Brazil’s government has excluded an Israeli “security” company from working at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro following a campaign by Palestine solidarity activists. In October 2014, the Israeli firm International Security and Defence Systems (ISDS) announced it had won a $2.2 billion contract with the Brazilian government to coordinate security at the huge sports event. The Times of Israel described the deal as “an unprecedented achievement for Israel,” while senior figures from the company stated it had already begun work.
But on 8 April, a division dealing with large events at Brazil’s justice ministry denied that ISDS had been awarded any contract. A letter from the ministry stated: “Any contract made by Rio 2016 won’t result in compromises by the Brazilian government.” The campaign against ISDS, which was supported by some of Brazil’s labor unions, is interpreting this as an acknowledgement of its grievances.
Julio Turra, executive director of CUT, the largest workers’ union in Brazil, says in a press release: “We are glad that the government distances itself from ISDS. It would be illegal and shameful to hire a company that develops its technologies in complicity with Israeli crimes and that accumulates complaints about its participation in Central American dictatorships.”
This boycott success comes on the heels of another recent and very significant win in Brazil for activists urging boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. At the end of 2014, in response to a separate campaign, the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul canceled a contract with the Israeli weapons company Elbit Systems to develop a major aerospace research center.