U.S. Reaches Deal With Brazil Ending Cotton Dispute

October 1, 2014

Alan Bjerga – Bloomberg News, 09/30/2014

The U.S. and Brazil reached a $300 million agreement to resolve a dispute over cotton subsidies that has bedeviled the two nations for more than a decade.

The accord signed today in Washington involves a one-time U.S. payment to the Brazil Cotton Institute in return for that nation dropping all claims against the U.S., the U.S. Trade Representative said in a statement. Brazil will also not pursue any new World Trade Organization cotton claims while a five-year farm bill Congress passed in February is in effect.

“Today’s agreement brings to a close a matter which put hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. exports at risk,” U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said in a statement with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The United States and Brazil look forward to building on this significant progress in our bilateral economic relationship.”

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‘Teachers not footballers’ needed by Brazil

October 1, 2014

Martin Hall – BBC News, 09/30/2014

In the run up to this year’s World Cup in Brazil there were protest banners reading: “Teachers are more important than footballers.” For Brazil, this is saying something. And when Brazilians go to the polls for the first round of the presidential elections this week, one of the main issues will be education.

There is a shortage of some 300,000 primary school teachers. At the other end of the education journey there is space for less than 20% of all students in Brazil’s highly regarded public universities – the rest pay fees for qualifications of variable quality.

In the protests that have swept through Brazilian cities, education is a recurrent theme on placards and in social media. Brazil’s demand for education is driven by both the country’s size and by the sustained economic growth through the presidency of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

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Brazil’s Rousseff widens lead over Silva in fresh polls

October 1, 2014

Reuters, 9/30/2014

President Dilma Rousseff has solidified her lead over opposition candidate Marina Silva and would win a runoff vote to Brazil’s presidential election, two new polls showed on Tuesday.

A survey by pollster Datafolha showed Rousseff with 49 percent support, compared with 41 percent for Silva in a simulation of an expected second-round vote, doubling the 4 percentage-point lead Brazil’s first female president had in the previous poll released last Friday.

According to a poll by Ibope that was commissioned by media conglomerate Globo Comunicações, Rousseff could garner 42 percent of the votes in a runoff, compared with Silva’s 38 percent. In the prior Ibope poll a week ago, Rousseff and Silva were tied at 41 percent.

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An environmentalist’s calculated push toward Brazil’s presidency

October 1, 2014

Paulo Prada – Reuters, 10/1/2014

In March 2003, three months into her tenure as Brazil’s environment minister, Marina Silva gathered a half-dozen aides at the modernist ministry building in Brasilia, the capital.

She told them the new government of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was about to embark on a pharaonic infrastructure project for Brazil’s arid Northeast.

The project, a still-ongoing effort to reroute water from one of Brazil’s biggest rivers, had previously been opposed by environmentalists, including Silva herself. Rather than explain how she would thwart the plan, however, the former activist said she would work to make it as sustainable as possible.

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Spotlight Brazil Elections

September 30, 2014

Ricardo Sennes – Atlantic Council, 09/30/2014

Brazilians go to the polls on October 5 in the first round of voting for presidential, congressional, and state elections. If no presidential candidate secures 50 percent of the vote, a runoff election will be held on October 26. The upcoming elections are likely to bring major changes at the national level—though incumbent governors are largely poised to claim victory at the state level—that could significantly alter the course of Brazil’s domestic and international policies.

After five presidential election cycles, the see-saw rivalry between the coalition led by the Workers’ Party (PT) and the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB) seems to have come to an end. Following the tragic death of Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB) presidential candidate Eduardo Campos on August 13, his running mate, Marina Silva, now heads the ballot, with a stunning turnaround in voters’ intentions. Aécio Neves, the PSDB candidate, seems poised to take third place.

In just two weeks, the PSB ticket saw first-round support increase from 9 percent before Eduardo Campos’ death to 34 percent. As of September 23, IBOPE polls indicate Marina and President Dilma Rousseff (PT) are neck and neck in the second round with 41 percent each. As former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) summed up, the death of Eduardo Campos ended one election and the entrance of Marina Silva marked the start of a new one.

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Rousseff Ahead, LGBT Rights in Focus in Brazil Election

September 30, 2014

Geoffrey Ramsey – Pan American Post, 09/30/2014

It appears that the Brazil observers who stuck with President Dilma Rousseff as the favorite to win the upcoming elections — despite Marina Silva’s rise in the polls — may turn out to be right in the end. Recent surveys have shown the incumbent making a rebound head of this weekend’s first round vote, and suggest she will come out ahead of Silva in a likely second-round matchup.

On Friday, Datafolha released a new survey showing that support for the president in the first round had risen from to 40 percent from 37 percent a week earlier, while Silva’s first-round support fell to 27 percent from 30 percent.  In a second round, Datafolha showed 47 percent for Rousseff and 43 for Silva.

Other, smaller pollsters have published figures that seem to support this trend to varying degrees, as Reuters reports. On Monday, polling firm MDA released a survey suggesting that the president would win a runoff with 47.7 percent of the votes, compared to 38.7 percent for Silva. Another survey, by Vox Populi, showed Rousseff beating Silva 46 to 39 percent in a runoff.

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Can Election Put Brazil Back on Path to Fast Growth?

September 30, 2014

Paulo Trevisani – The Wall Street Journal, 09/30/2014

Brazilians face many options in the Oct. 5 vote, but for economists and investors the options are clear: It is reform or die.

Latin America’s largest economy has weakened in the past four years and now growth is near zero, inflation is high and business confidence is depressed. Central-bank interventions keep the currency from a free fall.

But with unemployment low and many voters satisfied with greatly expanded welfare programs, incumbent President Dilma Rousseff may well end up getting a second term.

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