“Zero tolerance for violence against women,” declares President Dilma on Twitter after IPEA report

March 28, 2014

Felipe Tau- Estado de S. Paulo, 3/28/2014

President Dilma Rousseff commented on a study released by the Institute for Applied Economic Research (IPEA) about the perception of Brazilians on violence and discrimination against women. A day after the research was published, showing that 65% percent of those interviewed believe abuse against women using short clothes is acceptable, the President categorically stated, “zero tolerance towards women #Respect.”

Read article in Portuguese here. 




According to former president Cardoso, Brazil still lacks an effective democracy

March 25, 2014

Ricardo Balthazar – Folha de S. Paulo, 3/25/2014

In 1964, former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who governed Brazil from 1995 to 2002, was a young sociologist trying to understand the environment of political radicalization that led to the fall of João Goulart. Following the coup, he knew that the police were looking for him and he went into exile.

Cardoso returned to Brazil in 1968. With political rights suspended by the military, he created a research center with other intellectuals persecuted by the dictatorship and went into the Brazilian Democratic Movement (MDB), the only opposition party allowed to run up to 1980.

Three decades since the military returned to their barracks, he thinks the country still has a less than perfect democracy and sees the difficulties that President Dilma Rousseff goes through to be understood by Congress as a reflection of the problems faced by Jango (Goulart) in his time.

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Brazil urgently needs a new foreign policy

March 24, 2014

The Economist, 3/23/2014

Since it is the only big power in South America, Brazil inevitably catches the eye of outsiders looking for a country to take the lead in resolving the region’s conflicts—such as the one raging in the streets of Venezuela.

Yet leader is not a role that Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s president, is keen to play. She has reasons for her reluctance—and they explain why Brazilian foreign policy has run into trouble.

Ms Rousseff has behaved as a loyal ally to the elected, but autocratic, government of Nicolás Maduro, which faces opposition protests almost daily. Brazil worked hard to thwart any role in Venezuela for the Organisation of American States, which includes the United States. Instead, the foreign ministers of the South American Union (UNASUR) have agreed to promote talks in Venezuela. It is an initiative without teeth: the ministers expressed their solidarity with Mr Maduro, disqualifying themselves as honest brokers in the opposition’s eyes.

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Brazil set to send army into Rio slums as violence escalates before World Cup

March 24, 2014

Jonathan Watts – The Guardian, 3/24/2014

Brazil is poised to send the army into the slums of Rio de Janeiro less than three months before the World Cup following a spate of attacks on police has resulted in the most tense standoff for years in the favelas.

The Rio state governor, Sérgio Cabral, has requested the reinforcements after attacks on police bases, apparently co-ordinated by the city’s biggest gang, Comando Vermelho.

An escalation of fire-bombings, murders and revenge killings have prompted talk of a war between the police and gangsters. Favela residents and NGOs say the situation is now tenser than at any time since 2010, when the authorities began a “pacification” programme to regain control of communities from armed traffickers.

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Brazil’s government program to protect a tribe criticized for its treatment of poor farmers

March 21, 2014

Dom Phillips – The Washington Post, 3/20/2014

Carlos Reis took photos the day government officials knocked down his house of 20 years and seized his land.

“We lost our things,” said Reis, who now lives in a tent with his wife and two sons. “It is a very sad business.”

Reis and hundreds of other poor farmers in the state of Maranhão in northeast Brazil are among the targets of a government operation to clear a reserve in the Amazon for the Awá, an isolated Indian tribe. Activists say the plan could save the tribe from extinction.

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Police violence in Brazil

March 21, 2014

The Economist, 3/20/2014

EVERY year Brazil’s police are responsible for at least 2,000 deaths. The victims are generally recorded as having been “killed while resisting arrest” (the exact phrase used varies from state to state). Usually, few apart from the victims’ families take much notice—even when the circumstances are highly suspicious, for example where the fatal wounds suggest the victim was running away when shot, or even kneeling. It is rare that a police officer is suspended for a killing; rarer still for one to be charged or tried (although on March 19th ten were found guilty of a sickening prison massacre in 1992). But a recent case has horrified even this violence-hardened nation.

On March 16th Cláudia da Silva Ferreira, a 38-year-old mother of four, was struck by gunfire during a shoot-out between police and suspected criminals close to her home in a favela on the periphery of Rio de Janeiro. The police bundled her into the boot of their car—ostensibly to take her to the hospital—but without closing it properly. During the trip it sprang open and her body fell out. An item of clothing snagged on the car and she was dragged for several hundred metres behind the car before one of the officers got out and put her body back in.

What made this case stand out was that the horrible scene was captured on video by a passer-by, and later published online. That has pushed the case onto the national agenda. On March 18th the president, Dilma Rousseff, offered her condolences to Ms da Silva Ferreira’s family; Rio state’s governor, Sérgio Cabral, apologised to the family in a meeting the following day. Two of the three policemen in the car have been charged with murder.

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The bets that failed

March 21, 2014

The Economist, 3/22/2014

SINCE it is the only big power in South America, Brazil inevitably catches the eye of outsiders looking for a country to take the lead in resolving the region’s conflicts—such as the one raging in the streets of Venezuela. Yet leader is not a role that Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s president, is keen to play. She has reasons for her reluctance—and they explain why Brazilian foreign policy has run into trouble.

Ms Rousseff has behaved as a loyal ally to the elected, but autocratic, government of Nicolás Maduro, which faces opposition protests almost daily. Brazil worked hard to thwart any role in Venezuela for the Organisation of American States, which includes the United States. Instead, the foreign ministers of the South American Union (UNASUR) have agreed to promote talks in Venezuela. It is an initiative without teeth: the ministers expressed their solidarity with Mr Maduro, disqualifying themselves as honest brokers in the opposition’s eyes.

Brazil’s wrong-headed calculation is that the protests will fizzle out. Mr Maduro took a UNASUR statement on March 12th as a green light to launch another crackdown. Faced with a deteriorating economy and mounting unpopularity, Mr Maduro’s rule is likely to remain repressive. Given that Brazil’s ruling Workers’ Party (PT) claims to stand for democracy and human rights, he is a strange ally.

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Brazil social security deficit understimated by $4.3 billion

March 17, 2014

Reuters, 3/17/2014

Brazil’s social security deficit this year was underestimated by about 10 billion reais ($4.3 billion) by the government, Social Security Minister Garibaldi Alves told the newspaper Valor Economico, raising questions about the country’s ability to meet its fiscal savings target this year.

A social security deficit of 40.1 billion reais in 2014, as estimated by President Dilma Rousseff’s economic team, is “completely unreal”, Alves told Valor in an interview published on Monday. Instead, he estimated the deficit will be somewhere near the 49.9 billion reais mark recorded in 2013.

“That number was not discussed with us. It is not our expectation,” the minister said in the interview.

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