Brazil held up enforcing law … on US demand

A Brazilian journalist called Carlos Chagas reports here that the Brazilian government held up implementing the “shoot-down law”, enabling the shooting-down of planes which are being used to smuggle drugs, was held up for seven years because of threats from the US government. “By way of an imperial gesture,” he alleges,” US president, George Bush, is now allowing Brazil to shoot drug-carrying planes as if he were dishing out a handout to a hobo.”

The article claims that the Americans objected because a similar law in Peru ended up with a plane full of pastors being shot down. This article on “BradyNet” alleges that the law was held up by a “veiled threat” from Eximbank to suspend funding for SIVAM, a system for monitoring the Amazon forest.

A BBC report earlier this month also claimed that Brazil was the “world’s hacking capital”. In this case, the reference is clearly to internet fraud, but my understanding is that a lot of a different sort of hacking is going on in Brazil - hacking of open-source software, which is freely-available alternatives to commercial computer software. Brazilians generally can’t afford American and European proprietary software, and “free” (and generally superior) system software is much more widely used there than in Europe or America. The open-source community uses the term “hacking” to refer to experimentation with software, not with breaking into other people’s computers which is known to them as “cracking”.

As for why I post it here, well Chagas is concerned about the ability and/or willingness of Brazil to stand up to the Americans, and if Brazil (one of the most populous and powerful in the southern hemisphere) won’t do this, who will?

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