Brazil and its backyard

October 24, 2014

The Economist (print edition),  10/25/2014

Like voters in most democracies, Brazilians pay little heed to foreign policy when choosing leaders. Yet the presidential election on October 26th matters not just to Brazil but to the region. Over the past two decades Latin America’s giant has overcome its introversion and wielded growing influence in its backyard. And on foreign policy, as on economics, there is a clear gap between President Dilma Rousseff of the centre-left Workers’ Party (PT), who wants a second term, and her rival, Aécio Neves, of the centre-right Party of Brazilian Social Democracy (PSDB).

Brazil’s greater assertiveness began under Fernando Henrique Cardoso of the PSDB in the 1990s and continued under the PT’s Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the president in 2003-10. Both gave importance to the Mercosur trade block (founded by Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay), to South America and to ties with Africa and Asia. Both had reservations about a 34-country Free-Trade Area of the Americas, a plan that Lula helped to kill.

But there were differences, too, partly because of Brazil’s changing circumstances. Lula put far more stress on “south-south” ties and on the BRICs grouping (linking Brazil to Russia, India, China and later South Africa). In Latin America he emphasised “political co-operation”. Relations with the United States were cordial but distant, especially after Lula tried brokering a nuclear deal with Iran which the White House opposed.

Read more…


Brazil’s ‘most unpredictable election since return to democracy’

October 23, 2014

Joseph Bamat – France 24, 10/23/2014

An acrimonious and volatile presidential race has entered its final stretch in Brazil, with left-wing incumbent Dilma Rousseff and conservative challenger Aecio Neves running neck and neck.

Over 140 million Brazilians will be voting on Sunday, with Rousseff of the Worker’s Party (PT) fighting to win a second term, and Neves desperate to avoid a fourth consecutive defeat at the ballot box for his centre-right Party of Brazilian Social Democracy (PSDB). Rousseff appears to have regained the momentum just days ahead of the October 26 election, after opinion polls showed she had slipped behind Neves last week. Brazilian polling firm Datafolha revealed on Wednesday that Rousseff was on pace to win 52 percent of the votes that will be cast on Sunday, with Neves set to claim 48 percent support – a margin within the study’s margin of error.

“This election has been marked by unusual political vulnerability,” said Paulo Sotero, the director of the Brazil Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. “It’s been the most unpredictable election since the return of democratic elections in 1989 and will remain unpredictable until the end.”

Read more…


5 Reasons Why Aecio Neves Should Be Elected The Next President Of Brazil

October 23, 2014

Anderson Antunes – Forbes, 10/22/2014

Twelve years ago Brazilians chose Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the first member of the working class to be elected president of Brazil, as the person whom they believed could promote the changes that the country needed in order to become a fairer and better place to live. Lula, who is known by his first name, didn’t disappoint. During his government (2003-2010), Brazil’s economy expanded considerably, although not as much as the world economic growth during the same period, and  it was mostly thanks to China’s appetite for Brazil’s commodities.

Millions of Brazilians were lifted out of poverty, and a new middle class emerged, eager to spend money. During Lula’s eight year term, the number of Brazilians with banking accounts went from 70 million to 115 million, increasing from 40% to 59% the percent of the Brazilian population who maintained a relationship with the country’s financial system. The total number of mortgages went from 37,000 in 2003 to 530,000 last year, while today the equivalent of 60% of the country’s GDP is circulating in the economy in the form of loans. Even the number of Brazilian billionaires increased, from only five in 2003 to 65 this year.

However, during Lula’s last years, inflation became a dangerous distraction and industrial production didn’t grow as much as it should have. Add to that the fact that Lula’s successor, Dilma Rousseff, failed dramatically to keep up his good work, blaming a nonexistent world crisis for her poor performance as the commander-in-chief. Investors who once lined up to put money into Brazil’s economy are now looking to other markets. That should change if Rousseff loses her bid for re-election.

Read more…


Brazilians Are Shocked, Shocked at Corruption!

October 21, 2014

Antonio Prata – The New York Times, 10/21/2014

We Brazilians suffer from a curious cognitive dysfunction, which occurs with the same frequency in our population as lactose intolerance does among the Japanese, or the inclination for punning among the English. We have the ability to be outraged by corruption, while engaging in our own petty versions of it.

As the second round of presidential voting approaches on Sunday, this evil is spreading like an epidemic. In bars, on the streets and on social networks, advocates of Dilma Rousseff, the Workers Party candidate for re-election, and Senator Aécio Neves, of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party, never tire of reminding us of the “robberies” that their rivals commit.

