Posts filed under ‘Latin America’

LATIN AMERICA: Brazil Presidential Knife Attack; Nicaraguan Political Violence; Venezuelan Migration Crisis.

Brazil: Far-Right Candidate Stabbed.

Just when it looks like Brazil’s wild presidential election campaign can’t get any wilder — a far-right candidate is stabbed and seriously injured.

Jair Bolsonaro was stabbed during a campaign rally in Minas Gerais Thursday (September 6). Several videos posted on social media showed Bolsonaro riding on the shoulder of a supporter during a rally when he was stabbed in his abdomen, the Voice of America website reported. Other videos show him being carried to car and his supporters hitting the apparent attacker, who was arrested at the scene.

MAP-Brazil

Brazil (CIA World Factbook)

Flavio Bolsonaro, the candidate’s son, wrote on Twitter that his father had been wounded in the liver, lung and intestine. “He lost a lot of blood, arrived at the hospital … almost dead. He appears to have stabilized now,” he said.

General Antonio Hamilton Mourao, Bolsonaro’s running mate, told Reuters by telephone that the candidate’s condition was stable but still worrying.

The attack on Bolsonaro is a dramatic twist in what is already Brazil’s most unpredictable election since the country’s return to democracy three decades ago. Corruption investigations have jailed scores of powerful businessmen and politicians, and alienated infuriated voters, according to Reuters.

Violence in Brazil is rampant – the country has more homicides than any other, according to the United Nations – and political violence is common at the local level.

Bolsonaro, who has spent nearly three decades in Congress, is a law-and-order candidate who routinely says that Brazilian police should kill suspected drug traffickers and other criminals at will. He has openly praised the military dictatorship that ran Brazil in the past said it should have killed more people.

The controversial politician, who has outraged many in Brazil with racist and homophobic comments, has performed strongly in recent polls, the BBC reported.

Polls suggest he would get the most votes in next month’s presidential elections if former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva fails in his attempt to overturn a ban on him standing for election. Lula, who served as president from 2003-2010, is ineligible for office under Brazil’s “Clean Slate” law, which prohibits candidates from running if they have convictions that have been upheld on appeal.

Despite his conviction and several graft cases pending against him, Lula leads Bolsonaro  with 39 percent of voter support, according to pollster Datafolha. Lula has denied any wrongdoing.

Meanwhile, thousands fleeing Venezuela’s  collapsing economy have flooded Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru with refugees. Things were so unsettled in northern Brazil that President Michel Temer signed a decree August 28 to send troops to the country’s northern state of Roraima, where Venezuelans fleeing food shortages have streamed across the border.

Temer said the armed forces were being sent to “guarantee law and order” as Venezuela’s migrant crisis was “threatening the harmony of the whole continent.” He said the move was for the safety of both Brazilian citizens and Venezuelan migrants, NPR reported.

*** *** ***

Defense Secretary Tours South America.

Brazil was the first stop on U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis’s four-nation tour of  South America last month to shore up strong defense ties with the governments of  Argentina, Chile and Colombia — as well as Brazil.

Mattis met with Defense Minister Joaquim Silva e Luna, the chief of Brazil’s joint staff, Admiral Ademir Sobrinho, and the Brazilian service chiefs. Later he told military officers at Brazil’s war college that the United States wants a “stronger relationship” with a focus on using Brazil’s Alcantara space center, which is located near the equator, Agence France-Presse reported.

SECDEF Mattis in Brazil

Defense Secretary James N. Mattis (second from right) met with Brazilian defense leaders during his trip to Brazil, Aug. 13, 2018. (Defense Department photo)

China is developing its space infrastructure in Latin America, with a base in southern Argentina’s Patagonia region. It has also pushed deep into the continent’s economies as an investor and major client for agricultural, mineral and other commodities, AFP noted.

Mattis told reporters  in Brazil that Russian and Chinese involvement in South America has had “zero impact” on military-to-military relationships with America’s Latin partners.

He cautioned against potentially damaging “inroads by other nations,” according to VoA. “There’s  more than one way to lose sovereignty in this world. It’s not just by bayonets. It can also be by countries that come bearing gifts and by large loans…piling massive debt on countries knowing they know will not be able to repay it,” Mattis added in an apparent poke at Chinese loans to countries like Venezuela.

