Brazilian President Michel Temer has invited U.S. Armed Forces to participate in joint military exercises in the country’s Amazon region, BBC Brazil reported on Thursday.
The exercises, dubbed Operation America United, are scheduled to take place in November and will be held over a period of 10 days. Peruvian and Colombian soldiers will also participate in the exercises, which will take place in a region of Brazil that borders both countries.
The unprecedented joint exercises will be directed from a temporary multinational military base established by the four participating countries. Logistical items — such as communications equipment, transportation vehicles, munitions and firearms — will be housed at the base.
Temer's invite to U.S. soldiers “aims to develop greater knowledge, share experiences and develop mutual trust,” government officials told BBC Brazil. The military exercises come on the cusp of a series of new military agreements between the Brazilian and U.S. Armed Forces, which broaden cooperation between the two countries.
Many Brazilians, especially those opposed to Temer’s administration, have slammed the invitation, opposing growing U.S. presence in the South American country. Opponents have also criticized Temer for building his country’s Armed Forces instead of improving the country’s crippling social programs.
Last March, Temer hiked the country's military budget by 36 percent, just months after he pushed the approval of a controversial constitutional amendment to freeze public spending in the country for the next two decades.
According to a report by Brazilian newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo based on Senate data, military spending for this year is set to hit nearly US$3.1 billion after seeing cuts under the government of former President Dilma Rousseff, ousted last year in a process widely condemned as a parliamentary coup.
The defense budget hike makes military spending the second-largest government expenditure, even ahead of education, which has remained at the same level since the 2015 economic crisis and only received only about US$1.8 billion in 2016.
Temer’s disapproval rating is at an abominable 87 percent, according to a recent Ipsos poll.