El Efecto Domino

En octubre del 2018, Brasil, junto con el resto de Latinoamérica, observó como Jair Bolsonaro ganó las elecciones a la presidencia. El candidato de extrema derecha logró la victoria con su campaña a favor de la anticorrupción y la reducción del crimen en el país. Militar y católico extremo, decisivo y radical; al parecer su fuerte personalidad se verá reflejada en cada una de sus políticas presidenciales los próximos cuatro años.

A pesar de haber ganado con una amplia mayoría, su gobierno se puede considerar polarizado al ganar con el 55.21% de votos, el resto de los votos fue para Haddad, candidato del Partido de los Trabajadores.

Ante la presión económica en la que se encuentra el país, afirma que quiere liberal la economía del país con la privatización de empresas, argumentando que el proteccionismo y los subsidios nacionales limitan el crecimiento económico además que incentivan la corrupción. Por otra parte, también propone la autonomía de la industria petrolera.

Una parte importante que no se debe obviar en relación con la economía brasileña es la importancia de la agricultura, en especial la soja, donde Brasil se posiciona como el productor y comercializador número uno a nivel mundial.

Durante el 2018, Brasil logró el record de exportación de soja, alcanzando las 82.5 millones de toneladas según la Asociación Nacional de Exportadores de Cereales (ANEC) comparado con los 68 millones de toneladas del año pasado. Asimismo, más del 80% de la soja exportada este año fue para China. La evidente respuesta del alza de ventas recae en la guerra comercial que China y Estados Unidos mantienen, donde China ha tomado represalias ante las decisiones del presidente Trump, afectando principalmente la industria agrícola americana. El resultado es simple, otros países alrededor del mundo abastecen la demanda del país más poblado del mundo. 

Como fichas de domino cayendo, cada acción produce una reacción; y una a una se van conectado. El triunfo de Bolsonaro no solo significa un gobierno católico, capitalista, con una masiva privatización de compañías nacionales. También significan algunas contradicciones, por ejemplo, su intención de fusionar el Ministerio de Agricultura y el de Ambiente; con el objetivo de “Extinguir y privatizar gran parte de las estatales que hoy existen”, argumentando que, “Son gastos innecesarios que deben atender a la población”; pero, ¿Cuál es la lógica detrás de unir dos ministerios opuestos y con propósitos distintos?

Esta claro que para Jair Bolsonaro, el medio ambiente no es prioridad como ha dejado claro en más de un discurso. No sólo objeto la participación de Brasil en el acuerdo de París, desaprobando los movimientos ecológicos y retirando la oferta de ser sede para la COP25, la cual tendrá lugar a finales del 2019 y principios del 2020; si no que además se manifiesta en contra de la soberanía de las tierras indígenas, manteniéndose firme en entregar más territorio. En Brasil, cerca del 13% del país pertenece a reservas indígenas. Incluso, durante su campaña, el ahora electo, presidente Bolsonaro, ofreció a los nativos subsistir de los recursos naturales de las tierras. Les sugiere a los indígenas obtener utilidades de la explotación de las minas y de las plantas hidroeléctricas que busca construir en dicha región. La fuerte y controversial opinión de Jair Bolsonaro es que los indígenas tienen el derecho de aprovechar las tierras, tierras que se encuentran bajo el control del gobierno federal y que, según la Constitución Brasileña, las reservas indígenas no son explotables ni se pueden destruir, comercializar, trabajar o dañar bajo ningún motivo.

Esta claro que los ojos del presidente Jair Bolsonaro están puestos en la selva Amazónica, el gran pulmón de la humanidad. Sus acciones no son al azar, Bolsonaro busca el crecimiento económico a toda costa, posiblemente pensando en la reelección; la guerra comercial entre China y Estados Unidos le ha dado la oportunidad de jugar en las grandes ligas. El Amazonas no solo es una gran fuente de yacimientos minerales, también es un terreno demasiado tentador para la ganadería y la agricultura.

No obstante, la destrucción de la selva del Amazonas tiene consecuencias inimaginables para la humanidad. Estamos hablando de generador de oxigeno más grande del mundo. Según los datos del Grupo Intergubernamental de Expertos sobre Cambio Climático, la Tierra no puede soportar un aumento mayor a 1.5 grados centígrados hasta el año 3000 sin peligrar el futuro de los humanos; hoy hemos aumentado ya 1 grado centígrado.

Es verdad que el Congreso debe aprobar los cambios constitucionales que se deberán aplicar y que hoy, a tan solo meses de la toma de posesión, la comercialización del Amazonas aún es hipotética; pero las fichas a nivel mundial ya están en movimiento, y a cada una de las decisiones que se tomen tendrán grandes efectos en un futuro próximo. “El leve aleteo de las alas de una mariposa se puede sentir al otro lado del mundo.” – Proverbio Chino.

Bolsonaro Chooses Retired General for Secretary of Government

The cabinet of Brazil‘s next president, Jair Bolsonaro, will be stacked with former military officials.

The president-elect announced on Twitter his choice for Secretary of Government, retired General Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz.

