Estates, houses, apartments, vehicles and businesses were among the assets belonging to the late Gonzalo Rodríguez Gacha, aka “The Mexican,” one of the most powerful drug traffickers from the Medellín cartel. Today, his estate belongs to the Colombian government after being seized under extinction of dominion. Colombian law defines the extinction of dominion over assets as the loss of rights to an asset, which is handed over to the state through a legal process with complete disregard to the owner. It is applied when assets are acquired directly or indirectly from criminal activity. The law was created in 1996 and modified in 2002. “It is an absolutely necessary instrument; it provides the ability to seize assets from drug trafficking and the mafia,” said Luis Camilo Osorio Isaza, Colombia’s ambassador to Mexico, during the Interactive Seminar on Information Technology in Mexico in March 2009. According to Colombia’s Office of the Attorney General in April 2004, 118 of the 270 assets seized from Rodríguez and his immediate family fell under extinction of dominion. In addition to 114 properties and public transportation vehicles, stock in the Club Los Millonarios (Millionaires Club) soccer team, airplanes, livestock and company investments were also seized. In August 2009, Caracol Radio reported that 116 of Rodríguez’s assets — which changed ownership on several occasions — were seized under extinction of dominion. The assets are managed throughout the legal process, and once the legal proceedings are done and the assets forfeited, they are then sold. The money is channeled through the Fund for Rehabilitation, Social Investment and Fight Against Organized Crime, which finances social-interest housing for those displaced by violence. It is also invested in equipment and technical enhancement for the fight against drugs and the construction of maximum security prisons. Between 1991 and mid-2009, the National Narcotics Directorate, or DNE — an organization that managed seizures, among other things — received 72,000 assets, 10 percent of which fell under extinction of dominion. Some people believe this new legislation can be detrimental to citizens’ rights, specifically regarding property. “As with other measures taken under the pressures of the fight against drug trafficking, authorities could abuse this law to seize the assets of undesirable persons, even if they aren’t criminals,” Ramiro Bautista, a legal expert at the National Autonomous University in Mexico, told Buzos. The law could also become clouded if asset management is not handled with transparency. Peru also followed in the footsteps of the Colombian legislation. Its version is known as the loss of dominion law, which took effect in March 2008. Peru had 45,000 cases of dominion loss, according to the attorney general’s anti-drug office. Before this law existed, seized assets were passed along to charities, but various government sectors demanded the auctioning of the properties instead. The law stipulates a period of 90 days in which to auction the seized assets once they are declared dominion of the state. This income is assigned as follows: 45 percent goes to construction of prisons, 25 percent to the implementation of the new Code of Criminal Procedure, 15 percent to administration and the remaining 15 percent as a fund in case the assets must be returned. Some sectors, however, have already requested changes to the legislation. Rómulo Pizarro, director of the National Commission for Development and Life Without Drugs, asked that crimes such as corruption and environmental offenses be included. In addition, he asked that a portion of that income be designated toward the fight against drugs. Seeking Regulations A large portion of these assets comes from drug traffickers, which, according to Colombian President Álvaro Uribe, is a reason this law has impeded territorial takeovers. Criminals are not the only people affected by this law. Some people have been impacted by it after acquiring property that had been obtained illegally in the past. For example Farmacoop, formerly Kressford Laboratories, a manufacturer of pharmaceuticals, was sold to its employees in 1998. But that business used to operate as a front for the drug trafficking brothers Miguel and Gilberto Rodríguez Orejuela and therefore, in 2004, it was seized under the extinction of dominion law and placed under the supervision of the DNE. Extinction of dominion has not been a flawless process. The DNE was accused of corruption in its management of certain seizures, and the case is under investigation. As a result of the accusation, the DNE was forced to undergo a restructuring process. The seized assets are now managed by a new company called Special Assets Society, under the supervision of the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit. Its board of directors will consist of business people with vast experience in the private sector. The seized inventory includes all kinds of hard-to-sell mafia extravagances — luxury cars, commercial planes, recreational property, zoos, designer shoes, Santería dolls — which has made asset management more complex. According to Semana magazine, one of the assets that’s been under the state’s possession for the longest time is a house belonging to “The Mexican” valued at more than $6.5 million. The house, located in an exclusive spot north of Bogotá, was looted by criminals searching for hidden money. The city’s land-use planning office, which dictates urban regulations, now only allows for an embassy to operate in that location. The Law Crosses Borders By Dialogo January 01, 2010 The Colombian extinction of dominion law has become a legislative model for other governments. Flavio Mirella, a representative of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime for Peru and Ecuador, believes the extinction of dominion law is a legal instrument being enforced successfully in several countries to combat asset laundering and to finance anti-drug trafficking initiatives. “You have to hit the drug traffickers where it hurts most: their pockets,” Mirella said to Peru’s Inforegion news agency. Mexico City adopted its own version of the Colombian extinction of dominion law on March 9, 2009. The legal proceedings are what set them apart. In Mexico, it is a civil action brought before a specialized judge, while in Colombia, it is brought before the country’s attorney general and a criminal judge. “Due to the [previous] lack of an extinction of dominion law, it has been possible for drug traffickers or kidnappers to recover a good portion of the assets obtained by the police and the public, federal and state ministries,” Andrés Lozano, secretary of the public safety commission of the Mexican Chamber of Deputies, told Buzos magazine. One month after Mexico City’s law took effect, the first extinction of dominion lawsuit surfaced: Mexico City’s Hotel Madrid was seized by authorities based on allegations it had been used for human trafficking, according to Mexico’s Radio Trece news. On Aug. 28, the extinction of dominion law went into effect for the entire country. Other Latin American countries are seeking legislation allowing them access to illicit assets. Ecuadoran legislators are analyzing an extinction of dominion bill. “We are all aware that Ecuador