Brazil’s Minister of Defence has said that his government will donate aircraft to Cape Verde for maritime patrol duties, as it strengthens defence cooperation with the archipelago.
Brazilian defence minister Celso Amorim met his counterpart Jorge Tolentino in Rio de Janeiro last week, where he pledged to strengthen cooperation between the two countries in the areas of defence and security.
The meeting was attended by the commanders of the Brazilian navy, army and air force as well as Cape Verde’s director of national defence and commander of the Coast Guard.
The Brazilian defence ministry said that it intends to donate one or two aircraft to Cape Verde and that the process will be carried out once approval has been granted from the National Congress and the Brazilian air force has prepared the aircraft.
“My desire is that this partnership will also contribute to peace and security in the Atlantic,” said Amorim, welcoming the closer cooperation between the two countries.
Tolentino expressed interest in obtaining Brazilian expertise, particularly with regard to maritime safety and search and rescue, which the EMB-110 Bandeirantes would be used for, the Cape Verde newspaper A Nacao repors. Due to its important location in the Atlantic, Cape Verde faces numerous problems, including drug and people trafficking and illegal fishing. “There is a strong willingness of the government of my country to fight these organizations,” said Tolentino, stressing the need for support from countries like Brazil.
In October last year Cape Verde police seized about 1.5 tonnes of pure cocaine worth about US$100 million in one of the biggest drug busts in the region. West Africa became a transit point in the drugs trade between Latin American producers and European users because of the porous borders of some of the countries in the region and weak security apparatus. The UNODC estimates that up to 100 tonnes of cocaine may have been trafficked through the region in 2009 and that the value of trafficking flows exceeds the gross domestic product of some West African countries.
The commander of the Brazilian Navy, Admiral Julio Soares de Moura Neto, said that piracy was spreading across the mid-Atlantic and that Brazil wanted to prevent its arrival in its waters. He said it was a possibility that Brazil would send ships to patrol the West African coast. He added that it was important for the two countries to share maritime traffic information and that Brazil may train Cape Verde coast guard personnel. Another possibility discussed was sending Brazilian patrol aircraft for Exercises off Cape Verde.
In January Cape Verde strengthend its Coast Guard by commissioning a new 51 metre long Stan Patrol SPA 5009 patrol vessel from Damen shipyard. According to the IISS’s The Military Balance 2011, the Cape Verde Coast Guard has three patrol and coastal combatant vessels in service, including the 360 ton Kondor I patrol craft commissioned in 1970, the 51 foot Espadarte and the Tainha. The archipelago of nine inhabited islands has no navy.
During the bilateral talks, it was agreed that Brazil would provide scientific and technical support to Cape Verde in the survey of the continental shelf later this year. Brazil has performed similar work in Namibia and Angola. The Brazilian navy will send a delegation to the archipelago later this year to discuss this and other matters.