On his trip to Colombia in August, Mattis said he was impressed by the progress Colombia has made in human rights, democracy and rule of law after more than 30 years battling terrorist attacks, a violent Marxist insurgency and corruption fueled by narcotics cartels. As a sign of the changed atmosphere, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced in May that his country will formally become NATO’s first Latin American “global partner.”

But Mattis added that he’s concerned about the unrest in neighboring Venezuela.

Hyperinflation in that country is expected to hit 1 million percent this year, and tens of thousands of people are fleeing the country to other neighbors. Neighboring nations are helping with these refugees and looking to ensure peace along a desperate border, according to the Defense Department.

The U.S. State Department is providing $56 million in aid to refugees and the Defense Department is sending the hospital ship USNS Comfort to the region to help.

***

Venezuela’s Woes.

The United Nations says that more than 1.6 million Venezuelans have left their country since the start of 2015, generating an international migrant crisis that has set off alarms in South America and recently led to violent confrontations between migrants and local populations.

Venezuelans are fleeing a severe economic crisis which has led to severe shortages of food, medicine and basic goods. Many of those fleeing the country say they are doing so because they cannot get the operations and medical care they need.

The Associated Press explains the situation here.

_103142757_venezuela_map_640-3x_v2-nc

Late last month, the United Nations refugee and migration agencies has called on Latin American countries to ease entry for Venezuelan nationals fleeing economic hardship and a deepening political crisis, Reuters reported.

The U.N. agencies said they were concerned about new passport and border entry requirements in Ecuador and Peru. At the same time they praised states for hosting more than 1.6 million Venezuelans who have fled economic and political upheaval since 2015.

*** *** ***

Nicaragua Violence.

Another refugee crisis is growing in Central America, where tens of thousands of Nicaraguans are fleeing to Costa Rica to escape political violence in the wake of a wave of anti-government protests.

For more than four months, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has responded forcefully to nationwide protests, which initially began in opposition to a hike in social security taxes and quickly erupted into a call for his resignation, NPR reports. More than 300 people have been killed, hundreds more disappeared and thousands have fled the country, according to the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights, a nongovernmental organization in Managua.

MAP-Nicaragua

Nicaragua and neighbors (Map: CIA World Factbook)

 

At the United Nations, the United States warned the Security Council Wednesday (September 5) that Nicaragua is heading down the path that led to conflict in Syria and Venezuela’s mass migration that has spilled into the region. But Russia, China and Bolivia said Nicaragua doesn’t pose an international threat and the U.N. should butt out, the Associated Press reported.

The sharp exchanges took place at the first Security Council meeting called by U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, the current council president, to address what the U.N. says is Nicaragua’s violent repression of student and opposition protests.

Advertisements

September 7, 2018 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

UNMANNED AIRCRAFT: Light Show, Teaming with Air Force jets; Paris patrol; Assassination Weapon?

A new kind of Fireworks.

Drone Light Show entertains Team Travis

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Christian Conrad)

More than 500 drones illuminated the sky during a light show at California’s Travis Air Force Base on July 5, 2018. Intel’s new lightweight Shooting Star drone — it weighs just 330 grams — is designed to carry only a light that can change colors. Together, the 500 little quadcopters are capable of 4 billion color combinations, reported CBS Bay Area TV station KPIX.

Originally scheduled for the Fourth of July, the drone light show had to be postponed for a day because of high winds. Even so, a glitch required landing the fleet, early in the show, and resetting the drones before they could conduct five minute light show — controlled by one lap top and one operator, according to ABC TV station KGO.

The tiny drones, made of plastic and foam, swooped and swirled in the night sky forming images of the American flag, an airplane, the Golden Gate Bridge and the California Grizzly Bear.

Intel, the silicon chip maker, unveiled its drone light show capabilities in 2015 using just 100 little quadcopters. “The difference between 100 and 500 is mind blowing,” Natalie Cheung, who heads the Intel light show business unit, said in a company video. The drone display integrates computing, communication, sensor and cloud technology.

“All this drone can do is light up the sky, but it is something it can do really, really well,” the light show lead engineer, Daniel Gurdan said in the video.

