Populist policies let Brazil’s tomorrow slip away

Eduardo Porter – The New York Times, 05/03/3016

Not too long ago, Brazilians might have been counted as the most optimistic people in the world. From 2008 to 2013, as the United States and Europe grappled with the aftermath of a crisis wrought by blind trust in unfettered finance, Brazil’s income per person grew 12 percent after inflation. Wages soared. The poverty rate plummeted. Even income inequality narrowed.

Brazil remained only a high-middle-income country, in the technospeak of the International Monetary Fund. But for the first time in forever, the eternal “country of tomorrow,” as Brazilians often ruefully described their nation, saw itself instead as a rampant member of the emerging cohort ofBRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) — maybe even closer than China to making the jump into the ranks of the world’s richest nations.

And then it didn’t happen.

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Flame Lands in Troubled Brazil for 94-Day Relay to Games

Reuters/The New York Times, 05/03/2016

President Dilma Rousseff lit the Olympic torch in Brazil’s capital on Tuesday and pledged that political turmoil engulfing her nation would not harm the first Games to be held in South America.

The Olympic flame was flown into Brasilia on Tuesday to start a three-month relay through more than 300 towns and cities that will end with the opening of the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro’s Maracaná stadium on Aug. 5.

A smiling Rousseff waved to crowds as she lit a green cauldron with the Olympic flame on the ramp of Brasilia’s modernistic Planalto presidential palace.

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Dilma Rousseff, facing impeachment in Brazil, has alienated many allies

Andrew Jacobs – The New York Times, 05/01/2016

BRASÍLIA — They were idealists, united in the struggle against Brazil’s military dictators.

As democracy flourished, so did their careers. One of them, Paulo Ziulkoski, became the leader of an association of Brazilian cities. The other, Dilma Rousseff, rose even higher, becoming the president of Latin America’s largest country.

But their friendship soon fell apart. During a contentious meeting with the nation’s mayors in 2012, Ms. Rousseff rejected pleas for a share of Brazil’s soaring oil revenues. After the room erupted in jeers, Mr. Ziulkoski said, she stormed up to him, poked a finger in his face and humiliated him with a string of expletives.

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Brazil prosecutor vows to keep Petrobras corruption probe on course

Luciana Magalhaes and Reed Johnson – The Wall Street Journal, 04/26/2016

CURITIBA, Brazil—A member of the prosecutorial team spearheading Brazil’s landmark corruption investigation says he and his colleagues will press forward with the vast criminal probe, despite fears that a new government coalition might try to shut it down.

The future of Operation Car Wash, which uncovered a yearslong embezzlement ring centered on state oil company Petróleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras, is among the questions raised by the prospect of President Dilma Rousseff being removed from office.

Ms. Rousseff, who was chairwoman of Petrobras during much of the alleged wrongdoing, hasn’t been implicated by prosecutors in the scandal. She faces impeachment on separate charges of violating federal budget laws, allegations that she denies.

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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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