Uproar as Bolivia Military Action Incurs into Brazil

The Brazilian Army decided Monday to send 35,000 troops to the border city of Capixaba after some Brazilian small farmers were chased over the border by Bolivian troops and had their land seized in the city of Porvenir, sparking an international incident.

The governor of the state of Acre, Tião Viana, claimed Bolivian Army soldiers technically invaded Brazil when they entered Capixaba carrying pistols without telling Brazilian authorities last week.

According to the Brazilian government, there are over 500 Brazilians on the Bolivian side of that border region – at least 50 of them are small farmers.

Since 2009, when the law passed, there has been animosity between the government of Evo Morales and the Brazilian homesteaders.

One of the residents chased from the area last week, José Carlos Caldas, who had lived on a farm purchased 40 years ago, claimed that Bolivian soldiers have destroyed his crops and used the livestock to feed themselves.

“What is really serious here is that the Bolivian government seems not to be making an effort to maintain good diplomatic relations,” said Nilson Mourão, the secretary of Justice and Human Rights of the state of Acre. “Any military action on the border of the two countries should be communicated, but the Brazilian Army, the Itamaraty (Foreign Relations Office of Brazil), and the government of Acre didn't know about the operation.”

So far the Bolivian government has remained quiet about the issue and has not made any public statements.

In order to defuse tensions, Mourão is also offering the distribution of energy to the Bolivian side of the region as a sign of cooperation. “The town of Villabela, in Bolivia, has 60 houses without energy. We can offer the distribution of energy as a sign of good will. There must be an understanding here.”

Luis Henrique Vieira is a freelance journalist in Brazil.

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