AP Interview: Silva Seeks Grassroots Brazil Reform

September 18, 2014

Associated Press – ABC News, 09/18/2014

Front-running presidential candidate Marina Silva says the key to her support among millions of Brazilians who joined in anti-government protests last year is her understanding that reforming a broken political system will come from the ground up.

Silva spoke exclusively with The Associated Press on Wednesday in her first interview with a foreign media outlet since being thrust into a hotly contested campaign just a month ago, after her Socialist Party’s first candidate died in a plane crash Aug. 13.

In a wide-ranging, hour-long interview, Silva said that as president she would seek bilateral trade deals and better relations with the U.S. and Europe, and would push for improved human rights in allies such as Cuba.

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Brazil Hosts Third Presidential TV Debate as Election Nears

September 18, 2014

Telesur, 09/17/2014

Brazil’s third televised presidential debate was held Tuesday night, as the candidates seek to win over voters ahead of the October 5 general election.

Eight candidates took part but Dilma Rousseff, Marina Silva and Aecio Neves were in the spotlight, as the three candidates leading the polls. Current president, and Workers Party (PT) candidate, Dilma Rousseff is ahead in the polls but the race is likely to go to a second round. The main issues debated were health, poverty, corruption, political reform and economic policies.

Marina Silva, Rousseff’s main rival, said on several occasions that her government would be made up of “the best people” from all parties. President Rousseff  rejected Silva’s proposals and warned that was a recipe for “powerful people (to) rule from behind the scenes.”

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Rousseff Loses Support in Brazil Vote Still Too Close to Call

September 18, 2014

Anna Edgerton – Bloomberg, 09/16/2014

Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff lost voter support in an Ibope poll that shows a runoff against Marina Silva is still too close to call ahead of October elections. Third-place candidate Aecio Neves’s backing grew.

Rousseff would win 36 percent of voter support in the first round, with 30 percent for Silva and 19 percent for Neves, according to today’s poll, published on Jornal Nacional television. No candidate has enough backing to avoid a runoff, which occurs when the leader in the Oct. 5 first round fails to garner more votes than all other candidates combined. The results compare with 39 percent for Rousseff, 31 percent for Silva and 15 percent for Neves in a Sept. 12 Ibope poll.

Brazilian stocks have rallied this week on signs that Silva is competitive in the election. The Ibovespa stock index dropped 6.2 percent last week, the most since May 2012, when polls showed Silva lost her lead to the incumbent.

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“This is not a speech. It is a life”

September 18, 2014

H.J. – The Economist, 09/18/2014

Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, who is hoping to be granted a second term in next month’s elections, has claimed that only a vote for her can ensure the continuation of the country’s best-known anti-poverty programme, the Bolsa Família. Since 30m people out of an electorate of around 140m are directly or indirectly dependent on the programme’s cash handouts, this is potentially enormously damaging to her opponents, of whom Marina Silva is the best placed in the polls.

Ms Silva’s response was broadcast on television in her electoral advertising on September 16th. To feel the full force of her words, you need to know that she was born in the Seringal Bagaço, a poor, rural part of the Amazonian state of Acre, to parents who were rubber-tappers. Unlike almost anyone else in Brazilian politics, she knows how hunger feels. The video below is in Portuguese, subtitled. Our translation into English is underneath—but if you want to understand why this woman, who was not even a presidential candidate until her running mate, Eduardo Campos, died in a plane crash on August 13th, has a strong chance of becoming Brazil’s next president, you should watch the video with the sound turned up. It’s only two minutes long.

“Dilma! Know that I’m not going to fight you with your weapons. I’m going to fight you with our truth. With our respect. And with our policies. We are going to keep the Bolsa Família. Do you know why? Because I was born in the Seringal Bagaço, and I know what it is to go hungry. All that my mother used to have for eight children was an egg and a bit of flour and salt, and some chopped onion. I remember looking at my father and mother and asking: Are you not going to eat? And my mother answered… my mother answered: We are not hungry. And a child believed that. But afterwards, I understood that for yet another day, they had nothing to eat. Someone who has lived through that will never end the Bolsa Familia. This is not a speech. It is a life.”

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Brazil’s largest company, Petrobras, accused of political kickbacks

September 18, 2014

Jonathan Watts – The Guardian, 09/17/2014

The brutalist headquarters of South America’s biggest company, Petrobras, offers a harsh riposte to those who try to romanticise Brazil as a land of golden beaches and endless forest. This week, the concrete edifice in central Rio de Janeiro was the focus of a pro-oil rally by thousands of petrochemical workers amid a presidential election debate dominated by how to manage the nation’s vast fossil fuel reserves.

It is a question that has opened up the biggest gap between President Dilma Rousseff, an old industry champion of the Workers Party, and her main challenger Marina Silva, a former environment minister who has pledged to shift priorities towards alternatives energies like wind, solar and ethanol.

This is more than just a Brazilian rerun of George Bush and Big Oil versus Al Gore and climate concern, because state-run Petrobras is no ordinary company and – with the company also mired in a massive corruption scandal – this is no ordinary time.

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Coursera launches in Brazil, becomes first online education provider to partner with its public universities

September 18, 2014

Emil Protalinski – TNW, 09/17/2014

Coursera today announced it is officially launching in Brazil. The company is teaming up with the University of Sao Paulo (USP) and State University of Campinas (UNICAMP), its first university partners in Latin America to offer Portuguese courses.

That’s not the only first. Coursera is the first open online education provider to partner with Brazil’s top universities. Furthermore, the move today also means it is offering its first native Portuguese courses for learners not just in Brazil, but across the globe.

The two universities will develop courses targeted at Brazilian learners in high-demand topics from entrepreneurship to finance, slated for early next year. Coursera has also struck a deal with R7, one of Brazil’s largest web portals, to increase awareness of these new educational opportunities by featuring its courses.

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