How Brazil, the darling of the developing world, came undone

Nick Miroff and Dom Phillips – Washington Post,  04/15/2016

It was called the “Brazil model,” or simply “the Lula model,” back when this country’s economy was roaring and its president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, was a superstar of the developing world.

By balancing support for big business with big social-welfare programs, the union boss turned statesman presided over an era of growth that lifted tens of millions of Brazilians out of poverty. Lula’s presidency cut a new template for a Latin American left that had long insisted class struggle and revolution were the only road to fairness. The coronation came when Brazil was chosen to host the 2016 Summer Olympics, confirming its rise as a global power.

Now Brazil is limping to the Games. Its economy is facing its worst crisis since the 1930s. A Zika virus epidemic rages. And on Sunday, lawmakers will vote on whether to impeach President Dilma Rousseff, Lula’s hand-picked successor. Impeachment appears increasingly likely.

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Marina Silva, ‘Brazil’s Obama’ or darling of discontent?

Sophie Pilgrim – France 24, 09/10/2014

A plane crash, a promise of change and a sluggish economy have made Marina Silva the greatest threat to incumbent Dilma Rousseff’s re-election in October. But is the Amazonian dubbed “Brazil’s Obama” ready to be president?

Silva’s appeal is far-reaching. Her poor, rubber-tapper background, green activism and third-party status make her the deserving underdog of a long-polarised political landscape. To many, she carries the same promise of change that fuelled Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign in the United States.

Marina –– as most Brazilians call her –– was brought up, along with her 11 siblings, in the rainforest state of Acre, not far from the Bolivian border. A descendant of indigenous Amazonians, Portuguese settlers and African slaves, she describes herself as black and would be Brazil’s first non-white president. At 56, her deceivingly frail figure betrays a childhood challenged by malnutrition, mercury poisoning and persistent malaria (which killed off four of her family members).

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Brazil’s challenge to US dominance

Andrés Cala – Consortium News, 10/02/2013

There were several factors – both domestic and geopolitical – that moved Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff to blast American spying during her address to the United Nations General Assembly last week. But Washington is missing the most important message: Brazil, South America’s new economic titan, is assuming a role as regional leader.

Brazil, in effect, has replaced the U.S. as the most influential player on the South American continent and its reach can only be expected to increase. By missing the speech’s larger implication, the White House and Congress are making a miscalculation that undermines U.S. interests in Latin America and the world.

Brazil’s muscle-flexing is the result of an evolution which began over a decade ago as the resource-rich nation began to experience rapid economic development. The entire region now looks to Brazil, not the U.S., as a model for progress – and that includes Washington’s allies such as Colombia, Peru and Chile. This new paradigm is being cemented geopolitically and economically.

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Brazil leader postpones state visit to U.S.

Michael D. Shear – The New York Times, 09/17/2013

Brazil’s president has postponed her planned state visit to the United States next month because of anger at the revelations that the National Security Agency had intercepted her private communications.

President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil had been scheduled to arrive in Washington on Oct. 23 for the first state visit of Mr. Obama’s second term. But she has been angered by reports of the spying in recent weeks.

The White House said in a statement on Tuesday that the “broad relationship” between Brazil and the United States “should not be overshadowed by a single bilateral issue, no matter how important or challenging the issue may be.” For that reason, the statement said, Mr. Obama and Ms. Rousseff had agreed to postpone the visit indefinitely.

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NSA accused of spying on Brazilian oil company Petrobras

Jonathan Watts – The Guardian, 09/09/2013

US National Security Agency has been accused of spying on Brazil‘s biggest oil company, Petrobras, following the release of more files from US whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The latest disclosures, which aired on Brazil’s Fantástico news program, have led to accusations that the NSA is conducting intelligence-gathering operations that go beyond its core mission of national security – often cited as the key distinction between the agency and its counterparts in China and Russia.

