Brazilian defence minister Celso Amorim has just launched Operation Ágata 5, sending 9,000 military personal into the tri-border area between Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. The operation is designed to combat organized crime and drug trafficking in the region, which is a serious issue.
Unreported is the extent to which this move will put pressure on the illicit elites in Paraguay who pull the strings of power. Brazil has a long history of selectively enforcing stiff borders in the tri-border region as a mechanism for disciplining Paraguay’s various criminal consortia. That Ángara 5 is being launched so soon after Lugo’s impeachment and the political suspension of Paraguay from Mercosur does create the appearance that serious pressure is being exerted on key sectors of Paraguay to not reverse the democratic gains of the last decade. Keep in mind that Celso Amorim was Lula’s foreign minister for eight years and is thus very familiar with the strategies and tactics used to control the Guarani republic.