How Brazil’s electoral system led the country into political crisis

Ryan Lloyd and Carlos Oliveira – The Washington Post, 05/25/2016

There’s a new twist in the already twisted saga of the Brazilian legislature’s attempt to impeach President Dilma Rousseff, who is currently suspended. On May 23, Brazil’s largest newspaper, the Folha de Sao Paulo,published a story about a leaked conversation between Planning Minister Romero Jucá — a key instigator of Rousseff’s suspension and an important political insider for the past 30 years — and Sérgio Machado, the former head of Transpetro (the transportation arm of Petrobras, Brazil’s state-owned oil company).

In the audio clip, Jucá — who has since taken leave from his post in Michel Temer’s interim government, which stepped in for Rousseff — says clearly that impeachment was a way for a coalition of politicians to avoid being prosecuted for corruption. Rousseff was unwilling to protect these politicians, Jucá claimed. Removing her from office and forming a “national pact” to “stop the bleeding” would be the best way for them all to protect themselves.

Some media outlets suggest that Machado recorded conversations with other key players in Brazilian politics. If so, more leaks could put Temer in a still worse position. Temer worked actively behind the scenes to dethrone his predecessor, but doesn’t have popular support himself.

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Brazil’s new opposition: Artists, musicians and filmmakers

Vincent Bevins – The Los Angeles Times, 05/24/2016

As performer after performer appeared on the outdoor stages, the Virada Cultural festival in Sao Paulo quickly turned into a massive protest against Brazil’s new acting president, Michel Temer, and the conservative government he installed following the impeachment of his predecessor less than two weeks ago.

One rock band, Nacao Zumbi, led the crowd in chants that echoed through the center of the city: “Temer out! Temer out!”

Rapper Criolo performed in front of a giant electronic sign that proclaimed “Never Temer,” playing on a double meaning. In Portuguese, temer means “to fear.”

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Brazil’s Suspended President Dilma In It To Win It, But Probably Won’t

Kenneth Rapoza – Forbes, 05/22/2016

Brazil’s recently suspended two-term president, Dilma Rousseff, told Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept on Thursday that she was going to fight impeachment until the bitter end. That end will most likely result in her being removed of her political rights for 10 years.

No date has been set for the Senate hearing on her impeachment. But when that day comes, she will have just 20 days to defend herself. The Senate will then have a maximum of 180 days to vote whether or not to officially remove Dilma from office. It’s not looking good. Supporters, who have seemingly come out of the woodwork in the days leading up to her impeachment in the lower house and even more so since her unpopular vice president Michel Temer took over, will be in for a harsh reality check. Warning: this story does not have a happy ending.

In the interview for The Intercept, Workers’ Party president Dilma reiterated that she would not resign and that she had some judicial recourse. She could, in theory, challenge the ruling at the Supreme Court. But considering the fact that Chief Justice Ricardo Lewandowski will oversee the Senate trial, her argument would only be won if the Supreme Court ruled against their own chief. It’s possible, but highly unlikely. She also failed to get an injunction to block the Senate vote and, worth nothing, over half the judges on the bench were appointed by her party.

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Brazil’s new government may be less likely to protect the Amazon, critics say

Dom Phillips and Nick Miroff – The Washington Post, 05/22/2016

Signs of a rightward turn by Brazil’s new government have alarmed conservationists and climate change activists who fear a rollback of environmental laws that could accelerate deforestation in the Amazon basin.

With Brazil’s economy in its worst slump since the 1930s, new leader Michel Temer took power this month promising a more business-friendly agenda to spur growth. Temer named a ­conservative-leaning cabinet whose members include figures with close ties to powerful landowners and agribusiness companies.

Temer has taken control in South America’s largest nation — and the world’s biggest rain forest — at a time when Brazilian lawmakers are considering a major overhaul of environmental laws. This includes a controversial constitutional amendment known as PEC 65 that would reduce licensing requirements for development projects and limit judicial oversight of their impact.

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From the favelas: the rise of rooftop solar projects in Brazil

Heriberto Araújo – The Guardian, 05/24/2016

Sunny days have long been considered a competitive advantage for Brazil. Before the 2014 World Cup, the country’s tourist board set up a website allowing visitors to compare the number of sunny days in US and European capitals to cities in Brazil (eg Brussels 103, Rio de Janeiro 212). But while tourism may have been capitalising on the sunshine, the solar industry has not.

According to statistics from the Brazilian electricity regulatory agency, Aneel, solar accounts for just 0.02% of the country’s energy. The bulk of the country’s energy generation (70%) is from hydropower.

However, while demand for energy is increasing, multi-year droughts andwidespread blackouts have created serious concerns about energy security for millions of businesses and homes. Despite a traditional lack of support (unlike Europe, China and the US, Brazil has not implemented feed-in tariffs or tax breaks), the government is now making efforts to diversify (pdf) the country’s energy mix with recent public auctions for solar and wind. Its 10-year energy plan released in 2014 estimates that 7GW of solar projects will be installed by 2024, making up 3.3% of Brazil’s energy mix.

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