sexta-feira, 12 de setembro de 2008

The Brazilian Military Is Back,

The Brazilian Military Is Back, As It Fleshes Out Its Weaponry And Strategies

• New grandiose plan: a nuclear-powered submarine
• Russia and France vie to be the Brazilian military’s new best friend and supplier
• The legacy of the 1964-1985 military dictatorship sits as a portentous cloud over Brazil’s democratic future
• Recent military and intelligence scandals range from coping withhomosexuality within the ranks to wire tapping of government officials
• Debate continues on what role the military deserves to play, if any

In recent years, the Brazilian military has embarked on a mission tore-invent itself by means of a combination of purchases of new militaryequipment, grandiose plans for constructing a nuclear submarine, andthe leadership offered by a pronouncedly pro-military president, asLula Da Silva has turned out to be. Inaddition to these factors, a growing number of alliances have beenformed with key extra-hemispheric and other regional actors, withBrazil demonstrating its interest in becoming something more thansimply a regional military power.

Brazil’s Armed Forces: A Brief History
The Brazilian military has a history composed of both high and lowpoints, the latter being its tendency to intervene in governmentalaffairs, reaching its apogee in the 1964 military coup that set up themilitary junta which ruled the country harshly until 1985. Brazil’scurrent global military ambitions are rooted in the major operations inwhich the country’s military was involved during World War II in Italy,as well as its current domination of the UN’s peacekeeping force inHaiti. Interestingly, the Brazilian armed forces have not been engagedin combat on its own continent in one way or another since the latterpart of the 19th century, when Brazil participated in the War of theTriple Alliance from 1864-1870 against Paraguay.
When it comes to its dark eras, the Brazilian military has beeninvolved in a series of coups, the last of which occurred on March 31,1964, when it overthrew the constitutional presidency of Joao Goulartand proceeded to retain power until 1985. During that period, fivemilitary presidents were “elected” by their fellow senior commanders tolead the military junta ruling the country. The regime finally steppeddown that year amid nationwide demonstrations calling for a return tocivilian rule. For many years and based on sound evidence, soberallegations have been made that Washington backed that military coup,which it has always framed in Cold War terms.
Brazil’s military is also known for having developed a strongindustrial base for much of its weapons output, particularly during theheight of military rule in the 1960s-1980s. Brazil’s weapons arsenalincludes the well-known Tucano fighter aircraft, which is still widelyused by other countries in and outside the region, including Peru, notto mention different types of tanks and armored personal carriers(APCs).
The Brazilian military has also had to deal with homegrowninsurgencies. In 1974, around 10,000 Brazilian troops were assigned toattack leftist encampments in the Amazon, where guerrillas were said tohave been planning an organized uprising against the military regime.At least 60 civilians were killed, with others later disappearing fromthe jails in which they were being detained. In 2007, Brazil’s SupremeCourt ordered the military to open its secret files regarding the“disappeared” insurgents.
About 400 Brazilian dissidents are thought to have been detained andabused throughout the period of the military regime’s rule, with manyof them still missing, presumed to have been murdered. In 2006, MariaAmelia de Almeida Teles filed a lawsuit against Col. Carlos AlbertoBrilhante Ustra, who headed the Sao Paulo secret police from 1970-1974,accusing him of torturing her and four family members when they wereimprisoned for 11 months between 1972 and 1973. These developments arenot apocryphal neither do they distort the pathological anti-societalcreedal beliefs held by the Brazilian military at the time. Mostrecently, the remains of Miguel Nuet, a Spanish citizen who disappearedduring the Brazilian dictatorship, were found in an unmarked grave inthe outskirts of Sao Paulo. According to reports, Nuet had beenarrested on October 9, 1973, under suspicion of being a terrorist; thepolice said he committed suicide while in custody, one month after hisarrest.
The Brazilian Military: the Gay issue and other Scandals
At present, Brazil defense expenditures continue to overshadow those ofall South American nations. The Brazilian military is a comparativelylarge force, currently fielding around 200,000 personnel. The Brazilianarmed forces have had a somewhat troubled history in a number of areas,including how they have dealt with homosexual conscripts. In June 2008,Army Sergeant Laci Marinho de Araujo was arrested on live televisionbecause he discussed his personal relationship with another soldier.The army had filed desertion charges against him, saying he had beenmissing since April; Marinho adamantly insists that he and his partnerare victims of sexual discrimination.