Santos Cruz has more than 40 years of domestic and international military experience, including Force Commander of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti from 2007 to 2009, Deputy Commander for Land Operations of the Brazilian Army from 2011 to 2013, and Force Commander of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 2013 to 2015.

According to the official website, the Secretary of Government assists the President primarily in the following six categories:

I – In conducting the Federal Government’s relationship with the National Congress and with the political parties;

II – Interlocution with the states, the Federal District and the Municipalities;

III – In the relationship and articulation with the entities of the civil society and in the creation and implementation of instruments of consultation and popular participation of interest of the Federal Executive Power;

IV – In the promotion of analyzes of policies and topics of interest of the President of the Republic and in the accomplishment of studies of political and institutional nature;

V – In formulating, supervising, coordinating, integrating and articulating public policies for youth; and

VI – In the articulation, promotion and execution of programs of cooperation with national and international, public and private organizations, destined to the implementation of policies of youth.

Santos Cruz is the fifth former military official that Bolsonaro picked for his government, reports Voice of America.

Some Brazilians are concerned over the high number of former military officials that Bolsonaro plans to appoint to his cabinet.

While Bolsonaro has moderated is rhetoric somewhat after being elected president, the incoming administration has made several tough on crime proposals.

Sergio Moro, a former anti-corruption judge and Bolsonaro’s pick for justice and public security, told reporters that the incoming administration plans to create a secretariat within the federal government that will coordinate police forces at both the federal and state level.

While state sovereignty would be respected, Moro said that federal coordination was needed.

Brazil and the United States: Will President Bolsonaro Bandwagon?

This article was written by Matias Spektor and Guilherme Fasolin and originally appeared on E-International Relations on November 15, 2018. It is reproduced here under CC BY-NC 4.0.

Jair Bolsonaro, the retired army captain who wiped the floor with this opponents and won the presidency of Brazil, the world’s fifth largest democracy, says he will honor his main foreign-policy campaign pledge: to bandwagon with the United States. There are no doubts that the ideological context of Bolsonaro’s rise facilitates his policy of diplomatic alignment with the United States. From the very outset, Bolsonaro has made a big deal of his admiration for the United States. During a campaign rally for the Brazilian diaspora in Miami, he saluted the American flag while his supporters chanted “USA! USA!”. Furthermore, he has on many occasions professed his fascination with Donald Trump. “I look to Trump as a role model”. The US president has responded in kind. Upon learning of Bolsonaro’s win, Trump called to congratulate his new colleague effusively, while John Bolton, the National Security Advisor, hailed Bolsonaro as good news, going on to praise him as a “like-minded” leader. Steve Bannon endorsed the new president of Brazil as a leading figure in the current right-wing, transnational populist wave.

To be sure, Bolsonaro is far more radical and outlandish than Trump – consider for instance his celebration of Brazil’s old-time military dictatorship, murdering militias, and the use of torture as a legitimate tool to combat crime. But the way he crafted his campaign message and went about implementing his strategy to reach Brazil’s highest office would not have happened in its current form without the power of Trump’s example. An outsider to the mainstream of Brazilian politics, Bolsonaro, too, rose to power by denouncing the rot at the heart of the country’s political system, screaming against political correctness, shouting abuse at minorities, and attacking newspapers and TV channels who dare to question him. His use of social media has been effective at navigating a political environment marked by polarization and the widespread dissemination of fake news. And Bolsonaro has stated that minorities ought to bow before the majority, offending blacks, women, gays, and indigenous populations in the process. He is an example of how Trumpism has gone global.

Now Bolsonaro says he wants to jump on America’s bandwagon. If this were to happen, it would be a radical departure for a country that has for decades had a fairly stable relationship with the United States, but has crafted its diplomacy to keep Washington at arm’s length. Can admiration for and emulation of Donald Trump actually sustain a policy of alignment?

Perils of Cheap Talk

Bolsonaro has made a number of policy pledges that, if and when implemented, would denote alignment with the United States. First of all, he is promising to push back against Chinese encroachment in Latin America. This comes at a time when officials in Washington begin to come to terms with the growing competition in their own backyard. Second, the next ruler of Brazil says he will follow Trump’s lead in moving the Brazilian embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Whilst on the campaign trail, Bolsonaro also toyed with the idea of withdrawing from the UN Human Rights Council and from the Paris accords on climate change. Upon being elected, he has hinted at the possibility of severing diplomatic ties with Cuba. The president elect has also promised a tougher stance on migration, organized crime, and drug trafficking – all of which would in practice entail greater coordination with the United States. Bolsonaro wants to strengthen cooperation in military-to-military relations with the US, and his allies in Congress are already planning to introduce a tougher antiterror law that would be welcomed in Washington. Taken as a whole, Bolsonaro’s foreign-policy promises signal that he will be a proud member of the informal grouping of right-wing presidents in Latin America who are cozying up to Trump, including Mauricio Macri in Argentina, Iván Duque in Colombia and Sebstián Piñera in Chile.

