What is the economic power structure of the private groups in this country? Who are the actors who accumulate the most power in this structure, and what is the relationship amongst them? What is the degree of influence of this invisible power structure, over government decisions in terms of development and economic policies? How does the State relate and feed this power structure and what are the counterparts of this relationship for the well being of society?
It is with the objective to respond to these and other questions that we built the “Brazil’s Owners” Ranking.
The ranking was has origins in the construction of an unedited information system that measures economic power not just from the revenue of these companies but also of the control, the proxy (with voting rights) ownership that a company possesses of other companies and how this increases its capacity to influence the Brazilian government’s investments (click here to understand how this index is calculated).
One cannot speak of a true State with Democratic Rights if a society does not know the private sector’s economic power structures and its influences on the economic strategy and development of the Brazilian government. Even more so when we know that the actions of companies and banks with the most accumulated capital, because they are committed to profit, negatively and brutally impact the social, economic, cultural and environmental life of the country.
The Brazil’s Owners Ranking shows that Brazilian capitalism has a face, a first name, a last name and an address. The ranking exposes the control of property that these groups of few companies and people hold, through complex and branching corporate equity holdings. The ranking brings the intricate conglomerate networks and chains, holdings, financial institutions, speculative companies and other tax registries that no one produces, finally arriving at the ultimate controllers behind companies that are party of our every day, the true owners of Brazil.
We want to contribute in order to give visibility and concreteness to the indecent concentration of wealth and power that marks the social and economic life of the country, justified by the created and propagated consensus that these companies and their owners produce riches for Brazil, through the creation of employment and by bringing “development” and “progress” to the places they operate.
We aim for Brazil’s Owners Ranking to provide information that supports community struggles and those who are affected by the damaging actions of the power hegemonic economic groups in Brazil, be they the disrespect of dignified living and working conditions, be they environmental destruction. We also have the intention of subsidizing research institutions interested in the unvailing of the power structure. We are designing the ranking as a concrete instrument of struggle of the diverse social movements and organizations working for more democracy in this country. In this sense, the ranking provides information and reveals the ways in which capital is organized, structured and applied in the country and how its actions impact the daily lives of the Brazilian population. With this tool it is possible, for example, to identify the true agents behind human rights violations and social and environmental liabilities.
The connections between the State and private groups, built historically, feed an elevated concentration of economic power, as ranking reveals. It shows us that behind the famous company names and tangled in the chains of control, there are people. People that lead and plan their actions, and that, in many cases, are strongly supported by the Brazilian State, through subsidized financing, like, for example the National Social and Economic Development Bank (BNDES); as well as fiscal and tax benefits by municipal, state and federal governments. Through the ranking the presence of the State is also identified in the societal structure of private groups through the participation of state companies and of their pension funds in the capital of these groups.
We have the right, as Brazilian citizens, to demand the democratization of the use of public resources and its social control, and to have access to the information about where and how these are applied.
The current smoke screen that covers the economic power structure in the country, normally exempts those who carry themselves as Brazil’s owners of any responsibility around social, economic, cultural or environmental damages created by the actions of the companies that they control. The ranking, by exposing these actors, looks to contribute to the democratization of the economy, with transparency around the relationship between the State and the market and by holding “Brazil’s owners” accountable.
The creation of the ranking is just a first step in the creation of the “proprietariosdobrasil.org.br” portal as a collective space for the sharing of information, analysis, and reports about who are and how those who control economic power in the country act. The More Democracy Institute and the EITA Cooperative invite all who share the principles that orient this work to ally themselves, right away, in the construction of this space. From our part, the next step with be to build, through collaborative financing, an online interactive platform about Brazil’s owners, with filters that facilitate access to Ranking databases available in this portal.