The Brazil Institute, 04/22/2016
The Brazil Institute, 04/22/2016
Nick Miroff – The Washington Post, 04/22/2016
If you caught a glimpse of last weekend’s impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff, you may have noticed that Brazil is going bonkers right now. There was spitting, shoving and confetti-shooting on the floor of parliament, which at times looked more like a Roman coliseum than a legislative chamber.
Rousseff lost the vote badly, setting up what is likely to be a protracted, bitter political battle to unseat her. She will be forced to step down temporarily if Brazil’s senate votes as soon as mid-May to go forward with the impeachment process, with hearings that could drag on for six months.
The country of 200 million people, by far the largest in Latin America, is increasingly polarized and entirely consumed with its political crisis. By no means is Brazil on the verge of collapse, but here are some reasons why the turmoil isn’t so good for the rest of us.
Peter Prengaman, Mauricio Savarese – AP, 04/19/2016
In the 1940s and 1950s, Brazilian authorities made such a ferocious assault on Aedes aegypti – the mosquito that spreads the Zika virus – that it was eradicated from Latin America’s largest country by 1958.
But Aedes aegypti returned, and now Brazil has launched another offensive against the pest, employing hundreds of thousands of troops to fumigate and educate people about how to eliminate its habitats. The assault is part of President Dilma Rousseff’s “war” on the Zika virus, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says can cause devastating birth defects.
But eradication experts say there is little chance Brazil can come anywhere near stamping out the pest like it did a half century ago. The world is different, with globalization bringing more travelers and trade across borders. And Brazil is different; its resources are limited as the country suffers through its worst recession in decades and its president is focused on battling impeachment for allegedly breaking fiscal rules in managing government funds.
A controversial decision by the Brazilian government authorizing the use of untested and unproven cancer drug for human clinical has been strongly criticized by local pharmaceutical industry association, Interfarma. The decision was approved by embattled president Dilma Rousseff, who faces impeachment proceedings in Congress, and seen as a politically calculated move to help prevent her ousting.
The drug, phosphoesthanolamine, has not properly been vetted by Brazil’s health agency AVISA, and sets a new precedent for fast tracking and releasing to the market drugs without proper approval.
In a public statement, Interfarma chastised the release of the drug and argued that it is a political stunt to divert attention away from the embattled president and will put patients at risk and noted it “has no proof of efficacy or the inexistence of side effects.” US press outlets have also lashed out at the decision, noting its lack of clinical trials and providing a false sense of hope to patients in need of cancer drugs.
Will Carless – Global Post, 04/06/2016
The World Health Organization’s fact sheet on the Zika virus contains a wealth of useful information about the mysterious disease that has spread across the Americas and is blamed for a surge in birth defects in Brazil.
One of its leading facts may sound pretty benign: Zika is transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes, mainly the Aedes aegypti species in tropical countries like this one.
There’s only one problem: It’s not actually a “fact” that this particular mosquito spreads Zika in Brazil.
Jonathan Watts – The Guardian, 03/30/2016
It is the biggest military mobilisation in Brazil’s history: 220,000 army, navy and air force personnel have been called into action, as well as 315,000 public officials.
Rapid reaction units have been deployed to take the fight across the country. Local authorities are stockpiling munitions and supplies. Scientists have been enlisted to devise new weapons of mass destruction with which to defend the motherland.
But the enemy is not a geopolitical rival or a militant group: it is the tiny Aedes aegypti mosquito which is believed to be responsible for the spread of the Zika virus.
Alex Cuadros – The Washington Post, 02/24/2016
Watching kids skate around an ice rink inside the 1-million-square-foot Ribeirao Shopping center, you would hardly guess that this city is one of the hardest hit by the Zika epidemic.
Young women in dresses buy lattes at a Starbucks by the rink. Men in shorts and T-shirts take selfies with their cellphones next to a stand selling exercise machines. If they look unconcerned, it’s because, in this air-conditioned space, the mosquito that carries Zika can’t survive.
Although 230 miles from the southeastern coast, Ribeirao Preto is sometimes called the California of Brazil. The nickname traces back to the 1980s, when a boom in sugar and ethanol production raised living standards for many residents. But the boom left many others behind.