And yet, so many of these promises could well turn out to be little more than hot air. Leaders make promises during the campaign season as a way of creating an image of themselves for their own electorate and third parties abroad, but they can easily reverse those pledges once they take office.[1] Leaders of all stripes also face powerful incentives to lie. In the context of the Bolsonaro case, there is a risk that the verbal commitment to bandwagoning on display on the campaign trail will be abruptly abandoned or quietly put aside for a less militant stance. The odds of bandwagoning will be inversely proportional to the material and political costs that the new president of Brazil would have to incur in order to make alignment happen. In order to understand under what conditions Bolsonaro stands a chance of actually delivering on the alignment with the US he promises, we need to have a sense of the costs and benefits of such policy choice, and a sense of whether and how the Trump administration would respond to an opening coming from Brazil.

Bandwagoning for Survival

In a new paper we offer a theory of bandwagoning that is anchored both in domestic politics and in international strategic interaction. Whereas past theories of bandwagoning focus either on external threats [2] or state capacity [3] to explain alignment in world politics, we connect the quest for domestic political survival with world politics. We treat bandwagoning as an equilibrium situation in which the leader in a dominant state provides side payments to help the incumbent in a secondary state retain office in return for compliance. This happens when the leader in the dominant state has a geopolitical stake in keeping her fellow incumbent in power and when the ruler in the secondary state feels the need to use material and political assistance from abroad to fight – and hopefully win – her battles at home.

What are the implications for Trump and Bolsonaro? If bandwagoning is to become a viable proposition, first, Trump would have to see Bolsonaro as instrumental to defend and advance US geostrategic interests in Latin America. Second, Bolsonaro would have to face a domestic situation in which the loyalty of his winning coalition is questionable to the point of making it worthwhile to comply with US demands in exchange for side payments.

Such scenario is not implausible. From the standpoint of the Trump White House, Bolsonaro can be a valuable asset if (a) the situation in Venezuela further deteriorates and calls in the US Congress for a tougher stance against chavismo become more pressing and/or if (b) officials in Washington feel Chinese expansion in Latin America cannot be reversed without the help of Brazil, the largest regional power. In such a scenario, Trump may come to the conclusion that assisting Bolsonaro in his domestic struggles would be profitable from the perspective of US concerns vis-à-vis Venezuela and China. In return for foreign-policy alignment and compliance, Trump would give Bolsonaro a package of goods to strengthen his hand at home.

According to our theory, the situation in which Bolsonaro would be most inclined to agree to a trade of goods for compliance is straightforward: if and when Bolsonaro feels he is losing the minimum number of supporters he needs to keep office. The more intense the threat of abandonment by his winning coalition, the more he will be prompted to jump on Trump’s bandwagon. The type of side payments coming from the United States that could be translated into winning-coalition loyalty might include military equipment transfers, facilitated sales to assist in the modernization of Brazil’s armed forces, and well-funded training programs in the fields of antinarcotics and antiterrorism – the military and the “law and order” institutions are a key pillar undergirding Bolsonaro’s authority and power. Side payments might also include US unilateral decisions to lower import taxes on Brazilian commodity exports, agrobusiness elites being core to Bolsonaro’s base in Congress.

And yet, our theory predicts that even when powerful incentives are in place, hammering out the terms of bandwagoning is far from easy. This is because our theory also shows that leaders who try have to confront three types of strategic-interaction problems: signaling, commitment, and bargaining.[4] Signaling is the mechanism through which one actor communicates her motivations to another who is unaware of them (with the effectiveness of signals dependent on how credible they are).[5] In turn, commitment problems occur when actors fail to make credible promises or credible threats.[6] Actors can overcome this problem by offering commitment devices, like formal diplomatic agreements or changing domestic law to make foreign alignment easier.[7] Such devices allow leaders to show one another that expressed commitments to alignment are not merely cheap talk. Finally, bargaining is the process through which two leaders distribute the costs and benefits that their alignment can generate. Rulers in international relations may agree on the general utility of alignment but be unable to reach a final agreement on the specific terms of their cooperation. The outcome of bargaining depends on whether one or the two sides have any outside options, such as a viable alternative to a negotiated agreement. Those who have outside options are in a better position to bargain than those operating under less favorable conditions.[8]

In order to get a policy of bandwagoning off the ground, then, Trump and Bolsonaro would have to overcome the problems of signaling, commitment, and bargaining that are so recurrent in strategic interactions. “Political will” alone would not suffice to shape a positive outcome. Also – and crucially -, because neither resolve nor capabilities alone settle the problems of strategic interaction, Trump would not necessarily prevail in defining the precise contours of the negotiation with Bolsonaro. Bandwagoning is not a policy that can be imposed, nor is it one that any given state can achieve on its own. As with tango, it takes two to bandwagon.

Odds of alignment

What is the likelihood of alignment between Trump and Bolsonaro?

