Atlantic Coast Pipeline Resistance Ride

first_imgVirginia residents are up in arms after Dominion Power Company—one of the nation’s largest energy producers—proposed plans to build a 550-mile, 42-inch natural gas pipeline from West Virginia to North Carolina.According to the Friends of Nelson County, “Dominion will have to seize private property through eminent domain, uproot farms and families, and disrupt businesses and lives in their attempt to complete the project.”Opposition to Dominion’s proposed pipe line project has been building since August of 2014. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) has expressed his support for the project, but on April 16, Virginia 5th District Representative Robert Hurt contacted the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to request more time for public comment.Starting this weekend, students from the University of Virginia will be cycling along the route of ACP in an effort to show support for residents and land owners within the proposed pipeline’s path and draw attention to climate change.11069372_934535756596973_4955324676179316542_n“This is a way for us to voice our opposition to this disastrous project,” said Hannah Beaman, one of the primary organizers of the resistance ride. “We are not property owners, but we do have a vested interest in seeing this sacred portion of Virginia preserved, and we’ll do everything we can to stop the ACP.”The ride will begin today and continue through May 19th.Beaman is hopeful that the resistance ride will have a positive impact, but she realizes the power that Domion wields in the state of Virginia.“Dominion is an incredibly powerful entity, and they contribute a lot of money to both political parties in our state,” she said. “But people are rising up against their plan to seize private property through eminent domain. No one stands to benefit here except for Dominion and its shareholders.”Beaman says she and numerous other students will gather the stories of those within the pipeline’s path during their ride and take them to an annual Dominion shareholder’s party in Richmond.“At the culmination of our trip we will be stopping in Richmond at Dominion’s annual shareholder’s party and letting them know exactly how this pipeline is going to effect the Virginia residents in its path,” she said. “We’ll also be pointing out the devastating effects that this project will have on Virginia’s wildlife species and forest habitat.”For more information about the Atlantic Coast Pipeline Resistance Ride visit their blog or check them out on Facebook. You can also support the project here.last_img read more

