Brazil’s Corruption Culture ‘can be beaten’

Paul Moss – BBC, 04/26/2016

Even a visitor who detests shopping can admire the building’s quirkiness, a semi-arch that seems almost to fall on to the pavement, embodying the modernist curves which define architecture in Brazil’s capital.

This is a city that was constructed virtually from scratch in the 1950s and which is supposed to proclaim the new, progressive side of the country.

Yet the man I had come to meet at the mall had a story as old as his country’s creation: “When you bid for a government contract in Brazil, they usually say ‘what can you do for us? What can you do to make this contract a win-win for all of us?’ They want a percentage of the contract…which means bribes.”

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Brazil Impeachment Countdown Begins as Senate Elects Committee

Arnaldo Galvao – Bloomberg, 04/25/2016

Brazil’s Senate took its first major step forward in the impeachment process on Monday by electing members of a committee that will recommend whether to oust President Dilma Rousseff.

Senators approved in a vote the 21 members of the committee, who are scheduled to pick their president and rapporteur during their first meeting on Tuesday. The committee is made up of multiple parties and has as many as 10 days to hear Rousseff’s defense and make a recommendation to their peers whether to try the president.

Monday’s meeting reinforced a timetable that could see Rousseff’s ouster as early as May 12, as the full chamber can vote two days after the committee finishes its work. The president would have to step down temporarily if the opposition garners the simple majority it needs to start the Senate trial, which surveys conducted by local media show it currently has. Without the power of the presidency at her disposal, Rousseff will have a difficult time winning over enough lawmakers to prevail in the trial, said political analyst Rafael Cortez.

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The real reason Dilma Rousseff’s enemies want her impeached

David Miranda – The Guardian, 04/21/2016

The story of Brazil’s political crisis, and the rapidly changing global perception of it, begins with its national media. The country’s dominant broadcast and print outlets are owned by a tiny handful of Brazil’s richest families, and are steadfastly conservative. For decades, those media outlets have been used to agitate for the Brazilian rich, ensuring that severe wealth inequality (and the political inequality that results) remains firmly in place.

Indeed, most of today’s largest media outlets – that appear respectable to outsiders – supported the 1964 military coup that ushered in two decades of rightwing dictatorship and further enriched the nation’s oligarchs. This key historical event still casts a shadow over the country’s identity and politics. Those corporations – led by the multiple media arms of the Globo organisation –heralded that coup as a noble blow against a corrupt, democratically elected liberal government. Sound familiar?

For more than a year, those same media outlets have peddled a self-serving narrative: an angry citizenry, driven by fury over government corruption, rising against and demanding the overthrow of Brazil’s first female president, Dilma Rousseff, and her Workers’ party (PT). The world saw endless images of huge crowds of protesters in the streets, always an inspiring sight.

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VP Leads Brazil While Embattled Rousseff Travels

Rafael Romo – CNN, 04/21/2016

It’s a new chapter in Brazil’s deep political crisis, which at times reads like a tropical telenovela. The South American country now has a new president, although it will only be for a few days.

Brazilian Vice President Michel Temer is technically in charge of Brazil — albeit temporarily. How is this possible? It’s all thanks to a particular clause in the Brazilian Constitution which implies that if the president in power leaves the country, the vice president assumes control of the executive power.
His former running mate and current political rival, embattled President Dilma Rousseff, is visiting the United States and plans to attend a climate conference in New York on Friday. That means Temer is not only calling the shots at home, but has effectively become the president … until she returns.

Brazil’s Political Crisis, Explained

Zack Beauchamp – Vox, 04/21/2016

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is in the midst of a stunning fall from grace.

In 2013, Rousseff had a roughly 80 percent approval rating. Today, it’s around 10 percent. Just this Sunday, one house of Brazil’s Congress voted to impeach her.

The story behind Rousseff’s collapse is extraordinary — but also a bit complicated. If you’re just learning about it, it might be a little bit difficult to parse why Rousseff is in so much trouble, and why this is all blowing up now.

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Isolated, Rousseff Faces Diminishing Chances to Survive Impeachment

Paulo Sotero – Brazil Institute, 04/13/2016

The loss of support to President Dilma Rousseff intensified after the Chamber of Deputies special committee approved, on April 11, a motion to move forward with impeachment proceedings against the embattled Brazilian leader. The action is grounded on evidence that Rousseff’s government manipulated budget accounts and made unauthorized expenditures to hide an exploding fiscal deficit at the root of the country’s ongoing economic disaster.

The impeachment process has been fueled by revelations of the ongoing investigation of a $3 billion corruption scandal involving state oil giant Petrobras, Brazil’s largest company. The crimes, exposed by multiple defendants through plea bargain agreements with federal authorities, started during the administration of popular former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and continued under Rousseff. Prior to being elected president, Dilma Rousseff was minister of energy and chaired the Petrobras board of directors for five years. Although the president has not been charged in the Petrobras case, politicians closely associated with her have been arrested and accused of a variety of crimes. And she may be charged with obstruction of justice for trying to shield Lula from a criminal investigation related to Petrobras by naming him to her cabinet.

Following last month’s decisive break between the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), Brazil’s largest party, and the government, other members of Rousseff’s fraying coalition have cut ties with the unpopular president, leaving her increasingly isolated to face the Chamber of Deputy plenary vote on impeachment, scheduled for April 17. Her survival depends on ensuring the allegiance of members of small parties who are driven by their interests in accessing federal agencies budgets and patronage jobs.

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Realistic Solutions for the Political Maze

Carlos Melo, Milton Seligman – Plus55, 04/11/2016

The Brazilian crisis has intensified, and it is now evident that a clear solution is no longer possible: the economic disaster will not be rapidly fixed, and Operation Car Wash will not be contained. Brazil finds itself in a maze, and exits appear to be blocked. There is a glaring lack of leadership and creativity, mixed with an abundance of conflicts. The solution does not seem to come from the political arena; au contraire, the high-profile leaders are guided by personal interests and have become victims of their own shortsightedness. Their rhetoric only seems to worsen the situation and deepen dissent.

With rare exceptions, there are no actors capable of creating a new atmosphere, to create new alliances. We lack the political stature to propose new economic, social and political guidelines for Brazilian society. We need something to lead us out of this crisis and towards peaceful debate, as the anger from all sides has reached beyond-believable levels of rage.

The streets are shouting both for and against the government, but are met without an echo in our political establishment. Without coordination and leaders capable of voicing their wishes, the streets are basically alienated from the debate. With regards to the future, hope is fading away, much like Brazil’s credibility. Our archaic representation system remains ineffective and inoperative, incapable of bringing our nation together.

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