Thousands in Brazil protest corruption scandal

CBS News – 08/16/2015

Brazilians took to the streets of cities and towns across the country Sunday for anti-government protests being watched as a barometer of discontent with the increasingly unpopular President Dilma Rousseff.

Called mostly by activist groups via social media, the demonstrations assailed Rousseff, whose standing in the polls has plunged amid a snowballing corruption scandal that has embroiled politicians from her Workers’ Party as well as a sputtering economy, a weakening currency and rising inflation.

But the protests drew relatively modest crowds, likely giving the president some breathing room. Huge numbers had come out for two earlier rounds of demonstrations this year.

Read more…

Brazil’s president has an approval rating of 8%

Digital Journal – Business Insider, 8/6/2015

Dilma Rousseff is now Brazil’s most unpopular democratically elected president since a military dictatorship ended in 1985, says a poll out Thursday that put her approval rating at eight percent.

Seventy-one percent of those questioned in the Datafolha survey said they disapprove of the way Rousseff is doing her job, up six points since June. Her approval rating is down from 10 percent.

And two-thirds would like to see her impeached.

Read more…

Brazil police raid homes of former president and two congressmen

JOE LEAHY, THE FINANCIAL TIMES – 7/15/2015 

Brazilian police raided the homes of former president and current Senator Fernando Collor and two other sitting congressmen on Tuesday in a sharp escalation of an investigation into corruption at state-owned oil company Petrobras.

Police drive away a Ferrari from the home of Fernando Collor, a former president and sitting senator

Police drive away a Ferrari from the home of Fernando Collor, a former president and sitting senator

As part of the operation, which sparked an angry rebuke from Mr Collor and Senate leader Renan Calheiros, police confiscated a Porsche, Lamborghini and Ferrari that local media pictured being removed from the former president’s house.

Read More… 

Brazil’s president seeks investment during U.S. visit

Paulo Trevisani – The Wall Street Journal – 6/29/2015

Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff said Monday that a more business-friendly environment is needed in Latin America’s largest economy to attract the investment it needs to restore growth.

“We need to reduce the risks of doing business in Brazil,” she said in an interview in New York, as she began a visit to the U.S. aimed at drawing investors and to meet with President Barack Obama in Washington.

Her task is complicated by poor economic conditions at home. Annual inflation is running at 8.8% despite high interest rates, with the benchmark rate at 13.75%. Economists forecast an economic contraction this year. But Ms. Rousseff said Brazil still has strong fundamentals that should attract long-term investors.

Read more…

 

Brazil ministers rebut new wave of campaign funding allegations

Maria Carolina Marcello and Eduardo Simões – Reuters, 6/26/2015

Two Brazilian ministers denied on Friday that there was anything illegal about campaign donations made in recent years by a businessman allegedly involved in massive corruption scandal at state-run oil company Petrobras.

President Dilma Rousseff’s chief of staff, Aloizio Mercadante, denied that 500,000 reais ($159,908) in campaign donations made to him in 2010 by companies owned by Ricardo Pessoa were linked to kickbacks at Petrobras.

Social Communications Minister Edinho Silva said in a separate statement that 7.5 million reais donated by Pessoa to Rousseff’s presidential campaign last year were legal and approved by Brazil’s Supreme Electoral Court. Silva was the treasurer of Rousseff’s campaign.

Read more… 

A setback in Brazil

The Editorial Board – The Washington Post, 6/27/2015

Just a couple of years ago, it was widely concluded that Brazil had finally overcome the decades-old gibe about the world’s fifth-largest country: that it would always be “the country of the future.” Exports, particularly to Asia, were booming; a middle class was filling in the once-polarizing gap between the very rich and very poor; and huge offshore oil discoveries appeared to ensure yet another economic acceleration. In seeming confirmation of its new status, Brazil was chosen to host both soccer’s World Cup last year and the 2016 Olympics.

The Rio de Janeiro games are still a year away, but already Brazil’s bubble appears to have burst. The economy is mired in a deepening recession, thanks to the drop in oil and other commodity prices. The state oil company, Petrobras, has triggered the biggest corruption scandal in the country’s history, with dozens of businesspeople and more than 50 members of Congress implicated in some $2 billion in kickbacks. Investments in the vaunted new oil fields have been cut back, even as Brazilians fume over the billions spent on new stadiums.

Read more…

Small expectations between two big countries during Brazil’s official trip

Michael D. Mosettig – PBS, 6/26/2015

As official visits go, it has been an inauspicious scene-setting for next week’s trip of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff to the United States and a Tuesday meeting with President Barack Obama.

First off, the trip is a re-do. Rousseff was supposed to be in Washington two years ago for a full-fledged, bells and whistles state visit. She abruptly cancelled after revelations that the National Security Agency had been tapping her phone. (The scandal was even more painful for the Boeing Company, which had been on the verge of winning a $4 billion contract to re-equip the Brazilian air force. The contract went to a Swedish company.)

In her country of 202 million people, Rousseff’s problems keep mounting. The national joke in Brazil is that her poll ratings (barely 10 percent) are one point ahead of the country’s inflation rate (8.4 percent). Brazil’s signature, state-dominated company, Petrobras, is engulfed in allegations that billions disappeared in kick backs to Rousseff’s Workers Party. Just last week, two of the country’s major industrialists were arrested. Neither Rousseff nor her highly popular predecessor and mentor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva have been implicated so far, but the country is on edge against the possibility of the scandal spreading.

Read more…