police power

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By MANUEL DOMINGOS NETO*

The case of Bruno Pereira and Dom Phillips is a matter for the police, not the military

It bothers me to hear recriminations against the Army for its “ineffectiveness” in the case of Bruno Pereira and Dom Phillips. This is a matter for the police, not the military. Funding the army to act in public security is throwing money away and exposing citizens to truculence.

Armies serve to deter or put down foreign aggressors; they prepare to deal with enemies, not to discipline citizens and pursue criminals. Exceptionally, they assist society in extreme calamities.

The constituent bowed when he admitted that the Armed Forces acted to guarantee law and order. Lula made a mistake by sanctioning, in 2004, the Complementary Law that guaranteed police power to the Armed Forces along the border. It aggravated the personality disorder of the ranks and failed to do what was necessary to prepare public security in remote areas.

In the guidelines of the party front that supports him, released yesterday, I saw nothing in this regard. Until when will the Army be confused with border police? Persisting such confusion, the problems will be aggravated.

The involvement of the military in matters of public security results in disaster, notably when dealing with cases involving native peoples. Officers learn from youth that the Indian is a nuisance and that their protectors and environmentalists are enemies of the country in the pay of foreign interests. They repeat this litany in different ways. One of them states that there is too much land for too few Indians.

I am also intrigued by the complaints about the fact that the occupant of the presidential chair does not express solidarity with the families of Bruno Pereira and Dom Phillips. The man has already proven not to be moved by the pain of others and has shown inability to behave as head of state. I can't forget how he was silent on the death of Nelson Freire while the French president sent condolences to the Brazilian people for the loss of his genius.

In the case of Bruno Pereira and Dom Phillips, if this individual expressed feelings, it would be one of joy: two enemies slaughtered! The guy graduated from military schools, remember.

For the Democrats, it is difficult to understand the role of the State's armed forces. By claiming the Army's involvement in police activities, Brazilians inadvertently recognize legitimacy in deviating from the military mission. On top of that, they please the commanders, offering them an additional pretext for asking for a budget increase.

It is past time to understand that society maintains military corporations to deter hostile foreigners, not to act as police. Some imagine that this deterrence can occur with a presence at the border. Big mistake. Guarding the border in peacetime is a task for specialized police. The same for the defense of forest reserves.

Those who guard the border, curb deforestation, chase bandits and guarantee law and order cannot prepare for war. Tasks are incompatible. When the military eagerly assumes them, they undermine the construction of a public security system and leave the country unprotected.

We paid dearly not to have military defense and to live scared.

* Manuel Domingos Neto is a retired UFC/UFF professor, former president of the Brazilian Defense Studies Association (ABED) and former vice president of CNPq.

 

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