Cablegate: Brazil,S Human Rights Policy: Following The

DE RUEHBR #1003/01 2061636
R 241636Z JUL 08




E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/11/2018

Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Lisa Kubiske for reasons
1.4 b and d

1. (SBU) Bolstered by economic success, the GOB demands equal
footing with all nations, especially when it comes to foreign
policy, and its human rights policy is no exception.
Brazil's Constitution mandates that the second prevailing
principle of its international relations is human rights.
Even so, from the top down the GOB avoids taking a stance on
its own and refuses to confront a derelict state directly if
there is potential for negative fallout. Ministry of
Exterior Relations (MRE) officials stick to a party line that
does not accept the legitimacy of a single state (usually
implying the U.S.) to criticize another state's human rights
situation. The GOB believes that human rights issues should
be addressed only in international fora (the UN and the OAS),
but even in these arenas Brazil has a reputation for not
taking a controversial stand. Despite a contradictory
policy, the good news is that Brazil is working on its human
rights failings, albeit slowly, as with any change across
this continent-nation. End Summary.

Only in the U.N., and Not Too Much There, Either
--------------------------------------------- ---
2. (SBU) Brazil is a strong advocate of working issues in the
United Nations, including through the UN Human Rights Council
(UNHRC). It is critical of what it perceives as the United
States' go-it-alone approach to human rights. Brazilians on
the whole are extremely critical of the U.S. invasion of
Iraq, which they see as typical of the U.S. approach to
resolving problems. At the same time, the GOB believes that
the UNHRC will continue to flounder without more active USG
participation. MRE Director of the Human Rights and Social
Themes Division Minister Ana Lucy Cabral Petersen has
repeatedly stated to USG officials that the GOB wants to see
the U.S. become an active member of the UNHRC in order to
give it greater legitimacy. She expressed her regret that
the USG has withdrawn from the UNHRC although understands our

3. (SBU) Despite previous calls for the U.S. to openly
support the UNHRC, the GOB itself does not show leadership in
UN plenaries. In fact, it has refused to support measures
against countries with grave human rights situations, such as
Sudan and Zimbabwe. In large part, this refusal to criticize
stems from its aspirations for a permanent UNSC seat, an
effort which will require African support. In addition,
according to MRE Human Rights Division Deputy Carlos Eduardo
da Cunha de Oliveira, Brazil is against country-specific
resolutions for the most part, unless there is a particularly
heinous crime being perpetrated in a member state, because
such resolutions tend to be "politically motivated."
However, any review of its voting record shows that Brazil
tends to speak out more forcefully against egregious human
rights violations when there is no Brazilian interest
involved. University of Brasilia Human Rights Professor
Simone Rodgues explained that Brazil does not have a culture
of looking outward. She said that even though the GOB
position on human rights may seem weak to outsiders, it is
moving forward significantly beyond previous foreign policies
of isolationism.

Maintain dialog at all costs
4. (C) Last year MRE's Under Secretary for Political Affairs,
Ambassador Everton Vargas, clearly stated Brazil's
oft-repeated rationale for its policy toward abuses of human
rights when discussing Cuba with U/S Dobriansky: "Brazil
believes that it is much better to have dialog than no
dialog. In the case of Cuba, Brazil can pressure Cuba to do
the right thing behind closed doors, but cannot do so in the
open because then the dialog stops." Vargas has also
repeatedly stated that MRE is under enormous domestic
pressure to challenge the human rights scenarios in various
parts of the world, expecially Cuba. However, the GOB has
rarely bowed to this pressure, notably in statements on Tibet
and most recently on Zimbabwe's runoff election. Da Cunha de
Oliveira praised Cuba for adopting two UN covenants on civic,
educational and cultural rights, but when told that activists
in Havana were beaten by police for passing out copies of the
UN Declaration on Human Rights, he said that signing and
implementation are different and the GOB expects Cuba to
adhere to its new obligations.