Meet Our Olympians

first_imgAthletes who reach the Olympic Games are heralded as being the best in their disciplines, but that journey isn’t always paved with gold. A fear of water initially impeded whitewater slalom kayaker Michal Smolen. Open-water swimmer Sean Ryan struggled at first to cover 25 yards in a pool. Track cyclist Matt Baranoski delayed his college studies to chase the Olympic dream. Rower Matt Miller overcame physical and mental challenges as he transitioned to national team training. Whitewater slalom kayaker Ashley Nee shook off two failed Olympic attempts, and triathlete Katie Zaferes overcame her share of challenges to reach the Games. These six first-time Olympians and regional natives will join more than 500 other U.S. athletes next month in Brazil, all hoping years spent perfecting their craft will culminate in a podium finish.Matt Baranoski, Track CyclistPerkasie, PennsylvaniaMatt Baranoski’s track cycling saga began at age six, when his parents enrolled him in classes at Valley Preferred Cycling Center in Breinigsville, Pa. He soon began racing, and said recently, it’s “escalated into the crazy life that it is now.” Baranoski, who rides for Custom Velo, will compete in the keirin. The sport challenges six cyclists to circuit a track for eight laps. The field follows an electric pace bike for the first five-and-a-half laps, but when the pacer exits, it’s an all-out sprint to the finish.The race is short—about two kilometers—and a completely “different animal” from road or mountain bike events, said Baranoski. Riding a bike that lacks brakes, the 22-year-old sprinter can coast at 50 miles per hour around a track with 45-degree curves. Track cycling “is one of the weird things where you’re doing something that is relatively out of control, but you’re completely in control doing it,” he said.At age 17, Baranoski became the youngest U.S. elite track cycling national champion, and Union Cycliste Internationale currently ranks him 19th in the world for the keirin. He also holds more than 30 USA Cycling national championships. Attaining these feats hasn’t been without sacrifice. Baranoski took a two-year leave from college to chase his Olympic dream. He’s set to graduate this year from Penn State with an electrical engineering degree. “The decision to leave school…to chase something that might or might not work out was huge,” he said. That decision proved worthwhile when, after a two-year qualifying period, he secured his berth to Rio. Baranoski, who writes the word “Believe” on his handlebars, never looked back. “It’s been a long two years,” he said, but that “whirlwind” journey seems well worth the toil. “It’s really cool to have finally made it and be an Olympian.”Matt Miller, RowerSpringfield, VirginiaRowing demands diversity. This mix of strategy, coordination, and physical exertion has kept Matt Miller hooked since high school.The Springfield, Va. native is making his Olympic debut as part of the United States’ four-man rowing team. Miller, now 27, began rowing his freshman year of high school at the suggestion of a neighbor. He competed through high school and later at the University of Virginia. Following college, he rowed for two years with the Potomac Boat Club in Washington D.C. Selected in January 2014 to train with the U.S. national team, Miller left the club, quit his full-time job and moved to California for winter training.He is now at the US Rowing Training Center in Princeton, N.J. Most of Miller’s career has been spent in the eight-man boat—he was part of the national team that won gold at the 2014 World Rowing Cup II. He also won gold at this year’s World Rowing Cup I as part of the four-man team. “I love the competitive aspect of it,” he said. To train for a 2,000 meter race, you need a lot of aerobic capacities,” including stamina, “strength, power, and sprinting ability.”Miller’s journey toward Rio has demanded perseverance. Upon joining the national team, he switched the rowing technique he was accustomed to and more than doubled the distance he rowed daily. Miller told himself it would get easier, that his body would adapt. “At the time it was discouraging because I wasn’t doing well, I was worn down and beaten at practice day-in and day-out and finishing last. That was part of the difficulty of it.” Miller knew his aerobic capacity and physiology were why he had been recruited, so he kept telling himself that he’d eventually conquer the steep learning curve. That drive has paid off as Miller makes his Olympic debut.Ashley Nee, Whitewater Slalom KayakerBethesda, MarylandThird time’s a charm for Ashley Nee. Rio serves as her third Olympics attempt, a journey that began eight years ago.Nee, now 27, qualified for a women’s kayak spot at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but a shoulder injury placed her out of contention at the team trials. Four years later, Nee scored enough points to secure a 2012 team slot but lost that berth on a tiebreaker that instead sent Caroline Queen to London. “This is my third attempt at becoming an Olympian and I still can’t really believe that I have accomplished it,” said Nee. “It was really hard getting hurt right before the Olympic Trials in 2008 and then coming back only to lose in a tie for the 2012 Games.” Nee’s optimism outweighs past frustration, though. “I believe everything