needs a law to fight corruption with regard to assets and ill-gotten fortunes and that we ought to commit more citizens to this fight,” said Fernando Cordero, president of the Legislative and Fiscal Commission, to the national newspaper El Comercio. Ratifying this law is important, according to Domingo Paredes, executive secretary of the National Council on the Control of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, an entity that looks after the assets seized from drug trafficking. Otherwise, the country could remain a “paradise for illicit investments” for asset laundering, Paredes said to daily national newspaper El Telégrafo. In Honduras, the courts must wait to sentence a defendant before the state can make use of the assets. It is a limiting factor in attacking these criminal organizations head on. For this reason, the public prosecutor’s Office on Organized Crime in Honduras presented a privation or loss of asset dominion bill, which is under review in the National Congress, according to El Heraldo newspaper. If the law is approved, the criminal trial and a ruling to determine the loss of the assets will be carried out simultaneously. Guatemala’s extinction of dominion bill would be one of the fiscal reform strategies aiming to combat the tax decline in the country. President Álvaro Colom is one of the supporters, due to the economic advantages the regulation would present for the country. Only the Judicial Branch presently has access to confiscated narcotrafficking assets. Mariano Rayo, one of the representatives supporting the bill, told Guatemalan newspaper Prensa Libre that the law is vital. “For a successful strategy to combat drugs, it is necessary to intercept the trafficking and growing of drugs and … to remove the incentive, the money and the assets from organized crime.”
Federal security forces in Argentina have a new ally in their fight against drug trafficking: satellite technology. The forces now have access to high-definition images from 15 satellites that scan the country each day, including those from the new Argentine satellite, SAC-D/Aquarius. Argentine authorities have high expectations for the information the satellite images will provide. Security Minister Nilda Garré said satellites can reveal clandestine airstrips and alternate land routes used by drug trafficking, locate illegal crop plantations, and uncover smugglers and even human traffickers. The National Commission on Space Activities (CONAE, for its Spanish acronym) is the state agency in charge of distributing satellite images to security forces. Its secretary-general, Félix Menicocci, told Clarín newspaper in October 2011 that satellites send two types of information: optical images (photographs) and radar images. Experts say the latter allows more efficient tracking of drug trafficking movements because they provide clear vision through thick vegetation or even at night. Over the years, the illegal drug trade in Argentina has grown to worrisome proportions. “Argentina’s capability to implement complex long-term operations against drug trafficking is limited,” said the last detailed report from the U.S. State Department, which parallels reports from the U.N. and indicates a booming drug business in Argentine territory. By Dialogo July 01, 2012 Drug trafficking in Argentina An agreement between the Ministry of Security and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (where CONAE is housed) permits the use of satellite images in the fight against drug trafficking, but work still needs to be done to improve coordination between state agencies. The Ministry of Security understands that this entails a high degree of complexity, so much so that its officials underscored the importance of synergy when they signed the agreement in October 2011. The first approach between CONAE and federal security forces became the “First Joint Course on Image Interpretation.” In it, CONAE experts taught officers from the Gendarmerie, Prefecture and Federal Police how to read the information on satellite images. María José Meincke, an expert in drug trafficking and vice chairman of the Argentine Association of Graduates from the Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies in Washington, D.C., said the key goals to the signed agreement are to ensure the agencies involved harmonize their objectives and reach a level of collaboration suitable for exchange and coordination. “In reality, data sensitivity and other matters related to the rivalry existing between agencies results in that, for the time being, information is not shared as it should,” said Meincke, who is well-versed in interagency coordination and fighting transnational organized crime. “Many times, each agency goes its separate way and performs its task separately,” said Sebastián García Díaz, former secretary of Drug Addiction Prevention and the Fight Against Drug Trafficking, a government institution in the province of Cordoba. “It is very important to count on satellite control, but now we have to determine what to do with this information, who will process it and act in real time with resources, regulations and clear procedures?” He explained that these matters will be solved by interagency coordination. In the inherent complexity of the fight against organized crime, which is becoming increasingly transnational and sophisticated, satellite technology will undoubtedly play a fundamental role. The initiative in Argentina started on the right track with the signing of an agreement on cooperation and information exchange. The challenge for disparate state agencies is now to articulate and pool resources to achieve a significant impact against drug trafficking. Interagency coordination The issue of cocaine in Argentina is twofold, according to the 2011 World Report on Drugs produced by the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime. On one hand, the country is showing positive signs compared to the rest of Latin America in terms of tackling consumption. On the other, it is one of the transit countries through which most of the European-bound cocaine passes. One of many examples was an airplane loaded in Argentina with 940 kilos that was seized by the Spanish Civil Guard in Barcelona in 2011. The sophistication of criminal organizations has been a constant: Besides growing in size, coordinating their interests and expanding their markets, they are rapidly multiplying their resources. For example, hundreds of clandestine airstrips are scattered in northern Argentina. In the province of Chaco, the Argentine nongovernment organization Anti-Drug Association discovered the operation of at least 141 illegal airstrips, largely thanks to satellite information. Facing an increasingly complicated scenario, Argentine authorities have focused their efforts on fighting the sophistication of organized crime with more sophisticated state technology. The satellite images are and will be a fundamental tool to fight off drugs. As we keep using them more and more, they will direct the panchromatic cameras and proper radars towards them. I have no doubt that they will manufacture satellites for these purposes. I took some courses at CONAE, and at the Sat. Technical Lab. with Dr. V. H. Rios, a prestigious researcher at the UNT University. Very good report. Regards.
