The Colombian Military Forces’ General Command, with logistics support from U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), hosted the first Multilateral Border Conference on April 22-24, 2019, in Bogotá, Colombia. Representatives from Colombian, Brazilian, Ecuadorean, Peruvian, and U.S. armed forces gathered to exchange information and experiences about countering transnational common threats in border areas, balancing combined operations, and defining new tools.
Before the conference started, U.S. Navy Admiral Craig S. Faller, commander of SOUTHCOM, and Colombian President Iván Duque, held a meeting focused on cooperation to intensify the fight against narcotrafficking. "The Colombian government is a priority security partner in the fight against narcotrafficking and transnational crime," Adm. Faller told the press. "Our commitment is to increase the eradication of illicit crops, seizures, and the pursuit of narcotraffickers," Duque added.
During the conference, Army Major General José Pereira, deputy director of Joint Operations at the Brazilian Ministry of Defense; Army Lieutenant General Roque Moreira, head of the Ecuadorean Armed Forces Joint Command; Army General César Astudillo, head of the Peruvian Armed Forces Joint Command; and Army Major General Luis Fernando Navarro Jiménez, commander of the Colombia Military Forces, headed the delegations.
Training as combat tool
In addition to the fight against narcotrafficking, military leaders addressed common threats, such as illegal mining, illegal immigration, and arms and ammunition trafficking. Service members analyzed the result of the 2018 combined operations among armed forces held on their borders, to evaluate the strategies that were used.
"It’s necessary to identify critical areas, [to] strengthen security against threats on our border areas, especially with narcotrafficking," said Maj. Gen. Navarro. "We need to strengthen information exchange mechanisms, as well as search in the areas. Narcotrafficking is the major common threat. We have to move forward with operations and actions that transcend into operations for greater control in the Caribbean and Central America."
Venezuela and regional security
The Venezuelan crisis, along with its implications for border security and the exodus of millions of Venezuelans to other countries in the Americas — especially Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador, and Peru — alarms and concerns all governments in the region. "The lack of border control, the lack of willpower to counter transnational crime and to counter narcotrafficking, and the lack of control by the Venezuelan authorities is a reality that creates serious insecurities on the border with that country and affects other neighboring countries," Maj. Gen. Navarro concluded.