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Apr. 7 2010 - 12:07 pm | 110 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments

Brazil and United States reportedly discussing new level of counterdrug cooperation

A deal reportedly being discussed between the United States and Brazil would transform the face of hemispheric security by solidifying cooperation between the two largest militaries.

The U.S. military is no stranger to Latin America. It runs the counter-drug “forward operating locations” in Caribbean basin or Andean areas. There’s also the Merida Intiative in Mexico, which has handed military hardware and technology to the cartel-beset government of Mexico’s Felipe Calderon. And, of course, the already decade-old Plan Colombia, the multi-billion dollar assistance package to help Colombia’s campaign against drug-financed insurgencies and paramilitary groups.

However, U.S. defense cooperation in the Southern Cone area, which includes Brazil, has been limited to the run-of-the-mill joint exercises, military exchanges, that sort of thing.

But the new proposal, which was reportedly on the table during the just-concluded visit of U.S. Gen. Doug Fraser to Brazil, would take U.S. involvement further south and reportedly create a sort of U.S.-Brazilian “situation room” in Rio de Janeiro, aimed at drug and weapons trafficking and other surveillance.

According to blog Plan Colombia and Beyond, U.S. State Department official Arturo Valenzuela confirmed that the United States and Brazil are discussing a new security agreement, but stressed that it would be different from a defense cooperation deal with Colombia which allows U.S. military personnel access to about a half-dozen Colombian military installations.

The Estado de São Paulo newspaper, meanwhile, which broke this story, reports that the proposal would have U.S. personnel, under Brazilian command, stationed at a sort of counter-narcotics and multifunction security base in Rio de Janeiro.

The article notes that it’s common for Latin American countries to station attaches at significant operations centers led by other nations like the U.S. Southern Command facility in Key West.

Plan Colombia and Beyond translated the Estado article. Here’s a portion:

At the suggestion of the Federal Police, the government of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva discussed yesterday with the commander of U.S. Southern Command, Lieutenant General Douglas Fraser, the proposed creation of a “multinational, multi-function” base headquartered in Rio de Janeiro.

The base would form, along with two existing ones in Key West (USA) and Lisbon (Portugal), the tripod of monitoring, control and combat against drug trafficking and smuggling, especially of weapons, and surveillance against terrorism.

The Plan Colombia and Beyond blog writes that Brazilian sentiment, stoked by rumors, is already up in arms about what level of U.S. involvement is in question here. It asks the U.S. government to clarify exactly what the deal will involve.

At Southern Command’s blog, Gen. Douglas Fraser posted a blog entry yesterday about his 48-hour visit to Brazil. “It was a productive visit which helped set the state for a deeper partnership between our two nations,” he wrote. But there was no mention of a “multifunction” base.

(HT: Teo Ballvé)


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    Readers, thanks for your eyeball time, please send tips, corrections, complaints, rants, etc. My email is ballve [at] gmail.com. I was born in Buenos Aires and raised there and in Atlanta, Mexico City and Caracas. I've written and reported on Latin America for almost a dozen years. I started out as an Associated Press reporter and editor in the agency’s Brazil and Caribbean bureaus. In 2007 I co-founded El Sol de San Telmo, a community newspaper in Buenos Aires. I am now a contributing editor for the nonprofit New America Media, Americas correspondent for Amsterdam-based Research World magazine (publication of the international association of market and public opinion researchers), and a 2010-2011 Lemann Fellow at the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA).

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