Allegations of corruption and influencepeddling dog the ambitious
us $1.4 billion surveillance project aimed to protect the Brazilian rain forest.
The Integrated Amazon Vigilance System or Sivam, as it is known, was announced with much fanfare earlier and the contract was awarded to the Massachusetts-based Raytheon Company in the US. Sivam would have helped the Brazilian government to gain a better control of the Amazon region and to protect its assets.
Its features include monitoring illegal logging and mining, detecting forest fires and also keeping a check on the incursions into indigenous reserves.
The project is now tangled in a mesh of politics and corruption as charges
are traded back and forth between the government of President Fernando
Henrique Cardoso and the opposition. The release of taped conversations between
a Raytheon official and an aide of the President has sparked off rumours of
kick-offs. So far the controversy has led to the resignations of three government officials.
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