Homophobia, fire and terror in Brazil

October 21, 2014

Pedro Henrique Leal – open Democracy, 10/21/2014

While specific horrific cases of homophobia are condemned, the overall mentality is not. Politicians wish the issue would disappear, and there is no education in schools.

Thirteen years afterwards, September 11 still brings forth memories of terror, violence and fire; to 24 year old Solange Ramires and 26 year old Sabriny Benites, a lesbian couple from Santana do Livramento, those feelings about it are very personal. The two women were to be wed in a local Gaucho Traditions Center (CTG) on September 13, along with 27 other couples. However, at 4 a.m. two days beforehand, the so eagerly awaited marriage was threatened when the CTG was set ablaze by molotov cocktails, in what has been called ‘a terror attack’.

This attack was not random: a month earlier, when news of the wedding first came out in the small Rio Grande do Sul city bordering Uruguay, both the local judge – Carine Labres – and the head of the CTG, city representative Gilberto “Xepa” Gisler, received death threats respecting their “immorality”. Alongside these were the sadly fulfilled threats of arson. According to Gisler, an anonymous caller said, “there was no way” the wedding would be allowed to happen – even if they had to “beat the crap out of this so called ‘Xepa’, get rid of the judge and set the CTG on fire”.

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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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Brazil’s Marina Silva wants better US ties

September 18, 2014

Associated Press – The Independent, 09/17/2014

Marina Silva, a front-running presidential candidate who grew up in the Amazon jungle and could become the first black to lead Brazil’s government, said Wednesday that if elected she’ll improve ties with the U.S. and strongly push for human rights in nations like Cuba.

She spoke exclusively to The Associated Press in her first interview with a foreign media outlet since being thrust into Brazil’s presidential campaign after her Socialist Party’s original candidate died in an Aug. 13 plane crash.

Silva, a former Amazon activist, senator and environment minister who pushed policies that helped Brazil slash the rate at which it was destroying the jungle, has found herself at the center of a suddenly hot presidential race pitting her against President Dilma Rousseff, with whom she’s running in a dead heat in the latest polls. The incumbent represents the Workers Party, which Silva helped found three decades ago.

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Indians in Brazil say gov’t deceived them about dam project

September 17, 2014

EFE – Fox News Latino, 09/16/2014

Brazil’s Munduruku Indians charged Tuesday that the government deceived them and defied a requirement to consult with the tribe before approving the construction of a new hydroelectric dam in the Amazon jungle.

A statement distributed by the Missionary Indian Council, a group linked to the Catholic Church, said the indigenous people “are outraged” after the government of President Dilma Rousseff set Dec. 15 as the date to receive bids to build the São Luiz do Tapajos power plant in the northern state of Para.

Government officials met with Munduruku representatives two weeks ago to discuss the Indians’ rights to be consulted about developments in their lands, as mandated by Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization.

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Brazil’s Marina Silva Reverses on LGBT Rights Overnight

September 2, 2014

Geoffrey Ramsey – The Pan-American Post, 09/01/2014

Marina Silva’s odds of winning Brazil’s presidential election in October are looking better and better. As the AP notes, Friday brought some bad news for President Dilma Rousseff’s re-election campaign in the form of a one-two punch: not only is the economy now officially in a recession, but polls show support for Silva is continuing to rise.

According to the latest Datafolha survey, support for Silva increased by 13 points in two weeks, with the poll showing both her and Rousseff tied in the first round with 34 percent of the vote. In a second-round matchup, however, Datafolha found that Silva would beat the president by ten points, 50 to 40 percent.

Also on Friday, Silva released her official electoral platform, outlining her position on a range of issues in a 244-page document. The program contains a number of interesting proposals, like putting an end to re-election and gradually increasing healthcare spending to 10 percent of GDP. On economic issues, Silva promised to lower the country’s tax burden and give more autonomy to Brazil’s central bank, which has earned her support among the business community.

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UN agency wants probe of Brazil prison violence

January 9, 2014

The Associated Press, 1/8/2014

The United Nation’s human rights agency called Wednesday for an “immediate, impartial and effective investigation” into the violence that has swept through a penitentiary in northeastern Brazil where at least 60 inmates were killed in 2013 in clashes between rival gangs.

Violence from the prisons has spilled onto the streets of Sao Luis, the capital of Maranhao state where the prison is located. Police say imprisoned gang leaders angered by authorities attempted crackdowns inside the prison ordered their members to spark terror by setting buses ablaze and shooting up the outside of police stations.

A 6-year-old girl died this week after being severely burned during one bus attack. Gas stations in the city largely complied with a police request to halt the sale of fuel to anyone wanting to fill-up a gas canister, hoping to squeeze off gangs’ ability to buy flammable liquids used to torch buses.

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Brazil’s Rousseff: NSA spying violated human rights

September 25, 2013

Aamer Madhani – USA Today, 09/24/2013

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff used her address before the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday to sharply criticize the United States over allegations that the National Security Agency has spied on her government.

Rousseff, who spoke before President Obama had arrived in the hall for today’s meeting of world leaders, said the United States violated human rights and international law through its surveillance programs, which she said illegally captured Brazilians’ communications, including her own e-mails.

“We face … a situation of grave violation of human rights and of civil liberties; of invasion and capture of confidential information concerning corporate activities, and especially of disrespect to national sovereignty of my country,” Rousseff said.

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