Celebrate Bike to Work Day

first_imgIn case you missed it, May is Bike Month, meaning communities nationwide are celebrating all things cycling and promoting the positive effects that bike commuting and bike culture in general have on the environment and the overall health and well-being of cities and towns.According the the Bike League, 40% of all trips taken in the U.S. are less than two miles, making biking a feasible and fun way to get to work.From 2000 to 2013, the number of bicycle commuters in the U.S. grew by more than 62 percent.Those stats are particularly important when you consider that if the average person biked to work once every two weeks instead of driving, we could prevent the pollution of close to one billion gallons of gasoline from entering the atmosphere every year.bike_month_web_900x900The main event during Bike Month is Bike to Work Day, and that’s going down tomorrow.Across the country volunteers will be setting up pit stops where bike commuters can pull in for a cup of coffee or a bagel on their way to work. There are also celebratory events taking place after the work day is over.In Asheville, North Carolina biking enthusiasts are celebrating Bike to Work Day the best way they know how—with post work brews.Such celebration is particularly timely given that given that New Belgium, one of the craft brewing industry’s biggest biking advocates, has just opened the doors of its Asheville tap room and distribution hub.On Friday, May 20, New Belgium Asheville will donate $1 of every pint, and a small gift will be given to anyone who rides their bike to the brewery. Tune ups will also be available, and at 6 p.m., the breweries will donate collective Bike from Work proceeds to local non-profits.“We support Asheville becoming a better city for bicycling and what better way than to do that with beer and friends,” says Michael Craft, New Belgium VIPer Ambassador and national bicycle advocate. “We also support having fun, so come by the Liquid Center, enjoy a beverage and get a view of the City’s soon-to- open greenway while you sip a pint on our deck.” Related Articles:  Learn more about Bike to Work Day and find pit stops and events near you here.last_img read more

