Panama and Colombia Seal Joint Security Assistance Agreement
By Dialogo April 12, 2012
Panama and Colombia sealed a joint security assistance agreement that had previously been signed in February 2011.
Panamanian Public Safety Minister José Raúl Mulino made a visit to Bogotá to meet with Colombian Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón and move forward on the implementation of the Binational Border Security Plan signed by the two countries over a year ago.
According to the Colombian Defense Ministry, Mulino and Pinzón are seeking “to improve the capacity of both countries to respond to shared threats in the border area, as well as to intensify bilateral cooperation in the fight against transnational crime.”
Before leaving for Bogotá, the Panamanian minister revealed that one of the topics that especially concerns his country is that of the illegal Cubans who cross the shared border.
The Panamanian authorities maintain that the Cubans are arriving in Panama from Colombia, after passing through Ecuador, a country that they enter legally, since they do not need a visa. In January, the Panamanian immigration authorities estimated the average number of Cubans entering the country weekly at 30 people, but Foreign Minister Roberto Henríquez affirmed that this figure has risen to 70.
“The number is increasing, to the point now at which it may become difficult for Panama” from a humanitarian perspective, Henríquez declared.
“I believe that it’s necessary to send a wake-up call to Cuba, to Ecuador, to Colombia, and to all countries, that we’re seeing this process, so that we can take action for the welfare of these Cuban citizens, who, in addition, aren’t coming to Panama to stay,” he emphasized.
For its part, the Colombian ministry announced that during the meeting, the general lines of the Binational Plan were also expected to be determined, and mechanisms for Colombia to provide training to the Panamanian security forces will be agreed.