The United States Ratifies Military Cooperation with Paraguay
By Marta Escurra/Diálogo July 19, 2016
U.S. Air Force Major General Gary W. Keefe, Adjutant General
of the Massachusetts National Guard, met with Paraguayan Minister of Defense Diógenes Martínez in Asunción. During his visit, Brig. Gen. Keefe confirmed the
U.S. intention to continue cooperating with the South American country.
Beginning in 2001, as part of the State Partnership Program
(SPP), this joint effort has trained 2,000 Paraguayan military personnel.
The fundamental core of these trainings and exchanges has
been infrastructure aid, emergency-relief training, human rights, and dialogue
between the two sides on defense issues.
Global concerns, such as security from terrorist threats,
transnational organized crime, humanitarian aid, and disaster response have
also been discussed.
The Massachusetts National Guard, for example, conducts
between eight and 12 exchanges per year. Each lasts about five to seven days
and includes up to five trainers.
To discuss this more deeply, Diálogo talked to Minister
Martínez, who explained the extent of the cooperation with the U.S. Military.
Diálogo: Within the framework of the SPP, what is the
history of this cooperation between Massachusetts and Paraguay since 2001?
Paraguayan Defense Minister Diógenes Martínez: On May 30,
2001, then U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Paraguay David N. Greenlee
extended an offer to participate in the Massachusetts State Partnership Program
to the Commander of the Armed Forces, and it was accepted by the General
Expedito Garrigoza Vera, Commander of the Army, on June 22nd of the same year.
Diálogo: What does this partnership imply for Paraguay in
terms of quality of work in the Armed Forces?
Minister Martínez: Professional training for various Armed
Forces personnel, learning new techniques, working as a team, relationships
with service members from another country, understanding their capabilities in
terms of human and material resources. The good thing about the program is that
I see a spirit of mutual support and shared benefit. It's not simply
Diálogo: What final assessment have you been able to make
over the course of these years?
Minister Martínez: It has allowed us to facilitate and
complement the training of approximately 2,000 military personnel as military
observers and contingent support (men and women) in peacekeeping missions
within the framework of the United Nations.
These military personnel are currently deployed in various countries in
Africa, as well as in Haiti, Cyprus, and also closer to home in the Republic of
Colombia. They also contribute locally in various departments within our
country, by carrying out multiple humanitarian aid missions for the needy.
Diálogo: What specifically does this program develop among
the Paraguayan Military personnel, and which division will it work with?
Minister Martínez: Defending against natural disasters,
catastrophes, and non-military threats to our population is what is called
Civil Defense, and this is the responsibility of the National Defense. What
comes out of that is peacekeeping operations, humanitarian aid, exchange of
military personnel, human rights, etc. They work directly with the Joint Peace
Operations Training Center (CECOPAZ) and indirectly with the Armed Forces
Command and individual branches of the Military.
Diálogo: How many people are involved?
Minister Martínez: At least 300 military personnel per year.
Diálogo: What work has been done most recently within the
framework of this cooperative effort?
Minister Martínez: In 15 years of cooperation, there have
been innumerable works received, especially in the physical infrastructure of
CECOPAZ, equipping the Army's English lab and the Multi-role Engineering
Company for deployment in Haiti, among other things.
Diálogo: What are the future plans with respect to the
program’s renewal? What specifically will be done and with whom?
Minister Martínez: We will continue training military
personnel in the different areas offered by the State of Massachusetts, which is
Paraguay's friend. We will continue taking advantage of the goodwill resulting
from professionalizing the components (men and women) of the Armed Forces.
Diálogo: What is your opinion about the fact that the
Massachusetts National Guard is collaborating with you?
Minister Martínez: In my opinion, it is quite satisfactory
because, in this case there is reciprocity, both in terms of the effort made
and the benefits received, which, of course, is very useful. They also get to
train their people in a different environment. Only by staying committed can we
work together; by building alliances we can protect our interests, defend our
territory, create better conditions for our society, and advance towards
Diálogo: What are the areas of most concern to your
counterpart in this partnership?
Minister Martínez: The social area, peacekeeping operations,
civilian-military relations, humanitarian aid, civil matters, disaster
assistance efforts, human rights, and others.
Diálogo: Within the framework of this program, what specific
proposals does the Republic of Paraguay have?
Minister Martínez: To continue this relationship and
strengthen it even further. Let me say it again: it's an important complement
to National Defense, and the best thing is, other than the social services,
there is also and at the same time, real training for our military assets.