Let us start with the United States. US officials have for a while cast China in Latin America as a menace to American interests. Last February, Rex Tillerson said that Latin America “does not need new imperial powers” and that China was “using economic statecraft to pull the region into its orbit.” In October, Mike Pompeo told reporters in the region that “when China comes calling it’s not always to the good of your citizens”. Although China has conducted its Latin American affairs with a great deal of self-restraint, it has been far from impotent. An editorial of the China Daily, the government’s English-language newspaper, warns Bolsonaro – whom it calls the “Tropical Trump” – not to disrupt relations with China. The language could not be clearer: “The economic cost [of disruption] can be backbreaking for the Brazilian economy, which has just emerged from its worst recession in history”. Bolsonaro is unlikely to breach relations with China, but he has sent a clear signal to Beijing that he is committed to renegotiating the terms of the China-Brazil relationship. For anyone wondering how much Bolsonaro is willing to risk, it suffices to point out that during the presidential race he paid a visit to Taiwan alongside three of his sons (who are elected politicians themselves).

As far as Venezuela goes, reports suggest that President Trump has in the past pressed advisors for options for military intervention in Venezuela. He even went public about it. The president is not alone. Florida senator Marco Rubio tweeted last August that the Venezuela crisis should be seen as “a national security threat to the U.S. that must be addressed. The Maduro regime is an organized crime syndicate that traffics drugs onto our streets, is driving a dangerous migratory crisis, and has invited Putin to open military bases”. Since Bolsonaro’s election, the Trump administration has said the new Brazilian president represents a “positive sign” in the fight against what National Security Advisor John Bolton called the “troika of tyranny” (Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua). What US-Brazil cooperation on the Venezuela file would entail in practice remains unclear. Yet there is no doubt that Bolsonaro is someone White House officials see as like-minded today, and a potential ally for tomorrow. Brazil does not have the inclination or capabilities to hurt chavismo through military intervention. But there are a range of measures that Brasília can take to apply pressure short of coercive diplomacy. The most obvious would be to condition Brazil’s own relations with China to Beijing suspending the lifeline they currently grant the Venezuelan regime.

From the standpoint of Brazil, too, bandwagoning might be an attractive proposition in the near future. Whereas Bolsonaro is now basking in his electoral victory, as time goes on and he introduces unpopular reform policies, the comfort he now feels will begin to fade. Indeed, many predict that early in 2019 he will feel the ground shaking below his feet as his winning coalition begins to pay the cost of the president’s declining popularity. It is worth noticing that Brazil’s brand of multiparty presidentialism is particularly prone to political backstabbing.[9] Although winning coalitions are an unfaithful bunch across the board, in Brazil they have powerful incentives to abandon an incumbent who does not deliver the goods. Consider the fact that half of all elected presidents since the country established universal suffrage three decades ago were impeached after congressmen abandoned them for a more appealing challenger. Given Brazil’s current struggles with economic decay, unemployment, citizen insecurity, and endemic corruption, it is not inconceivable that Bolsonaro will soon find himself in a position of needing all the help he can get – including that which may come from the United States.

In sum, if it ever happens, bandwagoning will not be the result of mutual sympathy or identification between Bolsonaro and Trump. Rather, if it occurs at all, alignment will result from the successful trading of compliance for side payments to help Bolsonaro face his domestic battles. With growing US concerns over Venezuela in turmoil and China expanding its reach in Latin America, the conditions might soon become ripe for it to happen.

References

[1] Michael C. Horowitz and Matthew Fuhrmann, “Studying Leaders and Military Conflict: Conceptual Framework and Research Agenda,” Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol.63, No.10 (2018), pp.2072-2086.

[2] Kenneth N. Waltz, Theory of International Politics (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1979), p.126; Stephen M. Walt, The Origins of Alliances (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1987), p.17

[3] Randall Schweller, “Bandwagoning for Profit: Bringing the Revisionist State Back In,” International Security, Vol 19, No.1 (Summer, 1994), pp.72-107.

[4] James D. Morrow, “The Strategic Setting of Choices: Signaling, Commitment, and Negotiation in international politics”, in David Lake and Robert Powell, eds., Strategic Choice and International Relations (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1999), pp. 77-114.

[5]Erik A. Gartzke, Shannon Carcelli, J Andres Gannon and Jiakun Jack Zhang, “Signaling in Foreign Policy,” in Cameron G. Thies, eds., Oxford Encyclopedia of Foreign Policy Analysis(Oxford University Press, 2017), pp.1-30.

[6] Robert Trager, Diplomacy: Communication and the Origins of International Order (Cambridge University Press, 2017); Bretty Ashley Leeds, “Domestic Political Institutions, Credible Commitments, and International Cooperation,” American Journal of Political Science, Vol.43, No.4 (1999) pp.979-1002.

[7] David Lake, Hierarchy in International Relations (Cornell University Press, 2009), cap.4.

[8] Ariel Rubinstein, “Perfect Equilibrium in a Bargaining Model,” Econometrica, Vol. 50, No. 1 (January 1982), pp. 97-109.

[9] Matias Spektor and Eduardo Mello, “Brazil: The Costs of Multiparty Presidentialism,” Journal of Democracy, Vol.29, No.2 (2018), p.113-127.

What The Burning-Down of Brazil’s National Museum Means

Brazil will forever miss a significant part of its history, culture and science.