happens for a reason. Representing the U.S. in the Olympic Games is a lofty goal, and having to try three times makes me respect the athletes that came before me even more.”Nee (Tom Dunning)_FIXFollowing her shoulder injury, Nee took a paddling hiatus. A recent high school graduate, she instead turned her focus to college and career options. “I had been paddling since I was ten and I wanted to see what it was like to have my life revolve around something other than paddling, so I moved to Honolulu.” A year and a half later—during which time Nee picked up longboarding and dabbled in street art—her shoulder had almost healed, and she refocused on paddling.Nee’s most recent Olympic pursuit has also been challenging. At this year’s two team trial legs in North Carolina and Oklahoma, she finished first and second, respectively. Tied with fellow athlete Dana Mann, Nee received the Olympic spot based on her performance at last year’s Pan American Games in Toronto. “The women’s kayak final (at Pan Am) was an epic race,” she recalled. The top three women—Nee took bronze, Canada took gold, and Brazil took silver—were separated by just .03 seconds. “It was an awesome race to be a part of, but it was an Olympic qualifier and it wasn’t clear if we would get an Olympic berth for the U.S.”Nee began kayaking at age ten during summer camp at Valley Mill Camp in Seneca, Md. Seventeen years later, she now works as a kayaking instructor for Liquid Adventures in Maryland and loves the reward of watching someone “get better and better.” Slalom racing is not easy, but Nee remains confident “anyone can do it” and advises young athletes to “dream big.” Also sound advice? Her father’s words to “be good, be safe, and have fun.”There are no practice runs in a race, and Nee said she responds by treating each course as a puzzle. “Seeing how fast I can solve that course is my inspiration.” The next puzzle Nee likely wants to solve? How to bring home gold this summer.Sean Ryan, Open-Water SwimmerChattanooga, TennesseeWhen Sean Ryan joined his first swim team, he struggled at covering 25 yards. Now the 23-year-old will compete in marathon swimming at the Games, a competition that challenges athletes to swim a six-mile open water course.A fourth place finish at last year’s FINA World Championships earned Ryan his Olympic berth. Finishing in slightly over 1 hour, 50 minutes, Ryan said he was pinching himself after the race. “There were seven people right behind me, and I wouldn’t let myself look backwards. To finish and see that I had finished fourth was something special.”Sean Ryan (photo: Mike Lewis)Ryan rebounded after not qualifying for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team. He needed a top ten finish at the 2011 FINA World Championships for an automatic berth but finished 25th. His attempts a year later to qualify for the pool team also fell short. He didn’t give up. “I came back after that and really tried to take a new approach and really enjoy the process and enjoy training and other things in my life outside swimming. That has overall paid off.”Ryan, who began swimming competitively at age five, recalled how his mother contemplated whether to register him for swim lessons or the swim team. When she asked if he could swim across a 25-yard pool, Ryan responded, “definitely.” That response solidified the team option, but Ryan soon discovered swimming that distance was harder than it appeared. Still, he stuck with it. That dedication led to his first Olympic Team Trials in 2008 for the 1,500-meter freestyle. He’s also made several national team rosters in open water and the 1,500 and earned multiple medals in both national and international competitions. Ryan, a former member of the University of Michigan men’s swimming and diving program, recently finished his master’s degree in mechanical engineering. He lives and trains in Michigan but said his favorite open-water swimming spot remains the Tennessee River near downtown Chattanooga. “It’s one of the most scenic places to swim. You’re looking down river and into the mountains and tree lines.”Michal Smolen, Whitewater Slalom KayakerGastonia, North CarolinaMichal Smolen sat frozen in a kayak in the middle of the Nantahala River near the Nantahala Outdoor Center. Oversized kayaking gear engulfed his slight, eight-year-old frame. A desire to follow in his father’s footsteps had brought him to this moment, his first kayaking attempt during a summer visit to the United States.Smolen (Chris Worrall)_FIXSmolen emigrated from Poland at age nine. His father—a former member of the Polish National Team and whitewater slalom alternate for Poland at the 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games—accepted a coaching job in 2000 with the Nantahala Racing Club. He now serves as USA Canoe/Kayak’s slalom national development and coaching manager and is his son’s coach.Michal Smolen, 22, initially hesitated to embrace his father’s sport. Being alone in the water overwhelmed him, and Smolen vowed against attempting the sport again. “I didn’t know how to swim when I went kayaking the first time. I was scared of flipping over and not being able to come back up and not being able to swim in the river.” Ironically, he chose competitive swimming instead, a sport he continued until, at age 13, he began eyeing whitewater kayaking.This wasn’t