Puerto Rico Debt Struggle Ties Back to Its Stunted Energy Economy

first_imgPuerto Rico Debt Struggle Ties Back to Its Stunted Energy Economy FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Llewellyn Hinkes-Jones for Bloomberg BNA:Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) demanded that Puerto Rico provide detailed financial statements by March 1 before the Senate Finance Committee, which he chairs, puts together a debt-restructuring mechanism for the island.Puerto Rico is in talks with creditors over the country’s distressed debt.A major source of the country’s debt problems comes from the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), the island’s sole energy provider, which owes about $9 billion to bondholders and other creditors. The utility is dependent on imported oil to generate electricity, for which it sometimes pays on the order of $100 per barrel, even as global oil prices have collapsed to a level below $30 a barrel.In a 2012 presentation, PREPA proposed a switch to liquefied natural gas (LNG), which would lead to $500 million to $1 billion in savings a year and avoid fines under the U.S. Mercury and Air Toxics Standards.But those calculations were based on the construction of the Via Verde gas pipeline and the Aguirre offshore terminal, neither of which has been completed. The Via Verde project was abandoned in 2012 over environmental concerns. The Aguirre project was initially approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in July 2015, but is under appeal following a request for additional details by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.In a 2015 report, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) sharply criticized the commonwealth’s sole focus on LNG, which it described as transitioning from one fossil fuel to another, even though the island is “blessed with abundant wind and solar energy.”The IEEFA report notes that any savings from a switch to LNG could easily be wiped out by a spike in LNG prices. According to IEEFA Director of Finance Tom Sanzillo, for the switch to make sense “essentially, LNG prices can’t be much higher than what they are right now, which is around $2-$3/Mcf.” One Mcf equals 1,000 cubic feet.“The island could easily be focusing more on solar, wind, and energy efficiency,” Sanzillo said. “All of which would bring more jobs and fuel the local economy, whereas LNG would only bring a handful.”Puerto Rico offers no incentives for energy efficiency. In 2011, only 1 percent of its electricity came from renewable sources.Full article: Hatch Demands Audited Financials From Puerto Ricolast_img read more

Corruption Risk Seen in Australian Coal Deals

first_imgCorruption Risk Seen in Australian Coal Deals FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Guardian:A new report shines a critical light on the links between mining companies, lobbyists and politicians, pointing to the Indian mining giant Adani as an example of how a company with a questionable record overseas can still gain mining approval in Australia.It warns the political mining complex in Australia’s two biggest mining states, Western Australian and Queensland, is “susceptible to corruption” due to key weaknesses in their approvals regimes, including inadequate due diligence investigation into the companies and individuals applying for mining leases.It also criticises the “revolving doors” of personnel between government and industry broadly, and political donations regimes.The report, published by Transparency International Australia (TIA), Corruption Risks: Mining Approvals in Australia, was released on Wednesday.Its authors conducted 47 interviews with experts from government, industry, civil society, academics, Indigenous traditional owners and consultants in Perth and Brisbane to gather its evidence. Its list of key weaknesses in the mining approvals regimes is long.The researchers says “industry influence” is a corruption risk in Australia, particularly with regard to large infrastructure project approvals in Queensland and WA.It notes the mining industry has disclosed donations of $16.6m to major political parties over the past 10 years (2006-07 to 2015-16), and warns the under-regulated system of political donations can allow special interest groups to attempt to influence policy-making at all levels of government.It highlights the “revolving doors” of personnel between government an industry as a risk in Australia generally.It points out 191 of 538 lobbyists (35.5%) registered by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, as of September 2016, were former government representatives.The researchers also warn government departments involved in the mining approvals process in Queensland and WA do not undertake adequate due diligence into the character and integrity of applicants for mining leases, including companies’ track records overseas, and investigations of their financial capacity do not involve an examination of beneficial ownership to understand who the real owners are.The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis also warned this week that Adani’s ambitions in Queensland faced a new risk, with the company having to refinance more than $2bn in debt on the Abbot Point coal terminal – more than it paid for the port in 2011.More: Mining companies’ links with politicians ‘susceptible to corruption’ – reportlast_img read more

