Project SIVAM (System for the Vigilance of the Amazon) was conceived in
1990 by the Brazilian government as a means to monitor and determine the
region's potential, limitations, and realities. In 1992 at the UN Conference
on the Environment and Development in RIo de Janeiro, the project was announced
publically to the world. By 1997,
began work as the project's largest contractor after approval of the
project by the Brazilian Senate. The other two major partners in the
Fundação para Aplicações de Tecnologias Críticas
a Brazilian Foundation focusing on the application of critical technology
and its US subsidiary, Amazon
; and Embraer
, a Brazilian aircraft manufacturer.
Work on the project is expected to be completed within five years,
by the end of 2002. The first operational product of the project, new
satellite receiver / processing system to generate images of the region was
available in June 1999. By June 2000, Raytheon delivered the first
laboratory aircraft of the project to the Brazilian Air Force.
The four major
categories of the project include:
technical infratructure for the project will consist of both forty-six land
and air-based stations. Air-based stations
will include synthetic aperture radars, multispectral scanners, optical
infrared sensors, high frequency direction finding equipment, and communications
and non-communications exploitation gear. Much of this will be installed
onto three remote sensing aircraft, modified versions
of the Embraer ERJ- 14.
All of the data collected will then be funelled to one of three processing
stations (Manuas, Porto Velho, and Belem) in Brazil. A general processing
center will be installed in Brasilia.
- Forest fires
- Flood monitoring
- River pollution
- Air pollution
- Regional planning
and support to local communities
- Support to
zoning and land use actions
- Flood prediction
- Weather forecast
- Support to
prevention and control of diseases
- Law enforcement
- Air traffic
Information generated by the surveillance systems of the project will
be used for:
- Control of
land occupation and usage
and ecological zoning
- Updating of
and control of epidemics
of the indigenous populations
and control of the borders
of river navigation and forest fires
of illegal activities (gold mining, deforestation, drug production and
- Air traffic
of cooperative and non-cooperative aircraft
- Increase weather
- Improve the
health of the Brazilian people
Since the project was conceived in 1990, critics of the project have called
it an extravagance and a toy of the military. Yet despite budget cuts,
the project has survived.
The project has also been surrounded by cloud scandal. Rival bidders
have accoused one another of trying to bride Brazilian government officials.
A 1996 World Press Review article in fact stated that "investigations
have show that [Raytheon] use bribery to get the contract." The major
piece of evidence in the case seems to have come form a 1995 wiretap of Julio
Cesar Gomez dos Santos, a special advisor to President Cardoso, which indicated
a that a Raytheon lobbyist may have bribed a Brazilian senator to gain backing
for the SIVAM project. Brazil's president blocked a parliamentary
investigation into this matter, and so that project has remained on course.
Other critics of the program feel that it is merely a way for gringos
to spy of Brazil.
Evironmentalists beleive that the project's real goal is national security
and not protection of the environment. In theory forestry officials,
environmentalists, and tropical ecologists will be able to gain access
to the data collected by the system. This however, supposes that
such people will have the resources to analyze the data. For example,
when the project was initially proposed, only a
mere $5 million was appropriated for the National Amazon Research Institute
in Manuas. By 2001 the budget had been cut to $500,000.
Luiz Gylvan Meira Filho, science-policy chief for Brazil’s Science and
, "SIVAM is
not a tool for scientific research . . . It was created so the government
can better carry out its job of protecting the Amazon region.”
There is also some feeling that the law enforcement component of the
project is doomed to fail as well without additional resources. The
federal environmental authority is severely understaffed and is currently
faced with a $20 million dollar shortfall this year. The army this
year had to release 44,000 recruits and the air force had to ground its
planes for weeks at a time this year due to a lack of funding.
Defense experts say the radar will be a "toothless tiger," with the Brazilian
military banned from shooting down suspect aircraft.
Evaluation - SIVAM's Problems
From what I have read up to this
point, there seem to be some serious problems with project SIVAM.
The first problem with the program is the controversy that surrounds Raytheon
and allegation sof the comany using bribery as a means of ensuring that it
would be selected by the Brazilian government to execute the program. Rumors
of bribery, from what I can tell have never been dispelled. The issue
was table when the Brazilian president blocked a full investigation into
The second problem that I have found with SIVAM is the project's funding.
