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Brazil Treads Lightly as a New Drone Power

Monday, June 10, 2013

U.S. President Barack Obama’s recent speech on America’s use of drones in the conflict with al-Qaida and its affiliates marked his administration’s first real attempt to explain a program that has generated much domestic criticism and international outcry. By contrast, few have taken notice of Brazil’s increasing use of surveillance drones, which it has been dispatching over its vast borderlands in an effort to control illegal immigration, contraband and smuggling. So far, Brazil’s drone initiative has not generated as much political controversy as Obama’s program. Nevertheless, President Dilma Rousseff’s administration must tread lightly lest it offend bordering nations that carefully guard their sovereignty.

An industrial and aerospace powerhouse, Brazil has begun to manufacture its own drones, though the country also imports some of the remotely controlled aircraft from Israel. Recently, Brazil’s drone program was placed in the international spotlight when the government announced it would deploy two unmanned aerial vehicles over Rio and Brasilia during the opening and closing of the Confederations Cup soccer tournament later this month. The drones, which are fitted with cameras, radars and sensors, will monitor the tournament in tandem with other security efforts. ...

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