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conceptual mapping >  democracy and governance  > The failure of good intentions : fraud, theft and murder in the Brazilian diamond industry

Partnership Africa Canada (PAC)

The failure of good intentions : fraud, theft and murder in the Brazilian diamond industry

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> Occasional Paper n° 12, May 2005

« Laws for the English to see » (para inglês ver) : this Brazilian expression, still in common usage, dates back to 1830, when Brazil, under pressure from England, began to pass laws against trafficking in slaves. Everyone knew the laws would not be enforced. It was then said, that the laws were only para inglês ver, just for the English to see. They seem to act quite the same with the « Kimberley Process ».

Production is mostly in the hands of unlicensed, unregistered garimpeiros or hand miners in Brazil, one of the oldest diamond exporters on earth. Faced with the task of bringing order to such chaos, Brazilian authorities delayed passing the enabling legislation for Brazil’s entry into the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) until August 1, 2003, the day after other Kimberley signatories suspended Brazilian diamond imports. On paper, the system that was eventually put in place looks rigorous, systematic and comprehensive. In practice, it’s anything but. It’s a system fraught with systematic leaks and failures in oversight, a system that encourages smuggling and contraband, and conspires to hide the source of Brazil’s diamonds - 90 per cent of which are produced by garimpeiros - inside the production of a few recently legalized garimpeiro operations and those of a few larger producers. The real purpose of the system is not to track Brazil’s diamonds from their source, but to provide Brazil’s diamond exports with the legal covering of a piece of paper.

date of on-line publication : 8 February 2007

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