Brasil under Lula & Dilma disrupted US plans for South America, says former ambassador

By Revista Consultor Jurídico.

The US government closely followed – and worried about – the Brazilian government’s initiatives to create a strong and cohesive political bloc in South America, especially the way construction company Odebrecht had become a government partner in those plans. This is according to former US ambassador to Brazil, Thomas Shannon, who occupied the post between 2010 and 2013.

The main focus of attention, he says, were the relations between Brazil and Venezuela. “Brazil identified how Venezuela directed its oil industry to integrate with the American market. So something needed to be done to bring it to South America”, explained the diplomat, noting the growing animosity between the then Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and the United States. The background to this was the Brazilian project of “building a large and cohesive South America”, said Shannon, now a consultant to the Arnold & Porter law firm.

Shannon was talking to reporters form Poder360, Época magazine, and the Miami Herald newspaper, a member of the International Consortium for Investigative Journalism (ICIJ) newspaper association.

According to the former ambassador, Brazil’s intentions were made clear by BNDES financing the port of Mariel in Cuba. The construction work was carried out by Odebrecht and the bank invested R$624 million. This would position Brazil as an important actor in international relations in the Caribbean, especially in the face of the US government’s stance of maintaining embargoes on Cuba, even with signs of economic openness.

Shannon states that the United States believed that Brazil was moving towards the construction of a cohesive international bloc of progressive and left orientation. This would be an obstacle to the resuscitation of the Free Trade Area of ​​the Americas, or FTAA, a project by the US government to create a trade bloc with tariff incentives, which had been rejected by the Latin American countries.

Car wash
Shannon’s analysis opens a few more pages in the North American chapter of Lava Jato. Odebrecht has signed one of the largest leniency agreements in history with the US Department of Justice (DoJ). And it was only possible thanks to the free transit of information and evidence between the prosecutors of the DoJ and the prosecutors of Lava Jato in Curitiba. Amongst the evidence were extracts from accounts of the construction company in the USA.

The leniency agreement foresees payment of  $8.5 billion by the contractor, of which 80% was sent to Brazil – included an attempted $682 million dollar payment to the Lava Jato task force in Curitiba. In exchange for giving up the money, the US demanded the presence of an “external compliance monitor” to report every 120 days.

These reports “probably include proprietary, financial, commercial and confidential information” the agreement says.

What Shannon is saying, therefore, is that the Brazilian MPF ​​has ratified an agreement in which a Brazilian company, recognized by the American government as important for the interests of the Brazilian government, has committed to send reports to the US on its commercial activities.

This article appeared on Consultor Jurídico, and was translated by Brasil Wire.