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News > World

Switzerland Vetoes Building Munitions Factory in Brazil to Save 'Neutral Face'

  • Participants fire their assault rifles during Switzelrand's traditional Ruetli shooting competition.

    Participants fire their assault rifles during Switzelrand's traditional Ruetli shooting competition. | Photo: Reuters

Published 7 September 2018

The Swiss government scraps building a munitions factory in Brazil due to pressure from civil society groups.

The government of Switzerland has formally opposed building a Ruag munitions factory in the Brazilian state of Pernambuco. Officials claimed that the project, valued at approximately 15 million euros, could result in substantial damage to the image of a country so often referred to as being "neutral" in armed conflicts.

US, Brazil Top List of Countries With Most Gun Deaths

Being the main shareholder in Ruag, the Swiss government has been under pressure to rescind their interest in building the munitions factory after reports revealed that over 60,000 people were killed in Brazil last year alone, and after following the assassination of Black activist and Rio de Janeiro Councilwoman Marielle Franco earlier this year.

Ruag's presence in Brazil would have marked the entrance of the international arms industry in the South American country after Senate-imposed President Michel Temer brought an end to the national market monopoly last year, according to Brasil 24/7.  

O Estado de Sao Paulo reported that socialist congressional representatives Priska Seiler and Angelo Barrile questioned Switzerland's Federal Council about the proposed Ruag munitions factory. One month after Franco's assassination, 13 civil society groups called into question Ruag's motives for opening the factory after it had been reported that over 60,000 people had been killed just last year.

A survey conducted by the JAMA Network has revealed that deaths involving the use of firearms peaked in Brazil and the United States. Those gun-related deaths included homicides, suicides, and accidental deaths.

In 2016, the United States and Brazil account for a whopping 32 percent of the total number of estimated deaths. A closer look also showed that Brazil accounted for a fourth of global gun-related homicides in 2016.

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