Underdog for Brazil’s presidency bets on post-World Cup surge

April 3, 2014

Anthony Boadle – Reuters, 4/3/2014

Aecio Neves is running for president of Brazil and promising to turn the page on 12 years of leftist government. But he has a problem.

Despite being the grandson of a famous politician and the leader of Brazil’s main opposition party, seven out of 10 Brazilians have never heard of him.

Unfazed, he says that will change after Brazil finishes hosting the soccer World Cup in July and the presidential race kicks off in earnest in the Brazilian media.

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Sepherd of the City’s rebirth, Rio’s mayor feels the strains, too

March 3, 2014

Simon Romero – The New York Times, 2/28/2014

IN his fits of rage, Eduardo Paes, the mayor of Rio de Janeiro, has thrown a stapler at one aide. He threw an ashtray at another. He berated a councilwoman in her chambers, calling her a tramp. Stunning diners at a crowded Japanese restaurant where he was being taunted by one constituent, a singer in a rock band, he punched the man in the face.

While Mr. Paes, 44, has apologized to the targets of his wrath after each episode, he adds that he is under a lot of stress. Normally clocking 15-hour days as he tears up and rebuilds parts of Rio in the most far-reaching overhaul of the city in decades, Mr. Paes is finding that consensus over his plans is elusive.

“Don’t ever in your life do a World Cup and the Olympic Games at the same time,” Mr. Paes recently said at a debate here on Rio’s transformation, making at a stab at gallows humor over the street protests that have seized the city over the past year. “This will make your life almost impossible.”

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Brazil police trial airs judiciary’s flaws

December 18, 2013

John Lyons – Wall Street Journal, 12/18/2013

A murder trial here that brought attention to Brazilian police brutality is now shining light on something else: A court system that can take years to produce verdicts, sometimes leaving both defendants and accusers feeling bereft of justice.

On Monday, a judge declared a mistrial in the prosecution of four São Paulo state policemen who are charged with the shooting a suspect in their custody, Paulo Nascimento, as he pleaded for his life in November 2012.

Soon after the trial began, a three-way shouting match broke out between the defense attorney, the lead prosecutor and the judge over a procedural question. It descended into a crossfire of accusations of judicial favoritism and an unqualified expert witness. A new trial won’t start before late 2014, officials said.

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Brazil commemorates 25 years of the post-dictatorship constitution

October 31, 2013

MercoPress, 10/31/2013

Four former Brazilian presidents Jose Sarney, Fernando Color de Mello, Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Lula da Silva were honored at a ceremony in the Senate to commemorate the 25 years of the 1988 constitution.

The four ex heads of state and other politicians received the Ulyses Guimarares medal the highest decoration of the Brazilian Congress for their contributions to the current constitution.

The constitution, the seventh in the country’s history, was promulgated on 5 October 1988, after a year and eight months of discussions by a constituent assembly elected in 1986.

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Calls for an investigation into Brazil’s ex-leader

December 13, 2012

Bradley Brooks – AP, 12/13/2012

Pressure is growing for prosecutors to open an investigation into popular former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva amid new accusations he knew about a cash-for-votes in Congress scheme that has seen convictions of 25 people, including his one-time chief of staff.

Silva, who left office in 2010 with an 87 percent approval rating and was once called “the most popular politician on Earth” by President Barack Obama, has so far dodged accusations against him. He denies any wrongdoing in what is seen as the biggest corruption case in Brazil’s history.

But now newspaper editorials, opposition politicians and some average Brazilian voters are saying they want to see the Attorney General’s Office order an investigation into allegations made by a top figure in the corruption case that Silva approved of the scheme and used cash from it while in office.

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Lula aide sentenced to prison in Brazil graft trial

November 13, 2012

Raymond Colitt – Bloomberg Businessweek, 11/12/2012

Brazil’s Supreme Court sentenced a top aide to former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to prison, the first time the high court has ordered an ex-Cabinet member to jail for corruption since the return of democracy.

Former Cabinet chief Jose Dirceu was sentenced yesterday to almost 11 years for masterminding a scheme to siphon off public funds used to bribe legislators in the first two years of Lula’s 2003-2011 government. Dirceu, a leader of the ruling Workers’ Party who was once considered Lula’s potential successor, was also fined 646,000 reais ($315,000) as part of his conviction on criminal conspiracy and corruption charges.

Putting a former Cabinet member behind bars may reinforce the fight to clean up government in Latin America’s biggest economy, which ranks behind Cuba and Saudi Arabia in Transparency International’s annual ranking of corruption around the world. Graft costs the world’s sixth-largest economy as much as 85 billion reais a year, nearly double what the government spent on roads, ports and airports in 2011, according to estimates by the Sao Paulo Industry Federation.

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