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.

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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.

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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%.

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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.

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Second Presidential Debate in Brazil’s Second Round Election Runoff

October 16, 2014

Layne Vandenberg – Brazil Institute, 10/16/2014

Presidential candidates Dilma Rousseff and Aécio Neves

Presidential candidates Dilma Rousseff and Aécio Neves

The second set of presidential debates between the incumbent President Dilma Rousseff of the Workers’ Party (PT) and Aécio Neves of the Social Democratic Party (PSDB) takes place tonight. This debate, following the first one last Tuesday (10/14), will hopefully begin to turn the tides of Brazilian voters in what Mauro Paulino, a Datafolha pollster, says is one of the most unpredictable elections in Brazil’s history.

After the first round of voting on October 5th, the candidates were narrowed down to two: Dilma Rousseff, who received 41.5% of the votes, and Aécio Neves, who received 31.5%. Third place runner-up, Marina Silva (PSB), who was anticipated to advance to the second round along with Rousseff because of her rapid rise after the death of Eduardo Campos, was left with only 21.3%. This past Sunday, Silva officially endorsed Neves, possibly posing herself as king maker of the election. Rousseff and Neves will compete in a second round runoff election on October 26th to determine the presidency. Read the rest of this entry »


Why Brazil needs change: Voters should ditch Dilma Rousseff and elect Aécio Neves

October 16, 2014

The Economist Print Edition, 10/16/2014

In 2010, when Brazilians elected Dilma Rousseff as president, their country seemed at last to be living up to its huge potential. The economy expanded by 7.5% that year, setting the seal on eight years of faster growth and a steep fall in poverty under Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Ms Rousseff’s political mentor and the leader of the centre-left Workers’ Party (PT). But four years later that promise has disappeared. Under Ms Rousseff the economy has stalled and social progress has slowed. Sanctions-hit Russia aside, Brazil is by far the weakest performer in the BRIC club of big emerging economies. In June 2013 over a million Brazilians took to the streets to protest against poor public services and political corruption.

Ever since the protests the polls have shown that two-thirds of respondents want the next president to be different. So one might have expected them to turf out Ms Rousseff in the first round of the country’s presidential election on October 5th. In the event she secured 41.6% of the vote and remains the narrow favourite to win the run-off ballot on October 26th. That is mainly because most Brazilians have not yet felt the economic chill in their daily lives—though they soon will. And it is partly because her opponent, Aécio Neves of the centre-right Party of Brazilian Social Democracy (PSDB), who won 33.6%, has struggled to persuade poorer Brazilians that the reforms he espouses—which the country urgently needs—will benefit rather than harm them. If Brazil is to avoid another four years of drift, it is vital that he succeeds in doing so.

Mr Neves’s task has been made harder by a campaign scarred by tragedy and upended by fate, as dramatic as a Brazilian telenovela. Two months ago the third-placed candidate, Eduardo Campos, died in a plane crash on his way to a rally. His former running-mate and replacement, Marina Silva, surged into the lead in the polls. An environmentalist, Ms Silva is the darling of the protesters, the symbol of a “new politics”. But attractive though her lack of a political machine might have seemed, it was a liability. Faced with sometimes underhand attacks from Ms Rousseff, Ms Silva wobbled. It did not help that she is an evangelical Protestant in what is still a largely Catholic country. In the end her 21% share of the vote was scarcely bigger than she managed in 2010. Rather than a “new politics”, the run-off will repeat the battle between the PT and the PSDB that has defined all Brazil’s presidential elections since 1994.

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