Another growing scandal has been the alleged wiretapping of severaltop government officials including Gilmar Mendes, president of theSupreme Court. General Jorge Felix of Brazil’s Institutional SecurityMinistry accused rogue elements within ABIN of the wiretapping, arguingthat “ABIN, as an institution, has never done and does not do thesethings.”
Other scandals include the so-called “Massacre of the BaixadaFluminense,” in which 29 were killed by an armed gang, in a northernregion of the state of Rio de Janeiro. A military policeman namedCarlos Jorge Caravalho was found guilty in 2006 of arming and trainingthe gang, and was sentenced to 543 years in prison. In June 2008,eleven soldiers were arrested for handing over three men to a Rio deJaneiro gang. The three, two students and a laborer, were subsequentlymurdered. These are just a few of the disturbingly large number ofdaily incidents involving uniformed personnel implicated in a range ofillicit activities with street gangs.
Budget, Weaponry and the Uses of the Military
Since before the 1990s, Brazil had capped annual military spending atabout $3 billion, or 1.78 percent of the country’s gross domesticproduct, as compared to the region’s average of 1.98 percent of GDP.This budget was allocated to equipment acquisition programs as well asto salaries, maintenance, training and infrastructure development ofthe three military branches. However, starting in 2004, Brazil’smilitary expenditures started to climb rapidly.
In 2007, Brazil’s military budget bordered $3.5 billion; this year,the budget has reached $5 billion. This is a relatively, an astoundingfigure, which would be difficult for any other power to match, with theprobable exception of Venezuela’s armed forces, which is presentlyinvolved in a large weapons’ procurement program with Russian, Spanishand likely Chinese suppliers, to be for by “petro-dollars.”
Brazil also possesses significant weaponry, though its recentmilitary purchases from foreign companies have been more a part of aregular maintenance process rather than an effort to stress anypreponderance of military strength in the region. However, thisattitude began to change in 2006, as part of a replacement schedule,when Brazil purchased four C-295 military transport planes from EADSCASA, a Spanish weapons manufacturer.
To demonstrate its growing military prowess, a massive 10-daymilitary exercise code-named Albacora was carried out by the Brazilianarmed forces at Rio de Janeiro’s Macaé Port in September 2007. Thisincluded the deployment of over 8,500 troops, along with 250 militaryvehicles, 19 warships, and 50 aircraft. Half of the aircraft werehelicopters – among them navy Eurocopter HU-14 Super Pumas and UH-12/13Fennecs/Esquilos, AgustaWestland AH-11A Super Lynx AH 11A, and SikorskyAircraft SH-3A/B Sea Kings, army HA1 Fennecs/Esquilo, Eurocopter HM1Panthers, and air force H-34 Super Pumas and H-50 Esquilos.
This is not to say that the Brazilian military is focusing only onweaponry, the question of the new goal and objectives of the militaryare being discussed in strategic terms. Roberto Mangabeira Unger,minister of the Strategic Affairs Secretariat of the Presidency hasdeclared that “one of the main reasons for devising a national defensestrategy is to have a shield not only against aggressions, but alsoagainst intimidations. If Brazil wants to explore its own path itcannot be subject to intimidations.” An inter-ministerial commissionheaded by Minister Jobim has been charged to define how the militaryshould act “in times of peace or war.”
The Brazilian military is once again taking on a greater role ininternal security initiatives, specifically, combating the drugtrafficking cartels that recently have been emboldened to more openlyoperate in the country. In March 2008, the Brazilian army burnt as manyas 7,000 coca crops in Tabatinga, Amazonas state. Also found on sitewas a laboratory capable of processing cocaine. There have long beenfears that Colombian drug cartels were formally outsourcing thecultivation of coca and cocaine-processing to neighboring countries,such as Brazil.
