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Brazil is the largest and most populous country in South America, situated between Colombia and Venezuela to the north and Argentina to the south. It "continues to pursue industrial and agricultural growth and development of its interior. Exploiting vast natural resources and a large labor pool, it is today South America's leading economic power and a regional leader. Highly unequal income distribution remains a pressing problem."[1]

Unequal distribution of land

A handful of wealthy families in Brazil control much of the land. The organization Movement of Landless Rural Workers works to redress this problem by demanding land redistribution. It uses protests and land occupation to try to get a more even distribution.[2]

Destruction of Amazon rainforest

Brazil has much of the Amazon rainforest and its exploitation has become a major worry. In the 1970s during military rule, a drive to move settlers to the Amazon resulted in considerable damage. Government-sponsored migration programs have stopped but deforestation by loggers and cattle ranchers continues and remains controversial.

In 2005, the government reported that one fifth of the Amazon forests had been cleared by deforestation. Although its making efforts to control illegal logging, environmental reports suggest the efforts are making little difference.[2]

U.S. military presence in the region

In April 2010, the United States military announced plans to further expand its influence throughout Latin America using agreements with various governments including Brazil and Peru. This follows after a cooperation deal made with Colombia the previous year. The New American writes, "U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Brazilian Defense Minister Nelson Jobim signed an "umbrella" accord that will "lead to a deepening of U.S.-Brazil defense cooperation at all levels," according to Gates. The agreement includes provisions for "military exchanges," logistic support, training, cooperation on defense-related products and services, and more. It is the first such agreement since the late 1970s."[3]

In 2009, Brazil was criticizing a plan by the United States to use seven military bases in neighboring Colombia. The plan has met with fierce opposition in South America in general, "despite efforts on Wednesday by a top-level U.S. envoy to reassure the region. U.S. President Barack Obama's national security adviser, retired general Jim Jones, told reporters in Brasilia that fears the bases might signify U.S. military designs beyond fighting drug trafficking in Colombia were unfounded."

"The foreign affairs adviser to Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Marco Aurelio Garcia, said 'foreign bases in the region look like relics of the Cold War.'"[4]

In November 2009, Brazil expressed its unhappiness at the presence of US naval ships off of its shores by Rio de Janeiro where massive new oilfields have been discovered. These fields can soon make Brazil into a large oil producer eligible for membership in OPEC. The Independent writes, "The fact that the US gets half its oil from Latin America was one of the reasons the US Fourth Fleet was re-established in the region's waters in 2008. The fleet's vessels can include Polaris nuclear-armed submarines – a deployment seen by some experts as a violation of the 1967 Tlatelolco Treaty, which bans nuclear weapons from the continent. Indications of US willingness to envisage the stationing of nuclear weapons in Colombia are seen as an additional threat to the spirit of nuclear disarmament."[5]



Related SourceWatch articles


  1. Brazil, CIA World Fact Book (last updated November 15, 2007).
  2. 2.0 2.1 Country profile: Brazil, BBC, accessed November 2010.
  3. Alex Newman, "U.S. Military Expands in Latin America", New American, April 15, 2010.
  4. "U.S. military bases in Colombia draw condemnation",, August 5, 2009.
  5. Hugh O'Shaughnessy, "US builds up its bases in oil-rich South America", The Independent, November 22, 2009.
  6. Helena de Moura, "Dilma Rousseff: From fugitive guerrilla to Brazil's new president", CNN, November 1, 2010.

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