On the eve of the 40th Anniversary of Brazil’s presence in Antarctica: What now?

Ignacio Javier Cardone – Assistant Professor in International Relations of the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú and researcher at the International Relations Research Centre of the University of São Paulo.

Former President of Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva during a visit to the Comandante Ferraz Antarctic Station in March 2008 (Ricardo Stuckert/PR – Agência Brasil)

Brazil has been usually linked with images of the tropical, both internationally and domestically. However, the country has been actively involved with the southern polar region for almost forty years. While its involvement have been relatively modest when compared with that of Argentina and Chile, two countries which have a longer and more intense presence in the white continent, the question of why a tropical country such as Brazil has invested in being present there, remains.

In my new book, The Antarctic Politics of Brazil: Where the Tropic meets the Pole (Cardone, 2022), I approach this complex and fascinating question from a thorough historical reconstruction. There, I analyse how the evolution of the Brazilian geopolitical tradition, in special in the post-war context, has promoted the idea of projecting its national power overseas. While Antarctica has played a marginal role in such ambitions, that vision of the international role of Brazil was a necessary condition for the country to look at any kind of involvement in Antarctica. In that context, Terezinha de Castro, a young geographer, proposed that Brazil claim a sector based on the projection of their coastal limit lines to the South pole. Despite the so-called frontage theory never having become adopted as the official policy towards Antarctica —especially due to concerns regarding negative repercussions in Argentina and Chile— it has undoubtedly informed many of the country’s attitudes.

Another factor that has played a relevant role in delaying the involvement of the country with Antarctica, has been the relative backward scientific system, a limitation that was overcome only by 1970s. As Brazil rapidly developed its scientific structure, some scientists became interested in Antarctica, one of the most important repositories of scientific data in the world. But interests held by scientists alone was not sufficient to materialise an Antarctic expedition, and the Brazilian government actively blocked any proposal that could jeopardise negotiations with Argentina regarding the Itaipu dam dispute.

Notwithstanding, it was through the initiative of the Brazilian Navy, through its Comissão Interministerial para os Recursos do Mar (CIRM, Interministerial Commission for Maritime Resources), that the first official contact between the tropical country and Antarctica took place. The Navy not only promoted the involvement of Brazil in the country, but ended up constituting the backbone of the programme and structured, in many enduring ways, the manner in which the Antarctic is seen and approached in Brazil.

Antarctic science, on the other hand, certainly has risen its profile, becoming a well-developed, matured and internationalised programme. After 1990, a greater level of autonomy and a more relevant role within the definitions of the steering of Brazil’s Antarctic policy has been looked for by scientists and scientific institutions. However, up until now, Antarctic science has struggled to get free of the instrumental role with which it is usually seen —that is, as a means to participate in the Antarctic regime and any eventual exploitation of Antarctic natural resources. In addition, it had to suffer from financial instabilities and a lower priority when the issue is resources allocation, which reached the verge of collapse on several occasions, across time. Above all, with just a few notable exceptions, Antarctic humanities and social sciences have been episodic in the career of Brazilian academics and did not constitute any kind of corpus that could assist or inform political decision making.

While the recent inauguration of the Antarctic Comandante Ferraz Station and the future construction of a new logistic polar vessel in Brazil seems to signal the commitment of the country towards its Antarctic presence, the financial difficulties remain. Worsening the situation, the continuous attacks to scientists and the important cuts in science funding project a shadow over the future of Brazilian science and, with it, over the possibility of future development of current Antarctic projects.

The elaboration of a new Brazilian policy for Antarctica, Polantar, has been under way during the last year, but remained centred on the CIRM and with no open participation. Forty years of presence will signal the maturity of Brazil with regard to its objectives and commitments in Antarctica. However, the lack of a strategic updated view on what Antarctica could offer to Brazil, continues to hamper its involvement in the continent. This is especially the case when it comes to the potential that cutting edge Antarctic science can offer to Brazil without submitting it to an instrumental role for any alleged future exploitation of Antarctic natural resources.