BRO Athletes: Behind the Logos

first_imgFitting together the sponsorship puzzle is something that I get a lot of personal questions about. In an age of social media built around constructed personas its impossible to separate an individual from the “brand” he or she has made for themselves. We all have one; even if its all cat videos and breakfast selfies, and being sensitive to this is the first big step in positioning yourself for sponsorship. Being aware of the brand of YOU is being aware how the world sees you.Every rider’s progression or development follows a different path. But the pressure to perform is nearly universal. It’s pretty common to hear “serious riders” (you know who you are) expressing their perception that their sponsorship hinges upon wins, upon podiums, and upon results. Repping product on social media, stickers on top tubes and handlebars, heck even socks are ad space for the rider who views his or her results as what keeps their races paid for, their gu’s discounted, or their socks fresh. The rider who brings his bike with him on the podium represents an intense level of pride in not only her accomplishment but also the equipment she used to get there. For the riders who structure their lives around racing any result is fuel to get them back out on the bike Monday morning; pushing harder and riding faster.The truth, strangely enough, is that the folks buying the Gu’s typically have a much broader goal than podiums or trending hashtags. They’re never heard saying that their participation in the sport is genuinely dependent on results. The sponsors who are invested financially or otherwise in cycling do it for their own passions the vast majority of the time. While there are exceptions where sponsorship is genuinely mere ad space, they are very rare. Cycling support certainly informs spending choices in our family its a big jump to say that affects the bottom line of a major sponsor, especially in the microcosm of the cycling world. The jerseys you see on top racers and professional cyclists these days are often backed by a smiling face in a team car who cares deeply not only for the success of the body inside that jersey, but also about the health of cycling in general. Those involved on all sides of cycling today do so out of passion. Passion for human endeavor, passion for the journeys we all take, and a genuine belief in the bike as a catalyst for personal and fundamental change. Behind the scenes the podiums are merely a celebration of the success of cycling, not just the achievement of the rider.24 Hours in the Old Pueblo 2016 I came onto the cycling scene reading gear reviews in my sister’s back issues of Mountain Bike Magazine or Zapata Espinoza’s editorials in Mountain Bike Action of the latest product which would barely be safe to ride these days! An era where super teams like Volvo-Cannondale or Trek-VW dominated the sponsorship landscape. Where Ned Overend’s lanky profile graced the backlit plastic billboard of the Mountain Dew dispenser at the corner store. I grew up wondering how I’d get into that world. How could I as a chubby kid from a town few had heard of at the time get to where The Lung (as Ned is still called) stood lit in green and red.My time in the industry began at a local bike shop in that little town; shop-ratting my way to a free kit at said shop. Having access to pro-deals from said shop were a big step, and one which most of the sponsorship world is still based off of. As an employee of a shop I was already heads and tails above the shop’s few “sponsored” riders; who all got a tidy little shop discount and access to regular promotional discounts. For most every bike “race team” was a gray area for the shop as it was hard to connect the dots between margin gained through sponsorship and margin lost to team riders. It takes a shop who genuinely values their racing community to subsidize it. So value your local shops who support racing. Prodeals hooked it up in place of sponsorship for a long time for me. SM100 chillThe next step in my progression I remember thinking that race results would open the doors of those awesome red Trek VW Golfs I saw my heroes pull up in. That if I just got on the top box all the big names would come knocking. As if my phone number was on the back of the jersey with a sub-line of “call me!” Nevertheless I spent a year lighting up the highways pursuing a pro mtb license. The numbers game of getting a pro mtb license meant a lot of travel, a lot of hitting the road early and crashing in a field, waiting for your 90 minutes of lactate threshold effort which MIGHT yield a free tire and a few NORBA/USCF (Now USA Cycling) points. I spent 42 weekends of the year away from home that year. I even raced the morning of my sister’s wedding to warnings of “don’t you dare come back damaged!” And after a Pro upgrade and some of the fastest fast twitch I’ve ever had the phone still didn’t ring. I had to radically change my perception of what made me worthwihle as a rider in order to make any headway in the world of supported riding and racing. I had earned some support from a grassroots program run by Gary Fisher and Trek but each year that deal was changing and the dynamic didn’t always feel like pro ball. 2011 was an Olympic year and in Olympic years the sponsorship paradigm shifts a lot to provide as much support as possible to athletes who have a shot to attend the biggest bike game there is. As a result I did get a phone call from Trek: “Sorry dude, we are cutting everybody.” If you didn’t have a shot at the Olympic Village, you didn’t have much to work with. Fortunately another phone call came shortly after that—a phone call I still tell folks about today and one I’m excited about every year its come since.What then are sponsors paying for? They are paying for association with positive individuals. To gain brand recognition not only with quality legs and podium time; but also quality character. When Roger Masse asks Tinker Juarez what tire he’s running he expects; and receives, a genuine answer. Suddenly the tire brand Tinker is riding is more than just a good option out of a batch of good options, its now THE option. And that’s worth a lot more than any billboard or ad in MTB Action. And the more that happens the more any brand grows, and grows in the right ways.  When racing for Fisher and Trek I had developed a little bit of a side passion. I had built a singlespeed mountain bike in college because a meager college student budget couldn’t afford a second training bike. It was equal parts classic and miserable; a steel singlespeed cobbled together from parts laying around or bartered for. That bike rode terribly and seldom worked as intended. On this singlespeed though I had started to make friends. Make a reputation for being all the right kinds of rowdy. Loud and proud at 2 A.M. in the pits of a 24 hour race. Bright eyed and bushy tailed on the start line as the “pain train” pulled out of the station. These things brought the sponsorship phone call that I stoke on. A friend had opened a bike shop and wanted to put together the best team VA had seen in a long while. That year we had 3 of the 5 pro MTB licenses in Virginia. It was stoke worthy. And this stoke, this excitement, this enthusiasm and being recognized FOR it is what’s brought me here today. At least I think so! I try to be someone who cherishes the world around him. Who recognizes that every rider, every person is on their own journey. That each pair of legs that crosses the finish line has a story equally as awesome as mine; most often more awesome than mine! I am a lucky and blessed man because I have financial and family support which matches my appetite for self challenge, for adventure, and for making the world a better, more positive place, one pedal stroke at a time. I continue to ride for Blue Ridge Cyclery today because we share the principle that life is better with a bike. That passion for the outdoors, for family, and a vision of a cleaner, healthier, and more informed world can all be better experienced and actualized with a bicycle. We share dreams. What makes me sponsor-able by them and others isn’t that I’ve won races; though that airtime and facetime helps, its the alignment with a positive force in the world. I’ve also been blessed to work with Pivot Cycles, Industry Nine, Ridge Supply, Starlight Apparel, Handup Gloves, Wolftooth Components, Endless Bike Co and a huge variety of other brands who’s faces I know, who’s hands I’ve shook, and who I feel honored to represent in my capacity as a smiling face and strong legs. In putting together the sponsorship puzzle I’ve aligned myself with not only brands and products I WANT to use, but ones I am excited to use. Behind the logos and product pages are good people. People who care as deeply as I do about promoting cycling, healthy lifestyles.Our BRO athlete stories are brought to you by: BROAthleteBannerAdThe Hub and Pisgah Tavern, Crozet Running, Bold Rock Cidery, and Blue Ridge Cyclery.More from our BRO Athlete Team:last_img read more

