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Security Brief: SOUTHCOM 03/29/2021

Week of 03/29/2021| Issue 7


Team: SOUTHCOM


Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro[1]


Date: 03.30.21

Location: Brazil

Parties involved: Brazilian government; Brazil’s Army, Navy, Air Force-military leaders; health-care system; neighboring states; citizens of Brazil; major political actors

The event: Brazilian military leaders have all stepped down as a form of protest to Jair Bolsonaro’s Presidency while the country continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.

The implications:

  • Since President Bolsonaro is losing such important members of his cabinet, he has been forced to reshuffle political positions in a panicked manner which only adds to the chaos of the present situation. This could not only mean further inefficiency in Brazil’s government but also a stronger movement to get Bolsonaro out of office. The resignation of these three officials signifies a major step forward in the country’s protest against Bolsonaro’s presidency.

  • Major political transitions have already occurred in the wake of these resignations, and more will likely come in the following months. This could put Bolsonaro in a more vulnerable position as newly enacted politicians are likely to reject many of his policies to move the country forward. This is a hopeful sign for most of Brazil’s citizens, who no longer favor Bolsonaro because of his ultraconservative response to the pandemic.

  • The protest against Bolsonaro signifies his plummeting popularity after the largely unsuccessful handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. The political crisis taking place in Brazil comes after an extremely tumultuous year which is placing a heavy economic and social strain on Brazil as well as neighboring countries throughout Latin America. There is a significant risk of civil and political risk following the public disapproval of the president through the resignation of the leaders of the army, navy, and airforce.

  • Brazil recorded its highest COVID-19 death toll and continues to have the world’s second-highest rate of COVID-19 infections. The overburdening of the health system in Brazil has been a chronic issue throughout the pandemic as regions have struggled to not only cater to COVID-19 infections but also other health issues. The effective collapse of the healthcare system is coinciding with a surge in infections among younger populations, which in turn has social and economic impacts. The larger the proportion of young adults infected by COVID-19, the greater the consequences for economic recovery due to fewer individuals being able to work. This also presents an increased risk of spreading the disease as younger generations are more mobile and likely to travel while infected in comparison to elderly or vulnerable populations.

  • Neighboring states are likely to be affected by the political turmoil unfolding in Brazil as the Brazilian economy and population are the largest within the region. Growing tensions have the potential to destabilize relationships in the region as other states confront the challenges of their COVID-19 pandemics and domestic crises.

  • As more countries worldwide continue to vaccinate their populations, the upcoming months will likely contain reopenings to global economic industries (tourism, entertainment, etc). With Bolsonaro’s slow and ignorant response to the pandemic, Brazil will likely fall behind in competing for global economic power.

  • This could potentially lead to more civil unrest in the upcoming months, especially with COVID-19 worsening in the country. With the shuffling of positions, the country could be more vulnerable to attack by enemies who see the situation that is going on and have the resources to take advantage of the chaos.

Date: 03.29.21

Location: Honduras

Parties involved: Honduras government; neighboring governments; citizens of Honduras; neighboring countries; armed and police forces; NGOs.

The event: A new caravan of migrants bound for the United States has been formed in Honduras. Due to this situation, the Guatemalan government announced a state of prevention in five departments to avoid the possible arrival of Honduran migrants.

The implications:

  • This caravan of migrants could create a crisis in the internal security of Guatemala, Mexico, and even within Honduras since at some point of despair there could be clashes between migrants and authorities. Therefore, this situation may create some tensions in the region, which could turn into protests against migrants or even violent riots.

  • Women and girls may be exposed to sexual assaults as they pass through dangerous routes. Although many families, including women and girls, are looking for a better life, this migration to the United States makes women and girls vulnerable to being at risk. Moreover, this situation could cause fear among those victims of these sexual assaults since many women do not report this for fear of being deported or even murdered.

  • This caravan is likely to present a public health risk in Guatemala, Mexico, or even the United States as there would not be social distancing or biosecurity measures to ensure that migrants are protected from COVID-19. In Guatemala, the health collapse would be irreparable since this country would not have the best health care, which would increase cases and deaths due to the COVID-19. Moreover, in Mexico, the situation would be no less different since, from the beginning of the pandemic, the situation has not been controlled in the best possible way, which has generated a high rate of deaths due to this virus.

[1]Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro” by Marcelo de Sousa and David Biller, licensed under Creative Commons


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