Brazilian Discontent Ahead of the World Cup

Pew Research Center, 6/3/2014

A year after widespread protests and just ahead of the World Cup, a new survey by the Pew Research Center finds that 72% of Brazilians are dissatisfied with the way things are going in their country, up from 55% just weeks before the demonstrations began in June 2013.

Opinions about the national economy have changed even more dramatically over this one-year period. Two-thirds now say Brazil’s once-booming economy is in bad shape, while just 32% say the economy is good. Just last year the balance of opinion was reversed: a 59%-majority thought the country was in good shape economically, while 41% said the economy was bad. Economic ratings had been consistently positive since 2010.

Brazilians are also concerned about the impact that hosting the upcoming World Cup will have on their country. About six-in-ten (61%) think hosting the event is a bad thing because it takes money away from schools, health care and other public services. Just 34% think the World Cup will create more jobs and help the economy. And about four-in-ten (39%) say the World Cup will hurt Brazil’s global image while an almost equal number (35%) say it will help; 23% say it will have no impact.

Continue reading “Brazilian Discontent Ahead of the World Cup”


Brazil downplays missing FIFA’s stadium deadline

Associated Press, 12/04/2013

The Brazilian government has brushed aside the importance of more delays in completing 2014 World Cup stadiums, saying that missing FIFA’s deadline will not affect the country’s ability to successfully host next year’s tournament.

A day after FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke said three stadiums would not be ready in time for the Dec. 31 deadline, Brazilian officials said they actually plan to deliver all six remaining venues after that date.

They claim only three are delayed, with the other three being handed over after the expected date only because of problems accommodating the schedule of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, who wants to be present for the ceremonies.

Read more…

The Week in Review, 8/17/2012

Each Friday, through the Brazil Portal feature “The Week in Review”, the Brazil Institute will highlight Brazil’s news topics in one concise summary.

Photo credit: Reuters

To conclude the Olympic Games this year in London, President Dilma Rousseff ceremoniously received the Olympic flag as a token of her nation’s honor to host the upcoming summer Olympics in 2016 in Rio. While four years away, Rio is not shy about discussing future plans for both the Rio Olympics and the World Cup games. Although Brazil won a record amount of medals this year at the Olympic Games, Brazil announced it would be tripling its funding for athletics in order to ensure their continued performance when they host the Games. While Brazil wants their nation and athletes to shine in the 2016 Rio games, they also want to shed light on the theme for the games revolving around our world’s one race. As an initiative to end racial discrimination, Brazil is offering free genetic testing to prove there is no genetic basis for race, (or that race is social constructed), and hopes to offer the genetic testing for both the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games.

The Games also give Brazil good reason to increase spending on infrastructure within Brazil. Brazil is now set to spend US$66 billion on developing highways, railways and new systems of infrastructure. Not only will the project deliver the necessary transportation systems for World Cup spectators, but according to President Rousseff it will help Brazil to modernize and become more competitive. Indeed, despite recent lags in the Brazilian economy, the nation has been defying the slow-down by promoting its labor market. The consumer freedom of the emergent middle class has been driving the economy in the right direction, as well as a recent demand for cars in Brazil has brought automotive industries to invest in manufacturing in Brazil. Indeed, this marks a trend for increased foreign investment in Brazil, which has tripled since 2007.  Nevertheless, Brazil will have to maintain good production patterns as it did during its commodities boom to ensure its economy continues to prosper.

The Week in Review, 8/10/2012

Each Friday, through the Brazil Portal feature “The Week in Review”, the Brazil Institute will highlight Brazil’s news topics in one concise summary.

Photo credit: Theseoduke

In the past decade, the world has had its eyes on Brazil as an emerging nation with an incredible ability to lift millions out of poverty; but while poverty eradication has promoted incredible benefits for society at large, the financial freedom of the emergent middle class has caused an influx of drugs into Brazil, thus indirectly causing Brazil’s security apparatus to become increasingly vulnerable. With these concerns in mind, Brazil launched a series of security maneuvers this week to maintain surveillance of criminal activities at Brazil’s international borders to uphold public health and safety.  Likewise, the surveillance hopes to oversee illegal activities in Amazons such as illegal mining or logging and other threats from within Brazil.

