are you taking to combat this situation?
Maj. Gen. Florián: We have the National Drug Control Directorate, an agency whose mission is to carry out the national strategy to combat the scourge of narcotrafficking (drugs and controlled substances). This anti-drug mission is led by the Armed Forces in conjunction with other state agencies.
Currently our main challenge is the smuggling and trafficking of drugs from South America through Dominican territorial waters. Actions we take to combat this situation are done through invaluable and ongoing coordination with U.S. Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATF South), with which we contribute with our Navy liaison officer. We also have intelligence information that we receive from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and other agencies with whom we are involved. For us it’s fundamental to be able to stop this trafficking that does so much damage not only to the Dominican Republic but to the world in general.
Diálogo: How do the Dominican Armed Forces and the DNCD strengthen actions against organized crime?
Maj. Gen. Florián: In order to work against human trafficking, money laundering, and narcotrafficking, among other transnational crimes, our Armed Forces, in association with the DNCD, hold ongoing coordination meetings, exchange intelligence, and conduct joint planning.
Diálogo: How does the Land Border Specialized Security Corps (CESFRONT) function?
Maj. Gen. Florián: CESFRONT was created in 2007 and is a specialized security corps whose function is to provide security at all formal entry and exit points on the Dominican Republic’s land border with Haiti. CESFRONT also establishes patrols and complementary checkpoints in the assigned border areas following coordination measures for the development of joint operations with the different agencies operating on the border.
Diálogo: The Armed Forces, through the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Graduate School, are holding a series of workshops called Rules for the Use of Force. What is the purpose of these workshops?
Maj. Gen. Florián: The objective of these workshops is for our soldiers and officers to be trained and have full knowledge of how they should act toward the civilian population and how to respect and protect citizens’ human rights. During these workshops, we even give them a booklet to carry with them at all times. We are constantly focusing [the approach of] our personnel so that the treatment they give to citizens is appropriate and always in accordance with the norms of respect for human rights and international humanitarian law.
Diálogo: What kind of cooperation exists between the Dominican Republic and the Puerto Rico National Guard (GNPR) as part of the State Partnership program of the U.S. Department of Defense?
Maj. Gen. Florián: The State Partnership program is excellent for our country. We have a lot of academic and training exchanges.
Diálogo: How do the Dominican Armed Forces support citizen security?
Maj. Gen. Florián: Our Constitution empowers the Armed Forces to assist the Dominican National Police if necessary. This coordination is not something new in our country, since when the police need us to support them, we are with them to do so. For example, we were providing support during the COVID-19 pandemic, during curfews, and during criminal actions in some neighborhoods that have crime problems. We are together with the Police to ensure peace and security for all citizens.