Mercury Rising 鳯女

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Posts Tagged ‘Brazil’

Brazilian trainwreck

Posted by Charles II on December 9, 2015

Jonathan Watts, The Guardian:

 

Brazil desperately needs strong leadership to overcome the country’s worst economic crisis in decades, but the most powerful figures in the country’s government and legislature – president Dilma Rousseff and the speaker of the lower house Eduardo Cunha – are inching ever closer to an impeachment showdown. razil’s fighter survive the turmoil?

It is a spectacularly unedifying spectacle …

Last week, Rousseff’s government was found guilty of fudging public accounts to cover up shortfalls, raising the possibility that she could face an ouster vote in a hostile congress. Days later, Cunha was revealed to have several undeclared Swiss bank accounts.

According to Sylvio Costa, the editor of Congresso em Foco, almost 200 parliamentarians are currently facing criminal charges. “The worst rises to the top because of the way we do politics, exchanging money for power.”

Cunha – the speaker of the house – is allegedly the master of this dark art. In the Brazilian media, he is presented as a figure so sinister he is almost comical, resembling the Simpsons’ Mr Burns but acting like Frank Underwood in House of Cards. His fellow deputies speak of him in awed – almost fearful – tones.

“In all my time in politics, he’s the most machiavellian figure,” says Ivan Valente, who has served seven terms as the president of leftwing opposition party PSOL. “Cunha is a politician who is opportunistic, intelligent, ambitious and corrupt. People can’t claim to be against corruption and then support Cunha. But that’s what the rightwing opposition do. They close their eyes.”

It has become increasingly difficult to do that. An informer in the Lava Jato investigation claims Cunha took $5m in kickbacks. Opponents this week lodged a motion in the lower house ethics committee demanding that he be removed from office.

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Another constitutional coup?

Posted by Charles II on December 2, 2015

Jonathan Watts, The Guardian:

Brazil’s president Dilma Rousseff has begun the fight for her political life after the first impeachment proceedings for more than 20 years were launched against her in Congress.

After months of jockeying, the removal proceedings were pushed forward by her political nemesis – the lower house speaker Eduardo Cunha – ….

In a televised address to the nation, Rousseff expressed her “outrage” at Cunha’s decision and said there was no evidence of any wrongdoing by her.

“I do not have any accounts abroad,” she said, in a dig at Cunha who has bank accounts in Switzerland and is under investigation, accused of graft.

Activists from the ruling Workers Party accuse Cunha and his supporters of plotting a coup.

Earlier this year, Cunha acknowledged that an impeachment, which would be the first since 1992, would be a “backwards step for democracy”. For months, he has sat on more than half a dozen previous opposition proposals to remove an elected head of state who has served only one year of her four-year mandate.

However, he has changed his tone as his own position has come under threat. Julius Camargo, one of the whistle blowers in the Lava Jato investigation into corruption at oil giant Petrobras, has testified that the Cunha asked him for a $5m bribe – a claim that the speaker denies.

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Lula’s Legacy

Posted by Phoenix Woman on December 28, 2010

Before Luis Inacio Lula da Silva — far better known simply as “Lula” — became Brazil’s president in 2002, there was effectively no middle class, just a tiny rich minority walling itself off from the vast dirt-poor majority. Instead of building common infrastructure that all could use and working to improve everyone’s lot, the wealthier few preferred (and to this day many still prefer) instead to literally “rise above” their problems in helicopters or small jets to go from one small island of prosperity to another.

After eight years of Lula, things have substantially changed for the better:

Silva, 65, leaves a nation transformed from a perennial underachiever into one with economic and political clout, model social programs and a swagger as it prepares to host the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.

Since Silva’s first election in 2002, the middle class has grown by 29 million people — more than the population of Texas — creating a powerful new domestic consumer market. Another 20 million people — as many as in New York state — were pulled from poverty. The country that received a record $30 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund as it neared economic collapse in 2002 now lends money to the IMF, making up to $5 billion available for loans to other nations.

The value of Brazil’s currency has more than doubled against the U.S. dollar. Inequality has been reduced, as the income of the poorest 10 percent of the population has grown five times faster than that of the richest 10 percent. Inflation has been tamed, unemployment is at a record low and illiteracy has dropped. By the time Brazil hosts the Olympics, it is forecast to be the globe’s fifth-largest economy, surpassing Italy, Britain and France.

[…]

But Silva’s legacy goes beyond figures. It’s caught in the glint of an eye of a slum dweller such as Lima, who sees herself in Silva’s impoverished roots, and feels pride that it was a man from the poor masses who finally delivered on the promise of Brazil.

“For decades I lived in a shack where sewage seeped in every time it rained,” Lima said, as four grandchildren bounced around her new two-bedroom apartment in the Paraisopolis slum. “There were no windows, which made my bronchitis worse. Now look at this. I’ve got concrete floors, not sewage. Windows that let air flow through — you feel that breeze? My health is better. It’s because of Lula.”

That devotion is repeated across Brazil, giving Silva nearly unparalleled popularity.

According to Gallup polling, former U.S. President Harry Truman had an approval rating matching Silva’s 87 percent — about three weeks after Allied forces accepted the surrender of Nazi Germany in World War II. He ended his presidency with a 32 percent rating. George W. Bush saw 90 percent approval 10 days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks — the highest recorded by Gallup for a U.S. leader. His ratings dropped quickly and he left office with 34 percent approval.

Lula is Brazil’s FDR. He took a stumbling, poverty-shackled nation and turned it into an economic powerhouse and did so without screwing over the poor.

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Further decline in US leadership

Posted by Charles II on May 17, 2010

Once again, the US is left in the dust by Brazil.

Ladane Nasseri and Henry Meyer, Bloomberg:

Iran agreed to hand to Turkey about half of its enriched uranium in exchange for fuel to run a medical reactor, possibly thwarting U.S. efforts to step up international sanctions over the Iranian atomic program. …

The agreement, brokered by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, comes as the U.S. has been rallying support for a fourth round of United Nations sanctions against the Persian Gulf state.

Sanger and Slackman at the NYT get around to saying this, well below the fold:

Turkey’s ambassador to the United States, Namik Tan, described the agreement as a “confidence-building measure,” and said he was disappointed in the Obama administration’s reaction. “I would have expected a more encouraging statement,” he said.

“We don’t believe in sanctions, and I don’t believe anybody can challenge us, and certainly not the United States,” Mr. Tan said. “They don’t work.”

Rightly or wrongly, the US has been categorized as a nation that deals with conflict through extreme violence. The world wants another model. Brazil and Turkey, for their own reasons (perhaps both hope to develop nuclear industries of their own), are entering a vacuum created by a lack of American leadership.

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