Brazil deploying troops, barricades before impeachment votes

Raymond Colitt and Arnaldo Galvao – The Chicago Tribune, 04/11/2016

Brazilian security forces are deploying thousands of troops and erecting barricades in the capital city of Brasilia this week to prevent violent clashes as Congress holds key votes on the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff.

The city’s rare state of alert reflects concern that the country’s polarized political climate will reach a fever pitch in coming days. Authorities on Sunday enlisted the help of inmates from a nearby prison to set up metal barriers that will separate the hundreds of thousands of Brazilians who are expected to demonstrate for and against the president’s ouster.

Protesters already are converging on Brasilia as the nation’s drawn-out political crisis moves into a decisive phase, with a special committee in the lower house scheduled to vote on Monday whether to move forward with the impeachment request against Rousseff. The full house could vote as early as April 17, either squelching impeachment or setting the stage for Rousseff’s ouster in the Senate.

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Israel changes tack over ambassador after standoff with Brazil

Isable Kershner – The New York Times, 03/28/2016

JERUSALEM — Israel pulled back on Monday after a monthslong diplomatic standoff with Brazil over plans to install a former settler leader as its ambassador there, reassigning him to a post in the United States after the government in Brasília refused to approve his appointment.

The office of Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, issued a brief statement saying that he had decided to appoint the former settler leader, Dani Dayan, as consul general in New York.

“He will replace Foreign Ministry career official Ido Aharoni, who is completing his term,” the statement said. Officials in the prime minister’s office and in the Foreign Ministry declined to make any additional public comments.

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Why Brazil still hasn’t approved Israel’s ambassador pick

Ruth Eglash and Dom Phillips – The Washington Post, 01/09/2016

Israel and Brazil are locked in a rather undiplomatic standoff over the appointment of a new Israeli ambassador to the Latin American country. Tensions began in September when Israel presented credentials for Dani Dayan, selected for the post by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Usually, it takes just weeks for a country to approve a new ambassador, but Israel is still waiting.

The holdup?

Dayan is the former head of the Yesha Council, a representative body of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank. Most countries, including Brazil, view the settlements as illegal and an impediment to the creation of a future Palestinian state. Israel disputes that. The United States calls the settlements “illegitimate.”

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Brazil’s most costly soccer stadium may not host Olympic games

Anthony Boadle – Reuters, 10/27/2015

In the midst of Brazil’s deepening economic crisis, its cash-strapped capital may not have the money to fulfill a promise to host Olympic soccer games next year, leaving unused the most expensive stadium built for the 2014 World Cup.

The Rio 2016 organizing committee has given Brasilia until mid-November to sign a contract or be stripped of the seven games set to be held there next year, a spokesperson said.

Tickets for matches in Brasilia have already been on sale for months and it remains unclear how fans, many of whom may have bought flights and booked hotels, would be reimbursed.

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Brazil truckers strike drags on as gov’t talks stall

Marcelo Teixeira and Reese Ewing – Reuters, 2/25/2015

Truckers who blocked roads in 10 Brazilian states in an eighth day of protests struggled to find a solution in talks with the government on Wednesday to end a strike that has disrupted food and fuel supplies.

Agriculture Minister Katia Abreu said after a meeting with truckers in Brasilia on Wednesday afternoon that she was confident both sides would reach agreement.

“(The protesters) are flexible and want to resolve the problem,” Abreu said, but she added the government would not give in to on the truckers’ main demands: lower diesel prices and fixed freight rates.

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Brazil scales back Carnival festivities as drought and weak economy persist

Bruce Douglas – The Guardian, 2/11/2015

Severe drought and an ailing economy have forced cities and towns across Brazil to abandon or scale back their plans for Carnival, which is due to start on Friday.

In Brasília, the capital, the local authorities have cancelled the samba school parade for the first time since 1983, in an attempt to plug the R$4bn (£900m) hole left in the accounts by the previous administration.

“It was a really unpleasant surprise,” said Geomar Leite, the president of Brasília’s Union of Samba Schools, said. “We had all the programme ready; the music, the costumes. We feel really frustrated.”

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Local government pulls plug on Indy race in Brazil

Noah Joseph – Autoblog, 2/3/2015

It looks as though the IndyCar Series will be bumped back to running exclusively in North America this season after the planned race in Brazil has been canceled.

The announcement made late last week left many questions unanswered, but subsequent reports indicate that it was the local government in the capital of Brasilia who pulled the plug. Apparently facing backlash over the enormous cost of hosting the FIFA World Cup last year amidst rampant poverty in the country, government officials have been under increased scrutiny over the costs associated with hosting international sporting competitions. The planned return of the MotoGP race in Brasilia was also canceled for the second year in a row.

To make matters worse, a reported two thirds of the tickets had already been sold, renovations to the Autódromo Internacional Nelson Piquet were well under way, and a sponsor for the race was due to be announced within days. Series organizers, however, say that both they and the participating teams are protected financially for just such an eventuality.

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