By Dialogo May 15, 2009 Today the United States was chosen for the first time to be a member of the UN Human Rights Committee (HRC), a body that monitors the human rights situation in the world and which up until now had been ignored by Washington. The UN General Assembly elected the U.S., Norway, and Belgium to fill three seats on the group of Western European and Other States, while Cuba, Mexico, and Uruguay succeeded in being re-elected to the Latin American and Caribbean bloc. These six countries had secured their election because they did not face any competition for the three seats available to each group. A similar situation occurred for the five seats for Asia, in which China, Bangladesh, and Jordan managed to be re-elected, while Saudi Arabia and Kyrgyzstan were elected to be part of the body. Furthermore, in the group of Eastern Europe, Russia and Hungary managed to secure the two available places at Azerbaijan’s expense. In Africa, the other bloc with more candidates than open seats, Senegal, Nigeria, Mauritius, Djibouti, and Cameroon won more votes than Kenya. The U.S. ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, was pleased by the support obtained in the General Assembly for Washington’s decision to “again play a meaningful leadership role in multilateral organizations.” “Although we know that the Human Rights Council is a flawed organization which has not complied fully with its mission, we intend to work with other countries to reform it from within,” said the diplomat at the end of the meeting. Rice said that the Council members are elected for terms of three years, and, therefore, the winners of these elections will have the opportunity to participate in the review of the body’s structure and procedures to be held in 2011. The administration of President George W. Bush flatly refused to participate in the HRC, which has its headquarters in Geneva, and voted against its creation in May 2006, considering it to be dominated by countries that violate human rights. The Mexican ambassador to the UN, Claude Heller, also welcomed the election of his country for another three-year term. The endorsement made in the General Assembly “confirms the important role that Mexico has played in the Human Rights Council and its strong commitment to human rights,” he added. The HRC was created on March 15, 2006 by the UN General Assembly to replace the Commission on Human Rights, which was abolished after 60 years of work due to the crisis of legitimacy that had risen due to decisions that were seen by as prejudiced, unbalanced and politicized. The Council is an intergovernmental body that is part of the United Nations system and is composed of 47 member states responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights in the world.
By Dialogo September 01, 2010 A former paramilitary leader, accused of participating in the massacre of sixty-nine peasants in a town in northern Colombia, was arrested by agents of the central intelligence bureau on August 30, after having been sought for several years, the authorities announced. The director of the Administrative Department of Security (DAS), Felipe Muñoz, said that the arrest of Luis Francisco Robles, alias “Amaury,” took place in a rural area of the municipality of Astrea (department of El Cesar), in the northern part of the country. Twelve arrest warrants were open for Robles, and he was a target of twenty-five investigations for aggravated homicide, criminal conspiracy, multiple homicide, robbery, illicit recruitment, forced displacement, and the illegal carrying of arms restricted to military use, among other offenses. “Amaury,” a former army special-forces soldier, joined the paramilitary squads and came to lead around 250 fighters belonging to these illegal armed groups, Muñoz revealed. “He planned and carried out the murder of five DAS detectives, who were tortured and murdered in Magangué, Bolívar, in 2002,” the security agency’s director said. “The individual arrested is believed to have actively participated, in February 2000, in the massacre that took place in the district of Villa del Rosario, in the jurisdiction of the municipality of El Carmen de Bolívar, better known as the massacre of El Salado, where sixty-nine people were murdered,” Muñoz explained. According to the authorities, Robles was organizing an illegal armed group in order to dedicate himself to drug-trafficking activities. The paramilitaries are armed groups that sprang up in the 1980s, financed by landowners, ranchers, businessmen, and drug traffickers for defense against attacks from leftist guerrilla groups. These squads, accused of massacring thousands of civilians in their fight against the guerrillas, succeeded in expelling the leftist rebels from several regions of the country amid bloody clashes. The paramilitaries, who relied on the support of some members of the armed forces, consolidated military and political bastions in several regions. In 2003 then-president Alvaro Uribe began controversial peace negotiations that allowed more than 31,000 paramilitary fighters to lay down their arms and be reintegrated into civilian life. However, the majority of the fighters who entered this process subsequently returned to illegal activities, forming armed groups in the service of drug traffickers. The majority of the paramilitary leaders, accused of violating the peace agreement and being involved in drug-trafficking activities from the prison where they were serving short sentences, were extradited to the United States by Uribe.
