Terça-feira, 27 de Julho de 2010

Brazil's Atlantic turf

By Pedro Seabra

 

Last year, Brazil’s defense expenditure was naturally marked by the overreaching effects of the US$9.4 billion French Scorpène submarines deal. This year, however – despite the constant uncertainty surrounding the fighters’ bid – is all about frigates, Italian ones, to be more accurate.

Indeed, Brazil is cleverly seeking to expand its strategic defense partnerships and after the overwhelming agreements with France in 2009, Italy appears to be the next in line. The alleged multi-billion deal – involving 18 FREMM frigates, 10 Comandante patrol-boats and one Evna support ship – is undoubtedly the latest step in the Brazilian’s Navy rearmament program.

Such move is viewed within the extremely vast range of interests defined in the 2008 National Defense Strategy, but one particular objective is in display, when it comes to reinforce the country’s naval capabilities: the need for a clear and greater assertiveness in the strategic South Atlantic area.

It is no secret that Brazil’s newfound underground wealth is mainly located alongside its coastline, the so-called “Blue Amazon”. But when it struck gold, the country suddenly found itself lacking the means to effectively defend and protect its rich shores, as a self-proclaimed regional power is supposed to.

One could argue that Brazil faces little, if any, credible competition in its Atlantic domain and in that order, it could be questioned the merits of a nuclear propelled submarine – the first and predictably, the only in Latin America. But in the end, bringing the Southern Atlantic within its sphere of influence – with an eye in Africa, perhaps? – and acquiring the means to sustain such claim, can also be seen as another calculated step in Brazil’s global move for greater international stance.

 

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