June 7, 2013
Renan Ramalho – O Globo, 06/07/2013
Brazil’s Foreign Ministry announced the election of former minister Paulo Vannuchi for a position at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights at the Organization of American States (OAS) this thursday (06/06). Paulo Vanucchi was elected in Guatemala, during an OAS assembly. With headquarters in Washington DC, this branch of the OAS is responsible for assessing claims and formal complaints pertinent to human rights violations in member countries.
Vannuchi was Minister of the Department of Human Rights from 2005 to 2010, during Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s presidency, and currently serves as the one of the directors at Lula’s institute.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is composed of seven members of the OAS countries. Vannuchi competed for another three positions that will open at the end of the year, running against representatives from Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. José Jesús Orozco Henríquez from Mexico and James Cavallaro from the U.S. were also elected.
May 22, 2013
The Brazil Institute, 05/22/2013
Ruy Mesquita, publisher of the influential daily O Estado de S.Paulo, died Tuesday at 88. A grandson and son of journalists who helped shape the institutions of the Brazilian republic, from the 1950s Mesquita lived intensely by his country’s struggles to develop as a stable democracy and emerge in the global scene. “He was key in the resistance against the military regime,” said former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, a friend, alluding to the dictatorship installed in 1964 in Brazil with his newspaper initial support, in the height of the Cold War.
The break with the military came in 1967, after the rulers in Brasilia betrayed their promise to hold elections and pushed the country to a state of emergency to cover up violations of human rights and press freedom. A lawyer with deep liberal convictions, Ruy Mesquita and his older brother, Julio Mesquita Neto, led the fight against censorship, making sure readers would know when editorials and articles were cut by replacing them with verses of Lusíadas, the epic of Portuguese language. An anticommunist, like his father Julio Mesquita Filho, he did not hesitate to hire and protect journalists affiliated with the Communist Party and other leftist organizations. In 1978, Ruy Mesquita conducted a historic interview with union leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva which was instrumental in opening the dialogue between the future president and the conservative elites of São Paulo.
April 23, 2013
Inter-American Dialogue, 04/22/2013
Director of the Brazil Institute, Paulo Sotero, was interviewed by the Latin America Advisor on the mensalao trial.
Q: Prosecutors in Brazil announced April 5 that they have opened an investigation of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in connection with the so-called “mensalão” vote-buying scheme. The scandal has already led to several convictions, including that of Lula’s former chief of staff, José Dirceu. Have the prosecutions dealt a significant blow to corruption in Brazil? How is the scandal, and now the probe involving Lula, affecting the country’s politics ahead of next year’s presidential election?
A: Paulo Sotero, director of the Brazil Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars: “Politically, the mensalão episode is over. Brazil’s electoral politics will be governed this year and next by the effects of an underperforming economy on inflation and jobs. If the economy deteriorates in ways that reverses President Dilma Rousseff’s very high approval ratings, it could open political space for the opposition to revive corruption as an electoral issue, particularly if the current federal investigation of mensalão-related charges against President Lula lead to an indictment. In an unfavorable economic scenario, that improbable outcome could complicate Rousseff’s re-election campaign and Lula’s re-emergence as an alternative presidential candidate, which was an unlikely development even before the Supreme Court returned verdicts with prison sentences against 12 of the 25 people who were found guilty in the mensalão trial. That said, the historic mensalão trial resulted from pressure from a changing society fed up with Brazil’s tradition of high-level impunity. It represented progress in the fight against corruption, even if the sentences are ultimately reduced in the ongoing final stage of judicial review. The trial, broadcast live, was a teachable moment for Brazil’s expanding middle class and a younger generation of political leaders now emerging. Whether they learned from it remains an open question. Nothing, however, will change the fact that 37 people with special connections to power, including key advisors to the most popular president in Brazil’s history, were brought to justice and two-thirds of them were found guilty by a majority of judges nominated to the Supreme Court by that very president and by his handpicked successor, who felt compelled to declare that she does ‘not tolerate corruption.’ ”
March 8, 2013
The Indian Express, 03/06/2013
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff called Hugo Chavez’s death “an irreparable loss” and hailed him as a “great Latin American” and “a friend of the Brazilian people.”
“We recognise a great leader, an irreparable loss and above all a friend of Brazil, a friend of the Brazilian people,” she said before leading a minute of silence at a meeting with rural leaders in Brasilia.
