International Spotlight on Brazil

Mathew Sayer From our Perspective

After A comes B. Of the 17 countries to choose from I’ve opted for Brazil. It could have been Belgium, and it could have been Belarus, but Brazil has a lot going on. The country is embroiled in a corruption scandal involving the sitting president- Dilma Rousseff- and her predecessor Luíz Inácio Lula da Silva. The country is on both ends of the surveillance stick- it surveils, and it is surveilled. The Snowden documents revealed that they were a prime target for the NSA. However, Brazil is also on the list of Hacking Team customers.


205 million people call Brazil home. It is the largest country in South America and home to the Amazon. Economically Brazil sits in the top ten by way of market exchange rates and purchasing power parity. Until 2010, the country was considered to have a booming economy. The after-effects of the Great Recession and declining commodity prices mean the country is now in a period of stagnation and recession.

Brazil is the B in BRICS. Jim O’Neill,  former chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management now the British Commercial Secretary to the Treasury 2001, coined the term BRIC; Brazil, Russia, India and China (South Africa was added ten years later). Realpolitik-ly speaking this is important.

Five Eyes Target

President Rousseff and her inner circle are targets of NSA surveillance. Shortly put it is because Brazil has vast amounts of natural resources, including oil.

Our publication today shows the US has a long way to go to prove its dragnet surveillance on ‘friendly’ governments is over. The US has not just been targeting President Rousseff but the key figures she talks to every day. Even if US assurances of ceasing its targeting of President Rousseff could be trusted, which they cannot, it is fanciful to imagine that President Rousseff can run Brazil by talking to herself all day. If President Rousseff wants to see more US investment in Brazil on the back of her recent trip as she claims, how can she assure Brazilian companies that their US counterparts will not have an advantage provided by this surveillance, until she can really guarantee the spying has stopped – not just on her, but on all Brazilian issues. – Julian Assange (Wikileaks)

Documents showing the targeting of Petrobrás made a mockery of the NSA’s claims that they do not conduct espionage for economic reasons. Economic well-being is listed as being justification for spying in the British Investigatory Powers Bill. The secret is now out in the open- companies would be best to check themselves and their threat model before they wreck themselves.

Hacking Team Customer

Wikileaks’ Hacking Team dump revealed that a private security contractor, YasNiTech, was interested in buying Remote Control System Exploits. According to Wikileaks documents YasNiTech have held contracts with the Brazilian Federal Police.

Brazil has its fair share of domestic issues; it is a major hot spot in the War On Drugs. There is also rife corruption. So much so that there is a Brazil Cost factored into doing business in the country. Being a major economy and one of the world’s largest companies put Brazil is in the middle of the road. Spied on by bigger boys for insights into their wealth but needing to maintain its surveillance posture.


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