BRASILIA 00001003 002 OF 003

When challenged, hold the line
5. (SBU) In a recent interview on the "Roda Viva" program on
TV Cultura, Foreign Minister Celso Amorim was challenged by
professor of human geography at the University of Sao Paulo,
Demetrio Magnoli. Magnoli said that Brazilian foreign policy
has "turned a blind eye" to human rights violations of many
countries, in particular to African crises, and praises
violators. He also said that MRE's Secretary General Samuel
Guimaraes' book says that "international human rights
protection is a tactical action employed by the great powers
in defense of their own strategic interests," and asked
Amorim if this is why Brazilian foreign policy neglects human
rights. (Note: the book that Magnoli referred to is one of
four with significant anti-American overtones that until 2006
were required reading for all Brazilian diplomats. End
Note.) Amorim responded that Brazil has contributed greatly
to the development of the current Human Rights Council, which
is in the process of conducting a universal review of human
rights for all countries.

A poor record, but working on it
6. (SBU) Brazil has seen every kind of human rights violation
within its borders. Recent international press articles have
brought to light slave labor in the charcoal industry (for
pig iron) as well as in sugar cane (for ethanol),
extrajudicial police killings, deplorable prison conditions
leading to frequent riots, and even minor females being
incarcerated in the same cells as men. The truth is that
none of this is new. MRE Illicit Transnational Crimes
General Coordination Office Secretary Eric Sogocio points out
that forced labor has existed in Brazil since its inception,
but only in the last few years has the GOB addressed the
problem in its criminal code. He acknowledged that there is
still work to be done, particularly since until recently only
women were seen as victims of trafficking from a legal
standpoint. Acclaimed reporter and editorialist Miriam
Leitao pointed out that there have been more deaths in Brazil
due to rural violence over the past 20 years (including
police actions) than the total number of American soldiers
killed in action over the entire history of the U.S. Marco
Antonio de Almeida, General Director of the Federal
District's Prison system says that prison riots are common in
Brazil because the GOB does not budget enough to bring them
up to the standards in developed countries -- he prays that
the 2006 Sao Paulo riots, when 43 prisons rebelled
simultaneously, has made GOB officials cognizant of the
deficiencies so that funding will continue to increase.
UNIFEM Director Ana Fallu points out that Brazil is the most
unequal society in the world. She says that women in
poverty, particularly women of color, are the most vulnerable
to human rights abuses in Brazil.

7. (SBU) Despite these problems, the GOB has indeed made some
real progress in dealing with many of its human rights
issues. Da Cunha de Oliveira notes that Brazil is a newborn
democracy compared to the U.S. and that it is still learning
how to implement its constitution in the right way. He notes
that sometimes it gives too many freedoms and protects the
rights of human rights abusers from serving proper prison
sentences. He believes this is a result of over-reactions in
the constitution from fear of another repressive military
regime. But, he says, the GOB's strong point is that it
works closely and openly with civil society. Indeed, NGOs
have a great deal of reach within Brazil, and in evaluation
of the UNHRC's Universal Periodic Review process PolOffs
discovered that those groups that participated with the GOB
said that it was transparent and effective. Da Cunha de
Oliveira also says that the federal government can only
develop the policy, but that individual states and
municipalities often are ineffective at implementation.
Although this is somewhat true, the GOB fails also to offer a
"carrot and stick" approach to aid in the implementation of
most of its human rights legislation. There is, however, a
notable exception, the Ministry of Labor's "dirty list" which
places users of forced labor in the public eye until
corrective action is taken.

8. (SBU) Extensive conversations with Brazilian officials
reveal that there really is no concrete aim of its human
rights policies beyond merely ensuring that it has a voice in
international fora. The GOB's tenacity to claim that only
the UN has true authority on human rights issues really only

BRASILIA 00001003 003 OF 003

serves to subordinate GOB thinking on such issues, the
opposite of what MRE seems to want. Morality is a
double-edged sword for Brazil's stated policy because of the
clear hypocrisy when it steadfastly refuses to condemn a
violator-state with its UN votes if that country can provide
some tangible support for a Brazilian interest. Eventually
as Brazil spreads its wings and moves toward becoming a
"developed" nation, it will be forced to make tougher
statements that it will have to defend publicly in the
international court of public opinion.

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