Leader of Brazil’s Rousseff Impeachment Resigns From Top Job

Associated Press – The New York Times, 07/07/2016

RIO DE JANEIRO — The man who led efforts to impeach Brazil’s suspended President Dilma Rousseff resigned on Thursday as speaker of the lower house of congress, but kept the congressional seat that could help shield him from corruption charges.

Brazil’s top court already had suspended Eduardo Cunha from his duties over allegations of obstructing justice and corruption, including holding Swiss bank accounts worth millions of dollars in bribes.

Cunha kicked off the proceedings against Rousseff in December 2015, accusing her of violating fiscal laws, which the embattled leader denies.

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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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Brazil says there is ‘almost zero’ risk of Zika during Olympics. Really?

Dom Phillips – The Washington Post, 07/06/2016

A small but growing number of athletes, from golfer Rory McIlroy to cyclist Tejay van Garderen, have canceled their trips to the Summer Olympics in Rio due to fears about the Zika epidemic.

But what are the chances that visitors and athletes could become infected?

“Almost zero,” Brazil’s new health minister, Ricardo Barros, said recently. He and other officials note there are far fewer mosquitoes active in August, when the Games are being held, because it’s winter in the Southern Hemisphere. Already, reports of new cases have plunged in Rio state — from 3,000 to 3,500 a week earlier in the year to just 30 cases a week in June, officials say. Meanwhile, 80 percent of the city’s buildings have been inspected for mosquito breeding sites, authorities maintain.

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Brazil’s Temer says women should retire earlier than men: paper

Caroline Stauffer – Business Insider, 06/25/2016

SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Brazil’s interim President Michel Temer told local newspapers women should retire earlier than men, explaining why he did not support making a potential minimum retirement age equal for both sexes as his government tackles pension reform.

“A little difference is reasonable,” Temer said according to an interview published in O Globo newspaper on Saturday. “The woman, in addition to outside work, does the inner work in the home, she is a mother, etc., sometimes cares for siblings.”

Former Vice President Temer took over from President Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s first female leader, after she was placed on trial in the Senate for breaking budget rules last month. Impeachment proceedings are due to conclude in August.

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Latest Brazil Study On Impeachment Unlikely To Save Dilma

Kenneth Rapoza – Forbes, 06/27/2016

A technical report into whether or not Dilma cooked the books on fiscal accounts in 2014 turned out in her favor. Come to find out, she did not push forward accounts, but still — according to one Brazil economist I spoke with — did commit crimes of fiscal responsibility. That will still be for the Senate to decide when suspended president Dilma Rousseff goes to trial at some point in late July, early August.

What appears clear for Brazil watchers is that the back and forth of corruption allegations and now this latest study suggests that if the country was a chicken, it would be running around with its head cut off. It’s not very appealing except for the hungriest of vultures looking for a cheap meal.

Hedge funds that like regime change politics are watching the political play-by-play closely. The latest study might have moved the needle against impeachment, though 60 senators are still expected to vote for her ouster.

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Brazil Is Back to Pre-Junk Levels as Swaps Traders Bet on Temer

Julia Leite & Paula Samba – Bloomberg, 06/27/2016

Brazil is winning over derivatives traders as Acting President Michel Temer seeks to repair the nation’s finances.

The cost to hedge against losses in Brazil’s bonds with credit-default swaps has tumbled by almost a third in the past six months, the biggest drop among the world’s major economies. Prices of the swaps are also now back to levels that prevailed before S&P Global Ratings cut the country’s rating to junk in September.

The turnaround is part of a rebound in Brazil’s financial assets this year fueled by the removal of President Dilma Rousseff from office while she faces an impeachment trial. Since taking the reins last month, Temer has proposed spending caps to help shrink a near-record budget deficit and struck a deal to ease a fiscal crisis roiling Brazilian states amid the longest recession in more than a century.

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Abortion Requests ‘Double’ in Brazil due to Zika Concerns: Study

Conor Gaffey – Newsweek, 06/23/2016

Requests for abortions have doubled in Brazil and Ecuador due to fears about the Zika virus, according to a study.

Researchers found that demand for terminations also increased in other Latin American countries affected by the virus, which has been strongly linked to microcephaly—a condition where children are born with underdeveloped brains and small heads.

A Zika outbreak in Brazil in 2015 has infected around 40,000 people, with estimates of unconfirmed cases rising to almost 150,000. The virus, which originated in 1947 in the Zika forest in Uganda, has spread to a total of 39 countries and territories, most of which are in Latin America, where abortion remains illegal in many countries.

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Brazil’s Acting President OKs Transfer of $849 Million to Rio de Janeiro State

Paul Kiernan and Paulo Trevisani – The Wall Street Journal, 06/22/2016

RIO DE JANEIRO—Acting Brazilian President Michel Temer authorized on Tuesday the transfer of 2.9 billion reais ($849.0 million) from the federal government to Rio de Janeiro state, which is struggling with a fiscal crisis less than two months before the Olympic Games.

Rio declared a “public calamity” last week as a result of its deteriorating finances, which have forced deep cuts to crucial services such as education, health care and policing in recent months.

According to a presidential decree published late Tuesday, the transfer is to be used for public security during the Olympics and Paralympics, set to be held in August and September, respectively. But according to a communications official in Brazil’s presidential palace, it should free up funds within Rio’s state budget to pay for other obligations.

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Brazil President Michel Temer Says Graft Claims Are ‘Lies’

Reed Johnson & Luciana Magalhaes (with Paulo Sotero contributing) – The Wall Street Journal, 06/16/2016

SÃO PAULO—Brazil’s interim President Michel Temer denounced as “irresponsible lies” allegations that he helped broker illegal campaign contributions as part of a bribes-for-contracts scheme centered on state oil company Petróleo Brasileiro SA, even as a third cabinet minister resigned over similar charges.

In a brief Thursday morning TV address, Mr. Temer denied the claims made in plea-bargain testimony by Sergio Machado, former head of Petrobras Transporte SA, or Transpetro, a fuel-transportation and logistics subsidiary.

Mr. Machado has testified that in 2012 he organized, at Mr. Temer’s request, a donation of 1.5 million reais (about $432,000) from a construction firm to Mr. Temer’s political party, in exchange for Transpetro contracts. Mr. Temer dismissed the accusations as “frivolousness.”

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Brazil Update: One Month into a Michel Temer Government

Luisa Leme – AS/COA, 06/17/2016

It’s just over a month since Brazil’s Senate suspended Dilma Rousseff for 180 days to hold an impeachment trial. Since then, the government of interim President Michel Temer has chosen a path that focuses on cutting spending on social policies to improve the country’s fiscal situation in the hopes of recovering investors’ trust. Temer took office May 12 and introduced an economic team led by Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles, who promised to “save the country” from its crisis while preserving Brazilian institutions and anticorruption efforts.

But many of the interim government’s decisions have been met with a backlash from voters, the judiciary, and even its own team. Temer not only picked an all-male cabinet, but 15 of the 26 ministers he selected face criminal investigations, with nine of them linked to the Lava Jato corruption scandal.

On top of that, two ministers had to leave their posts afterleaked recordings revealed they planned to use the impeachment process to halt corruption investigations, while the tourism minister resigned today due to links to Lava Jato. Temer himself was also linked to Lava Jato after the former president of the state-run oil transportation company Transpetro accused him of asking for kickbacksfor a mayoral candidate of Temer’s Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB). The São Paulo electoral court declared Temer ineligible for future office, based on the country’s clean record law, as he was convicted of exceeding donation limits for political campaigns.

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