January 15, 2013
Brian Winter, Ana Flor – Reuters, 01/14/2013
Brazil is urging Venezuela’s government to hold elections as quickly as possible if President Hugo Chavez dies, senior officials told Reuters on Monday, a major intervention by Latin America’s regional powerhouse that could help ensure a smoother leadership transition in Caracas.
Brazilian officials have expressed their wishes directly to Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro, the officials said on condition of anonymity. Chavez has designated Maduro as his preferred successor if he loses his battle with cancer.
“We are explicitly saying that if Chavez dies, we would like to see elections as soon as possible,” one official said. “We think that’s the best way to ensure a peaceful democratic transition, which is Brazil’s main desire.”
July 6, 2012
Each Friday, through the Brazil Portal feature “The Week in Review”, the Brazil Institute will highlight Brazil’s news topics in one concise summary.
News this week continued to revolve around Brazil’s continued measures to stimulate the economy. With a falling trade surplus and factory output on the decline, the government has been eager to recoup their losses, accelerate production, and encourage consumer spending. Cuts to steep oil taxes are being discussed to reinvigorate ethanol production, as well as tax cuts on common household goods aimed at increasing stagnating sales. Some of these stimulus measures have seen results; car sales have jumped markedly after a similar tax cut, although auto output itself has not rebounded. However, the results of similar stimuli, such as the monumental new agricultural loan program announced this week, have yet to be seen.
In hemispheric news, Brazil’s ties to its Latin American neighbors have been both tested and strengthened this week. On the one hand, regional tensions have been high since the expulsion of Paraguay from Mercosur after last week’s demi-coup/impeachment that ousted Fernando Lugo. Though Brazil was one of the many nations that criticized the impeachment proceedings and questioned their constitutionality, the country also stands to benefit. Given that the coup led to Paraguay’s removal from Mercosur, lawmakers in Asunción can no longer block Venezuela’s entrance into the trade union, a development which could potentially profit Brazil greatly. Outside of South America, Brazil and Mexico are strengthening their relationship, as Mexico’s newly elected President vowed to ally with the South American giant.
The case pitting Brazilian laborers against corporate giants BASF and Shell Oil has also seen some development this week. Investigations into workers’ claims that they were exposed to harmful pesticides are ongoing. The workers’ victory seemed ensured when a judge mandated that Shell and BASF put aside 328 million for their compensation, however this measure was blocked later in the week by a different judge.
July 1 marked the 18th anniversary of the Plano Real, the landmark fiscal legislation that introduced the real as Brazil’s currency. O Estado de S.Paulo interviewed Persio Arida, a former Wilson Center Public Policy Scholar and one of the men responsible for the plan’s design and implementation, about the plan’s success almost two decades later.
July 3, 2012
The formal incorporation of Venezuela to Mercosur next July will benefit mainly Brazil and Argentina since they could considerably increase their exports to the oil-rich country at the expense of the local production sector weakened by the economic policies from the administration of President Hugo Chavez, according to analysts.
Main producers such as Brazil and Argentina will become the main beneficiaries of the incorporation because they will have greater access to the Venezuelan market, which is highly dependent on imports” said economist Pedro Palma from consultants Ecolatina.
Palma added that Venezuela “has virtually dismantled the private sector production capacity since many companies have been taken over by the state and once under state management they lose competitiveness and their level of productivity.”
June 29, 2012
Luis Andres Henao – Associated Press, 06/28/2012
MENDOZA, Argentina (AP) — South American foreign ministers plan to recommend that Paraguay be suspended from the Mercosur regional trade bloc over last week’s ouster of former President Fernando Lugo, Brazil’s foreign minister said Thursday.
But Antonio Patriota said that ministers attending a bloc summit in Mendoza, Argentina will recommend against economic sanctions in retaliation for the impeachment of Lugo. Speaking to a small group of journalists outside closed-door meetings, Patriota said he could not give any further details about Paraguay’s possible suspension, nor say how long it might last.
Mercosur’s final decision on what to do about Paraguay will be announced Friday following a meeting of regional heads of state.
June 27, 2012
Carolina Barros – Buenos Aires Herald, 06/27/2012
Brazil moves with leaden feet when it comes to the Paraguayan issue. Three factors weigh heavily, on its reactions since June 21, when in Asunción, the Paraguayan Lower House ignited the impeachment culminating with Fernando Lugo’s removal and Federico Franco’s swearing in as president.