Explore. Scott County.

first_img Music:  Regardless ofyour taste in music, a visit to Scott County is not complete without spending aSaturday night at the world-famous Carter Family Fold, the true “Birthplace ofCountry Music.”  It was in these hillsand “hollers” of Scott County  that A.P.Carter found the sound of what is known as country music.  A collector of songs, A.P. would roam thehills and valley and listen to the “porch music” played by the descendants ofthe Scotch-Irish settlers of this region. A.P. took the old tunes and crafted a new sound, which was discovered atthe 1927 Bristol Sessions by Ralph Peer.  Natural Tunnel State Park offers many inclusive familyoptions—from caving to kayaking.  More than850-feet long and as tall as a ten-story building, Natural Tunnel was naturallycarved through a limestone ridge thousands of years ago. A.P. convinced his wife, Sara, and sister-in-law, Maybelle Carter to accompany him to Bristol and make a recording for Peer.  The Bristol Sessions are recognized today as the beginnings of country music.  As A.P. lay dying, he asked his daughter, Janette Carter, to help preserve “old time traditional music.  Janette replied, “Daddy, I’ll try;” and try she did.  Almost 50 years later, the Carter Family legacy has been preserved at the Carter Family Fold in Hiltons.  A.P.’s legacy lives on every Saturday night at The Fold where traditional artists take the stage and honor the father of this original sound. Nature:  Scott County is home to one of the world’s most bio-diverse rivers in the world—the Clinch River.  With eight hand-launch sites, water warriors will find easy access to the lure of the Clinch, whether it be to fish or float.  Once a hidden, local treasure, the Devil’s Bathtub is now known world-wide and often cited as the best tourist destination in Virginia. The Falls of Little Stony is a must see for photographers and outdoor enthusiasts.  The hike is a mere 2.8 miles, with the main feature including three cascading waterfalls.  There are many scenic spots to take a break from the 600-foot ascent by resting along one of the many bridges.  Here you will find a hemlock canopy and a relaxing spot to watch the rushing waters below. William Jennings Bryan called Natural Tunnel the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” and the Weather Channel listed it as one of the “Top 20 Caves in the World.”  A Swiss-chalet chairlift takes you down to the bottom of the cave, where you can walk along the creek and follow the railroad tracks that still run through the tunnel today. Scott County offers several iconic eateries, such as Campus Drive-in, the Hob Nob, Teddy’s, and now the Commonwealth’s top Bakery, the Family Bakery in Downtown Gate City.  We invite you to delve deeper into the allure of Scott County, Virginia and see all there is to “EXPLORE.” Scott County is the perfect spot for a family-friendly vacation.  Families will enjoy a visit to the Creation Kingdom Zoo, located in the Snowflake community.  The zoo is a privately-owned by Marc and Elaine Bradley and is a breeding facility for rare and endangered species.  You can walk around the zoo and get up close and personal with a white Bengal Tiger.  Children will love the petting zoo and feeding many of the park’s animals.  Located in the southwestern tip of Virginia, Scott County isa “natural” for music lovers, history buffs, nature enthusiasts and vacationersof all types. From camping under the stars to a mountaintop cabin, Scott County offers some truly original lodging choices, including Appalachian Mountain Cabins, Boone’s Pointe Cabins, Camp Clinch, The Sugar Maple Inn, and Estillville Bed & Breakfast.  History:  Scott County’s rich history spans more than 8,000 years.  Visitors today can walk in the footsteps of famed frontiersman Daniel Boone and visit the newly-opened Daniel Boone Interpretative Center to learn what is was like growing up on the frontier.  Tour the 1700s John Anderson Blockhouse and learn how pioneers protected themselves from marauding Indians. Visit Bush Mill in Nickelsville, which is one of the few remaining restored over-shot water-wheeled gristmills. last_img read more

