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How did the various legislative initiatives on access to information in Brazil culminate in the Using the Advocacy Coalition Framework, this article analyzes the agenda setting and strategies of different coalitions, analyzing a broad array of news, interviews, laws, and official documents between and The article also identifies an overlap of two public policy subsystems: the transparency subsystem and the reconciliation one.
The latter monopolized the public debate on the subject, contributing to the slowness in approving a transparency law. Itamaraty also emerges as the author of a strong lobby against changes in the rules for document classification, for reasons yet to be studied. The Brazilian legislation on freedom of information has moved slowly. Brazil was the 14 th country in Latin America and the 91 st in the world to approve a freedom of information law RTI Rating, The Brazilian freedom of information law passed only in , even though there were bills Projeto de Lei - PL providing on rights to information in discussion in the Chamber of Deputies for eight years.
Other four bills were proposed in the following years, and there was no evidence these proposals could pass. However, there are many variations in how the different sides support these laws. The Brazilian case raises other questions: a quick examination on the process of this legislation shows that themes that are not directly related to transparency strongly influence the law-making process.
Policies of reconciliation are those that try to balance possible injustices and damages caused by political cleavages that have resulted in the restriction of fundamental rights or violence. The Brazilian amnesty law has been questioned by various civil society groups interested in criminally investigating abuses and crimes committed at the time of the Brazilian military regime Reis, Therefore, one of the assumptions examined in this study is that resistance to freedom of information occurred mostly because of the reconciliation agenda, rather than because of issues related to government transparency in a more comprehensive way.
The main characteristic of this approach is that it explores how actors organize and act to defend a particular policy. The ACF allows assuming the state is a preponderant actor in the formulation and implementation of public policies, differently from the view that the state is an actor with no major role in these processes, as suggested in the pluralist literature and the literature on public policy networks. Two advocacy coalitions were identified. The first one was composed of the Office of the Chief of Staff, Ministry of Justice, public archives, media, and civil society organizations.
This coalition was in favor of expanding transparency hereafter referred to as the progressive coalition. The second was formed by Ministry of Foreign Affairs Itamaraty , the Armed Forces, and the Commission of Foreign Affairs and National Defense CRE of the Brazilian Senate, and favored greater restrictions on access to classified documents from now on referred to as the conservative coalition.
The progressive coalition was divided into two groups: a one linked to government transparency; and b the other linked to reconciliation policies, referring to the period of the military regime in Brazil.
Regardless of the coexistence of two subsystems, there was growing support and perhaps the emergence of the epistemic community of transparency in Brazil, which was not subject to opposition by the conservative coalition. The coalition presented, therefore, great cohesion in its deep core and in the area of public policies, which were directed at the maintenance of the system of secrecy in force in Brazil at that time.
An important difference in the deep core of this coalition is that the reconciliation agenda fell particularly on the Armed Forces, while for the Itamaraty, the motivations to advocate for more secrecy varies between the fear of contestation of border demarcation reason for the beginning of the Paraguayan War 1 and an apparent institutional-bureaucratic inability to manage and protect existing secrets. The theme of reconciliation was crucial to the public debate about the level of secrecy of historical documents, which partially confirmed the assumptions tested in this study.
However, within the scope of the internal government lobby, Itamaraty emerged as an equally important actor in the lobby for the maintenance of secrecy statuses, which is a phenomenon that deserves further study. In addition to this introduction, this article presents a second section discussing the ACF and a third that introduces the methodological procedures adopted.
The fourth section presents the history of freedom of information in Brazil until , followed by a section that presents the application of the model to the case analyzed. Finally, the sixth section presents the final considerations, which summarize the study. The approach helps to understand changes in public policies in a context in which the interdependence between different social actors is essential and undeniable.
This perspective is crucial in Brazil because the executive branch and party leaders are predominant actors in the process of making and passing laws. The executive operates through political exchanges such as distributing ministerial positions, allocating budget, and accommodating appointees to positions in the state bureaucracy.
Source: Adapted from Weible and Sabatier In the ACF, coalitions are groups of actors that act together over time and share beliefs and values. Each coalition has: a a deep core; b a policy core; and c several instrumental decisions. On the policy core, Medeiros and Gomes , p.
As the political actors are great connoisseurs of relations within the political subsystem, they wish to invest in the application of certain deep beliefs regarding the development of political beliefs in that subsystem. However, there is no one-to-one relationship between these beliefs. Political beliefs are also difficult to change because they deal with fundamental political choices.
As for instrumental decisions, they are more likely to change because they are not part of the essential levels of the belief system.
To identify advocacy coalitions, two or three shared beliefs are sufficient. However, it is important to identify as many beliefs as possible in order to understand the subdivisions in the coalition. The arenas of advocacy coalitions are usually located in a policy subsystem, which is a set of social actors that form chains of value, as well as propose policies on specific issues or assets.
The actors influence changes when believing they are needed, going beyond specific institutions. Therefore, public policies would be the set of these subsystems stably organized, enabling the execution of action plans Weible et al. Another key concept in the ACF approach is political learning, the central component of a subsystem, as it influences the strategies adopted by actors to have a voice in public policy choices, as well as in the definition of the coalition goals.
In this way, it can be a determining factor in promoting changes in the status quo, but it is not the only explanatory variable for change. These intermediaries can assume the belief system of one or another coalition, or act autonomously.
What is important is that they are not actors of the coalition and seek, particularly, to reduce or neutralize conflicts between subsystem coalitions. The next section presents the methodological procedures adopted to apply the ACF to the trajectory of access to information in Brazil. In the cases of the speeches given by the deputies and the newspaper clippings, the intention was to identify elements in the following categories: a Values; b Coalitions; c Resources; and d Changes in strategy.
