Three Former Brazil Lawmakers Arrested in Petrobras Probe

April 10, 2015

Rogerio Jelmayer – The Wall Street Journal, 4/10/2015

Brazil’s federal police arrested three former lawmakers Friday as part of an investigation of alleged corruption involving contracts between state-run oil firm Petroleo Brasileiro SA, construction firms and politicians. Petrobras officials took a cut of the cash from inflated contracts, funneling the rest to lawmakers and political parties, according to investigators.

Police arrested Andre Vargas, a former lawmaker of the ruling Worker’s Party; Luiz Argolo, a former lawmaker of political party Solidariedade; and Pedro Correa, of the Progressive Party (PP) related to corruption allegations, said federal police spokesman Paulo Roberto da Silva. He said more details of the operation would be disclosed later Friday at a news conference.

Mr. Vargas and Mr. Argolo are accused of involvement with currency dealer Alberto Youssef, previously arrested by the federal police as part of “Operation Car Wash.” Messrs. Vargas and Argolo have previously denied involvement in the alleged corruption scheme. It is not clear what the accusations are against Mr. Correa.

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In Denial Over Racism in Brazil

March 23, 2015

Vanessa Barbara – The New York Times, 3/23/2015

One Friday night last month, the electricity was off in the streets of Palmeirinha, a favela in Rio de Janeiro. Three black teenagers were joking around in front of their houses. One of them started to run and the others followed, laughing. At that moment, the police came out shooting. Chauan Jambre Cezário, 19 years old, was seriously wounded. Alan de Souza Lima, 15 years old, died on the site with a cellphone in his hands — he had caught everything on video, including his own last agonizing minutes.

According to an official report released the next day, the boys were shot after a confrontation with the police. Officers allegedly found two guns at the scene and charged Mr. Cezário with resisting arrest. The boy, who sells iced tea on Ipanema Beach, was carried to the emergency room and handcuffed to the hospital bed.

Days later, the nine-minute cellphone video went public. Images clearly show that the teenagers didn’t have any guns on them and that there was neither confrontation nor resistance. Seconds after the shooting, a policeman asked why they had been running, to which a bleeding Mr. Cezário answered: “We were just playing around, sir.”

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Brazil femicide law signed by President Rousseff

March 10, 2015

BBC News, 3/9/2015

Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff has signed a new law which sets tough new penalties for the killing of women and girls.

Murders linked to domestic violence will carry sentences of between 12 and 30 years.

President Rousseff said the new law sends a clear message to women that the state would protect them.

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Diplomatic row heightens as Indonesia recalls ambassador from Brazil

February 23, 2015

Ben Otto – The Wall Street Journal, 02/22/2015

The government recalled its newly appointed ambassador to Brazil, the latest sign of deteriorating relations after Indonesia last month executed a Brazilian citizen convicted of drug smuggling.

In recalling the ambassador, Indonesia cited a perceived diplomatic slight, as Brazil declined to accept the credentials of Jakarta’s incoming ambassador during a ceremony in Brasília, the capital, on Friday.

“The manner in which the foreign minister of Brazil suddenly informed the postponement when the ambassador-designate was already at the palace, is unacceptable to Indonesia,” the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Saturday.

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Abortion in Brazil: a matter of life and death

February 3, 2015

Donna Bowater – The Guardian, 2/1/2015

Born five years apart, sisters Joyce and Jandyra Magdalena dos Santos Cruz lived together in a simple low-rise in Guaratiba, a poor neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro, with Joyce’s four children, Jandyra’s two daughters, and their mother, Marie Ângela. Like many Brazilian families, their lives were inextricably meshed by economies of scale.

It was the honey-coloured eyes they also shared that Joyce Magdalena recognised last August, when Jandyra was found inside a burnt-out car. She had been mutilated, dismembered and charred beyond identification. She had climbed into the same car a day earlier, at a bus station in the nearby town of Campo Grande, to be taken for an illegal abortion.

“The press said they cut off her hands,” says Joyce. “It wasn’t just her hands. They took off her arms, legs, teeth. A woman so beautiful. OK, she committed a crime, but she was committing a crime against herself, against her own life. It didn’t hurt anyone.”

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Inside the Pedrinhas prison complex, one of Brazil’s most notorious jails [Photo report]

January 30, 2015

David Sim – International Business Times, 1/30/2015

The overcrowded Pedrinhas prison complex in Maranhao state, Brazil, is notorious for gang warfare and riots. About 75 inmates have been killed since 2013, including three who were brutally beheaded during a riot between rival gangs at the hellish penitentiary.

A gory video showing the beheaded bodies of two inmates lying in a pool of blood on the floor was uploaded to YouTube in January 2014.

Built for 1,700 inmates, the facility holds more than 2,500. Overcrowding is one of the primary causes of rioting and violence in Brazil’s prisons. Brazil now has the fourth-largest prison population in the world behind the US, Russia and China. The population of those imprisoned in Brazil has quadrupled in the past 20 years to around 550,000 and the country needs at least 200,000 new incarceration spaces.

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