It bothers me to hear recriminations against the Army for its “ineffectiveness” in the case of the murders of Bruno Pereira and Dom Phillips in Vale do Javari. This is a matter for the police, not the military. There are a thousand reasons to disown the Army, not this one.
To fund the Army to act in public security is to throw money away and expose the citizenry to truculence.
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Armies must serve to deter or kill foreign aggressors; prepare to deal with enemies, not discipline citizens and pursue criminals. Exceptionally, society finds itself in extreme calamities.
The Constituent failed when it admitted that the Armed Forces acted to guarantee Law and Order. Lula was wrong to sanction, in 2004, the Complementary Law that guaranteed police power to the Armed Forces in the border strip. It worsened the rank and file’s personality disorder and failed to do what was necessary to prepare public safety in remote areas.
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In the guidelines of the party front that supports him, released this week, I saw nothing in this regard.
How long will the Army be confused with border police? If such confusion persists, the problems will be compounded.
The involvement of the military in matters of public security results in disaster, notably in cases involving indigenous peoples. Officers learn from a young age that Indians are a hindrance and that their protectors and environmentalists are enemies of the homeland in the pay of foreign interests. They repeat this litany in different ways. One of them states that there is a lot of land for a few Indians.
I am also intrigued by the complaints about the fact that the occupant of the presidential chair does not show solidarity with the family members of Bruno and Dom. The man has already proven not to be moved by the pain of others and has shown inability to behave as a head of state. His constituents knew this. I don’t forget how he was silent on the death of Nelson Freire while the French president sent condolences to the Brazilian people for the loss of his genius.
In the tragedy of Bruno and Dom, if this individual expressed feelings, it would be of joy: two enemies down! The subject graduated from military schools, it is worth remembering.
For Democrats, it’s hard to get the hang of the role of the armed arms of the state. By claiming the Army’s involvement in police activities, Brazilians inadvertently recognize the legitimacy of deviating from the military mission. At the same time, they please the commanders, offering them an additional excuse to ask for a budget increase.
It is past time to understand that society maintains military corporations to deter hostile foreigners, not to act as police.
Some imagine that deterrence can occur with presence at the border. Read mistake. Guarding the border in peacetime is a task for specialized police. The same with the defense of forest reserves.
Whoever guards the border, curbs deforestation, pursues bandits and guarantees law and order cannot prepare for war. Tasks are incompatible. When the military takes them greedily, they undermine the construction of the public security we need and fail as a deterrent.
We need an army that has its own weapons, capable of sustaining a proud and active foreign policy, as Celso Amorim said. An army equipped by foreign factories is no good to defend Brazil.
We pay dearly not to have military defense and to live in fear of threats to democracy.
*Manuel Domingos Neto holds a PhD in History from the University of Paris, is a former president of the Brazilian Association for Defense Studies (ABED) and was vice-president of CNPq.
*This is an opinion article. The author’s view does not necessarily express the newspaper’s editorial line Brazil de facto.
Editing: Vivian Virissimo