The United States and its South American partners are committed to working together to address hemispheric challenges affecting Latin America and beyond, the U.S. Southern Command commander said in his opening remarks at the South American Defense Conference (SOUTHDEC), which took place in Natal, Brazil, August 20-22. U.S. Navy Admiral Craig S. Faller joined South American security leaders for discussions on regional defense cooperation in response to hemispheric challenges, the main topic of this year’s conference.
“Seventy-two years ago — right here in Brazil — U.S. President Harry Truman and Brazilian President Eurico Dutra, along with 17 other heads of state from throughout the Americas, signed the Rio Treaty. This treaty provided a framework for our militaries to enhance interoperability and our collective defense against regional challenges. We have been guided by a shared commitment to regional collaboration ever since — a commitment that we still share today, as we face new threats to our hemisphere’s peace and security,” Adm. Faller said.
Speaking to attendees at the start of the conference, Brazilian Air Force General Raul Botelho, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said, “The countries present share the same geographical space and have developed, throughout history, a great interest in various fields such as the cultural, social, religious, and environmental areas
,but mainly with regard to Defense. SOUTHDEC 2019 is an excellent opportunity to strengthen the bonds that unite us.”Gen. Botelho also highlighted the fact that military forces are routinely called upon to aid citizens adversely impacted by natural disasters.
The Brazilian Minister of Defense, Army General Fernando Azevedo e Silva, also present, said that “our continent stands out due to a long period of stability, as a result of the excellent relations that have been historically cultivated by our countries and by cooperation initiatives. However, we know that the world is going through a time of transition, with a variety of new threats and non-State actors who are fleeing from traditionalism, imposing pressure on the global system. This requires a joint effort to neutralize them. That is why meetings like this are so important.”
Throughout the two-day conference, senior defense leaders from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, and the United States discussed in detail how the region’s militaries can improve their joint capabilities in the event humanitarian assistance is needed in what they called “the day after,” in Venezuela. Participants also discussed new opportunities for collaboration in joint efforts and lessons learned, among other complex challenges currently facing the region.