Another possible use for the military, resulting from an ideaattributed to Carlos Minc, Brazil’s minister for the environment, isthat the armed forces should patrol the questionable use of naturereserves in the Amazon. “I am going to propose the creation of patrolsor movements by army regiments to watch over the big parks andreserves,” he was quoted as saying. Since Brazil has around 300 natureparks and reserves, this would be a sizeable task for any militaryestablishment to take on, particularly since corruption routinely hasencouraged payoffs to be paid to senior military commanders forproviding protection and looking the other way when cattle-rancherswere being illegally allotted the use of public lands, at anunder-the-table price, often involving the destruction of rain forests.In August 2008, amidst growing tensions between Indian tribes andlandowners, an AP story reported that “top military generals warn thattoo much land in Indian hands, especially along Brazil’s borders,threatens national security and could lead to tribes unilaterallydeclaring themselves independent nations.”
Military Control of Civil Aviation
The military already controls important aspects of Brazil’s aviationindustry, which frequently has been criticized in light of the highnumber of plane crashes and other accidents, including incidentsinvolving facilities across the country in recent years. For example,in 2007, a TAM Airlines Airbus crashed at Congonhas, killing 199people. This tragic event in particular prompted a massivere-evaluation of the military’s management of the civilian aviationindustry and raised the possibility for having the industry revert tocivilian control.
Patrolling Haiti
On the regional and international scene, the Brazilian military was thefounder and remains a leading contributor to the United NationsStabilization Mission to Haiti (MINUSTAH). The Brazilian-led mission,in which its military has played a somewhat controversial role, wasdeployed there beginning in June 2004, a few months afterconstitutionally-elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide was pressuredout of office by a coup allegedly orchestrated by the U.S., France andthe UN. Brazil’s military involvement in this mission has been riddledwith problems and its resulting image has been blemished, particularlyby its soldiers’ trigger-happy tendency, their disrespect for ordinaryHaitians and, at times, a lack of professionalism. In January 2006,Lieutenant General Urano, the Brazilian Commander of MINUSTAH,committed suicide.
In June 2008, Brazilian Defense Minister Nelson Jobim announcedthat Brazil would send an additional 300 troops to Haiti, 100 of themfrom the Engineer’s Battalion. According to MINUSTAH’s official UNwebpage, the force’s current strength (as of July 31, 2008) totaled9,040 “uniformed personnel, including 7,105 troops and 1,935 police,supported by 474 international civilian personnel, 1,166 local civilianstaff and 192 United Nations Volunteers.” The force remains headed by aBrazilian military officer, Major-General Carlos Alberto Dos SantosCruz.
The Brazilian minister declared that “the problem is that we have tobe in Haiti. It is Brazil’s duty to be in Haiti because Brazil is amajor power. And as a major power, we have a responsibility towards theLatin American countries. The country does not need money, becausethere are already big international donors. The problem is: the moneyis there, but there are no projects.” Such a comment, redolent ofneo-Manifest Destiny rhetoric famed by early 19th century U.S. leaders,lends the belief that Jobim and his senior colleagues may nowexplicitly view their country as the Western Hemisphere’s new “city onthe hill.”
President Lula Enters the Picture
Lula has been keen to remain on the right side of the military and hasmade some firm declarations professing his desire to build arevitalized, more powerful military. This is somewhat ironic of Lula,taking into consideration that as a union leader in the 1980s he wasvery critical of the armed forces, but today he caters to their everyexpansion plan, including, outlandishly enough, entertaining theconstruction of a nuclear submarine, scheduled to cost hundreds ofmillions of dollars. It will be interesting to learn more about Lula’scommitment to the matter of investigating the military regime’s darkpast and what Lula might do should he discover that some high rankingmilitary officials, as is likely, were involved in human rights abusesand disappearances of enemies of the regime. He declared in August 2007that “we should set a deadline and plan what strategy to use so we candefinitively know and recover,” and then added “one of the wounds thatremains open is finding the remains of many adversaries.” He hasstopped short, however, of actually delivering justice to the victims’families. The members of the military dictatorship are protected by a1979 amnesty that even the vociferous Lula has been unwilling tochallenge even at his most ebullient moment.
