Espionage in Brazil: A Situational Assessment

In recent weeks, Brazil has experienced a significant political shock. This time it is not due to the violence of criminal gangs. On the contrary, the controversy is due to allegations that former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and his government used the country’s intelligence agencies to spy on rivals and critics. This happened in a context of great political instability that reached its peak with the January 2023 assault on public institutions by his supporters. How the current Brazilian government responds to the case will have implications for Brazil’s press freedom, democratic institutions, and intelligence agencies.

Key judgement 1. During his government, Bolsonaro and his allies likely used intelligence services to spy on their rivals.

Key judgement 2. Bolsonaro and his allies likely facilitated the assault on Congress that sought to prevent the takeover of the new government.

Key judgement 3. The espionage trials are unlikely to lead to serious political instability in the next six months.

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