September 26, 2014
The Economist (print edition), 9/27/2014
To describe the final weeks of Brazil’s presidential campaign as dramatic would be putting it mildly. There was tragedy, when Eduardo Campos, leader and candidate of the centrist Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB), perished in an aeroplane crash in mid-August. There were tears: Marina Silva, Mr Campos’s running-mate-turned-candidate, broke down after being criticised by Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, in whose cabinet she had once served as environment minister but whose protégée and successor, Dilma Rousseff, is seeking a second term. This being Brazil, there was also scandal, as a former executive at Petrobras, the statecontrolled oil firm, alleged that politicians from Ms Rousseff’s left-wing Workers’ Party (PT) and some coalition allies were involved in a kickback scheme there.
The twists and turns have led to lots of head-scratching among pollsters and pundits. With days to go before the first round of voting on October 5th, firm predictions are scarce. Mauro Paulino, boss of Datafolha, a big polling company, says the way the campaign as a whole has unfurled is “incomparable”. And not just with any prior Brazilian election, but with anything that has happened anywhere in the world, at least in living memory, according to José Toledo of Estadão Dados, a data website.
The prediction that commands most confidence is that Ms Rousseff will not secure an outright majority in the first round and that the election will go to a run-off on October 26th. There she will almost certainly face Ms Silva, who in the weeks following Mr Campos’s death has surged past Aécio Neves, the candidate of the centre-right Party of Brazilian Social Democracy (PSDB). The latest second-round simulations show Ms Rousseff and Ms Silva running neck and neck.
September 25, 2014
Mac Margolis – Bloomberg, 09/24/2014
God, the natives like to say, is Brazilian. So with the country weathering its worst drought in decades, it’s no surprise that officials in the worst-hit regions are pleading force majeure. Geraldo Alckmin, governor of water-stressed Sao Paulo, chalked up the emptying reservoirs to “exceptional” and “unimaginable” drought.
But Saint Peter, the national patron saint of rain, gets a bum rap. The great Brazilian dry spell is as predictable as Sunday mass, and this year’s is no exception. Sao Paulo owes its skyline in large part to the hands of men and women who fled the parched backlands of the northeast to become bricklayers and steelworkers in the country’s biggest metropolis. One of them was Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who wet his whistle with politics and became a rebel union leader and then president.
Now the problem has migrated, too. Sao Paulo, the nation’s most prosperous state, is facing its worst dry snap in four generations. Last week, the water level in the region’s biggest reservoir, the Cantareira complex, dropped to just 8 percent. The state sanitation authority, Sabesp, is offering fat discounts to consumers who slash their yearly water use by at least 20 percent. Dozens of cities are already rationing water.
September 16, 2014
Simon Romero – The New York Times, 09/15/2014
When Dilma Rousseff and Marina Silva were both cabinet ministers, they clashed on everything from building nuclear power plants to licensing huge dams in the Amazon.
Ms. Rousseff came out on top, emerging as the political heir to President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and ultimately succeeding him as president. But she now finds herself locked in a heated race with Ms. Silva, an environmental icon who is jockeying for the lead in polling ahead of the Oct. 5 election as an insurgent candidate repudiating the power structure she helped assemble.
Ms. Silva’s upending of the presidential race is a symbol of the antiestablishment sentiment that has roiled Brazil, including anxiety over a sluggish economy and fatigue with political corruption. Her rising popularity also taps into shifts in society like the rising clout of evangelical Christian voters and a growing disquiet with policies that have raised incomes while doing little to improve the quality of life in Brazilian cities.
September 11, 2014
Danielle Renwick – Council on Foreign Relations, 09/10/2014
Brazil’s latest opinion surveys show President Dilma Rousseff and Socialist Party candidate Marina Silva tied in the first round of presidential election voting, on October 5, and place Silva ahead of Rousseff in the second round. Silva seems to be raising hopes that she can more effectively respond to rising criticism about public services, corruption, and inequality, says expert Matias Spektor. Whomever is elected president, he says, will likely continue to rein back Brazil’s ambitious foreign policy as charted by Rousseff’s predecessor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
Polls show President Dilma Rousseff and challenger Marina Silva tied in their bids for president. What are the differences in their campaign platforms?
There is a sense that Marina will try to respond to the demands that came about with the protests in June last year. These demands are relatively broad and do not refer to Brazil’s economic performance even [though] this month we’ve entered a recession.
September 9, 2014
Asher Levine – Reuters, 09/08/2014
The streets of Jardim São Luis, a poor and violent neighborhood near the edge of São Paulo, have not been this quiet in years. And that is exactly why Valeria Rocha is so worried.
Arms folded, she scans the racks of baby clothes in her small store before flicking a glance towards the empty sidewalk. “Just a year ago this area used to be packed with shoppers but nowadays it’s all empty, my store included,” she said.
After a decade of economic growth and welfare policies that lifted more than 30 million Brazilians out of poverty, Jardim São Luis and other tough neighborhoods across Brazil had high hopes for the future. But a faltering economy and mounting frustration over poor public services are dimming the outlook for Brazil’s “new middle class.”
September 5, 2014
Brian Winter – Reuters, 9/5/2014
Volkswagen AG spied on Brazilian union activists in the 1980s and passed sensitive information about wage demands and other private discussions to the country’s military dictatorship, according to newly uncovered documents seen by Reuters.
The company covertly monitored its own workers as well as prominent union leaders of the era. One of VW’s targets was Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who went on to become Brazil’s president from 2003 to 2010 and remains one of its most influential politicians.
The documents were recently discovered in government archives by a special “truth commission” that, at the request of Brazil’s current president, Dilma Rousseff, is investigating abuses that occurred during the 1964-1985 regime.