What seems still wanting regarding Brazilian policy towards Antarctica is an update of the objectives underpinning its strategic thinking, the recognition of the intrinsic value of its Antarctic research (and not merely as a means to political participation or future natural resources exploitation) and the investment in Antarctic humanities and social sciences in a way that could offer new avenues when thinking about Brazilian involvement in the South polar region.

Reference Literature:
Abdenur, A. E., & Neto, D. M. (2014). Rising powers and Antarctica: Brazil’s changing interests. Polar Journal, 4(1), 12–27. https://doi.org/10.1080/2154896X.2014.913910

Cardone, I.J. (2022). The Antarctic Politics of Brazil: Where the Tropic meets the Pole. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, XIX, 259 pp. https://bit.ly/2ZDSTG5

Cardone, I.J. (2021). La apuesta brasileña en la Antártida: trayectoria reciente y perspectivas futuras a la luz de la inauguración de la nueva Estación Antártica Comandante Ferraz. In: Cuadernos de Política Exterior Argentina (Nueva Época), 133, pp. 29-46. https://doi.org/10.35305/cc.vi133.108

Cardone, I. (2019). Brazil´s Antarctic Future. In G. Sciorati (org.) The Global Race for Antarctica: China vs the Rest of the World [ISPI Dossier 26 July 2019]. Italian Institute for International Political Studies, Milano.

Cardone, I.J. (2015). As Posições Brasileiras no Sistema do Tratado Antártico com Ênfase na Questão Ambiental (Thesis Dissertation). Curitiba, Universidade Federal de Parana. 134 pages. https://acervodigital.ufpr.br/handle/1884/38844

Castro, T. (1959). Antártica o Assunto do Momento. Boletim Geográfico, XVII(150), 238–245.

Castro, T. (1976). Rumo à Antártica. Rio de Janeiro: Freitas Bastos.

Child, J. (1988). Antarctica and South American Geopolitics: Frozen Lebensraum. New York: Praeger.

Ferreira, F.R.G. (2009). O Sistema do Tratado da Antártica: evolução do regime e seu impacto na política externa brasileira. Brasilia: Fundação Alexandre de Gusmão.

Sampaio, D.P.; Cardone, I.J.; Abdenur, A. (2017). Brazil, the Antarctic Treaty System and Antarctica. In K. Doods, A. Hemmings & P. Roberts (orgs.) Handbook on the Politics of Antarctica. P. Edward Elgar Publishing. https://doi.org/10.4337/9781784717681.00031

Simões, J., Viana, A. R., Secchi, E. R., Correia, E., da Silva, H.E., Wainer, I.E.K.C., … & Valentin, Y.Y (2013). Ciência Antártica para o Brasil: plan de ação 2013-2022. Brasília.

Correia, E., da Silva, H.E., Wainer, I.E.K.C., … & Valentin, Y.Y (2013). Ciência Antártica para o Brasil: plan de ação 2013-2022. Brasília.

Mexico in COP26: Paradoxes of a developing economy in the climate emergency

Raúl Zepeda Gil – PhD Candidate, Defence Studies Department, King’s College London. Member of the Environmental Security Research Group.

Undoubtedly, international negotiations highlight the constant contradiction between foreign policy compromises and internal policy. This trend is even more evident by not archiving the National Determined Contributions (NDCs) to greenhouse gas emission in the Paris Accord framework towards the COP26 in Glasgow. Mexico assists COP26 with a plan that paradoxically makes this contradiction more evident for Mexico but plays into the global politics of reprehension between developing and developed countries. The message from the Undersecretary of Multilateral Affairs of the Mexican Government, Martha Delgado, in a meeting with the King’s College London Mexican Society last November 1st before COP26, shows this paradox.

