April 29, 2013
Vincent Bevins – Los Angeles Times, 04/25/2013
Shortly before Venezuela’spresidential election, former Brazilian PresidentLuiz Inacio Lula da Silva recorded a video supporting Nicolas Maduro, saying he had “stood out brilliantly in the struggle” for a more democratic Latin America.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, who was endorsed by Lula in 2010, kept silent on the ultimately victorious candidacy of Maduro, the hand-chosen heir of the late leftist Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez.
The difference in demeanor between the two Brazilian presidents was not surprising to Rousseff watchers. Since assuming office at the start of 2011, she has taken a much more muted approach to foreign policy than Lula, avoiding the type of activism that often annoyed the United States.
February 25, 2013
Gabriel Elizondo – Al Jazeera, 02/25/2013
There’s a case to be made that no country has lived through as much radical and fundamental positive change in the past 10 years as Brazil.
There has also been an evolution – of sorts – in what Brazilians want and need out of their president.
A decade ago Brazil was a country looking for a charismatic, larger-than-life figure who would lift millions from poverty, take the country to new economic heights, and rattle the cages of the world to take notice of the South American giant.
January 3, 2013
The Economist, 12/13/2012
The administration of President Dilma Rousseff and the ruling Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT) have been put on the defensive following a new corruption scandal as well as recent fall-out from the largest corruption trial in Brazilian history, known as the mensalão (“big monthly stipend”), in which several PT officials have been sentenced to prison by the Supreme Court. Moreover, Brazil’s economy is struggling to recover from a slowdown that began in 2011, despite the government’s stimulus measures. Even though unemployment is at historically low levels, these developments threaten to erode Ms Rousseff’s popularity and complicate the political scene in 2013.
Political rivals from allied parties and the opposition also have begun to stir. In addition, the president faces a mobilisation of political forces in Congress which are opposed to her recent veto of parts of a controversial oil royalties bill. All this points to a more fluid political environment than previously expected in 2013, when Ms Rousseff will be preparing the ground for a re-election bid at the October 2014 elections.
In the latest corruption case, a federal police investigation code-named Porto Seguro has led to arrests and the indictment of several government officials, including the head of the president’s office in the state of São Paulo, Rosemary Nóvoa de Noronha; the deputy attorney-general, José Weber Holanda; and brothers Paulo Vieira and Rubens Vieira , who were political appointees at Brazil’s water and aviation regulatory agencies, respectively.
December 21, 2012
The Economist, 12/22/2012
SO RARELY has political corruption led to punishment in Brazil that there is an expression for the way scandals peter out. They “end in pizza”, with roughly the same convivial implication as settling differences over a drink. But a particularly brazen scandal has just drawn to a surprisingly disagreeable close for some prominent wrongdoers. The supreme-court trial of the mensalão (big monthly stipend), a scheme for buying votes in Brazil’s Congress that came to light in 2005, ended on December 17th. Of the 38 defendants, 25 were found guilty of charges including corruption, money-laundering and misuse of public funds. Many received stiff sentences and large fines.
The supreme court must still write its report on the trial, and hear appeals—though it is unlikely to change its mind. So in 2013 Brazilians should be treated to an unprecedented sight: well-connected politicos behind bars. José Dirceu, who served as chief of staff to the former president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, was sentenced to almost 11 years; Delúbio Soares, former treasurer of the ruling Workers’ Party (PT), got almost nine. Under the penal code, at least part of such long sentences must be served in jail. The justices also decided that the three federal deputies found guilty will automatically lose their seats if and when those verdicts are confirmed.
Lula was not charged, and has always insisted he knew nothing of the scheme. But Marcos Valério, a former advertising man sentenced to 40 years, claims to have evidence that Lula knew what was going on, and that some of the dirty money paid his personal expenses. These allegations may be merely a desperate attempt by a condemned man to bargain down his jail term. The attorney-general characterised Mr Valério as a “player”, and said his claims should be treated with caution. But if he has significant new evidence the mensalão may yet rumble on.
