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Press Release | March 31, 2023

Paraguay President Mario Abdo Benitez meets with U.S. military commanders in Tampa

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benitez visited U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) March 30, where he met with U.S. Army Gen. Bryan Fenton, SOCOM commander, U.S. Army Gen. Laura Richardson, commander of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), as well as other senior command and Department of Defense officials.

The leaders discussed the continuing defense-cooperation partnership between Paraguay and the U.S. The close, collaborative ties between the United States and Paraguay include many decades of strong security- cooperation based on common interests, shared goals and mutual respect.

This is President Abdo’s first visit to SOCOM after he was initially invited last year by former SOCOM commander, Army Gen. Richard D. Clarke. The Paraguayan President previously visited SOUTHCOM in 2018 as president-elect.

Richardson briefed President Abdo on the command's mission and its commitment to working closely with enduring partners across the region, like Paraguay, to support lasting peace and stability in the Western Hemisphere.

"From working with regional partners in support of counter illicit trafficking efforts, to their widely recognized contributions to international peacekeeping operations, the Paraguayan armed forces are a highly respected and trusted security partner," said Richardson. "We are committed to continuing our longstanding security cooperation and supporting our Paraguayan partners' readiness and capacity-building goals." 

Fenton discussed SOCOM’s role as a global combatant command with a strong SOUTHCOM connection, emphasizing special operations’ history of working with nations like Paraguay to build the type of long-standing partnership the region can rely on.

“The power of enduring relationships with partners around the world is a hallmark of U.S. special operations forces, and the relationship we have with our Paraguayan counterparts is incredible,” said Fenton. “Through our conversations with President Abdo during his visit, and thanks to his commitment and leadership, I’m confident our partnership will only grow stronger, benefiting the security interests of the U.S., Paraguay, and the wider region.”

The U.S. and Paraguayan armed forces enjoy longstanding ties, and defense cooperation between them includes a wide range of partnership activities, such as exercises, training, counter-narcotics cooperation, humanitarian assistance, reciprocal visits, personnel exchanges, and the sharing of information and expertise.

Most recently, U.S. Air Force leaders joined Paraguay’s top military officials to commemorate the Paraguayan Air Force’s Centennial Anniversary Feb. 21-24. President Abdo was on hand to greet senior members of visiting delegations and pinned each of them with the Medal of Honor for the Centennial Commemoration of the Paraguayan Air Force.

At SOUTHCOM, the headquarters’ staff includes one senior Paraguayan military officer whose invaluable expertise, advice and insights support the command’s security cooperation with partner nations in the region.

Paraguay also has a State Sponsorship Program relationship with Massachusetts. The state’s Army and Air National Guard have completed more than 100 exchanges with their South American defense counterparts.