Defence minister Nelson Jobim said that Brazil “is not a Venezuela that goes around shopping in the world’s arms supermarkets”. Brazil targets policy on technical training and technology transfer so “we can develop a sound, autonomous defence industry”, underlined the top official from President Lula da Silva administration.
“We’re not involved in a shopping festival, we are yes in a festival of national technical training based on technology transfer” insisted Jobim who reaffirmed Brazil’s determination to develop its own defence complex.
Jobim statements were collected from the minutes of his summons before Congress to inform on the huge weapons purchase from France, estimated in 12 billion US dollars, and which include five submarines (one of them nuclear powered), 50 helicopters and at least 36 fighter bombers, still on the bidding process.
Brazil conditions all purchases to the transfer of technology and the manufacturing of the military hardware on Brazilian territory.
Jobim’s statements are most significant since Brazil was the driving force behind the Union of South American Nations, Unasur, and particularly its Defence Council, which has the target of keeping Washington out of regional military issues.
However Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez insistence on re-arming and criticizing Colombia for a long standing military cooperation agreement with Washington that will also include the deployment of US forces in seven Colombian bases, has pushed Bogotá to seriously consider leaving Unasur.
In related news the Brazilian Senate president, Jose Sarney in a recent article published in the Brasilia press said that Venezuela’s aspiration to become a regional military power has not gone unnoticed and had two immediate consequences:
First, an arms race which means a 55% increase in the military budget of Latinamerica, having reached 38.4 billion US dollars in 2007, “money which could be best invested in combating poverty and education”, and secondly, the United States did not remain indifferent and reactivated its Fourth Fleet with operational deployment in Latinamerica and the Caribbean.