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Sunday, June 16 2019 @ 10:50 AM UTC

Panama Must Remilitarize to Strengthen Regional Security

Drug Trafficking( By Jerry Brewer - Panama's pivotal role within Latin America, as it pertains to its homeland security, has now reached a crescendo. After all, the unique geographical position of the isthmus nation makes it the hub and gateway from South to Central America. The importance, strategic location, and security of the Panama Canal also call for critical attention. The neutering of Panama's military and security forces nearly two decades ago has ultimately unleashed a flood of criminal insurgents into and traversing the country. Panama's leadership must immediately focus their vision on regional security issues, and quickly and clearly come into focus on a proactive and aggressive homeland security posture. Avoiding the issue and failing to address the security readiness and unity of the democratic nation to adequately defend itself could result in what Mexico is experiencing in its bloody military battle against narco terrorists and other criminal insurgents. (more)

Leftist rulers and dictatorships within Latin America lose no sleep over Mexico's battles against organized criminals for their free nation. In fact, many proclaim that Mexico's troops are losing the battle. It is clear that these state sponsors of terrorism do not want democracies to win these battles for their people, nor do they want the United States to lend a helping hand with training, logistics, and technology.

Within the isthmus nation there are mixed emotions about remilitarization, with some calling for a neutral stance with better education, rehabilitation, delinquency, and lesser prevention methods. The question that must be asked is, with Panama's vast natural resources and global position of importance within the Americas, how can they not have a strong military and police presence to strategically defend the homeland? How can this issue even remotely be described as "unwarranted"?

Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, guerrillas are reported to be continuing to traverse Panama and trudging into Central America. The insurgents have threatened to abduct high profile Panamanian officials, this in retaliation for the apprehension of rebels by authorities. The guerrilla insurgents continue to move north in support of narcotrafficking, arms sales, and other criminal enterprises.

Panama's dilemma has been the absence of an army on its soil. Nearly two decades ago the Panamanian Defense Force (PDF) was disbanded. Many of the PDF troops were transitioned into the police ranks.

President Martin Torrijos is looking to remilitarize the country, and to create a much needed proactive and strategic intelligence apparatus in this new millennium. These being needed reforms in order to discover and assess an incredible number of modern day regional threats, including of course those that are mounting via leftist rhetoric. Too, terrorist radicalization, as well as violent gang proliferation, should be top collection efforts of their intelligence service. The "National Intelligence Security Service" (SENIS) will require adequate oversight and safeguards to ensure that proper accountability measures remain in place and that abuses are not tolerated. These measures could soften the concerns of a homeland that has seen abuses, yet knowing that anticrime and counterterrorism initiatives must be a top priority for Panama.

The magnitude of gang warfare by organized criminals in Panama alone warrants these actions. It is a countrywide epidemic. Too, criminal insurgents such as FARC, terrorists, and other organized criminals have little respect for Panama's current weak security structure. A national police force is not enough. The reality of the current situation on the ground in Panama is that the country is a hub of international narcotraffickers, paramilitary/rebel insurgents, and other criminal groups taking advantage of the security weaknesses, illicit arms trade, relaxed banking rules, as well as Panama's booming economy.

The security reform package that President Torrijos proposes to curb the present domestic instability is a difficult but prudent request. Budgetary issues and logistic concerns are stark realities of feasibility. Necessary training also becomes a major component in the construction of the security package. The U.S. Southern Command, that is taking many strategic and tactical initiatives throughout the Americas, has "promoted the idea of a new Panamanian military." A key concern would be the placing of new "forward operating areas" for joint security operational acts of free Latin American nations. This in response to Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa's decision not to renew the lease for the U.S. base in Manta.

Joint operations with Panama and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration have been successful in the past, with a seizure of 20 tons of cocaine off of the Panamanian coastline last year. Panama's coastlines are vast areas of over 78,000 square kilometers, as well as a border with Colombia of 225 kilometers.

Panama must have more than routine policing protection.


Jerry Brewer is Vice President of Criminal Justice International Associates, a global risk mitigation firm headquartered in Miami, Florida.

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Panama Must Remilitarize to Strengthen Regional Security | 1 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Panama Must Remilitarize - NOT!
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 16 2008 @ 01:33 PM UTC

When I started to read the article I was shocked about the request to remilitarize Panama. One of the reasons for me to move to Panama was that it has no military and thus little danger that another Noriega or some kind of Pinochet or other CIA puppet takes over power. Actually there are already attempts to militarize the civil police and to put journalists under pressure not to publish stuff "against national safety", as is typical for dictatorships, and this really makes me feel bad.

I had to read the entire article to understand who is the author. Obviously these people plead for a remilitarization out of personal interest, they probably hope to make money from it.
There is always someone who makes money from wars and who doesn't care about other people's freedom or human rights as long as they make a profit.

There is no need for military or for limiting the freedom of the press in Panamá in order to fight drug traffic, but this argument is used repeatedly to justify measures that can be used easily to suppress general freedoms of every citizen. And from what I learned about South and Central American policy, wherever this possibility exists and some military clique wanted the power, they used it.

First time I read the Panama Guide, so I wonder what it means that this opinion piece is printed as if it is "news".
The author should have been named right at the beginning and it should have been made clear that this is a lobbying article.
I would also like to understand if this reflects the position of this editor.