The heart of the Shenandoah Valley

first_imgAdventurous by nature Not only is the area home to bustling farmers markets featuring local produce, but it also houses a community of restaurants that bring farm-fresh to life in their unique dishes. With an array of flavors to satisfy everyone’s palate, try eateries like The Cracked Pillar or Ciro’s Italian Eatery. Those looking for something more daring can check out BoBoKo Indonesian Café or Beyond Restaurant. Whether you prefer to dine rooftop, on the patio, or in a historic building, there’s a restaurant for you in this dining destination. Wildwood Park offers picnicking and trails along the North River. Nestled in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley, bounded by twomagnificent mountain ranges and the impressive Shenandoah River, Harrisonburg and Rockingham County are must-see destinations that boast diverse outdoor recreation, thriving cultural attractions, vibrant and inviting small towns, numerous historical attractions, and farm-to-table dining opportunities. Situated just two hours from D.C. and minutes from the George Washington National Forest and Shenandoah National Park, its central location makes it an easy destination for a day, weekend, or week-long trip. After exploring and discovering, rest your head at one of the countless hotels, refurbished historic homes, or four-season resort. Enjoy comfort and luxury at the beautiful B&Bs and historic inns. Wherever you choose to stay, you’ll find friendly folks to make sure your visit is pleasant. Rafters enjoy a trip from Power Dam to Island Ford landing. The Float is located near McGaheysville, VA. Conveniently located for locals and travelers to grab a quick bite or enjoy a leisurely meal with family, friends, or colleagues, Hotel Madison’s own Montpelier Restaurant & Bar offers all the signature styles of Southern-inspired cuisine in a rustically elegant atmosphere. Virginia Tourism Corporation, www.Virginia.org Located in Dayton, VA, the Silver Lake Bed and Breakfast was originally constructed in 1750 and was restored in 2015. Guests have the opportunity to embrace the history of the central Shenandoah Valley with modern and luxurious accommodations. center_img Tastes for every appetite Situated in the shadows of the Allegheny, Blue Ridge, and Massanutten Mountains, this vibrant destination boasts a diverse mix of county trails, bike-friendly streets, and challenging mountain bike courses. Canoeing, kayaking and tubing with Massanutten River Adventures is popular with locals and visitors. Head underground at our local caverns to discover the wonders of nature. Whether your preferences range from tame to extreme, Harrisonburg and Rockingham have attractions to get your heart pumping, your mind expanding, or to let you simply relax. Places to stay last_img read more

Twelve-mile timber project approved in Pisgah National Forest

first_img“I applaud the Forest Service for the process and outcome of this project,” Josh Kelly, public lands biologist with an environmental group Mountain True told the Citizen Times. “This proves that multiple-use management can work for everyone when all perspectives are valued.” According to the Forest Service website, the Twelve Mile Project will: Designate small patch old growth to ensure habitat connectivity between the designated medium and large patch old growthUse commercial and non-commercial timber harvest techniques to promote the growth of young trees, increase the diversity of forest structure and age classes, improve wildlife habitat, and regenerate oaksConduct prescribed burns to promote fire-adapted plant communities and create and maintain open forest conditionsImprove the composition, structure, condition, health, and growth of young forest strands by removing competing vegetationIncrease open forest conditions across woodlands which typically have an open canopy with a grassy understoryThin forest to improve growth and enhance forest healthCreate or maintain wildlife openings to provide important feeding areas for a variety of wildlifeImprove stream crossings to restore aquatic organism passages where roads cross streamsEnhance streams by improving aquatic habitat diversity and stabilizing streambanks to prevent erosioncenter_img The U.S. Forest Service has completed an environmental assessment and made a final decision on the Twelve Mile Project, one of the largest timber sales in the history of Pisgah National Forest, the Citizen Times reports. The U.S. Forest Service says on their website that the “Twelve Mile Project will help maintain a healthy and diverse forest that supports wildlife, provides a sustainable output of timber, improves water quality and aquatic habitat, and improves access to the forest.” The project is needed to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the forest in order to meet the needs of current and future generations, the U.S. Forest Service says. last_img read more