Eurocopter unveiled a new-look hybrid helicopter on Monday in a bid to counter U.S. rival Sikorsky’s efforts to break the speed barrier by rewriting the rules of rotorcraft design. The X3 protoype — which combines forward-facing propeller engines astride two short aircraft wings with overhead rotor blades — was unveiled at the European company’s factory in southern France following months of secrecy about the project. The half-plane, half-helicopter design aims to overcome chronic obstacles to high-speed helicopter flight by combining the advantages of fixed-wing aircraft with those of a standard helicopter, allowing it to fly at 220 knots or 400 km/hour. The move by the world’s largest civil helicopter maker comes less than two weeks after United Technologies unit Sikorsky claimed an unofficial speed record of 250 knots (460 km/hour) with its own next-generation prototype called X2. Today, helicopters typically cruise around 140 knots. Eurocopter, part of European aerospace group EADS, said its X3, sporting black-and-white striped propellers, had flown for the first time on Sept. 6 at a French government testing site. Sikorsky’s X2 made its maiden flight in 2008. The technology clash reflects fierce competition between helicopter makers to deliver more speed without sacrificing stability or efficiency. Under current designs, rotor tips approach supersonic speeds when pushed to fly too fast and this can threaten the stability of the base of the rotor, executives said. Helicopter makers have devoted years of research to solving the problem, but typically the faster a helicopter flies, the less efficient it is when hovering and vice-versa. Eurocopter Chief Exceutive Lutz Bertling said the X3 would be more cost-efficient than its competitors, which also include the existing Bell Boeing tilt-rotor aircraft. “All big helicopter manufacturers are looking for more distance and more speed,” Bertling told reporters. “It only makes sense to increase speed if in the end what you gain is not over-compensated by increased cost.” If successful, the new machine will be marketed for long-distance search and rescue, inter-city shuttle services or military uses including special forces operations. Reuters reported Eurocopter’s plans to unveil the X3, ending months of industry speculation. The Sikorsky model features two main rotors atop the cabin, which spin in opposite directions. That both neutralises the spinning force applied to a traditional single-main-rotor helicopter and provides a speed boost. One thing the European and U.S. machines have in common is that their unusual design eliminates the need for the sideways tail rotor used to stabilise traditional helicopters. By Dialogo September 28, 2010
By Dialogo May 04, 2011 SANA’A, Yemen – Yemeni researchers and politicians stressed that the killing of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden would cause a major setback to the organization, paralyze it in the near term and enhance efforts to combat terrorism and terrorist elements in Yemen. Bin Laden was killed early in the morning on May 1 (May 2 in Pakistan) during an operation carried out by U.S. forces in the town of Abbottabad, 38 miles northeast of the Pakistani capital, Islamabad. “The death of bin Laden at this time during a period of peaceful Arab revolutions may enhance the thinking of those who call for peace and the peaceful achievement of goals instead of by violence which al-Qaeda advocates,” Mohammad al-Ghabri, a political analyst and an expert on Islamist groups, told Al- Shorfa. Al-Ghabri said al-Qaeda may suffer from “hysterical madness” following the killing of its leader, and it may lose much of its power. He said that many individuals who recently joined may leave the organization and abandon a life of violence that the organisation preached to them. “The confusion that will occur within al-Qaeda may reveal many of its weaknesses, especially in this sensitive time for Arab revolutions which overturned the idea of achieving goals through violence,” he added. Mohammed al-Qaidi, the official spokesman for the Yemeni Interior Ministry, said Yemen is continuing its efforts and its partnership with the international community in the fight against terrorism. The death of bin Laden is of paramount importance, he said, and will strengthen the fight against terrorism because he was the spiritual leader of al-Qaeda internationally. Al-Qaidi said the