Defense ministers of both countries addressed combat operations against common threats and other topics.
The Brazilian and Peruvian governments agreed to exchange intelligence to counter common threats in the Amazon. Peruvian Defense Minister José Huerta Torres and his Brazilian counterpart Joaquim Silva e Luna signed the agreement during the II Bilateral Defense Meeting at Nanay Naval Base, in Iquitos, Peru, September 27th.
In addition to addressing combat operations against common threats, the ministers discussed experience exchange, training, and civic activities in the Amazon region. The meeting gives continuity to agreements established in Tabatinga, Amazonas state, Brazil, August 2017. The countries share a 3,000-kilometer border.
“Our countries share common dangers and must deal with them together. These are transnational threats, as such our countries must take into account each other’s view and find common grounds to fight them,” Huerta said. Among the common risks, the minister cited drug trafficking, illegal mining, illegal wood extraction, and human and arms trafficking.
Each country’s particular situation
At the meeting, both countries agreed to develop civic activities and bring humanitarian aid along the Javari river, in the Amazon region, to help deter from crime the vulnerable population that lives along the border. On the Brazilian side, the Armed Forces will conduct civic and social engagements that include providing medical and social services, promoting cultural activities, and distributing medicine.
According to the Brazilian Ministry of Defense’s Public Affairs Office, mutual operations to increase government presence in the border region will take into account the particular situation of each country. Activities promoting increased access to technology, such as high-speed internet, are steps to reduce social inequalities observed in the region, the agency told Diálogo.
Brazil plans to contribute in many other ways. “The Navy’s ships will bring security and access to citizenship rights and health to the population. The Integrated Border Monitoring System is also essential to deter illegal activities, since it clearly expands monitoring in the region,” the Public Affairs Office stated. “Additionally, satellites and systems of the Defense Ministry’s Strategic Space Systems Program will allow us to expand security and social inclusion in remote regions, far from city centers, like the Brazilian land border.”
During the meeting, the ministers discussed future plans to improve bilateral officer exchanges, given the increase in personnel and specialties, and strengthening common operations. Huerta highlighted the experience exchange born of the armed forces’ cooperation during natural disasters.
Duties of the Brazilian and Peruvian armed forces go beyond defending national sovereignty. Service members from the Navy, Army, and Air Force participate in various disaster situations. The Brazilian Ministry of Defense revealed plans for joint operations in the civil defense sectors to share experiences. Cooperation through academic exchange to share qualifications, training, and education was another topic of discussion.
In the meeting, Brazilian Navy Admiral Ademir Sobrinho, chief of the Brazilian Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Armed Forces, and Peruvian Navy Admiral José Luis Paredes Lora, chief of the Peruvian Armed Forces Joint Command, signed the Peru-Brazil Binational Border Commission (COMBIFRON, in Spanish) to coordinate, evaluate, analyze, and supervise the commitments both countries adopted on border security.
“We know that trust is earned, relies on the interaction of those who look at each other in the eyes, and is naturally passed on,” said Silva e Luna at the beginning of the meeting. “We signed a cooperation agreement between both countries, through our armed forces’ general staffs, to handle border issues within the framework of COMBIFRON. The commitment we made is not only from the Defense ministers, but from our countries, to directly handle the issues that threaten our border,” he said.
“More importantly, we strengthened agreements to combat both countries’ threats. COMBIFRON will join a coordinated effort to control the airspace and halt illegal activities, especially drug trafficking, illegal mining, and human trafficking,” Huerta said.
According to the Public Affairs Office, the next meeting between the Joint Chief of Staff of the Brazilian Armed Forces and its Peruvian counterpart is scheduled for year’s end in Brazil, to continue planning. The upcoming reunion will focus on the execution of scheduled activities at the operational level. Authorities expect to carry out COMBIFRON yearly, with a subsequent meeting in the first quarter of 2019, in Brazil. COMBIFRON will have delegations from Peru and Brazil, and a permanent president and secretary in each country.