The Paraguayan Navy, Relentless in the Fight Against Organized Crime

The Paraguayan Navy, Relentless in the Fight Against Organized Crime

By Geraldine Cook/Diálogo
December 03, 2021

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Diálogo visited the Paraguayan Navy’s facilities in Asunción and met with its commander, Admiral Carlos Dionisio Velázquez Moreno, to talk about the challenges and achievements of the institution responsible for safeguarding and defending the country’s water resources.

Diálogo: What are the Paraguayan Navy’s main challenges?

Admiral Carlos Dionisio Velázquez Moreno, commander of the Paraguayan Navy: We have several challenges, the most important being the direct fight against narcotrafficking and organized crime, with actions to support the National Anti-Drug Secretariat, and the fight against smuggling and the illegal entry of goods along the country’s riverine borders, in cooperation with the Interinstitutional Unit for the Prevention, Combat, and Repression of Contraband, as well as the Office of the Attorney General.

Likewise, we are making progress on consolidating the modernization plan to strengthen our capabilities to control and secure riverine borders, particularly the Paraguay-Paraná Waterway, and we support the Internal Defense Command with the 3rd Pacification Sub Area against criminal groups in the north of the country, and we collaborate in fighting the spread of fire outbreaks in order to support volunteer firefighters and preserve the environment.

The COVID-19 pandemic represented a challenge and led us to reinvent our roles and integrate humanitarian actions to support state entities, for which we worked on actions to control street traffic in support of the National Police, to transport people for medical assistance in remote areas, to support food preparation and distribution in areas that need it the most, to produce masks and surgical gowns, and to prevent [COVID-19] and distribute vaccines in centers authorized to administer COVID-19 [vaccine] doses in the national territory.

Diálogo: What new projects does the Paraguayan Navy have?

Adm. Velázquez: We are continuing with the 2018-2023 plan to strengthen the Paraguayan Navy, which is part of the plan to modernize and transform the nation’s Armed Forces through the adaptation, strengthening, and modernization of units Cañonero C-1 Paraguay, Patrullero P-01 Capitán Cabral, and Patrullero P-05 Itaipú, and with the construction of the future Navy Noncommissioned Officers School.

Diálogo: What agreements does the Paraguayan Navy have with the navies of Argentina and Brazil to control the scourges of narcotrafficking and criminal activities?

Adm. Velázquez: With Argentina, we’ve had a mutual cooperation agreement since 1997 on issues related to security and police tasks in border areas, including a communication system to ensure timely information to combat animal and goods smuggling, theft of vehicles and vessels, water pollution, and navigation safety, among other scourges.

With Brazil, we hold bilateral staff meetings to coordinate exercises and support training with courses for personnel, and there is a memorandum of understanding for the exchange of liaison officers.

Diálogo: What kind of joint work does the Paraguayan Navy do with the U.S. Navy?

Adm. Velázquez: The Paraguayan Navy, through the U.S. Embassy’s Office of Defense Cooperation, coordinates with the U.S. Navy for capacity planning and personnel training. Courses are conducted in the framework of USCAP (the United States-Colombia Action Plan), which provides training to partner countries to strengthen the fight against the global drug problem and transnational crime. Likewise, training courses are conducted through the International Military Education and Training program and the Joint Combined Exchange Training, with personnel from the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Command. We also joined the Combined Response Exercise and UNITAS.