Brazil’s Military Industry
During the 1970s the Brazilian military industry was highly respected,with its Tucano air fighter as its hub contribution to tacticalweaponry at the time, with the aircraft still in use today. Brazil’smilitary industrial companies, Embraer, Engesa and Avibras have builtother type of weaponry, specially from the 1960s to 1980s, besides theTucano. Among these we can find EE-17 Sucuri tank destroyer, the EE-9Cascavel armored reconnaissance vehicle, the EE-3 Jararaca scout car,as well as the MB-3 Tamoyo tan. The EE-T1 Osorio main battle tank wasEngesa’s flagship tank. With the end of the Cold War and majorconventional warfare operations, Brazil’s military industry ran out ofclients, forcing Engesa and Avibras to file for bankruptcy in themid-1990s.
Lula made clear his intention to exhume Brazil’s military industryduring a September 2007 trip to Spain. In an interview with Spanishdaily El Pais, the Brazilian leader declared that “in the1970s, we had modern factories that built tanks […] But they have beendismantled. Brazil must return to what it had. To rebuild our weaponryfactories, we must buy.”
In 2007, Empresa Brasileiras de Aeronautica SA, or Embraer,said it was studying the development of a military transport plane thatcould compete with the Lockheed C-130. If the plane is manufactured,the Embraer C-390, could transport up to 19 metric tons (21 tons). Thiswould be the heaviest aircraft ever produced by the company, theworld’s No. 4 aircraft manufacturer. If manufactured, it would beavailable by 2011 or 2012.
Embraer’s leading military aircraft is currently the Super Tucanoturbo-prop model, which mainly has been used to train air force pilots.In 2006, Brazil sold 25 of these aircraft to Colombia, in a deal worth$235 million. In June 2008, EP Aviation announced that it purchased a314-B1 Super Tucano fighter (without the two .50-caliber machine gunsnormally attached to the wings) from Embraer, for the price of $4.5million. EP Aviation is a subsidiary of Blackwater Worldwide, anexceedingly controversial U.S. private security contractor that hasbeen heavily involved in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. A June2008 Associated Press article reported that preliminarynegotiations are now being carried out between Embraer and U.S.authorities to sell eight Super Tucanos to Iraq. The Tucano is a lightaircraft normally used for pilot-training but it can also be used forlight attack missions or for air patrols. In August 2008, Chileannounced that it had contracted Embraer to construct 12 Super Tucanofor the Chilean Air Force. Also, during the LAADS 2007 weaponryexhibition, the Brazilian Flight Solutions company unveiled its FS-01Watchdog, a new medium tactical unmanned air vehicle.
In February 2007, European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. (EADS)announced that it had sold its 2.12 percent stake in Embraer for aprofit of $163 million (before taxes and bank fees). EADS CEOs TomEnders and Louis Gallois said in a statement, at the same time, “weremain fully committed to our partnership with Embraer, which hasmatured over many years. Brazil and Latin America are important marketsand we will continue to strengthen our industrial presence in theregion.”
Until Embraer regains its lost eminence as a designer/manufacturerof military aircraft, Brazil’s armed forces are relying on foreigncompanies to re-invigorate their inventory. The U.S. Boeing Co. hasjoined other manufacturers of military technology (like Russia’sSukhoi, Sweden’s Saab and France’s Dessault Aviation) in making a bidto sell specific military models to Brazil. The corporation’srepresentatives visited Brazil in March 2008 and were keen on marketingBoeing’s F/A-18 Hornet twin engine, tactical aircraft. It is expectedthat Brazil will purchase anywhere from 24 to 36 planes in thiscategory from whatever company wins the bid.
At the same time, Russia’s Rosoboronexport and Italy’s AgustaAerospace are vying for a $500 million contract to supply Brazil with12 helicopters. Rosoboronexport is offering its MI35 helicopters whileAgusta is offering the AW-109. Other competitors are the American BellHelicopter and the French-manufactured Eurocopter.
Integration, Deals and Projects
Perhaps one of the most ambitious projects for Brazil’s military isthat of its proposed nuclear submarine. For decades, Brazil hasattempted to build a nuclear sub without much success. Last year, Luladeclared a new attempt for the country to construct a locally-builtvessel. On the face of it, the project seemed far-fetched if notslightly ludicrous, since Brazil has no perceived external enemy threat(Venezuela being an extreme long shot), and because the project wouldbe immensely expensive and could only be produced by 2020, ifeverything went according to plan. In February 2008, an interestingdevelopment occurred. Lula visited Argentine President CristinaFernandez de Kirchner in Buenos Aires, and the two leaders agreed tojointly build nuclear-powered submarines, since both countries have hada nuclear history. Even more intriguing was a declaration by FrenchPresident Nicolas Sarkozy that France would be contributing to theproject. In fact, it is believed that the French Scorpene-classsubmarine (a diesel-powered attacked sub) will serve as the model forBrazil’s nuclear vessel.