As is widely known, the 2015 Paris Accord created the NDCs to balance in good faith manner that countries reduce greenhouse gas emissions following their national capacities, their contribution to the CO2 emissions, either historical or current: Common but Differentiated Responsibilities. This balance allowed developing but high CO2 emitter countries such as India, Indonesia, Brazil, or South Africa to the table. The second balance of the 2015 Paris Accord was to have a green fund to accelerate the energy transition in developing countries. Effectively, developing countries are not the ones who contributed historically more. However, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has insisted in their reports that the NDCs of the developed world would not be enough to stop the increase of global temperature to more than 2° Celsius that will cause absolute catastrophe to the planet (1). The developing world that also has significant industrial emissions must participate.

However, like India, South Africa, Australia or Brazil, Martha Delgado’s position holds the same pattern of contempt to the developing countries on how these demand action to developing nations: rules must be clear, finance abundant for transition, and establish more transparent rules according to the number of emissions of CO2 each country contributes. In her presentation, the Undersecretary of Multilateral Affairs of Mexico argued that the fundamental achievement of COP26 would be finishing the “Paris rulebook” that would make operational the principles of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities for NDCs. Indeed, it is fundamental that standard rules for accountability in the Paris Accord enforce the common compromise to reduce emissions. Nevertheless, insisting on this without more responsibility towards the climate crisis reinforced the “blame game” that almost derailed the Paris Accord in 2015 when most countries waited for India to compromise. Concerning evidence that supports both sides of the argument is the recent revelation by the Washington Post about how countries presented biased or flawed data to the IPCC on their emissions for the NDCs reports (2). If governments distrust each other in this matter, the invectives for “cheating” on the NDCs reports become the rule.

The other continuous argument from the Mexican position undersecretary Delgado is on the finance of energy transition. Effectively, the amount in the Green Climate Fund established in the 2009 Copenhagen Accords has not been enough to foster the clean energy transition for developing countries. However, there is a fair balance to finance: many developing countries can acquire low-risk debt to finance infrastructure projects to foster the energy transition. For example, to update electric grids for more efficient materials and connect them to new sources of energy as nuclear, solar, wind or even natural gas. Some countries require more proportional financial assistance to transition to clean energies. However, countries within the G20 and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), under the same principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities, should recognise their national financial capacities instead to pose their relative difference to the rest of the developed countries to justify not updating NDCs. This urgency is even more evident after the IPCC Sixth Assessment was clear that the scenarios for CO2 reduction under 2°C were even narrower than the last assessment (3).

Finally, the last position by the Mexican Government for Glasgow COP16 is on put into function the Enhanced Transparency Framework (ETF) for reporting CO2 emissions to the IPCC and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Secretariat. The beforementioned report by the Washington Post makes evident the urgency to put the EFT into action. However, during the meeting with the Mexican Society in KCL, Martha Delgado mentioned that Mexico will not increase their NDCs, and complained that the United States government was pressuring Mexico to raise them after they pulled out of Paris Accord in 2016. Paradoxically, in the other part of the meeting, she mentioned that Mexico could not compromise more on the NDCs because they were not sure if they could compromise future administrations to follow through. In this scenario, no country could in good faith enforce the ETF if each government argues internal politics (the US, Mexico, or Australia) to avoid global responsibilities in a worldwide human threatening crisis.

Furthermore, these positions are part of the discourse of developing but high CO2 high emitter countries that since 2015 has backed down from the NDCs or openly challenged them. For example, Australia by presenting an entire energy program that does not aim to replace oil as an energy source, Brazil for not reinstitute the Amazonia’s protection rules with the help of indigenous communities, and in the case of Mexico by its current attempts to dismantle market rules for clean energy and reinforcing the local consumption of fuel oil and coal for electricity. In an even more paradoxical turning point, India changed its longstanding position and updated its NDCs in COP26 to reach net-zero emissions by 2070. The once standing leader of the developing countries denouncing developed countries on their emissions has taken a step forward while Mexico and others go in the opposite direction.