The Colombian government will express their discontent to the Organization of American States (OAS) regarding the recent ruling made by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) about its borders with Nicaragua in the Caribbean, announced Foreign Affairs Minister Ángela Holguín, on November 25. “We will send a letter to OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza, stating our discontent, the legal vacuum in the ruling, the omissions, and incongruence,” Holguín told El Tiempo newspaper of Bogotá. The minister made the announcement after saying that a similar letter had been sent to the UN Secretary General, since the ICJ relies on that multilateral organization. The ICJ resolved a dispute between Bogotá and Managua over the San Andrés archipelago, by determining that all isles, islets and keys belong to Colombia, while demarcating new maritime borders to extend Nicaragua’s sovereignty on the Caribbean Sea, in an unappealable decision. Holguín said that Colombia’s dissatisfaction with the ruling is because of the “maritime demarcation.” The serious legal error made by the Court was to cut the economic zone and the continental platform of the island of Providencia to the north and northeast, and of San Andrés to the south and southeast.” According to the Law of the Sea, these islands have the same rights as the littorals,” she claimed. “The other error was to divide the Archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina,” she added. However, she insisted that Colombia “is respectful of international law” and that government officials have not said they “didn’t accept the ruling.” On November 24, through his Twitter account, President Juan Manuel Santos asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to “contact the government of Nicaragua directly to manage this problem with prudence and respect”. By Dialogo November 27, 2012
By Dialogo March 25, 2013 Two new fluvial hydrographical vessels have joined the Brazilian Navy’s fleet. Their mission: to help produce nautical charts of the Amazon river basin, facilitating a more accurate hydrographical mapping of this region, which covers five million square kilometers. Officials say this will eliminate a cartographical vacuum that exists in the states of Amapá, Amazonas, Roraima, Acre, Pará, Maranhão and Mato Grosso, all of them part of the Amazônia Legal. Maps will be produced at a scale of 1:100,000, and the Navy will update existing data on a myriad of rivers in this vast region encompassing 59 percent of Brazil. “This is the second vessel of the four that are in the pipeline for the Navy,” said Carlos Alberto de Freitas, regional manager for the Defense Ministry’s Operational Center of the System of Protection of the Amazonia (Censipam). “The project also includes a hydro-oceanographic vessel.” The first vessel, Rio Tocantins, started operations in July, and the second, Rio Xingu, sailed on Feb. 6. The other two — Rio Solimões and Rio Negro — will be handed to the Navy sometime this month. All four were financed by the Amazon Cartographical Project, which was launched in September 2008. This all-encompassing project involves the entire Brazilian Armed Forces, de Freitas said. The Navy is responsible for the nautical charts, while the Army and Air Force will compile land maps. Brazil’s Geological Services will develop the geological charts. Total investment in the three comes to $107 million, according to Censipam. “Each partner will generate the desired cartographical products, based on the federal investment,” Bruno da Gama Monteiro, manager of the Regional Censipam Center of Manaus — which covers the states of Amazonas and Roraima — said in comments to Agência Brasil. “This will improve planning for the work in Amazonia, including the building of major roads and hydroelectric plants, because the project will present regional maps in greater detail.” The Navy did not have the means to maneuver and do surveillance in the Amazon Basin’s extensive rivers and tributaries, officials said. These smaller ships will map interior waterways, using bathymetric sensors that measure river depth when they touch the bottom. This initiative will update 74 nautical charts, 18 have already been completed. Officials said the work is being done in accordance with the Brazilian National Defense Strategy objectives of increasing Brazil’s GDP. But it is particularly important, they say, because it contributes to better navigation security and safety, especially in border areas. It is a pity that the Brazilian press does not publish such matters as important as these. I found this article lost at â€œO Globoâ€ newspaper secondary pageâ€™s footer. In a country with a serious press, this subject would be at the front page, but unfortunately this does not happen at our nation. It is very clear for me that our countrymen there are doing a precious work, theyâ€™re just fulfilling their honorable commitment with Brazil. Nevertheless, It wouldnâ€™t cost the midia, instead of highlighting this so-called â€œunilateral truth commissionâ€, to publish this work that benefits all our people. I think it is good for the safety of Amazonia, for the industrialization of its forests, rivers and oceans, but behind it all it seems to be a military strategy for possession of the hydrographic territories in Amazonia.