Teaming Drones with Manned Aircraft

Intel’s flying light show is just one way scientists and engineers are working on ways to operate drones in large numbers. The military, in particular, has been looking at ways large numbers of fast-moving, evasive drones could overwhelm and enemy’s air defense systems.

The Army has looked into pairing its MQ-1C Gray Eagle unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with attack helicopters, using the drone as a kind of hunting dog to seek out targets and threats out in front of the manned helicopter. Your 4GWAR editor first wrote about that for Smithsonian’s Air&Space magazine blog in 2011

Now Air Force thinkers are looking at teaming manned aircraft with unmanned drones. In a policy paper released late last month (July 2018), the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies says maximizing the attributes of human operators and aircraft autonomy could boost affordable, effective combat capacity.

The paper notes that as a result of advancements in autonomy, processing power, and collaborative information exchange, the U.S. Air Force may soon be able to fly traditionally manned combat aircraft in partnership with unmanned aircraft.

The paper’s authors urge the Air Force to explore the advantages that could come through collaborative teaming of manned and unmanned combat aircraft. They noted  that the “combination may provide increased numbers of affordable aircraft to complement a limited number of exquisite, expensive, but highly potent fifth-generation aircraft.”

In short, that could mean meeting the requirements of Air Force Combat Command in a sustainable way during a time when there is a shortage of pilots and funds for newer, more expensive aircraft.

In other unmanned aircraft news …

Protecting Paris.

During Bastille Day celebrations in France last month (July 15), two MQ-9 Reaper drones patrolled the skies over Paris and southwestern France.

According to the manufacturer of the unmanned aircraft — San Diego-based General Atomics Aeronautical Systems — the French Air Force (Armee De L’Air) operated its drones over Paris and the city of Cognac, providing airborne surveillance over the national celebration.

Equipped with an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance suite of sensors, the Paris MQ-9 flew safely over a populated area of seven million people among numerous other military aircraft participating in the airborne parade.

SONY DSC

(Photo of French MQ-9 Reaper courtesy of Business Wire)

Two French MQ-9s are based in Cognac Châteaubernard Air Base, where they perform daily training or ISR support in French airspace. Another six Reapers are operated by the 1/33 Belfort Squadron, providing intelligence and support to Operation Barkhane, the ongoing French anti-insurgent operation in Africa’s Sahel region along with Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.

Assassination Attempt by Drone?

Two drones packed with explosives reportedly flew toward Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro Saturday night (August 4) in what his government says was a failed assassination attempt. New York Times site has video here.

MAP-Venezuela_large_locator

Venezuela in South America (Source: CIA World Factbook)

The attack  occurred while Maduro was making a speech at a huge outdoor event in Caracas to celebrate the 81st anniversary of the country’s national guard, according to USA Today, which detailed what happened.

Maduro blamed the “far right”, Colombia’s outgoing president, Juan Manuel Santos, and shadowy forces in Miami for the attack, The Economist reported. He has denounced a score of plots since he took over from the late Hugo Chávez in 2013.

August 17, 2018 at 12:28 am

FRIDAY FOTO (November 3, 2017)

Building Bridges.

Bridging the gap

(U.S. Army photo by Sergeant Michael Eaddy)

Soldiers with the Puerto Rico Army National Guard’s 190th Engineer Battalion from Juncos, Puerto Rico, pick up a section of a 40-foot bridge being built for the citizens of Quebradillas, Puerto Rico, on October 27, 2017.

These soldiers are with the aptly named 892nd Multi Role Bridge Company. Below is a photo of the gap the new bridge will cross. The span will provide the municipalities of Quebradillas, San Sebastian, and Isabela with a functional bridge until the bridges around the Guajataca Dam, destroyed by Hurricane Maria, are repaired.

Bridging the gap

(U.S. Army photo by Sergeant Michael Eaddy)

November 3, 2017 at 11:52 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (March 31, 2017)

Passing the Baton.

SOI ITB Company B Graduation

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal Laura Mercado)

Marine Corps Private First Class Maria Daume (left), is congratulated by a veteran Marine  after graduating from the basic mortarman course at Marine Corps Base Camp Geiger, North Carolina, on March 23, 2017.

