July 11, 2011
John Lyons and Paulo Prada – Wall Street Journal, 07/11/2011
Six months after coming to power in a landslide victory, Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff is riding a booming economy and high popularity. Yet her six-month-old administration has become paralyzed by political infighting and embarrassing scandals.
Late Wednesday, Transportation Minister Alfredo Nascimento became the second cabinet minister in a month to quit under a cloud of corruption. News reports allege he grew rich while his agency instituted a 5% kickback rate on contracts it awarded. Mr. Nascimento denies illegal activity and has vowed to aid investigations.
That followed last month’s departure of chief of staff Antonio Palocci—the president’s top political operator. Mr. Palocci, who denies wrongdoing, resigned after refusing to explain a huge rise in his wealth, or name the corporate clients of a consulting business he ran while in government office.
June 23, 2011
Brian Winter – Reuters, 06/23/2011
Weeks after a late-night telephone call almost caused the break-up of her ruling coalition, President Dilma Rousseff’s agenda remains totally paralyzed, endangering everything from a planned tax reform to Brazil’s preparations to host the 2014 soccer World Cup.
Rousseff has tried to heal the strains with the biggest party in her coalition, the PMDB, by appointing new ministers and even inviting obscure party legislators to the presidential palace for lunch.
Yet the PMDB has continued to block even routine legislation, raising the question of when — if ever — Rousseff will be able to pass an overhaul of the tax code and other measures that business leaders say are necessary to ensure that Brazil’s economic boom continues.
June 20, 2011
Fabiana Frayssinet – IPS, 06/18/2011
By appointing women this month to two key ministries, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has nearly met her goal of having 30 percent of women in her cabinet, and is putting women in predominant roles at the Planalto Palace, the seat of government.
Rose Marie Muraro, a writer and pioneer of Brazil’s feminist movement in the 1970s who, like Rousseff herself, inspired many of the women in politics today, is enthusiastic.
“The hard core of power is in the hands of women, and that is very important,” Muraro, declared by law a “National Patron of Feminism” by former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (2003-2010), told IPS.
June 14, 2011
The Economist, 06/09/2011
Gleisi is "Dilma's Dilma". Photo: EPA
‘Stay strong, urged Venezuela’s leader, Hugo Chávez, as he embraced Antonio Palocci in front of politicians and photographers on a visit to Brasília on June 6th. Just a day later Mr Palocci, the embattled chief of staff of Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s president, had resigned. Newspaper revelations last month of his sudden enrichment from political consultancy while a federal congressman from 2006 to 2010 left him open to accusations of influence-peddling. The attorney-general’s ruling that there was no evidence of wrongdoing merely provided face-saving cover for his inevitable exit.
His departure, less than six months into her government, is a setback for Ms Rousseff. By swiftly dumping him she has tried to limit the damage. Her choice of Gleisi Hoffmann, a newly elected senator for the ruling Workers’ Party (PT), as her new chief of staff is a bold, but risky, attempt to recover the political initiative. Unlike Mr Palocci, who had close ties to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Ms Rousseff’s predecessor and political mentor, Ms Hoffmann owes loyalty to nobody but the president herself. “The appointment shows Lula, the PT and every government minister that the president has the courage to exercise her power and make her own choices,” says Alberto Almeida, a political analyst in São Paulo.
It was the second time Mr Palocci has left government under a cloud. As Lula’s first finance minister he was credited with reinventing the former trade-unionist along more centrist lines and persuading him of the merits of fiscal responsibility. His career looked over when scandal forced him to step down in 2006—but worse scandals thinned the leading ranks of the PT to such an extent that Mr Palocci managed to make himself indispensable again. Edward Amadeo of Gávea Investimentos, a fund based in Rio, thinks that without Mr Palocci to counter the PT’s left-wingers, Ms Rousseff may over time stray from the macroeconomic straight-and-narrow. But financial markets reacted calmly to his defenestration.