An uncontrollable fire ripped through the National Museum this month, a literal palace constructed before the country’s independence and preserved through the peak years of Rio de Janeiro’s time as a major gateway between the old and new worlds.

Held between the historical walls were unique documents on the geographical history of the vast country, anthropological studies on its many thousands of native populations and its most stunning pieces of colonial-era art. Beyond this, it was also an important center for research, housing numerous scientists at the forefront of their fields.

The blaze highlights once again an increasing Brazilian tendency to outsource blame against the context of fading national unity and a growing state of hopelessness.

When it comes to the question of who is responsible for such a significant part of Brazil’s history lying in ashes, the answer first and foremost is: the government. At both the state and federal level the Brazilian government is of course responsible for allowing its institutions to fall into such a state of disrepair.

A recent history of austerity has meant that along with drastic pension cuts that are shaking the foundations of the Brazilian class system, funding for the arts, sciences and culture is also diminishing rapidly. The Federal University which was responsible for the resources allocated to the museum last year decided to dedicate 6 million Brazilian reais to an anniversary party – far outweighing the annual budget for accident prevention and preservation of installations. Clearly the systems of accountability in place for the museum’s maintenance were not up to scratch.

However, this is not simply a case of a government not having directed sufficient amounts of money towards the correct budget. It is the story of a country that incrementally began to place less value on its own culture, and furthermore its own sense of responsibility.

The blame also lies with the Brazilian people, as a government alone cannot be held entirely responsible for the zeitgeist of a nation. It is a now commonly reported fact that more Brazilians visit the Louvre in Paris each year than visited the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro, which stood on their front doorstep.

Brazil is a country that has lost its way. If there is crime, tragedy or natural phenomenon – generic or specific – the new Brazilian mindset is one of outsourcing blame.

Occurring against the backdrop of the most contentious election in a generation, the blaze is symbolic of a country which walks forward but with no direction. Of the two presidential candidates that stand likely to go into the second round of voting, one sits behind bars implicated in a corruption scandal that permeates every branch of the state, the other moves in and out of consciousness on a hospital bed, suffering from nearly fatal stab wounds that many claim he provoked through his incendiary statements about women and homosexuals.

After a rollercoaster decade that has seen huge public spending on the Olympics and World Cup, a far-reaching corruption scandal which saw a president impeached and an increase in violent crime, the country now has in before it a resurgent far-right and an infant mortality rate that is rising for the first time since the 1980s.

The next year for Brazil will be unfortunately one of merely prioritizing survival, rather than optimism, and as for national unity it seems divisions will grow before they are repaired.

Argentina, Brazil to Share Some Information Related to Operation Car Wash

Officials in Argentina and Brazil signed an agreement which will allow some information to be shared among authorities in both countries related to the Odebrecht corruption case, according to The Rio Times.

“After a long negotiation and dialogue between the Secretariat for International Cooperation (SCI), inside Brazil’s Federal Public Ministry, and Argentine authorities, we have managed to reach an agreement so that corruption allegations in Argentina can be made available to the prosecutors there,” said the head of the SCI, Cristina Romanó.

Under the agreement, courts in both countries will be able to use information gathered from plea agreements made in either Argentina or Brazil.

“This is a huge step forward in the relationship of international legal cooperation between the two countries and another big step in the fight against corruption,” concluded Romanó.

Similar agreements already exist between Brazil and Switzerland, Norway, and the Netherlands.

The agreement comes after the Brazilian Attorney General and Comptroller General signed a leniency deal with Odebrecht in return for a 2.77 billion reais fine, equivalent to more than US$700 million.

A United States Justice Department report found that Odebrecht routinely used bribery in both Argentina and Brazil. Between 2007 and 2014 $35 million in bribes were made in Argentina resulting in $278 million in benefits for Odebrecht. Between 2001 and 2016 US$439 million in bribes were made in Brazil resulting in US$1.4 billion in benefits for Odebrecht.

Venezuelans in Brazil: Challenges of Protection

This article was written by João Carlos Jarochinski Silva and Liliana Lyra Jubilut and originally appeared on E-International Relations on July 12, 2018. It is reproduced here under CC BY-NC 4.0.

Since 2015, with the deepening of the crisis in Venezuela, and the consequent increase in displacement, with 5000 Venezuelans leaving their homes every day; Brazil has been receiving an unknown number of Venezuelans, with projected numbers reaching between 40,000 and 50000 of an estimated total of 1.6 million Venezuelans who have fled their country in 2017. Brazil, however, is not the sole destination of Venezuelans fleeing the profound crisis (which includes shortage of basic supplies, sky high inflation, insecurity, anti-democratic actions by the government, and, in some cases, specific political persecution to those opposed to Maduro’s regime) in their country. Data places Brazil as the 4th or 5th destination country for displaced Venezuelans in the South American region in terms of numbers, behind Colombia (the largest recipient), Peru and Chile; and, depending on the source, with fewer Venezuelans than Argentina. If one considers Latin America, Brazil falls to 7th, behind Mexico and Panama. Nonetheless, Brazil presents an interesting “case study” of the challenges of protection faced by forced displaced Venezuelans. On the one hand, it is possible to see in Brazil’s response to their arrival challenges in terms of legal protection, regarding their legal status, and even relating to the recognition of the Venezuelans as forced migrants in general, and, more specifically, as refugees. On the other hand, there are challenges in assuring their necessary protection, i.e. guaranteeing all their rights including human rights and access to them (Jubilut, Apolinário, 2008).