This seemed like a fitting photo to close out Women’s History Month 2017, with one generation of Marines congratulating a member of the newest generation. The older Marine (she is unidentified in the photo caption) has the Korean Service medal, among others, on her jacket.

To see more photos of American servicewoman doing a variety of jobs, click here.

March 31, 2017 at 2:34 am 2 comments

DEFENSE INDUSTRY: Trump Defense Budget Boost; Brazil to Spend More

Trump Seeks Defense Budget Boost.

FLW-AT4

(4GWAR photo by John M. Doyle)

President Donald Trump unveiled his fiscal 2018 spending plan Thursday (March 16) which sets the framework for a final budget request to Congress. If passed, the funding request would sharply increase military and homeland security spending while cutting the budgets of dozens of federal agencies and programs — including the State, Justice and Transportation departments.

In the wake of Trump’s so-called “skinny” budget, which will likely go through numerous amendments and changes before being voted upon by Congress, the Pentagon released a broad wish list on Thursday, which, the New York Times noted, signals what the Defense Department “would do with its proposed $54 billion windfall, filling its shopping cart with desires including Apache helicopters for the Army, anti-submarine planes for the Navy, fighter jets and more training for selected personnel.” The budget proposal calls for $639 billion in defense spending, up $52 billion from last year’s budget request. It also seeks another $2 billion for national security programs in other agencies, like safety oversight of nuclear weaponry by the Energy Department.

According to Politico’s Morning Defense, “The Trump White House is touting a boost in military spending as a major element of what it calls a ‘hard-power’ budget proposal as it seeks to win over hawkish Republicans who are pushing for an even bigger increase in investments in the military. However, GOP defense hawks have criticized the administration’s claim that its proposed defense expansion is “one of the largest in history,” noting the Trump plan is only a 3 percent increase above the Obama administration’s projection for next year, POLITICO reported.

*** *** ***

Brazil Budget Battle.

Trump isn’t the only leader in the Americas planning to boost defense spending while cutting spending elsewhere in the budget.

brazilian-jungle-trained

Brazilian special operations troops.

Brazilian President Michel Temer is increasing the country’s military budget by 36 percent, local media reported Monday (March 13). The defense hike comes just months after Temer pushed the approval of a controversial constitutional amendment to freeze public spending for the next two decades, according to the Venezuela-based news site, teleSUR.

Citing a report by Brazilian newspaper, Folha de Sao Paulo, teleSUR said data compiled by  Brazil’s Senate indicated military spending for this year is set to hit nearly $3.1 billion. The changes come after Brazil’s military budget was slashed under former President Dilma Rousseff’s government. In 2015, the finance minister at the time, Joaquim Levy, drastically reduced investment in the defense sector. From the US$ 3.8 billion expected to be spent in the area, it only allocated $2.1 billion, according to Senate data.

Temer’s move to increase military spending also comes after the approval of a constitutional amendment to freeze public spending for two decades. The reform ties any increase to social assistance programs to the previous year’s inflation rate, rather than GDP. This will effectively limit what all future governments can spend on health, education and social welfare for at least 20 years, according to teleSUR.

*** *** ***

Industry News:

Australian Drone Program

California-based unmanned aircraft maker General Atomics has launched its Team Reaper Australia group to meet the Australian military’s search for a new drone, according to C4ISRNET.

Turkey Defense Procurement

A Turkish government report on defense procurement for the next five years urges the input of domestic industry to become a global player.

The 124-page Strategic Plan for 2017-2021 was prepared by Turkey’s defense procurement agency, the Undersecretariat for Defence Industries. Turkish Defence Minister Fikri Isik defines the plan’s goal as making the Turkish industry “a global player with technological superiority,” Defense News reports.

March 16, 2017 at 11:41 pm Leave a comment

LATIN AMERICA/HOMELAND SECURITY: Trump Taps Ex-SOUTHCOM Chief to head DHS.

Trump Picks Retired Marine General.