November 30, 2012
Simon Romero – The New York Times, 11/30/2012
Even as President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil has moved energetically to stamp out corruption in her government, a new scandal is surging to the fore, centered on charges of influence peddling by an aide to the popular former president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
The latest revelations have put the governing Workers Party on the defensive yet again, as investigators expose a bribery scheme across several high echelons of government.
The scheme largely involved selling falsified public documents needed for transportation projects, and it extended into the attorney general’s office, the Education Ministry and the regulatory agencies for civil aviation and ports, according to the federal police, which carried out raids of government offices here in São Paulo and in the capital, Brasília, in recent days.
November 30, 2012
The New York Times/AP, 11/26/2012
Brazil’s Supreme Court has sentenced the last 3 of 25 defendants convicted on charges involving a congressional cash-for-votes scheme, bringing to an end a high-profile corruption trial that has riveted Latin America’s largest country for nearly four months.
The court on Wednesday sentenced a former congressman, the former leader of the governing Workers Party and a former treasurer of the Brazilian Labor Party on charges of money laundering, passive corruption and embezzlement.
The corruption dates to the government of the previous president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, though he has not been charged.
October 5, 2012
Anthony Boadle, Alonso Soto – Reuters, 10/5/2012
President Dilma Rousseff wants to regulate strikes by public workers after a series of walkouts by civil servants in recent months paralyzed public services across Brazil.
But the plans, in proposals that could soon be presented to Congress, are drawing fire from unions and labor activists – a constituency that helped put Rousseff into office and that long has formed the bedrock of the ruling Workers’ Party.
The strikes that started in May by civil servants, ranging from university professors to customs and health inspectors to Brazil’s federal police force, so crippled public services that Rousseff wants to better define who can strike and when, and establish collective-bargaining mechanisms to head off future stoppages.
September 28, 2012
Joe Leahy – Financial Times, 09/27/2012
In the magical realist world of the Rio de Janeiro carnival, the last character one might expect to see portrayed in the festivities would be from the arcane sphere of Brazil’s supreme court.
But craftsmen in the city have begun churning out masks ahead of next February’s carnival in the likeness of Joaquim Barbosa. This is in homage to the important role that the court’s only black judge is playing in the country’s biggest corruption case.
Justice Barbosa is in charge of the so-called mensalão trial of alleged vote-buying in congress, whose suspects include senior members of the government of former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
August 9, 2012
Andres Oppenheimer – The Miami Herald, 08/08/2012
You have to give credit to Brazil for what it’s doing to combat corruption and solve the worst political scandal in the country’s recent history.
It’s not unusual for Latin American countries to prosecute politicians for real or imagined corrupt practices: in fact, most new governments go after their political rivals from preceding governments as soon as they can. But Brazil is doing something much more noteworthy: it is prosecuting prominent leaders of the ruling party.
Thirty-eight top officials and allies of President Dilma Rousseff and former President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva’s Workers Party, including former Lula da Silva all-powerful chief of staff Jose Dirceu, are being tried before Brazil’s Supreme Court for diverting public funds to buy votes in Congress between 2002 and 2005.
February 8, 2012
Maria Luiza Rabello, Carl Simoes – Bloomberg Businessweek, 02/08/2012
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, whose Workers’ Party rose to power because of ties to the labor movement, is being tested by public employees threatening to strike for higher pay.
Civil servants won eight years of wage increases above inflation under former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. They now believe Rousseff has become a “hostage” of the global financial crisis during her first year in office, denying raises to keep spending down, said Pedro Armengol, public sector coordinator of CUT, Brazil’s biggest labor confederation.
“If by March we don’t have a real negotiation, with numbers on the table, workers will use their fighting tools to pressure the government,” Armengol said in a telephone interview from Brasilia. “It could come to a general strike.”