Brazil, Colombia, and Peru have agreed to exchange military technology and collaborate on developing a patrol ship to protect the countries' shared Amazon region against drug traffickers and other criminal threats.
The project was announced by the president of the Colombian Corporation of Science and Technology for the Development of the Naval, Maritime, and River Industries (Cotecmar, for its Spanish acronym), Rear Admiral Jorge Enrique Carreño, during the international fair, Expodefensa 2015, which ran from November 30th to December 2nd in Bogotá, Colombia.
“We – Colombia, Brazil, and Peru – have all signed onto the Amazon Patrol Project," he told journalists. "The Navies of these countries are positioning themselves to protect the lung of the world that is the Amazon River."
Aníbal Fernández de Soto, Vice Minister for International Affairs and Policies of Colombia's Defense Ministry, told Diálogo that the design of the patrol boat will reflect the engineering abilities of all three countries. "[We also want] the experience, doctrine, and expertise of these three Navies to exponentially increase each others' effectiveness in the activities against threats – such as those stemming from drug trafficking and criminal mining – that imperil this region."
Cooperation in the fight against drug trafficking
The patrol vessel will help the three countries combat international drug trafficking organizations that operate on the Triple Frontier of Brazil, Colombia, and Peru – a region that's also known as the Trapecio Amazónico (Amazonian Trapeze). Security forces will also use the ship to counter a wide range of other organized criminal activities, such as smuggling of flora and fauna and illegal logging.
“The main benefit is having a common tool with which we can patrol the rivers of the Amazon basin, which is a strategic ecosystem from the environmental point of view,” Vice Minister Fernández de Soto stated. “However, using this patrol vessel will also allow us to have a greater presence in confronting the various manifestations of organized crime in this region, which at times is inhospitable and difficult to access for various illegal economies.”
The vessel will help security forces protect the Amazonian Trapeze, a region that hosts the world's most diverse ecosystems, species, and genetic resources, and is also a cache for important hydroelectric, hydrocarbon, and mineral resources.
Military authorities developed the plan for the Amazon patrol boat after officials in Colombia, which has used river boats, and Brazil, which has experience in Naval construction, discussed the idea of working together before signing an accord in July 2014. Peru's Naval Industrial Services (SIMA) agreed to work on the project with Colombia's Cotecmar and Brazil's Naval Project Managing Company (Emgepron) following the fourth meeting of the Political Consultation and Coordination Mechanism held between Colombia and Peru on October 26th.
“This important joint strategy will not only allow for harmonious work among the various Navies involved but will also provide important technological advances as well as exchanges of technology that each of the countries has developed for the region’s benefit,” Vice Minister Fernández de Soto explained.
Though the three companies are working together on the vessel's design and ensuring it possesses required capabilities, they agreed Cotecmar will eventually construct the patrol boat, which will be funded once its design is finalized. “Each country will tackle this next stage according to their own economic means and strategic development plans,” Rear Admiral Carreño told journalists.
Initiative strengthens cooperative ties
“The relationship between Colombia, Peru, and Brazil is very close and fluid, characterized by permanent communication between our countries’ Armed Forces,” Vice Minister Fernández de Soto said. “We have fostered a wonderful alliance that has sprung forth not only from the fact that our borders touch, but also from our mutual interest in combating organized crime syndicates, which hurt our communities and the common region as a whole.”
For example, during the fourth meeting of the Political Consultation and Coordination Mechanism between Peru and Colombia, the countries agreed to exchange information regarding the construction, repair, modernization, and maintenance of Naval units, as well as to share services for the maintenance of airplanes and information concerning the implementation of their systems, among other matters.
“Brazil has recently offered its cooperation in the enormous effort that Colombia must undertake to clear the area of landmines, and we and Peru have renewed our promise regarding the assistance of victims as well as the eradication of landmines,” Vice Minister Fernández de Soto stated. “Once again, Colombia, Peru, and Brazil reaffirmed their historic ties of friendship, which manifest themselves in the realm of defense and the promotion of democracy.”