"I committed the only sin that politics does not forgive:
to tell the truth before it’s time."
Things are really getting ugly now. The spokesman for the US Embassy in Brasília has recently informed that the
Brazilian and the United States governments are negotiating the installation of a CIA office in São Paulo, the country’s
financial capital. According to the information, the future office will accommodate in its quarters two agents and one
Such an announcement is an impertinence associated with an act of surrender from our country. The whole point of
the deal is to sub-contract the duties of information intelligence in Brazil through making a concession to a foreign nation.
The CIA had always held "unofficial" offices in São Paulo, Brasília, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte and Recife. In
Rio, their offices were located at the ninth floor of the American Consulate building in the city. At one time, the agency held
a staff of 60 working in the country. There surely is a copy of a two-paged, unsigned document in their Washington files
entitled "Suggestions for Oral Understanding", which stated the grounds for an effective relationship between the two
nations’ intelligence communities.
A former Brazil-based Agency director published his memoirs, and another one stated his dismay with the
deactivation of Brazil’s Intelligence Bureau, the infamous SNI (National Intelligence Service, which was closed in the early 90s).
One has to recognize that the American Agency’s reports on the situation inside the country were always superior to those
drafted by their national counterparts.
Once the US Embassy announced their current negotiations with the Brazilian government as to open an official
office in São Paulo, one has to notice that this situation is clearly impertinent. I don’t believe that the United States would
admit the installation of a Brazilian Army Intelligence Center in Washington. The CIA can operate worldwide, hiding under
the veil of diplomacy. It is that simple.
It was under that cover that one agent gave misleading information in regard to the practice of torture that the
Brazilian government inflicted on political prisoners. Any American citizen can check the information by requesting copies of a
certain cable sent by the US Consulate in São Paulo on August 24, 1970.
Frankly, the Brazilian government is openly admitting a concession on it sovereignty. There is no way that these
gentlemen will install themselves in Brazil in order to help in enforcing the law and maintaining the order. For example, in a
recent past, a representative of the US government influenced the release of two smugglers from the Federal Police in order to
comply with the interests of a certain member of the US Senate.
The US-led war on terrorism deserves the total collaboration of all nations as long as that does not jeopardize the
national sovereignty. Instead of negotiate the opening of a CIA office in Brazil (which is almost effective) President Fernando
Henrique Cardoso should create a national organ that would be in charge of negotiating issues of international security issues.
Either the Itamaraty (Brazil’s Foreign Relations Office) honors its existence and deals with foreign relations issues, or it is
better to sell it off as a multilingual-staff catering service.
As the rules go, to date any US law enforcement agent (for example, the DEADrug Enforcement Administration)
deals with the Brazilian Federal Police. In one occasion, a US Treasury officer met with gas, water and electricity suppliers in
order to negotiate the utility charges invoiced against the consulate in São Paulo. If the CIA installs an official office in town,
the Brazilian government might find it hard to impose its authority, and that’s where things just might get out or hand.
According to the US Embassy, the CIA office will share with the Federal Police and Brazil’s Central Bank any
information regarding terrorism and money laundering. One can logically assume that the CIA is much more rigorous than
the above mentioned organs. Anyway, that is a matter of sovereignty.
The US agents might just want to denounce the Brazilian authorities’ red tape. They know exactly what they are
talking about. However, when it comes to their own interests, such as the Sivam case (the rain-forest satellite-monitoring system
that was once considered), they just might as well act under the table, as they have done before.
One cannot do much about the ways of bureaucracy. Just to refresh the Americans’ memory, one recalls that a
former president, the late Richard Nixon, tried to use the CIA to perform a bogus money-laundering operation in Mexico in
order to cover for his wrongdoing in Washington. The mission failed, and the agency owed that to their vice-director, General
Vernon Wallets, who by the way is that US representative who intervened in the case of the smugglers.
There is only one argument in favor of this novelty: Whenever a Brazilian citizen uncovers a politician sending
money to secret accounts in tax shelters, he or she can make the following threat to the guys in power: "The CIA will know
Translated by Ernest Barteldes
Elio Gaspari is a columnist with O Globo (www.oglobo.com.br ) where this text was originally published.