Although the government seems eager to spend $1.4 billion to build and
infrastructure with which to monitor the Amazon, there appears to be a serous
lack of funding for analyzation of any collected data. Agencies responsible
for conducting any such analyzations are understaffed and underfunded. One
article I read suggested funnelling Brazilian college graduates into the
project. However, the article added that the Brazilian university system
is already taxed and therefore is not prepared to handle such a task. Furthermore,
since the major Brazilian universities are not located in the Amazon, it
seems unlikely that such a program will occur in the near future. Another
article I read seemed to emphasize that analyzation of the data is at this
point largely theoretical, that is that if agencies had the funding and staff
to perform such analysis, they would have access to the data. The fact,
however, remains that these agencies do not have the resources to do so.
One example of this is the National Amazon Research Institute, whose
initial meager budget of $5 million has been cut to just $500,000.
This lack of funding even seems to extend to the law enforcement component
of the project. For example, last year the Brazilian army was forced
to turn down 44,000 recruits due to budget constraints. Another example
of this is the federal environmental authority, which is faced with a $20
million shortfall this year.
The third isse that I have found with the project is that there seems
to be a degree of secrecy surround it. This may not may not be a problem.
I am just curious as to why the world's major newspapers have given
so little attention to such a massive project. The Washington Post
for example, has only published two articles on the project ever; the
New York Times and LA Times have each only published three
articles. The majority of the press attention on the project surrounds
the Embraer planes. Ther articles however, are largely found in national
security and defense industry journals. Even the bribery scandal received
very little press. In fact, the issue never reached the Washington
Post or New York Times. There were however, articles published
by the LA Times, Boston Globe, and Associated Press, but I was unable to
get electronic access to those articles.
Evaluation - Implication of SIVAM for Mission 2006
Having read about a serious lack of resources with which to analyze all
the data being collected, there does seem to be something that the Mission
2006 class could offer the SIVAM project, manpower to analyze the data. Raytheon
in fact, already appears to be committted to training people to develop applications
for analyzing the collected data. The other thing the class could offer
the SIVAM project is funding or links between organizations willing to fund
such projects and organizations capable of analyzing data.
My suggestion to those people in the class who have volunteered to meet
with representatives from Raytheon is first to get more information about
the project. Since there has been little press about the issue and
the project's main website is only available in Spanish, details of the project
are very limited. Furthermore, there seems to be some discrepancy of
the details of the project. For example, I have seen the number of land-based
monitoring stations vary from a low of 46 to a high of 900+. The number
of planes involved in the project seems to have an equally variable number.
Specific to the water group, we would like to get information on what
the SIVAM project will be capable of in terms of monitoring river pollution,
flow volumes, evapotranspiration, aquatic biota, sediment flow, and rainfall.
Secondly, I would ask the Raytheon representatives as to what an outside
group like our class could contribute to the project if not offer our assistance
to them. The problem here is that Raytheon is not ultimately in charge
of the project. That rests with the Brazilian government, but perhaps
Raytheon would be able to link our class with representatives from the government.
In summary, I think that the SIVAM project has great potential. My
fear is that this potential is being wasted with a lack of funding for analyzation
of the data. This does however, leave some opening for our class to
make a contribution or more likely propose a contribution to SIVAM. In
terms of the options Kip listed on the board on Friday November 1 (ignore,
capitulate, etc.) it seems like we should move to cooperate with the SIVAM
project. We should not however, limit ourselves to cooperate with this
one project. There are many, many large-scale Amazon monitoring projects
like this one, which we could potentially work with. Where this project
does not appear to make much use of remote satellites for data collection,
other projects offer that capability.
"Amazon Region Requirements and SIVAM Capabilities"
"Raytheon Plays a Key Role in the Goverment of Brazil's System for the
Vigilance of the Amazon (SIVAM)"
"Brazil's President Inaugurates Amazon Monitoring System
"The Amazon Fortress" Margolis, Mac. Newsweek 2002
"Brazil spies on Amazon loggers" BBC News July 25. 2002
Kowalski, B. J. "Brazil: Amazon snafu" World Press Review April
"Raytheon Watch" J. Whitfield Larrabee & Associates