“We conducted our session for representatives from our partner nation Ministries of Defense, and addressed generalized EVD information as well as more specific information,” said Col. Cachuela. But the word spread among international delegates, and representatives from U.S. Africa Command, U.S. European Command, U.S. Pacific Command, U.S. Northern Command, and countries including Belgium, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, Guatemala, Jamaica, Mexico, New Zealand, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Senegal, Singapore, Uruguay and the United States turned up in attendance. By Dialogo December 22, 2014 The role of risk communications during public health emergencies, therefore, is aimed at helping at-risk populations make informed decisions; encourage protective behaviors from public and health care workers; complement existing surveillance systems; coordinate health and non-health partners; minimize social and economic disruption; and build trust required to prepare for, respond to and recover from serious public health threats,” said Brennan. Clearly, information and communicating it accurately and in a timely manner are key to avoiding unnecessary alarm in the population. According to Brennan’s discussion on risk communications on Ebola, sending mixed messages from the authorities translates into a state of alarm and a lack of trust by the population. “Alarm in the population leads to uncertainty, fear, anger and anxiety, thereby creating a need for timely, clear, useful information.” “We conducted our session for representatives from our partner nation Ministries of Defense, and addressed generalized EVD information as well as more specific information,” said Col. Cachuela. But the word spread among international delegates, and representatives from U.S. Africa Command, U.S. European Command, U.S. Pacific Command, U.S. Northern Command, and countries including Belgium, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, Guatemala, Jamaica, Mexico, New Zealand, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Senegal, Singapore, Uruguay and the United States turned up in attendance. Risk communication, according to the WHO’s International Health Regulations, is defined as an integral component of public health risk management. It is focused on dialogue with those affected and concerned and strives to ensure communication strategies are evidence based. So, where will the next case be found? At the door of the hospital or clinic where those people end up, he said. “The new port of entry for infectious diseases are these hospitals or clinics where the astute health care worker is the new ‘immigration official’, and if you are not astute, you may be the second case,” he concluded. West Africa’s Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) crisis and the threat of its spread have taken global health security to the top of the priority list for health authorities in Europe, the United States and Latin America. Dr. Ciro Ugarte, director of Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Response at PAHO/WHO; Tim Callahan, Senior Regional Advisor for USAID/OFDA; Dr. Ronald St. John, PAHO Ebola Incident Manager; Colonel James Czarnik, Command Surgeon at U.S. Army Africa’s Command; U.S. Navy Captain David Tarantino, medical doctor with the CDHAM; and Bryna Brennan, PAHO Risk and Outbreak Communication Consultant, joined Col. Cachuela to discuss topics ranging from the management of health emergencies; detection, transportation and isolation of confirmed EVD patients; lessons learned on infection control, use of PPE, waste management and contained materials, and management of dead bodies; civil-military planning for the disease; protocols and procedures for the mobilization and return of the troops serving abroad, particularly those working in peace keeping operations in West Africa; and risk communications on the disease. According to the AMSUS introduction, the main purpose of the session, whose participants included senior military officers of countries in the Americas, was to have a discussion on the essential aspects of Ebola readiness and response that the militaries in each country should take into consideration in order to play an active role in the readiness and response of the disease in their respective countries. Dr. St. John presented an interesting perspective, saying the three West African countries currently affected with EVD have 20.4 million people altogether, among which there are 16,000 reported cases of the disease and 7,000 deaths so far. “That means that about 20,385,000 people do not have the disease, but may be infected and incubating it,” said Dr. St. John. “How many of those incubating EVD are well enough to get on a plane and leave one of the three airports?” he asked. With data including the fact that air traffic for the three airports in 2009 was 550,000, although much lower now due to the curtailment of flights, he stated that exit screening has limitations and thus, “it is unlikely that one of those people will be detected at the point of entry [of their destination].” So, where will the next case be found? At the door of the hospital or clinic where those people end up, he said. “The new port of entry for infectious diseases are these hospitals or clinics where the astute health care worker is the new ‘immigration official’, and if you are not astute, you may be the second case,” he concluded. Fighting Ebola was one of the topics discussed at the 2014 conference of the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States (AMSUS) in Washington, D.C. from December 2-5, where hundreds of U.S. and international federal government health officials and guests gathered to discuss regional perspectives on the matter. Rudolph Cachuela, U.S. Southern Command’s (SOUTHCOM) Command Surgeon, led a session with medical colleagues from the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) and World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for the Americas, the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA), and the Center for Diseases and Humanitarian Assistance Medicine (CDHAM) to share their perspective on EVD prevention and education in Latin America. Capt. Tarantino’s brief on preparedness and response planning for health emergencies was a good summary of the overall presentation, stating that health equals security. “No one nation can achieve global health security on its own. The vitality of the global economy is only as secure as the collective health of our people, and in today’s increasingly interconnected world we remain vulnerable,” he concluded. Rudolph Cachuela, U.S. Southern Command’s (SOUTHCOM) Command Surgeon, led a session with medical colleagues from the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) and World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for the Americas, the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA), and the Center for Diseases and Humanitarian Assistance Medicine (CDHAM) to share their perspective on EVD prevention and education in Latin America. Fighting Ebola was one of the topics discussed at the 2014 conference of the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States (AMSUS) in Washington, D.C. from December 2-5, where hundreds of U.S. and international federal government health officials and guests gathered to discuss regional perspectives on the matter. The role of risk communications during public health emergencies, therefore, is aimed at helping at-risk populations make informed decisions; encourage protective behaviors from public and health care workers; complement existing surveillance systems; coordinate health and non-health partners; minimize social and economic disruption; and build trust required to prepare for, respond to and recover from serious public health threats,” said Brennan. Dr. St. John presented an interesting perspective, saying the three West African countries currently affected with EVD have 20.4 million people altogether, among which there are 16,000 reported cases of the disease and 7,000 deaths so far. “That means that about 