Thu, Aug 05, 2004
Get Tough Policy Begins In 90 Days
Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula
da Silva may not be the Bush administration's best friend in South
America, but the two leaders do agree on one thing: Shooting down
suspected drug planes is the right thing to do.
After a six-year delay, the Brazilian government Monday
published a controversial law that says it will indeed blow
suspected smugglers out of the sky. But the United States, which
backs similar measures in other Latin American countries, wants
assurances from Lula that there are sufficient safeguards to keep
innocent pilots and passengers from being blown to bits.
Brazil is considered a major transfer point for South American
drug smugglers. In fact, Brazil itself is a major market for
cocaine that comes from both Peru and Colombia. It's also what
you'd call a "target-rich environment" for airborne law enforcers
-- there are some 4,000 unregistered general aviation aircraft
flying over the Brazilian jungles.
According to the new law, Brazilian fighter pilots would only
shoot down a suspected drug runner as a matter of last resort -- if
suspects don't identify themselves. If they don't respond, if they
don't identify themselves or if they refuse to land when ordered,
they'll be "considered hostile and subject to destruction,"
according to the new law.
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