Claire Rigby – The Guardian, 4/23/2015
From downtown São Paulo, the Pico do Jaraguá – the crest of a mountain ridge on the city’s north-western horizon – looks like a broken tooth, crowned by a towering TV antenna. Just beyond the rocky peak and down a steep, deeply rutted, unmade road, lies the nascent village of Tekoa Itakupe, one of the newest fronts in Brazil’s indigenous people’s struggle for land to call their own.
Once part of a coffee plantation, the idyllic 72-hectare plot is currently occupied by three families from the Guarani community who moved onto the land in July 2014 after it was recognised as traditional Guarani territory by Funai, the federal agency for Indian affairs.
The group had hoped that would be a first step on the road to its eventual official demarcation as indigenous territory, but they now face eviction after a judge granted a court order to the landowner, Antônio ‘Tito’ Costa, a lawyer and former local politician.
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.
Arthur Pinheiro Machado – Forbes, 4/1/2015
Before the recent presidential elections in Brazil, an intense discussion emerged: is the family grant program (Bolsa Família) an effective instrument for social inclusion and reduction of inequality or is it a mere instrument to win votes from citizens in the lower class? The conversation arose during one of the most polarized and radical debates in the Brazilian political scene over the last couple decades and within the context of the tightest election season of the Brazilian democratic period. This was far from an honest questioning about the effectiveness of the social program itself. Instead, the focus was on the political clout of approximately 41 million people (around 20% of the Brazilian population) who benefited from the government program.
In fact, many believe the overwhelming victory of the current government in deprived areas, such as the Brazilian Northeast, was because of the program. It has been touted as the deciding factor in the recent elections. However, such an argument lacks a political basis. After all, the opposition candidate lost due to insufficient votes in his own home state where, in addition to having been governor, he is also a senator. Since the election, the debates have continued and the program has been viewed as a leftwing Bolivian philosophy, more than a serious policy for social inclusion.
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.”
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.
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.
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.”