20,385,000 people do not have the disease, but may be infected and incubating it,” said Dr. St. John. “How many of those incubating EVD are well enough to get on a plane and leave one of the three airports?” he asked. With data including the fact that air traffic for the three airports in 2009 was 550,000, although much lower now due to the curtailment of flights, he stated that exit screening has limitations and thus, “it is unlikely that one of those people will be detected at the point of entry [of their destination].” West Africa’s Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) crisis and the threat of its spread have taken global health security to the top of the priority list for health authorities in Europe, the United States and Latin America. Capt. Tarantino’s brief on preparedness and response planning for health emergencies was a good summary of the overall presentation, stating that health equals security. “No one nation can achieve global health security on its own. The vitality of the global economy is only as secure as the collective health of our people, and in today’s increasingly interconnected world we remain vulnerable,” he concluded. According to the AMSUS introduction, the main purpose of the session, whose participants included senior military officers of countries in the Americas, was to have a discussion on the essential aspects of Ebola readiness and response that the militaries in each country should take into consideration in order to play an active role in the readiness and response of the disease in their respective countries. Clearly, information and communicating it accurately and in a timely manner are key to avoiding unnecessary alarm in the population. According to Brennan’s discussion on risk communications on Ebola, sending mixed messages from the authorities translates into a state of alarm and a lack of trust by the population. “Alarm in the population leads to uncertainty, fear, anger and anxiety, thereby creating a need for timely, clear, useful information.” Risk communication, according to the WHO’s International Health Regulations, is defined as an integral component of public health risk management. It is focused on dialogue with those affected and concerned and strives to ensure communication strategies are evidence based. Dr. Ciro Ugarte, director of Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Response at PAHO/WHO; Tim Callahan, Senior Regional Advisor for USAID/OFDA; Dr. Ronald St. John, PAHO Ebola Incident Manager; Colonel James Czarnik, Command Surgeon at U.S. Army Africa’s Command; U.S. Navy Captain David Tarantino, medical doctor with the CDHAM; and Bryna Brennan, PAHO Risk and Outbreak Communication Consultant, joined Col. Cachuela to discuss topics ranging from the management of health emergencies; detection, transportation and isolation of confirmed EVD patients; lessons learned on infection control, use of PPE, waste management and contained materials, and management of dead bodies; civil-military planning for the disease; protocols and procedures for the mobilization and return of the troops serving abroad, particularly those working in peace keeping operations in West Africa; and risk communications on the disease. You have to see this because right now we live in a world where no one believes in anyone else. Gentlemen, please… think about it and analyze it Let us hope this virus goes away
“Participants boarded ships belonging to the Brazilian Navy, traveled to the beach, and managed to conquer quite a wide area, which gave other Troops the ability to disembark in larger numbers and continue the mission,” Lt. Gen. de Mattos said of the successful training session, which was completed without injury. Military officials chose the Army-owned Formosa Instruction Camp, which has hosted the training since 2013, because its combination of space and security is ideal for using the Brazilian Marine Corps’ live weaponry, according to the Lieutenant General. The Astros 2020 multiple rocket launcher, which can fire 190 rockets in 16 seconds with high accuracy, was tested for the first time in simulated combat. Service members also used modernized versions of M-113 armored vehicles, which feature a dynamic steering system and other improvements. About 2,000 members of Brazil’s Marine Force Squadron participated in its largest annual training exercise, Operation Formosa, along with seven U.S. Marines at a Brazilian Army camp 75 kilometers from Brasília between September 15 – October 13. By Dialogo November 18, 2015 This operation makes me very proud. Marine Corps! Operation Formosa — which has trained about 16,000 Brazilian service members since its inception — included four Argentine service members and five Namibian Troops this year, who shared their experiences in the areas of logistics and infantry command. Meanwhile, four of the seven participating U.S. Marines are from the U.S. Navy, two from MARFORSOUTH, and one from the USMC. The Marines from the Navy and USMC participated in every phase of the training, while the MARFORSOUTH Marines engaged in just one session. Weaponry tests After Troops transported the necessary equipment, vehicles, weapons, and munitions 1,600 kilometers from Rio de Janeiro to the Formosa Instruction Camp on September 15, the first phase of training, which was primarily logistical in nature, started on September 30. During the second stage, which ran from October 1-4, Marines engaged in drills such as shooting practice and parachuting. Personnel from the U.S. Navy and USMC conducted an expeditionary medicine exchange, sharing lessons and best practices in combat casualty care and mass casualty situations. “The U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) enjoys a very strong relationship with the Brazilian Marine Corps (CFN, for its Portuguese acronym),” explained Captain Thayne Stiefvater from U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South (MARFORSOUTH). “Our primary goals in participating in Operation Formosa are to continue to build our service bonds and strengthen our ability to conduct combined operations in humanitarian assistance/disaster relief, peacekeeping, and other environments. Our goals for this year included building our interoperability for combined expeditionary medical response, aviation planning, and aviation command and control.” In the next phase of the training, which began on October 7, service personnel demonstrated the training for the media. During the final phase from October 10-13, participants engaged in a simulated sea-to-land mission known as “Head-of-the-Beach,” where they used an array of equipment, from vehicles to weapons to aircraft, to take control of a piece of land that was 12 kilometers deep and eight kilometers long. Four stages of training The training mission, which Brazil created in 2008 and which has included the U.S. since 2013, helps keep the CFN at a high level of readiness for missions in Brazil and abroad. The document outlining Brazil’s defense policy, known as the “National Defense Strategy,” describes the CFN as an expeditionary force par excellence. “The Remax proved to be very useful for our purposes,” Lt. Gen. de Mattos said. Service members tested numerous weapons during Operation Formosa, including the Remax, a remote-controlled weapons platform that can accommodate different caliber machine guns, including 7.62 mm and .50 mm, and is mounted on Piranha armored vehicles. The platform, which is equipped with night vision, was engineered by the Brazilian Army in partnership with the Brazilian company Ares and was tested for the first time by the Brazilian Marine Corps. “This year, all our equipment performed at an acceptable level, which means that they are aligned with our needs,” Lt. Gen. de Mattos added. “The Operation Formosa training satisfactorily addressed all of the goals set by the control group,” said Marine Lieutenant General Alexandre José Barreto de Mattos, the Brazilian Marines’ Chief of Personnel. “In addition, the space also allows us to simulate actual amphibious operations, despite being held near Brasília, [which is landlocked].”