WanderLove Is Calling You to Charlottesville and Albemarle County, VA

first_imgEnjoy a post adventure drink at one of the 35 wineries in the area. They are the perfect spot to sit back in wide-open spaces and take in the views while sipping your favorite Virginia wines. Indian Summer Guide Service offers horseback riding tours through seven of the vineyards, complete with knowledgeable guides and a tasting at the end. Visit IX Art Park to take a photo with the LOVE sculpture designed by two area artists. Stick around for live music or step into The Looking Glass for an interactive art museum experience. Or view the LOVEwork at the Shops at Stonefield before browsing the storefronts and dining at one of the many available options. Get the most out of your trip to Charlottesville with a multi-day stay at one of the area’s comfy lodging options. From upscale properties with a resort feel to chain hotels, bed and breakfasts, inns, and campgrounds, you’re sure to find a place that fits your getaway style. Go Outside and Play You’ll need to keep your energy up for a full day of outdoor fun. Stop at Crozet Pizza, named best pizza in the world by National Geographic, for a taste of their epic homemade dough and sauce. Bodo’s Bagels serves up some legendary bagels that lure visitors back time and time again. The historic pedestrian Downtown Mall offers plenty of al-fresco dining options and boutique shops. It’s also the perfect spot to go for a post meal walk during this time of year. Starting at Kemper Park with an arboretum of native flora, the Saunders-Monticello Trail winds two miles through hardwood forests and deep ravines to the visitor center at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. The path is open for hikers, cyclists, and those in a wheelchair. Or walk the new Highland Rustic Trails at James Monroe’s home for views of the historic property and working farm. Parks in the area, including Walnut Creek, Riverview, and Ragged Mountain Natural Area, provide a variety of walking, running, and biking trails.  Half an hour from city limits, the Blue Ridge Parkway and Shenandoah National Park meet for endless hiking and sightseeing. October is peak season for enjoying the fall colors from the trails or the winding country roads. Take your pick of hikes featuring waterfalls and stream crossings or panoramic views of the region. Although it’s a steep and strenuous climb, the views from the top of Humpback Rocks are worth it. WanderLove is about reconnecting with what you love. Experience peaceful rivers, relaxing wineries, and all of the winding roads in between when you road trip through Charlottesville and Albemarle County, Va. Relax and Unwind Several outfitters offer hot air balloon rides for a thrilling float above the area. Fall is the perfect time to take in the splendor of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the changing leaves from the air. LOVEworks Fuel Up The greater Charlottesville area offers outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds a place to get outside, from city and national parks to two nearby rivers.  At the southern border of the county, the James River passes by Scottsville for rafting and floating trips. Or you can head out for a day of excellent smallmouth bass fishing. A mile from downtown, enjoy a scenic float through the area on the Rivanna River. Both rivers are serviced by outfitters if you need to rent a boat for a few hours. Hidden Gems Nestled at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains just a short drive from our nation’s capital, you’ll be surrounded by beautiful vistas and endless outdoor adventures. After a day soaking up the sun, kick back at one of the unique culinary and spirit experiences in the area. Discover the best spots to play, eat, and stay in this guide to Charlottesville and Albemarle County. Experience WanderLove for yourself when you visit Charlottesville and Albemarle County, Va. Please check local guidelines and regulations before making plans to get outside. Remember to practice social distancing guidelines, wear a mask, and respect others’ health when outside. last_img read more

The Colombian Government Sets Out Contacts for the Release of FARC Hostages

first_imgBy Dialogo July 13, 2009 The Colombian government’s peace commissioner, Frank Pearl, set out contacts with members of the Catholic Church and the International Red Cross in order to determine their interest in participating in the humanitarian mission that is supposed to receive the hostages in the FARC’s power. “Yesterday I talked to the Red Cross, today I talked to the Catholic Church, and they are totally willing to cooperate in this process, and we expect it to move forward,” the official told the press. The peace commissioner also confirmed that the authorization given by President Álvaro Uribe to opposition legislator Piedad Córdoba applies only to her presence at the handover of the hostages held by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). “The president has authorized Sen. Piedad Córdoba to participate in the event at which those kidnapped are handed over,” he clarified. Likewise, he emphasized that the FARC must hand over the twenty-four police and military personnel who have been kidnapped, in addition to three hostages who died in captivity. Uribe authorized Córdoba on Wednesday to participate in the release of the FARC’s hostages, but on condition that the twenty-four kidnapped police and military personnel and three corpses in the power of the guerrillas would be “simultaneously” handed over. The president indicated that Córdoba will be able to participate in the humanitarian mission charged in charge of with receiving the captives, together with the International Red Cross and the Catholic Church, after he had withdrawn her authorization to participate back in April. In response, Córdoba thanked Uribe for his gesture, which she characterized as “positive,” and asked him for a meeting to “tackle the fundamental parameters for the release” of those kidnapped by the FARC. A report published today by the daily El Tiempo indicates that the government is prepared to accept a phased handover of the twenty-four police and military personnel by the FARC, rather than the “simultaneous” handover called for by President Uribe. According to official sources cited by the newspaper, Uribe wants the rebels to commit to liberating these twenty-four police and military personnel, independent of whether or not this implies authorizing more than one handover operation. The FARC announced in the middle of April that they would release Army Cpl. Pablo Emilio Moncayo, kidnapped at the end of 1998, and in June they indicated that along with Moncayo, they would hand over another member of the military who was wounded in combat. The condition demanded by the guerrillas was that Córdoba should be present for the handover of the hostages, something that Uribe opposed until Wednesday.last_img read more

