Interview with the Commandant-General of the Brazilian Navy

Interview with the Commandant-General of the Brazilian Navy

By Dialogo
January 01, 2011

I believe that, over time, Brazilian authorities have worked to ensure our country’s safety and security. Brazil is no longer the metaphorical teenager with no prospects for the future. On the contrary, it is a nation respected by all. In the past, the children of Brazil were ashamed to be identified as such. Nowadays, the situation is completely different. Perhaps, in the future, our grandchildren will take so much pride in being Brazilians that they will fly the flag over their windows, just like Americans do with their flag. Anything is possible.

DIÁLOGO: At a conference like this one, are there discussions of
the possibility of an attack among the countries of the region, or is this topic
part of the past with only the so-called new threats, such as drug trafficking,
being discussed?
Adm. Julio Soares de Moura Neto: Currently, there is no risk of
conflict among the countries of the region, especially in South America.
DIÁLOGO: Can you comment on the new Supplementary Law that
expands the Navy’s powers in Brazil?
Adm. Moura Neto: The drug traffickers are increasingly present
on the ocean and the rivers, and the Navy has to be in the fight. With the recently
signed Supplementary Law 106, the Brazilian Navy was given police powers precisely
to be able to fight illegal trafficking together with other national bodies, such as
the Federal Police and other police forces. The Navy is concerned about this and
about the country’s other riches. We do this through naval patrols and through the
permanent presence of Navy ships patrolling our waters.
DIÁLOGO: Is there anything similar in South America to the U.S.
Joint Interagency Taskforce-South (JIATF-S), located in Key West, Florida, that
specializes in the fight against drug trafficking?
Adm. Moura Neto: We do not have anything similar to the JIATF
South, but we are working with the Federal Police to establish contact with this and
other international bodies. We plan on communicating with them to exchange
information, which is essential in the fight against drug trafficking. The main
thing is to receive information and reports. It is impossible to stop all the ships
that navigate international waters on a daily basis. For example, in Brazil, there
are 500 freighters navigating our waters daily. During a symposium about the fight
against drug trafficking in the Americas, in 2008, statistics were presented showing
that 80 percent of the world’s drug traffic navigates the oceans, and only 6 percent
of this total is detected. Confronting this threat is something very difficult and
complicated for governments. Therefore, the basis for everything must be information
exchange.
DIÁLOGO: There is growing concern, especially in Central
America, about the increase in the number of semisubmersible vessels transporting
illegal drugs. Have there been any seizures of vessels of this kind in Brazil? And
if not, what is the country doing to prevent the transport of illegal drugs by this
means from reaching the country?
Adm. Moura Neto: To our knowledge, there are no such vessels
circulating in Brazilian waters. I believe it is because they are more commonly used
to transport drugs from Central America to Mexico and to the United States, crossing
the Caribbean region. In the case of Brazil, our ocean is used as a trafficking
route to Europe and Africa; in other words, these vessels cannot endure such a long
trip. The conditions on these semisubmersibles used in drug trafficking are
horrible. Trips of over two or three days in length cannot be made in one of these
vessels. There’s also the problem that these semi-submersibles must be supported by
vessels on the surface, making it even harder for the drug traffickers on long
routes.
DIÁLOGO: For years, Brazil has had plans to build a nuclear
submarine. Until this happens, what is the Brazilian Navy doing to
modernize?
Adm. Moura Neto: We are building no less than 27 patrol ships of
500 tons (more than double the current number) and five super patrol ships weighing
from 1,500 to 1,800 tons, with the specific goal of patrolling the pre-salt offshore
oil fields, together with the construction of a new submarine larger than the
current five, which will be modernized over six years. But the Navy’s plans do not
end there. Among our priorities are also the modernization of our four Inhaúma-class
corvettes, the construction of three escort ships the size of a frigate of over
4,000 tons, and the modernization of the Sao Paulo aircraft carrier [already in
process] and of its Sky Hawk A-4 airplanes. The resources for the entire program
amount to 9 billion reais [$6 billion] over seven years. Everything will be built in
national dockyards. The entire construction will take place in Brazil.
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