Brazil’s President-elect Dilma Rousseff on Tuesday, December 22, announced five more ministers. Among them is Army General José Elito Carvalho Siqueira, who will be the new Chief Minister of the Cabinet of Institutional Security (GSI). By Dialogo December 22, 2010 During the South American Defense Chiefs Conference, co-hosted by the Armed Forces of Peru and the U.S. Southern Command, which took place in August in Lima, Peru, Diálogo spoke with General Elito, who was then the Chief of Defense Staff and is the former Force Commander for MINUSTAH, the United Nations stabilization force in Haiti. Diálogo: What is the situation regarding the Brazilian armed forces and the fight against illicit trafficking? General Elito: Congress passed a law in 2004/2005 that gave the Brazilian Army more of a police power, especially along the borders. Therefore, the armed forces – more particularly the army – are spread out in the far reaches of the country and many times represent the only state presence in those areas. It was a natural consequence of years and years of our presence there, which makes it a very logical law. It gives the Brazilian Army the authority to perform authorized police activities or actions within a 150-kilometer strip along the border. So, this was very good. And now this law is being updated; the supplementary law, which should be approved by Congress soon, extends this police power to the Navy and Air Force. Because the Navy also has some areas near rivers that need this, let’s say, special attention; and the Air Force had authority in its airspace, but whenever a clandestine aircraft would land, the Air Force would lose this authority. In other words, this is great, because it’s a matter of national security or national defense. Its great advantage, aside from its content, is the fact that it is a state document. It’s not a military document, or in other words, defense is no longer simply a military matter. Today, defense is a national matter. Every citizen is responsible for defense. The armed forces are the arm that will execute the defense, but the citizen is also responsible for it. Therefore, the fact of this integration or extension of the power of defense only helps the nation. It’s a great accomplishment, and I think that Brazil has made a large step forward in strategy. This strategy gives Brazil today, its inhabitants, its population a broader sense of defense, which is very important for us military professionals, that is, that everyone is involved with the problem. Diálogo: Can you give us a panorama of what the situation is now in Haiti as compared to when you were the Force Commander, in 2006? General Elito: I was in command there before the earthquake, and I went back now six months after the tragedy. What we can say on the positive side is that you notice that there is movement in Port-au-Prince, which is really good. That complicated traffic all the time, people in the streets doing informal trading, which sometimes seems to be a chaotic situation, but which from my perspective, is very positive. In other words, people are wanting to have a way of life after the earthquake. Before, the same was also true; whenever the population or the country were doing better, the streets were crowded. The streets are clean; there is still a lot of debris in the areas of the houses, but the streets are clean, which is very good, because shortly afterward, there was a very complicated period on the roadways. On the other hand, we have information, for example, that the international resources did not really arrive as promised, and there are over one million people living in tents today, which is a permanent concern. However, these people are being taken care of and they have food and water. MINUSTAH is doing very interesting work with the police on their presence and intelligence, to avoid greater complications in the future in these areas. It’s really unfortunate that the earthquake struck after a year and a half of stability in Haiti. Everything was improving in Haiti when the earthquake happened. I think that Haiti deserves, and its people deserve, something positive; let’s hope it happens. Diálogo: Why do we see Brazilian troops in other countries, but not other countries’ troops in Brazil? General Elito: Brazil is a country, I would say, blessed by God. In other words, our problems are minimal compared to other problems we see in other areas of the world. We’re really in a position to handle our problems. It’s that the need was never there. We’re not a country that has earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, etc. Brazil would be open, should an extreme situation occur, to receive humanitarian aid from any other country.