History — and its scars — provide the most tangled factor for the Brazilians. The Triple Alliance (1864-1870) — in which the armies of the Brazilian Empire, together with Argentina’s and Uruguay’s, fought Paraguay and decimated almost 60 percent of its adult population, still bleeds, and will probably continue to do so forever.
However, the most recent precedent is 2009, when Brazil sought to lead the support for Manuel Zelaya, the former president of Honduras who was removed by a coup led by the Supreme Court, Congress and the Armed Forces, and housed the deposed leader for almost a year in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa, along with his train of followers, his Stetson hat and guitar. Criticism against Itamaraty and Marco Aurelio García, the sherpa for Latin American and Iranian affairs during Lula’s presidency, can still be heard in Brasilia, where nobody can forget the international mess caused by meddling in the Central American nation’s domestic affairs. It was Brazil who orchestrated the “return” of Zelaya to Honduran soil, in order to later deny him political asylum. Neither one thing nor the other.
June 11, 2012
Nikolas Kozloff – Al Jazeera, 06/10/2012
New York, NY - Behind the scenes, US diplomats are reportedly becoming very leery about Brazil’s rise on the world stage. An exporting dynamo with a growing middle class, Brazil has recently sought a greater role in global affairs and is discombobulating Washington in the process. Classified US diplomatic cables recently disclosed by whistle-blowing outfit WikiLeaks underscore such geopolitical tensions.
In Lima, for instance, US ambassador to Peru Curtis Struble wrote that Washington was enmeshed in an “undeclared contest” with Brazil for political influence in the Andean region. Back in the US meanwhile, right-wing hawks at the Brookings Institution view Brazil’s rise with trepidation, remarking gloomily that the country “appears determined to position itself as the Latin American hegemon as it deepens its investment in various schemes of regional political and economic integration that pointedly exclude the United States”.
Whatever its long term reservations about Brazil, however, Washington has apparently come round to the view that it needs the South American nation’s help in the here and now. Speaking at the Brazilian War College in Rio de Janeiro recently, US Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta remarked, “This is a relationship, the United States and Brazil… between two global powers, and we welcome Brazil’s growing strength. We support Brazil as a global leader, and seek closer defence cooperation because we believe that a stronger and more globally engaged Brazil will help enhance international security for all of us.”
January 30, 2012
Vinod Sreeharsha – McClatchy Newspapers, 01/28/2012
Dilma Rousseff arrives in Cuba on Monday on her first visit there as Brazil’s president, and she’s facing pressure to take a stronger and more public stance on human rights violations that continue under the Cuban government.
Rousseff meets with Raul Castro on Tuesday.
Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez, a government critic, sought to meet Rousseff. She tried to compare herself to Brazil’s leader back when Rousseff was a young Marxist guerrilla jailed and tortured by Brazil’s military dictatorship.
December 15, 2011
Brazil’s antitrust regulator has approved the merger between TAM Airlines and LAN of Chile.
The merged company will be Latin America’s largest airline, known as Latam.
The antitrust regulator says in a Wednesday statement that the two companies must give another airline two takeoff and landing slots at Sao Paulo’s international airport for daily flights to Santiago.
August 12, 2011
Alexander Ragir, Eliana Raszewski – Bloomberg, 08/12/2011
Finance ministers from across South America are discussing the creation of a fund to provide the region a “safety net” and ward off the effects of the global financial crisis, Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega said.
Officials from the Unasur political bloc are meeting in Buenos Aires today to discuss creating a new stability fund or strengthening an existing mechanism, known as the Fondo Latinoamericano de Reservas, Mantega said. The $4 billion FLAR pools foreign currency reserves from five Andean nations plus Costa Rica and Uruguay to help member nations that run into balance of payment problems.
“Brazil and Argentina are ready to add to FLAR,” Mantega said at a dinner with Argentine Economy Minister Amado Boudou last night. “This could complement the International Monetary Fund. Since it’s already there we can strengthen it and think about creating something more comprehensive.”
August 5, 2011
Luis Jaime Acosta, Jack Kimball – Reuters, 08/04/2011
Colombia wants to double trade and increase investment with Latin American powerhouse Brazil, but tariffs and shipping costs remain obstacles, an investment conference was told on Thursday.
Brazil’s booming economy has increased its consumption across the commodity chain, and its companies, mainly in oil and coal, have already begun investing in Colombia, a major global producer of thermal coal and regionally of crude oil.
“There’s a special synergy, this integration with Brazil generates very important gains for both countries in all respects … South-South integration strengthens us,” Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos told an investment conference.