U.S. Plan to Aid Coal and Nuclear Plants Gets a Bipartisan Thumbs Down From Past Regulators

first_imgU.S. Plan to Aid Coal and Nuclear Plants Gets a Bipartisan Thumbs Down From Past Regulators FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Washington Post;Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s bid to change regulations to help coal and nuclear power plants has run into unusually blunt opposition from a group of former regulators from both parties.Eight former members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission — including five former chairmen — have filed a letter with the commission opposing Perry’s proposal that would give coal and nuclear plants credit for resilience so that they would have a better chance of beating solar, wind and natural gas competitors.The former commissioners said that Perry was seeking to reverse a quarter century of FERC reforms that have created a marketplace for electric power generators and that many of the coal plants he is aiming to help have no advantage when it comes to reliability.“His focus is clearly coal and there are a lot of dirty coal plants that are not competitive in today’s energy markets,” Elizabeth Moler, a former FERC chairwoman, former deputy energy secretary and former Exelon executive, said in an interview. “To me he’s effectively proposing to subsidize them and put a tax on consumers in doing so. It’s a tax in different clothing. It’s going to cost customers more money to run dirty old coal plants.”In early October, Perry made his proposal to FERC and asked for a decision within 60 days. He proposed that credit be given to power plants with 90-day fuel supplies on site so that they could operate during an emergency including extreme weather or a natural or man-made disaster.FERC is an independent agency, however, and some current members have indicated that the commission would make its own decision. Even one of President Trump’s nominees has stressed FERC’s independence. Robert F. Powelson, who was confirmed in August, said in a speech at the National Press Club on Oct. 16 that “the moment we put our thumbs on the scale is the moment we bastardize the process.”  In an earlier speech on Oct. 4, Powelson said “we will not destroy the marketplace.”Over the past quarter century, FERC has helped create regional electricity grid operators with the ability to accept bids from power plants to supply electricity to the grid. The competition has attracted tens of billions of dollars of investment in natural gas and renewable power sources.The former commissioners’ letter to FERC said Perry’s proposal “would be a significant step backward from the Commission’s long and bipartisan evolution to transparent, open, competitive wholesale markets” and that it “would instead disrupt decades of substantial investment made in the modern electric power system, raise costs for customers, and do so in a  manner directly counter to the Commission’s long experience.”The group wrote that “subsidizing resources so they do not retire would fundamentally distort markets. The subsidized resources would inevitably drive out the unsubsidized resources, and the subsidies would inevitably raise prices to customers.”It said that “investor confidence would evaporate and markets would tend to collapse. This loss of faith in markets would thereby undermine reliability.”Pat Wood III, who was chairman of FERC under President George W. Bush, said that “I understand the politics. I’m sympathetic.”But he said that the reliability Perry said he wanted to favor had more to do with transmission and distribution than it did with they type of fuel used.The group’s letter acknowledged that there are federal tax subsidies for every kind of fuel, but it said that “one step the Commission has never taken is to create or authorize on its own the kind of subsidy proposed here.”Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, said Thursday that FERC should shelve the Perry proposal.“Arbitrarily propping up a dying industry goes against what the GOP has long claimed is its goal – an all-of-the-above energy strategy,” Wyden said in a statement. “This rule clearly picks winners and losers in energy resources, which robs taxpayers of the benefits of competitive markets.”More: Bipartisan group of former FERC commissioners rejects energy secretary’s bid to help coal plantslast_img read more

