Paraguay, Brazil Bolster Military Cooperation along Shared Border

Brazil and Paraguay agreed to strengthen their cooperation on security issues with joint Military operations along their shared border to fight drug trafficking and other illegal activities.
Julieta Pelcastre | 16 February 2016

International Relations

Brazilian Defense Minister José Aldo Rebelo Figueiredo (left) met with Paraguayan Defense Minister Diógenes Martínez (right) on January 26th in Paraguay to enhance the ongoing cooperation to safeguard their countries' common borders. [Photo: Courtesy of the Brazilian Ministry of Defense]

Brazil and Paraguay agreed to strengthen their partnership by improving the communication between their ministries of defense and Armed Forces to combat narcotrafficking groups and prevent crime on the countries' shared border.

On January 26th in Paraguay, Brazilian Defense Minister José Aldo Rebelo Figueiredo met with Paraguayan Defense Minister Diógenes Martínez to discuss enhancing the ongoing cooperation between the two countries to safeguard their common border. The Brazilian delegation consisted of Igor Boeacha, the Chief Colonel of the Ministry of Defense; Carlos Augusto Sydrião Ferreira, Brazil’s Military attaché in Paraguay; Brazilian Ambassador to Paraguay José Eduardo Felicio; and Jorge Sameck, the president of Itaipú hydroelectric dam.

The Brazilian and Paraguayan defense ministers “agreed to maintain and improve the communication mechanisms used to carry out Military operations on the border aimed at fighting against the illegal trafficking of drugs and arms and against all criminal activities that result in insecurity and worry – both for the states themselves and their civilian populations,” explained Colonel Jorge Mieres, spokesman for the Paraguayan Armed Forces, in an interview with Diálogo .

The defense ministers agreed to cooperate on cyber defense and share information to prevent chemical and biological attacks. Officials from the two countries agreed to focus their joint efforts on the 1,000-kilometer border the countries share.

“All countries are trying to eradicate illegal activity, principally that which is associated with the global problem of drug trafficking," Col. Mieres said. "The agreements between the defense ministries are important and vital to continuing the defense cooperation work, which is aimed at creating a better future for the two countries. The Armed Forces will not bend before criminal organizations. Strict controls and reinforcement at the border with Brazil will continue so long as there is a fight against groups associated with organized crime."

Common threats

Among the common threats the two countries agreed to combat are Brazilian narcotrafficking groups that operate on both sides of the border, with sharing information a key component of the joint initiative. “Both [defense ministers Rebelo and Martínez] strengthened personal and institutional bonds with the aim of having direct, fluid, practical, and fast communication while carrying out joint missions in the border area,” Col. Mieres stated.

Defense ministers Rebelo and Martínez agreed to maintain, broaden, intensify, and deepen cooperation agreements and treaties already in effect, with each country maintaining its respective sovereignty in a framework of mutual trust. “The cooperation, mutual support, and strategic alliances between the Armed Forces of Brazil and Paraguay are excellent,” Col. Mieres said. “Not only have we made agreements to swap information, training, doctrinal instruction on a military level, and scholarships to strengthen the studies of the officers in the Air Force, Navy, and Army, but we have also received donations from the Brazilian government, such as tactical Military vehicles to support our defense [efforts].”

“We want to elevate the status of our cooperation," said Defense Minister Rebelo, whose trip to Paraguay marked his first official visit since assuming his position last October. "We already have an important presence from the Army and the Air Force. We want to transform this cooperation to include a mission for the Navy.”

To promote greater cooperation, Defense Minister Rebelo announced that the next Meeting of the Consultation and Coordination Mechanism between authorities from the two nations' defense and foreign relations ministries will occur on April 4th in the Paraguayan capital of Asunción.

A history of cooperation

Brazil and Paraguay have a long history of cooperating on security challenges. The two governments have worked together on defense issues that involve all three branches of their respective Armed Forces (Army, Air Force, and Navy) for more than 70 years.

For example, Paraguay’s National Commission for the Prevention and Response to Biological Emergencies worked with the Brazilian Army’s First Battalion of Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Defense to prevent a potential terrorist attack against Pope Francis during his visit to Paraguay in July 2015, according to the Paraguayan Defense Ministry’s website. “The aim of having this cooperation between the Paraguayan and Brazilian Armed Forces is to give effective and timely responses during prevention operations and answers to threats,” according to the Paraguayan Defense Ministry.

In another cooperative effort, Brazilian security forces have engaged in Operation Ágata (“Agatha”) along the country's entire southern border with Paraguay, Uruguay, and Argentina to interrupt drug trafficking and provide social assistance. Aircraft such as helicopters equipped with night vision, in addition to armored vehicles and speedboats, support the presence of hundreds of security personnel. Brazil launched Operation Ágata in 2011.

International cooperation with partner nations is a key component of Paraguay's security strategy. For example, Paraguay cooperates with Colombia and the United States on security issues, which include joint training and exchanging information.

“Paraguay has conducted joint work with the United States and Colombia with the goal of eradicating illegal activities and preventing drug abuse via personnel training, the exchange of ideas, technology, research, scientific developments, and the exchange of strategies," Col. Mieres explained. "These all become enriched because each country goes through different experiences. The Armed Forces will not bend before criminal organizations. Strict controls and reinforcement at the border with Brazil will continue so long as there is a fight against groups associated with organized crime."

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