March 4, 2014
Ilan Goldfajn – O Estado de S. Paulo, 3/4/2014
It is uncommon to have low unemployment rates in a weak economy. In general, the slowdown of the economy affects the labor market, at least after a certain period. However, in recent years, Brazil’s GDP has grown around 2% percent, while unemployment rates continued to fall to 5 % percent. This is important. After all, unemployment has a unique relevance for society. In the economy, it affects purchasing power and consumption, as well as production. Hence, unemployment is crucial for politics, for it can decide an election. But what explains this paradox between economic growth and unemployment, and what are the consequences for the economy?
According to Ilan Goldfajn, chief economist at Itaú Unibanco, one important factor to explain this phenomenon in Brazil is demographic changes, along with a declined rate of youth participating in the economy.
To read original article in Portuguese, click here.
March 3, 2014
Marguerite Cawley – In Sight Crime, 3/3/2014
Paraguay’s top anti-drugs official has admitted that Brazilian organized crime groups have permanent presence in some strategic drug trafficking and production areas of the country, confirming the extent of the Brazilian criminal migration to its ill-prepared neighbor.
Luis Rojas, head of Paraguay’s anti-drug agency SENAD, told EFE that the border towns of Ciudad del Este and Pedro Juan Caballero have become operational centers for Brazilian gangs including the Red Command (CV), the First Capital Command (PCC) and Amigos dos Amigos, which control drug trafficking in these regions.
According to another SENAD official, these criminal organizations take advantage of areas with little state presence, especially in border regions, where much of the country’s marijuana is cultivated. They have also begun financing cocaine production laboratories inside Paraguayan borders, near the border with Bolivia, and advancing money to local farmers to grow marijuana.
February 28, 2014
Sergio Fausto, O Estado de S. Paulo, 2/28/2014
Challenges abound for the next presidential term. There are several symptoms indicating that the “new development model,” the “new paradigm of the political economy,” or all the other pompous names one wishes to assign to the policies of the current government, have not produced the expected results. There is a widespread feeling both here and abroad that we are improvising and kicking the can down the road. For how long will this last?
Given this situation, the following question is raised: Will the candidates for the Presidency present political platforms that allow the voter to understand their vision with regards to these challenges and learn about the political choices each one intends to make to address them? Or will we once again watch, as per the norm in recent disputes, a campaign devoid of programmatic content, reduced to propaganda based on real or alleged personal positive attributes of the candidates and vague proposals of distributing more benefits (fancifully without costs and without sacrificing any other desirable goal)?
It is true that political platforms must be translated into more accessible language to ordinary voters, and that in order for a campaign to be successful, it must mobilize feelings around a simplified driving idea. Or such is the conventional political wisdom in Brazil. This notion, however, not only inhibits voters from being more informed, but also weakens the mandate of the government elected by the voters.
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February 25, 2014
Joe Leahy – The Financial Times, 2/24/2014
For weeks workers at São Paulo’s Itaquerao stadium have been clearing up the damage from a deadly construction accident in November. A giant roof girder crashed through a wall of the unfinished 68,000-seat arena, killing two labourers and casting a pall over Brazil’s preparations for this year’s football World Cup.
“People working in there say it won’t be ready in time for the World Cup,” says Paulo Arminio, who sells snacks to construction workers from a van outside the venue and who witnessed the accident.
The government and Fifa, football’s global governing body, insist the stadium will be ready for the world’s most popular sporting event, which begins in June.
February 24, 2014
Bank windows were smashed and fires started in Sao Paulo in a rally against World Cup expenditure, which has exceeded $11 billion. Police fired tear gas and stun grenades, making hundreds of arrests.
Almost a thousand people peacefully took to the streets on Saturday in the south-eastern city to express their discontent over the high government expenditure on the World Cup, which Brazil is going to host in four months.
“There will be no Cup!” and “Cup for the rich, scraps for the poor!” protesters chanted according to AFP.
February 20, 2014
Beyond the excitement of the World Cup and Carnival, Brazil is tackling many problems which resonate around the world including income inequality and worries about an economic downturn.
The government has made a big push to lift people out of poverty. In the last decade alone, 40 million Brazilians have entered the middle class.
But as the BBC’s Katty Kay reports from Rio de Janeiro, it’s just a start.
February 19, 2014
Vanessa Barbara – The New York Times, 2/19/2014
In Brazil, police officers kill an average of five people every day. In 2012, according to a security report from the Brazilian Forum on Public Security, 1,890 Brazilians were killed by the police, 351 here in São Paulo. That was around 20 percent of all homicides in the city. At the same time, 11 police officers were killed on duty here and around 100 were executed off-duty, allegedly by organized crime. Police officers are three times more likely to be murdered than the average Brazilian.
I once complained about being a writer in Brazil, but it seems our police officers are in considerably worse shape. In São Paulo, lower ranked military police officers earn an annual salary of $15,248, including benefits and danger pay allowances. They work in 12-hour shifts, night and day, for an average of 42 hours a week. But only in theory. Officers claim the rules are often ignored, with extended overtime, short notice of scheduling changes and irregular or no lunch breaks. Some take on additional jobs to supplement their wages, not only as private security guards (which is illegal), but also in a program called “Atividade Delegada,” through which the city hires policemen in their spare time, offering the equivalent of $64 for eight extra hours patrolling the streets.
February 18, 2014
Jonathan Watts - The Guardian, 2/15/2014
Another week, another storm of teargas and rubber bullets at a World Cup host city in Brazil. This time, the clashes were in the capital, Brasília, where 15,000 protesters from the Landless Workers Movement marched from the Mané Garrincha football stadium to the Palácio do Planalto state office of the president, Dilma Rousseff.
Riot police using batons and teargas fought off several attempts to invade the building. The demonstrators threw stones and tore down railings which they used as weapons. In the fierce fighting, 12 protesters and 30 police officers were injured.
Rousseff was not in her office at the time, but this latest explosion of unrest is yet another headache for the president in what is supposed to be one of the most triumphant, feelgood years in the nation’s history.