Navies of the Americas Unite

Navies of the Americas Unite

By Dialogo
January 01, 2011

Bolivia… where is your sea? It was a successful event, once again, a show of excellent relations between the Navies of the Americas as they cooperate with each other and the the maritime security forces. There are challenges in the Atlantic, Pacific and even in the Antarctic.
It has to motivate, above all, the governments of these countries to invest in education to train their elite professionals for jobs on the sea -- civil and military -- with a view towards taking advantage of the riches of the ocean to guarantee preservation and security. We await the 2012 conference in Mexico.

Naval security, from monitoring and controlling fishing activities to the
fight against drug trafficking, was among the topics debated at the 24th
Inter-American Naval Conference (Conferência Naval Interamericana, or CNI), held in
September 2010 in Rio de Janeiro.
The CNI was created in 1950 and is held every two years. It promotes ongoing
professional ties among navies of participating countries and is considered “the
most important forum for debate and exchange among the navies of the Americas,”
according to the secretary-general of the 24th edition of the event, Brazilian Rear
Adm. Wagner Lopes de Moraes Zamith, who spoke to Diálogo at the
event.
The navies of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, the
Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama,
Paraguay, Peru, the United States and Venezuela participated in the conference.
Evaluating the conclusions reached during the event, the commandant-general of the
Brazilian Navy, Fleet Adm. Julio Soares de Moura Neto, told Diálogo
that “delegates from the participating countries left the event fully aware that we
need to exchange information and cooperate with one another.”

Rear Adm. Aland Javier Molestina Malta, commandant-general of the Ecuadorian
Navy, spoke of the shared importance of secure oceans. “Although it’s only now that
we talk about globalization, the ocean has always been globalized as a way to get
everywhere. We all have common interests in this ocean. We cannot focus only on our
own country, but have to focus on the entire region.”
Adm. Molestina added that Ecuador is being used as a transit route from drug
production areas to consumers, and in order to solve the problem, Ecuador “needs
close contact between countries, particularly with Colombia, Peru and the United
States, which is the main destination for all these drugs.” Noting a specific
contribution by Ecuador in this battle, Adm. Molestina told Diálogo
that his country has developed a system available to others in the region called
ZIMAC. The system monitors ships weighing more than 200 tons. Nonetheless, Adm.
Molestina thinks that the surveillance of smaller vessels remains problematic.
“Throughout the region, we should standardize the monitoring system and share
information on these suspicious vessels that pass through international waters.”
Vice Adm. Álvaro Echandía Durán, head of the Colombian Navy’s delegation,
told Diálogo that the Colombian Navy has vast experience in the
fight against drug trafficking. Vice Adm. Echandía said that in 2009, the Colombian
Navy set a record for the country, seizing 97.4 tons of cocaine. The Colombian Navy
also monitors the presence of self-propelled semisubmersibles, clandestine submarine
vessels used to transport illicit drugs. According to Colombian officials, in 1993,
when seizures of this kind were first conducted, 56 of these vessels were found,
whereas in 2009, the number seized dropped to 20. “We stopped a large share of these
vessels still in the construction phase. Others that were already sailing, filled
with drugs, were then intercepted,” said Adm. Echandía, who pointed out that
Colombian law authorizes imprisonment for the use of any type of semisubmersible.
The head of the Paraguayan delegation, Rear Adm. Egberto E. Orue Benegas,
spoke of the need to focus on riverine operations. “Besides the effort to free our
rivers from pollution, we also fight against illicit trafficking,” he emphasized in
an interview with Diálogo. Nations throughout the region are
increasingly turning their attention to patrolling Amazonian rivers.
For the chief Mexican representative at the conference, Fleet Adm. José Jesús
Marte Camarera, the most important aspect was the exchange of information among the
forces and joint operations with all the navies from the Americas. “This is why we
participated in the conference, to explain our point of view and to get to know the
points of view of others,” said Fleet Adm. Marte Camarera.

For the head of the general staff of the Chilean Navy, Vice Adm. Federico
Niemann Fiyari, the conference facilitated more than the exchange of information.
“There are agreements implemented with certain countries ... to exchange information
ahead of time so as to be able to react on a national level with the resources and
the regulatory and legal jurisdictions that each country has in this matter,” he
told Diálogo.
Brazilian Navy Rear Adm. Wagner Lopes de Moraes Zamith told
Diálogo that the goal of the 2010 conference had been
successfully met: to improve interoperability among the navies of the Americas to
establish security and peace among nations.
Mexico will host the 25th Inter-American Naval Conference in
2012.
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