killing of bin Laden would cause great confusion within the organization in the near term and will affect its operations. “His elimination, however, does not represent the elimination of terrorism. Terrorism is a departure from the law and Sharia, and habits, traditions and customs, and terrorists will continue to be targeted by the regime until they are eliminated,” he said. Al-Qaidi stressed the need for continued international efforts to combat terrorism. Saeed al-Jamahi, a researcher on terrorist organizations, told Al-Shorfa that bin Laden’s death will be a setback for the organization that might prompt its members to retaliate and carry out operations against Western interests. Al-Jamahi said, “Al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen will be affected the most because some considered that the organization’s future was in Yemen.” He added that bin Laden’s death will trigger a phase of confusion. “But the conflict the organization leads is a military and ideological conflict. While the military conflict may stop, the ideological conflict will continue with the recruitment and targeting of foreigners for membership in the organization,” he said. Al-Jamahi said the organization received severe blows, directly and indirectly, from the Arab revolutions, and that the killing of bin Laden is a significant victory in the fight against terrorism because he was a spiritual leader for terrorists. “The presence of rash and violent personalities such as (Ayman) al-Zawahiri will encourage the organization to respond and avenge their leader in the fastest time to prove to its opponents that the organization will continue with greater force than before,” he said. But al-Jamahi added that this possibility seems weak. Judge Hamoud al-Hattar, a former Yemeni Minister of Endowments and Guidance, said more needs to be done to confront terrorism. He said that the killing of bin Laden will be a big shock for al-Qaeda and that all entities must co-operate at this time to fight the organization intellectually and ideologically.
By Dialogo November 07, 2011 Brazil’s defense industry — the largest of any Latin American nation — could double in size over the next 10 years, thanks to a new fiscal policy proposed by President Dilma Rousseff. That policy will soon provide tax breaks to Brazilian defense manufacturers, giving them lucrative incentives to make new investments and acquisitions. As a result, thousands of new defense-related jobs are likely to be created. This initiative responds to Brazil’s national defense strategy and dovetails with the country’s industrial, technological and economic development plans. On Sep. 29, the president signed a provisional measure that exempts the defense sector from paying the industrialized products tax (IPI), the social security tax (Cofins) and the Social Integration Program tax (PIS) for five years. This could translate into savings of 30 percent for defense companies. It’s a relief for business executives who rank the tax burden along with poor infrastructure as the top impediments to growth. “These measures are important to promote the defense sector, because the industry lacks adequate conditions for domestic enterprises to compete with foreign companies inside and outside Brazil,” explained Armando Lemos, technical director for the São Paulo-based Brazilian Association of Manufacturers of Materials for Defense and Security (ABIMDE). The measure is expected to generate 23,000 direct and 90,000 indirect jobs. This would nearly double the defense sector’s current workforce of 25,000 direct and 100,000 indirect jobs, said Lemos. In all, 186 companies will benefit from the program, including industry leaders Avibras (aerospace), Embraer (aircraft), Helibras (helicopters) and Odebrecht Defesa (technology). “While the measure is still pending formal implementation, it will define the registration criteria for strategic defense companies and detail the specific tax regime that will apply to them,” said Lemos. The 2008 National Defense Strategy document, published during the presidency of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and devised by former Defense Minister Nelson Jobim, was a major milestone for Brazil’s defense establishment after years of neglect following the country’s return to democracy. One of its primary missions was to resuscitate the largely abandoned defense industry and turn it into an efficient, competitive