Brazil battles to be ready for 2014 World Cup

Will Smale – BBC News, 11/27/2011

Brazil's new Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo is said to be a very safe pair of hands

From a corruption scandal to heavily armed troops storming shanty towns, Brazil’s recent preparations for hosting the 2014 World Cup have not exactly bathed the country in a positive light.

For a nation so synonymous with football, Brazil’s work ahead of the next World Cup was always going to be of global interest.

Add the former sports minister resigning amid allegations of multi-million dollar kickbacks, and marines taking control of favelas or shanty towns in Rio de Janeiro with the support of tanks and helicopter gunships, and Brazil has certainly garnered some negative headlines around the world.

Read more…


Politics in Brazil: Cleaning the Brasília pork factory

The Economist – from the print edition, 11/26/2011

BY NOW Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, must be finding the script wearily familiar. First come the corruption allegations, then the indignant denials, more evidence, equivocation and retractions—and finally another of her ministers has to walk. Since June Ms Rousseff has lost her chief of staff and the ministers of transport, agriculture, tourism and sport, variously accused of influence-peddling, bribe-taking, signing fraudulent deals with shell companies and diverting public funds into party coffers or their own pockets. Now Carlos Lupi, the labour minister, has become the latest to look as if he is heading for the exit.

He is accused of presiding over a department that charged kickbacks for government contracts, of personally accepting free flights from one of those contractors and of siphoning off public money to semi-phantom non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Mr Lupi’s response was pugnacious. He did not know the man in question and had never flown with him, he said. The only way to get him out of his ministry, Mr Lupi added, would be to shoot him (“and it would have to be a big bullet, because I’m a big guy”). Then came photographs of him with both businessman and plane. His defenestration seems to be a matter of time. Barring new revelations, he may go in a wider cabinet shuffle expected early in the new year.

The faxina (“housecleaning”), as Ms Rousseff’s removal of allegedly light-fingered ministers has come to be known, is popular. The latest opinion polls put her and her government’s approval ratings at record highs. But it merely scratches the surface of a problem with roots in the way that politics has developed in Brazil. All presidents since democracy was restored in 1985 have had to form variegated coalitions to obtain legislative majorities. But, complained Fernando Henrique Cardoso, a former president, earlier this month, a “system” has now developed under which parties demand ministries in return for their votes, and then use the public funds they thus gain control of to expand their membership.

Read more…

Brazil political turmoil won’t affect 2016 Games

Karolos Grohmann – Reuters, 11/10/2011

Rio 2016 Olympic Games Organising Committee President Carlos Arthur Nuzman (3rd L), Nawal El Moutawakel (5th L), head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Evaluation Commission, Rio de Janeiro's Mayor Eduardo Paes (7th L) and IOC Director of the Olympic Games Gilbert Felli (C) visit the construction site of the Grota Funda Tunnel in Rio de Janeiro November 8, 2011. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

Brazilian government scandals, a string of resignations and lagging 2014 soccer World Cup preparations will not affect progress for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, a senior International Olympic Committee IOC.L member said on Tuesday.

The South American nation, due to host the world’s biggest sporting events two years apart, last month saw sports minister Orlando Silva become the sixth minister to step down this year and the fifth forced out over ethics breaches.

Silva was the government’s point man for coordinating investments and infrastructure upgrades for the two events.

Read more…

Brazil suspends money transfer to NGOs after political scandal

Andre Soliani – Bloomberg, 10/30/2011

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff suspended all money transfers to non-governmental organizations in response to allegations that the former sports minister Orlando Silva was using this type of contract to divert government funds.

Rousseff signed a decree suspending payments to so-called NGOs for up to 30 days to assess the execution of programs the government hired the organizations to carry out, according to the Presidential Palace blog.

Silva had responsibility for organizing the 2014 FIFA World Cup and resigned last week, the fifth Cabinet official to leave Rousseff’s government amid corruption allegations since June. He helped divert more than 40 million reais ($23 million) from a government program to encourage poor children to practice sports, which was carried out through NGOs, according to a story published Oct. 15 by Sao Paulo-based weekly magazine Veja.

Read more…

FIFA, IOC look ahead after Brazil minister resigns

AP/San Antonio Express, 10/27/2011

FIFA‘s top administrator says he regrets the situation that forced Brazil’s sports minister Orlando Silva to resign, and the IOCsays its relationship with government officials there “remains excellent.”

Silva had a central role in bidding for and planning the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

He stepped down late Wednesday under pressure from allegations that he skimmed cash from social projects.

Brazil minister resigns amid corruption probe

Paulo Prada – WSJ, 10/26/2011

Agence France-Presse/Getty Images Orlando Silva during a hearing at the National Congress in Brasilia on October 18.

The country’s sports minister resigned on Wednesday amid a corruption probe that has roiled the scandal-plagued administration of President Dilma Rousseff and renewed concerns over Brazil’s preparations to host the World Cup of soccer and Olympic games later this decade.

Orlando Silva, the minister, stepped down following allegations, first disclosed in a Brazilian newsweekly this month, that public funds for ministry social projects were kicked back to the minister and numerous associates in exchange for contracts. Mr. Silva, according to the reports, allegedly personally received money in the ministry parking lot and was aware of millions of dollars worth of similar payments to Communist Party colleagues. The party is part of a restive coalition that supports Ms. Rousseff’s ruling Workers Party in exchange for cabinet positions and other senior appointments.

Mr. Silva, who has denied any wrongdoing, weathered the storm until Tuesday, when Brazil’s Supreme Court said it would probe the allegations. Ms. Rousseff’s request for Mr. Silva’s resignation marks something of an about-face for Ms. Rousseff, who last Friday met with Mr. Silva to discuss the allegations and later issued a statement of support on his behalf. A person familiar with the discussion said Ms. Rousseff, who had just returned from a weeklong trip abroad at the time of the meeting, needed more time to assess the allegations and consider possible successors.

Read more…

UPDATE 2-Brazil sports minister to quit on Wednesday-sources

Jeferson Ribeiro – Reuters, 10/26/2011

Brazilian sports minister Orlando Silva speaks to the press at a media briefing ahead of the Preliminary Draw of the 2014 FIFA World Cup on July 29, 2011 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Getty Images)

Brazil’s sports minister will resign on Wednesday over a corruption scandal, senior government sources said, reviving concern over President Dilma Rousseff’s unstable ruling coalition and the country’s lagging preparations for the 2014 World Cup.

Orlando Silva would be the sixth minister to step down this year and the fifth to be forced out over ethics breaches that have become a major headache for Rousseff in her first year in office, though the resignations have bolstered her reputation as a no-nonsense manager who is tough on corruption.

Silva has strenuously denied a stream of allegations against him in the media, including that he arranged up to 40 million reais ($23 million) in kickbacks from government contracts to benefit himself and the Communist Party of Brazil, which is part of Rousseff’s government.

Read more…