Latin America provides humanitarian aid to Japan
By Dialogo March 31, 2011This kind of material is important for us latin americans to understand better how other countries are responding to subjects like security and international humanitarian assitance. I hope to see more articles like this published in Diologo. I read in some newspaper that, despite the tragedy in Japan, there was no looting of private property, what a fine example for the WORLD ...
Seventeen Latin America countries offered Japan humanitarian aid and manpower
following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that so far left nearly 10,000 dead
and thousands more missing.
Others are deferring to Japanese officials to request clean-up aid when their
country is ready for it. It's the favored course of action, not only out of respect
for the Japanese's organization of the response, but also because uncertainty exists
whether soldiers and volunteers should be sent into northern Japan when the threat
of nuclear radiation remains unclear.
Brazil will donate US$500,000 for humanitarian emergency aid, and per orders
of the Japanese government, will give the money to the Red Cross. The non-profit
organization plans to use it to buy food, water, medicine, clothing and temporary
“The Japanese government prefers money at this point, and asked that it goes
directly to the Red Cross. They have said they don't need any help with people, or
(specialists),” said Alessandra Vinhas, spokeswoman with Brazil's Ministry of
Venezuela packed 19 tons of humanitarian aid on a plane in late March and
headed for Japan. The plane owned by national airline Conviasa is one of two Latin
American airlines that serve Asia. Venezuela's government also is coordinating with
Japan to donate a large quantity of gasoline to areas of the island nation that need
fuel the most.
“This humanitarian support is from the heart of Venezuela, on behalf of our
people and the government of Hugo Chavez, to show solidarity and commitment to
Japan,” said Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro in a statement. “The world
of today and the future is built upon love and respect. That's what we're trying to
The Venezuelan aircraft will bring back citizens from other Latin American
countries, notably Colombia and Ecuador, following agreements made between Venezuela
and neighboring governments that couldn't orchestrate a flight to Japan as quickly.
Brazilian officials have pledged limitless support to Japan, but want to
respect that government's organizational efforts by responding only when asked to.
When looking at previous disaster relief efforts in other countries, Brazil has
traditionally donated money to U.N.-sponsored relief programs, and has rarely sent
its military troops to work in clean-up efforts.
Brazil's National Force for Public Safety, a joint effort of various state
and federal public safety forces coordinated by the Ministry of Justice, announced
it is ready to send 80 firefighters that specialize in disaster rescue to Japan, 30
“disaster experts” and 30 tracking dogs to aid the Japanese search efforts. The
National Force said it will hold off on sending rescue teams until Japanese
Brazil did not send military troops to Chile following the February 2010
earthquake. Its military did play a major peacekeeping role in Haiti following the
January 2010 earthquake, but Brazil had already 1,000 troops serving in that role
since 2004 through the U.N., and simply boosted its presence to 2,000 troops
following the earthquake.
Over the past eight years, Brazil's previous president, Luiz Inacio Lula da
Silva, placed an emphasis on world hunger, and focused diplomatic response on cash
donations directly to international non-profits and the UN response to foreign
emergencies. Brazil's government gave US$345.8 million in emergency relief funds to
the UN and large non-profits like the Red Cross last year for Haiti, focused on food
and health-related aid.
Brazil has a unique connection to Japan. More Japanese have immigrated to
Brazil than any other country in the world. Japanese began moving to Brazil in 1908,
drawn by the promise of work on coffee plantations at a time when the end of
feudalism in Japan drew the country's economy to a near halt. Japanese immigration
to Brazil then boomed following the start of World War I in 1914.
More than 1.5 million Japanese immigrants or descendents live in Brazil, most
in São Paulo. About 254,000 Brazilian nationals live in Japan, and about 800 were
living in the country's northeast region affected by the earthquake and tsunami.
Colombia, Argentina, Mexico offer aid to Japan
The Colombian government sent the largest passenger and cargo airplane
available to its Air Force to Japan after the earthquake, carrying food, water and
iodine to aid Columbians living in areas affected by the earthquake and tsunami.
The Air Force plane, a Boeing KC-767 Jupiter, departed from the Military
Transport Aviation Command (Catam) in Bogotá. The supplies were for Columbians who
wanted to remain in Japan. About 200 Colombians are expected to return with the Air
Force team to Colombia next week.
“We have made the necessary arrangements for sending a second aircraft, if
required, to accomplish the mission,” said Air Force Gen. Guillermo León in a
statement to Dialogo. “At this point, the request is that we start with one
Argentina's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said it is in constant contact
with the ministries of other Latin American nations to coordinate support as a
region for Japan. Argentina has sent an official government doctor to Tokyo to work
with Japanese health authorities, and has sent additional diplomats to its
consulates in Japan.
Mexico has announced it will send humanitarian aid to Japan, and its
commander of the Third Naval Zone, Guillermo Torres Colina, has said Mexico's Navy
is ready to contribute. Reports surfaced in Mexican media this week that the
Papaloapan ship docked in Veracruz, normally assigned to monitoring the Gulf of
Mexico and Mexican territorial waters, would be going to Japan. When asked to
comment, Mexico's Naval press office could not confirm or deny that report.
Ecuador's national emergency department has sent six tons of food and water
to the Galapagos Islands after they were hit by a tsunami. The islands, located
about 620 miles off Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean, were penetrated by seawater up to
a third of a mile, merging a lagoon with the sea and damaging homes and fishing
boats for most of the 260 families that live there. It has pledged help to Japan,
but like most countries will wait for a response from Japanese diplomats to send the