New York plans 800-MW offshore wind auction by year’s end

first_imgNew York plans 800-MW offshore wind auction by year’s end FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Offshore Wind Journal:New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the state will hold its first offshore wind auction–for 800 MW–by the end of 2018.The New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA) will procure approximately 800 MW of offshore wind through a solicitation issued in Q4 2018, in consultation with the New York Power Authority and the Long Island Power Authority. Awards are expected to be announced in Q2 2019. If needed, a second solicitation will be issued in 2019.Through the solicitations, NYSERDA will procure offshore wind renewable energy certificates (ORECs) from awarded facilities. Each electric utility and other third-party suppliers of electricity serving retail customers in New York will support these new offshore wind resources through the purchase of ORECs from NYSERDA.The New York State Offshore Wind Master Plan announced earlier this year by Governor Cuomo will guide the state in the responsible and cost-effective development of 2,400 MW of offshore wind by 2030. The governor also directed NYSERDA to invest US$15M in clean energy workforce development and infrastructure advancement to train workers to support the growth of the offshore wind industry.In June, NYSERDA was awarded a US$18.5M Department of Energy grant to lead the National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium. This nationwide offshore wind research and development consortium will be supported through a public-private partnership including the offshore wind industry, utilities, research laboratories, and other states.More: Cuomo kick-starts New York offshore wind with 800 MW procurementlast_img read more

Outdoor Updates: World’s best paddlers battle for the Carolina Cup this weekend

first_imgWorld’s best paddlers battle for the Carolina Cup this weekend Of the 1.4 million households that began camping in 2018, 56 percent are Millennials and 51 percent are from non-white groups. Hispanic campers now represent 11 percent of all camping households while African American campers now represent 9 percent of camping households and Asian American campers make up 7 percent. African American campers are the youngest demographic of campers, with 64 percent Millennial representation. Some of the best standup paddleboarders, prone, kayak, surfski and OC endurance racers from around the world will compete this weekend in Wrightsville Beach, NC for the Carolina Cup. Competitors include Olympians and world-record holders all the way down to first-time paddlers. The event will also hold clinics and workshops about ocean racing, SUP paddling, outrigger canoe paddling and more. Kentucky biologists need the public’s help in identifying barn owl nesting sites According to the just-released 2019 North American Camping Report, more than 7.2 million American households have begun camping in the last five years, bringing the total number of U.S. camping households to a new high of 78.8 million. People are also camping more frequently, with 72 percent growth in people who report they camp three or more times each year. Barn owls are sensitive to disturbance, so researchers ask that if you do find a nest to not disturb it. Researchers are also asking the public to report any dead barn owls they find. Anyone with any information about barn owls should email Kate Slankard at [email protected] or call 1-800-858-1549. Camping is on the rise in the U.S. and campers are more diverse than ever Biologists with Kentucky’s Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources are asking for the public’s help in identifying barn owl nesting locations in an attempt to determine why the species is so rare in the state. Barn owls were common in the Bluegrass state as late as the 1960’s. By 2016, however, there were only 75 documented nesting locations statewide. Barn owls prefer open areas like pastures and hayfields. They nest in hollow trees and manmade structures like barns, silos, haylofts and attics. One must-watch event taking place at the Carolina Cup this weekend is the grueling 21-kilometer Graveyard Race, one of the most difficult paddling races on the circuit. Australian Michael Booth and Germany’s Sonni Honscheid will both defend their titles.last_img read more

Trail Mix: On the Rise

first_imgListen If You Like: John Prine, The Byrds Catch Them: The band just finished getting its live chops back in shape with a Nashville residency this summer, and more dates supporting the new album are on the way.   The Sound: Reborn after a five-year layoff, Trigger Hippy is a side-project collective led by drummer Steve Gorman, a founding member of the Black Crowes, and bassist Nick Govrik. The group released a self-titled album in 2014 when members included Joan Osborne and Jackie Greene, but this fall Gorman and Govrik are returning in a reconfigured quartet that includes guitarist Ed Jurdi and singer Amber Woodhouse. Accompanying the reboot is the sophomore effort Full Circle and Then Some (released October 11), a sturdy, soulful set of Southern-hued roots rock that features appearances by Willie Nelson’s harmonica ace Mickey Raphael and Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit’s guitar shredder Sadler Vaden. Quick aside: If you’re into behind-the-scenes band dirt, Gorman is also publishing an account of his time in the Black Crowes.  Catch Her: September 7 at Hopscotch Festival in Raleigh, N.C., and October 6 at Mountain Stage in Charleston, W.Va. Listen If You Like: Loretta Lynn, Nikki Lane  Catch Them: September 7 at the Lincoln Theatre in Marion, Va., September 20 at Library Amphitheater in Brevard. N.C., September 21 at Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion in Bristol, Tenn., October 24 at Pale Fire Brewing in Harrisonburg, Va., and October 26 at Isis Music Hall in Asheville, N.C. Key Track: “Anyhow,” which leads off Waldon’s new album, is a honky-tonk throwback with a resilient message about staying true to yourself. Key Track: “Strung Out on the Pain” is a country road song about leaving love behind that’s highlighted by wide-open pedal steel lines.  Catch Him: October 5 at Songbyrd in Washington, D.C., October 8 at the Neighborhood Theatre in Charlotte, N.C., and October 25 at the Earl in Atlanta, Ga.   Key Track: The stark yet soulful “Junk Town” channels Prine’s classic “Sam Stone,” a similarly mournful look at the pitfalls of addiction.  The Sound: A new act to emerge from the fertile roots scene in the North Carolina Triangle, Chatham Rabbits is the husband-and-wife duo of Austin and Sarah McCombie, who captivate with intimate close-harmony singing in the vein of recent predecessors Mandolin Orange. The couple favors rustic, minimalist acoustic arrangements—mainly clawhammer-style banjo and guitar—that showcase old-time reverence with compelling original songwriting. The group has been touring rigorously around the Southeast in support of the debut album All I Want from You, which was produced by Jerry Brown (Doc Watson) and features an appearance by Mandolin Orange’s Andrew Marlin.  Four Southern Artists, You Need to Hear Listen If You Like: Little Feat, Blackberry Smoke Trigger Hippy If you’re searching for new tunes this fall, check out the sounds of these four emerging regional acts. More Biking in the Blue Ridge from our September Bike Issue Here Key Track: “Chattanooga” from the band’s debut has a gentle mountain melody but the song’s protagonist is on the run from a troubled past. Ian Noe The Sound: Originally from the small community of Monkey’s Eyebrow, Ky., Waldon possesess a classic country voice and wry wit that helped her earn a loyal following when she moved to Nashville and started diligently working the local singer-songwriter circuit. That effort continues to pay off, as earlier this year she became the first new artist signed to John Prine’s Oh Boy Records in 15 years. On October 4, Waldon will release her first album for the label, White Noise/White Lines, a record that continues her approach of taking traditional twang forward with gritty originality. As Prine recently put it: “Her music continues an important arc of traditional folk and country music.” Listen If You Like: Mandolin Orange, Gillian Welch Kelsey Waldon Chatham Rabbits The Sound: Back in the spring, this rising singer-songwriter released a stunning debut album, Between the Country, a 10-track set of vivid hard-luck story songs, inspired by struggling characters that surrounded him growing up in rural eastern Kentucky. Produced by roots studio ace Dave Cobb, the record chronicles dark realities with literary vision, as Noe uses a powerfully simple folk delivery reminiscent of early John Prine while also incorporating some of the vintage electric jangle of the Byrds.last_img read more

