Brazil and Bolivia Come Together for Security Operations
By Nelza Oliveira/Diálogo November 02, 2017With a shared border of more than 3,400 kilometers—which extends over four Brazilian states (Acre, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, and Rondônia)—Brazil and Bolivia took one more step toward regional security cooperation with the creation of a Binational Security Cabinet. The purpose of the cabinet, established August 17th 2017, in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, is to combat transnational criminal organizations, drug, arms, and human trafficking, as well as contraband, money laundering, and other crimes. Some operations have already been conducted on the border between Brazil and Bolivia since the binational cabinet’s establishment. For instance, on August 18th, two bridges that connect Brazil and Bolivia—the Friendship Bridge in Brasileia and the Wilson Pinheiro Bridge in Epitaciolândia, in the state of Acre, Brazil—closed down between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. to increase security in the area. With this measure in place, Bolivians and Brazilians cannot cross the bridges by car or motorcycle during off-limits hours. Transit is by foot only and everyone must undergo inspection and show identification documents. To date, the bridges remain closed with no scheduled reopening date. On August 20th, 37 border crossings between the state of Pando, Bolivia, and the state of Acre, Brazil, were partially closed for one month to combat organized crime. According to the news site Capital do Pantanal in the city of Corumbá, Brazil, on September 28th, Brazilian Armed Forces conducted a sweep operation at the border of the state of Mato Grosso do Sul to combat illegal activities—arms, drugs, and ammunition trafficking, and smuggling. According to the news site, the Brazilian military thoroughly searched vehicles arriving from Bolivia and checked documentation. The operation continued the following day. Ongoing partnership Brazilian Army General Augusto Nardi de Souza, chief of Joint Operations for the Joint General Staff of the Brazilian Armed Forces, explained that the cabinet is a bilateral meeting of the ministries of Defense, Justice, and State Security of Brazil and Bolivia. “The partnership between Brazil and Bolivia in the area of security already exists. However, the purpose of this bilateral meeting was to expand our joint agreements and actions to reduce crime in the cross-border area,” Gen. Nardi said. “Cooperative actions between Brazil and Bolivia were proposed, such as fighting criminal organizations, performing joint operations including armed and security forces, police and intelligence forces, and sharing information, among other things,” he added. The communication department of the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which contributes to coordination efforts between Brazilian and Bolivian authorities, and facilitates dialogue and cooperation among the agencies involved in fighting transnational crime, spoke with Diálogo about the importance of the Binational Security Cabinet. “Transnational crime represents a challenge faced by all nations in the region, which requires the improvement of international cooperation and coordination among all bodies involved locally in the matter,” explained the communication department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “Fighting cross-border crime is a priority for the Brazilian government, which has been promoting initiatives to bolster cooperation in this area.” The meeting that marked the establishment of the cabinet also implemented the Brasília Declaration on border security. Signed on November 16th 2016, between Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay, the declaration establishes priority objectives and directives to develop coordinated actions in the region, as well as cooperation in the areas of national defense and policing. “The Brasilia Declaration predates the bilateral meeting between Brazil and Bolivia and focuses on the spirit of the meeting that was held in Santa Cruz de La Sierra [Bolivia],” Gen. Nardi said. “The binational cabinet is aligned with the commitments undertaken in the Brasilia Declaration, as evidenced by the priority to bolster cooperation among agencies involved from both nations in the issues of border security and fighting cross-border crime,” said the communication department of Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Point by point During the nearly three hour-meeting which marked the establishment of the Brazil-Bolivia Binational Security Cabinet, representatives from the Brazilian and Bolivian delegations addressed ongoing operations and proposals for the collaboration between both countries. After the meeting, Brazilian Minister of Defense Raul Jungmann discussed the development of the joint effort. “We had an intense program of work with leaders and ministers of both countries in the areas of security, intelligence, foreign relations, and defense with the participation of armed and police forces from both sides. We built a point-by-point program to attack gangs, trafficking routes, and financial resources,” Minister Jungmann said. “We are going to set up a think tank to observe and monitor the issue of financial flows. We will share up-to-date information about the borders. We will directly integrate armed forces, security, intelligence, and police forces, and everything else that the people of Brazil and Bolivia need, so that we can fight, smother, and strike organized crime,” Minister Jungmann added. According to the communication department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, certain operations are already underway. Both countries also plan to conduct a study to deepen cooperation to control airspace and curb illegal drug trafficking.