The revelations are likely to further strain ties between the US and Brazil ahead of a planned state dinner for president Dilma Rousseff at the White House in October. Bileteral relations have already been muddled by the earlier release of NSA files showing the US agency intercepted Brazilian communications and spied on Rousseff and her aides.

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Brazilian TV show says U.S. spied on state-run Petrobras oil firm, cites NSA documents

Juan Forero – The Washington Post, 09/08/2013

A Brazilian television show, citing classified documents provided by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, reported Sunday night that the Obama administration has spied on the state-run Petrobras oil producer, Brazil’s most important company.

President Obama and administration officials have publicly asserted that intelligence-gathering is focused on stopping terrorist threats and fighting transnational crime. But the documents revealed on “Fantastico,” a program on the Globo TV network, appear to show that the United States may target multinational companies, although it was not clear for what purpose.

The documents, provided to “Fantastico” by Rio-based journalist Glenn Greenwald, who has collaborated with Snowden, included a slide labeled “top secret” in which Petrobras was named as a target among a group of companies. The program said the NSA focused on the oil giant’s computer network, as well as on those of Google and the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), a European firm that enables money transfers.

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Brazil’s Rousseff: Obama took responsibility for NSA spying

Reuters, 09/06/2013

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, angered by a recent report that the U.S. government spied on her communications, said on Friday that President Barack Obama had taken responsibility for what happened and that she may proceed with a planned visit to Washington next month.

Rousseff, speaking to reporters following a one-on-one meeting with Obama on the sidelines of an international summit in Russia late on Thursday, said the U.S. president had agreed to respond formally to the spying allegations by next Wednesday.

“My trip to Washington depends on the political conditions to be created by President Obama,” said Rousseff, according to the official Twitter feed of the Brazilian presidency.

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Obama talks with Mexico, Brazil leaders on NSA

Josh Lederman – The Associated Press, 09/06/2013

The White House says President Barack Obama has discussed the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs with the presidents of Mexico and Brazil.

Obama’s deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, says Obama met individually with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in St. Petersburg.

Both leaders have expressed outrage over revelations by Edward Snowden that the NSA monitored their communications. Pena Nieto says it would constitute an illegal act. Rousseff responded by canceling a trip to Washington by a team of aides preparing for her upcoming U.S. visit.

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US surveillance could affect Kerry visit to Brazil, Colombia

Deb Riechmann – Associated Press, 08/11/2013

Secretary of State John Kerry’s trip to Colombia and Brazil this week builds on efforts to deepen relations with Latin America, but he can expect a curt reception from the two U.S. allies after reports that an American spy program widely targeted data in emails and telephone calls across the region.

On Kerry’s first visit to South America as the Obama administration’s chief diplomat, the disclosures by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden could chill talks on trade and energy, and even discussions about the Oct. 23 state dinner that President Barack Obama is hosting for Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff.

‘‘I don’t think this is going to be a warm ‘abrazo,’’’ said Michael Shifter, president of the Washington-based Inter-American Dialogue, using the Spanish word for ‘‘hug.’’ “I think it will be businesslike.’’

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Brazil’s new leader begins in shadow of predecessor

Alexei Barrrionuevo – The New York Times, 12/31/2010

When Dilma Rousseff assumes the presidency of Brazil on Saturday, she will do so at a time when her country is thriving economically and full of swagger, eager to flex more of its newfound wealth and influence at home and abroad. But Ms. Rousseff, the first woman to be elected president of Latin America’s biggest country, will have especially big shoes to fill, having to succeed the nation’s most popular leader in history, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

While Ms. Rousseff has been eager to show that she is not a political puppet of Mr. da Silva, analysts say the challenge before her is one that her predecessor managed fairly well: balancing an ambitious domestic agenda with securing Brazil’s global position. Since being elected in October, Ms. Rousseff has mostly reassured investors that she is not looking to steer the country further to the left than under Mr. da Silva, who faced those same concerns when he was elected in 2002, before he adopted a pragmatic approach.

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