Children from Poor Neighborhood in Santiago Shine in Robotics World Competition

first_imgBy Dialogo May 19, 2009 Winning an international competition is always a source of pride, but for children from the poorest areas of Chile, winning the Robotics World Competition is a real feat. 17,000 laborer families live in the community of La Pintana; unemployment exceeds 15 percent and store no longer offer credit to their customers. La Pintana reported the highest rate of juvenile crime in all of Chile, and only two out of ten children complete secondary education. It is in this community south of Santiago where Franco Lillo and his colleagues from the Nocedal College created the project which won first prize at the World Robotics 2009 First Lego League, which was held in the United States last month. Franco is 16 years old and, like his friends, has lived his entire life in La Pintana. Last year his professor of Technology, Patricio Acuña, suggested that he enter the foremost robotics competition in the United States, the Lego League, a competition in which, in Chile alone, 129 schools were represented, among thousands of others from around the world. Acuña encouraged his students to devise a project to help reverse global warming. Nine young men set to work creating a green robot. When Franco found out that the professor was looking for volunteers Acuña did not hesitate a single moment. “I was the last in the group. The teacher was testing me, and I passed. That was how I managed to enter,” he recalls with pride. Not knowing what awaited them, the “Spectrum Bots” team passed all national tests and traveled to United States to represent schoolchildren. “Many can reach this level in our country, and even surpass it if the job is well done, if they work together with teachers, parents and students,” says Miguel Arce, director of the Nocedal College. But once they qualified, the problem was to obtain resources to travel to Atlanta (USA), which hosted the final stage of the tournament. It took 21 million pesos (about 3700 U.S. dollars) to pay for travel and accommodation. None of the families of the young inventors had the funds for this, but with the help of the Ministry of Education, the boys packed their bags and traveled to the United States on April 16. “The school helped us to perfect our robot before the competition. They let us miss classes to perfect the project, and we also met during holidays to adjust details,” says Franco. And that is how the little hero of this story emerged. “Spectrum,” a self-contained robot developed with Lego Mindstorms technology, was crowned world champion in the “Innovation” category for its complex system of automatic irrigation. The prototype has the task of facilitating reforestation of the planet through solar-powered water irrigation. The amount of water required for operation is regulated by a device that connects directly to the root of the tree. The robot operates autonomously and does not require a human operator, which reduces maintenance costs. It was the dedication and determination of these guys that assured their victory, the college director emphasized. “They are all kids in their teens who love sports, being with friends, and going out, but they spent a whole month working on this project,” explains Miguel Arce. Very few understand how a handful of youths from the poorest communities in Chile achieved first place in a contest that gathers representatives from the most developed countries of the world. For Professor Acuña, when there are no economic resources, the important thing is to tap into creativity. “We won for a job well done because the creativity is there, all you have to do is develop it,” he says. Franco Lillo and his companions think the same thing, and now dream of studying technology, computing, and engineering, to continue inventing. “The effort was worth it; we realized that with effort and perseverance you can achieve things.”last_img read more

Drought-Stricken Guatemala Pleads For Aid

first_imgBy Dialogo September 14, 2009 Guatemala called on the international community to stump up 110 million dollars to help battle a famine and drought that has struck the Central American nation. A government statement said the money was needed to buy food for the estimated 410,000 families who have been affected. Guatemala’s President Alvaro Colom has declared the situation — which has claimed 460 lives since the start of the year — a “public calamity.” Most of the deaths occurred in the impoverished northern section of Guatemala bordering Mexico, where more than half of the region’s 13 million inhabitants subsist below the poverty line. Key crops like corn and beans have been decimated by the drought, leading to a spike in malnutrition rates. The drought is also being felt in neighboring Mexico, where the country’s water commission last month warned of a “critical” water shortage that was likely to reach crisis levels by next year. Mexico’s Cutzamala reservoir, which supplies the capital’s urban sprawl, is at record low levels, as are other public and private sources of water. The drought, the worst in 70 years, is said to be caused in part by the “El Nino” seasonal warming phenomenon.last_img read more

