April 9, 2008 / 10:27 PM / 12 years ago

Brazil considers possible Amazon invasion scenario

By Raymond Colitt

BRASILIA, April 9 (Reuters) - Brazil is considering a large-scale foreign invasion of the Amazon jungle as one of the possible security threats for which it wants to prepare its armed forces, two cabinet ministers said on Wednesday.

They were presenting an interim report on a white paper the largest country in Latin America began preparing on its defense priorities last September.

"Today the Amazon is our biggest focus of security concerns," said Mangabeira Unger, minister for strategic issues.

One of the potential threats was "asymmetrical war in the Amazon; that is a war against a very superior power that would force us into a national war of resistance," Unger told a news conference in Brasilia.

Other scenarios included military action by a neighboring country sponsored by a big power, as well as incursions by irregular or paramilitary forces, he said.

A proper defense of the world’s largest rain forest required a sound economic development and environmental protection plan, Unger said.

"A vast region without productive and social structures cannot be defended," Unger said.

Defense Minister Nelson Jobim insisted authorities were considering possible and not likely scenarios.

"There is no country threatening Brazil but we need a dissuasive power for the remote possibility (an invasion) could happen," Jobim told the news conference.

The government is mapping out potential defense risks in order to guide the armed forces in future arms purchases, as well as troop training and deployment, the two ministers said.

"Of all the large countries in the history of the modern world, Brazil is by far the least belligerent," said Unger.

"But (that) does not exempt us from the necessity of defending ourselves," he said.

Much of Brazil’s military and diplomatic corps warn of foreign interest in the Amazon’s natural resources. They cite nongovernmental organizations and researchers accused of stealing biotechnology, such as knowledge of medicinal plants. (Editing by Eric Walsh)

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