Brazil probes Olympics threats after group backs Islamic State

Reuters, 07/20/16

Brazil’s intelligence agency said on Tuesday it was investigating all threats to next month’s Rio Olympics after a presumed Brazilian Islamist group pledged allegiance to Islamic State (IS) less than three weeks before the Games.

The SITE Intelligence Group that monitors the internet reported that a group calling itself “Ansar al-Khilafah Brazil” said on the Telegram messaging app on Sunday that it followed IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and had promoted IS propaganda in Arabic, English and Portuguese.

Brazilian authorities stepped up security measures following the truck massacre in Nice last week, planning security cordons, further roadblocks and the frisking of visitors in Rio de Janeiro for the Olympics.

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Brazil’s Olympic Greeting: Welcome to Hell

Beth McLoughlin – U.S. News, 07/18/2016

RIO DE JANEIRO — In Brazil’s oldest favela of Providencia, Diego Deus lives with his wife and 6-month-old son. He can walk to work at the Museum of Modern Art, a gleaming new addition to the city’s port zone that has been redeveloped in advance of this summer’s Olympic Games.

Unemployment has been steadily climbing in Brazil, a country in its worst recession since the 1930s, but Deus is one of many Rio residents who has found work directly or indirectly as a result of the Games. Proud of his neighborhood, he resisted being moved when 200 people were evicted to renovate Providencia.

“They wanted to take my house out [to build a cable car], but I resisted,” Deus says. “I don’t see myself living anywhere else. It might seem strange to say it, but I feel safe here, I can go out and leave my door open. People look out for you.”

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Mexico’s star wanes as reforms underwhelm, Brazil rises

Michale O’Boyle and Bruno Federowski – Reuters, 07/13/2016

Foreign investors in Latin America are warming to Brazil as a promising turnaround bet while souring on Mexico and its landmark energy reform that has yet to deliver.

Brazil has yet to recover from its worst recession in decades, inflation and interest rates remain among the highest in the region and it is saddled with a bloated public sector. In contrast, Mexico’s economy is growing at around 2 percent, has lower fiscal deficits and sounder public finances.

But while Brazil interim president Michel Temer’s reform agenda offers some promise, Mexico, once a darling of foreign investors, is now a source of disappointment. A slump in oil prices dashed hopes that President Enrique Pena Nieto’s energy sector opening in 2013 along with telecoms and banking reforms would boost foreign investment and supercharge growth while clouds are now gathering over its budget and economy.

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Brazil’s Temer To Make China First Official Visit Abroad

Lise Alves – The Rio Times, 07/11/2016

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – If suspended president Dilma Rousseff is impeached from office in August, Brazil’s interim President, Michel Temer, plans to take his first official overseas trip as leader of the country in September to China, Industry and Foreign Trade Minister Marcos Pereira announced over the weekend. Temer’s main goal is to boost Brazilian exports to the Asian country, especially of aircrafts and beef.

Brazil, airplanes, embraer aircraft manufacturer

Last year, during Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang’s visit to Brazil, the two countries signed investment agreements worth US$53.3 billion to be made by Chinese companies in Brazil in the areas of agribusiness, auto parts, equipment transport, energy, railways, highways, airports, ports, storage and services. Now Temer wants to increase the presence of Brazilian products in China.

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Brazil Police Investigate Panama Bank

Rogerio Jelmayer – The Wall Street Journal, 07/07/2016

SÃO PAULO—Brazil’s authorities are investigating a Panamanian financial institution that allegedly worked with “Panama Papers” law firm Mossack Fonseca  & Co. to set up offshore accounts for Brazilian clients, in an operation that is an offshoot of the Car Wash corruption probe.

Police and prosecutors said Thursday during a press conference that police have detained for questioning seven people in São Paulo state linked with the financial institution, FPB Bank Inc.

According to prosecutors, there is evidence that services provided by FPB and Mossack Fonseca, the Panama City-based law firm whose client records were exposed as part ofthe so-called Panama Papers leak, were used by clients in Brazil to hide money coming from bribes paid in a bid-rigging scheme at state oil company Petróleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras.

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Missing ex-Gitmo detainee unnerves Brazil

Joe Leahy – Financial Times, 07/06/2016

Brazilian police are trying to locate a former detainee of the US military prison at Guantánamo Bay after reports of his disappearance from Uruguay caused alarm in the country only a month before it is due to hold the 2016 Olympics.

