Military Operation in Brazilian Amazon Seeks to Increase Border Vigilance
By Dialogo May 09, 2012
The Brazilian Army has launched a military operation to increase patrols in
the Amazon and combat drug trafficking, arms smuggling, timber smuggling, and
illegal mining along the country’s northern border, shared with four countries, the
Defense Ministry announced on May 4.
Operation Agatha 4 “has the objective of maintaining the Brazilian state’s
presence in a more effective way. From now on, the country’s Armed Forces will have
reports about those regions,” the Defense Ministry indicated in a statement.
The operation involves 8,600 personnel, including civilians and members of
the Military, 11 boats, nine helicopters, and 27 planes, and it encompasses the
borders with Venezuela, Suriname, Guyana, and French Guiana, over an area of more
than 5,000 km2.
The operation began on May 2 and will last until May 17. Following the
announcement, President Dilma Rousseff planned to visit the town of Barcelos (in the
state of Amazonas, in northern Brazil) in order to observe the maneuvers, together
with Defense Minister Celso Amorim, a ministry spokesperson told
In two days of operations, ten clandestine airstrips have been discovered
near Yanomami indigenous communities, “chiefly used for the trafficking of arms,
drugs, and gold,” and two of them are expected to be dynamited next week, the
spokesperson added on condition of anonymity.
The Army informed neighboring governments about the operation in order to
explain that it has no hostile intent and will be carried out solely on Brazilian
Last week, Amorim announced that Brazil will increase its military presence
in the Amazon, its “most vulnerable” defense area, with the aim of protecting its
natural resources from any action coming from outside the region.
“Our defense commitment to the Amazon is fundamental. The Navy, the Air
Force: they’re all going to increase their presence in the Amazon in the next few
years,” the defense minister stated, without detailing the strategy.
In operations similar to Agatha 4 conducted along the border in 2011, Brazil
seized more than 115 tons of drugs and 534 firearms and arrested slightly more than
4,000 people, according to official data.
Brazil has 16,000 km of border, 9,000 along rivers and the rest on land. In
total, it borders ten countries.