Brazil in Preparation for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games
By Dialogo September 14, 2012
Interview with Lieutenant General Roberto Carvalho, Deputy Chief of International Affairs of the Brazilian Armed Forces Joint Staff
During an exclusive interview with Diálogo at the South American Defense Conference (SOUTHDEC 2012), in Bogotá, Colombia, between July 24 and 26, Lieutenant General Roberto Carvalho, Deputy Chief of International Affairs of the Brazilian Armed Forces Joint Staff, emphasized the importance of the security coordination performed by the Armed Forces for the upcoming mega events that Brazil will host: the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.
Diálogo: The Military World Games’ security was considered a success by the Brazilian authorities with regard to presentation, and considering the upcoming mega events that Brazil will host. Will that strategic base of intelligence exchange with other countries also be used in the World Cup and the Olympic Games?
Lieutenant General Roberto Carvalho: Yes, we count on support from the United States. We have already received many visits and obtained information. We observed England closely during the Olympic Games in London, and for a while now we have been preparing for that series of events, which we consider major events. The Military World Games and also the Rio+20 Conference served as practice. The events provided two different experiences, both successful from a security standpoint. They were coordinated by the Armed Forces and strongly supported by us [the Air Force]. Naturally, all the security units in the country get involved: Federal Police, Federal Highway Patrol, Military Police, etc. But the coordination of these events was basically done by the Brazilian Army. The upcoming events will have a different approach because President Dilma Rousseff created an organization for major events within Civil Affairs, through 2016. Therefore, we have been working and preparing, as needed, seeking and calculating resources to be ready for execution since the creation of this organization.
Diálogo: Regarding national security, what is the main current threat against Brazil?
Lt. Gen. Carvalho: Unlike our neighbors, Brazil fortunately has no disputes. All the territorial border disputes that may have existed in the past are now resolved. So, we consider that we don’t have external threats against our country, but we have threats originating internally, as well as some coming from other areas, like transnational crime. Our main concerns today are the crimes that we addressed here at the conference: drug trafficking, human trafficking, these transnational crimes are the new known threats.
Diálogo: Now that Brazil is the country with the highest rate of drug consumption, does that constitute a threat?
Lt. Gen. Carvalho: Yes, this shows how society evolves for either better or worse. We really must curb this process. We all know it is very difficult; it is a constant struggle, and we hope to see the results of this effort. I would like to emphasize the fact that in Brazil the war on drugs is not under the scope of the Armed Forces, but basically it is the responsibility of the Ministry of Justice. The Ministry of Defense contributes to the work of the Ministry of Justice in all possible ways, within its capacity. I would like to clarify that despite our concern and the fact that we all suffer with this problem, the first line of action belongs to the Ministry of Justice.
Diálogo: Does Brazil have any interest in increasing bilateral agreements? What about transnational agreements?
Lt. Gen. Carvalho: Well, we have many agreements with several countries. The Ministry of Defense’s mandate is that our external activity is limited to cooperation. The orders from our current [Defense] Minister Celso Amorim, is that South America cooperates and assists countries with fewer resources so that this subcontinent, as a whole, can exert dissuasive actions. In the past, the country used the idea of dissuasion, so it had to have the strength for it. The current vision in South America is that we must be strong as a whole to deter [direct] threats, which, fortunately, do not exist.
Diálogo: There is a recurring theme in these meetings, which is the possibility of creating a regional organization to combat drug trafficking and to coordinate other events such as natural disasters, humanitarian assistance, etc. Because of its work, Brazil is normally mentioned as a possible natural regional leader. What are your thoughts on this?
Lt. Gen. Carvalho: The war on drugs, as I mentioned before, is mainly the responsibility of the Ministry of Justice, and the natural disasters are handled by the Brazilian Civil Defense agency. However, the Ministry of Defense is always involved in these matters. They are normally handled within the scope of the South American Defense Counsel, including the previously mentioned attributions of other ministries. I have no knowledge of the creation of a regional organization. Countries are meeting frequently at the South American Defense Counsel and handling matters of defense.
Diálogo: Particularly regarding the Air Force, why isn’t there better promotion of the Brazilian peace missions in Haiti, Lebanon, etc.?
Lt. Gen. Carvalho: I think that this is in part due to the line of work of the forces: the Army is a ground force and occupies the land, the Navy has more presence, and the Air Force has more of a support role. Our mission is to defend and control the air space, therefore it is not so much our calling, but we are planning to further develop the Aeronautic Infantry. For this reason we created management groups to deploy pelotons to Haiti, and to learn with the Army and Navy how to develop our personnel in terms of motivating, training and providing knowledge to them. We have selected the best from specific parts of the country to be sent there, hoping that our Aeronautic Infantry’s personnel may also improve professionally.
Diálogo: And internally, are there internal civic-military activities in Brazil?
Lt. Gen. Carvalho: This is routine for us. We provide support wherever it is needed, including to the government and the forces. We are always present; everything that requires support, the Brazilian Air force will offer it. We are very visible whenever there are disasters like mudslides, floods, or airplane crashes, so we are widely seen. But even in areas with no visibility, I guarantee that we work hard. All forces, including Aeronautics, are always ready to support, especially because of to the dimensions of our country. Airplanes are important, otherwise it takes a long time or may even be impossible to reach affected destinations.