Panama Inaugurates Center for Fight against Drug Trafficking in Central America
By Dialogo April 20, 2011
On 18 April, Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli inaugurated an operational security center for Central America, a base that will coordinate joint operations and facilitate information flows among countries in order to combat organized crime and drug trafficking.
“What all of us in the countries of the Central American isthmus have to do is unite our efforts, coordinate among ourselves, pass one another all the information we can, and be able to combat crime and drug trafficking together, jointly and in an orderly way,” Martinelli said at the inauguration.
“This fight isn’t being waged solely by the United States, Colombia, or Panama. We’re all waging it, and the only way to do that is by being able to share that technology and that information that is vital for combatting crime,” Martinelli indicated.
The center, at the former Rodman U.S. military base, will be staffed by military or police representatives from Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, and the Dominican Republic.
For their work, they will have satellite communications and radars capable of monitoring all the region’s coasts.
“The intention is a regional effort against organized crime, basically, meaning arms trafficking, drug trafficking, human trafficking, smuggling, and others,” said Alfredo Callejas, in charge of the center, which will receive support from the Central American Integration System (SICA) and will have a subordinate location in Guatemala.
“We have the will to combat drug trafficking, organized crime, and the different classes of violence that we have, that are afflicting us and represent a plague for Central American society,” SICA Secretary General Juan Daniel Alemán emphasized.
According to U.S. authorities, 80% of the drugs entering their territory pass through Mexico and the Central American countries, coming from South America.