Recently, Climate Transparency reported that Mexico was not on track to accomplish with their NDCs for a 1.5° C goal (4). Mexico has increased more than 3.4% of greenhouse gas emissions since 2013, while the average of the G20 (that includes the developed industrialised economies) saw a reduction of -0.17%. Two trends worried the observers of Climate Transparency: the dismantling of renewal energy power capacity, with no plans to increase its investment towards 2027, and the loss 73 thousand of hectares of tree cover under the program “Sembrando Vida”. As in other areas of multilateral discussion Mexico historically engages, the Foreign Secretariat overpromises as a “good doer” country while national politics go in the opposite direction. This tendency also happens in all areas possible: human rights, gun regulation, migration, or the rule of law.

Even so, Mexico is one of the countries of the G20 which will suffer most from the effects of climate change: increasing and deathly droughts that will cause shortages in food production, and even famines; dangerous flooding and more deadly hurricanes for the coastal zones, and with it increasing internal forced displacement of the poorest communities. Even one could argue that Mexico could focus more on climate resilience, but the recent dismantling of FONDEN (the Disaster Prevention and Recovery revolving fund). All signs show that Mexico is not on the moral high ground to complain about their neighbours and other developing countries, and even if the rhetoric of developing countries enforces Mexico demands for COP26, the final beneficiary, poor communities in Mexico will suffer the most from these incongruences that foster distrust in the international community that is already ravaging without control with the “West” conflict against China.

1. Nationally determined contributions under the Paris Agreement. Synthesis report by the secretariat, FCCC/PA/CMA/2021/8, https://unfccc.int/sites/default/files/resource/cma2021_08E.pdf

2. Chris Mooney, Juliet Eilperin, Desmond Butler, John Muyskens, Anu Narayanswamy and Naema Ahmed “Countries’ climate pledges built on flawed data, Post investigation finds”, The Washigton Post, 7/11/2021 https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/interactive/2021/greenhouse-gas-emissions-pledges-data/

3. IPCC, 2021: Summary for Policymakers. In: Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [MassonDelmotte, V., P. Zhai, A. Pirani, S.L. Connors, C. Péan, S. Berger, N. Caud, Y. Chen, L. Goldfarb, M.I. Gomis, M. Huang, K. Leitzell, E. Lonnoy, J.B.R. Matthews, T.K. Maycock, T. Waterfield, O. Yelekçi, R. Yu, and B. Zhou (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press. In Press.

4. Climate Transparency Report 2021, Mexico, https://www.climate-transparency.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/CT2021Mexico.pdf

Brazil and Covid-19: How did it get so bad?

Maria Berta Ecija Salgado – PhD candidate in global health diplomacy (King’s Brazil Institute and African Leadership Centre)

COVID-19 victims at the Parque Taruma cemetery in Manaus (Foto: Marcio James/Semcom PM Manaus Cemitério)

Throughout the pandemic management, we have seen periods of hope and desolation around the globe. However, as the world starts to move towards a renewed optimism due to several vaccines’ approvals and subsequent rollouts, we witness Brazil running in the opposite direction. The leading question in the minds of millions of Brazilians and citizens worldwide is: How did we get to this point?

The Covid crisis we see nowadays in Brazil probably had its roots even before the pandemic existed. It started when throughout the 2018 elections, the population was encouraged by their President, Jair Bolsonaro, to question the role of science and research—even connecting the idea of scientific advancement to Leftist ideologies, building a considerable stigma around universities and research institutions. With the outbreak announcement, we just saw the consequence of allowing science to be stigmatised in the political discourse in any of its fields. Science left the spotlight, leaving a space for conspiracy theories and negationist speeches.

To combat any health-related threat, trust in science and health-related institutions that provide the population with the necessary knowledge to shield itself is fundamental. In Brazil, the confidence in science was replaced by the confidence that the international community exaggerates this problem. Furthermore, even weird conspiracy/racist theories (towards China, for example) were raised by the Federal Government so as to deviate the population’s attention, which in turn was not concerned with what was being done to save their lives but to follow the thread of misinformation being spread. As a result, the health institutions and the information that should have been released by the Government and transformed in social policies lost its protagonism. This misinformation pattern never stopped, and resulted in catastrophic figures in Brazil, with an average number of 4000 deaths a day due to COVID.

