Paraguayan officials have protested against Brazil’s police and military operations along the shared border, which aim to crack down on the trafficking of weapons and drugs between the two countries.
The mayor of border city Ciudad de Este complained that the militarization of the border would not stop the trafficking of illegal goods, but would damage legitimate trade between the two countries.
Millions of dollars in drugs, weapons, and contraband goods are smuggled over the border between Brazil and Paraguay, often by Brazil-based criminal networks. Ciudad del Este is a key site for these groups, as much of the goods are transported over the Friendship Bridge and into Foz do Iguacu, in Brazil’s Parana state.
Ciudad del Este’s Mayor Sandra McCloud said there had been a 90 percent decrease in legitimate trade and tourism revenues because of Brazil’s heavy military presence. She was backed by foreign minister Jorge Lara Castro, who said he would intercede with the Brazilian government.
Brazil is investing $6.3 billion in an national strategy to strengthen border defense and crack down on criminals who traffic drugs, weapons and contraband into the country, while the governor of Parana state implemented a border security “mega-operation” in October.
Tension have run high in the area in recent months, with an exchange of fire between Brazilian police and suspected members of Paraguay’s armed forces in September.