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BRAZIL
Social movements are victims of corporate espionage
Latinamerica Press
2/21/2014
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International human rights organizations showed evidence of espionage carried out by the Vale and Belo Monte companies.

On Feb. 24, 2013, members of the Xingu Alive Forever Movement from the northeastern state of Para discovered that a new member identified as Antônio was recording a planning meeting which local and international environmental and human rights organizations attended, including Amazon Watch, Global Justice and Brazil’s Socio-environmental Institute. These organizations work with the movement and the communities affected by the Belo Monte Dam and demand that the Belo Monte Construction Consortium (CCBM) comply with the law and respect human rights.

Antônio revealed that CCBM hired him to spy on the movement and that he had sent photos and information about the participants and meetings he had attended to a consortium employee.

Likewise, members of the organization Justiça No Trilhos, which defends communities affected by mining projects, were also victims of espionage carried out by the mining company Vale since 2008. A former security director of the company, identified as André Almeida in an Oct. 2013 hearing before the Senate Human Rights Commission, provided information about the relationship between Vale and the government, which included the support of agents from the Brazilian Intelligence Agency (ABIN).

Investigative task force
These two cases were investigated by a Feb. 9-14 mission of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT). The mission concluded that Vale and CCBM were involved in “acts of corruption, that they illegally obtained access to confidential information and access to databases, made illegal recordings, were involved in identity theft, and conducted unfounded employee dismissals.”

“These offenses have been perpetrated with the complicity of state agents.” points out a FIDH press release. “Documents have been unearthed that substantiate both the bribing of state agents and possible assistance provided by the Brazilian State Agency (ABIN).”

In statements at the end of the mission, the French lawyer Alexandre Faro revealed that “Vale spends between 200,000 to 500,000 reales [US$84,000 to $210,000] to investigate social movements.” He added that the company had access to Infoseg, the personal information network of government entities, “which is absolutely illegal [and] shows that state company employees are probably complicit.”

The members of the mission got together with those social organizations that were victims of espionage, government representatives, and the judiciary, among others.

Jimena Reyes, who is in charge of the Americas Office of the FIDH and the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, said that “the spying activities conducted by multinational corporations on social movements in Brazil raises serious questions about human rights respect by companies. These activities undermine freedom of expression and the right to protest, which form one of the fundamental pillars of a democratic state.”
—Latinamerica Press.


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