Interview with Gen. Joaquin V. Perez Feliz, Minister of Defense of the Dominican Republic:

first_img Diálogo: What are the Dominican Republic’s goals and priorities with regard to issues of national security and sovereignty right now? Gen. Joaquin V. Perez Feliz: The chief objective is to guarantee the defense of our national objectives in matters of national security, strengthening the security system, because in this way we’re able to more effectively confront challenges such as drug trafficking, illegal immigration, terrorism, environmental degradation, and all kinds of illicit trafficking. We also have to strengthen our legal and regulatory framework in order to strengthen the joint institutional structures of the Armed Forces, raise our operational level, and improve the institutional system of military intelligence, so that it can better support operations and better confront threats. Another aspect is to continue supporting the national police, in order to build a much more effective system of citizen security. Diálogo: What is the Armed Forces’ role in confronting the threat of illicit trafficking? Gen. Joaquin V. Perez Feliz: For the Armed Forces, the fight against illicit trafficking is a national high-priority objective and is a duty hallowed by the Constitution of the Republic. It’s our duty to confront transnational criminal activities that affect the country and its inhabitants. That is to say that we have to be strong and combat illicit trafficking of all kinds: drug trafficking, transnational crimes, arms trafficking, and human trafficking. Diálogo: Many countries in the region are studying the possibility of changing their constitutions precisely in order to allow the army to play a role that has belonged to the police until now. Gen. Joaquin V. Perez Feliz: For us, this is defined. We have the Armed Forces for defense and the police for public safety, but at any time when there’s an emergency situation, if the president so determines, we can act and support the national police. We even have a task force, Ciutran (Ciudad Tranquila [Peaceful City]), that supports the national police, especially at night. Diálogo: How has illicit trafficking affected your country? Gen. Joaquin V. Perez Feliz: Illicit trafficking in all its aspects is an evil that has affected not only the Dominican Republic, but all the countries of the world and of the region, including the United States, because crime corrodes families and brings insecurity. The Dominican Republic has invested large sums to counteract drug-trafficking organizations and has also established a good level of cooperation with other institutions, such as the state security agencies and the courts and public prosecutors. This has resulted in our being able to combat transnational crime and drug trafficking more effectively. Diálogo: What more should be done in order to combat these threats? Gen. Joaquin V. Perez Feliz: Despite the fact that we have some resources for the fight, such as the exchange of information, we have to continue with international support, because it’s not true that a country on its own can effectively combat a threat like illicit drug trafficking. Diálogo: What are the benefits of working with the United States and other nations to confront this regional threat and others like it? Gen. Joaquin V. Perez Feliz: The Armed Forces have resolved to be more active in the international arena in order to benefit from the experiences and capabilities of the United States and of other countries in the region. To this degree, we’ll be able to be much more effective, because despite the fact that there is a firm and decisive political will in the Dominican government to confront these plagues, we’ve benefited from support in the exchange of information and in training. For us historically, in our relationship with the United States on matters having to do with the Armed Forces and other institutions, the benefits have been extraordinary. Working with the United States has been very, very beneficial. Diálogo: What is your opinion on the effectiveness of the established parameters for combating the problems of crime and violence related to illicit trafficking in the Caribbean, the parameters promoted by the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative? (Implemented by the United States, the CARICOM member countries, and the Dominican Republic in May 2010) Gen. Joaquin V. Perez Feliz: The initiative is very interesting and has borne a lot of fruit for us, because it’s been demonstrated that no country on its own can successfully confront the threat of illicit trafficking and organized crime. The Dominican Republic is firmly supporting this initiative, to the point that we’ve participated in all the meetings and have placed our own plans at the initiative’s disposition. Hence the significance that the framework of shared responsibility with the United States and all the countries in the region has, because it’s going to be much more effective to combat drug trafficking, transnational crime, arms trafficking, and illicit trafficking. We’re fully on board with President Barack Obama’s initiative. Thanks to the support of the Dominican government and President Lionel Fernández, we in the Dominican Republic have currently reduced the network of illicit-trafficking flights considerably. We’re making progress, and we have the political will to continue constantly improving in the fight against illicit trafficking, which is threatening the region and the world. By Dialogo January 24, 2011last_img read more

