Michael Smith, Sabrina Valle, Blake Schmidt – BloombergBusiness, 05/08/2015
In mid-2013, Brazilian federal police investigator Erika Mialik Marena noticed something strange.
Alberto Youssef, suspected of running an illicit black-market bank for the rich, had paid 250,000 reais (about $125,000 at the time) for a Land Rover. The black Evoque SUV ended up as a gift for Paulo Roberto Costa, formerly a division manager at Brazil’s national oil company, Petrobras. “We were investigating a money-laundering case, and Petrobras wasn’t our target at all,” says Marena. “Paulo was just another client of his. So we started to ask, ‘Why is he getting an expensive car from a money launderer? Who is that guy?’”
Marena had spent the previous decade building cases against money launderers, and Youssef had been a perennial target. He’d been arrested at least nine times for using private jets, armored cars, clandestine pickups by bagmen, and a web of front companies to move illicit cash. But Youssef had been spared serious jail time by testifying repeatedly against other doleiros, Brazilian slang for specialists in laundering unreported cash.
Matthew Wheeland – The Guardian, 5/4/2015
Amid what is normally considered the rainy season, Brazil, the home of the Amazon River, is suffering from a historic, punishing drought.
In a country accustomed to ample water supplies, neighbors are turning against neighbors and hoarding water as taps run dry while businesses close and protesters take to the streets. Some have even speculated that São Paulo, one of the world’s largest cities, is failing.
The costs of a drought are many – water rationing, fines for consumption and constraints on agriculture and industrial production. But for Brazil, a water shortage also leads to another problem: more than 75% of Brazil’s power comes from hydroelectric sources, making it second only to China in reliance on hydroelectric power.
BBC News, 4/28/2015
The only survivor of a torture centre where the Brazilian military regime interrogated opponents in the 1970s has died at the age of 72.
Ines Etienne Romeu memorised the names of her abusers and the location of what became known as the House of Death in Petropolis near Rio de Janeiro. Her testimony for Brazil’s Truth Commission was key in exposing human rights abuses under military rule.
In 2003 she survived an attack in her home that left her unable to speak. The intruder was never identified.
Nicole Crowder – The Washington Post, 04/22/2015
Ahead of the upcoming 2016 Olympics to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Washington Post staff photographer Bonnie Jo Mount traveled to Piquiá de Baixo to document a community of residents in clay-brick and wooden houses suffering from the heavy pollution from nearby pig iron factories and the noisy Carajás railway that runs through the Amazon region transporting ore.
Away from the busy rail tracks and gathering dust, Mount documented a more personal portrait of the country via her Instagram, one that reflects a serene, even majestic Brazil. Vibrant tiles jut out from a red wall near contrasting green glass window shutters in Rio. A young man walks past a facade of wooden blue doors and iron balconies, oxidized over time by the elements in the historic district of São Luís. And while the southern coastal region of the country has suffered one of its most severe droughts in nearly 80 years, Mount’s vignettes are able to capture the soul and beauty of Brazilian landscapes, from its energetic beaches of Ipanema to aerials of the Amazon rainforest.
View images here…
The Guardian/AP, 04/14/2015
An operation to remove squatters from a building planned as a hotel for the 2016 Olympic games erupted into chaos on Tuesday as Brazilian police stormed in and squatters set the structure alight.
The more than 100 squatters had agreed to leave of their own accord, but as they filed out of the imposing former apartment building, police in riot gear charged, sparking pandemonium. Squatters set two fires inside the building, and firefighters battled flames as police chased some of the squatters and their supporters through the streets.
“It didn’t have to end this way; they were already leaving,” said Joao Helvecio de Carvalho, an attorney with the state public defender’s office. “The police’s use of force was disproportional … They didn’t need to act in that way.”
Marilia Brocchetto – CNN, 04/14/2015
With just over a year to go before the city hosts the Games’ rowing and canoe competitions, officials with the legislative assembly of Rio de Janeiro Monday launched an investigation into the causes of death both in the lagoon and in other lakes and bays in the state in which this phenomenon has occurred.
The group will work in partnership with the State Environmental Institute (INEA) and the Secretariat of State for the Environment.
Vanessa Barbara – The New York Times, 3/23/2015
One Friday night last month, the electricity was off in the streets of Palmeirinha, a favela in Rio de Janeiro. Three black teenagers were joking around in front of their houses. One of them started to run and the others followed, laughing. At that moment, the police came out shooting. Chauan Jambre Cezário, 19 years old, was seriously wounded. Alan de Souza Lima, 15 years old, died on the site with a cellphone in his hands — he had caught everything on video, including his own last agonizing minutes.
According to an official report released the next day, the boys were shot after a confrontation with the police. Officers allegedly found two guns at the scene and charged Mr. Cezário with resisting arrest. The boy, who sells iced tea on Ipanema Beach, was carried to the emergency room and handcuffed to the hospital bed.
Days later, the nine-minute cellphone video went public. Images clearly show that the teenagers didn’t have any guns on them and that there was neither confrontation nor resistance. Seconds after the shooting, a policeman asked why they had been running, to which a bleeding Mr. Cezário answered: “We were just playing around, sir.”