Brian Winter – Vox, 05/11/2016
To many observers, Brazil appears one swarm of locusts short of a full-fledged Biblical plague. Whether it’s the off-again, on-again impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff, the country’s worst recession in 80 years (or maybe ever), the spread of the bizarre and frightening Zika virus, or its continued struggle with drug gangs and homicides, Brazil looks anything but ready to host the world at the Summer Olympics this August.
Without a doubt, it has been a terrible 2016 — and a huge letdown after Brazil’s economic boom of the 2000s, which helped it win the Olympics in the first place. But the particularly confusing nature of this crisis, paired with the convergence of the world’s media hordes on Rio de Janeiro, has also produced a truly epic amount of misinformation, stereotypes, and wishful thinking.
So, in the spirit of better understanding the Land of Samba and Surf (oops, a stereotype!), and trying to gauge where the political and economic crisis might be headed next, here are three common myths about Brazil’s current crisis. The myths themselves are revealing in what they say about the country’s image — among locals and rubbernecking visitors alike.
Thomas Kamm – Brunswick, 04/15/2016
Brazil is on the verge of what could be the biggest crisis this crisis-prone nation has ever faced – or a cathartic break from its past. It is being subjected to a massive stress test that can either lead to a prolonged downward spiral or prove to be a pivotal moment that ultimately sets the country back on a more sustainable political and economic course. Call it a new test of what could be called “Brazilience,” Brazil’s resilience and resourcefulness in the face of crisis.
So where does all this leave Brazil? Brunswick Partner, Thomas Kamm, looks at three possible short-term scenarios, all fraught with uncertainty.
Reed Johnson and Marla Dickerson – The Wall Street Journal, 04/07/2016
SÃO PAULO—Brazil’s Attorney General recommended Thursday that former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva be barred from taking a cabinet post, undercutting President Dilma Rousseff just days before a critical impeachment vote.
In a 50-page report citing wiretapped conversations and other evidence, Attorney General Rodrigo Janot said there are “enough elements to conclude” that Ms. Rousseff had named Mr. da Silva as her chief of staff to shield him from possible arrest related to his alleged involvement in a massive corruption scandal.
The attorney general’s decision supports an opinion rendered last month by Supreme Court Justice Gilmar Mendes that temporarily blocked Mr. da Silva’s cabinet appointment.
Simon Romero – The New York Times, 03/24/2016
BRASÍLIA — Striking a defiant tone as scandals engulf her government, President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil insisted in an interview on Thursday that she would not resign, even as momentum builds in Congress for her ouster.
Ms. Rousseff described the efforts to remove her from office as “lacking legal foundations,” and she lashed out at Eduardo Cunha, the speaker of the lower house of Congress, who has been plagued with scandals of his own. Ms. Rousseff said that Mr. Cunha put impeachment proceedings into motion as a way of deflecting attention from his own legal troubles over charges of bribery and money laundering.
“Why do they want me to resign?” Ms. Rousseff, Brazil’s first female president, asked in the interview. “Because I’m a woman, fragile. I am not fragile. That is not my life.” She said that investigators should leave no stone unturned in examining her actions.
Reuters/New York Times, 03/17/2016
Dozens of lawmakers opposed to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff chanted “resign” at a Congressional session late on Wednesday, in a sign of rising political tensions in Latin America’s largest economy.
The lawmakers gathered around a microphone interrupted the session to demand Rousseff’s resignation, according to images broadcast live by news channel GloboNews. Rousseff’s administration is struggling with fallout from a sweeping corruption probe, known as “Operation Car Wash.”
In a bid to stave off impeachment proceedings in Congress, Rousseff named her predecessor and political mentor Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva as her chief of staff on Wednesday.
Daniel Gallas – BBC, 03/17/2016
The plot to Brazil’s political crisis has become so complicated that even makers of political drama ‘House of Cards’ joke they are now following events.
There is even an online quiz where one has to guess: did it happen in Brazil or in House of Cards, or both?
But this is no laughing matter in Brazil.
Brian Winter – Americas Quarterly, 03/04/2016
The next 72 hours will be critical to the future of Brazilian democracy. The temporary detention of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva for questioning related to the Petrobras probe is indeed a sign that no one in Brazil is above the law. But it also brings the risk of extreme polarization and even violence – with the leader of the Workers’ Party in Congress already calling for “war,” trade union leaders denouncing a “coup” and Lula’s supporters and opponentsplanning huge nationwide marches throughout the weekend.
Brazil is not Venezuela – it is a large country with robust and functioning democratic institutions, a strong appreciation for pluralism and little recent history of political violence. But it’s also true that Lula is no ordinary politician. He is, rather, a unique symbol in a way that is often difficult for foreigners (and some Brazilians) to appreciate.
Indeed, Lula was the first working-class president in a country where inequality is still the central fact of daily life. His election in 2002 was so poignant because it marked the first time someone from Brazil’s socioeconomic majority ascended to such a position of power. He left office in 2010 with an approval rating of nearly 90 percent, and the belief that Brazil had taken an important step toward becoming a more equal society. Today, Lula’s image has been greatly tarnished by multiple scandals and the collapse of the economy after he left office. Yet, even now, he remains the only relevant politician in the lives of many Brazilians, especially the poor and those outside major cities. They remember him, rightly or wrongly, as the leader who brought them into the mainstream economy and political life for the first time.