As the World Cup nears, the Brazilian press has reported that the American company Academi, formerly Blackwater, carried out training of Brazilian military personnel and federal police in April.
training is a facet of the military cooperation agreement between
Brazil and the United States signed in 2010 during the second term of
the Lula de Silva administration in preparation for containing terrorist
acts during this year’s World Cup. Academi is a private security
company based in the United States, and has used mercenary soldiers in
the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
the agreement was signed, the Brazilian government maintained that the
accord would permit the “strengthening of dialogue and opening of new
cooperation prospects on a balanced and mutually beneficial basis.”
According to the Brazilian government, it was attempting to “perfect
already existing and future cooperation in areas such as high-level
delegation visits, technical contacts, institutional meetings, student
exchanges, training of personnel, visits by ocean vessels, and sporting
and cultural events.”
minister of defense at the time, Nelson Jobim, declared the agreement
“very general” and a sort of “giant umbrella” beneath which “many
possibilities will open in terms of future negotiations”, but did not
give details in terms of what those negotiations would be or what they
the terms of the agreement regarding its activities are generic, the
concept of security promoted by the United States and the services
offered by Academi are more concrete. “It is a logic of
commercialization, of privatization, and a move toward the use of
third-party security,” affirms Esther Solano Gallego, professor of
International Relations at the Federal University of Sao Paulo.
industry that capitalized on the concept of “terrorism” has increased
the use of “security” as a market platform. Within the framework of the
“security” initiatives of the United States government, Academi offers
on its official website everything from assistance to foreign
militaries, to training in the fight against transnational terrorism
and the interception of weapons of mass destruction.
concept of “security” that guides U.S. military doctrine has
influenced and continues to influence the signing of international
agreements within the framework of the “war on terror,” where the enemy
is found within the general public, an enemy that must be attacked
using every possible means. “The concept of ‘enemy’ and ‘terrorism’ as a
basis for security is a type of security with a large ideological
component,” states Gallego.
a country without a history of terrorist incidents, Gallego considers
the potential terrorist threat at the World Cup minimal. The risk of
instability during the event is a different matter. “Possible
demonstrations are being organized by some groups of the Brazilian
populace to protest and confront police,” Gallego explains.
An internal enemy
enemy indicated by the media, governments, and the police are social
movements. Even an anti-terrorism bill currently being debated in the
Brazilian Congress defines these groups as “enemies,” using actions
like those of Black Bloc as justification for the law.
cannot understand Black Bloc as a terrorist phenomenon. This category
is not applicable. The problem is that a social and political neurosis
has been created as a result of the actions of Black Bloc in the
streets. There was no serious debate about what was happening and these
bills appeared (like the anti-terrorism legislation) without internal
coherence, as a political play, that does nothing more than create more
serious problems and raise the climate of social tension,” emphasizes
actions are often carried out without information about what is
happening. “The training of the Brazilian police surprised us because
nothing had been communicated with respect to the intervention of this
mercenary company. This is one of the principle problems–the lack of
information surrounding Academi’s actions, which makes supervision,
demand for respect of the law, and social accountability very
Gallego asks, ”Until what point is it legitimate to delegate control
over security and violent assignments to a mercenary company over which
the citizens have no control?”
the case of Academi it is even more controversial and polemic because
the company has accumulated lawsuits and, furthermore, is a foreign
company that is exporting a security model to Brazil that the Brazilian
people have not chosen. In some ways it is an interference in the
sovereignty of the citizenry,” she adds, noting that Brazilian citizens
were not consulted about the initiative.
the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo, the Brazilian government’s security
secretary for mega-events affirms that “there was no prior indication
that there would be third-party instructors,” which is to say, the
contracting of the services of Academi.
Freedom of movement
Brazil’s ex-minister of defense, explained at the time of the signing
of the agreement that such an accord did not imply the authorization of
the use of military bases or the right to unlimited movement of U.S.
personnel inside Brazil. However, on the eve of the World Cup,
Complementary Law 276/02 is making its way through Brazil’s Congress.
It is an executive law that would allow the nation’s president to
delegate to the minister of defense and the heads of the armed forces
the ability to grant permits and would allow for the temporary presence
of foreign forces in Brazil, without authorization by Congress. On
April 23, the bill was approved in a House session by a vote of 270 to
accordance with the legislation, foreign forces would be allowed in to
participate in improvement programs, officially or unofficially, and
even for scientific and technological purposes, to attend to supply
situations, to provide repairs or support, and for search and rescue
missions. Now the bill is awaiting approval by the Senate.
Security for the world
offers a concept of global security, defined on its website as, “Your
trusted partner in global security. Effective security proven to change
company is considered the largest private army in the world. Since its
founding under the name Blackwater, and just after September 11, it
obtained private security contracts with the George W. Bush
administration that amounted to over one hundred million dollars,
according to Jeremy Scahill in his book Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army. Two
years after its creation, the company, which was responsible for the
killing of seventeen civilians in Iraq, changed its name to Xe Services
in an attempt to clean up its reputation. After 2010 the company was
sold to a group of private investors, and the name was changed once
again, this time to Academi.
2010, Academi signed contracts with the Obama administration worth 250
million dollars for operations in Afghanistan and work for the U.S.
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), not counting without the hundreds of
contracts established with banks and diplomats, principally from the
has been thirteen years since 9/11 and it seems that the war on terror
has no end. It has, however, generated huge profits for private
companies like Academi that sell private security, and for the United
States’ war industry. During the decade of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,
defense expenditures and profits skyrocketed; in 2010 alone the annual
U.S. defense budget doubled, and industry profits have quadrupled. Indeed, security has become a market in itself, and only those who can pay have access to it.
Written by Santiago Navarro F. and Renata Bessi