the only obstacle Smolen overcame to attain his Olympic dream. About the time he returned to kayaking, Smolen was diagnosed with epilepsy. “I was afraid when it happened that I wouldn’t be able to paddle.” He was eventually cleared to keep paddling but suffered yet another setback before the 2012 Games. Smolen won the men’s kayak single U.S. national team trials in 2011, bolstering his chances at representing the United States in London. The Polish-born athlete was not yet a U.S. citizen, though, and efforts to lobby Congress to fast-track his citizenship were unsuccessful. Smolen didn’t receive his citizenship until seven months following the Games. “I was just so upset and now I don’t see it that way anymore. I’ve had a lot of experience in the last four years and really prepared . . . and I think that going to Rio I can do well.”As he readies for the Games, Smolen offered advice for athletes beginning to climb the ranks. “Make sure you definitely have your goals and are competitive, but at the same time don’t forget to have fun. You must always remind yourself of why you’re doing it.”TriathleteKatie Zaferes, TriathleteHampstead, MarylandKatie Zaferes lettered in five high school sports and holds records at Syracuse University in both the outdoor 3,000-meter steeplechase and indoor 5,000 meters. It wasn’t until she began competing in triathlons that Zaferes, 27, ever thought she could be “that caliber of athlete” who could reach the Olympics. A week following her selection as the U.S. women’s final and third triathlete, Zaferes’ enthusiasm was still evident. “I’m so excited, happily overwhelmed, proud and relieved,” she wrote via email. “It’s been a goal that has been sitting there for two years now . . . it’s crazy to think come August 20th I’ll get to call myself an Olympian!!” Zaferes, who now lives in California, joins Gwen Jorgensen and Sarah True, both of whom solidified their Olympic berths last August. Zaferes locked down her team spot following a sixth place finish in May at a world triathlon event in Japan.Zaferes (Delly Carr-ITU)_FIXZaferes was tapped by USA Triathlon’s Collegiate Recruitment Program in 2012, though her introduction to the sport came about five years earlier when she ran a triathlon alongside her father, Bill. Zaferes, then a high school senior, didn’t foresee a future in triathlon at that time, especially given her recent commitment to running at Syracuse. Now, Zaferes can’t imagine focusing all her energy on just one sport. “There are so many things I love about triathlon,” she said. Training for three varied disciplines keeps it “exciting and fun,” and she loves how the sport has introduced her to new places and people.Being a part of an All-American podium alongside True and Jorgensen twice last year has been among Zaferes’ most memorable moments. The toughest moments have been mental, pushing through flashes of “doubt” or “frustration” and shaking off pressures associated with competing at the elite level. “The great part is that none of those moments have lasted too long, and I have an awesome support network to make those cloudy days better.” She advises future Olympic hopefuls to enjoy the journey and push through those trying times. “There will be days where it’s hard and it seems like you’re never going to perfect a particular skill, but enjoy the process and keep working on it over time,” she said. “Always give yourself credit for those small victories and take the time to be proud of yourself.”thrasher-headshotGinny Thrasher, 10M Air Rifle/ Three-Position RifleSpringfield, Va.A product of West Springfield High School in Virginia, Thrasher shot for her high school rifle team, but her love of shooting first came after hunting with her grandfather. At West Virginia University, Thrasher has quickly taken her skills to the next level.As a freshman, she earned five medals at the 2015 USA Shooting National Championships, and she led all rifle competitors in the country with the top air rifle score of 599/600 that she shot on two separate occasions.  She became the first freshman rifle shooter ever to win both individual titles in air and smallbore while leading WVU to their fourth-straight, and 18th overall, NCAA team title.Success didn’t end there for the 19-year-old, however. She went to Olympic Team Trials three weeks later and pulled out a decisive victory in the Three-Position event over a seasoned and talented field. She earned a nine-point win having never competed in the event internationally.  From NCAA Champion to Olympian, the teenager from WVU has her sights on a medal in Rio.Joe MorrisJoe Morris, SailorAnnapolis, Md.Elite sailor Joe Morris qualified for the Olympic team as part of the two-person crew for the 49er—a high-performance dinghy. It’s a dangerous boat with little margin for error; if you make a mistake, you flip.Morris was working for a technology company in Switzerland when his former Yale Sailing teammate Thomas Barrows called him looking for a partner on the 49er. They spent a month sailing in the Virgin Islands and decided to commit themselves to pursuing an Olympic berth.Though they started as underdogs, they quickly ascended the ranks and placed well in national competitions. US Regatta announced this spring that Barrows and Morris would represent the U.S. in the 49er competition in Rio.last_img read more

