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Brazilian Weapons Firm Exports Arms to Turkey and Arab Countries

[All links lead to sites in Portuguese unless specified otherwise.]

This post, written by Bruno Fonseca and Natalia Viana for Agência Pública, was originally published as a report entitled “Bomba brasileira na pele turca”  (Turks Feel a Brazilian Bomb Firsthand) and is part of the special coverage #IndústriaBrasileiraDeArmas (Brazilian Weapons Industry) on the weapons lobby and industry in Brazil. The story will be published in a series of three articles on Global Voices Online. This is the second part of the series.

Check out the first post: Brazilian Tear Gas Used Against Turkish Protesters

Stand of the firm Condor in the Brazilian pavilion in Turkey in May, 2013. Some of the items on exhibit are the same which would be used against the Turkish population less than one month later. /Agência Pública/Under Creative Commons license

Condor's stand in the Brazilian pavilion in Turkey in May 2013. Some of the items on display were the same which would be used against the Turkish population less than one month later. Agência Pública/Used under Creative Commons license

Less than one month before the beginning of recent anti-government protests in Turkey, the Brazilian government backed a meeting between national weapons firms and foreign buyers in Istanbul. During the International Defense Industry Fair 2013 in Turkey from May 7 and 10, the Brazilian Agency for the Promotion of Exports and Investment (Apex Brasil) and the Brazilian Defense and Security Industries Association (ABIMDE [en]) – whose vice-president, Carlos Frederico Queiroz de Aguiar, is president of Condor – set up an eye-catching display in the Brazilian pavilion.

In the area set aside for Condor, a showcase displayed a variety of metallic projectiles, grenades, and cans of colored sprays, the same as those which would be used a few weeks later in the streets of the same country. Beneath the name of the company in red were ballerina grenades and “diverse defense solutions” – according to the industry jargon – such as 13 types of 40 x 46mm incapacitating munitions for launchers.

Apex hadn't responded to questions about Condor and other Brazilian firms’ incentive in Turkey by the time of this report's publication. According to the Turkish newspaper Sozcu, Minister of Commerce Hayati Yazici stated that in the last 12 months, the country imported 628 tons of tear gas and pepper spray, mostly from Brazil and the United States. These imports were valued at 21 million US dollars.

Condor is the only Brazilian firm that sells weapons to the government of Turkey, according to a statement from their press secretary. In addition to long range projectiles and ballerina grenades, Condor also produces tear gas and pepper sprays, smoke bombs, rubber bullets and stun guns, known as Taser guns.

In 2011, the firm confirmed the sale of weapons to Arab countries, although they denied selling weapons directly to Bahrain, where police cracked down on protesters the following year. Among their clients was the government of the United Arab Emirates, which sent troops in support of the Bahraini government.

In April 2013, Condor signed yet another contract with the government of the UAE, valued at 12 million US dollars, to supply 600,000 units of non-lethal munitions. The agreement was announced during LAADEXPO 2013 [en], the largest defense and security exposition in Latin America, which took place at Riocentro in April.

In February 2013, ABIMDE participated in another weapons fair, this time in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. Again, Condor participated in the event as the only Brazilian firm producing non-lethal weapons.

Use of non-lethal weapons questioned in Brazil

Last June 3, 2013, Brazil signed the Arms Trade Treaty at the United Nations. According to the text, which aims for the elimination of weapons trade for genocide, terrorists, and international organized crime, “trade in conventional weapons would be regulated, establishing standards for their export and promoting more transparency in their transfer.” Considered a great advance for a country which avoids transparency regarding the sale of Brazilian weapons – the Minister of Development, Industry, and Foreign Trade refuses to divulge the numbers of firms which export weapons, for example – the treaty doesn't have specific definitions about the trade of non-lethal weapons. Condor's products are sold to more than 40 countries.

The Ministry of Development, Industry, and Foreign Trade refuses to divulge data on Brazilian companies which export arms/Agência Pública/Used under Creative Commons license

The Ministry of Development, Industry, and Foreign Trade refuses to divulge data on Brazilian companies which export arms. Agência Pública/Used under Creative Commons license

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