Bolivia’s President Evo Morales announced on Wednesday that Bolivia had contracted a Boeing 747 ‘Supertanker’ to help extinguish huge forest fires in the Amazon that have that spilled over from Brazil. By Wednesday evening, the government confirmed that the tanker is arriving in the country and will be operational on Friday.
The ‘Supertanker’ can carry more water than any other aircraft in the world, capable of flying with 115, 000 liters, equivalent to a 100 regular air tankers. Prior to the tanker’s arrival, the military will fly planes over the region to assess where exactly the tanker should focus.
There will also be three new helicopters, working with the three already in operation, working to extinguish the fires. Other measures include the creation of an ‘emergency cabinet’ and the dispatch of an extra 500 troops on Thursday morning, as reinforcement for the firefighters on the ground. There will also be around 10 light aircraft, putting out fires by fumigation.
On the first day of the fires spreading to Bolivia, President Evo Morales visited the areas and brought two helicopters to evacuate affected communities, along with large shipments of emergency food aid.
The new measures by the government come amid calls by right-wing opposition candidate Carlos Mesa to allow foreign aid to help put out the fires.
Nevertheless, Bolivia’s government has long rejected calls for outside intervention for natural disasters, arguing that Bolivia’s economy has developed enough to provide sufficient resources to cope, and must deal with issues internally to protect sovereignty. Speaking earlier in the year when flash floods hit the Department of Beni, Vice president Alvaro Garcia Linera said
“Bolivia has the resources…the era of begging [to outsiders] has passed, leave that to Carlos Mesa”.
Some have pointed to how international ‘emergency aid’ from the US often leads to militarization and occupation, such as that which took place in Haiti, following devastating earthquakes. There, relief operations were led by the US military’s Southern Command, and scholars have illustrated the subsequent role of USAID in working with US corporations in creating patterns of dependency in the country. One academic has described it saying,