America’s Toughest Road Marathon – April 18, 2020

first_imgFeatured in Runner’s World story on “World’s Most Brutal Races 2019” Choose your challenge- Notorious double marathon (sells out each year), the signature Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon, the half marathon, Anthem 10k, 4-person relay and Family 1 Miler. Blue Ridge added the Sunday Slow-K in 2019 dubbed “America’s Slowest 5k” as a recovery and camaraderie event to socialize with race friends. The fun run features coffee, donuts, group stretches & a mimosa bar. center_img The Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon has more elevation change than any road race in the US, offering tough terrain with breathtaking overlooks along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The full marathon tackles three mountains, while the double marathon tackles six.  If you’re not a masochist you can still test your grit on the half marathon, 10k or 4-person relay. Join this three-day running celebration with a free Friday welcome party, live music all weekend, and a coffee & donuts recovery “Slow-K”. REGISTER NOW Voted “Toughest Race”, “Best Marathon”, “Best Running Event” numerous times by Blue Ridge Outdoor Readers. Hear from a few… REGISTER NOWlast_img read more

Chamomile and Whiskey Releases New Song, “Never Live Up”

first_imgChamomile and Whiskey get candidly introspective in the new song “Never Live Up,” a first look at the Virginia-based group’s upcoming album Red Clay Heart. The follow-up to the 2017 full-length effort Sweet Afton is expected to arrive in late spring or early summer this year.  While the band’s expansive alt-country sound often blends expressive fiddle lines with dusty, jangly electric riffs, “Never Live Up” is a sparse, porch-style ballad. The group’s main singer-songwriter Koda Kerl strums an acoustic and with his husky voice accepts love lost in the pensive lines, “Even if I could go back/would it do any good?/I’ll never live up to what you deserve/but I don’t think anyone could.” “I wrote this song just before we started making the record,” Kerl said in a statement. “I guess it’s one of those heart-broken-in-love, looking out the window kind of tunes. We arranged and recorded it on the fly in the studio and it became one of our favorites.” center_img Chamomile and Whiskey will start a spring tour on March 14 at the Jefferson Theater in Charlottesville, Va. Additional dates include stops at Isis Music Hall in Asheville, N.C., on April 2 and the Muddy Creek Café and Music Hall in Sparta, N.C., on April 3. The band is also on the bill at Roosterwalk, which takes place over Memorial Day weekend at Pop’s Farm in Martinsville, Va. Footage of the live take on “Never Live Up” was filmed at Cartoon Moon Studio in Nashville, where the band made their new album with producer Ken Coomer (formerly of Wilco and Uncle Tupelo). Kerl said other songs on the new effort aren’t so subdued: “This record is a little more raw and a bit heavier than our last couple and almost feels ‘Southern Gothic’ to me.”last_img read more

Correa Returns to Colombia Following Restoration of Relations

first_imgBy Dialogo December 17, 2010 I am surprised by the help from the Ecuadorans but very grateful. It is a great help to our victims may God truly bless the Ecuadoran people and both governments so that may continue on the right and good path that will give peace and tranquility to us Colombians and to the whole world. May God bless them. Chao. On 15 December, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, his ambassador-designate Raúl Vallejo, and Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño made their first visit to Colombia following the restoration of relations, broken off in 2008 due to a Colombian military operation on Ecuadorean territory. The visit, which focused on the delivery of aid for victims of the rains in Colombia, provided the occasion for both presidents to declare their readiness to approve the respective ambassadors. “The names have already been officially presented. In diplomatic protocol, approval has to be given. We don’t see any problem, at least on the Ecuadorean side,” Correa said in the area of La Victoria, near Cali (in southwestern Colombia), where he personally delivered the aid packets. Two weeks ago, the Colombian government nominated Fernando Arboleda, a former justice of the Supreme Court of Justice, as its ambassador to Ecuador. Santos affirmed that on his return to Bogotá, he would grant approval to the designated Ecuadorean ambassador, Raúl Vallejo, a former education minister. “Then things will be completely normalized,” he said. Correa arrived in Cali, where he met Santos, in the morning. Together, the two presidents flew over La Victoria and then spoke with its inhabitants. Wearing jeans and an orange vest, Correa declared, “We only want to make ourselves present and give a fraternal embrace to the Colombian people. We’ve brought some supplies, and we’ll send more subsequently. It’s a small amount of aid, despite our efforts, for the magnitude of what’s happened.” The rains in Colombia have left nearly 280 dead and have affected two million people so far this year, according to the latest official figures. In La Victoria, Correa delivered seven tons of humanitarian aid. “Count on your Ecuadorean brothers, without doubting for an instant. We have a shared past, a present that very much unites us, and it’s now time to look for a future together,” he insisted. Santos responded by thanking “the Ecuadorean people” once again for the aid. “We’re reestablishing relations the way things should be, because we are brother peoples,” he added. The aid brought by Correa goes beyond the humanitarian framework of solidarity and represents his administration’s first direct diplomatic gesture toward Colombia subsequent to the bilateral tensions. This is Correa’s second visit to Colombia since the rupture of relations. On 7 August, when bilateral ties had been restored at the chargé d’affaires level, the Ecuadorean president attended Santos’s inauguration in Bogotá. Correa and Santos fully reestablished relations on 26 November, on the sidelines of the meeting of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) in Georgetown. Ecuador broke off ties with Colombia as a consequence of the 1 March 2008 Colombian military operation against a base of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a Marxist guerrilla group, on Ecuadorean soil, in which twenty-five people died, including rebel leader Raúl Reyes. Ties were reestablished at the chargé d’affaires level in November 2009.last_img read more

