Bonfim, Roraima – The city of Bonfim, 125 kilometers far from Boa Vista, is located in the central-eastern portion of the state and is connected to the capital through the BR 401 road. With a population of nearly 10.3 thousand inhabitants, it has one of the least demographic densities of the country, with only 1.28 inhabitant per square kilometer.
With an area of 8.1 thousand square kilometers, the city corresponds to 3.61 percent of the Roraima state. More than 20 percent of its territory is formed by indigene ground. The hydrography of Bonfim is represented by the rivers Branco, Tucutu and its tributaries. The Tucutu River serves as natural dividing landmark between Brazil and Guyana.
There is hosed the First Special Border Platoon (PEF), with a contingent of nearly 70 jungle warriors. They are responsible for the national defense in that extreme point of the Brazilian northern border.
The PEF of Bonfim is subordinated to the First Brigade of Infantry of Jungle (Lobo D´Almada Brigade), hosted in Boa Vista, created on November 13 of 1991, working since January 1st of 1992, with the transfer of the Command of the First Brigade of Motorized Infantry of Petrópolis (Rio de Janeiro state) to Roraima state.
It was named Lobo D´Almada Brigade in honor to the Portuguese Brigadier Manoel da Gama Lobo D´Almada, who reached Brazil in 1780, to command the Fortress of Macapá and to guarantee the Portuguese sovereignty in the region.
Basically, the work of these soldiers happens through patrols and operations destined to the combat of transnational illicit ones. In the extensive Brazilian border, are common drug dealing, weapons trafficking, contraband and, mainly in the north, mining activities.
The jungle warriors destined to the border platoons are prepared in the Center of Education of War in the Jungle (CIGS), which works in Manaus. The unity is considered one of the best in the world in preparation of soldiers for the combat in the jungle.
Besides the combat properly stated, the soldiers act in dozens of subsidiary activities with emphasis in the support to the civil population, as in situations of emergence, like natural catastrophes, as in the day by day of a region marked by the weak presence of the State.
In missions of patrol, it is common that the soldiers help the riparian population and the natives, as well as they do the civil register of persons who are born and live in the jungle.
The soldiers who serve in the PEF generally are professional soldiers.
The First Special Border Platoon is commanded by captain Bulhões, a young man that accumulates six years of service to the country in the borders with Bolivia, Guyana and Venezuela.
Married and father of an eight month old girl, Bulhões has pride in serving in the region. The wife, who is a pharmacist, was employed by the Army to support the work of the ward of the platoon. There, practically all the services are turned to the civil population.
The integration between the soldiers, their families and the local community is among the priorities of the Army. In its overwhelming majority, the PEF are located in remote and extremely precarious regions. Education and health are almost non-existent.
Through the Civic-Social Actions (ACISO), the soldiers pay to Brazilians and foreigners living in border limits, the basic care that often save lives.
In the border with Guyana, the cases of drug trafficking and contraband are common – recently, the PEF of Bonfim apprehended a load with ten thousand shirts of a European brand that would be resold in the Brazilian side. Guyana has no control of its border.
In Lethem, Guyanan city only 400 meters far from Bonfim, the shops of Chinese knick-knacks are common. Also it is huge the number of cars stolen in Brazil and resold in the city.
A battalion of border should work in there, but what is seen is unarmed soldiers, in slippers, and an infrastructure that denounces the complete neglect of the country in protecting or supervising its side.