Legal Status and Consequent Challenges of Protection 

Brazil’s response to the migratory influx, in terms of legal status, has been confusing. On the one hand, there have been few recognitions of refugee status, even though there are over 32000 pending asylum requests and there is clear ground for recognition. This is so due to the fact that, as mentioned above, there are persons fleeing Venezuela due to an individual well-founded fear of persecution, either based on political opinion or belonging to a social group, and, therefore, they should be protected by the refugee regime as they meet the 1951 Convention on Refugee Status criteria. Moreover, Brazil also adopts the criterion of the Cartagena Declaration on Refugees for the recognition of refugee status, accepting the fleeing from a gross and generalized violation of human rights scenario as a separate ground for recognition in its Refugee Act (Law 9.474/97). Refugee status, thus, should be applied to the Venezuelans seeking protection in Brazil. This seems also to be the recommended view of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), as it has called States to treat Venezuelans as refugees, given that, even if not expressly calling for the recognition of their refugee status, the recommendation is to guarantee to them, for instance, access to safe territories, the protection of non-refoulement (i.e. not deport, expel or forcibly remove), residency, and the right to work. However, this has not been the position adopted by the Brazilian government, despite the fact that it has highlighted the Venezuelan crisis in international fora and championed its suspension of organizations, which shows that there are still degrees of discretion in the application of internationally recognized criteria for refugee status.

Notwithstanding the fact that there might be forced displaced Venezuelans that might not qualify for refugee status or that do not want to count with this form of international protection. Thus migration from Venezuela into Brazil should be regarded as, at least, a situation of a mixed migration flow, a complex migration situation in which, refugees and other migrants use the same channels and routes to access safe territories (IOM 2014, p. 63). The lack of recognition of this aspect of the Venezuelan migration highlights the difficulties of the Brazilian government to deal with mixed migration flows, and to guarantee the specific protection in migration provided for in international norms to which it has agreed to, thus not implementing adequate protection in face of particular needs and vulnerabilities (Jarochinski Silva, 2011; and Jarochinski Silva, Bógus, Silva, 2017, p. 15 – 30).

Brazil has preferred to recognize Venezuelans more broadly as (forced) migrants, and thus subject to the country’s internal rules on migration and without the guarantees of protection provided by the refugee regime, such as the above-mentioned protection of non-refoulement. The national regime on migration in Brazil has recently gone through a transformation, which meant that the more intense influx of Venezuelans into Brazil has been dealt with by two migration laws. Until November 2017, the regulating law was Law 6.815/80, known as the Aliens Statute, a legal norm adopted during the decades-long dictatorship in Brazil that focused mainly on national security. From November 2017 onwards, the applicable law has become Law 13.445/17, the Migration Law. The new law adopted a new paradigm in the governance of migration in Brazil, having human rights as one of its guidelines and principles (article 3, I).

Nonetheless, in terms of the legal status of Venezuelans little has changed in practice. This is so due to the fact that under Law 6.815/80, the National Council on Immigration (CNIg in Portuguese) has adopted Resolution 126 which allows the regularization of the legal status of Venezuelans in Brazil. This resolution was not specific to Venezuelans, but rather to all nationals of Brazil’s bordering countries. However, even though the resolution had a broader scope, Venezuelans made up almost the totality of requests for regularization under it, applying for regular status in massive numbers.

The new human rights logic proclaimed by Law 13.445/17 doesn’t seem to have impacted the way Brazil deals with the protection of Venezuelans. The sole modification after the new immigration regime was in place was the dropping of the demand that the immigrant had to have entered Brazil by its land borders (Ibid), brought along by a regulation of the Resolution, namely InterMinisterial Rule 9, which was still written from a perspective that sees immigrants in general as a threat (Jarochinski Silva, 2018). To those that meet the requirements of the specific regulation of this type of stay (i.e. the conditions laid down on InterMinisterial Rule 9) a 2-year authorization of legal stay is granted. Two months before the completion of the 2 years, it is possible to request permanent residency. This guarantees the same rights to the persons that choose this avenue of protection as all other immigrants living regularly in Brazil have. The regulation also allows for working in the country (article 5).