Nicaraguan navy seizes 2 tons of cocaine

first_imgBy Dialogo March 06, 2012 MANAGUA, Nicaragua – Nicaragua’s navy seized more than two tons of cocaine in the country’s south Caribbean region on Mar. 5, authorities said. Naval chief Roger González said the operation took place early Mar. 4 in Punta del Águila, 35 nautical miles from the port city of Bluefields, 383 kilometers (238 miles) southeast of the capital, Managua. The narcotics were found abandoned on a vessel on Punta de Águila, a place considered a “high- risk” area, which is why naval officers decided not to continue their search for four crew members believed to have fled the scene, González said. “It’s likely that the vessel’s crew have some kind of connection to local groups, such as the Aragón Salablanca, several of whom were captured last week in the south Atlantic region,” González said. It is possible that the vessel’s crew were Colombian, he added, since the illicit cargo was found close to San Andrés Island, a Colombian territory. But González did not rule out the possibility that the crew “may be Honduran or Nicaraguan.” At the site, the navy found 95 sacks of the drug, each containing 25 packets of cocaine, totaling more than two tons, he said. [Xinhua, 05/03/2012; (Nicaragua), 06/03/2012]last_img read more

Historic Step by Leaders of the Americas toward Alternatives to the War on Drugs

first_img The previous day, he had declared himself ready to debate drug use in his country and the southward flow of money and weapons. In Obama’s view, “it is wholly appropriate for us to discuss this issue.” “I’m not somebody who believes that legalization is a path to solving this problem, but I do think that we can constantly ask ourselves, ‘Are there additional steps we can take to be more creative?’” he said. The 6th Summit of the Americas “agreed on the need to analyze the results of the current (anti-drug) policy and explore new approaches, in order to strengthen this fight and in order to be more effective,” the event’s host, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, said at the summit’s conclusion. In the Caribbean port of Cartagena on April 14 and 15, the leaders of the Americas took a historic step in deciding to conduct studies on alternatives to the war on drugs promoted by the United States, which has led to tens of thousands of deaths in the region over the last 40 years. U.S. President Barack Obama agreed to engage in dialogue, although he made clear that he is opposed to decriminalizing drugs. By Dialogo April 17, 2012 Santos praised the “honesty” of debate at the summit and said that “no one dared to put the issue of drugs on the table.” He highlighted that the 31 leaders of the Americas in attendance gave a mandate to the Organization of American States (OAS) to begin that process. Nevertheless, he assessed “that the road will be a long one, because it’s necessary to denounce international conventions.” Ignacio Cano, a researcher at the Violence Analysis Laboratory of Rio de Janeiro State University, stated for his part that this is a very significant decision, because “20 years ago, this topic was practically prohibited. Just five years ago, former presidents began to talk about the issue, and today, it’s presidents in office who are bringing it up.” Santos, for his part, said that “all options are open. The OAS is going to have a series of scenarios that need to be studied, that need to be analyzed with experts.” Central America is suffering the onslaughts of the drug cartels, which in response to the war unleashed in Colombia, with U.S. assistance, in 2000 and the one launched in Mexico by President Felipe Calderón five years ago, have found new territory there for routing Colombian and Peruvian cocaine to the United States. In 2011 alone, 20,000 people died as a consequence of violence linked to drug trafficking in the isthmus, which has 40 million inhabitants.last_img read more

