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Colombia ramps up security for Americas summit

Nearly 20,000 mobilized to guarantee security in Cartagena

The Americas Post - Student protestors frequently give Colombian riot police free on-the-job training

Careful background checks for every employee at each of the nine hotels hosting heads of state, especially the chefs responsible for their meals, are only one of the strict security measures being taken for the upcoming Sixth Summit of the Americas in Colombia.

For the past year, that nation’s police and military have been preparing a security plan which includes 5,000 police officers and 14,000 soldiers dedicated exclusively to the event, which will be attended by 33 presidents including Barack Obama.

Headed by General Jose Roberto Leon Riano, a Center for Integrated Intelligence will coordinate the work of 32 international agencies to be alert to any potential terrorist threat or disturbance.

Plans include the presence of a thousand anti-riot policemen, snipers, divers, and even special hostage crisis management teams, General Leon said.  Beyond coordinating with the security staff of foreign leaders, other teams will be responsible for the safety of first ladies, foreign ministers and other members of the delegation from each visiting country. Others will look after the hundreds of entrepreneurs and business leaders also expected to attend.

Technological components of the security plan include extensive deployment of aircraft, installation of 150 security cameras, and police robots.  For the first time this summit will include an NBCR (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical and Radiological) squad trained by the Office of Atomic Energy in Vienna to contain chemical and radioactive incidents.

The entire city of Cartagena will be subject to special controls on traffic and movement for the duration of the event.

“It was designed to cause as little trauma as possible for the city,” said Gen. Leon.