In November 2021, SpaceX was in talks with Brazil to provide Internet access to remote communities in the Amazon. Now Elon Musk aims to cement Starlink’s presence in Brazil with a personal visit.
Musk met with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. They discussed bringing Starlink’s Internet access to remote schools and using SpaceX’s advanced space-based capabilities to combat illegal deforestation in the Amazon rainforest.
President Bolsonaro has often been criticized for failing to prevent deforestation, which has reached a 15-year high during his term. He pushed for more mining and farming in the Amazon region.
Bolsonaro has encouraged Tesla to establish a presence in Brazil, though the EV manufacturing company hasn’t done so in a meaningful way yet. He also expressed support for Musk’s efforts to acquire Twitter, saying that major tech firms have gone overboard in their efforts to stamp out misinformation. This echoed Musk’s frequent insistence that Twitter heavily favors left-wing viewpoints when censoring content.
Bolsonaro has been a champion of conservatism in Brazil and praised the military dictatorship that ruled the country from 1964 to 1985. Musk has also drifted to the right, recently saying that he would vote Republican during the 2022 midterm elections.
Bolsonaro has snubbed President Biden since Biden took office. Likewise, Biden has repeatedly snubbed Musk and Tesla when discussing electric vehicles despite Tesla being an early mover in the niche. This includes a failure to invite Tesla personnel to an electric car summit in August 2021. Some critics say that Biden snubbed Tesla because of Musk’s anti-union stances.
Despite his political tweeting and pushback against Democrats, who he accused of relying on Big Tech platforms to censor differing viewpoints, Musk seems more intent on pursuing Starlink’s goal of connecting remote or impoverished communities than anything while in Brazil.
Starlink currently has over 2,000 functional satellites in orbit and is capable of delivering Internet speeds that are nearly comparable to traditional land-line broadband. It has already demonstrated an ability to help with disaster relief and connect remote or impoverished communities through deals with national and local governments.
Starlink has helped Washington State and Tennessee respond to natural disasters. It reached into Latin America with a deal with Chile to connect remote communities. It also helped the Hoh Tribe and Cherokee Nation connect their members to the Internet.
Most recently, SpaceX sent Starlink terminals to Ukraine to help its defense forces up and running. SpaceX ramped up Starlink’s security to help it resist jamming. Elon Musk recently said that Russia has not stopped attempting to interfere with Starlink’s Internet service. Musk refuses to block Russian propaganda sites, though, saying that he is a “free speech absolutist.”