Pacific Naval Force Seizes over a Ton of Cocaine

first_img The pursuit of a go-fast boat on the high seas, carried out by units of the Pacific Naval Force, enabled the seizure of 1,033 kilos of highly pure cocaine and one kilogram of coca paste on the waters of the Central Pacific, off the department of El Chocó, Colombia, on 30 January. The alkaloid was being transported on the vessel La Soberana II, which had put out to sea from the coasts of El Chocó. The vessel, the alkaloid, and the individual crewing the boat were taken to Buenaventura, where the judicial authorities weighed the substance transported and determined that it was highly pure cocaine. The naval units are continuing the search for two individuals who, according to the individual crewing the boat, were on board the vessel and jumped overboard upon observing the presence of the authorities. With this heavy blow, the units of the Pacific Naval Force prevented the entry of more than thirty million dollars into the logistical and financial structures of the narco-terrorist organizations that are criminally active in the Pacific region. So far in 2011, seizures already amount to nearly two tons, thanks to the rapid reaction of the units of the Pacific Naval Force. The units of the Pacific Naval Force will continue carrying out operations that make it possible to close spaces to those who make illegal use of Pacific waters, at the same time that the Force invites the community to report suspicious activity of any kind that threatens life and security in the region. By Dialogo February 01, 2011last_img read more

