True crime is jeopardizing the future of the Amazon, but indigenous groups and Brazil’s police are fighting back – together

Steve Schwartzman – Environmental Defense Fund, 07/13/2016

A new operation against land grabbers and illegal loggers in Brazil’s state of Pará is showing how collaboration between indigenous and forest communities and law enforcement can take on the biggest ongoing threats to the Amazon forest: illegal logging and illegal deforestation for land grabbing.

Launched June 30th, the operation started with an investigation two years ago after leaders from the Kayapô indigenous group reported clandestine deforestation on the western border of their territory to the Brazilian federal environmental enforcement agency, IBAMA.

Guided by the Indians, IBAMA agents discovered encampments of workers who were clearing the forest in the indigenous territory and on adjacent public land, while leaving the tallest trees; this hid the illegal deforestation from satellite monitoring. The workers, who according to police labored under semi-slave conditions, would then burn the understory and plant pasture grass. Meanwhile, another part of the gang surveyed and forged land registry documents to sell the land. IBAMA agents shut down the camps, detained personnel and issued fines – and brought in the Prosecutor’s Office and Federal Police to investigate.

What 10,000 Brazilians Think About Ousted President Dilma Rousseff

Kenneth Rapoza – Forbes, 06/13/2016

Can 10,003 Brazilians be wrong? Out of that number, only 5% of them think ousted Workers’ Party president Dilma Rousseff will survive her impeachment trial in the Senate. A total of 92% say Dilma is a goner. The survey did not ask whether or not people felt she should be removed from office, however. No trial date has been set, but rumor has it that it will take place before the Summer Olympics in early August.

Washington DC based Brazil Institute from the Woodrow Wilson Center commissioned Ideia Inteligencia to conduct the telephone poll between May 30th and June 5th, roughly two weeks after a Senate committee agreed to proceed with an impeachment hearing against the president. The number of respondents who told Idea that Dilma will be impeached is much greater than the roughly 63% who told a recent poll by MDA Pesquisa.

When asked who is to blame for the current economic crisis plaguing the nation, 55% blamed Dilma and her former Vice President Michel Temer. Individually, 28% laid the blame solely on Dilma while 12% said interim president Temer was to blame. If Dilma manages to return to the presidency, 45% said Brazil will be worse off, while 30% said it will be the same as it is now (which is already pretty bad). A mere 10% said Brazil would be better off if Dilma returned, suggesting that only party loyalists are sticking to the cause at this time.

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Poll shows majority of Brazilians want new elections

Anthony Boadle – Reuters, 06/08/2016

More than a quarter of Brazilians view interim President Michel Temer’s government negatively and a majority want new elections this year, according to a poll on Wednesday that suggested scandals and policy reversals had dented his popularity.

Temer’s government, which began on May 12 when Brazil’s Senate suspended leftist President Dilma Rousseff for breaking budget laws, received a negative rating from 28 percent of Brazilians, according to the CNT/MDA poll.

Only 11.3 percent of those questioned gave it a positive rating, while 30.2 percent found it “regular”.

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Brazil turns a page – What to expect of a Temer government

Thomas Kamm – Brunswick Group, 05/12/2016

After a wrenching battle and a last-ditch attempt to derail the whole process, Brazil has removed President Dilma Rousseff and is set to install Michel Temer in her place. Now comes the hard part: getting the country back on track. Mr. Temer is facing a wave of conflicting pressures that amount to a triple challenge to him and his government.

Brunswick Partner Thomas Kamm looks at these challenges faced by a Temer government and the likely steps to expect from him and Finance Minister-designate Henrique Meirelles.

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Understanding the political crisis in Brazil

Lisa Desjardins, Paulo Sotero, Uri Friedman, Monica de Bolle and Brian Winter – NPR, 05/03/16

Last month in Brazil, the lower house of the country’s National Congress voted to impeach the president, Dilma Rousseff. There are the legal grounds for the move — alleged cooking of the government books. And then there are the political motives, which as many observers have pointed out, are what’s really driving the impeachment. Those have to do with a massive corruption scandal at Petrobras, the state owned oil company. Add to that a severe recession, and many Brazilians are not happy with how their country is being run. Guest host Lisa Desjardins gets an update on the political crisis in Brazil from our panel of guests.

Listen to the podcast…

 

Petrobras scandal

Paulo Sotero – The Editors of Encylocpædia Britannica

Petrobras scandal, Brazilian political corruption scandal beginning in 2014 that involved the indictment of dozens of high-level business people and politicians as part of a widespread investigation alleging that many millions of dollars had been kicked back to officials of Petrobras, Brazil’s huge majority-state-owned oil company, and to politicians—especially members of the ruling Workers’ Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores; PT) of Pres. Dilma Rousseff—by prominent Brazilian corporations in return for contracts with Petrobras.

The malfeasance was revealed by a federal investigation begun in 2014 under the code name Lava Jato (“Car Wash”). The massive scheme to defraud Petrobras—Brazil’s largest enterprise and a symbol of the country’s entrenched economic nationalism—did not fully come to light, however, until after the narrow reelection of President Rousseff on October 26, 2014. By the time of her second inauguration, on January 1, 2015, Rousseff’s approval rating had collapsed to 14 percent, with some two-thirds of Brazilians blaming her for Petrobras’s troubles.

Dubbed “Petrolão”—after mensalão (“big monthly bribe”), the vote-buying scandal that had plagued the government of Rousseff’s predecessor and mentor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (better known simply as “Lula”)—the episode came to be viewed as the largest corruption scandal in Brazilian history. By June 2015 a massive scheme to defraud Petrobras on contracts to develop the so-called pre-salt oil reserves found offshore in 2007 had appeared on investigators’ radar. Moreover, reports suggested that federal prosecutors were also looking into the electricity-generating sector, pension funds for employees of state-owned companies, and the National Bank of Economic and Social Development (BNDES). The latter had provided billions of dollars in subsidized financing to Petrobras and other “national champions,” such as billionaire Eike Batista, whose wealth plummeted spectacularly in 2013.

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Will Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff be Impeached?

Paulo Sotero – Wilson Center NOW, 04/12/2016

Will Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff be impeached? As the process progresses, the likelihood of that outcome seems to increase almost daily. Paulo Sotero, Director of the Wilson Center’s Brazil Institute is traveling to the country and will be there when the next vote occurs. Prior to his departure, we spoke to him about the overall situation and what we might expect next as Brazil’s political crisis unfolds.

Watch the interview…