In December 2006, then-Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrovvisited Brasilia where he met with his Brazilian counterpart, CelsoAmorim. Russia’s state-run arms exporting company Rosoboronexportdemonstrated the performance attributes of the BuK-M2 antiaircraftmissile system at the LAADS 2007 exhibition of defense technology inRio de Janeiro. While it is unclear whether Brazilian officials showedany interest in the weapons system, it is worth highlighting thatRussia’s well-known weapons manufacturer specifically chose theBrazilian exhibition for BuK’s debut. In early February 2008, Jobimtraveled to Russia where he met with Lavrov as well as Defense MinisterAnatoly Sedyukov. In April 2008, the London security publication Jane’s Defence Weeklyrevealed that Brazil and Russia had reached an agreement on jointventures involving military technology, including the “Veiculo Lancadorde Satellites” launch vehicle.
In February 2008, there was a noteworthy meeting between Lula andFrench President Sarkozy, in the town of Saint-Gorges de Oyapock, onthe border between French Guyana (a French overseas territory) andBrazil. Reports say that Sarkozy was pushing to sell militarytechnology to Brazil and arrange for Brazilian companies to be licensedto build French weaponry like the Rafale fighter plane and the Scorpeneclass submarine. In the past decade, the South American giant hasbecome France’s most important ally in the region. Hence it was nosurprise that Sarkozy stated that “there is no taboo. Brazil is ademocratic power and a friend of France. We, the French, aretransparent with friends, and the two countries are willing to work forworld peace.”
IBSA Front and Center
In May 2008, Brazil sent several warships to South Africa toparticipate in military exercises, as did India. Hence, there ismounting talk about the growing depth and strength of theIndia-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) alliance. It is noteworthy that thereis a, albeit modest, security aspect to the arrangement, as the threecountries are all regional military powers. Brazil’s navy had sent theLiberal and the Independencia, both of which are guided missilefrigates of the Neteroi class, to participate in these IBSA militaryexercises.
Other exercises to promote regional integration included jointmilitary exercises in June 2007 involving nearly 200 pilots of theBrazilian Air Force (FAB) and the Argentine Air Force (FAA). The pilotsused 18 fighter planes for training operations, which includeintercepting suspicious air traffic, reconnaissance and search andrescue operations. Most recently, in August 2008, Brazil and Venezuelacarried out Operation VENBRA 5, involving 260 soldiers from the FAB and140 from the Venezuelan Air Force (ANV). This VENBRA operation was ajoint training and simulation exercise to improve cooperation betweenboth air forces in order to combat illicit airline flights. Theexercises took place in the Venezuelan Bolivar and Brazilian Roraimaborder regions.
Brazil in a Militarized Region
A May 2008 article in Rotor & Wingsummarizes Brazil’s security woes, observing that “with no quarrelsalong its16,885-km borderline with 10 adjoining countries, Brazil’scontemporary threats, if any, would arise not from any recognizablestate and military entity but from non-state groups, transnationalcriminal organizations, proxies, and other bodies operating in morecomplex, ambiguous, and multidimensional terms. The risks could comefrom sabotage, terrorism, piracy, and the staging and stockpiling ofillicit drugs and weaponry.” Thus, a more vigorous Brazilian militarymust be put in the context of military and non-military events takingplace in the region.
With regards to examples of a regional arms race being staged,Venezuela, Colombia and Chile could be theoretical security factors toBrazil. Not the least, even Peru is making strides when it comes tomilitary deployment. In 2007 Brazilian Senator Jose Sarney, a formerpresident who is now a key ally of President Lula, declared thatVenezuela posed a “threat” to Brazil and Latin America. In response,Venezuelan General Alberto Mueller Rojas told the Brazilian daily Folha de Sao Paulo,“that’s simply ridiculous … Venezuela is not in any sort of arms race.Ex-president Sarney must be crazy or simply joking around.” He thenadded that Sarney “knows perfectly well … what is the size of Brazil’s(armed) forces and what is the size of Venezuela’s forces. It’s anabysmal difference.”