By Marcos Ommati/Diálogo October 12, 2017 Brazilian Air Force Major General Reis Tavares, the deputy director of International Affairs at the Brazilian Ministry of Defense, was Brazil’s representative at the 2017 South American Defense Conference (SOUTHDEC). The general moderated a panel discussion on cyberattacks. Among other important information, he said that in the last two years there has been an increase of more than 270 percent in cyberattacks on corporate and government websites. To discuss this and other matters, Diálogo spoke with Maj. Gen. Reis during the event, held in the Peruvian capital of Lima from August 22nd to 24th.Diálogo: During the panel discussion, you talked a lot about the compartmentalization of information, saying that it would be essential for tackling the issue of cyberattacks. What is missing for this information sharing to actually occur?Major General Reis Tavares, the deputy director of International Affairs at the Brazilian Ministry of Defense: What’s happening is that there is an increasing need to do this. So this conference is now a mechanism of goodwill, good faith, by the countries to identify those needs. It’s not that anything is missing but we have to complement our intentions. The next step, in the bilateral sense, is for each country to state its needs and share that information. And how will we share? In what way? Only through mutual trust. Every country has its own mechanism for bilateral meetings. That’s why we have to exchange and share experiences, training, courses, technical visits, and since we’re going to go operational with cyber specialists, surely they’ll find the most suitable paths for the information to arrive at the right time in order to counter an on-scene threat inside the nation’s critical infrastructure.Diálogo: Do you feel that Brazil has improved its capabilities in this regard after having hosted the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016?Maj. Gen. Reis: Certainly, the country’s [readiness] level has jumped by at least one level from where it was before. Without making comparisons, I believe Brazil has learned a lot and reformulated its own doctrine in terms of cyberdefense, and logically, it has established protocols for large-scale world events such as the Olympics, for example. There have been a lot of lessons learned in terms of information sharing. Therefore, I believe that future specialist forums will be a great tool for each nation in the region to exchange information and experiences. During today’s panel, we identified how Argentina, the United States, and Uruguay have established their own models, adapting them to the laws of their nations. So, of course, a process, a point identified in the other nation, can be useful to Brazil, and vice versa. But Brazil certainly grew a lot and learned a lot from the Olympic Games.Diálogo: The Brazilian government has announced a 40 percent budget cut that mainly affects the Armed Forces. How do you balance the books and keep investing in what many consider to be the next war, meaning cyber warfare?Maj. Gen. Reis: As a new military capacity, cyber warfare has to be included in our Armed Forces budget, and it has also been placed within the regulatory framework for Brazil’s development in the field of cybernetics. Back in 2012, we saw that the strategic defense systems project was established precisely through a specific budgetary action for that kind of investment because we don’t see it as an expense. Because it’s an investment in cyber defense, which is exactly what will protect us from the damage that might be caused by future threats and from intended attacks by terrorists, hackers, or criminals. A survey done by Latin American banks showed $90 billion in damages in one year alone. It’s a big deal. So it’s an investment to protect us, because it fits neatly within the structure of our defense systems, our cyber defense, and supports them. And the military is there to help combat the threat, which can cause damage.Diálogo: Sir, how do you assess the Brazilian Air Force’s participation in Amazon operations, mainly in support of the Brazilian Army and Federal Police?Maj. Gen. Reis: The Armed Forces’ presence in the Amazon is essential. It’s the presence of the Brazilian government and the Armed Forces as a government institution on our borders, with our border platoons and our battalions at the Amazon Military Command, and in the naval districts. And the air wings are there too, positioned in various regions of the Amazon. And that is how we fulfill our mission to defend our sovereignty: it’s the presence of the government. It’s a social good that Brazil is performing, integrating that region and its communities, whether indigenous or not, raising the level of health, schooling, and education of those people. This means that the communities there don’t live without the Armed Forces. So it’s really quite important.Diálogo: How was Brazil, a developing nation, able to bring to market what appears to be a universally acclaimed aircraft, the Super Tucano (A-29)? Are there future projects?Maj. Gen. Reis: The Armed Forces are still idealists. We’re idealists and patriots. We think about the Brazilian government and we invest in it. Back in 1968, the Air Force, through Embraer [the manufacturer of the Super Tucano], which was a state-owned company, was working on manufacturing a Bandeirantes turboprop plane. In those days there was only the Concorde. The gap between both planes was huge. But the Air Force approved the project, invested in the project, and through the knowledge acquired, today our planes aren’t any different from others around the world. They don’t fall short. In the area of aircraft — of aviation knowledge and engineering — Embraer’s aircraft are at the same level as everyone else. Getting back to the Super Tucano, it was made possible because we believe in our product, we believe in our investment, and we know that it’s truly a great plane for the mission for which it was conceived. We receive only praise from the countries that have acquired the product. So really it’s an investment in the Armed Forces, and especially in the Air Force.
