By Marcos Ommati / Diálogo September 26, 2019 Brazil co-hosted the sixth South American Defense Conference (SOUTHDEC) in the city of Natal, in Rio Grande do Norte. SOUTHDEC, co-sponsored by the U.S. Southern Command, was created to discuss topics that affect the stability and security of Western Hemisphere nations. This edition, which was held in Brazil for the first time, covered current issues, such as natural disasters and transnational threats, which require a joint effort from participating countries. Diálogo spoke with Brazilian Air Force General Raul Botelho, chairman of the Brazilian Armed Forces’ Joint Chiefs of Staff about this and other topics.Diálogo: What are the greatest regional challenges that Southern Cone nations must overcome jointly with the United States?Brazilian Air Force General Raul Botelho, chairman of the Brazilian Armed Forces’ Joint Chiefs of Staff: We can highlight two extremely relevant challenges: humanitarian aid and disaster relief, and the fight against transnational threats. For instance, we currently handle the challenges, mechanisms, and regional response capabilities for the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, which provided lessons on sharing various initiatives and difficulties that countries face when dealing with this matter. With regard to transnational threats, transnational organized crime is one of the greatest threats to South America’s security and stability, specifically arms and drug trafficking.Diálogo: Why is it important for Brazil to participate in United Nations (UN) peacekeeping missions?Gen. Botelho: Participation in UN peacekeeping operations increases the training and insertion of Brazilian Armed Forces in international operations in support of our foreign policy. This type of mission promotes a greater visibility for Brazil in the group of nations, reaffirming its commitment to protecting peace and cooperation among people, and enabling the exchange of knowledge and experience with contingents from other countries.Diálogo: Do you think that Brazil is a good military partner for its neighbors and for the United States? How can the military-to-military relationship be improved with partner nations?Gen. Botelho: Yes, I think that Brazil is a good military partner, not only for its Latin American neighbors, but also for the United States and globally. In 2019 alone, more than a dozen bilateral cooperation agreements, memoranda of understanding, and declarations of intent between several countries have been or will be signed. We have about 15 similar documents still under review or negotiation, which will soon become concrete measures in the defense sector. The United States is a long-standing strategic partner. This partnership is becoming stronger every day, as demonstrated by mutual visits by leaders from both nations, signed cooperation agreements, Brazil’s increasing participation in significant roles at the U.S. Southern Command and, naturally, the fact that the U.S. House of Representatives has recently approved Brazil as a U.S. major non-NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] ally.We are strengthening our growing friendship and cooperation ties, enabling regional interests on development and security issues to be reached. Regarding opportunities to improve the military-to-military relationship with partner nations, it is my understanding that the main obstacle to overcome is the different approach amongst countries regarding legislation on important aspects to promote greater military-to-military integration. There must be a clear understanding of the political reality of each country and respect for their sovereignties as a starting point toward building partnerships that aim for regional military integration in South America.Diálogo: What is your priority as chairman of the Brazilian Armed Forces’ Joint Chiefs of Staff?Gen. Botelho: To develop a strategy that projects a modern concept of joint work, where defense capabilities are established by an appropriate method, guided by a common understanding of defense priorities, aligned with updated planning and doctrine, in order to face any potential possibilities. Additionally, to build a defense intelligence agency that encompasses all segments of intelligence to deliver reliable timely knowledge in support of the decision-making process and the creation and execution of military strategic planning.
As of Friday 109 doctors had died of COVID-19 in the country, Indonesian Medical Association (IDI) spokesperson Halik Malik has said.He added that as long as local transmission still occurred and resulted in a high number of daily confirmed COVID-19 cases, doctors and other medical workers would continue to face a high risk of contracting the virus.“Of the 109 fallen doctors, 49 were specialist doctors, 53 were general physicians and seven were professors,” Halik said on Friday, as quoted by kompas.com. Halik added that of doctors who had died, the largest number, 29, were based in East Java, 20 were in North Sumatra and 13 in Jakarta.On Thursday, a 52-year-old doctor in Medan, North Sumatra, died of COVID-19, bringing the total tally in Medan to 12.Medan IDI chairman Wijaya Juwarna called on the local government to classify and differentiate between COVID-19 hospitals and non-COVID-19 hospitals in Medan to reduce the risk of medical workers getting infected.“We don’t know [about the classification] all this time, we only know that doctors are facing a high risk in any hospital, unless the hospital uses different buildings [for COVID-19 patients], which means traffic for the emergency unit and elevators are also different,” he said.Topics : With 3,861 more COVID-19 cases on Thursday, Indonesia has seen a total of 207,203 infections since March. Halik said such a situation affected the well-being and job performance of medical workers as they dealt directly with patients during the pandemic.Besides doctors, nine dentists had also died of COVID-19 as of Tuesday, the IDI reported. Meanwhile, 70 nurses had died of the disease as of Monday, according to the Indonesian Nurses Association (PPNI).Read also: Nation grieves deaths of medical workersA recent survey by the University of Indonesia’s (UI) School of Medicine also reveals 82 percent of healthcare workers across the country are suffering from burnout.