June 13, 2011
Luri Dantas and Andre Soliani – Bloomberg, 06/13/2011
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, who promised in her campaign to fight discrimination against women, promoted last week two women to key political posts as she seeks to mend relations with her congressional allies in the wake of a scandal that toppled her closest aide.
Rousseff, who was elected Brazil’s first woman president last year, named June 10 Fisheries Minister Ideli Salvatti to become institutional affair minister in charge of relations with Congress. Earlier in the week she named Senator Gleisi Hoffmann her cabinet chief, replacing Antonio Palocci, who resigned amid allegations he used his position to enrich himself.
Rousseff is looking to surround herself with “aggressive” negotiators like herself to discipline an unruly coalition in Congress, Merval Pereira, a columnist for O Globo newspaper in Rio de Janeiro, wrote June 10. He called the new appointees, who will be tasked with helping her government recover from the Palocci scandal and advance its legislative agenda, the Workers’ Party’s “amazons” in reference to the race of female warriors in Greek mythology.
June 8, 2011
Alexei Barrionuevo – NYTimes, 06/07/2011
Antonio Palocci - Evaristo Sa/Agence France-Presse -- Getty Images
A top cabinet official in the government of President Dilma Rousseffresigned Tuesday amid reports that he had enriched himself while a federal lawmaker, deepening the first political crisis for Ms. Rousseff since she took office in January.
Opposition leaders in the Senate had been calling for the resignation of the official, Antonio Palocci, who was Ms. Rousseff’s chief of staff, even after Brazil’s federal prosecutor-general on Monday shelved an investigation into accusations that Mr. Palocci had increased his personal wealth twentyfold as a corporate consultant while he was a congressman and the coordinator of Ms. Rousseff’s 2010 presidential campaign.
Mr. Palocci said in a statement Tuesday night that while he believed that the decision of the prosecutor, Roberto Gurgel, had “confirmed the legality and rectitude” of his activities, he had decided to resign to quell the political confrontation.
June 7, 2011
Carla Simoes – Bloomberg, 06/06/2011
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff may tap Planning Minister Miriam Belchior to replace Cabinet Chief Antonio Palocci, who is under scrutiny for a surge in his personal wealth while managing Rousseff’s election campaign last year, a government official said.
Belchior, 53, is supported by former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who arrives today in Brasilia for meetings, said the official, who declined to be identified because he isn’t authorized to speak publicly. Communications Minister Paulo Bernardo may replace Belchior as Planning Minister if Palocci leaves the government, according to the official.
Rousseff, who was Lula’s cabinet chief, will wait for an assessment of Palocci’s consulting business by Brazil’s General Prosecutor Roberto Gurgel by Wednesday before taking a decision, the official said.
June 6, 2011
Gabrielle Coppola – Bloomberg, 06/05/2011
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff will consult her predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva before deciding whether to dismiss Cabinet Chief Antonio Palocci, who has come under scrutiny for consulting fees he earned while managing Rousseff’s election campaign, Folha de S.Paulo reported, without saying where it obtained the information.
On May 15, Folha reported Palocci earned 20 million reais ($12.7 million) in consulting fees in 2010 while also serving in congress and managing Rousseff’s election campaign. The company, Projeto Consultoria Financeira e Economica Ltda, earned 160,000 reais in 2006, its first year of business, Folha said.
Political allies consider the explanations Palocci gave insufficient to contain the political crisis surrounding him. There is fear within the government that the scandal may tarnish the image of President Rousseff, the newspaper reported today.
June 3, 2011
Raymond Colitt and Stuart Grudgings – Reuters, 06/03/2011
As Dilma Rousseff coasted to Brazil’s presidency last year, one doubt kept cropping up — would the career bureaucrat be savvy enough to handle Brazil’s dog-eat-dog political world?
After a turbulent few weeks that have shaken her young administration, the evidence is mounting that she isn’t — a failing that could have serious policy consequences as the government manages a slowing economy and high inflation.
Rousseff has emerged weaker from a scandal that has embroiled her influential chief of staff Antonio Palocci and revealed cracks in the coalition that exacerbated a defeat in Congress last week.