As Brazil’s Rousseff reels from crisis, opportunity for reform emerges

Carlos Eduardo Lins da Silva (Brazil Institute’s Global Fellow) – Geopolitical Information Service, 10/2/2015

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff greets former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, her political mentor and ally, during a campaign rally for the Workers’ Party (source: dpa)

Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff greets former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, her political mentor and ally, during a campaign rally for the Workers’ Party (source: dpa)

Brazil is facing its worst crisis in 70 years. Its economy is mired deep in a recession that will last at least until 2017. The political scene is in disarray, with a president who was re-elected just a year ago now chastened by approval ratings in the single digits. No opposition leader or party is considered a viable replacement for the Workers’ Party, which has held power since 2003.

Fear pervades the business community – not only due to the country’s macroeconomic woes but also because of an anti-graft investigation by federal police that resembles Italy’s ‘clean hands’ investigation of the 1990s. The operation is dramatically reshaping the traditionally venal relationship between large companies and the state in sectors such as construction, energy and transport.

The silver lining is that the democratic institutions Brazil has built since the end of its military regime 30 years ago continue to prove strong and effective. The Public Prosecutor’s Office, the Federal Police Department, Congress, the courts, civil society and the press are all functioning well, while enjoying freedom and independence. The military, under civilian command, is fulfilling its constitutional duties – and it is unimaginable that it would ever intervene in the political process, as was the norm throughout most of the last century.

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Levy Says Brazil is Better Prepared for External Shocks

Lise Alves, The Rio Times, 10/9/2015 

Although the possible increase in U.S. interest rates and the slowdown of the Chinese economies may hinder exports, the country’s Finance Minister, Joaquim Levy, said yesterday that Brazil is currently better prepared to face foreign shocks than it was fifteen years ago. The statement came as Levy attends the International Monetary Fund’s annual meeting in Lima, Peru this week.

“We have now, for example, international reserves, which we did not have back then,” said Levy during a meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Lima Peru. “Our countries [of Latin America] are receiving these shocks and we are processing them,” added Levy.

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Brazil lawmakers seek to oust speaker over Swiss accounts

REUTERS, 10/8/2015 

A group of Brazilian congressmen will seek the removal of lower house speaker Eduardo Cunha on ethical grounds after prosecutors confirmed the existence of undeclared bank accounts in his name in Switzerland, the leader of the leftist PSOL party said.

Cunha, who has been charged with corruption for allegedly receiving a $5 million bribe in the Petrobras kickback scandal, denied holding Swiss bank accounts before a congressional inquiry into the massive graft scheme at the state-run oil company.

But Brazil’s Prosecutor General said in a Thursday statement to one of the lawmakers, Chico Alencar of the PSOL, that Swiss authorities had confirmed the existence of the accounts and froze their assets on the suspicion of money laundering.

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Uber Rejects Proposal That Would Legalize Its Service in Brazil’s Largest City


Uber rejected a proposal in São Paulo that might have legalized the ride-hailing service there.

On Thursday, Mayor Fernando Haddad of São Paulo said he was signing a bill that imposed fines and vehicle seizures on drivers of unauthorized ride-hailing services, a category that includes Uber. At the same time, the mayor promised to authorize 5,000 drivers in a new category called “black taxis,” offering a way for many of Uber’s drivers to work legally.

Under the “black taxis” definition, the cars must be painted black and be no more than five years old, and they will only be available for hire via app. Drivers will also have to pay a still-to-be-determined licensing fee. “We are going to incorporate innovation without losing control,” the mayor said.

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Legal Setbacks Buffet Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff


Brazil’s unpopular President Dilma Rousseff this week suffered two legal setbacks that have opened a possible path toward her impeachment as Brazil’s economy crumbles, but the prospect still seems distant amid the country’s political stalemate.

On Tuesday, an electoral court allowed a lawsuit to advance that seeks to annul last year’s presidential election, in which Ms. Rousseff won a second four-year term, over allegations of illegal campaign funding. The following day, Brazil’s government-accounting watchdog found that the Rousseff administration manipulated the country’s 2014 fiscal accounts to mask a ballooning deficit, a potentially impeachable offense.

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Brazil and UNHCR strengthen partnership to help refugees fleeing the Syria conflict

UNCHR, 10/9/2015 

Brazil’s Secretary of Justice Mr Beto Vasconcelos and Ambassador Regina Maria Cordeiro Dunlop Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations Office in Geneva have signed an agreement with UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection Volker Türk to enhance and formalize cooperation on Brazil’s special visa programme for people affected by the Syria conflict.

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Brazil’s indigenous people take up arms against loggers in Amazon


A beat-up sign on the edge of this Amazon reserve warns strangers not to enter. For years, loggers ignored it and barreled straight into the protected indigenous territory, cutting tracks ever deeper into the diminishing forest.
But on a recent day, visitors approaching Jucaral village, just inside the reserve, encountered an improvised checkpoint operated by a militia called the Guardians. Wearing disheveled uniforms and face paint, members of the 48-man militia sauntered out, shotguns in hand, to check every arriving vehicle.

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