Interestingly enough, this is the country internationally recognised for its value-oriented approach to health, which is embedded in its own 1988 Constitution, in article 196. It claims that health is a fundamental human right for every citizen and that it is a duty of the government to provide it to its population. Many public campaigns have taken place successfully in Brazil. Nevertheless, at the core of most achievements in Brazilian public health, there was an evident pattern being followed: Prevention instead of intervention. Prevention is an ethical duty of the State and a matter of adhering to the Constitution. The government’s obligation is to save lives.

However, if this is not enough to convince several negationists, another argument might move them: prevention is cheaper. Healthy populations are more productive. Thus, they are more profitable. Furthermore, in the case of the spread of diseases, the expenses incurred in dealing with treatment, hospitalisations, management, and infrastructure are incredibly high, especially in a country with the urban characteristics and large population of Brazil. When we talk about prevention here, by no means, is it about the usage of uncertified and unsafe drugs – such as those recommended by the Brazilian Presidential Office.

Brazil, throughout the past decades, developed many large-scale social policies to prevent people from getting sick. An example of this can be drawn from the outbreak of Dengue fever in the early 2000s. There were many social policy initiatives to contain its spread. For instance, information campaigns. These initiatives aimed to inform about the transmission of the disease, identify the mosquito, the symptoms, and prevention. It counted on a massive effort from the sanitary agents, who would go from door to door, to verify if there was any spot in people’s houses and across their communities that could serve as a proliferation focus. It is also valuable to remember the charismatic figure of ‘Zé Gotinha’, a character created to attract the public attention, especially children, to get vaccinated against polio. Many initiatives account for the success of Brazil in the past. However, they are currently being forgotten. Instead of prevention and protection, the government encourages people to use unreliable drugs in case of infection.

The administration of the COVID-19 crisis under the Jair Bolsonaro government has been disastrous. There are many suspicions about a deliberate attitude to not care for the Brazilian people, especially minorities. Brazil has detached itself from its traditional behaviour as a national and international health player. By sticking to denial over the value-oriented approach that it has consistently raised regarding the right to live.

Nevertheless, some aspects can bring us some hope going forward. The Brazilian health-related institutions are powerful and competent. They can rely on decades of experience in developing research, medicine, and articulating social policy together with the government to diminish health risks. Throughout the Covid-19 crisis, this has not been different. It is natural that the anti-life discourses now absorb most of our attention. However, if we look closely at Butantan and FIOCRUZ, we can have some hope for Brazilians again. These institutions created partnerships to absorb know-how in collaboration with other international laboratories, such as Sinovac and AstraZeneca, to produce vaccines. There are even talks about a 100% Brazilian vaccine being developed by Butantan. Moreover, some cities developed creative ways of encouraging protective measures. Such as Campinas-SP, which established a rule? that those who do not wear a face mask would have to pay a fee or donate food to the food banks for those in need.

These advancements are slow but are being undertaken by some governors, senators, mayors, and other politicians – who finally understood there is no economic prosperity without good health practises?. Consequently, the way forward is to revitalise the trust of Brazilians in these health institutions. They have been working on the development of vaccines and their rollout. Moreover, to look for more examples on the role of social distancing measures in saving lives. Instead of focusing and circulating negationist articles and affirmations, the answer should be to help disseminate the work developed by these health institutions. This will give hope to Brazilians, as the country has all the institutional capacity necessary to move forward, especially under the umbrella of SUS. The population needs to defend its public health system and accept no less from the government. Reliable information and cooperation across different national and international institutions are the only way out of this.

British propaganda in Brazil during WWII: Antonio Callado and the BBC Latin American Service

Dr Daniel Mandur Thomaz – Lecturer in Lusophone Studies, Department of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies, King’s College London. Associate Fellow at King’s Brazil Institute.