By Andréa Barretto/Diálogo May 16, 2018 The Brazilian Army (EB, in Portuguese) is set to receive by October 2018 eight MK3M modernized vehicles, capable of firing a missile and four different types of rockets from a single launcher. Brazilian company Avibras was contracted in 2012 to update the technology on 38 MK2 and MK3 vehicles used by the 6th Missile and Rocket Group (GMF, in Portuguese). This will be its fourth and final delivery. The delivery marks the conclusion of strategic program ASTROS 2020. Additional key steps already took place in 2018. EB inaugurated the ASTROS 2020 Instruction Center and the program’s Logistics Center on January 25th and February 1st. The new facilities kicked off operations and are part of the Fort Santa Bárbara complex, a military conglomerate in the midst of construction in the city of Formosa, Goiás state, in central Brazil. “It’s a personal accomplishment to command a military logistics organization because I’m an officer who works with war materials. It’s particularly [important] at this installation, whose weapons system requires us to have in-depth professional knowledge and work with complex management tools,” said EB Lieutenant Colonel Giovani Siqueira, who assumed command of the Logistics Center during the inauguration ceremony. “We are building EB’s missile and rocket artillery center,” said EB Major General José Júlio Dias Barreto, ASTROS 2020 project lead, in an exclusive interview with Diálogo in Brasília. In addition to modernizing EB’s equipment and constructing new facilities, the program incorporates research and development projects and the acquisition of new vehicles. “The expectation is that the program as a whole will be finalized in 2023, if there are no funding delays.” Select group In the area of research and development, ASTROS 2020 seeks to create and manufacture tactical cruise missiles (known as MTC-300 in Brazil), SS-40G guided rockets, and the Integrated Simulation System (SIS-ASTROS, in Portuguese). The MTC-300 missile is unprecedented for the Brazilian Armed Forces. Its development began in 2005. In March 2018, the missile entered the final phase of development when test flights resumed. The missile has a range of 300 kilometers and is accurate to within 50 meters. Its smart navigation is guided by GPS and other technology. With the use of an optical-electronic sensor, the missile can follow the terrain and correct its trajectory with coordinates inserted into the onboard computer before launch. Developing MTC-300 allows Brazil to join seven countries with this technology, according to information from EPEX. As a long-range, high-accuracy defense weapon, MTC-300 can be used in missions to destroy large structures, such as hydroelectric plants and oil refineries. EB initially ordered 100 units of the missile, to be delivered between 2020 and 2023. The SS-40G guided rocket is another weapon developed within the framework of the ASTROS 2020 program. It is based off the SS-40 model rocket, which reaches a range of 40 km and which the ASTROS system already uses. With new technology, the latest version gains precision and, consequently reduces collateral damage. “Currently, the world’s artillery operates using a strategy of saturation. The aim is for this to change and follow a strategy of precision. As such, the rocket and other weapons would be guided and hit the target. The dispersion is very low,” explained Maj. Gen. Barreto. The goal is to provide service members with more adequate training to prepare them to use the new ASTROS system equipment SIS-ASTROS is developing. The system brings together several types of simulators, as well as software for computer-based training. EB and the Federal University of Santa Maria in Rio Grande do Sul partnered to develop the SIS-ASTROS project. The project is expected to be ready in 2019, when it will be delivered to Avibras, which will manufacture the set of simulators. Once completed, SIS-ASTROS will be installed at the ASTROS 2020 Instruction Center at Fort Santa Bárbara in Florianópolis, Santa Catarina state. Multiple functions The ASTROS 2020 artillery system was created to provide EB with long-range firing support, a resource that allows for greater deterrence—a greater capacity to weaken and prevent attacks and threats from enemy forces. The ASTROS 2020 system basic training lineup includes a total of 13 vehicles, all with different functions. There are six missile and rocket launching vehicles and three passenger vehicles. There is also an armored command and control vehicle and a firing car-radar, which registers information upon launch to improve later shots. There is also a meteorological vehicle that tracks weather conditions and a car to transport personnel, which can also be used to carry out maintenance on other vehicles during operations on the ground. The 6th and 16th GMFs are organizations within EB that use the ASTROS 2020 system. The new and modernized vehicles the program acquired are gradually being delivered to both military facilities. According to Maj. Gen. Barreto, the modernized vehicles, dubbed MK3M, and the new version, MK6, are exactly the same because the old vehicles were modernized with the same technology the new ones come equipped with.
