November 21, 2013
Mac Margolis – The Daily Beast, 11/21/2013
Thanks to an arcane law, the country’s rich and famous are able to block publication of books on their lives—but the Supreme Court may be set to loosen the publishing stranglehold.
Like torture and curfews, book banning in Brazil went out with the military dictatorship almost 30 years ago. Back then, intellectuals, artists, and politicians hailed the end of the long night of authoritarian rule (1964 to 1985) with a burst of creativity and civic commotion. É proibido proibir—“Prohibition is prohibited,”—proclaimed singer and songwriter Caetano Veloso, who was censored under the military and spent years in exile. Veloso’s slogan became the meme for the new era of democratic liberty.
Funny how things change. Yes, the generals are back in their barracks, and Brazilians are free to gather, protest, and freely elect their leaders. But book banning is still in fashion. And it’s totally legal, thanks to Articles 20 and 21 of Brazil’s civil code. The arcane pair of paragraphs are packed with the sort of yawn-provoking polysyllables that only a lawyer could love. In plain language, the 2002 law is a bombshell that essentially strangles freedom of expression by ruling out the publication of any biography that has not been expressly authorized by its subject. Remarkably, much of the support for the new wave of book banning now comes from some of the same artists and celebrities who rebelled against the official muzzle decades before, but who have grown rich and famous since, and have claimed they own their own stories.
November 19, 2013
Lucia Nader – Open Democracy, 11/15/2013
Middle-income BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries are becoming more politically prominent, appearing on the covers of magazines and newspapers in the developed world, and being taken more seriously by the big investment banks.
This increasing clout is also reflected in international human rights arenas. In the marble corridors of the U.N. Human Rights Council, I often hear that it is now necessary to “have Brazil on board” to pass this or that resolution.
It would be healthy to expect that human rights NGOs in the BRICS are also gaining in strength. Surprisingly, this is not so. The mismatch between strong economic growth and fragile local human rights organizations is now very apparent in Brazil.
November 19, 2013
Shasta Darlington – CNN, 11/19/2013
Jaina Maria never enters the studio in the pretty second-floor apartment she used to share with her husband.
Behind the door, which she now keeps locked, is the room where she says her husband beat her, time and time again. It still bears the scars of violence.
“He grabbed me by the hair and slammed me into the mirror,” she says. A big chunk of glass is missing.
Jaina Maria says they were married for six years before the violence started, but then it dragged on for four more years. At first she was silent.
November 19, 2013
The Economist, 11/18/2013
NOVEMBER 15th is a big date in Brazilian history books: on that day in 1889 a military coup overthrew emperor Dom Pedro II and established Brazil as a republic. This year it was significant for another reason. Despite the national holiday the president of the supreme court, Joaquim Barbosa, stayed at his desk and wrote warrants for the arrest of 12 of those convicted last year in the so-called “mensalão” case, several of them high-profile politicians with close links to the government. Eleven spent the weekend in jail; a 12th turned out to have fled to Italy several weeks before. But just what was the mensalão?
The word, a Portuguese neologism roughly meaning “big monthly stipend” was coined to describe clandestine payments made by the Workers’ Party (PT), which won the presidency in 2003, to congressional allies in return for support for its legislative agenda. The scandal broke in 2005 when the president of an allied party claimed in a newspaper interview that the PT was paying several congressmen 30,000 reais a month (around $12,000 at the time). The money was said to have come from the public purse via fake advertising contracts signed by state-owned companies with corrupt advertising firms. The scandal was one of many that broke in quick succession, with others involving allegations that the state-run postal system had accepted bribes for contracts and that the PT had been extorting money from illegal-betting rings in Rio de Janeiro. Overlapping congressional inquiries ended up accusing 18 congressmen of involvement in the vote-buying scheme. The biggest name among them was José Dirceu (pictured right), who had been chief of staff to the president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, until forced by the scandal to step down.
November 7, 2013
Christopher Looft – In Sight Crime, 11/06/2013
Sao Paulo’s state government is rolling out new measures to combat Brazil‘s PCC prison gang, but there are reasons to doubt the group can be thwarted.
In October, a Sao Paulo court ordered the transfer of First Capital Command (PCC) lieutenant Paulo Cezar Souza Nascimento Junior, alias “Paulinho Neblina,” to the Special Disciplinary System (RDD), a form of solitary confinement, according to a report by Estadoa de Sao Paulo. The transfer of other PCC leaders is expected in the coming days, according to a more recent report by Estadoa.
The move wasn’t the first signal that Sao Paulo’s government has sought to crack down on the PCC, which dominates much of the state’s drug trade and other criminal activities. In a speech given on October 14, Governor Geraldo Alckmin announced the creation of a new task force to identify corrupt police officers working with the group. Alckmin also touted efforts to limit the group’s communications; he said cell phone jamming systems would be put in place in 23 high-security prisons across Sao Paulo state. He also expressed support for the transfer of the group’s leadership to solitary confinement in RDDs.
November 6, 2013
Agence France-Presse, 11/05/2013
Organisers on Tuesday called off the Soccerex global football convention in Rio de Janeiro after the state government withdrew support amid ongoing civil unrest, scuppering a meeting of some 4,000 of the sport’s top decision makers.
“It is with great disappointment that we must confirm that the final Soccerex Global Convention in Brazil will now not be taking place.
“With the ongoing civil unrest, the Rio de Janeiro State Secretary of Sport took the political decision to withdraw their support from the Soccerex Global Convention,” organisers announced in a statement adding they bitterly regretted the cancellation of the November 30-December 5 event and would seek compensation.