Honduras extradites alleged drug kingpin ‘Chancleta’ to the United States

first_imgHe was captured in the Department of Atlántida on September 10 by Honduran National Police, who arrested him while he was driving a pickup truck near the city of La Ceiba along the Caribbean coast. “Lobo’s arrest and extradition to the U.S. has led to the dismantling of an egregious trafficking organization,” said Alysa D. Erichs, the special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Miami. “This case highlights the effective collaboration between HSI, DEA and our international law enforcement partners.” Security forces suspect Chancleta assumed control of a major drug trafficking group after Carlos Arnoldo Lobo Alemán was captured in March by troops with FUSINA – an elite unit comprised of Army soldiers and National Police agents. They captured Lobo, also known as “El Negro Lobo” and “El Negro”, at a bakery in San Pedro Sula. Honduran security forces believe he’d been hiding in another Central American country and returned to Honduras days before his arrest. Under Honduran law, Chancleta and El Negro Lobo cannot be tried for crimes committed before 2012. That was the year the Honduran Constitution was changed to legalize the extradition of criminal suspects. Security forces suspect Chancleta assumed control of a major drug trafficking group after Carlos Arnoldo Lobo Alemán was captured in March by troops with FUSINA – an elite unit comprised of Army soldiers and National Police agents. They captured Lobo, also known as “El Negro Lobo” and “El Negro”, at a bakery in San Pedro Sula. Honduran security forces believe he’d been hiding in another Central American country and returned to Honduras days before his arrest. Before he was captured, El Negro Lobo allegedly ran a Honduran drug trafficking gang that works with Colombian organized crime groups, such as Los Mellos de Kasandra. El Negro Lobo also allegedly worked with the Sinaloa Cartel, a Mexican transnational criminal organization which traffics drugs into the U.S., Europe, the African continent and other destinations. In May, Honduran and U.S. law enforcement authorities extradited El Negro Lobo to the United States to face federal drug trafficking chages. Under Honduran law, Chancleta and El Negro Lobo cannot be tried for crimes committed before 2012. That was the year the Honduran Constitution was changed to legalize the extradition of criminal suspects. Attorneys for the two alleged drug kingpins can seek plea bargains with U.S. federal prosecutors in exchange for lighter sentences than they would receive if they were to go to trial and be convicted. By Dialogo October 31, 2014 Before he was captured, El Negro Lobo allegedly ran a Honduran drug trafficking gang that works with Colombian organized crime groups, such as Los Mellos de Kasandra. El Negro Lobo also allegedly worked with the Sinaloa Cartel, a Mexican transnational criminal organization which traffics drugs into the U.S., Europe, the African continent and other destinations. “Lobo’s arrest and extradition to the U.S. has led to the dismantling of an egregious trafficking organization,” said Alysa D. Erichs, the special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Miami. “This case highlights the effective collaboration between HSI, DEA and our international law enforcement partners.” He was captured in the Department of Atlántida on September 10 by Honduran National Police, who arrested him while he was driving a pickup truck near the city of La Ceiba along the Caribbean coast. Honduran security forces took another step toward dismantling a major narco-trafficking organization by extraditing to the United States alleged drug gang boss Juving Alexander Suazo Peralta, who is also known as “Chancleta.” Officers with the Special Operations Command (Cobra) of the Honduran National Police along with U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents escorted Chancleta to Toncontín National Airport for a flight to Miami. There, the alleged organized crime boss will face federal drug trafficking charges; U.S. federal prosecutors allege Chancleta directed large shipments of cocaine and hallucinogenic drugs into the United States. In May, Honduran and U.S. law enforcement authorities extradited El Negro Lobo to the United States to face federal drug trafficking chages. Attorneys for the two alleged drug kingpins can seek plea bargains with U.S. federal prosecutors in exchange for lighter sentences than they would receive if they were to go to trial and be convicted. Honduran security forces took another step toward dismantling a major narco-trafficking organization by extraditing to the United States alleged drug gang boss Juving Alexander Suazo Peralta, who is also known as “Chancleta.” Officers with the Special Operations Command (Cobra) of the Honduran National Police along with U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents escorted Chancleta to Toncontín National Airport for a flight to Miami. There, the alleged organized crime boss will face federal drug trafficking charges; U.S. federal prosecutors allege Chancleta directed large shipments of cocaine and hallucinogenic drugs into the United States. last_img read more