business capable of contributing to Brazil’s international prestige and economic growth. “Brazil’s defense requires the reorganization of the national defense industry,” the document explicitly states. A guideline set forth by the report to achieve this reorganization highlights the need for independent technological capacity through international partnerships — as well as the importance of subordinating commercial considerations to so-called strategic imperatives, such as a special legal, regulatory and taxation regime for the defense industry. Since the document’s publication, technology transfer arrangements have been made between Embraer and overseas suppliers to produce the KC-390 military transport aircraft. Brazil´s cooperation with France to build four conventional submarines and one nuclear submarine also includes a similar technology transfer agreement. A key pillar of Brazil’s new strategy is to bolster its defense industry, thereby ensuring that equipment needs are met by domestic companies capable of competing in external markets. That would guarantee economies of scale for production. “Whether owing to the size of our territory or our borders, or to the fact that our country has been blessed with enormous wealth, we need this industry because it is strategic for our sovereignty,” Rousseff said following the announcement of tax breaks for the sector. The defense industry is not alone in receiving preferential treatment. Last August, Rousseff announced the Bigger Brazil Plan (Plano Brasil Maior) aimed at protecting domestic manufacturers from increased Asian competition and a rising currency. The pilot program supports the production of clothing, shoemaking, furniture and software by offering $16 billion in tax breaks to support innovation, investment, productivity, foreign trade, human capital, sustainable production, and small and medium size companies in these sectors. In essence, the plan puts homegrown innovation and value-added production at the forefront and aims to make Brazilian companies more cost-competitive globally. “We need to develop technology in Brazil in order to add even more value to our industrial production by reducing costs through tax reductions and by minimizing bureaucracy,” said Labor Party Sen. Acir Gurgacz, in arguments shortly before the plan’s passage in August. Brazilian defense companies already receive some direct financial support from the federal government. For example, Optovac, which created a uranium valve for Brazil’s future nuclear submarine, counts on resources from the São Paulo State Research Foundation as well as FINEP, an agency of the Ministry of Science and Technology. According to the 2008 National Defense Strategy, the largest industrial projects of Brazil’s armed forces will require investments of at least $40 billion. Addressing all military needs expands the total to about $120 billion, said ABIMDE’s president, Orlando José Ferreira Neto. Brazil’s ambitious goals appear achievable. In 2010, the country was Latin America’s highest defense spender at $33.5 billion, and the only one in the region to rank among the world’s top 15 spenders, according to the Swedish research center SIPRI. The new fiscal incentives will help free up even more capital for investments in this sector.
By Dialogo November 20, 2012 Ten Venezuelan nationals pretending to be the Olympic weightlifting team were arrested with liquid cocaine capsules in their stomachs at Ezeiza International Airport in Buenos Aires, before flying to Europe, reported airport officials on November 17. The fake Venezuelan athletes were about to board a flight on TAM airlines with a stopover in Brazil, and Lisbon as the final destination on November 15, when they were arrested after getting full body scans. The procedure detected that they had swallowed capsules of cocaine, for which they were arrested by the airport’s Security Police and brought to Buenos Aires’s 8th Criminal Economic Court. Linked to the same case, three Dominican nationals were arrested in two raids at a hotel and an apartment in Buenos Aires, the source specified to the official news agency Telam. The investigation started last July, after it was reported that a Venezuelan individual, who allegedly headed a Venezuelan organization devoted to trading illegal drugs, was engaged in the sale of prohibited drugs and culminated in the operation on November 15, stated the source.
