Colombia is training a number of Paraguayan security forces in counterinsurgency warfare, despite some questions over the nature of Colombia’s role as a security exporter in the region.
In 2014, around 160 Paraguayan soldiers, mostly special forces, received training from the Colombian military, Colombian newspaper El Espectador reported.
Although bilateral training programs have been in place since 2008, the practice has taken on greater significance in Paraguay since 2013, when President Horacio Cartes passed a law allowing military forces to be deployed domestically.
The move was aimed at Paraguay’s small but troublesome Marxist guerrilla group the EPP. Both governments say the EPP has received training from Colombia’s largest guerrilla group the FARC, and an EPP faction known as the ACA is reportedly directly modeling itself after the Colombian insurgents.
Officials see a parallel exchange of expertise between Paraguay and Colombia’s security forces as a natural response, El Espectador reported.
InSight Crime Analysis
More than 50 years of internal conflict has given Colombia’s security forces a formidable reputation and the nation is looking to become Latin America’s “security exporter,” in the words of former Defense Minister Jorge Bedoya. But there are reasons to doubt Colombian expertise can solve other nations’ security issues.
Colombia’s armed forces have committed numerous human rights violations, including more than 3,700 alleged cases of “false positives” — the practice of falsely reporting murdered civilians as enemy combatants. New false positive cases have been reported as recently as 2014.
Additionally, a large part of Colombia’s military gains against the FARC over the last decade were made possible by nearly $10 billion of funding provided by the United States through its Plan Colombia program. In some ways, as the US has scaled back on funding large security training programs in Latin America, Colombia has emerged as a more affordable proxy to do this type of training.
However, a lack of proper monitoring means a great deal of money and effort is being spent without knowing if Colombian military expertise is actually making the security forces in other countries more effective.