Wikileaks cables cast light on US-Brazilian relations as violence in Rio continued to dominate headlines
The police and military incursion into a number of favelas across Rio de Janeiro continued to dominate headlines in Brazil, as the operation moved into its second phase. This week, plans were announced for a long-term occupation of the huge Complexo do Alemão area modelled on the Brazilian peacekeeping force in Haiti, an occupation which, according to Defense minister Nelson Jobim, has no defined exit strategy.
A survey published in by the Globo newspaper revealed that more than 90% of the area’s residents support the incursion, despite continued reports of abuses and extortion perpetrated by police officers. Meanwhile, this weekend the operation once again spilled out of the favela into downtown Rio, as soldiers took up strategic positions on one of the city’s major thoroughfares in order to secure supply lines into the Complexo do Alemão.
US-Brazilian relations came under the spotlight once again in the wake of Wikileaks’ controversial release of over ¼ million diplomatic cables, as it was revealed that Washington has come to consider Itamaraty, Brazil’s Ministry of External Relations, as “anti-American”. According to a telegram dated 25th January 2008, the country’s then-ambassador to Brasília, Clifford Sobel, recounted a lunch meeting with Jobim in which the defense minister described how former External Relations minister Samuel Pinheiro Guimarães “hated the United States” and was actively working to sour relations with Brazil’s northern neighbour. Jobim, meanwhile, is described by the document as one of the country’s most trustworthy leaders.
The week also saw the announcement of the country’s 2010 census data, which showed a 12% increase in overall population, a considerable slowdown from the 15.6% increase between 1991 and 2000. The population now stands at 190,732,694, with 95.9 men for every 100 women. Significantly, 84% of the country’s population now reside in urban areas, some 23 million more citizens in 2000.