Elbit Systems Loses Brazilian Military Satellite Deal following BDS Protests

Tarso Genro

The Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul has cancelled a major collaboration deal with Israeli military company Elbit Systems, following protests over the company’s role in the Gaza war, the BDS website reported last week.

Brazilian social movements and trade unions and Palestinian groups had called on authorities to cancel the deal over Elbit’s role in the construction of Israel’s Wall in the West Bank and its close relationship with the Israeli military.

Tarson Nuñéz, the coordinator of the international relations department of the Rio Grande do Sul government described his government’s decision by saying:

“Our government has always given centrality to the promotion of peace and human rights and considers the demands of the social movements and important voice that needs to be heard. Today’s announcement is a logical consequence of this.”

Rio Grande do Sul governor Tarso Genro had signed a research cooperation deal making Elbit the first Israeli military company to lead Brazilian military projects in April 2013. Elbit was to be provided access to public funding and technologies produced by four local universities. The deal included building a $17 million military satellite

According to BDS, ongoing protests and a lack of federal support had weakened the project.

In his open letter, Genro declared the memorandum of understanding to be “void of meaning”.

Brazilian organizations such as the CUT trade union federation, the World March of Women and local student groups and political parties had all pressured the Rio Grande do Sul authorities to cancel the deal with Elbit Systems and even blockaded entrances to premises owned by Elbit subsidiary AEL Sistemas. The Palestinian embassy and the Palestinian Federation in Brazil have repeatedly intervened with the government.

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