By Nelza Oliveira/Diálogo June 04, 2019 The cost of military operations Brazil conducts at the border with Venezuela far exceeds the annual average cost of the humanitarian aid the Armed Forces provided to Haiti, a country devastated by civil unrest and earthquakes. This is where Brazil conducted its longest mission, which lasted 13 years. In the past 12 months, the government spent more than $67 million from state funds to support military activities associated with Operation Shelter (Operação Acolhida) in the state of Roraima, bordering Venezuela. The number is more than twice the annual average ($33 million) that Brazil dedicated to Haitian operations between 2004 and 2017. Operation Shelter kicked off in March 2018, to welcome and relocate Venezuelans fleeing to Brazil. On April 29, 2019, after Venezuelan Interim President Juan Guaidó called on the people to protest in an attempt to oust President Nicolás Maduro, Brazil announced funding of $56 million for Operation Shelter to carry on activities through May 2020. That same day, Federal Police identified for 848 Venezuelans crossing into Brazil in those 24 hours. This is more than twice the daily average of between 250 and 300 recorded at the border. Complex mission The complexity and inclusiveness of the mission on the Venezuelan border in the cities of Boa Vista and Pacaraima, 1,300 kilometers from Caracas, are the reasons behind these costs. In Haiti, the Brazilian expenses accounted for the sustainment of troops, training, food, and military supplies. Sustainment of the troops is now only a small portion of the cost. The current mission includes all humanitarian operations required to receive, feed, and treat the sick and starving Venezuelans arriving at the border. According to the Brazilian Ministry of Defense, the number of Brazilian officers deployed to the border includes nearly 600 members of the Navy, Army, and Air Force. The troops assigned to Operation Shelter are specifically trained for the mission and rotate every three months. “In the city of Pacaraima, the Armed Forces operate the Reception and Identification Station, the Screening Station, the Advance Services Station, the Support Area, the Janokoida Shelter, and another housing unit. Boa Vista has 10 shelters, one Relocation Area (Rondon II), one Support Area, one Screening Station, one Information Station, one Warehouse, and one Overnight Stay Area. The last three structures are near the Boa Vista International Bus Station,” the Ministry of Defense Press Office told Diálogo. From shelter to relocation According to the Federal Police, 55,721 Venezuelans entered Pacaraima between January 1 and May 9, 2019. The border between both countries was closed following orders from Maduro in February 2019. During this period, daily entries reached 372. On May 10, the Venezuelan government reopened the border with Brazil. The Brazilian government houses 8,500 Venezuelans in shelters. More than 25,000 meals are served each day. According to the Ministry of Defense Press Office, Boa Vista has 11 shelters that can house about 5,822 people, while the two in Pacaraima have a capacity of about 846 people. Venezuelans who wish to remain in Brazil are referred to representatives of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. They receive immigration documents, including identification and temporary employment authorization. Immigrants also go through an interview to assess their professional knowledge. The mission ends once immigrants are relocated. According to the Ministry of Citizenship, more than 5,000 immigrants have been relocated in 17 states. “The three pillars of the [Logistics Task Force] Operation Shelter that the Armed Forces of the state of Roraima conduct are: planning, sheltering, and relocation of Venezuelan immigrants. The activities in these phases include reception, identification, screening, immunization, shelter, and relocation of Venezuelan immigrants. Various government institutions, international agencies and nongovernmental organizations are part of these processes,” said the Ministry of Defense Press Office.
By Yolima Dussán/Diálogo October 30, 2020 The Caribbean Naval Force increased cocaine hydrochloride seizures in Caribbean waters by 52 percent from January to August 2020, according to a Colombian Navy August 22 report.As of August 2020, authorities have seized 84,662 kilograms of cocaine hydrochloride, while the amount seized in the same period in 2019 was 44,000 kg, the report says. With these results, Colombian authorities estimate that they have prevented more than 211 million doses from reaching international markets.“These indications are the result of interoperational […] and combined work with different countries, such as the United States, Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala, Belize, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Italy, and the United Kingdom, mainly,” Colombian Navy Vice Admiral Andrés Vásquez Villegas, commander of the Caribbean Naval Force, told Diálogo.In addition, authorities captured 242 people and seized vehicles, aircraft, vessels, and a semisubmersible, all drug-related, the report adds.“We have the best relationships with SOUTHCOM [U.S. Southern Command] and with JIATF South [Joint Interagency Task Force South], with whom we communicate and coordinate daily. We have a Colombian Navy liaison officer at JIATF South […],” added Vice Adm. Vásquez, who mentioned the importance of the U.S. maritime shield deployed in the Caribbean: “It has enabled navy ships from other countries, such as Colombia, the Netherlands, France, [and] the United Kingdom, to cover other mobility corridors, in a combined effort to smother narcotrafficking routes.”According to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the territorial sea, which covers up to 12 miles out, is the sovereign responsibility of each State, which must have the minimum capabilities to safeguard life at sea and prevent its illegal use. But different navies are free to navigate in the exclusive economic zone, which covers 200 miles, and is in international waters.“It’s here that we require countries with blue-water capabilities, with vessels that can go from mile 12 [territorial sea] to mile 200 and beyond, to have a presence, safeguarding marine life, protecting lines of maritime communications, and preventing criminals from using the sea,” Vice Adm. Vásquez concluded.