An interesting development in regional military matters has been thefeisty decision by Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa not to renew thelease of the military base in Manta to the U.S., which is set to expirein 2009. After President Martin Torrijos, who is presently militarizingPanama’s security capabilities, ended all speculation about his countrybeing Washington’s prospective landlord for a new military base forU.S. forces in his country, speculation switched to either Colombia orPeru, since the other option, Paraguay, recently elected a fairlyleft-leaning president, who has no intention of handing out an airportto the Americans.
Another development that has attracted international mediaattention, though it may not necessarily amount to anythingsignificant, has been the creation of the Conselho Sul-Americano de Defesa (CSD– South American Defense Council), an organ of the Union of SouthAmerican Nations (UNASUR/UNASOL). Some South American countries,including, as of now, an initially ambivalent Colombia, as well asGuyana and Suriname, have voiced their support for the project,spearheaded by Brazil. In spite of all the hype, it is unclear how muchof an effective organ CSD could be, for any number of reasons. First,there is a growing proliferation of pan-American organizations in theregion, making it somewhat unclear which organization is actually incharge. There is the Andean Pact, MERCOSUR, the Venezuelan-led ALBA,IBA which includes Brazil, the Rio Group, the Ibero-AmericanSecretariat and now UNASUR. Similarly there is already ahemispheric-wide security entity, the Inter-American Defense Board(IADB) and College, both of them based in Washington D.C. The elephantnot in the room is of course that the CSD, unlike the IADB, would nothave the U.S. as its most influential member. Some analysts would arguethat this could lead to greater security and cooperation among a groupof autonomous Latin American countries feeling enthusiastic and free,because of Washington’s absence. An interesting note is that Mexico wasnot even considered being invited to join UNASUR. It is true thatMexico is not part of South America, however, seeing that Suriname andGuyana, which traditionally orient their foreign relations towards theEnglish-speaking Caribbean, were invited, it would have made some senseto at least have proposed to the Mexicans to join the new blocin-formation, in the name of Latin American unity.
This touches on a second point, which is whether or not aBrazilian-led South American NATO-style security organization, couldachieve integration, security or demilitarization. South Americacontinues to be plagued with security issues that have yet to beresolved and which are likely to create distrust between militaries.Examples of these are:
• Tensions among Peru, Bolivia and Chile
• Argentine distrust towards Chile due to Santiago’s aid to the British during the 1982 Falklands/Malvinas War
• Friction between Colombia and Venezuela and Colombia and Ecuadorover the recent infiltration of Colombian forces into Ecuador to attacka secret FARC jungle base
• Concerns last year about a possible infiltration of Venezuelan troops into Guyana
• Historical differences on which country is the leading militarypowerhouse in the region, Brazil or Argentina, both of which haveprideful military high commands which may not be keen on following thelead of the military command of another country (as in the case ofcooperation in United Nations peacekeeping missions). The Venezuelanmilitary and the problem-prone Chilean armed forces do not markedlydiffer in this assessment as well.
An important event that will arguably boost Brazil’s view of itsstrategy to maintain a strong military comes from the discovery ofultra-deep oil and gas fields in the Santos Basin off the coast of SaoPaulo state, which are likely to catapult Brazil to the ranks of theworld’s major hydrocarbon producers. The aforementioned Rotor & Wingarticle explained that “the Tupi and Jupiter fields also promise toelevate the state-owned oil company Petrobras from the world’s 11th tosixth biggest energy company, by some rankings.”
Brazilian Relations with the U.S.
The U.S. and Brazil traditionally have at times had strained relations,and always complex ones, Brazil sees itself as South America’s hegemonand does not like to have to share its influence with that of the U.S.A general parallel could be made to Russo-Turkish relations overinfluence regarding the Black Sea. In both cases there exists a globalpower and a regional power (with global aspirations) fighting forcontrol over their respective spheres of influence. With the rise ofleftist governments across the Western Hemisphere, as well as the“Venezuela-effect” in terms of a new leftist-alliances undercuttingWashington, as well as a new generation of military power and politicalleadership, it will be interesting to see how Brasilia-Washingtonrelations progress, particularly in regard to how both governmentsapproach Caracas.