The Inter-American Defense Board Transforms in Face of New Challenges

first_img Diálogo: What are you doing to strengthen capacity in the region? Brig. Gen. González Ávalos: The Board is made up of three bodies. The Council of Delegates is the highest representative body of the Board, where all the countries are represented by their delegates, and the Secretariat, which is the standing administrative body. As all international organizations, it has a Secretariat. In this case, it is a standing body. Other organizations have pro tempore secretariats, and their responsibility is to provide administrative services to the rest of the organization. And finally, the crown jewel is our Inter-American Defense College. Representatives from the 28 countries comprising the members of the Board make up the Council of Delegates. Diálogo: In other words, there was a change of mission beginning in 2006? Diálogo: Why does the IADB participate in conferences such as CENTSEC every year? Brig. Gen. González Ávalos: With respect to Board membership, to date we have 28 member states, and six observer states. Six countries in Central America are part of our membership and make up 20 percent of the member states. This somehow allows us to focus on initiatives related to the underlying problems in this region. We aspire to include all the OAS member states as members of the Inter-American Defense Board, and we are working toward that while also respect that there may be legal decisions at play. Brig. Gen. González Ávalos: Our mission was changed completely. Now, we provide advisory services on issues related to Military and defense matters in the hemisphere to comply with the Charter of the Organization of American States. It is a specific mandate of the General Assembly of the OAS that tasks us with taking into account the vulnerabilities of the states that are more likely to be impacted by emergent threats, which we are currently studying. This new resolution changes the structure of the Board and gives us a more technical role to play. In this sense, it makes us work more against emerging threats, without neglecting our fundamental role in defense. Furthermore, an additional resolution of the OAS gives us an enabler role to establish close coordination with all bodies of the Inter-American Defense System that operate in the hemisphere. In this way, we are working to establish coordination to try to strengthen the efforts against new threats, looking for efficiencies and synergies, and sharing our experiences. Diálogo: Could you explain a little bit better how the membership works? Representatives of the Inter-American Defense Board (IADB), along with Military leaders from regional partner nations, have confirmed the importance of cooperation as a tool to face emerging threats, and that is why they attend conferences like the Central American Security Conference (CENTSEC) to analyze emerging threats and the potential solutions to confront them. Brig. Gen. González Ávalos: First, in academic terms, we offer a master’s degree in Inter-American Defense and Security and a certificate program with the same name at the Inter-American Defense College. It has been in place since 2014, when we received the accreditation for a master’s degree from the United States Education authorities. In both courses, we study the hemisphere, not a particular country. There is no cost to students, and the course is for Military officers, civilians or for law enforcement officers. The curriculum focuses on multidimensional security. We have a permanent faculty, a modern campus, and the benefits of the EDU system, as a result of our master’s degree accreditation with post-graduate studies. We are proud to include three presidents, three heads of state, 31 ministers of different cabinets, and hundreds of high-ranking officers of the three Military branches of many countries among the IADC alumni of 2,669 and 54 graduating classes. The current class our 55th one, made up of 67 students, nine of whom are women, from 13 countries in the hemisphere. An average of 17 or 18 percent of IADC students in the last five years come from Central America. So the invitation is open to all countries, because we provide advisory services to the 35 or 34 countries –if we exclude Cuba– that belong to or that are active members of the OAS. Diálogo: What are the main functions of the IADB? Representing the IADB at CENTSEC this year was Mexican Army Brigadier General Jaime González Ávalos, vice-chairman of the organizations’ Council of Delegates. Diálogo took advantage of his participation at the regional exchange in Costa Rica at the beginning of April to talk to him about the organization’s new direction in light of the new threats in Latin America. Brig. Gen. González Ávalos: In the informal education modality, we are developing seminars, panels, and roundtables about the topic. In November, we held the Annual Traditional Meeting on Demining; in December, we had a roundtable about Islamic terrorism. We had a panel on hemispheric cooperation on cyber threats and security in February. We also had a roundtable about humanitarian demining with the authorities of the United Nations, and we are planning to present and conduct exercises in the topic of complex threats, that is, natural disasters, climate change, environmental impact, organized crime, cyber defense, and human rights. By Dialogo May 12, 2016 Brig. Gen. González Ávalos: The only requirement is to be a member state of the OAS. All that is required is a country letter addressed to the Chairman of the Council of Delegates to become part of our organization. There are no fees, and there are several modes in which active presence on the Board can be maintained, whether with a Military, law-enforcement, or civilian delegation. The countries that have not joined our organization yet are practically the Caribbean countries. Costa Rica is part of the founding countries of the 1942 organization. And we have three island nations: The Dominican Republic, Cuba, and Haiti, which, at one point, left and later rejoined. Last month, Granada joined the Inter-American Defense Board. As of now, the inclusion of Bahamas, Dominica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and St. Lucia is still pending. Diálogo: Could you speak a little about the history of the IADB? Diálogo: What are the requirements to become a member? Diálogo: And outside the academic arena? Diálogo: Speaking specifically of Central America, what are the common themes that the IADB identifies as threats? Brig. Gen. González Ávalos: Basically, security. Security in the hemisphere is affected by transnational threats, which require a response from the public sector and the private sector in coordination with civil society. For this reason, the Military, security, and defense forces are involved in the fight against these obstacles; in most cases, in a subsidiary capacity, but they are participating and trying to limit them. Therefore, the Board, directly or indirectly, is providing those advisory services to the OAS and its member states through information sessions, drafting proposals about those topics, and carrying out coordination and cooperation activities. Brig. Gen. González Ávalos: The Board turned 74 years old on March 30th. It was created in 1942, in the midst of World War II, with the mission to prepare for the joint defense of the continent. But as a result of the Special Conference on Security held in Mexico in 2003, the concept of security changed in our continent, and new directives were issued to restructure the hemispheric system. Thus, in 2006, the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) passed a statute, and we joined OAS as an entity of this hemispheric organization. This statute establishes that our mission is to provide advisory services and no longer plan for the defense of the continent. Diálogo: What is the organizational structure of the Board? Brig. Gen. González Ávalos: To provide technical, consulting and educational advisory services for many topics, especially in humanitarian aid and assistance in case of disasters, and search and rescue. We interact with all the entities in the Inter-American system; we prepare studies; we control the development, confidence, and security measures existing in the continent. We update weapons inventories; we keep the institutional memory of the Conference of Ministers of Defense; we provide advisory services on issues related to defense policy to countries that so request it, pursuant to our statutes; and we provide advisory services in the management, safeguarding, and destruction of arsenals. At this time, we are actively participating in the comprehensive action against mines. As to advisory services related to education, we offer advanced studies in topics related to defense, and defense and Military issues, the Inter-American system, and related topics and subjects. Brigadier General Jaime González Ávalos: Because it is an opportunity we have to learn a little bit about how much the region has advanced in the fight against the new challenges we currently face. And it is an honor for the Board to be given this opportunity to speak on the topic, since just like CENTSEC, the Board will continue to fight to keep peace in the region, where the security-development binomial interacts in a balanced way to maintain peace in all its countries. last_img read more