During WWII, Latin America was considered by Britain as a region of strategic, economic and military interest (Bratzel and Leonard, 2007), as well as a source of concern due to its large German and Italian migrant communities (Foote and Goebel 2014). Italian and German Radio stations had been broadcasting content in Portuguese and Spanish to Latin American audiences since the mid 1930s, which led the British authorities to decide that actions should be taken to counter Nazi and Fascist propaganda in the region, and to capture audiences’ sympathy and support for Britain (Seul and Ribeiro, 2015; Mansell, 1982). This is the context in which the BBC Latin American Service (LAS) was created in March 1938, with funding provided directly from the Ministry of Information. The first transmission in Spanish and Portuguese took place on 14th March 1938, announcing Hitler’s invasion of Austria (Briggs 1970; Leal 2008). In this sense, the BBC LAS was, from its inception, part of a propaganda war between Britain and the future Axis powers, which began even before war had been declared. In 1939, when the UK declared war against Germany, the BBC was already operating in nine languages.

The programmes broadcast by the BBC Latin American Service (LAS) varied in duration, from only thirty minutes in 1938 to four hours of content in Portuguese and in Spanish every evening by 1943, usually between 7:00pm and 11:00pm (Leal 2008). In 1938, the same 15-minute news bulletins were transmitted in Spanish and Portuguese, and the repetition of content made the LAS transmissions particularly tedious for Latin American audiences, as the reports received by the Corporation show. In 1940, two additional transmitters were installed in Daventry, from which the Overseas Service was operating, meaning that separate transmissions in Portuguese and in Spanish were possible. This development increased the duration of transmissions and the demand for entertainment programmes. In 1943, the length of transmissions was doubled both as the result of technological improvements in Daventry and due to the fact that Brazil joined the war on the Allied side in 1942. This drew more attention to the Brazilian section and allowed it to develop more programmes. In addition to reports on the war, musical interludes, press reviews, book reviews and commentary on the daily lives of Britons during the conflict became part of the transmissions. In order to translate, write and produce these programmes, a plethora of Latin American and Iberian intellectuals were hired by the Corporation, turning them into key contributors to the British war propaganda machine.

Antônio Callado

The case of Antônio Callado has potential to shed a very interesting light on the activity of Brazilian intellectuals working for the BBC Latin American Service. He arrived in London in 1941 with a six-month contract and stayed for six years, only returning to Brazil in 1947. In Brazil, he enjoyed a prominent position as a cosmopolitan intellectual with an international career. In the 1950s, he became a well-known theatre playwright and award-winning novelist, and in the 60s and 70s, Callado was arrested three times by the Brazilian Military Dictatorship (1964-85) for being an outspoken socialist. In this manner, he became an emblematic example of an engaged intellectual during the Cold War in Latin America.

The fact that Callado spent this period of time in Britain during WWII was relatively well-known to his critics and biographers, many of whom have argued that this experience had a lasting impact on his work (Leite 1983; Martinelli 2007; Ridenti 2011). What was unknown, however, until very recently, not only to scholars but even by Callado’s family, was the nature of his work for the BBC. It was believed that Callado was working as a journalist and translator, but we know now that one of his main tasks was to write antifascist drama scripts to be broadcast to Brazil. It was the opening of sealed files under Callado’s name at the BBC Written Archives Centre (WAC) in Reading, UK, in May 2014, that brought about an opportunity to reassess his work and formative experiences in Britain in the 1940s. In these files, I found a series of documents produced by Callado and about him (letters, BBC internal memos, and copyright receipts) through which I was able to track down a series of original radio drama scripts written by him to be broadcast by the BBC LAS to Brazilian audiences during and immediately after WWII. These dramas, and the other BBC documents, were unknown to those who had studied Callado previously. My analysis of these scripts has been complemented by material from the Fundação Casa de Rui Barbosa archives, in Rio de Janeiro, including letters, personal documents and diaries of the period, which were equally unexplored.

To my surprise, there was also a considerable gap in the literature about the BBC World Service concerning the Latin American Service, and the material analysed in my PhD thesis (Oxford, 2019)(1) is yet to be further explored by media historians. During my research, I organised, edited and wrote a critical introduction to a volume that collects together the nineteen drama scripts written by Callado while in Europe. The volume was published in 2018 in Brazil.