Law 13.445/17 brings the concept of “humanitarian hosting” both as one of its principles (article 3, VI) and as a basis for visas to Brazil (article 14, I, c). This type of visa can be granted to “stateless persons or nationals of any country facing grave situation or imminent institutional stability, armed conflict, calamity of great proportions, environmental disaster or grave violation of human rights or international humanitarian law, or in other hypotheses, as described in its regulation” (article 14, III, para. 3, free translation). However, this form of legal status has not had its practical requirements and processes defined yet, despite the fact that the regulation of the Law already exists (Decree 9.199/17). The practice of “humanitarian hosting” should allow for, besides regular legal stays in the country, a different status (as is the case of refugee status), given that the migrants vulnerability is implicitly recognized in this form of protection. It should also allow for the possibility of non-definitive returns to their country of origin, given that the Venezuelan flow, especially in the border between Brazil and Venezuela, has as one of its characteristics a strong context of remittances, not only of money but also of products, which, many times, are taken by the Venezuelans themselves to their country of origin. 

In light of this, and in terms of legal protection, one can say that, even though lacking in regards to the application of the refugee regime, Brazil has found pathways for a broad regularization of Venezuelans, with over 25000 persons counting with forms of legal stay apart from refugee status. This can be seen as positive as it does not increase the vulnerability of the migrants by way of not allowing them regular legal status in the country but it also has negative aspects as little attention is paid to specific needs. This scenario of protection gaps is also seen in terms of the Venezuelans’ integration in Brazil.

Integration and Challenges in Integral Protection 

A holistic approach to integration demands economic, social, and cultural rights guarantees and of access to said rights. Brazil, however, has not applied this approach to Venezuelan migrants. On the one hand, there has been a strong focus on the regularization of labour relations, i.e. a focus on getting them into the labour market. And on the other, there have been difficulties in their access to basic rights.

Venezuelans has been through the northern border of Brazil, located in the Legal Amazon, a region with low demographic density, poor quality in public services, and difficulties in connections with the rest of Brazil’s territory, given that, besides the long distances to the more populated areas of the country, there are few and expensive transport options (Jarochinski Silva, 2017). With the majority Venezuelans staying in the Legal Amazon, and concentrated in the state of Roraima (with the latest data pointing to 25000), their case has become one of “scape goats” in the regional level. State and municipal authorities have blamed the Venezuelans for the “collapse” of public services in their areas, in clear attempts to avoid any responsibilities. Besides, they have argued, tough not explicitly, that Venezuelans are not entitled to access the services that guarantee basic rights, in spite of the Brazilian Constitution guarantying universal access to health and to basic education, and the Brazilian legislation determines States and Cities competencies in the area of economic, social, and cultural rights.

These types of discourses have led to, on the one hand, the appearance of xenophobic actions(such as attacks to the shelters and houses where Venezuelans were living) as well as the idea of the arrival of immigrants in general as a threat (with news of “invasions” and the inflating of numbers, for instance), and, on the other hand, to requests of actions that fall away from International Law obligations, such as the closing of the borders.

Regional authorities also state that the responsibility for all matters related to refugees and other migrants falls with the federal government, which has limited capacity for direct action and sends funds to States and Cities to take care of these basic rights. The federal government option to assume a more direct action in dealing with the Venezuelans has been through the militarization of the protection and integration actions in its first stages. Notwithstanding the fact that this has led to the removal of some Venezuelans from extreme vulnerability, as for instance, leaving in the streets; it is not an approach founded on human rights and based on a social assistance grounded on the guarantee of rights and of dignity.

The federal government has also adopted a policy of “interiorization” of Venezuelans, which means their government-assisted relocation throughout the Brazilian territory. In this policy, the involved Ministries determine the new destinations by way of negotiations with other governmental authorities (from States and Cities), the destinies are presented to the refugees who chose to be transferred or not. And, even though the UN has supported the initiative, it is relevant to note that there is a gap in the participation of the civil society and of the business sector, which are fundamental and instrumental for the integration in the new destination and for the formal insertion in the labour market. So far, the interiorization process has led Venezuelans from Boa Vista (Roraima) to São Paulo (São Paulo), Cuiabá (MT), Manaus (Amazonas)Igarassu (Pernambuco), Conde (Paraíba) e Rio de Janeiro (Rio de Janeiro). It remains to be seen whether the interiorization will allow for better access to services and rights for the Venezuelans.

Conclusion 

Brazil has undertaken several actions in relation to the Venezuelan displacement into its territory, however it should be pointed out that there is still the need for more to be done as well as for the improvement of actions and policies. Better legal protection and access to rights (i.e. integral protection) are needed. Most of the actions and policies seem to be reactive, i.e. to happen after the influx of the Venezuelans, as it has been in the past with both refugees and other migrants, which leads to hasty undertakings or the need for emergency actions. Brazil should keep in mind that the increase of forced displacement is a world phenomenon, that has been happening at least for the last 10 years and even more acutely in the last 5 years (UNHCR 2018, p. 4) and that tends to continue to augment in the future, as a way to increase its preparedness to deal with possible (and probable) influxes of refugees and other migrants. In the meantime, Brazil should look into its main international commitments and national values and constitutional pillars to find ways to better protect the Venezuelans that have come to its territory in seek of international protection.

References

Betts, Alexander. Survival Migration: Failed Governance and the Crisis of Displacement. Ithaca, 2013.

Carneiro, Cyntia Soares. Venezuelanos recebem ajuda humanitária no BrasilJornal da USP(audio interview). 5 Jul. 2018.

