The confidential documents from the Brazilian Armed Forces Joint chiefs of staff, who closely monitored military and strategic information from all over Latin America, indicate that in 1967 Argentina shipped to Bolivia 100 napalm bombs of 100 kilos; 250 FAL rifles and 200 pistols calibre 45 with 30,000 and 5,000 bullets respectively and a further batch of 50 napalm bombs of 50 kilos. The document was dated 31 August 1967, and by October the Argentine-Cuban guerrilla fighter had been caught and killed in the Bolivian highlands.
Although Brazil was not convinced about the alleged presence of Che Guevara in Bolivia, it knew about the support given by Argentine dictator General Juan Carlos Onganía to his Bolivian peer René Barrientos who was intent in catching the guerrilla leader sent by the Cubans to trigger the ‘revolution’ among the peasants.
Believing their Bolivian colleagues to be ill-prepared to conftont the guerrillas Brazil helped the counter-insurgency effot by training pilots from the Bolivian Air Force.
The documents revealed by O Estado de Sao Paulo also show that the Brazilian military regime (1964-1985) was obsessed with collecting strategic and military info from its neighbours and the region and for this purpose had mounted an espionage network in the different countries.
Declassified documents reveal that in 1978 the Brazilian high command identified Argentina as its “most probable enemy” and by at the end of the sixties had become particularly concerned with the “danger of the Bolivian guerrilla movement because it had instructors from Cuba, an ally of the Soviet Union”.
The reports emphasize Argentine military superiority in the region at the time, which led the Brazilian military to prepare for a possible conflict, and contemplated alliances with other neighbouring countries such as Uruguay and Paraguay.
At the end of the sixties the Brazilian military regime closely monitored the left wing guerrilla movements in Bolivia, Colombia and Venezuela, fearing they could expand into Brazil.
According to O Estado de Sao Paulo, Brazilian diplomats and military attachés were responsible for many years for collecting all possible information on military and strategic secrets of other Latin American countries.
They were particularly interested in “the general structure of the Defence ministries, their organization and functioning, number and type of weaponry of each of the armed forces, commands, strength and equipment of the ground troops, their distribution and mobilization orders, and other strategic issues such as anti-aircraft and defence capability as well as underground installations”.