World Bulletin/News Desk
Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, has authorised the commander of Brazil’s air force to shoot down hostile aircraft entering the country’s airspace during the World Cup.
A spokesman for the Brazilian Air Force, known as FAB for its initials in Portuguese, told the AA that the military considered it unlikely that a hostile aircraft would approach a World Cup game.
“We are not living in a moment of expectation that anything like this will happen,” the FAB spokesman, who wanted to remain anonymous as per government policy, said. “But we must be amply prepared; we cannot discount the most extreme possibilities.”
Ordinarily Brazil’s law allows planes to be shot down only if the order comes directly from President Rousseff. The decree, published in Brazil’s Official Gazette and signed by Rousseff and Defence Minister Celso Amorim, allows the commander of the Air Force to shoot down planes without first consulting the president.
“The president has transferred this power to the commander of the FAB only during the World Cup, because the decision must be taken very quickly,” a spokesman for the Ministry of Defence told the AA.
Brazil has also enacted “no-fly zones” over World Cup stadiums for up to three hours before and four hours after the games, and will have 12,700 military personnel and 77 aircrafts working to ensure traffic flow and security in Brazil’s air space during the tournament. During the no-fly periods, helicopters, fighter planes, radar aircraft and fuelling aircraft will patrol the area around stadiums.
An exception to Brazil’s shoot-down laws already exists at the country’s long and porous border: Since 2004, Brazil’s Air Force has been allowed to bring down planes at the frontier that it suspects of trafficking drugs, and that don’t respond to radio contact.
“Before they shoot, they must try contact the airplane and ask them to land,” the Ministry of Defence spokesman said. “The last option is to shoot, and only at the border and within our territory.”
The shoot-down decree is part of a raft of measures to improve security during the World Cup, including at Brazil’s borders. Last month, the Ministry of Defence sent 30,000 troops to the border to help prevent drugs, guns and other contraband from entering Brazil ahead of the tournament. At 17,000 km long, and bordering 10 countries, including the world’s three largest drug producers, Brazil’s land frontier is very vulnerable to trafficking.
Agata 8, as the operation was known, brought in a record 40 metric tons of apprehended drugs, including a single seizure of 100 kilos of cocaine and another of 15 metric tons of marijuana.
Also at the borders, Brazilian police and customs authorities have been sharing information with Interpol and Argentinian authorities about potentially violent groups to minimise the risk of fan-led violence during games.
Earlier this week, Brazil’s Federal Police said an Argentinian football fan had been deported from Brazil after arriving at Sao Paulo airport because his name appeared on a list of "Barras Bravas," football hooligan groups.
Authorities are hoping to prevent a repeat of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, when clashes between rival groups resulted in the death of an Argentina fan in Cape Town.
Despite Brazil’s efforts to keep out hooligans and contraband from reaching the cup, the biggest risk to safety will probably come from closer to home.
Most of the government’s focus has been on preventing a repeat of last year’s Confederations Cup, when large street protests coalesced around the tournament and at times became violent. This year, 157,000 soldiers and police will provide security during the World Cup, and a 2 km exclusion zone has been enacted around stadiums to prevent protesters from getting close to ticket-holders.
Even so, there were violent scenes in Sao Paulo hours before Thursday’s opening match as people demonstrating against the World Cup clashed with military and riot police. Other cities throughout Brazil also saw protests, although on a much smaller scale than last year.
Further protests are planned throughout the tournament.Last Mod: 14 Haziran 2014, 00:16