Brazil and the Mercosur Armed Forces


Brazil and the Mercosur Armed Forces

Brazilian Army’s equipment is in very bad shape. Abandoned
for years and without resources, half
of Brazil’s airplanes and
ships are inoperable. Brazil’s Defense Minister, José Viegas is
hoping that
the Brazilian Congress, despite budget constraints,
will find a way to allocate more funds to his Ministry.

by:
Émerson Luiz

 

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s right-hand man and Superminister José Dirceu—he is the
government’s Chief of Staff—has talked in defense of a common currency for the Mercosul, the South America economic bloc made
up by Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. Dirceu would also like to see Brazil and its neighbors engage in joint
economic policies.

"Mercosur needs to think about a common parliament, about macroeconomic policies and also to consider the
creation of a single currency," said the Minister. "We need to think big, as the European Union does. Brazil and Argentina play a
very important role in this matter."

Dirceu even suggested that the South American allies integrate their Armed Forces, but was quick to stress, that such
a union wouldn’t be in response to any perceived danger of an American intervention in the region, namely Colombia.

"If the countries of South America are to adopt a union of military forces," he suggested, "all of this will be done in
a dialogue, in a discussion inside the Americas and including the United States."

And he continued: "We need to think about integration, which is already a reality for the Armed Forces and the
police that fight narcotraffic and organized crime, guaranteeing our continent’s security. This is an issue. Another issue is the
discussion of Colombia, of the civil war in Colombia, of peace in Colombia and the Amazon. What I want to make very clear is
that I didn’t talk about the two subjects in the same breath."

The minister confirmed rumors that he is working too much and intends to share the burden of his position with
someone he hasn’t chosen yet. Commenting on the departure of the special aide to the presidency, Oded Grajew, Dirceu affirmed
that he is tired and that his duty is to reduce the size of the state bureaucracy. "This is going to be hard," he said, adding:
"We need to remember, however, in which condition we did find Brazil’s public administration."

Dirceu’s comments on South America’s military integration were soon ruled out by José Viegas, Brazil’s Minister
of Defense. What the Brazilian government wants, explained Viegas, "is to establish conditions that allow our region to
live without the presence of forces from outside the region itself." According to the Minister, Dirceu must have talked about
actions that the Brazilian government deems necessary to guarantee the stability of South American countries.

Viegas also made it clear that Brazil has no intention of sending troops to Colombia. According to him, the
Colombian government is expected to take care of its domestic problems on its own. "It is Brazil’s desire to offer cooperation to
end the Colombian conflict, but without supplying troops," he said.

The Minister also announced Brazil’s intention to increase its military presence in the Amazon next year, sending a new
brigade to São Gabriel da Cachoeira, in the state of Amazon, close to the Colombian-Venezuelan border. The Defense Minister
said he is convinced that the Farc (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) have no desire to enter Brazilian territory.

Viegas is in favor, however, of joint commercial efforts by the Mercosur members in order to purchase military
equipment with a better chance of bargaining. He stressed, though, that buying new equipment for the Brazilian armed forces does
not mean that Brazil has started a weapons race. "Rather, it signifies a crucial factor in the respectability acquired by the
government," he concluded

Brazilian Army’s equipment is in very bad shape. Abandoned for years and without resources, half of Brazil’s airplanes
and ships are inoperable. Viegas is hoping that the Brazilian Congress will find a way to allocate more funds to his Ministry.

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