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RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil is deploying more than 8,500 troops to its borders with Venezuela, Suriname, French Guiana and Guyana. Authorities report that this is part of an operation aimed at cracking down on drug smuggling, gold mining and illegal deforestation.
The troop mobilization sends a clear message ahead of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, which is scheduled to take place here in June, that Brazil is taking steps to assert greater control over its porous frontiers in the Amazon. “The Amazon is Brazil’s No. 1 priority from a strategic viewpoint, given its importance to humanity as a source of water, biodiversity and food production,” Gen. Eduardo Dias da Costa Villas Boas, chief of the Amazon Military Command said.
The operation, expected to last several weeks, showed its first results on Thursday when officials announced the detection of 10 clandestine airstrips in the state of Roraima. The airstrips were being used for illegal mining operations on indigenous territory, General Villas Boas said.
PARAMARIBO, Suriname–Suriname has expressed solidarity with the Governments of Brazil and Australia; both countries have been hit hard by floods. In Brazil the floods and landslides, the deadliest natural disasters to strike in decades, have killed close to 600 people. In Australia, the floods have caused 26 deaths in the country’s northeast since late November, and 14 others are missing, most of them from the latest flash flood that hit last Monday.
President Bouterse said Suriname is encouraged by the resilience the people of both countries have displayed in the wake of their disasters. “Suriname grieves for Brazil and Australia,” Bouterse wrote in his letters to the Presidents of the stricken countries. He wished them strength in their rebuilding processes. “We have no doubt that you will be able to, with inspiring leadership, dedication and steadfastness,” the President wrote.
Reuters reports that in the Brazilian town of Teresopolis, dozens of flood survivors desperate for news of missing relatives, lined up outside a morgue on Saturday as criticism grew of authorities’ response. Nearly four days after rains sparked floods and massive landslides, officials in this scenic mountain town are still struggling to cope with the scale of the catastrophe. The steadily rising death toll in the region north of Rio de Janeiro hit 591 on Saturday, Brazil’s Civil Defense agency said, and President Dilma Rousseff declared three days of national mourning. She has allocated US$ 461 million for reconstruction efforts in the heaviest hit areas.
And in Australia, the engorged rivers that flooded Queensland towns have now swelled south into other states. In New South Wales, nearly 7,000 people have been isolated by floodwaters that overflowed highways and emergency services helicopters were air-dropping food and other supplies to residents. In northern Victoria, a dozen small communities were sandbagging amid fears of high-peaking rivers and 3,000 people have evacuated. An economist has estimated the Queensland floods’ cost could be as much as $13 billion, or 1 percent of gross domestic product, in Australia’s 1.3 trillion Australian dollar ($1.29 trillion) economy.
PARAMARIBO — Suriname and its southern neighbor Brazil on Monday October 26th, pledged to work together on a range of cooperation projects. At a press conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs minister Winston Lackin of Foreign Affairs and Brazilian Ambassador Antonio Simoes gave a report of the outcome of negotiations.
The countries agreed to double the rice export from Suriname to Brazil, from the annual quota of 100 to 20,000 tons. The countries are also considering the export of other projects from Suriname to Brazil, as well as a project that will see them cooperate on matters regarding technical cooperation, digital systems, agrarian sector, bio fuel and the road from Suriname to Brazil.
Minister Lackin said both countries will take full advantage of the opportunity to work together.