Argentina signed a letter of intent to join Brazil's military cargo aircraft development plans, while also announcing that it expects to complete the certification of a light military utility vehicle -- for which Brazil is building the engine -- by the end of this year. In an e-mail interview, Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue, explains Argentina-Brazil military and political cooperation.
WPR: What is the recent history of military and political cooperation between Brazil and Argentina?
Michael Shifter: Despite occasional ups and downs, Brazil and Argentina have generally enjoyed a close relationship in recent years. At the end of the 1980s there was a cooperative project to build the C-190 light civilian aircraft, though the Argentine government later suspended it. In the early 1990s, with the emergence of the MERCOSUR trading group, there was a notable increase in cooperation. Not only did trade between the two countries go up, but there was also heightened collaboration on the nuclear issue through mutual confidence-building measures. Cooperation stalled somewhat in the late-1990s and early part of this decade, as both countries were beset by economic difficulties, with Argentina's 2001 crisis particularly devastating. In the last few years, with Brazil's remarkable regional and global ascent, along with Argentina's impressive economic rebound, there has been another surge in cooperation, chiefly driven by Brazil -- both in terms of private companies and the government. The creation of UNASUR in 2008 and the associated South American Defense Council provide a framework that enables Brazil to pursue a wide array of relationships in South America.