Brazilian Army Investigates NGOs Working in the Amazon

A spokesman for the Brazilian Army reports that NGO activities in the Amazon region are being investigated. According to commander Francisco Albuquerque, the Army sees the presence of NGOs in the Amazon favorably, as long as Brazilian sovereignty is respected.

Deputy André Costa from the PDT party of Rio de Janeiro is sponsoring a bill that would make oversight of NGO activities in the Amazon the norm.

Costa says most of the NGOs are well-intentioned, but "some of them serve the geopolitical interests of other countries. They use foreign financing to engage in activities that are not always in the interest of the people of the Amazon."

Ealier this month, Minister of Defense and Vice President, José Alencar, said that there should be a greater presence of Brazilian Armed Forces in the Amazon region, along with more funding for Army, Air Force and Navy activities there.

Alencar called the Amazon the Ministry of Defense’s most important area. Speaking to an audience of military personnel and students at the First Seminar on National Defense in the Amazon he declared he would discuss the issue with Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

Alencar said the development of the Amazon was urgent and that the 13 million inhabitants of the region get little assistance.

He said the nation and the Congress must recognize that a large part of what assistance there is in the Amazon comes from a small group of dedicated men and women in the Armed Forces.

"We need to provide more funding so that those who care for the Amazon can work with efficiency," said the vice president.

Resistance Strategy

The Armed Forces of Brazil are capable of handling the threat of foreign military occupation in the Amazon. Nevertheless, they remain "in need of reoutfitting."

"We in the Ministry of Defense consider our forces adequate to defend the Amazon region in a regional conflict. In the case of a threat from a superior power, we shall be compelled to adopt a strategy that the Army has been training very effectively, called the strategy of resistance," the secretary of Policy, Strategy, and International Affairs of the Ministry of Defense, Fleet Admiral Miguel Ângelo Davena, affirmed earlier this year.

The admiral affirmed that the "fleet" (the panoply of Armed Forces equipment) currently assigned to the region is not up to this task, but that the problem can be corrected by transferring vehicles and vessels from other regions of the country.

"I believe that it is common knowledge to all Brazilians that our forces need to be reoutfitted," the admiral observed.

The admiral made these declarations in response to questions by lawmakers and in electronic mail sent by viewers of the TV Senate’s coverage of the public hearing "The Internationalization of the Amazon: Real Risk or Imaginary Fear," held in April by the Senate Foreign Relations and National Defense Commission.

ABr

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