There have been reports that Colombia has offered specialists from its Unified Action Group (Gaula), the anti-kidnapping office of that nation’s national police, to help train their counterparts in the Mexican border states of Baja California and Chihuahua.
In Baja California, state attorney general Rommel Moreno Manjarrez said that 35 agents from Baja’s Antikidnapping Unit of the State Attorney General’s Office (PGJE) will receive training from Colombian police in tactical operations, intelligence, investigative methods, and negotiation. The agreement came as a result of a meeting in May between Moreno Manjarrez and the Colombian ambassador.
In the case of Chihuahua, Governor José Reyes Baeza and federal representative César Duarte visited Colombia in May on the invitation of Pres. Álvaro Uribe to discuss public security challenges in both locations and also to strengthen contacts between the two nations battling shared organized crime networks. Uribe offered the same support to the state of Chihuahua as he did to Baja California in helping to develop a comprehensive anti-kidnapping strategy.
It was not clear how Pres. Calderón felt about Reyes Baeza’s diplomatic trip to Colombia, given that interactions between the governor and leading members of the president’s National Action Party (PAN) have been strained in the buildup to July’s elections. PAN senator Teresa Ortuño accused the governor, from the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), of links to organized crime. Reyes Baeza countered with charges of libel against the senator. Reyes Baeza and his attorney general have in the past been critical of the Calderón administration’s response to violence in Chihuahua, particularly by the federal Attorney General’s Office in their unwillingness to investigate crimes committed in the state.
From the June Justice in Mexico Project’s Monthly News Report:
“Firma Chihuahua convenio con Colombia para crear grupo antisecuestros.” Milenio May 22, 2009.
“César Duarte y gobernador de Chihuahua visitan Colombia.” El Universal May 23, 2009.
“Capacitará Colombia a agentes de Baja California.” La Jornada June 2, 2009.