Giving Hope

first_imgBy Geraldine Cook/Diálogo March 10, 2017 Thirty-five-year-old Rosalidia Ortiz, feels blessed and fortunate for the medical brigades she has been able to attend in Corinto, Honduras, over the years. She has received free medical and dental care since she was a teenager. Twenty-two years later, she continues to benefit from them; now with her three children. Eight-year-old Alexander patiently sits next to her while waiting to get a tooth removed. “The medical brigades are good for the community because they bring a lot of medicine and they provide medical services,” said Ortiz. Eighteen-year-old Zulma Vega has also received the same care throughout her lifetime. Today, she brings her three-year-old daughter Idian with her for a medical consultation. “The medical brigade is a great benefit… This is a very important opportunity for us, because we don’t always have the opportunity to get care in Corinto.” Ortiz and Vega were part of the 747 local patients from the municipality of Corinto, in north western Honduras, who received medical care during the two-day Medical Readiness Training Exercise (MEDRETE) on Feb. 16th and 17th. The MEDRETE was held at a local school set up as a makeshift clinic, where military and civilian medical professionals joined to provide preventive medicine, basic medical attention, and dental and pharmacy services to local residents who would otherwise have to travel long distances and pay out-of-pocket expenses to receive medical care. The MEDRETEs are part of Joint Task Force-Bravo’s (JTF-Bravo) Medical Element (MEDEL) mission as a U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) component command. The MEDEL coordinates with Central American ministries of health to conduct MEDRETEs in local communities, thereby providing real-world situations in which U.S. military personnel put into practice their medical skills jointly with partner nation counterparts under critical conditions. The experience validates their capabilities to respond to a humanitarian mission or natural disaster within Central America. Medical brigades in action The MEDRETE in Corinto is one of a three-part medical campaign in the Honduran state of Cortés. U.S. military doctors, nurses, and dentists, together with personnel from the Honduran Ministry of Health, Armed Forces, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), such as the Honduran chapter of the International Committee of the Red Cross cared for patients at the school, while a mobile surgical team performed gallbladder and hernia surgeries at the local hospital in Puerto Cortes, an hour away. Two days later a police partnership engagement took place in San Pedro Sula, two hours east of Corinto. “MEDRETEs provide the personnel of JTF-Bravo with valuable training;” said U.S. Army Major William Laver, officer-in-charge of the event in Corinto. “It also allows us to meet with the Honduran people and provide care for them, and maybe pay the host nation back for hosting us.” In fact, during the last 25 years, JTF-Bravo has provided medical and dental treatment to more than 512,000 Central Americans. Sharing knowledge and fomenting relationships “We enrich ourselves with the knowledge the medical brigade brings with them as well as with what we have to offer,” said Doctor Juan Carlos Ramos Mejía, Honduran liaison to the MEDEL. “There are times that our hospital doesn’t have enough capacity to tend to many patients, so the brigades help us counter that deficiency and offer health services to our community.” In addition to exchanging knowledge in the medical field, JTF-Bravo personnel had the opportunity to create ties with local health providers, Honduran Armed Forces counterparts, NGOs, and the community in general. “All our MEDRETTEs are multi-institutional, which is very important,” said Honduran dentist Wilme Amador, a liaison to the MEDEL. “The reason why Hondurans are familiar with JTF-Bravo is precisely their humanitarian-civic assistance work done over the years. The close-to-16-mission-per-year performed by the Medical Element have been a vital part of the community”, said Dr. Amador. Community health education is another service provided at this type of event. “We educate people about hygiene and sanitation, emphasizing on vector-borne diseases that are spreading right now, such as chikungunya, dengue, and zika,”, said Honduran Army Senior Master Sergeant Luis Alonso Alemán, health aid and lead of the preventive medicine program. “The medical brigades are very beneficial to these communities because they help a lot of people who do not have money to pay a doctor,” added Senior Master Sgt. Alemán, who has been contributing with JTF-Bravo’s medical brigades for two decades. He knows first-hand how eagerly the local people expect the medical brigades. This year, Corinto’s residents were eager for their arrival, so when the MEDRETE began, promptly at 8 a.m., hundreds of people already lined the streets around the school to welcome the personnel and get their conditions treated. “We are two partner nations,” stated Senior Master Sgt. Alemán, asserting the importance of the JTF-Bravo and Honduran Armed Force’s partnership. “They come to serve our people.” The data on the myriad benefits brought forth by the medical campaigns is undeniably positive. However, seeing a satisfied Ortiz leave the medical site holding Alexander’s hand while flashing a bright smile, says it without words or data. She represents the success of the mission.last_img read more