The interviews were conducted between and , with actors important or close to the law-making process. They were based on semi-structured scripts, and the interviewees were selected using the snowball approach. As for the profile, the five interviewees were: a a former employee of the Ministry of Justice, who worked in the working groups related to the freedom of information law; b a high-ranked representative of the Ministry of Defense; c two military personnel assigned to the Brazilian Army Command and General Staff College; and d a member of the Brazilian diplomacy working in the Ministry of Defense at the time of the freedom of information law, in Respondents asked not to be identified.
Regarding the news clippings, the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo was chosen because it is the newspaper with the largest circulation in the country Poder, Based on the results of the search using the keywords, news items touching these issues were distributed according to a actors involved; b whether the access to government documents was a main or secondary topic of the news report; and c whether the classification of national security and defense documents was the main or secondary topic.
For each news dedicated entirely to one of the two themes researched, or that mentioned the themes in the news title categorized as the main topic , the analysis attributed weight 1 in the count of the frequency of the mentions.
To the secondary mentions, i. This differentiation serves to measure the focus given by the media to the facts regarding the transparency and reconciliation subsystems, allowing to better understand the relevance attributed to the themes.
The first step toward access to public information in Brazil was the inclusion in art. President Collor de Mello sanctioned Law Lei de Arquivos, , which partially regulated access to public documents, establishing deadlines to attribute levels of secrecy of documents for the first time in the country.
Although this law represented an advance in legislation regarding access to information, there were no mechanisms for the citizen to request information from the government, nor did it establish a list of information to be actively disseminated. The first legislation that clearly defined these procedures was Decree Decreto de Acesso, , sanctioned by President Cardoso.
The decree was received with enthusiasm by archivists and researchers. Mexico and Panama had just passed prominent laws on access to public information, and Peru entered the list of countries with this type of legislation in Michener, ; RTI Rating, In that year and following the same international momentum, the first bill directly related to freedom of information appeared in Brazil.
Between and , five bills, one decree, and one law related to freedom of information emerged. Despite the difficulty of lawmakers to achieve success in their bill proposals, the legislative dynamic was, in the Brazilian case, a thermometer of the relevance of this topic in the political agenda.
In addition, photos were leaked in , showing a prisoner hanged in a cell during the military regime in Brazil. The government at the time, under the presidency of Mr. The legislation reduced the period of confidentiality of documents but insisted on the permission that classification could be renewed indefinitely. According to a news report from Folha de S. Paulo, the eternal secrecy was maintained due to a strong lobby from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Itamaraty, concerned over preserving controversial information from the Paraguayan War Folha de S.
Paulo, This argument has been repeated several times in other news reports, in line with the statement of one of the interviewees a member of the Ministry of Justice , that Itamaraty mobilized a lobby, stronger than the one of the Armed Forces, against the law providing for access to information. However, according to one of the military interviewees, the opposition was not due only to the controversies related to the Paraguayan War. The interviewee suggested that the Itamaraty wanted, also, to protect itself from transparency mechanisms, because its classification system was not adequately implemented, which could make them subject to leaking - caused by bureaucratic failure.
The bill stipulated a maximum period of 10 years to retain classified documents, defining the possibility of partial disclosure of information, if the document had only one confidential part.
The then Chief of Staff Mrs. Rousseff was the coordinator of the working groups that wrote the bill. The interviewee from the Ministry of Justice mentioned that the other ministries did not want to get involved in the initiative. With the creation of the bill from the executive branch in May , a special commission was established.
The bill was discussed in an ad hoc debate, winning an extraordinary session for its discussion. These two deputies arguments focused on two points concerning the attribution of levels of secrecy for documents sensitive to national security and foreign affairs: a the automatic disclosure of documents after the end of the work of attributing secrecy; and b the independence in reassessing the secrecy attributed to documents after their time of secrecy expired.
Marcelo Itagiba resorted to the blame of the government itself not to declassify documents related to the period of the military regime Chamber of Deputies, According to two interviewees, on the one hand, the then Minister Rousseff strongly defended both fronts, both right to information and reconciliation. She used her personal history of activist resisting and being arrested during the military regime as a means of pressure.
President Lula da Silva, in turn, maintained his reputation as a negotiator, accepting suggestions and postponing critical decisions on the subject. As one of the interviewees stated, for President Lula da Silva, it was not worthwhile to engage in this debate, since the law would already be a great advance even if it made possible to keep some documents classified indefinitely.
However, none of the other parties agreed to move the altered bill forward. Deputy Miro Teixeira, Democratic Labor Party PDT , affirmed that the automatic disclosure of classified documents that had their time of secrecy expired was the core of the project. He argued that the commitment to reconciliation had already been signed by President Cardoso when he went to the Army Headquarters in Brasilia to address the issue of providing financial reparations for those that had died and disappeared during the period of the military regime Chamber of Deputies, Other relevant issues have emerged, even though they have not been the subject of intense debate.
One of them refers to the creation of an autonomous body dedicated to overseeing and implementing the freedom of information law Chamber of Deputies, The slow advance in this theme was due to the belief of some members of Congress that this discussion could lead to the piling up or postponement of the law-making process.
These discussions were formalized in the Third National Program of Human Rights, which was not implemented. Paulo in which he argued that eternal secrecy is necessary for some documents, including those related to international agreements and state security Mello,
LEI 8159 DE 1991 PDF
How did the various legislative initiatives on access to information in Brazil culminate in the Using the Advocacy Coalition Framework, this article analyzes the agenda setting and strategies of different coalitions, analyzing a broad array of news, interviews, laws, and official documents between and The article also identifies an overlap of two public policy subsystems: the transparency subsystem and the reconciliation one. The latter monopolized the public debate on the subject, contributing to the slowness in approving a transparency law.
LEI 8159 DE 1991 PDF
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