Col. Rodrigo Oliveira Genial
CATASTROPHIZATION and SECURITIZATION
On August 22, 2019, the environmental issue and the Brazilian Amazon entered the international and national news when the current president of France declared, via social network, that the Amazon Forest fires are a problem of international character. The issue gained absolute relevance in discussions within the 45th G7 summit, held in 2019 and without the presence of Brazil.
In 2022, reinforcing the “catastrophization” theory and strengthening the French President’s speech, the French Minister of Foreign Trade, Franck Riester, states to the senators of his country that “The Amazon Forest does not belong only to Brazilians, but to humanity…”.
The catastrophization theory is, in short, a process in which political and social forces claim that natural and artificial factors work together to create devastating effects on a large part of the population, ensuring that drastic actions are taken to avoid such a catastrophe.
Conversely, when some issue poses a threat to the state, government, territory, and society, extraordinary measures are used to resolve the issue. This theory legitimizes the use of force actions for crises that are not necessarily linked to security and defense, the so-called “securitization”.
Thus, the Brazilian government, in the search for more effective actions and to give a clear response to international public opinion, determined the use of the Armed Forces in Law and Order Guarantee Actions (GLO) in 2019 (Operation Green Brazil 1), 2020 (Operation Green Brazil 2), and 2021 (Operation Samaúma).
As an evolution of Verde Brazil Operations, Operation Samaúma was conceived, for the first time under the coordination of the National Council of the Legal Amazon (CNAL), whose leadership was exercised by the Vice-President of the Republic, supported by its structure, to coordinate the actions of the Ministry of Defense, the Armed Forces, the agencies of the Ministry of Justice and Public Security, and the Ministry of Environment. Operation Samaúma was made official by Decree nº 10,730, of June 28, 2021, for the period June 28 to August 31, 2021, authorizing the employment of the Armed Forces in order to carry out preventive and repressive actions against environmental crimes, especially illegal deforestation in municipalities in the states of Amazonas, Mato Grosso, Pará and Rondônia.
The final balance sheet for Operation Samaúma totals 705 escorts, reconnaissance, and patrols; 17,005 hectares embargoed; 191 preventive and repressive actions carried out against environmental crimes; 309 inspections, surveys, and searches by means of naval and land patrols; and 8 outbreaks of fire, among other actions. The main seizures were 8,536.56 cubic meters of wood; 34,396 liters of fuel; 50 tractors, excavators, trucks, vehicles and boats; 28 weapons; and 137 sawmill and mining machines. During the entire action, 189 fines were applied, totaling more than R$270 million. There was a 32% reduction in the historical deforestation rate for the month of August.
THE AMAZON AND BRAZILIAN SOVEREIGNTY
General Meira Mattos, a renowned geopolitician in the Brazilian Army with international recognition, noted, in 1980, the greed of foreign nations or international organizations for the Amazon, and also identified the shortage of population and the existence of unexplored mineral wealth as the greatest Brazilian geopolitical problems in the Amazon.
General Villas Bôas, former Commander of the Brazilian Army, wrote an article that addresses a world, in the year 2030, in which the population will have increased by two billion people, consuming twice as many natural resources.
This unfathomable origin of nature has to be clearly associated with Brazilian sovereignty in the imagination of international public opinion, eager to question our capacity to manage what is already considered a world heritage.
A striking fact is that the natural resources of the region may reach the impressive figure of 23 trillion dollars: 15 arising from mineral resources and 8 provided by biodiversity.
Prospective scenarios show that the future of the country depends on maintaining the sovereignty of the Brazilian Amazon, its full integration into the country, and its sustainable development. In this way, it is clear that there are scientific analyses of scenarios that visualize, in a probable future, the employment of the Armed Forces in actions of repression of environmental crimes that are related to Brazil’s sovereignty in the Amazon.
PRESENT AND FUTURE
The seed of Operation Samaúma is germinating. We can see the initiative of the Ministry of Justice and Public Safety, in partnership with the Ministry of Environment and with the logistical support and specialized means of the Ministry of Defense, to launch Operation GUARDIANS OF THE BIOME, an action to combat forest fires, which began in August 2021. This year, since March 2022, the operation has been carrying out actions focused on fighting illegal deforestation in the states of Amazonas, Pará, Mato Grosso, and Rondônia.
Finally, the employment of the Armed Forces in Law and Order Operations and in subsidiary actions will always be a choice made by the public authorities according to the interests of the Brazilian State. What is important to highlight is that the Armed Forces will not shy away from providing support to the Nation, within the legal boundaries, being able to employ their military capabilities and extending their Strong Arm and their Friendly Hand, according to the slogan of the Brazilian Army.
About the Author:
O Coronel Rodrigo Oliveira Genial é oficial de Infantaria da Turma de 1997 da Academia Militar das Agulhas Negras (AMAN). Foi instrutor do Curso Básico da AMAN e do Centro de Instrução de Guerra na Selva. Possui os cursos regulares de aperfeiçoamento e altos estudos. He served in Amazonian environment in Tabatinga (AM), Manaus (AM) and Imperatriz (MA), having taken the CIGS Jungle Operations Course in 2006.
He was the Commander of the 50th Jungle Infantry Battalion, based in Imperatriz (MA), where he employed his troop in Operations Verde Brasil 2 and Samaúma. He is currently a student of the Army Strategic Policy and High Administration Course of the Army Command and General Staff School. His Course Conclusion Paper addresses the effectiveness of the Armed Forces’ actions in Operation Samaúma and the propositions for the future of GLO operations of an environmental nature.
*** Translated by the DEFCONPress FYI Team ***