The Military Coup of 1964 and U.S. Complicity
In addition, Brazil-U.S. relations have been particularly cautious anduneasy ever since the aforementioned 1964 military coup. According to aNovember 2006 Associated Pressarticle, Carlos Fico, a professor at Rio de Janeiro’s FederalUniversity, declared to the press that a seven-page document entitled“A Contingency Plan for Brazil,” co-written by then-U.S. AmbassadorLincoln Gordon in the mid 1960s, discussed fears of a possiblecommunist takeover in Brazil and how Goulart might be replaced by thespeaker of Brazil’s lower house of Congress. The document was datedJanuary 6, 1964. In addition, the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA)has, for years, supported the belief that the U.S. was involved inplanning the coup against Goulart. This charge by COHA was made knownin the 1970s, in a COHA report which was later referred to by a numberof Brazilian publications, detailing the presence of an Americanaircraft carrier off the coast of the state of Sao Paulo, as part of abattle fleet. This information was conveyed during an Amtrak train ridefrom Washington to New York, in a chance meeting between COHA directorLarry Birns and a former U.S. Navy carrier pilot, who was stationedaboard that carrier, who explained that he and his U.S. navalcolleagues were under orders to come to the aid of their Braziliancounterparts with their naval assets, if need be, if the coup that wasbeing carried out had failed that day.
This is not to say that military cooperation between the twohemispheric giants does not exist today. Quite to the contrary,Washington appears keen on bringing Brazilian officials and militaryacademics to the U.S. to study and attend specialized conferences andworkshops. For example, the Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies(CHDS), part of the National Defense University (NDU), located inWashington D.C., has two Brazilian nationals on its faculty: Dr. ThomazGuedes Da Costa is Professor of National Security Affairs and formerlyof the University of Brasilia. Also on staff at CHDS is Colonel Rui C.Mesquita, a 1983 graduate of the Brazilian Air Force Academy. Mesquitaalso an executive assistant to President Lula for four years.
More recently, a press release issued by the U.S. embassy in Brazilreported that, “for the first time in its existence, U.S. Army Southhas a foreign officer on its staff. Lt. Col. Raul Rodrigues deOliveira, a Brazilian cavalry officer and UH-60 pilot, [who] began workas a Foreign Liaison Officer at U.S. Army South, the Army component ofU.S. Southern Command.”
Furthermore, according to Just The Facts, a researchdatabase administered by the Center for International Policy thatmonitors U.S. defense and security assistance to Latin America and theCaribbean, there has been significant military link between bothcountries. Between 1999 and 2006, there were 1,454 Brazilian militaryand police trainees in U.S. programs like the CHDS, the Army LogisticsManagement College and the Naval Post-Graduate School. Interestinglythere have not been any Brazilian trainees at the former School of theAmericas (now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for SecurityCooperation, WHINSEC) in Fort Benning, Georgia, but that may be due tothe fact that most courses there are taught in Spanish.
What’s Next for the Brazilian Military?
Brazil’s military is at a crossroads. It today faces no externalsecurity challenge, no matter what doomsayers may say about theputative intentions of Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez, yet thecountry does have a dark past in internal security matters. However,the average Brazilian believes and implicitly trusts in the military,and it can be assumed that the country’s present-day military wants tolive up to these expectations.
The Brazilian military is an example of an armed forces which, atleast in its own belief, must be prepared to defend its own borders andsafeguard its immense treasure trove of natural resources (includingrecent discoveries of oil and natural gas), while projecting its civicstrengths to the world, be it through peacekeeping missions in Haiti,military exercises in South Africa, or the acquisition of a nuclearsubmarine. There is a lot of potential for the expanding role of theBrazilian military in global affairs, but the type of legacy it willwant to create is more than just a matter of possessing strongleadership and clearly defined goals – it must also have the means andthe agreed-upon military doctrine to carry out its self-perceivedmission in a democratic ambience and total submission to representativecivilian rule.

This analysis was prepared by COHA Research Fellow Alex Sánchez
September 9th, 2008
Word Count: 5300

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