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Bolivia and Brazil Will Increase Monitoring of Border in Order to Combat Drug Trafficking

By Dialogo
November 02, 2011

The Bolivian and Brazilian governments will intensify their efforts to strengthen the fight against drug trafficking along the extensive border shared by the two countries, an effort that will include joint military exercises that could begin next year, as well as unmanned aerial vehicles and the use of radars.

“We’ve made available (to Bolivia) the knowledge that we have and that we’re continuing to develop, especially on the side of air defense, because much of the (drug) trafficking and smuggling is done through illicit flights,” Brazilian Defense Minister Celso Amorim said after signing a memorandum of understanding with his Bolivian counterpart, Rubén Saavedra.

The Brazilian official stressed the importance of this agreement for Dilma Rousseff’s administration, specifying that his visit to Bolivia was taking place within his first 90 days in the defense post.

“Representatives of the three branches of the armed services (Army, Navy, and Air Force) will hold binational technical meetings (starting in 2012) to define operational plans with regard to conducting military exercises in order to achieve greater efficiency in the Armed Forces in monitoring the extensive border between the two countries,” Saavedra explained.

Bolivia and Brazil share a border of 3,100 kilometers (approximately 1,927 miles), and the Brazilian Government has on multiple occasions expressed its concern about the increase in criminal activities (drug trafficking, smuggling, and weapons trafficking) in the border area.

Asked about his perceptions with regard to the increase in crime along the Bolivian border, Amorim stated that “in that terrible activity, there is always a search for new routes, and if there is pressure on one side, it moves to another; for this reason, surveillance has to increase.”

In March of this year, the two countries signed an agreement for surveillance operations with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and signature is pending on an agreement to monitor and destroy excess coca crops.

Amorim confirmed his country’s readiness to work on the surveillance issue and specified that there exists an “offer by a Brazilian firm, with support from a Brazilian credit,” for the acquisition of radars for the border area, but that the decision in this regard “will be made by the Bolivian Government.”