Brazil has deployed an additional 10,000 soldiers to its borders with Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina as the fifth stage of an ongoing operation to secure the border regions.
This stage of the operation, known as Operation Agata 5, will increase military presence for 30 days in four of Brazil’s southernmost states -- Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, Parana, and Mato Grosso do Sul. The troops were accompanied by combat helicopters, patrol boats, and armored vehicles and planes, reported BBC Mundo.
Defense Minister Celso Amorim told Infobae America that the plan is geared to fight “drug trafficking, contraband, and illegal mining in the Amazon.” He said the military would monitor Brazil’s airspace, support other government agencies, and provide aid to civilians.
The new security plan is part of the ongoing Operation Agata, which was launched to counter crime and trafficking over Brazil’s borders. Agata 5 has already resulted in the seizure of 100 kg of explosives in Rio Grande do Sul, reported O Globo.
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President Dilma Rousseff has budgeted $6.3 billion for the armed forces over the next eight years for what she says is her highest security priority: securing Brazil’s borders. This would double the number of border patrol agents and increase military operations in the border regions.
In November, the Ministry of Defense deployed 6,500 troops on its southwestern borders as part of “Agata 3.” According to BBC Brazil, Agata 3 forced the price of cocaine paste up by as much as 60 percent in some areas.
Neighboring countries have complained about Brazil’s militarization of the borders. Paraguay’s foreign minister and the mayor of Ciudad del Este, which lies on the Brazilian border, protested against Rousseff’s plan, claiming that it was an ineffective tactic and threatened to seriously affect legitimate trade between the two countries.
Analysts have questioned the long-term effectiveness of the temporary troop deployments, as well as the feasibility of securing the 17,000 kilometer border without involvement from neighboring countries.