Brazil orders diplomats to rebut impeachment critics abroad

Lisandra Paraguassu – Reuters, 05/25/2016

Brazil’s new foreign minister, Jose Serra, has ordered diplomats to rebut any government, media or international organization that criticizes the impeachment of suspended President Dilma Rousseff, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters.

The nine-page document cited a dozen examples of censure of the impeachment process that removed Rousseff from office this month made by governments and other entities to which diplomats needed to respond in defense of Brazil’s political process.

“The press, academics and members of civil society and also leaders of international organizations and government representatives have manifested frequently in improper and ill-informed ways about Brazil’s domestic politics,” the memo said.

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Meet Brazil’s Unexpected President

Ben Raderstorf and Michael Shifter – Slate, 05/25/2016

On April 11—as lawmakers began to weigh impeachment charges against Brazil’s first female president, Dilma Rousseff—the country’s vice president sent a curious recorded message to a group of legislators. In a 15-minute “address to the nation,” Michel Temer spoke as if he had just taken office as president. In a somber tone, he implored all Brazilians to pull together and face the challenges ahead.

 

The speech was comically premature. Aides would later claim that he had just been practicing on his cellphone and accidentally hit “send.” In any case, to many Brazilians it was clear evidence that he was conspiring to take his boss’ job.

 

Almost exactly a month later, that’s exactly what he did. The Senate opened the impeachment trial against Rousseff on charges that she violated budgetary and fiscal responsibility laws; in the meantime she has been suspended from office for 180 days. In accordance with the constitution, the vice president takes over on an interim basis.

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Brazil’s Impeachment Proceedings — Just What is Going On?

Euan McKirdy – CNN, 05/10/2016

It’s enough to make even the most seasoned Brazilian political watcher’s head spin.

The mess that is Brazil’s current political situation took another twist Monday when the new chief of parliament’s lower house said he wanted to strike down impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff.

The motion to impeach Rousseff was first initiated in December, and in April the lower house of parliament voted overwhelmingly to begin proceedings.

Brazilian judge lifts suspension of WhatsApp

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.

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Five reasons why the world needs Brazil to pull through its political crisis

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.

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Law firm at center of Panama Papers leak was implicated in Brazil corruption scandal in January

Keren Blankfeld – Forbes, 04/06/2016

Two months before one of the world’s largest data leaks, dubbed the Panama Papers, was made public on Sunday, Brazilian prosecutors accused the Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca at the center of the leak, of corruption. (The firm, whose leaked records span 40 years and make up the Panama Papers, according to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), issued a statement to the ICIJ denying any unlawful activities. In addition, it stated that ties to offshore companies is not an implication of wrongdoing.)

On January 27 Brazil’s Federal Police, as part of Brazil’s far-reaching corruption probe known as Operation Car Wash (“Operação Lava Jato”), accused the firm of helping clients create offshore entities to hide corrupt money. Prosecutors alleged that the firm was using real estate company OAS Empreendimentos Imobiliários S/A to help cover up money made in the criminal scheme involving state-owned oil giant Petrobras . Six temporary arrests were made and 16 search warrants were issued. Lawyers representing those arrested denied any wrongdoing or irregularities. FORBES has been unable to reach the firm for comment. Aside from its office in Brazil, the firm also has branches in 40 other cities.

According to the ICIJ, which on Sunday began sharing information on the Panama Papers, Mossack Fonseca’s cofounder Ramón Fonseca, an adviser to Panama’s president, “took a leave of absence as presidential adviser in March after his firm was implicated in the Brazil scandal and ICIJ and its partners began to ask questions about the law firm’s practices.”

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Brazil politicians linked to offshore companies in Panama leaks: paper

Silvio Cascione and W Simon – Reuters, 04/04/2016

Politicians from seven parties in Brazil were named as clients of a Panama-based firm at the center of a massive data leak over possible tax evasion, O Estado de S.Paulo said on Monday.

The newspaper was one of more than 100 other news organizations around the globe to publish this weekend details of more than 11.5 million documents from the files of law firm Mossack Fonseca, based in the tax haven of Panama.

O Estado said names in the leaked files included politicians from Brazil’s largest party, the PMDB, which broke away from President Dilma Rousseff’s coalition last week. Political figures from the PSDB, the most prominent opposition party in the country, was also mentioned in the leaks, as well as others from the PDT, PP, PSB, PSD and the PTB parties.

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