A total of 41,103.957 kilos of drugs were incinerated in 2012, Minister of Interior Wilfredo Pedraza, said on December 27, and he assured that “the goal for the Peruvian fight against drug trafficking will be greater,” in 2013. Out of the 5,290.697 kilos of the drugs incinerated on December 27, 1,851.564 kg were coca paste, 3,314.883 kg were cocaine hydrochloride, and 24.250 kg were marihuana. “There will be more resources for next year, so the Ministry is setting major goals in the fight against drug trafficking in Peru,” said the official after witnessing the incineration of five tons of drugs, the last lot of the year. Pedraza stated that the goals for the eradication of illegal crops, drug seizures, and the arrest of drug lords and money laundering of drug trafficking profits will be higher in 2013. “These results depict the commitment of the government to confront drug trafficking,” he said. He added that the total incinerations in 2012 widely exceeded those from former years: in 2011, 28,976 kilos were incinerated, while in 2010 and 2009, 21,000 kilos were incinerated each year. By Dialogo January 02, 2013
*The author is research professor of Latin America at the U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute. The analysis presented in this work was inspired and informed by discussions by the name of event, but the opinions and recommendations expressed in this work are strictly those of the author. By Dr. Evan Ellis* November 23, 2018 The United Nations estimates that at least 1.8 million Venezuelans have permanently departed their country since 2016 due to the unlivable conditions there. An additional 1.5 to 2 million more are expected to leave in 2019 as the condition in the region continues to collapse. In recent weeks, the massive flows of refugees have prompted Ecuador and Brazil to each temporarily shut their borders to thousands of Venezuelans literally seeking to walk into their countries. Further to the north, while the debate over building a wall to more effectively close the U.S.-Mexican border has received much attention, Mexico has also worked with the United States to more effectively control the movement of people (as well as drugs and contraband goods) across its own southern borders with Guatemala and Belize. When the United States changed its wet foot, dry foot policy towards accepting Cuban immigrants, the result played out through migrant crises in Costa Rica’s borders with Nicaragua and Panama. In the Dominican Republic, the attempt to seal off the border against immigrants from neighboring Haiti fueled an ongoing controversy within the international community. The common element of each of these cases is that for even the most generous of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, the movement of persons, like the movement of licit and illicit goods, ultimately becomes a matter of national sovereignty and border control. Less widely noticed is that in many nations of the region it is the national militaries which perform all or part of border control functions, and thus find themselves on the front lines as desperate people move through the region for a range of economic and political reasons. Security issues From April 9-12, 2018, I had the opportunity to participate in a working session of the Conference of American Armies (CAA) in Guatemala City, on the theme of human rights in the context of border control operations and migration-related challenges in the hemisphere. The CAA, part of the Inter-American Human Rights System led by the Organization of American States, brings together land forces from across the Western Hemisphere to strengthen cooperation and address security issues of importance to the region. In the context of the challenge of multiple, massive movements of persons in the region, including Venezuelans and Central Americans among others, the purpose of this essay is to call attention to the little-discussed theme of human rights considerations for militaries of the region in dealing with such movements and some of the challenges and thinking being done by the region’s militaries to recognize and meet their obligations in that area. The importance of addressing such obligations by armed forces in the hemisphere arises from the confluence of three dynamics: · The increasing irregular flow of persons through the region (including within member states and to and from other regions), · Associated expansion of illicit flows through the region, such as drugs, cash, weapons, mining products, and contraband goods, · The continued use of the armed forces in Latin America to meet internal security challenges, including responses to the previously mentioned illicit flows, where the capacity of state organizations is exceeded. While beyond routine border control operations there is a strong normative presumption against the use of the military in matters involving migrants, the region’s armed forces often play a necessary and constructive role supporting civil authorities responding to such challenges (where such a role is consistent with national laws and policies), in a way that not only respects, but advances human rights in the region. Migration patterns in the Western Hemisphere Latin America and the Caribbean are regions increasingly characterized by irregular migration flows driven by both insecurity and economic factors, while at the same time contributing to them. The Continuous Reporting System on International Migration in the Americas of the European Commission’s Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development calculates that migration flows through the region increased by 11 percent in 2015 alone (the last date for which data is available). Such flows include internal displacement within countries —including not only the crisis in Venezuela, but