By Geraldine Cook December 09, 2019 Diálogo interviewed Lieutenant General Mauricio Campuzano Núñez, commander of the Ecuadorean Air Force (FAE, in Spanish), during his participation in the South American Air Chiefs Conference, held in Tucson, Arizona, November 4-8.Diálogo: What’s FAE’s greatest contribution in its 100 years of existence?Lieutenant General Mauricio Campuzano Núñez, commander of the Ecuadorean Air Force: The greatest contribution is to have fulfilled our mission of defense and territorial sovereignty. We have helped the population, particularly with our humanitarian response efforts after the calamities that natural disasters produce. We have also contributed to the nation’s social and economic development and carried out social welfare programs such as Wings for Joy (Alas para la Alegría), Wings for Health (Alas para la Salud), and Wings for Education (Alas para la Educación).Diálogo: During your presentation about FAE you talked about the opening up of military relations with the United States. What is new in that regard?Lt. Gen. Campuzano: We have resumed all kinds of military cooperation with the United States, and we are very satisfied with the results so far. For example, we have resumed the deployment of personnel to the Inter-American Defense College, and now we have representation at the Inter-American Defense Board, as well as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation and military attachés. At the operational level, FAE shares operations with U.S. P3 aircraft and AWACS that conduct air and maritime reconnaissance to support the naval force. In the future, we will have radars that will help us improve air and maritime surveillance with communication systems.Diálogo: How did the System of Cooperation Among the American Air Forces (SICOFAA, in Spanish) respond to Ecuador’s request for assistance after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Ecuador in 2016, which killed more than 650 people and injured 16,000?Lt. Gen. Campuzano: We were the first air force to activate SICOFAA by requesting this emergency assistance. Their response was immediate upon our request for humanitarian assistance with food, medicine, rescue personnel, and air transport. FAE has also been a part of SICOFAA since its creation. We have participated very actively, and we are present at the Conference of American Air Chiefs, known as CONJEFAMERDiálogo: Are narcotrafficking organizations creating new drug routes in your country?Lt. Gen. Campuzano: Ecuador is not a drug-producing country, and consumption is minimal; however, the large amounts of drugs coming out of Colombia use Ecuadorean routes, which change constantly. That’s why we remain firm in this fight, which is a direct responsibility of the police, but we provide support with surveillance of illicit flights, as whenever we have information about an illicit flight we try to intercept the plane and make it land.Diálogo: What are the results of the combined air interdiction exercises Andes I and Andes II, carried out between Ecuador and Colombia?Lt. Gen. Campuzano: The mission of these exercises is to bolster strategies to counter narcotrafficking at the border, with the main goal of transferring illicit flights when they attempt to cross our border. During the exercise, our planes simulate interdictions of illegal aircraft, forcing them to land. If this objective is not achieved, the idea is that the neighboring country’s air force is waiting on the other side of the border to capture it. These exercises also focus on updating procedures and standardizing tactics to achieve effective communication, and they have yielded excellent results to prepare our personnel on this matter. Therefore, we want to continue (the exercises) and plan new ones with neighboring countries, such as the one we have planned for the first half of 2020 with Peru.
Take one look at Jamaican Olympic triple jump hopeful Shanieka Thomas and her potential is obvious. At six-foot tall and 145 pounds, she is built almost exactly like world record holder Inessa Kravets. Thomas, 11th at the 2015 World Championships, knows the similarity and hopes one day to match the Ukrainian’s fine achievements. Kravets set the record – 15.50 metres – at the 1995 Worlds and took gold as well at the 1996 Olympics. “The fact that the world record holder has the same build as me is encouragement to show I’m able to achieve the world record or even more,” she observed after a training session at the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies last week. “A lot of people don’t remember that the world record holder has a really slim build,” she pinpointed. Thomas, a three-time US collegiate champion at San Diego State University, left California to train at Mona last season. “Everyone was asking me, ‘Why come back to Jamaica and there’s not a lot of people doing well in the field events?’,” she recalled. “It’s hard to have a lot of people doing well in the field events if nobody actually comes home to show the talent the coaches have here,” she analysed. “So it’s a big jump, and it was risky at first, but I like the transition because it’s been going well.” With astute advice from her coach, Kerry-Lee Ricketts, the former Vere Technical High School student-athlete qualified for the Worlds at the last opportunity with a winning 14.23-metre jump at the NACAC Championships in Costa Rica. Now their goal is to make her faster and stronger. MORE SPEED “This year,” she revealed, “we’re focusing on getting more speed down the runway, as well as strengthening, making sure I’m more powerful.” Now almost 24, Thomas has great respect for retired 2005 World Champion Trecia Smith and her former Vere Technical teammate, Kimberly Williams, who in 2014 succeeded Smith as Commonwealth champion. Mention of Smith’s national record of 15.16 metres and Thomas glows. “That’s a really big performance, and I would love to jump at least 15.01,” she envisioned, “just to be over the mark.” During her San Diego years, the 2008 Carifta Games Under-17 champion ran relays on a regular basis. Now she dreams of running the 4×400 in black green and gold. “Every season, I contemplate doing the 400, but when I start thinking about the training for the 400,” she shudders, “I’m like, no. I’m going to stick with the triple jump.” She is encouraged by the relay running of World and Olympic triple jump men’s champion Christian Taylor at the 2014 World Relays. “If it’s not the Olympics or the World Championships,” she said, “if it’s even like the Pan-Am Games or something like that, I want to run a 4×4 … for Jamaica.” Runs over 350 and 400 metres are part of her background training for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, and she says “you’ll maybe see me on the 4×4 for UWI for the preparation towards Rio”.