Simon Romero – The New York Times, 05/05/2016
A Brazilian Supreme Court justice ruled on Thursday that the powerful lawmaker who orchestrated the effort to impeach President Dilma Rousseff must step down as he faces graft charges, ratcheting up tensions in the country.
And in a further blow to Brazil’s scandal-plagued political establishment, Vice President Michel Temer, the man preparing to take control of the government from Ms. Rousseff, had his conviction on charges of violating limits on campaign financing upheld earlier this week, a ruling that makes him ineligible to run for elected office for eight years.
The rulings are not expected to save Ms. Rousseff’s presidency. Support for her ouster remains strong in the Senate, which is preparing to vote next week on whether to remove her from office and put her on trial over claims of budgetary manipulation. But the decisions reflect the potential for greater political turmoil in the country.
Brazil’s top court has suspended Lower House Speaker Eduardo Cunha from his mandate, following a request by the country’s attorney general, officials say.
He has been accused of trying to obstruct a corruption investigation against him and intimidating lawmakers.
Mr Cunha is an outspoken critic of President Dilma Rousseff and has led an impeachment drive against her.
Sabrina Valle and Jessica Brice – Bloomberg, 05/04/2016
The crusading federal judge behind Brazil’s explosive corruption investigation, facing the limits of his mandate and signs of political pushback, sees his role in the case winding down by the end of the year, a turning point in a probe that has helped push the president to the brink of impeachment.
For more than two years, Judge Sergio Moro and his team of prosecutors and police in the southern town of Curitiba have tracked the $1.8-billion graft scandal across four continents. They uncovered a crime ring so epic that it shattered Brazil’s political and economic leadership and helped tip the nation into its worst recession in a century.
Now, legal challenges are chipping away at Moro’s jurisdiction over executives amid criticism that he’s over-reaching. Brazilian law also bars him from going after sitting politicians accused of graft. So he expects significantly fewer new operations under his watch starting next year, according to three top officials who asked not to be named relaying details from private conversations. The press-shy judge declined to comment.
Sabrina Valle and Carlos Caminada – Yahoo Business, 05/04/2016
Located just 30 miles east of Rio de Janeiro’s bustling Copacabana beach, Itaborai looks like many oil boomtowns after the bust — except the deserted stores and empty glass towers that loom over this town of 220,000 speak of some bigger cataclysm than the collapse of crude prices.
“They said this would be the new oil city,” says Jefferson Costa, one of scores of migrants from Brazil’s impoverished north lured here by a multibillion-dollar petrochemical project that was supposed to create more than 100,000 jobs. Work on the complex, known as Comperj, has stopped, and unless new investors materialize, the single refinery now standing may never produce a single drop of fuel. “It’s empty inside,” says Costa, a plumber who lost his job six months ago when construction came to a halt. “People say it will become a large warehouse.”
Comperj has become a symbol of pervasive corruption at Brazil’s state-run oil producer, Petrobras. A sprawling investigation by federal police and prosecutors dubbed Operation Carwash has revealed massive graft, implicating construction conglomerates, banks, oil service providers, shipbuilders and politicians. About 2 percentage points of the 3.8 percent contraction in Brazil’s gross domestic product last year can be attributed to the effects of the scandal on the company and its suppliers, according to estimates from Tendencias, a consulting firm based in Sao Paulo.
Eduardo Porter – The New York Times, 05/03/3016
Not too long ago, Brazilians might have been counted as the most optimistic people in the world. From 2008 to 2013, as the United States and Europe grappled with the aftermath of a crisis wrought by blind trust in unfettered finance, Brazil’s income per person grew 12 percent after inflation. Wages soared. The poverty rate plummeted. Even income inequality narrowed.
Brazil remained only a high-middle-income country, in the technospeak of the International Monetary Fund. But for the first time in forever, the eternal “country of tomorrow,” as Brazilians often ruefully described their nation, saw itself instead as a rampant member of the emerging cohort ofBRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) — maybe even closer than China to making the jump into the ranks of the world’s richest nations.
And then it didn’t happen.
Vinod Sreeharsha – The New York Times, 05/03/2016
RIO DE JANEIRO — A judge lifted the nationwide suspension of WhatsApp in Brazil on Tuesday, allowing the popular messaging service owned byFacebook to get up and running again.
The ruling, from Judge Ricardo Múcio Santana de Abreu Lima, overturned a lower court order that had led to WhatsApp being blocked on Monday afternoon. The suspension was supposed to last 72 hours.
Judge Múcio is one of 13 judges on the higher court in the northeastern state of Sergipe, where WhatsApp has become embroiled in an organized crime and drug trafficking case. Authorities are seeking information for the case from the messaging service, but WhatsApp has not complied with requests for data, leading to the court order on Monday.
Reuters/The New York Times, 05/03/2016
President Dilma Rousseff lit the Olympic torch in Brazil’s capital on Tuesday and pledged that political turmoil engulfing her nation would not harm the first Games to be held in South America.
The Olympic flame was flown into Brasilia on Tuesday to start a three-month relay through more than 300 towns and cities that will end with the opening of the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro’s Maracaná stadium on Aug. 5.
A smiling Rousseff waved to crowds as she lit a green cauldron with the Olympic flame on the ramp of Brasilia’s modernistic Planalto presidential palace.