With the World Cup coming in 2014, the Olympics in 2016, and the Pope’s visit to Rio this July, security is currently a major concern for the Brazilian government. In preparation for these upcoming events, Brazil been updating its military, ordering Flakpanzer Gepard tanks which have been phased out by the German military and are due to arrive in South America in June.
Whilst Brazil’s air force is thought to be the largest in South America, the country hasn’t spent much on defence over the last few decades, and it now feels a definite need to modernize its military. The defence ministry has announced recently that it will be purchasing surface to air missiles and artillery batteries from Russia, and is also building five submarines in a joint effort with France. In addition to these measures, Brazil is planning a complete overhaul and update to its air force, whose tasks apart from regular military activity include surveillance of the Amazon rainforest to help in the country’s on-going struggles with drug trafficking and illegal logging.
General Marcio Heise, the Army officer in command of anti-aircraft artillery, told the G1 news service that the first eight Gepard tanks arriving in June will intitially be deployed in Brazil’s capital, Brasilia, where the Confederations Cup (a prelude to the World Cup) – kicks off on June 15. They’ll then be sent to Rio de Janeiro, for the end of the tournament, and will stay there through the papal visit in July, when the Pope will be giving a mass at Copacabana beach, praying at the Christ the Redeemer statue, and attending World Youth Day, a festival for young Catholics.
Amidst concerns about security in Brazil for the World Cup and the Olympics, this is certainly welcome news not only to the Brazilian people, but the international community and potential tourists. Along with crackdowns and improved security in the Favelas in Rio, the coming months and years might be the safest the country has ever been in its long history.