Workers Party supporters cite the re-election scandal in which Social Democrats were accused of bribing congressmen to approve a constitutional amendment allowing Fernando Henrique Cardoso to compete again for the presidency in 1998. Social Democrats’ supporters mention the “Mensalão,” a case in which congressmen allied with the Workers Party regularly received money diverted from Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s illegal campaign contributions. Those not involved in the party squabbles tend to blame all the politicians, as if the politicians were a separate species, able to corrupt our reputable citizens.

Read more… 


Neck & neck Brazil presidential race casts doubts on Mercosur, BRICS

October 21, 2014

Mauricio Saverese – RT, 10/21/2014

About a year ago everyone expected an easy ride for President Dilma Rousseff in her reelection campaign. Now, in the final week of Brazil’s election season, she is technically tied with opposition’s Aécio Neves.

About 20 percent of voters, who reject both candidates or seem too tired of politics to show up on October 26, are hearing desperate claims from the incumbent and her antagonist. It is likely Brazilians only know what will happen after the last vote is counted. That uncertainty makes the country’s future a big mystery. And that includes a big chunk of South America’s powerhouse foreign policy.

Neither Rousseff nor Neves want to give away much of what they intend to do if victorious. But the president’s closest allies have given hints. Rousseff’s foreign advisor Marco Aurélio Garcia says “South America is a big asset” and insists Mercosur – the region’s free trade zone – must be strong to keep Brazil’s position as a Latin American spokesman. Neves’ aide Rubens Barbosa, a former ambassador to Washington, says Brazil does better by imploding Mercosur (which includes Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay), so there is a deal with the European Union and diplomacy that is friendlier to the US.

Read more… 


Why Dilma Should Look Back to Her Bases in Brazil’s Runoff Election

October 21, 2014

John L. Hammond – NACLA, 10/20/2014

The outcome of the Brazilian presidential election of October 5 was much as it was predicted to be two months before. Because Dilma Rousseff, the incumbent, of the Workers Party (PT), won less than 50% of the vote, she will face Aécio Neves, of the Party of Brazilian Social Democracy (PSDB), in a runoff on October 26.

But there were many surprises in between. The election campaign was upended several times. Until 16 months ago, Dilma’s reelection was taken for granted. (The two candidates, like most politicians in Brazil, are always referred to just by their first names. Here we will follow the Brazilian example.) But the urban uprising of June 2013 revealed a level of popular discontent that had gone unrecognized. Protest was predicted to burst out again when the World Cup competition was played there in June and July, but turned out to be muted in soccer-mad Brazil, even when the national team suffered an ignominious defeat, 7-1, against Germany in the semifinals.

Then, less than two months before the election, the third-ranked candidate, Eduardo Campos of the Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB), died in a plane crash, and his place at the top of the ticket was taken by his running mate, Marina Silva. Marina, who was much better known and more popular than Campos, surged to second place in the polls and appeared to have a real chance of defeating Dilma in a runoff. But in the days before the election, Marina’s support collapsed. In the final tally, Dilma won 42%, Aécio 34%, and Marina 21%.

Read more… 


Fifa’s third-party ownership ban: is it good or bad news for Brazil?

October 21, 2014

Fernando Duarte – The Guardian, 10/21/2014

The revelation that Barcelona paid over £20m more than they originally declared to tempt Neymar from the Brazilian seaside town of Santos to the more noble shores of Catalonia in May 2013 was noisy enough to bring down the then president Sandro Rosell and trigger an investigation into the finances of the striker’s father and main adviser, Neymar Sr.

It also shone a light on the complexity of the deal and the number of parties involved. In 2009, when Neymar Jr was aged 17 and was not even a regular in the first team, Santos already feared losing the boy’s services. To entice him to stay, the club put together a vastly improved contract negotiated by selling “chunks” of the player, accounting for 40% of his economic rights, to DIS, a fund belonging to a Brazilian supermarket mogul. By the time he was sold to Barcelona, Teisa, a group formed by some of the club’s directors, also owned a further 5% of the golden goose.

Neymar’s tale is emblematic of why Fifa’s decision to ban third-party ownership “within three or four years” will have a strong impact in Brazilian football. Without investors, Santos would have never been able to hold on to their biggest poster-boy when big clubs, Chelsea included, came knocking – even though the process also included the club pretty much relinquishing any participation in the player’s image rights.

Read more… 


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,808 other followers

%d bloggers like this: