Bernie Sanders Fails To Influence Vote, In Brazil

Kenneth Rapoza – Forbes, 08/16/2016

It’s all the rage to try and influence votesin another nation. Everybody’s doing it, so why not Bernie?

Last week, Sanders put out a statement against the pending impeachment of Brazil’s suspended first lady president Dilma Rousseff. He noted that “many observers” continue to say that her ouster resembles a coup d’état. His statement made the rounds on social media, thrown about by Dilma supporters looking for some affirmation from afar that they’re in the right. His statement was perfectly timed, too. That night, the Senate was voting on whether or not to actually hold the impeachment trial after gathering all the evidence needed against her. They needed 54 votes. They got 59. Bernie backed the wrong horse. Dilma is a goner.

Where Sanders got these ideas about Brazil is unknown. After seven days, five emails and phone calls to their press office, no one returns requests for comments. So something that was supposed to be a mere news article, is now going to be an op-ed.

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The Worst Predictions About Rio Haven’t Come True. That Tells Us a Few Things About Brazil and the Media.

Alex Cuadros – The New York Magazine, 08/11/2016

If you only saw the headlines in the lead-up to the Olympics, Rio de Janeiro sounded like the lawless city from a postapocalyptic movie: “Wave of deadly gunbattles hit Rio as the Olympics get closer”; “Body parts wash ashore next to Rio Olympic venue.” Glib listicles played up the threat of political unrest, terrorist attacks, Zika-carrying mosquitoes, and “super-bacteria” in the sewage-tainted bay. One writer used the term “disastrophe” to describe the situation and claimed that so-called “‘lightning kidnappings’ are nearly as popular in Brazil as feijoada” (a delicious bean stew). Another writer topped him with this analogy: “the global event equivalent of a fire tornado touching down on a killer bee sanctuary.”

It was like the Olympics of hyperbolic Olympics scaremongering. Now that the games are on, the hysteria is already looking misplaced. This would have been clear enough to anyone who simply took a walk around the city. The last time I went, at the end of June, Rio was functioning more or less in its usual way: slightly chaotic but manageably so, albeit with fresh construction for the Olympics marring what is perhaps the world’s most beautiful urban topography. Off of Copacabana Beach, I could see locals hopping waves — which suggested that concerns over the quality of the water might be somewhat inflated, too.

It was like the Olympics of hyperbolic Olympics scare-mongering.

I should disclose here that I myself have taken part in the Rio-bashing. I moved to Brazil in 2010, back when the country seemed on the verge of becoming a world power, and watched as the Olympics became an excuse to funnel public money to rich campaign donors for not always useful projects. Still, even I have to admit that Rio has made dramatic improvements in recent years. Perhaps the most dramatic is that the homicide rate, while still appallingly high, has fallen by two-thirds since the 1990s. Even after a spike in murders this year, it’s now less than half the rate in St. Louis, Missouri. And with 85,000 soldiers and police securing Rio for the Olympics, it’s probably one of the safest places in Latin America at the moment.

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Brazil: Lula Favored in 2018 Election, Temer Tanks at 5%

Telesur, 07/27/2016

Suspended President Dilma Rousseff´s predecesor, former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva,–popularly known as Lula–   is the favored candidate for the 2018 presidential election, while “interim” President Michel Temer trails far behind with just 5 percent, according to a new Datafolha poll commissioned by the Globo newspaper.

The poll, of 2,792 respondents conducted between July 14 and 15, found that the former labor leader and Workers’ Party founder Lula leads voter preferences with 22 percent, followed by the Green Party’s Marina Silva at 17 percent. Silva finished third in the 2010 preisdential election.

Lula has expressed interest in running in the 2018 election, saying that the more he and his ally Rousseff are attacked, the more likely he is to run.

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Brazil’s suspended president denounces indictment as a ‘political farce’

Reuters/The Guardian, 07/06/2016

Brazil’s suspended president Dilma Rousseff has told the senate commission considering whether to permanently remove her from office that the case against her is a farce, arguing that her alleged misdeeds were no more than “routine acts of budgetary management”.