BBC propaganda campaign

These drama scripts were written by Callado between 1943 and 1947, a moment when the broadcast time allocated to the BBC LAS had increased and entertainment programmes for the service were in high demand. As I could verify in the archives, all the LAS programmes were subject to censorship and followed guidelines set by the BBC LAS Propaganda Policy Committee. This committee was established in late 1940 and its first meeting was on 30th January 1941 at 3:00pm, in an unknown venue, with the presence of personnel from the BBC, the Ministry of Information (MOI) and other agencies, such as the Foreign Office. In these meetings, the BBC, in cooperation with MOI, defined clear propaganda guidelines to be followed not only in the broadcast of news, but also in all other content broadcast by the BBC LAS, including entertainment shows. These guidelines were based on two principles: fear and self-interest. They contained suggestions that transmissions should stress the historical “mutual cooperation” between Britain and Latin America, and the risks that could result from the expansion of Nazi ideology in the region. Another interesting element was the use of religious references to mobilise Catholic Latin American audiences, suggesting that Christian values should be associated with Britain whenever possible, and implying that the “opposite” should be associated with Nazi Germany.

Although Latin American intellectuals were engaging with these guidelines, many of them, like Callado, were also using the BBC as a platform to push their own political agendas. In the specific case of Antônio Callado, this included criticising Brazilian dictator Getúlio Vargas’ New State (1937-45), something that he did in veiled and indirect ways in his scripts, which is something that was far from BBC LAS guidelines, but reveals that these cosmopolitan intellectuals working for the Corporation had different strategies to exercise their agency while still cooperating with British interests.


(1) Honorable Mention, Latin American Studies Association (LASA) – Antônio Cândido Award 2020 for best thesis. The thesis is currently being adapted into a monograph with the provisional title Transatlantic Radio Dramas: Antônio Callado and the BBC Latin American Service.

For more on the BBC LAS propaganda activities, and an analysis of some of Callado’s scripts, which respond creatively to the MOI/BBC guidelines, see my most recent article in Media History: “Propaganda and Entertainment in the BBC Latin American Service During WW2”


Bratzel, John F., and Thomas M Leonard. Latin America During World War II. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2007.

Briggs, Asa. War of Words. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1970.

Leal Filho, Laurindo. Vozes de Londres: memórias brasileiras da BBC. São Paulo: EdUSP, 2008.

Leite, Lígia Chiappini. “Quando a Pátria Viaja: Uma Leitura dos Romances de Antônio Callado.” In O Nacional e o Popular na Cultura Brasileira: Artes Plásticas e Literatura, edited by Carlos Zilio, João Luiz Lafetá, and Lígia Chiappini Leite, 129–235. São Paulo: Brasiliense, 1983.

Mansell, Gerard. Let Truth Be Told: 50 Years of BBC External Broadcasting. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1982.

Martinelli, Marcos. Antonio Callado: um sermonário à brasileira. São Paulo: Annablume, 2007.

Ridenti, Marcelo. “A Guerrilha de Antônio Callado.” In Perfis Cruzados: Trajetórias e Militância Política no Brasil, edited by Kushnir Beatriz, 23–53. Rio de Janeiro: Imago, 2011.

Seul, Stephanie, and Nelson Ribeiro. “Revisiting Transnational Broadcasting: The BBC’s Foreign-Language Services During the Second World War.” Media History 21, no. 4 (2015): 365–377.

