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Space Base of Alcantara

 

A piece of Brazil is on the verge of being rented out to the United State. Not any old chunk of land but an area of high economic, political and military value.

The Launch Centre of Alcântara (CLA) sits on the island of Alcântara in the northern state of Maranhão.    Close to the city of Sao Luis and neighbouring the Amazon it’s a small piece of paradise with a rich, turbulent cultural heritage.

It’s also one of the best earthly locations for the launching of satellites and rockets. At only two degrees off A piece of Brazil is on the verge of being rented out to the United State. Not any old chunk of land but an area of high economic, political and military value.

The Launch Centre of Alcântara (CLA) sits on the island of Alcântara in the northern state of Maranhão.    Close to the city of Sao Luis and neighbouring the Amazon it’s a small piece of paradise with a rich, turbulent cultural heritage.

It’s also one of the best earthly locations for the launching of satellites and rockets. At only two degrees off the equator line, launches made from Alcântara save up to 30in fuel consumption as well as permit the placing of satellites in sought after orbits. For the United States, which is responsible for 80of the world-wide market in satellite launches, the Alcântara base is a must have treasure. The deal between Brazil and the US has yet to pass through the Brazilian congress but appears to have the full support of the government, desperate for the large investment the Americans will bring.

This is most worrying for the indigenous residents of Alcântara who have the most to lose and the least to gain from the deal. It also imperils Brazil’s image as a non aggressive country.Brazil has signed international agreements committing itself to the aims of global disarmament and the non-proliferation of technology considered ‘sensitive’. The Brazilian constitution bans the use of nuclear power for military means and the national space agency (the AEB) was taken out of the military’s hands and put under civil control.

The proposed Alcântara agreement with the US contradicts all these goodwill arrangements. The deal on the table stipulates that the Americans can launch any type of satellite from Alcântara.It’s also widely speculated that the Brazilian government will agree to make part of Alcântara restricted areas where only persons authorised by the American government will be able to enter.

Even Brazilian scientists and the technicians employed in the base will have to seek permission for access to their own land.

The Americans will also be allowed to inspect the base without warning as well as install any electronic site monitoring equipment they feel necessary.” I think this lack of trust in Brazil by the Americans is disrespectful and unjustifiable” says Waldir Pires, author of a Ministry of Exterior report into the Alcântara deal. There are further areas of concern.

The Americans will be able to import or export any material or equipment to or from the base in sealed containers, which cannot be opened.