Brazil has launched the latest round of its border securitization program, sending over 7,000 troops to its borders with Bolivia and Peru, though questions remain over whether such a short-term "surge" operation can implement lasting success.
Brazil announced on October 9 that 7,500 troops were being sent to combat criminal operations along the 4,216 kilometer shared borders with Peru and Bolivia, reported EFE. The deployment marks the sixth stage of Operation Agata, a central component of President Dilma Rousseff’s $6.3 border securitization program announced last year.
The troops will be stationed along the border for two weeks and will also provide social services such as vaccines and medication to local populations, according to CNN.
Agata 6 will be the final surge operation for 2012, with three carried out this year in total. Operation Agata 5 took place in August with some 10,000 soldiers sent to the borders with Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina. That stage saw 880 kilos of narcotics seized along with over 11 tons of explosives, EFE noted.
Brazilian Defense Minister Celso Amorim stated that “at least another three” such operations will be conducted next year.
InSight Crime Analysis
This is the second Operation Agata to be put into operation along the border with Peru and Bolivia after 6,500 soldiers were sent their in November last year for Agata 3. Brazilian forces have also been carrying out cross-border coca eradication in Peru this year. It hoped to replicate these eradication efforts in Bolivia though Evo Morales’ government proved resistant to the idea. One Brazilian embassy official in Bolivia estimated last year that up to 80 percent of cocaine produced in the Andean country ends up in Brazil.
Operation Agata has seen success in terms of seizures -- as evidenced by Agata 5 -- and the push to work with local populations is a welcome component to the counternarcotics operation. However, it remains to be seen how effective such short term security surges can be over time. According to BBC Brasil, traffickers reduce activity during the operation, preparing large shipments of narcotics for when the troops withdraw to compensate for the loss of business.
As InSight Crime has noted, in order to achieve lasting success, Brazil will need strong cooperation from its neighbors – of whom there are no less than 10 countries – otherwise these short deployments will do little more than cause a temporary drop in trafficking activity as criminals wait out the military.