also violence or natural disasters—, as well as displacement to other countries. It may include migration across a single border, such as the flow of Venezuelans into Colombia, or movements of persons across multiple borders, such as the journeys of migrants from Cuba and South America passing through Central America and Mexico to the United States. It also includes immigration from countries outside the hemisphere, such as that from China, Africa, and Syria. As is well known, a limited number of countries characterized by high levels of violence and limited economic opportunity have become important source countries for migration in the Western Hemisphere. These include the northern triangle countries of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala (whose immigrants travel through Mexico toward the United States), Haiti (which sends significant numbers of migrants to neighboring Dominican Republic as well as to the United States and even as far as Chile), and in recent years, Venezuela, whose citizens have departed not only for Colombia, but also to Brazil (particularly Roraima state), Trinidad and Tobago, Panama, the Dominican Republic, and elsewhere. Although approximately half of immigration within the region is ultimately bound for the United States, other flows from poorer to wealthier countries also occur, including the movement of migrants from Peru, Bolivia, and Paraguay to Argentina and Chile. In recent years, other destinations such as Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama, and Uruguay have been impacted by significant increases in immigration. The causes of the aforementioned migratory dynamics are complex, interdependent, and mutually reinforcing, reflecting the interaction of perceptions and actual conditions. Insecurity as a driver of migration may involve personal victimization or that of family or friends, the pressure of extortion, and/or broader perceptions of danger transmitted through traditional and social media. Economic drivers include not only the inability to find a job or otherwise generate income, but also events and costs which make the status quo seem unsustainable, such as a major theft, displacement from one’s property, or extortion against one’s family or business. Beyond traditional cost-benefit calculations, Venezuela illustrates how the sheer inability to obtain basic necessities such as food and medicine may drive massive outmigration. In the difficult decision to migrate, objective conditions are mediated through perceptions, including information from family and friends regarding where opportunities and support networks exist, as well as information from traditional and social media regarding where immigrants are unwelcome. Immigration has significant effects not only on the society receiving those displaced, but also on those losing them and the countries that they transit. While remittances sent by immigrants from their new homes can benefit family and communities in their former ones, the breakup of families when migrants leave and the vulnerability of those left behind to recruitment by gangs and other ills generate damaging effects on the countries they leave. Moreover, the transit of migrants fuels other parts of the criminal economy in the region. It generates revenues for the smugglers and those who traffic in persons, moving them against their will, or through deception, as well as for criminals who prey upon immigrants by extorting or robbing them (those in transit are notably vulnerable for the combination of their transit status and the cash and other valuables that many carry for the journey), and those who may oblige them to smuggle drugs or engage in other illicit activities during their journey. The role of Latin American armed forces in border control and migration Although civilian authorities almost universally have the lead in border control and migration issues in Latin America and the Caribbean, the regions’ armed forces play a variety of roles in support of those authorities as shaped by the individual situation and legal framework of each state. The human rights considerations for such missions, where performed, were the focus of discussion for the CAA meeting in Guatemala City. While the specific activities of each of the regions’ militaries in border control and migration vary as a function of the nations’ laws and policies, the superset of such activities can be divided into: · Those in support of the control of border areas, involving not only immigrants, but other flows, both licit and illicit, · Special tasks, potentially performed by different countries at different times. The particular tasks in each of these categories involve a range of distinct human rights considerations for the military and other authorities undertaking them. With respect to frontier control, the interaction with migrants depends in part on whether they are believed to be associated with illicit activities such as carrying drugs or being trafficked against their will, or whether they fall within a category of person of concern because of their potential ties to terrorist groups. In general, most countries of the region do not restrict the exit of immigrants from their territory, although they may insist on the use of official border crossings. In situations where military support for border control involves detentions, there are human rights implications, including the circumstances of the detention and the period of time the detainee is held. Where immigrants are in distress, interactions at both land and maritime borders also may create an obligation to render assistance. Other considerations include limitations on the treatment of migrants at control points, such as respect for the integrity of their person, with special attention required for certain categories of persons such as women and children. It is generally considered that information obtained from the immigrant should also be limited to the purpose of the control activity and handled in a way respectful of the immigrant’s right to privacy. Where interactions involve a confrontation, the use of force must be necessary and proportional, consistent with imperatives such as “legitimate defense”, and the use of force in a progressive, differentiated fashion. Where control activities require immigrants to be taken into custody, a number of other human rights imperatives arise, including minimizing the time in custody (particularly where custody involves the delivery of the immigrant to the competent civil authority, consistent with the laws of each country), as well as ensuring certain minimum conditions during that custody, such as those involving dignified treatment, physical safety, and adequate and appropriate food and medical care. While armed forces in the region are not traditionally involved in interactions with immigrants beyond the support of military entities for border control in some countries, the United Nations-sanctioned peacekeeping force in Haiti (MINUSTAH), in which armed forces were called upon to administer migrant camps, illustrates that special cases may arise. Alternatively, the military may be called on to interact with immigrants within the national territory for purposes other than removing them, such as the case of Colombia, facing a massive inflow of migrants from Venezuela, where the military could potentially be called upon to provide order and/or assistance to immigrants and others with whom they interact as part of its broader role of maintaining control over and security in the national territory. Each of these situations in which militaries interact with immigrants gives rise to situations with associated human rights obligations for participating militaries, similar to those arising from military involvement in border control activities, as discussed previously. Recommendations The rich discussions at the CAA session suggest a number of promising steps to help the armed forces of the Americas ensure compliance with human rights obligations when they conduct activities in support of civil authorities involving migration, as authorized by their national policies and legal frameworks. To the extent that militaries of the region engage in border control and other migration-related operations, they must have the knowledge and tools to support that participation in a fashion consistent with the human rights legal obligations discussed in this analysis. Doing so also requires ensuring that doctrine relevant to such activities touches on the relevant human rights considerations, and that participating units are adequately trained with regard to them. The availability of reference materials such as a reference card or booklet for troops that can be carried on their person may be useful in this regard. Moreover, forces participating in interactions with migrants should have the appropriate equipment to facilitate such compliance. This includes the availability of riot gear and nonlethal weapons for interaction with civilians –where such interaction is necessary–, to help ensure proportionality in the use of force. Where possible and permitted by available resources, a desirable practice is to outfit units engaged in such operations involving civilians with monitoring and verification equipment such as body cameras. Such devices not only protect civilians against potential abuse, but also protect the military personnel involved against false or mistaken allegations. It is important for national militaries to have a clear legal framework that establishes the authorities, responsibilities, and limits in geography and time to govern their actions in internal security operations, such as those involving border control and interactions with migrants, to reduce questions of authority. In the case that the situation requires the national leadership to implement a temporary special legal regime, such as a state of emergency, it is particularly important that the policy action and law be clear regarding what authorities governing armed forces are expanded and which are not. As a principle, and particularly when dealing with migrants, the military should seek to maintain transparency of their actions and constant communication with relevant governmental partners, non-government civil actors (such as local partners and interest groups), non-governmental organizations, transnational organizations, and other states relevant to the action (such as neighbors and/or coalition partners). Such outreach may seem burdensome or superfluous within the culture of the armed forces executing the missions described in this analysis and certainly will not preempt all mistrust or unfair accusations, but is a necessary part of building the confidence of the relevant stakeholders in the context of operations which are likely to be highly sensitive and potentially politicized.