Her predecessor, ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, meanwhile expressed sadness over the death and recalled the Venezuelan leader’s struggle for a “more just world”. Rousseff also cancelled a trip that she was scheduled to make on Thursday to Argentina for talks with President Cristina Kirchner.
March 7, 2013
The New York Times – Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, 03/06/2013
HISTORY will affirm, justifiably, the role Hugo Chávez played in the integration of Latin America, and the significance of his 14-year presidency to the poor people of Venezuela, where he died on Tuesday after a long struggle with cancer.
However, before history is allowed to dictate our interpretation of the past, we must first have a clear understanding of Mr. Chávez’s significance, in both the domestic and international political contexts. Only then can the leaders and peoples of South America, arguably the world’s most dynamic continent today, clearly define the tasks ahead of us so that we might consolidate the advances toward international unity achieved in the past decade. Those tasks have gained new importance now that we are without the help of Mr. Chávez’s boundless energy; his deep belief in the potential for the integration of the nations of Latin America; and his commitment to the social transformations needed to ameliorate the misery of his people.
Mr. Chávez’s social campaigns, especially in the areas of public health, housing and education, succeeded in improving the standard of living of tens of millions of Venezuelans.
March 5, 2013
Vincent Bevins – Los Angeles Times, 03/03/2013
When left-leaning President Joao Goulart was deposed by the Brazilian military in 1964, the nation’s major news media, controlled by a few wealthy families, celebrated.
But during the 21-year dictatorship that followed, the government censored the newspapers and television stations the families operated.
Things are different now. Since 2003, Brazil has been run by the popular left-of-center Workers’ Party, known as PT, which has left the news media alone.
February 27, 2013
Anthony Boadle – Reuters, 02/22/2013
Brazil’s 2014 election season got off to an unusually early start this week with the unofficial launch of President Dilma Rousseff’s re-election campaign by her mentor and predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Celebrating his Workers’ Party’s 10th year in power, Lula laid to rest speculation that he would run again by anointing Rousseff as the party’s best option to stay in power.
The main opposition party PSDB went on the offensive and attacked the decade of Workers’ Party (PT) rule for undoing its work in laying the basis for Brazil’s financial stability under former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso.
November 28, 2012
John Lyons – The Wall Street Journal, 11/28/2012
In Brazil, fresh corruption charges are threatening to shake the Workers Party of President Dilma Rousseff anew, even as judges are doling out jail terms in a previous embezzlement scandal that brought down senior party officials and tarred the legacy of former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
On Wednesday, the senate said it would hold hearings into the new allegations on an undetermined date and call the country’s justice minister and attorney general to testify. The two aren’t suspected of wrongdoing.
So far, Federal Police have charged a group of officials, including a one-time aide to Mr. da Silva, in a cash-for-influence scheme that appears to have reached into numerous government agencies. The aide, Rosemary Noronha, was appointed presidential chief of staff for Sao Paulo by Mr. da Silva and held that position until she was fired on Saturday after the charges against her were unveiled.
November 15, 2012
H.J. – The Economist, 11/15/2012
Brazil’s mensalão trial has brought many historic moments (see here and here), and this week saw one more: an impeccably well-connected politico getting such a long prison sentence that even the best lawyer will struggle to save him from doing time. On November 12th José Dirceu, who served as chief of staff for former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva from 2003 to 2005, was sentenced to ten years and ten months in jail for his part in the huge vote-buying scheme. Two other prominent members of the Workers’ Party (PT) also received stiff sentences: Delubio Soares, its former treasurer, got eight years and 11 months in prison, and José Genoino, its former president, six years and 11 months.
It sometimes appears that the Brazilian criminal-justice system locks people up on a whim. Half the prison population has either not yet been tried or is awaiting a final verdict, and much of the other half committed non-violent property or drugs crimes. But for those with resources, it allows huge scope for delay, leeway on sentencing and almost unlimited appeals. The three men, along with the other 22 who have been found guilty of crimes such as money-laundering, corruption, embezzlement and misuse of public money, benefited from a rule known as “privileged forum” which says that top politicians can only be tried for crimes in higher courts. In this case, the Supreme Court, which normally deals with constitutional, not criminal matters, had to decide to take the case. That meant that though the scandal surfaced in 2005, the trial only started this year, in August.