President-elect Donald Trump has selected retired Marine Corps General John Kelly to be the next head of the Department of Homeland Security, according to several news outlets.

ltgen-kelly

Kelly in 2012 before he took over SOUTHCOM and got his fourth star. (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

General Kelly, 66, who until recently led United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), had a 40-year career in the Marine Corps, and led troops in intense combat in western Iraq, according to the New York Times. Kelly has not yet formally offered the job to General Kelly, in part because the general is out of the country this week, a person briefed on the decision told the Times. The president-elect plans to roll out the Homeland Security Department appointment next week, along with his remaining national security positions — including secretary of state.

Kelly is not expected to face difficulty winning Senate confirmation. Trump’s team was drawn to him because of his Southwest border expertise, people familiar with the transition told the Washington Post. Like the president-elect, Kelly has sounded the alarm about drugs, terrorism and other cross-border threats that he sees as emanating from Mexico and Central and South America.

Based in Miami, Florida, SOUTHCOM has military responsibilities for Latin America and the Caribbean Basin — 32 countries in all. Those responsibilities include organizing training exercises with local militaries in the region as well as good will/humanitarian aid missions. One of SOUTHCOM’s most demanding missions is counter narcotics.

Before taking over at SOUTHCOM in 2012, Kelly served as senior military adviser to then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta starting in 2011. Trump’s selection of Kelly for DHS was first reported by CBS News.

Kelly, who retired from the SOUTHCOM post earlier this year, publicly clashed with the Obama administration on its plans – which were never executed – to close Guantanamo Bay and dismissed as “foolishness” concerns that the military’s treatment of detainees at the facility had cost the U.S. the moral high ground in the War on Terror, POLITICO reported.

Kelly is the latest in a string of former military figures to be nominated for positions in the incoming Trump administration. Trump has also nominated retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn as national security advisor and retired Marine Corps General James Mattis as defense secretary. Retired Army general and former Central Intelligence Agency chief David Petraeus is said to be among those under consideration for secretary of state, the Voice of America website reported.

 

December 7, 2016 at 8:52 pm Leave a comment

SHAKO: Mexican Punitive Expedition 1916

Pancho Villa’s Raid.

Pancho_villa_horseback

General Francisco “Pancho” Villa. (Photo from Library of Congress via Wikipedia

A hundred years ago today the tiny border town of Columbus, New Mexico was reeling and the rest of the country was howling for revenge following a bloody cross border raid by hundreds of Mexican irregulars commanded by bandit-turned general and Mexican Revolution hero “Pancho” Villa.

In the early morning hours of March 9, 1916, about 500 mounted gunmen loyal to Villa attacked Columbus — three miles north of the border — and the adjoining U.S. Army base, Camp Furlong.

Part of the town was looted and burned and at least 17 Americans — both civilians and soldiers — were killed in the three-hour attack. More than 100 Villistas were also killed, wounded or captured on the streets of Columbus and on their retreat back to Mexico by pursuing U.S. cavalry troopers.

The Columbus raid prompted President Woodrow Wilson to send a punitive force of cavalry, infantry and artillery — eventually numbering more than 10,000 men — plus trucks and airplanes (deployed by the Army for the first time in a conflict zone) to catch and punish Villa’s irregular forces.

Pershing-River-Crossing

Brigadier General John J. Pershing and some of his staff crossing a river in Mexico 1916.

Crossing into Mexico on March 15, under the command of Brigadier General John J. Pershing, the U.S. troops — including the celebrated Buffalo Soldiers of the black 10th Cavalry regiment — pushed hundreds of miles over rugged terrain deep into the Mexican state of Chihuahua searching for Villa.

Within two months they killed or wounded scores of Villistas in several gun battles. But after two skirmishes with Mexican government troops nearly brought both nations to the brink of war, Pershing’s force returned to U.S. territory in February 1917. Just two months later the United States was at war with Germany.

We’ll be following the major events of this unusual U.S. military action over the next few months, and looking for parallels to the current border security crisis.

shakoSHAKO is an occasional 4GWAR posting on military history, traditions and culture. For the uninitiated, a shako is the tall, billed headgear worn by many armies from the Napoleonic era to about the time of the American Civil War. It remains a part of the dress or parade uniform of several military organizations like the corps of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York.

March 10, 2016 at 11:50 pm Leave a comment

Older Posts


Posts

September 2018
M T W T F S S
« Aug    
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930

Categories


%d bloggers like this: