Bolivia-Mississippi Link

By  | 

Nestled between Brazil and Peru, the South American country of Bolivia seems worlds away from Meridian, Miss.

But some of that nation's leaders paid a visit to the Mississippi National Guard and its Regional Counterdrug Training Academy Thursday.

Bolivia is Mississippi's "sister state".

"They exchange formalities and bring representatives here to this country to see what's going on," said Orrin Fuelling, RCTA's director of training.

Several Bolivian Army officers, an air force major and even the chief of the Bolivian National Police are touring the facilities.

"People don't realize that Bolivia is a third world country, so things like hand-held radios, night vision goggles and practice guns for training are obsolete in some cases, making this visit all the more fascinating," said Maj. Haendel Abesto of the Bolivia Air Force. "We don't have the resources to keep training people like you do here. We find new clues how to manage economical problems by using the smart things you do here, especially the National Guard."

The mutual visits take place every three to four years. It's basically a sharing of the minds for people in the same career but who work worlds apart.