In a letter to the commission read by her lawyer on Wednesday, Rousseff also promised to fight to carry out her mandate until the end of 2018.

“Everybody knows that you are judging an honest woman, a public servant dedicated to just causes,” she said. “I’ve honored those who voted for me.”

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Lessons of the fall

Bello – The Economist, 05/21/2016

ON A bright and breezy morning in Brasília on May 12th, hours after the Senate had voted to start her impeachment for budgetary misdemeanours and thus suspend her as president, Dilma Rousseff walked down the front ramp of the Planalto palace to address a few hundred supporters of the Workers’ Party (PT). As she vowed defiance, behind her left shoulder stood Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, her predecessor as president and the PT’s founding leader. He looked downcast and pensive, several times wiping his brow and his eyes with a handkerchief. No doubt he was contemplating the probable end of more than 13 years of PT rule.

Behind Ms Rousseff’s impeachment lies a double political failure. The PT once claimed a monopoly on ethical politics; in the public mind, it is now identified with leading a scheme to loot Petrobras, the state-controlled oil company, of more than $2.4 billion to fill its own campaign coffers and the back pockets of allies. And Ms Rousseff, whom Lula sold to the country as a top-notch manager, proved to be an incompetent steward of the economy.

So what went wrong for Latin America’s biggest left-wing party? The answer starts with the PT’s ideological ambiguity. Formed in 1980 by dissident trade unionists (such as Lula), radical priests, grassroots social movements and Marxist intellectuals, the PT claimed to be a new kind of party, of radical democracy and the dispossessed.

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A Final Defense of Dilma Rousseff

Brian Winter – Americas Quarterly, 05/11/2016

Back in March 2014, when the Petrobras scandal was just getting started, some of President Dilma Rousseff’s top aides saw a golden opportunity to kill the investigation – or at least badly wound it.

Márcio Anselmo, the Federal Police deputy in charge of the probe, had given an interview (which can be seen here) to Jornal Nacional, Brazil’s most-watched news program. On-camera and on-the-record, Anselmo and others laid out the main points of the case, which would soon become notorious: A former Petrobras board member who had accepted a Land Rover as a bribe, the money launderer whose plea-bargain testimony would prove key, and the sordid connections with some of the country’s biggest construction companies.

Everyone in Brasília knew the stakes were huge. The election was just six months away, and Rousseff was facing a tight race. But some ministers were convinced the TV interview was actually a blessing in disguise. They believed Anselmo had broken a dictatorship-era statute that, they argued, prohibited Federal Police officials from discussing cases in progress with the media. Fire him, they urged Rousseff. Fire him now and attack the investigators for using the media to selectively leak information damaging to the government.

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Petrobras boomtown turns desolate as refinery’s billions vanish

Sabrina Valle and Carlos Caminada – Yahoo Business, 05/04/2016

Located just 30 miles east of Rio de Janeiro’s bustling Copacabana beach, Itaborai looks like many oil boomtowns after the bust — except the deserted stores and empty glass towers that loom over this town of 220,000 speak of some bigger cataclysm than the collapse of crude prices.

“They said this would be the new oil city,” says Jefferson Costa, one of scores of migrants from Brazil’s impoverished north lured here by a multibillion-dollar petrochemical project that was supposed to create more than 100,000 jobs. Work on the complex, known as Comperj, has stopped, and unless new investors materialize, the single refinery now standing may never produce a single drop of fuel. “It’s empty inside,” says Costa, a plumber who lost his job six months ago when construction came to a halt. “People say it will become a large warehouse.”

Comperj has become a symbol of pervasive corruption at Brazil’s state-run oil producer, Petrobras. A sprawling investigation by federal police and prosecutors dubbed Operation Carwash has revealed massive graft, implicating construction conglomerates, banks, oil service providers, shipbuilders and politicians. About 2 percentage points of the 3.8 percent contraction in Brazil’s gross domestic product last year can be attributed to the effects of the scandal on the company and its suppliers, according to estimates from Tendencias, a consulting firm based in Sao Paulo.

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