The Uruguayan media reported that the former US prisoner, Jihad Ahmed Mujstafa Diyab, had been missing from his adopted home for three weeks and had possibly gone to Brazil.

“The federal police states that it has taken diverse measures and until now there is no confirmation of the entrance or presence of this foreigner on national soil,” the Brazilian federal police said in a statement.

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Latin America, Brexit and Trump: The Consequences

Brian Winter – Americas Quarterly, 06/27/2016

Like waves caused by a faraway hurricane, big global events eventually tend to wash up on Latin America’s shores. In the 2000s, the rise of China and its appetite for commodities gave rise to a new Latin American middle class and a “pink tide” of left-leaning leaders who handed out the spoils. In the 1990s, the collapse of the Berlin Wall resulted in the “Washington Consensus” of free-market dogma and the growth of me-too trading blocs such as Mercosur, NAFTA and the Andean Community. And in preceding decades, the Cold War helped foster any number of dictatorships, guerrilla uprisings and midnight coups.

So what will be the fallout from “Brexit,” the rise of Donald Trump, and other manifestations of the new nationalism sweeping Western Europe and the United States? Will Latin America once again serve as a peripheral theater to the convulsions of the rich world? Or has the general prosperity and democratic consolidation of recent years bolstered Latin America’s own center of gravity, giving it the ability to resist – or perhaps even push back against – developments thousands of miles away?

There’s a distinct irony to all of this: The rich world is turning inward at precisely the moment when Latin America feels more open to trade and integration than it has in 20 years. The election of more outward-looking presidents in Argentinaand Peru, and overtures to trade by Brazil’s new interim government, have signaled a shift away from the leftism of the past decade. In broad terms, the region’s Atlantic coast is more actively embracing the trade-friendly ethos that has served the Pacific, Asia-facing countries so well in recent years. The tragic implosion of Venezuela and the opening of Cuba have only accentuated the belief in capitals from Mexico City to Buenos Aires that the future lies with more globalization, rather than less.

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How to Get Brazil (And Latin America) Completely Wrong

Brian Winter – Americas Quarterly, 06/22/2016

It’s been yet another rough week for Brazil’s international image, with an Olympic mascot shot dead in an absurd accident and another national political figure dragged into scandal. But the biggest blow of all came from Declan Ryan, co-founder of the Irish budget airline Ryanair, who told an Argentine newspaper that he was considering expansion into every South American country “except for Brazil, where there is lots of corruption.”

This is precisely the wrong lesson to draw from Brazil’s struggles – akin to believing that the house that gets the most exhaustive inspection must also be the most rotten one on the block. It’s telling that Ryan made his comments (which became huge news in Brazil) while announcing an expansion into Argentina, where the corruption under 12 years of Kirchner rule is only now coming to light. Just last week, a former Argentine secretary of public works was arrested while trying to hide $9 million in cash in a monastery. Ryan preferred tolaugh that story off.

As regular AQ readers know, the negative headlines about Brazil result from a positive process – the independent prosecutors who have uncovered evidence of systemic graft and fraud, and sent some of the country’s most powerful people to jail. This does not mean Brazil is South America’s most corrupt country – it may mean, instead, that it has its healthiest (or most active) legal system. But the mistake Ryan made is surprisingly common, and it provides a golden opportunity for investors who are savvy enough to see the truth.

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Residents in Brazil’s notorious City of God are ‘scared to death’ of US shootings

Will Carless – PRI, 06/14/2016

“Where should I shoot you? In the hand or the foot?” That’s the menacingly cruel line uttered by Li’l Zé in the 2002 movie “City of God.” Zé is threatening two small boys, maybe 6 or 7 years old, with a shiny handgun, after catching them with a group of kids who were disrespecting him.

The little boys hold out their hands. Zé shoots them each in the foot, and laughs. Then he orders another kid to pick one of them to kill.

It’s one of many shocking scenes in the film, a visceral statement on the senseless violence that sometimes happens in Brazil’s favelas.

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W.H.O. Says Olympics Should Go Ahead in Brazil Despite Zika Virus

The Olympic Games should go on as planned, the World Health Organization said Tuesday, and athletes and spectators, except for pregnant women, should not hesitate to attend so long as they take precautions against infection with the Zika virus.

Pregnant women were advised not to go to Brazil for the event or theParalympics. The W.H.O. previously told them to avoid any area where Zika is circulating.

Some attendees may contract the mosquito-borne infection and even bring it back home, but the risk in August — midwinter in Rio de Janeiro — is relatively low, W.H.O. officials said.

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