These security maneuvers go hand in hand with preparation for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics as Brazil hopes to increase surveillance of its notorious favelas to promote a better image for Brazil. In addition its contentious slum-cleaning initiatives in preparation of the games, Brazil is already spending billions on infrastructural developments to allow easy travel for the thousands of spectators coming to the games. However, there are doubts about Brazil’s ability to adapt their transit in time for the games: with only 22 months left to develop a fluid system of public transportation, there has yet to be a decision whether Cuiabá, a city hosting several of the World Cup games, will build a bus or rail system.

Brazil has even been expanding development past its national boundaries and has announced major investments in Africa. This week, Brazil announced with Nigeria its commitment to invest in roads, airports, and energy production amongst other areas of development. To address Angola’s famine, the Brazilian government is investing in food security initiatives and humanitarian relief projects.  Brazil is also investing in Kenya to improve its urban transportation systems and in Mozambique to fund AIDS antiviral drug plants, thus signaling moments of enhanced Brazilian-African relations, and highlights Brazil’s African pride as a an extremely ethnic nation with a large population of people of African descent.

Acknowledgement of Brazil’s multiracial background has recently triggered Brazil to legislate an affirmative action bill for federal universities. The bill, which passed Brazil’s Senate August 7, reserves spots in federal universities to ensure multiracial representation in the student bodies.  On August 6, Brazilian sociologist Simon Schwartzman commented on the proposed system of equal-pay for Brazilian professors at federal universities, and argued that failing to honor merit-based teaching would dissolve the integrity of federal universities. Nevertheless, Brazil’s university system seems to be preforming well, as Brazil’s University of Sao Paulo ranked at the top of the list for Latin American universities this year.

Week in Review, 8/3/2012

Each Friday, through the Brazil Portal feature “The Week in Review”, the Brazil Institute will highlight Brazil’s news topics in one concise summary.

Last Friday, July 27, 2012, Brazil experienced a contentious moment following the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in London. In attendance was President Dilma Rousseff, who became surprised as she watched Marina Silva, an Amazon rainforest campaigner carrying the Olympic Flag into the stadium. While Silva is an affluent figure for environmentalism, several agents from the Brazilian government were angered that the International Olympic committee chose someone in opposition of the Rousseff government. Being that Brazil is next to host the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the country must now consider how they will approach the ceremony. Paulo Sotero of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars’s says rather than succumbing to a 2016 Olympic ceremony of Brazilian propaganda, Brazil should illuminate its hardships to glorify its dignified prosperity.

Likewise, the London games shed light on the fact that Rio has a big seat to fill as host of both 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics and some have even said this is a daunting prospect for Brazil. Despite this doubt, Brazil has announced various infrastructure projects such as building training facilities for World Cup.  After a very contentious discussion of plans to build and Olympic stadium at the expense of relocating some 4,000 and their homes in some of Rio’s favelas in March 2012, Brazil has made apparent progress this week after introducing new initiatives to deliver social programs to the favela-dwellers. For now, it seems all eyes are on Brazil to see how they plan to move forward to prepare.

Following the annexation of Venezuela to the Latin American free trade organization Mersocur, many commentators shed uncertainties for the future of partnership. While Argentina and Brazil have been particularly concerned about Chavez’s inclusion, the two nations have maintained friendly trade relations, evidenced by Embraer’s recent sale of aircraft to Venezuela. Likewise, Brazil’s regional prominence shows the nation’s power to maintain the organization’s cohesiveness.

On Wednesday August 1, 2012 the Brazilian Supreme Court examined the corruption scandal involving former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s chief of staff, amongst dozens of others, accused of laundering government funds in return for votes. The case could drastically hurt Lula’s reputation, the Worker’s Party’s, and also Rousseff’s, considering she was hand-picked by Lula himself. Despite the myriad of criticisms that the Lula government faces, this scandal evidences a major change for the better in Brazil’s judicial system. Where in the past impunity was the norm, the corruption scandal is now following through with democratic practices of trial and the possibility of conviction.


