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    Honduran president opens 2015 conference on Central American security

    Honduran President opens 2015 conference on Central American security

    Photo By Michael Wimbish | Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, third from left, and senior Honduran...... read more read more

    TEGUCIGALPA, HONDURAS

    03.26.2015

    Story by Michael Wimbish 

    U.S. Southern Command

    TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras - Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez welcomed security and defense leaders from 14 nations as they gathered in Tegucigalpa March 25 for two days of talks on ways to strengthen their ongoing security cooperation and counter transnational organized crime in Central America.

    The president spoke to more than 100 participants during the opening ceremony for the annual Central American Regional Security Conference (CENTSEC), co-hosted by the Honduran armed force's Joint Staff and U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM).

    "We've reached a conclusion that regional efforts and approaches are fundamental, because those we are up against also have a regional approach and have a very high level of sophistication, so the only way to confront them is by working together," he told them.

    "That's why we welcome that Honduras, today, plays host to this regional conference, because it gives us the opportunity to strengthen the mutual assistance among Central American (nations) and with countries to our south and north."

    Joining the chiefs of defense and public security ministers at the event were subject matter experts and observers from Belize, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, the United Kingdom and the United States.

    Representatives from the Inter-American Defense Board and the Conference of Central American Armed Forces were also on hand.

    Accompanying U.S. Marine Gen. John Kelly, SOUTHCOM commander, during the conference were senior U.S. officials from the National Security Council, Office of National Drug Control Policy, Defense Department, Department of Justice, Department of Treasury, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Northern Command and the U.S. Coast Guard.

    "There is a large contingent of U.S. officials here," Kelly said. "Ms. Erin Logan is here from the White House. Erin is, in fact, one of my president's top advisers on this part of the world, and this is the first time we've had someone from the White House, at that high a level, attend this conference."

    The SOUTHCOM commander also underscored the region is among the U.S. commander in chief's "top four national security and national policy priorities."

    The assembly of security leaders and experts examined trending threats and obstacles to the region's security. They also shared lessons learned and discussed the implementation of national security strategies, border security, human rights, and capacity building.

    U.S. and Colombian leaders updated the audience on their countries' ongoing engagements with Central America.

    Since 2013, the two countries have supported capacity-building in Central America and other regions seeking to improve citizen security as part of the United States - Colombia Action Plan on Regional Security Cooperation. Under this initiative, more than 190 events are scheduled to be completed in fiscal year 2015 with Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama and the Dominican Republic, to include training events, expertise exchanges and Colombian-hosted courses covering a range of capabilities and skills essential to effective maritime, aerial, riverine and border-security operations.

    SOUTHCOM also provides security assistance to the region in the form of donated infrastructure for operations centers, forward operating posts and coast guard stations, as well as equipment and training that supports interdictions, communications, information sharing, logistics, sustainment and personnel protection.

    According to the U.S. State Department's 2015 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, released March 18, "... approximately 83 percent of the cocaine trafficked to the United States in the first half of 2014 first transited through the Mexico/Central America corridor. Of this amount, nearly 80 percent stops first in Central America before onward shipment to Mexico."

    Since January 2012, SOUTHCOM his worked closely with Western Hemisphere and European partners to disrupt illicit trafficking and target transnational criminal organizations operating in coastal waters along the Central American isthmus as part of Operation Martillo. To date, the operation has resulted in the disruption of over 400 metric tons of cocaine, denying drug traffickers $8 billion in potential revenue. Martillo has also resulted in the seizure of $14.4 million in bulk cash, along with more than 300 vessels and aircraft.

    "Integrated approaches, regional approaches yield results," the Honduran president noted, as he spoke to attendees.

    "The topic of regional efforts is fundamental, and that is why we thank Southern Command for deciding that we should hold this conference here," he later added. "Because in the end, there are more good people in the world, and each of us has to improve by learning from each other's best practices or from the mistakes we've made."

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 03.26.2015
    Date Posted: 03.26.2015 14:24
    Story ID: 158202
    Location: TEGUCIGALPA, HN 

    Web Views: 288
    Downloads: 1
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