By Nelza Oliveira / Diálogo January 24, 2020 On December 16, 2019, Brazil launched its first Integrated Border Operation Center (CIOF, in Portuguese) in Foz do Iguaçu, in the state of Paraná, as part of the VIGIA Program. The Ministry of Justice and Public Security (MJSP, in Portuguese) created the program in April, which the Secretariat of Integrated Operations (Seopi, in Portuguese) implemented.According to Wagner Mesquita, general coordinator of Seopi’s Fight against Organized Crime, CIOF is a command and control office for overt operations, to generate and share information, direct coordinated actions, and increase the use of technological tools through satellites, cameras, sensors, and drones.The VIGIA Program brings together for the first time the work of military institutions and public security agencies to protect the nearly 10,570 miles of border between 11 Brazilian states and 10 South American countries, to increase the control and fight against transborder crimes, such as smuggling, drugs, arms, and ammunition trafficking. Service members from the three forces work alongside police agencies and other federal government institutions.VIGIA includes the acquisition of cutting-edge equipment, personnel training by national and international organizations, and the installation of operational bases with integrated systems. Between April and December 2019, the program contributed to the seizure of 28.5 million smuggled cigarettes, 412 vehicles, 57.6 tons of drugs, 77 vessels, and 16 tons of pesticides.“It’s important to point out that this is the first joint effort from the institutions that operate directly on the border, with integrated work between public security agents and institutions. That’s why we had such positive results,” MJSP’s Social Communication Department told Diálogo.In 2019, the VIGIA Program held 13 trainings for its members, such as one that the Brazilian Army’s Special Operations Command conducted in September. (Photo: Brazilian Ministry of Justice and Public Security)American inspirationThroughout 2019, VIGIA held 13 classes taught by different national and foreign organizations to train its members. In November, U.S. Special Operations Command South, through VIGIA, supported classes on Operational Design and Joint Planning and Tactical Pre-Hospital Care. Members of U.S. Army’s Seventh Special Forces Group taught the classes to military, civilian, and federal police officers. Since the start of the program, 350 professionals have been trained.The United States also inspired CIOF, which based its surveillance after the guidelines that followed 9/11. CIOF’s headquarters is Foz do Iguaçu, a strategic location because of its border with Paraguay, and as one of the country’s main import and export free-trade areas. Foz do Iguaçu is also home to the Itaipú Binational Hydroelectric Dam, which generates 15 percent of the electricity consumed in Brazil and 90 percent of that consumed in Paraguay. CIOF operates from a 6,458 square-mile area at the Itaipú Technological Park.“It’s as though there was a permanent task force to prevent and take strong actions against border crimes (smuggling, drugs and arms trafficking, terrorism funding, and protection of important country structures). For this reason, Itaipú was strategically selected,” said Minister of Justice and Public Security Sérgio Moro, at the center’s inauguration.“The launch of this center will revolutionize the overt operations model. Criminal organizations became stronger, and began using modern logistics resources, and now MJSP is investing in new work methods, especially when it comes to integrated actions and information sharing,” Mesquita said at CIOF’s inauguration.
By Andréa Barretto/Diálogo August 05, 2020 In Brazil, indigenous peoples are among the populations with the highest coronavirus mortality rate, which is 150 percent higher than the country’s average. The infection rate of the disease is also 84 percent higher among these communities, affecting 759 indigenous people per 100,000 inhabitants, while the average in Brazil is 413.Since May, the Ministry of Defense, in conjunction with the Ministry of Health, the Armed Forces, and health professionals, has been providing medical services and basic supplies, including personal protective equipment and food, to indigenous populations across Brazil.None of the 200 COVID-19 tests conducted in late June, early July 2020, for the Yanomami and Raposa Serra do Sol populations came back positive. (Photo: Igor Soares/Brazilian Ministry of Defense’s Communications Office)The most recent operation was the interministerial mission for the indigenous people of Roraima, in the northern part of the country. This mission is part of the COVID-19 operation, which includes various activities from the federal government to combat the coronavirus. Between June 30 and July 4, Yanomami villages and Raposa Serra do Sol territories, which are among the largest indigenous territories in Brazil, and home to isolated indigenous communities, received 3,858 medical and nursing services.Locals were able to receive pediatric, gynecological, general, and infectious disease care. In total, 21 health care professionals from the Armed Forces contributed to the medical care for indigenous people, working in partnership with the health teams on site.Two hundred and nine people suspected of having COVID-19 were also tested. “Nobody was infected in the region. This is a good sign,” said Robson Santos da Silva, special secretary of Indigenous Health, speaking about the tests conducted in indigenous territories.Logistics effortA total of 4 tons of supplies were distributed to the Yanomami and Raposa Serra do Sol indigenous tribes, which included surgical masks, hand sanitizer, gloves, caps, hospital gowns, medications, and basic food baskets. The Brazilian Air Force (FAB, in Portuguese) helped the interministerial mission with its aircraft and service members to carry and distribute the supplies.FAB is also responsible for transporting the professional teams, which this time traveled onboard the KC-390, the largest military freighter in Latin America.Crisis cabinetThe Security Cabinet of the Office of the President, with the participation of civil and judicial institutions, coordinates the effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among the indigenous people, through a newly created crisis cabinet.On July 17, the team had their first meeting to develop strategies and create sanitation barriers in 31 territories with the presence of isolated indigenous populations.