No Major Effect

Paulo Sotero – The Cipher Brief, 08/05/2016

The Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro – starting today – had the potential to boost Brazil’s international image. Director of the Wilson Center’s Brazil Institute and Brazil native, Paulo Sotero, tells The Cipher Brief’s Kaitlin Lavinder that this was always an exaggeration. However, he says the Games are somewhat of a missed opportunity.

TCB: If the Olympic Games in Brazil go well – that is, if there are no major security breaches and if the competitions run smoothly – what will this do for Brazil’s international image? And, conversely, if the Games don’t go well, what will be the effect?

Paulo Sotero: I think in either scenario it will not have a major effect. If things go reasonably well, people will understand that this is what happens in major sporting events globally. Before, there’s always a tendency to exaggerate or highlight the negatives: that the country’s not ready, that the venues will not be ready in time, and that the country has various negative aspects. And then, when you come closer to the events, people realize that what needed to be ready was, in fact, ready.

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Will Rio Be Ready? Brazil Stumbles to Olympics Finish Line

Paulo Sotero, Paulo Prada, Jules Boykoff and Alan Abrahamson – KCRW/NPR, 07/06/2016

One month to go until the Olympic Games and Brazil is in a state of emergency. But it’s not just political and economic crises — athletes have been mugged at gunpoint, venues are unfinished or perhaps unsafe, the Olympics mascot was shot dead… Can it get any worse?

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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’s Suspended President Dilma In It To Win It, But Probably Won’t

Kenneth Rapoza – Forbes, 05/22/2016

Brazil’s recently suspended two-term president, Dilma Rousseff, told Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept on Thursday that she was going to fight impeachment until the bitter end. That end will most likely result in her being removed of her political rights for 10 years.

No date has been set for the Senate hearing on her impeachment. But when that day comes, she will have just 20 days to defend herself. The Senate will then have a maximum of 180 days to vote whether or not to officially remove Dilma from office. It’s not looking good. Supporters, who have seemingly come out of the woodwork in the days leading up to her impeachment in the lower house and even more so since her unpopular vice president Michel Temer took over, will be in for a harsh reality check. Warning: this story does not have a happy ending.

In the interview for The Intercept, Workers’ Party president Dilma reiterated that she would not resign and that she had some judicial recourse. She could, in theory, challenge the ruling at the Supreme Court. But considering the fact that Chief Justice Ricardo Lewandowski will oversee the Senate trial, her argument would only be won if the Supreme Court ruled against their own chief. It’s possible, but highly unlikely. She also failed to get an injunction to block the Senate vote and, worth nothing, over half the judges on the bench were appointed by her party.

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Petrobras scandal

Paulo Sotero – The Editors of Encylocpædia Britannica

Petrobras scandal, Brazilian political corruption scandal beginning in 2014 that involved the indictment of dozens of high-level business people and politicians as part of a widespread investigation alleging that many millions of dollars had been kicked back to officials of Petrobras, Brazil’s huge majority-state-owned oil company, and to politicians—especially members of the ruling Workers’ Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores; PT) of Pres. Dilma Rousseff—by prominent Brazilian corporations in return for contracts with Petrobras.

The malfeasance was revealed by a federal investigation begun in 2014 under the code name Lava Jato (“Car Wash”). The massive scheme to defraud Petrobras—Brazil’s largest enterprise and a symbol of the country’s entrenched economic nationalism—did not fully come to light, however, until after the narrow reelection of President Rousseff on October 26, 2014. By the time of her second inauguration, on January 1, 2015, Rousseff’s approval rating had collapsed to 14 percent, with some two-thirds of Brazilians blaming her for Petrobras’s troubles.

Dubbed “Petrolão”—after mensalão (“big monthly bribe”), the vote-buying scandal that had plagued the government of Rousseff’s predecessor and mentor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (better known simply as “Lula”)—the episode came to be viewed as the largest corruption scandal in Brazilian history. By June 2015 a massive scheme to defraud Petrobras on contracts to develop the so-called pre-salt oil reserves found offshore in 2007 had appeared on investigators’ radar. Moreover, reports suggested that federal prosecutors were also looking into the electricity-generating sector, pension funds for employees of state-owned companies, and the National Bank of Economic and Social Development (BNDES). The latter had provided billions of dollars in subsidized financing to Petrobras and other “national champions,” such as billionaire Eike Batista, whose wealth plummeted spectacularly in 2013.

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Dilma Rousseff Is Impeached by Brazil’s Lower House of Congress

Andrew Jacobs – The New York Times, 04/17/2016

BRASÍLIA — Brazilian legislators voted on Sunday night to approveimpeachment of Dilma Rousseff, the nation’s first female president, whose tenure has been buffeted by a dizzying corruption scandal, a shrinking economy and spreading disillusionment.

After three days of impassioned debate, the lower house of Congress, the Chamber of Deputies, voted to send the case against Ms. Rousseff to the Senate. Its 81 members will vote by a simple majority on whether to hold a trial on charges that the president illegally used money from state-owned banks to conceal a yawning budget deficit in an effort to bolster her re-election prospects. That vote is expected to take place next month.

Those pressing for impeachment had to win the support of two-thirds of the 513 deputies in the lower house; the decisive 342nd vote for impeachment happened at about 10:10 p.m. Eastern time. The final vote was 367 for impeachment, 137 against and 7 abstaining. Two deputies did not vote.

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Isolated, Rousseff Faces Diminishing Chances to Survive Impeachment

Paulo Sotero – Brazil Institute, 04/13/2016

The loss of support to President Dilma Rousseff intensified after the Chamber of Deputies special committee approved, on April 11, a motion to move forward with impeachment proceedings against the embattled Brazilian leader. The action is grounded on evidence that Rousseff’s government manipulated budget accounts and made unauthorized expenditures to hide an exploding fiscal deficit at the root of the country’s ongoing economic disaster.

The impeachment process has been fueled by revelations of the ongoing investigation of a $3 billion corruption scandal involving state oil giant Petrobras, Brazil’s largest company. The crimes, exposed by multiple defendants through plea bargain agreements with federal authorities, started during the administration of popular former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and continued under Rousseff. Prior to being elected president, Dilma Rousseff was minister of energy and chaired the Petrobras board of directors for five years. Although the president has not been charged in the Petrobras case, politicians closely associated with her have been arrested and accused of a variety of crimes. And she may be charged with obstruction of justice for trying to shield Lula from a criminal investigation related to Petrobras by naming him to her cabinet.

Following last month’s decisive break between the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), Brazil’s largest party, and the government, other members of Rousseff’s fraying coalition have cut ties with the unpopular president, leaving her increasingly isolated to face the Chamber of Deputy plenary vote on impeachment, scheduled for April 17. Her survival depends on ensuring the allegiance of members of small parties who are driven by their interests in accessing federal agencies budgets and patronage jobs.

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