Brazil's (and Odebrecht's) Secret Deals With Dictators

Tuesday, October 15, 2013
A common denominator in these secret deals between the Brazilian government and some of the world's most repressive dictatorships is the conglomerate, Odebrecht Group (a shameful favorite of Miami-Dade County).

See the original article in Portuguese here.

Below is a (rough) translation:

From Brazil's O Globo newspaper:

Billionaire Secrets

Business worth over $6 billion shows how the government moves between secrecy and embarrassment in its relations with dictatorships

Brazilians are forced to wait another 14 years, until 2027, to have the right to know how their money was used in sensitive billionaire business deals with Angola and Cuba .

By most conservative estimates, Brazil has already extended $6 billion in public loans to the governments of Luanda and Havana. These should be undertaken as normal business operations, such as those carried out with 90 other countries in Africa and Latin America by the Treasury's agent, BNDES, which is the main financier of Brazilian exports. However, these contracts have become a state secret.

All documents regarding these transactions (protocols, reports, technical notes, memos and correspondence) were classified as "secret" 15 months ago, by decision of the Minister of Development, Fernando Pimentel, the current PT candidate for governor of Minas Gerais.

This is highly unusual, unprecedented since the military dictatorship. Therefore, doubts proliferate both in business institutions and in Congress - to whom the Constitution assigns the power to oversee the actions of the government in financial operations.

Asked at a recent Senate hearing, the Bank's president, Luciano Coutinho, outlined a hierarchical defense: "The BNDES does not treat such operations (export) confidentially, except in cases such as these two. Why? In observance of the legislation of the country of destination of the funding."

Senator Alvaro Dias (PSDB-PR) intervened: "Then should Brazil be lending under these conditions, given that the laws of these borrowing countries are against our own legislation that requires absolute transparency for public activities?"

Silence echoed in the plenary .

Of the $6 billion in loans classified as "secret", it is believed the largest share ($5 billion) is earmarked for financing sales of goods and services to Angola, where three dozen Brazilian companies have operations. That would leave the Angolan government as the largest beneficiary of export funds from BNDES. The remainder ($1 billion) has gone to Cuba, divided between exports ($600 million) and emergency food aid ($400 million).

The Rousseff administration moves between secrets and embarrassments in relations with tyrants like Jose Eduardo Santos (Angola), the Castro brothers (Cuba), Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe), Teodoro Obiang (Equatorial Guinea), Denis Sassou Nguesso (Congo- Brazzaville), Odimba Ali Bongo (Gabon) and Omar al Bashir (Sudan) - this last one accused of genocide by the International Criminal Court and sought by Interpol.

The difference between secret and embarrassing subjects, taught Winston Churchill, is that some are dangerous for the country and others mean discomfort for the government -- especially during election season.