Feline Freier, Luisa.  Understanding the Venezuelan Displacement CrisisE-International Relations. 28 Jun. 2018.

International Organization for Migration (IOM). Glossary of Migration. 2. ed. Geneva, 2014.

Jarochinski Silva, João Carlos. Uma análise sobre os fluxos migratórios mistos. In: RAMOS, André de Carvalho; Rodrigues, Gilberto; Almeida, Guilherme Assis de (Orgs.) 60 anos de ACNUR: perspectivas de futuro. São Paulo: Editora CL-A Cultural, p. 201- 220, 2011.

Jarochinski Silva, João Carlos; Bogus, Lucia Maria Machado; Silva, Stéfanie Angélica Gimenez Jarochinski. Os fluxos migratórios mistos e os entraves à proteção aos refugiados. 34 (1) Rev. bras. estud. popul., p. 15-30, 2017.

Jarochinski Silva, João Carlos. Migração forçada de venezuelanos pela fronteira norte do BrasilAnais do 41º Encontro Anual da Anpocs. Caxambu – MG, 2017.

Jarochinski Silva, João Carlos. Uma Política Migratória Reativa e Inadequada – A Migração Venezuelana Para o Brasil e a Resolução Nº. 126 do Conselho Nacional de Imigração (CNIg). In: Baeninger, Rosana et al (Org.) Migrações Sul-Sul. 2. ed. Campinas: Núcleo de Estudos de População “Elza Berquó” – Nepo/Unicamp, v. 1, p. 637-650, 2018.

Jubilut, Liliana Lyra. Refugee Protection in Brazil and Latin America – Selected Essays. London, 2018.

Jubilut, Liliana Lyra. Latin-America and Refugees: a panoramic viewVoelkerrechtsblog, 2016.

Jubilut, Liliana L.; Apolinário, Silvia M. O. S.  A população refugiada no Brasil: em busca da proteção integral. 6 (2) Universitas- Relações Internacionais, 2008.

Jubilut, Liliana L International Refugee Law and Protection in Brazil: a model in South America?, 19 Journal of Refugee Studies, p. 22-44, 2006.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Global Trends. Forced Displacement in 2017. Geneva, 2018.

Páez Bravo, Tomás. La voz de la diáspora venezolana. Madrid: La Catarata, 2015.

Vedovato, Luiz Renato; Baeninger, Rosana. A distante regulamentação da acolhida humanitáriaJota, 1 Apr.  2018.

About the authors

João Carlos Jarochinski Silva has a PhD in Social Sciences (International Relations) from Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo and a Masters in International Law from Universidade Católica de Santos. He is a Professor at Universidade Federal de Roraima where he is the Coordinator of the International Relations course, the Vice-Coordinator of the Masters in Sociedade e Fronteiras, and a Member of the UNHCR Sergio Vieira de Mello Chair. He has been working with migration issues since his Master’s degree and actively involved in the assistance and research of the Venezuelans in Boa Vista.

Liliana Lyra Jubilut has a PhD and Master in International Law from Universidade de São Paulo and an LLM in International Legal Studies from NYU School of Law. She is a Professor at Universidade Católica de Santos, where she coordinates the research group “Direitos Humanos e Vulnerabilidades” and the UNHCR Sergio Vieira de Mello Chair. She has been part of national and international research projects and is a Member of IOM Migration Research Leaders’ Syndicate. She has been working with refugees’ topics since 1999, having consulted for UNHCR and been a Lawyer/RSD and Protection Officer and an Outreach Protection Consultant at the Refugee Centre of Caritas Arquidiocesana de São Paulo.

This article was written by João Carlos Jarochinski Silva and Liliana Lyra Jubilut and originally appeared on E-International Relations on July 12, 2018. It is reproduced here under CC BY-NC 4.0.

Brazil Attorney General, Comptroller Sign Leniency Deal with Odebrecht

The Attorney General and Comptroller General of Brazil signed a leniency deal with Odebrecht in the multi-billion dollar corruption investigation surrounding the construction conglomerate.

Reuters reports that the agreement includes a 2.77 billion reais fine, equivalent to more than US$700 million, which will be taken from the US$2.39 billion fine that Odebrecht agreed to last year.

“This agreement allows us to move toward a return to more sustainable growth,” Odebrecht Chief Executive Luciano Guidolin said in a statement.

The deal will allow Odebrecht to more easily pursue public contracts said Comptroller General Wagner Rosario.

The announcement comes after the state-owned oil company Petrobras announced that it would start doing business with Odebrecht. That decision came after the board of directors of Petrobras concluded that Odebrecht “adopted measures to prevent, detect and remediate acts of corruption and fraud.”

According to the United States Justice Department, Odebrecht spent more than US$800 million in bribes in 10 Latin America countries which resulted in nearly US$2.4 billion in ill-gotten gains, typically in the form of construction contracts.

Between 2001 and 2016 Odebrecht spent US$439 million in bribes in Brazil which resulted in US$1.4 billion in gains.