US Military Could Make Move In South America To Counter Russia
Russia — U.S. geopolitics could result in a new US military base in Brazil, but Brazil’s military doesn’t seem to happy about that.
On Thursday Jan. 3 the Brazilian administration under President Jair Bolsonaro stated that Brazil is considering opening a US military base.
Bolsonaro, Brazil’s 39th president who took office in January 2019, is worried that Russia’s support for Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro has increased tension in South America significantly. In December 2018, Russia deployed four military jets in a joint military exercise with Venezuela, which angered the US.
When asked by an SBT TV journalist in an interview whether his policy means that he would allow the US military presence in Brazil, the former army captain answered that he would certainly be ready to negotiate that possibility, adding that Brazil is seeking “a supremacy in the Latin America region.”
“Depending on what might happen in the world, who knows if we might have to talk about it (a US base) in the future,” the 63-year-old leader said.
Before Bolsonaro took charge, Brazil’s foreign policy tended to focus on the South-South relationship given the influence of the Workers’ Party that ruled the country for more than a decade. Should Bolsonaro’s plan happen, it will reflect a sharp shift in the country’s foreign policy given Brazil has often regarded the US with suspicion, NPR’s Philip Reeves said in an interview.
Bolsonaro is a former army captain and an admirer of Brazil’s military dictatorship that ruled the country from 1964 to 1985. He is also known as a pro-Trump and pro-Israel leader. Additionally, Bolsonaro is planning to move his country’s embassy to Jerusalem, following the US move.
The Historical Background of the US-Brazil Military Cooperation
American and Brazilian military forces cooperated from 1941 to 1945 and set up an airbase near Brazil’s Natal.
Then-US President Franklin Roosevelt dubbed Natal, located in Northeastern Brazil and the closest point to Africa, as “the Trampoline of Victory” during World War II as it kept supplying allied forces in Africa. Since then, Brazil’s leaders and generals during the military dictatorship had longed for the presence of a US military base in the country aimed at countering the influence of communism during the Cold War era.
At the 2015 summit in Panama City, some of the Latin American nations urged the US to shut down its military bases in the Latin American region given they were set up in the Cold War period and no longer relevant in today’s era.
As of an August 15, 2018, report, the US has 800 military bases worldwide, 76 of them are in Latin America and the Caribbean to protect Washington’s hegemony.
But Brazil’s Military Is Not Happy About Bolsonaro’s Ideas
Bolsonaro may be excited saying that Brazil is considering opening a US military base, but Brazil’s military generals and the Ministry of Defense do not seem to be happy with the president’s willingness.
According to the ministry’s spokeswoman Major Sylvia Martins, Bolsonaro has yet to consult with the minister of defense. Bolsonaro did not specify the possible location of the planned military base.
An anonymous military officer said the military institution would oppose a US military base, adding that the idea of ceding the country’s territory for a base took officers by surprise.
Brazil’s Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo confirmed his boss’ interest in opening a US military base during the meeting of the Lima Group of 13 countries monitoring the recent situation in Venezuela on Jan. 4. Araujo said Bolsonaro will discuss the idea with US President Donald Trump in the upcoming visit to Washington in March, as Reuters reported.
Jose Vicente da Silva, former Brazilian defense secretary, is optimistic that Brazil will gain advantages from the presence of a US military base. “We have a long cooperation, especially with the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration). The Americans have concerns in the Amazon because of drug trafficking. Brazil has American technology to monitor borders and could obtain new technologies,” Da Silva said.
Russia claimed Washington has increased its military involvement in the past few years, aimed at tackling the influence from Russia and China. Therefore, the US has supported right-wing governments in the Latin America region to protect its interests from Russia’s influence.