Brazil and Paraguay Expand Military Cooperation
By Dialogo May 03, 2016
Brazil and Paraguay signed the “2+2 Mechanism for Policy Consultation and Strategic Evaluations,” an agreement that expands their relationship in foreign policy, defense, and security, during a meeting in Asunción on April 4th. Brazilian Defense Minister Aldo Rebelo and Foreign Relations Minister Mauro Vieira, and Paraguayan Defense Minister Diógenes Martínez and Foreign Relations Minister Eladio Loizaga also extended the Military Cooperation Agreement, which was initially signed in 1995, for five years.
“The goals of the 2+2 Mechanism are essentially to debate, analyze, and share experiences about the subjects established in the convention,” explained Air Force Major General Jair Gomes da Costa Santos, Deputy Chief of Policy and Strategy for the Brazilian Ministry of Defense. “The agreement’s goal is to understand the other parties political-strategic positions, establish common understandings, open possibilities for cooperation, and thereby forge bonds of friendship.”
Under the agreement, Brazil raises the current level of its Navy’s involvement in Paraguay to a Naval Mission. Maj Gen. Santos said this step, in addition to representing Brazil’s increased support for Naval matters, indicates Brazil has placed a great importance on the defense relationship it has with its South American neighbor. The agreement also states the countries will work together to learn how Brazil can share information regarding its border movements, especially those extracted from the Brazilian Border Monitoring System, which uses radar, communication systems, and unmanned aerial vehicles to monitor Brazil’s borders. Brazil has also committed to sharing information on air traffic between the two countries, which will facilitate actions by Paraguayan security forces.
“Lastly, there was a proposal for increased involvement by Paraguayan Armed Forces observers in exercises near the border, with a view of increasing the transparency of these operations, as well as the possibility to conduct joint operations [between the two countries] or, even conduct simultaneous operations,” Maj. Gen. Santos said. “That would reduce the chances of an incident occurring on the border during such operations.”
The new agreement will make it possible for the countries’ governments to meet more frequently. Maj. Gen. Santos confirmed that Brazil and Paraguay are in discussions to determine how often those meetings should be held, under the 2+2 Mechanism and for bilateral meetings, in addition to defining whether the meetings will be at the ministerial level or carried out by working groups.
“This is a framework for cooperation and exchanges of information between Brazil and Paraguay,” Minister Eladio Loizaga said during the signing of the agreements. “We are certain that these negotiations will yield results that will benefit both countries, and especially our citizens in border regions, where the integration process will actually occur – more so than in our respective capitals.”
Brazil and Paraguay have extended their Military cooperation until 2021 in the form that it currently exists, which includes the involvement of all of branches of the Armed Forces' branches. Maj. Gen. Santos said that the agreement was supposed to be renewed in October, but the countries decided to execute an early extension which calls for the continuation for instructional missions, technical support, joint or simultaneous operations and exercises on the border, and classroom and practical training, among other actions.
Brazil and Paraguay have a long history of cooperation in security, as their current Military partnership succeeded the previous Brazilian Military Instructional Mission in Paraguay, which expired in 1994. Paraguay is a critical partner for Brazil in South America. The two countries share 1,339 kilometers of border – the fourth longest of Brazil’s borders – and face mutual threats, such as drug trafficking.
“It isn’t just with Paraguay; it’s with other South American countries, too," Maj. Gen. Santos said. "All of us have certain problems in common, to a greater or lesser degree, and we must find shared solutions to them. It is well worth remembering that Brazil’s foreign policy in South America includes regional integration, which by itself demands action in terms of partnerships. Difficulties in fighting crimes committed along the borders don’t only affect questions of public security; they also affect the economy. With Paraguay, specifically, we must keep in mind that there are Brazilians who are members of Paraguayan society, who farm the land in that country and, therefore, contribute to our neighbor’s economy, so this is also a topic of interest to Brazil.”
One of the cooperation efforts with neighboring countries is Operation Ágata, which was launched in 2011 and under which Brazilian security forces conduct joint actions along the Brazil’s entire southern border with Paraguay, Uruguay, and Argentina to combat crime and provide medical and social assistance. Military cooperation between Brazil and Paraguay also involves the donation of aircraft and tactical vehicles to Paraguay to expand its defense resources.
In 2010, Brazil delivered three Tucano-27 aircraft to Paraguay from Embraer, a Brazilian aircraft manufacturer. The donation occurred five years after the Brazilian Air Force gave six aircraft of that model to Paraguay. In June 2015, the Brazilian Army delivered to Paraguay 20 Mercedes Benz model 1418 trucks under the Military Cooperation Agreement.
The countries worked together to ensure the safety of Pope Francis during his visit to Paraguay last June. Brazil’s First Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Defense Battalion coordinated with the Paraguayan National Commission for the Biological Emergency Prevention and Response to prevent potential terrorist attacks against the pope or the public, even during an open-air mass for millions during the last day of his visit in Paraguay. Maj. Gen. Santos expects to send to the Paraguayan legislature the “Fourth Brazil-Paraguay Agreement on Defense Matters,” which will open additional opportunities for cooperation and has already been ratified by Brazil.
“Rather than an audit in terms of an accounting for this period of military cooperation, I think that it is more important to say that the agreement allowed for several exchange actions, and instructional activities involving service members from both countries, among other activities we conducted,” he added. “It is worth highlighting that Brazil currently maintains an Army mission and an Air Force mission in [Paraguay] that play an important role for our counterparts in Paraguay.”