Corporate Philanthropy during the Covid-19 Pandemic in Brazil

Marketa Jerabek – PhD (University of São Paulo and King’s College London)
Researcher in Brazilian philanthropy at the Department of Humanities and Applied Social Sciences at the José Luiz Egydio Setúbal Foundation

Graphic shows the evolution of Covid-19 related donations in Brazil

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused much grief around the world. It is not only a health but also an economic calamity. It is equally a humanitarian and a moral/ethical crisis. The pandemic underlines yet again the tragic consequences of the historical inequalities in Brazil. A recent study based on data on São Paulo city – the most populous city in Brazil and Latin America – shows that the education level, the number of people living in the same household, race and the income determine the likelihood of dying from Covid-19 (Ribeiro et al. 2021). Equally important is the consideration of the long-term consequences of the pandemic that will unsurprisingly affect vulnerable communities in the country to a much higher extent. A study commissioned by the Lemann Foundation predicts major repercussions in Brazil’s education performance, in which children and adolescents from the poorest, socially vulnerable communities are forecasted to be most affected (Lemann Foundation, 2021). The pandemic has also negatively impacted different civil society organizations in Brazil, given their difficulties in raising funds and lack of institutional conditions to provide essential services in health care and other social services (GIFE, 2020). The economic recession during the pandemic will have a long-term and damaging socio-economic impact on millions of socially deprived Brazilians, leaving no doubt as to the importance of public policies (Lucca-Silveira and Furquim, 2021).

This multi-dimensional crisis calls for adequate emergency responses from the government, but also from the private sector and the civil society. Amidst this tragedy, a little spark of hope is the impressive amount of donations made by the public, private and third sector that Brazil has received since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 – which are consolidated at the Monitor das Doações platform (ABCR, 2021), initiated by ABCR (Associação Brasileira dos Captadores de Recursos, the Brazilian Fundraiser Association) to monitor donations. Philanthropic projects and initiatives from corporations, individuals and private and corporate foundations mushroomed since the beginning of the pandemic which is reflected in an impressive historic sum of donations of over 6.7 billion of BRL. Corporations were in fact responsible for more than 85% of the 6.7 billion BRL donated. The donations are mainly destined for the public administration, hospitals, civil society organizations, vulnerable communities, and own projects in communities where the corporations are located (ABCR, 2021; Lucca-Silveira et al. 2021).

We from the Philanthropy Research Group Núcleo de Pesquisa em Filantropia of the José Luiz Egydio Setúbal Foundation (FJLES) took these data – more specifically, the donations of the 150 biggest donors – as an opportunity to reflect on corporate philanthropy in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond. We also conducted several interviews with key players in Brazilian philanthropy – speaking with 9 of the 25 biggest donors – to understand the donations related to decision-making processes and key lessons that might provide guidance for corporate philanthropy and the broader role of corporations in Brazilian society in the future. The research is part of a research series hosted by GIFE, the association of Brazilian social investors, to foment research about philanthropic actions during the Covid-19 pandemic for a better understanding on the effectiveness of philanthropic contributions during this crisis.

The results of our study regarding corporate donations provide a strong indication of an ample potential for corporations to reconcile pro-business and pro-social good agendas across different economic sectors. The experiences in the pandemic context constitute a rich set of learning lessons (Lucca-Silveira et al. 2021):

(i) Corporations learned the necessity to make certain decision-making processes less bureaucratic in order to engage as rapidly as possible when it comes to philanthropic actions, especially in emergency situations, and the importance of the creation of crisis committees that enabled rapid intraorganizational collaboration.

(ii) Not surprisingly, philanthropic Covid-19 projects that counted on previously invested resources and previous pre-pandemic knowledge in social corporate responsibility were implemented with more ease and drew upon better internal cooperation in the corporation.

(iii) The experiences by the corporations stress the key role of cooperation with partner institutions, such as civil society organizations with their expertise “on-the-ground” and the need to strengthen the institutional structure of organizations that receive donations and establish more trust among partner institutions to achieve the best results.

(iv) Last but not least, in alignment with the UN sustainable development goals, a common narrative among the interviewees arose; this was regarding the necessity to amplify the shared-value strategy by which a corporation can create value for other organizations such as micro-producers or cooperatives.

With our research, we hope to initiate a debate about the role of private actors, with an emphasis on corporate philanthropy and corporation’s role in the Brazilian society during the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond and especially when it comes to the protection of the most vulnerable communities across the country.

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