Brazil’s Armed Forces have started a major deployment along its borders with Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia involving 9.000 troops from the three services with the purpose of testing border security against smugglers mainly of arms and drugs and organized crime, said the Ministry of Defense.
Operation Agata 5 is scheduled to last thirty days and besides 30 fluvial patrols along South America’s mighty rivers the exercise involves F-5 fighter jets and the latest incorporation to the Brazilian arsenal, drones.
The exercises which have become annual since 2007 and also involve the Federal Police and other state security departments extend from the State of Rio Grande do Sul on the Atlantic, Santa Catarina, Paraná and Mato Grosso do Sul in the heartland of South America.
“One of our objectives is controlling air space which is used for illegal activities such as drugs trade and contraband”, said Brigade Commander Jose Geraldo Ferreira.
Agata 5 covers different areas and “we are working in three fronts: direct action against criminal activities; support and coordination with government agencies in the different states and good PR with the people in the area getting our forces involved in cultural, health and education activities”, added the Brigade Commander.
This could mean repairing schools, clinics, vaccination campaigns, improving roads particularly for the most vulnerable population in villages.
Brazilian Defense minister described the exercise as targeted to combat criminal activities, organized gangs, drugs trafficking and illegal mining in the Amazon basin.
“One of the main pillars of Brazilian defense policy is dissuading foreign threats, not from the region where we have full cooperation from the different countries, but to ensure peace and protect our natural resources,” said Minister Celso Amorim.
“You can’t belong to the group of seven largest economies in the world and not think that someone could be interested in your resources, and in the case of Brazil, energy, oil, the Amazon region, bio-diversity, our capability in the production of food, all of which needs a strong dissuasion so as to prevent risks” underlined Amorim.