80 million poppies destroyed in Guatemala

first_imgBy Dialogo May 24, 2012 GUATEMALA CITY – Guatemalan security forces have eradicated more than 80 million poppy plants near the border with Mexico this week in a blow to regional drug traffickers, authorities said May 23. Some 800 narcotics investigators and police took part in the operation, which also destroyed about 245 million poppy bulbs and thousands of marijuana plants, according to authorities. Deputy anti-drug minister Eunice Mendizábal said farmers were using drip irrigation on the sprawling plantation in order to improve the quality of the plants, with men, women and children helping with the farming. Mexico and much of Central America has been hit by a massive crime wave in recent years linked to the lucrative cross-border drug trade. [AFP (Guatemala), 24/05/2012; (Guatemala), 23/05/2012]last_img read more

SOUTHCOM and Honduran Marines Train Together

first_imgU.S. Marine Captain Juan Díaz, who is in charge of the training program, elaborated: “The mission is to build an institution of Naval training to establish a pipeline for officers, warrant officers, and enlisted Troops. The requirements for the curriculum were approved in Tegucigalpa and based on the equivalent training used by the Military in the U.S.” Honduran Marines and their counterparts with the United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) are training together in the most effective methods to fight organized crime groups and protect natural resources – lessons the Honduran Marines will later teach their fellow service members. “The larger objective is to construct a lasting relationship between SOUTHCOM and the Honduran service members they work with daily to build their capacity and establish a partnership based on shared values, challenges, and responsibilities.” Building a lasting relationship In another joint training operation, the U.S. vessel USNS Spearhead arrived at Puerto Castilla on Sept. 2 to participate in five weeks of training with the Honduran Marine Corps First Battalion, Spanish online daily La Información reported. There, they conducted joint training exercises in maritime, ground, and air operation strategies to halt organized crime activities. To help achieve that goal, a team of 10 U.S. Marines under Captain Díaz’s command trained with the Honduran service members from the Special-Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force-Southern Command. U.S. service members have also created a training plan for the Honduran Navy, which is based on the U.S. Marine Corps’ Basic Officer School and the U.S. Marine Corps’ Infantry School. That process is similar to the one that U.S. Marines incorporated into training with Colombia’s Marine Corps. “FNH [the Spanish acronym for the Honduran Navy] believes it is important that they receive training identical to what U.S. Marines receive: training, techniques, and strategies taught worldwide in response to the changes represented by new threats, primarily drug trafficking,” Captain De Jesús explained. “The [Honduran] service members were selected from the country’s different naval bases and are receiving training on the theory and practice of personal defense, team management, diving, underwater operations, martial arts, and marksmanship.” Cooperation between Honduras and the U.S. extends beyond the Marine training initiative, as SOUTHCOM has participated in several training exercises with the FNH in May and July in Puerto Castilla. There, 80 Honduran Marines trained in night operations, maritime patrols, immersion, combat survival skills, small- and large-caliber weapons management, river operations, saving lives in combat, outboard motors, and ship maneuvers. The training also included a river course focused on piloting a ship to intercept vessels suspected of transporting drugs. By Dialogo October 16, 2015 “The goal of these training courses is to educate and prepare the naval squadrons in combating drug trafficking using new strategies, striking precise blows against organized crime, aiding the population, and protecting marine resources,” said Navy Captain Juan Antonio De Jesús Rivera, commanding officer of the Trujillo Colón Base in Puerto Castilla, in an interview with Diálogo. “The support provided to us by the United States allows us to have qualified personnel with broad experience who can transmit this learning to our soldiers and maintain control over Honduras’ coasts and maritime borders,” Captain De Jesús said.last_img read more