Week in Review, 07/27/2012

Each Friday, through the Brazil Portal feature “The Week in Review”, the Brazil Institute will highlight Brazil’s news topics in one concise summary.

Economic updates from Brazil this week were characterized by a flood of both good news and bad news, indicating that the domestic fiscal picture remains murky. Some of the more negative aspects included falling job creation rates, decreasing federal tax revenues, dwindling consumer confidence, and a social security program plummeting deeper into the red. However, these less-than-positive developments are assuaged by some good news: though President Dilma Rousseff is apparently “very worried”  about the economy, central bank chief Alexandre Tombini predicts an upturn  in the second half of the year. The Brazilian economy is also buoyed by foreign investment, which continues to increase  despite the slowdown, increased interest from venture capital firms, not to mention the profits from a gargantuan corn sale to the drought ridden United States. The dichotomy of positive and negative economic global outlooks is highlighted in a translation of a piece from Folha de S.Paulo, in which Carlos Lins da Silva analyzes the mixed-message on Brazil and how it is affecting the nation’s populace.

With regards to US-Brazilian economics, the Miami Herald reports that despite the Brazilian slump, trade between Florida and Brazil continues to expand . This fact coincides with the growing campaign to waive visas for Brazilian visitors, a charge led by Florida politicians. The Miami-Dade area is already significantly culturally connected to Brazil, and politicians there believe the visa waiver would bring jobs and stimulate the economy.

As athletes from all over the world congregating in London this week for the Olympics, Dilma Rousseff was among them. The Brazilian President is in England attending the opening ceremonies, and will meet with David Cameron later this week to discuss scientific innovation and the economy. The Games’ commencement has inspired commentary by Brazilian sports Minister Aldo Rebelo on how the 2016 Rio Games will compare.

Week in Review, 07/06/2012

Each Friday, through the Brazil Portal feature “The Week in Review”, the Brazil Institute will highlight Brazil’s news topics in one concise summary.

News this week continued to revolve around Brazil’s continued measures to stimulate the economy. With a falling trade surplus and factory output on the decline, the government has been eager to recoup their losses, accelerate production, and encourage consumer spending. Cuts to steep oil taxes are being discussed to reinvigorate ethanol production, as well as tax cuts on common household goods aimed at increasing stagnating sales. Some of these stimulus measures have seen results; car sales have jumped markedly after a similar tax cut, although auto output itself has not rebounded. However, the results of similar stimuli, such as the monumental new agricultural loan program announced this week, have yet to be seen.

In hemispheric news, Brazil’s ties to its Latin American neighbors have been both tested and strengthened this week. On the one hand, regional tensions have been high since the expulsion of Paraguay from Mercosur after last week’s demi-coup/impeachment that ousted Fernando Lugo. Though Brazil was one of the many nations that criticized the impeachment proceedings  and questioned their constitutionality, the country also stands to benefit. Given that the coup led to Paraguay’s removal from Mercosur, lawmakers in Asunción can no longer block Venezuela’s entrance into the trade union, a development which could potentially profit Brazil greatly. Outside of South America, Brazil and Mexico are strengthening their relationship, as Mexico’s newly elected President vowed to ally with the South American giant.

The case pitting Brazilian laborers against corporate giants BASF and Shell Oil has also seen some development this week. Investigations into workers’ claims that they were exposed to harmful pesticides are ongoing. The workers’ victory seemed ensured when a judge mandated that Shell and BASF put aside 328 million for their compensation, however this measure was blocked later in the week by a different judge.

July 1 marked the 18th anniversary of the Plano Real, the landmark fiscal legislation that introduced the real as Brazil’s currency. O Estado de S.Paulo interviewed Persio Arida, a former Wilson Center Public Policy Scholar and one of the men responsible for the plan’s design and implementation, about the plan’s success almost two decades later.