Interview with Lt. Gen. Marco Aurelio Torales, Paraguay’s Joint Staff
After his participation in the IV South American Defense Conference held in Bogotá, Colombia, from July 24-26, Lieutenant General Marco Aurelio Torales, Commander of Paraguay’s Joint Staff, talked to Diálogo about the cooperation between the Armed Forces of his country and others in the Hemisphere, as well as the advocacy for Paraguayan indigenous people’s rights and human rights in general, among other topics.
DIÁLOGO: How do the Armed Forces help the Paraguayan people in a non-traditional way?
Lieutenant General Marco Aurelio Torales: The Armed Forces have the structure and capacity to deploy resources quickly in order to support civilians, while working jointly with other state agencies and non-governmental organizations. They can also cooperate with international organizations and partner nations’ Armed Forces, such as those within CONOSUR, without neglecting their constitutional role and performing civic actions periodically, especially in communities where support is strongly needed.
DIÁLOGO: What is the current status of the EPP guerrilla group (Paraguayan People’s Army)?
Lt. Gen. Torales: The actions carried out by the rebel group identified as EPP have decreased in the northern part of the country, due to State presence through security organizations. The Armed Forces have intensified intelligence in that area, supporting the National Police to discourage and deter EEP actions, an organization that operates outside the law.
DIÁLOGO: What kind of work and cooperation do the Armed Forces carry out with neighboring countries on Paraguay’s borders?
Lt. Gen. Torales: Our cooperation with neighboring countries consists of joint efforts through information exchange, support with specialized personnel and methods to counter drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, among others, in addition to joint military operations.
DIÁLOGO: What actions do the Armed Forces take to respect human rights and support indigenous communities in Paraguay?
Lt. Gen. Torales: Fundamental human rights are omnipresent in our actions; the Armed Forces have been trained in this area at all levels. All our units have a human rights department, which assesses and monitors the activities performed by the military personnel. It has also been integrated as a subject in all our training centers.
As for indigenous rights, there is institutional awareness and commitment in this aspect. The Paraguayan National Constitution considers, protects, and respects the rights of all indigenous communities. The Armed Forces support the native communities through civic action and humanitarian assistance.
DIÁLOGO: What is going to be the new role of military technology in Paraguay?
Lt. Gen. Torales: Currently, the Paraguayan Armed Forces are going through a transformational process, preparing to confront challenges and emerging threats as they appear. This involves not only the structural level, but also the acquisition of instruments and human resources training and instruction. All these efforts take time and generate economic costs.
On the other hand, the Paraguayan Army and Navy are developing a process to obtain cutting-edge technology, while the Air Force is doing research on the construction of unmanned aerial vehicles in collaboration with several National Universities.