Peru and the United States Learn Together in 2017

first_imgBy Julieta Pelcastre/Diálogo February 08, 2017 Cooperation between the United States and Peru is part of a broader Peruvian Armed Forces program of operational activities planned for 2017 with foreign armed forces. According to a December 24, 2016, report from the Peruvian Congress, the program will raise the level of training and the operational capacity of the Peruvian Army, Air Force, and Navy, and the knowledge gained will allow them to operate with and among foreign military personnel. The United States and Peru reaffirmed their collaboration during a meeting in May 2016 between U.S. Admiral Kurt Tidd, commander of U.S. Southern Command, and Peruvian Defense Minister Jakke Valakivi. The two discussed bilateral relations in the defense sector, as well as ways to address shared threats to security in the region. At the request of the government of Peru, the U.S. military has conducted regular training exercises to the benefit of the Peruvian Joint Special Operations and Intelligence Command (CIOEC, per its Spanish acronym) and the VRAEM Special Command, also known as CE-VRAEM. This year, in partnership with the U.S. military, the maneuvering elements of CIOEC and the CE-VRAEM special forces will work to improve their interoperability capabilities. . Training will take place in the provinces of Junín, Pasco, and Cusco and include instruction in special operations and military equipment, as well as information operations, interoperability, and field support. The training regions were selected by the Armed Forces Joint Command (CCFFAA, per its Spanish acronym) to provide the maneuvering elements with access to mountainous terrain and jungle areas of dense vegetation, very similar to those of VRAEM. Joint training between Peru and the U.S. Armed Forces is not new. It has been a constant part of the bilateral relationship for decades. It is important “to keep our personnel ready for deployment in areas of operation so that we can continue to reduce the activity of terrorists who act in concert with drug traffickers, thereby determining their field of activity, reducing their area of influence and their criminal activity in the VRAEM,” Commander Álvaro Palacios Aguilar, chief of the Training Department for the Seventh Division of the Joint Chiefs of the Peruvian Armed Forces, told Diálogo. In addition to these training exercises, the Peruvian government has approved three combined joint exchange exercises for military personnel from the two countries to perfect their special tactics skills and improve their ability to carry out missions effectively. Members of the Peruvian Armed Forces and Police also receive invitations to participate in counter-narcotics training courses in the United States, to be held at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, the Inter-American Air Forces Academy, and the Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School. The training courses provided by the Peruvian Armed Forces and those received from foreign sources have contributed to a significant improvement in the situation in VRAEM. According to CCFFAA, intelligence tactics, techniques, and procedures honed during training have improved CE-VRAEM operations and resulted in the destruction of 259 maceration tanks and illegal drug production laboratories in 2016. Also, they allowed for the seizure of almost 8 metric tons of cocaine, and the destruction of 22 illegal landing strips. Peruvian military activity and operations conducted in recent years have resulted in the capture and neutralization of the main leaders of the Shining Path terrorist organization, the recovery of captive communities subjugated to this criminal organization, and the seizure of firearms and explosives. “The Armed Forces were able to reach out to the neediest communities, bringing together the efforts of government bodies and private companies to solve their most serious problems,” Cmdr. Palacios said. “Relations between the U.S. Armed Forces and Peruvian Armed Forces date back many years. All of our combined efforts have allowed us to tighten the bonds of friendship between Peru and the United States,” retired Peruvian Navy Commander Ricardo Román, security adviser for the Peruvian Navy, told Diálogo. The Peruvian Armed Forces, along with other sectors of government, will make every possible effort to steadily bring security and development to VRAEM. “The United States’ experiences and knowledge acquired will be a great contribution to the skills of the (Peruvian) Armed Forces because the situations and scenarios are changing,” added retired Cmdr. Román. “The challenge for this year is to increase multi-sector intervention operations, within the framework of a comprehensive strategy in the fight against the scourge of terrorism, which acts in alliance with drug traffickers,” Cmdr. Palacios concluded.last_img read more

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